It’s wedding-planning season, everyone! Read on:
The last time I saw her was a year ago, when my husband paid for her and another close friend to fly out for my 30th birthday. (Her then-boyfriend, now-fiance also came out with them, but my husband did not pay for his ticket.) She did some things over that weekend that made me angry, the worst of which was that she was rude to another woman I consider a close friend. I should have told her I was angry so that we could have discussed the situation and moved on, but I didn’t want to ruin the weekend, and I haven’t seen her since. I realize now that I should have just picked up the phone and had the discussion that way, but I didn’t, which was my mistake.
She just got engaged over the holidays, and I will be in her wedding. I find myself resentful about many things related to the wedding, and I think it is because I still harbor resentment from the last time I saw her. (One example: When I first asked if they had set a date, she said she wanted to talk to me about it first, to see what was convenient for me. She then never actually did so, and set the date for very close to Thanksgiving, which means that my husband and I will not be able to visit my parents for Thanksgiving as we had planned, since we can’t afford to take two cross-country trips in close succession. Now, I would never have expected her to “clear” her date with me first – when I got married, I certainly didn’t clear my date with anyone – but I find myself resentful that she said she would talk to me about it first if she had no actual intention of doing so.).
How can I get over all this and just be happy for her – and, hopefully, excited to be involved in her big day, rather than upset? It seems awkward to bring up what happened last year now that she’s in the middle of planning a wedding. — Don’t Want to Be a Bitter Bridesmaid
You’re not going to like my answer, but here it is: Pull up your big girl panties, stop being so petty, and if you cannot sincerely feel happiness for the friend who “has been there for you in many ways for which you can never repay,” then at least pretend to be genuinely happy. Because, you know what? You can repay Jane for being there for you … by being there for her now and not dragging a resentment you should have addressed when it happened a year ago into her wedding planning.
I’m not saying you don’t have a right or reason to be upset with Jane for being rude to a friend of yours, but now is not the time to address it. If you really can’t let it go, wait until after the wedding to air your grievances with her — you’ll probably have a few more to add to your list by then anyway. And being upset with her because she didn’t clear her wedding date with you — despite admitting you never would have cleared your wedding date for her is just ridonkulous. I don’t care if she made some vague reference to talking to you about it and then not doing so. It’s HER wedding. Maybe she meant to talk to you about dates and got so wrapped up in the million other little details one gets wrapped up in when planning a wedding that it slipped her mind. Maybe she wanted to, but her fiancé told her it was a decision between the two of them and not the two of them plus all their friends. And maybe she flat-out, bold-face lied to you, which doesn’t make that much sense but if you’re really considering it a legitimate possibility, perhaps you aren’t as fond of her now as you once were.
If that’s the case, you have a couple of options. You can either suck it up and be happy (or fake happiness) for Jane or you can bow out of her wedding now as graciously as you can by saying something like, “Oh dear, I didn’t realize your wedding would be so close to Thanksgiving and I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it after all as we always go to my parents and we can’t afford two cross-country trips so close together.” You could also start saving now — over nine months out — for those two trips. If you were prepared to fly cross-country at least twice in the next year anyway — once for her wedding and once for Thanksgiving — what difference does it make on your budget if those trips happen to be close together? Since they’re both late in the year, wouldn’t that give you more time to save than if Jane’s wedding were, say, this summer?
Here’s what it sounds like to me: You’ve drifted apart from Jane and now the the thought of making any sacrifices to “be there for her” on her wedding day seems … annoying. There’s the dress you’ll have buy, the wedding gift, perhaps a shower gift and a bachelorette party to help plan. There’s the expense of the day itself — travel and hotel costs, grooming, etc. etc. It’s a lot! Apparently, the average bridesmaid spends something like $1600 for the honor and I can certainly understand if you aren’t up for that kind of commitment to someone you don’t feel very close to anymore. But if that’s the case — if you’re just going to get more and more resentful with every penny you spend and every duty you have to take on — then seriously, bow out now. Yes, it will probably mean the end of the friendship, but I fear if you go through with it, you’ll be signing on for nine months of resentment-building that will not just end your friendship but blow it up into a spectacular explosion of glittery, glistening wedding confetti.
But, look, if you really don’t want to end your friendship — either now or after the wedding — there is one last option: You can focus on how much you care for Jane — how true she’s been to you, how much she’s done for you and how much you care for her. You can put aside your petty disappointments and consider your role as her bridesmaid payment for all she’s done for you over the years — the things you say you could never repay. You can accept her for her flaws, love her in spite of them as she loves you in spite of yours, and celebrate this milestone in her life, being grateful that you’ve had the good fortune to watch someone you care so much about grow from a high school girl into a woman who’s committing her life to another person. That’s a lovely thing — certainly worth putting aside a few minor resentments.
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