Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“The Bride’s Not in Love With Her Groom”

From the forums:

So, I am a bridesmaid in the wedding of my best friend, who lives about 900 miles away. A couple weeks ago I visited her to attend her bridal shower. I’ve known things weren’t going great in her relationship, but I didn’t realize how bad they really were. She told me that she loves her fiancé as a person, but she is not in love with him. What she’s known all along about him — that he lacks maturity, is extremely insecure, and is not motivated on the career front — really bothers her. And she feels like during their entire relationship he has held her back from new experiences. She has tried to end their relationship multiple times, but each time he makes her feel guilty and talks her into staying with him. She knows he loves her, but it’s a very dependent kind of love. She has also had several emotional affairs with other guys during the course of their relationship.

Their wedding is the last weekend in June, most things have already been paid for, and they’ve already received a lot of gifts. I told her that she can’t worry about the money everyone’s already spent. I get that she’s under a lot of pressure, but this is the rest of her life we’re talking about, and the last thing she should do is go through with a marriage she feels isn’t right. She went through a few days when she left the apartment she shares with her fiancé and crashed with her sister temporarily. Then on the phone she told me she had decided to break things off with him. I’ve been worried sick about her and called her the next day to see how she was. “We’ve decided to give it one last try,” she said. “And I mean one last try.” I just have a feeling things are going to be very back and forth up until the last minute.

Ultimately, the bride’s first obligation is to herself and what she feels is right. And I know my role is to support her in whatever she decides to do. I’m kind of at the point where I don’t know if I have a wedding to attend in June, and I’ve already bought my train ticket. But my question for you is what, if any, obligation, does she have to me, her other bridesmaids, and her family? — Trying to Be a Supportive Bridesmaid

She has no obligation to you, her bridesmaids or her family beyond treating you with the same respect she’d expect from any of you. She does not have an obligation to get married, even if gifts have already been sent and travel arrangements made and paid for. She does not have an obligation to stay married even if she does go through with the wedding. She doesn’t even have an obligation to reimburse expenses made on her and her fiancé’s behalf if the wedding is canceled at the last minute. I mean, what is she supposed to do? Bankrupt herself paying for everyone’s travel expenses and reimbursing her guests and wedding party for the clothes they bought? Common etiquette does say that if the wedding is canceled, the bride and groom should return all gifts — shower gifts, included — that have not been used, along with a brief thank you. Once the wedding takes place. though, even if the marriage only lasts a few weeks, the couple keeps the gifts.

You say this is your best friend and it may be tempting to tell her not to get married or to cancel the wedding as soon as possible to save the guests as much inconvenience as possible, but putting that kind of pressure on her is only adding to her stress. This is a huge decision she needs to make and it really needs to be about what’s best for HER and not what is most convenient for her wedding guests. We’re talking, at most, one weekend for her guests versus, you know, her life. If she takes up to the last minute to figure out that perhaps getting married isn’t the best move right now, it’s not the end of the world. And if she doesn’t figure it out until after the wedding, it’s still not the end of the world, though it does make things far more complicated for herself.

It sounds like you’re concerned about the travel arrangements that have already been made and whether there’s actually going to be a wedding on the other end of your commute to justify the expense and inconvenience of traveling. But even if there isn’t a wedding, there’s still going to be a best friend on the other end of your commute who will welcome you and whatever support you can give, which should be enough justification to make the trip. Be there for her with a shoulder to cry on. Be there to help her host other friends and family who may have traveled for the wedding — who knows, it may literally get canceled at the very last minute with guests having already arrived. Be there and think of your friend and how confused she must be and put your own needs and annoyances aside for a couple of days and just help someone you care about get through what could likely be a most stressful time of her life. You will be glad you were there when she needed you most.

Finally, if you’re having such a hard time thinking about eating the cost of the bridesmaid dress and alterations and the other expenses related to being in the wedding party if the wedding is canceled or the marriage doesn’t last long, think of it this way: if she ever has a second wedding and asks you to be in it, you will have justification to graciously decline. There’s no reason anyone should have to spend hundreds of dollars as a bridesmaid twice for the same friend. Do it once and you’re done, whether the wedding happens or not. Offering your support and compassion, though, shouldn’t have a time limit.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

52 comments… add one
  • avatar

    csp May 15, 2013, 9:10 am

    LW, many times the hardest thing to do is watch your friend or loved one walk right into a train wreck. There might be issues but there is nothing you can do about it. What you can do is be there to support her and love her now and maybe someday when this ends. This situation happens more than you think and the one thing is that you have spoken your peace about the situation and now just let her work through her issues.

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  • avatar

    ktfran May 15, 2013, 9:22 am

    WOW! At the end of this letter, I thought the LW was going to ask if she should intervene and try to convince her friend to call off the wedding. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think the LW as going to ask what obligation the bride had to her wedding party and guests.

    I get that it sucks to spend all this time and money and then not go through with something, but that’s a risk taken when accepting to be a bridesmaid. Especially when you’re a bridesmaid to someone you know has a rocky relationship.

    Anyway, support your friend in whatever capacity you can. And Wendy’s right, if the wedding is called off or doesn’t last, I would not do all this a second time around.

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    • lemongrass

      Lemongrass May 15, 2013, 11:26 am

      My thoughts exactly, I was already thinking “you can’t make decisions for your friends, even if they are making shitty ones…” Yeah it sucks that you may be out some money but it sucks nowhere near calling off your wedding does and I’m sure the bride will be acutely aware of how much she has inconvenienced her guests and that guilt will lay heavily on her. Hopefully not so heavily that she goes through with the wedding. Losing money from a called off wedding is a risk you take by agreeing to be a bridesmaid.

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  • katie

    katie May 15, 2013, 9:38 am

    im glad wendy touched on the part about no matter what happens if you travel there, your friend will still be there… that was my main thought too. wedding or not, you will be able to see her and support her, and also, if there is no wedding, she will likely need people like you to be there by her side… it would be as if someone died, almost, you know? that big, crushing, cant even stand whats happening feeling she is likely to feel if she cancels the wedding.. if something that big had happened under other circumstances (ie, she was in a serious car accident, her new husband suddenly died, her mother died, whatever), i think a lot of people would make the last minute travel arrangements to be there with their best friend anyway, you know?

    to me, bottom line, you are her best friend supporting her in her wedding. that support should extend far, far beyond dresses and travel arrangements.

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    • theattack

      theattack May 15, 2013, 9:41 am

      “to me, bottom line, you are her best friend supporting her in her wedding. that support should extend far, far beyond dresses and travel arrangements.”

      Love this! This can be applied to so many scenarios too. I think it’s more important for her to be there for a cancelled wedding than the real thing. Her friend is going to need someone to distract her.

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      • katie

        katie May 15, 2013, 10:00 am

        i think its more important to be there for a cancelled wedding too.. i mean, isnt that what everyone says? you find out who your real friends are when the shit hits the fan? i think an impending canceled wedding is a shit hitting the fan scenario.

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  • avatar

    SasaLinna May 15, 2013, 9:53 am

    I’d love an update on this one!

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle May 15, 2013, 9:54 am

    See, I never saw the “what is her obligation to us” question as a “should I be reimbursed if the wedding is cancelled” thing…I feel like it’s more, okay, this woman planned a wedding. And planned for her friends to support her ~during the wedding~ as bridesmaids. But, now she is waffling back and forth on whether there even is going to BE a wedding. And that’s kinda shitty for everyone involved?

    Obviously, it’s the bride’s life—so it’s shittiest for her, really (& the groom)—but if the bride wrote in, I mean, wouldn’t we all tell her to get her shit in line? Getting engaged should mean you are CERTAIN you want to get married. None of this “I’m totally ending it!” “Wait, now I’m not. But only one more chance!” stuff. I realize the bridesmaids are her FRIENDS so, yeah, those are the people she’d be venting to…but, dude. She is dragging everyone into her mess. And then what, if she does go through with it? The people she has “standing up” for her all know that she barely wanted to even get married.

    I know life is not perfect—my brother broke up with his fiance around age 24, 25 & the wedding (which was already booked) had to be cancelled. But nobody had any inkling until the day he told this girl he didn’t want to marry her. No one was dragged into the drama of his preliminary “Should I? Shouldn’t I?” thought process. That’s what is happening here. So I don’t blame the LW for wondering what she should do…the bride is making it very hard for LW to support her.

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    • avatar

      ktfran May 15, 2013, 10:13 am

      I just read the forum, and I think you’re right. But I can see how the question, without knowing who wrote it, sounds off. I mean, I was honestly like WTF?

      You better believe I would be annoyed with my friend if she were like this. I mean, SUPER annoyed. I’m fairly blunt, so if she asked me to be a bridesmaid, I would probably say something about maybe she shouldn’t be getting married.

      I called off a wedding, but the only thing we had booked was the wedding/reception venue and the DJ. I didn’t do any other planning because I was wavering and I didn’t want to lose that money. We lost money on the DJ. We received one engagement gift and the couple who sent that, friends of my aunt and uncle, told me to keep it. But I offered to return it. I also, obviously, gave the ring back.

      I can say, even with all the uncertaintly I was feeling, it’s so easy to get caught up in planning a wedding. But then I realized that life after would have sucked and I made the right decision. I hope this bride is as smart, but I don’t think she will be.

      I knew it was bad when I didn’t even have fun trying on wedding dresses. I LOVE clothes.

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  • avatar

    TECH May 15, 2013, 10:04 am

    I posed this question in the forums. If I had written a letter to Wendy I would have put more thought and time into the way I worded things. I see how the last sentence might have thrown people for a loop. Like I said in the post, the bride’s first obligation is to herself and what she feels is right. And I know my role is to support her in whatever she decides to do. It’s a very good point that I will travel there even if the wedding is cancelled.

    I guess the angle I was coming at it from was this: Myself, and her MOH (her half-sister) have spent thousands leading up this point. I don’t want to sound like a money grubbing person, but I myself have spent over $1,000 leading up this wedding. Her half sister paid for the entire bridal shower and some bachelorette activities. I do not know how much the cost was, but based on my observations on how nice the venue was, it had to have been over $1000, maybe close to $2000. The bride articulated to me before the bridal shower: “I shouldn’t be getting married.”

    I get that myself and the other bridesmaids are doing this voluntarily. But for me, the dilemma was, is it fair to have myself and others in the bridal party continue to do these things when the bride articulated “I shouldn’t be getting married, I’m not in love with this person, and I think I need to break things off.”

    Obviously the resounding answer is yes, it is fair for us to continue to do these things.

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    • avatar

      csp May 15, 2013, 10:54 am

      so, my BFF was in another wedding that this happened. It was the opposite problem, the guy was a jerk, clearly not good for the bride. My friend spent tons on all the pre wedding and wedding costs. Then the guy left the bride 6 months after the wedding. this was what everyone saw coming.

      The thing is, this might work out just the way you think it will. Or, once the stress of the wedding is done, they can settle into a relationship that works for both of them. At this point, you are too far down the track and have too much invested that now it is just supporting her.

      One thing I might say to my friend is “I am concerned about what is motivating you here and if you are truely happy, but I love you and support you in whatever you decided.”

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    • avatar

      WAPS May 15, 2013, 11:04 am

      Has her half-sister actually complained about the money she’s spent to you, or are you tabulating the expenses she has incurred to everyone regardless of how they feel about it? I only ask because if nobody else has outright complained to you, it is unfair to include them in your inquiry.

      Also, it appear that the resounding answer is yes, it is fair for you to continue to do these things *this time.* If in the future there is another wedding, you are well within your rights to decline. However, it’s possible that this is just cold feet. I’m a pretty indecisive person, and I generally get cold feet before any big decision. Before college, before med school, before starting my PhD – I felt that all of them were mistakes, but none of them were. I dread that I’m going to feel like your friend in the weeks before my wedding, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be because my fiance isn’t the right person! But you do know her and her relationship better than I do, of course. I am just offering another point of view!

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray May 15, 2013, 11:10 am

        “WAPS” – I still love it.

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    • avatar

      ebstarr May 15, 2013, 11:07 am

      Over $1000? And you’re not even MOH???? That’s insane. I get why people are being critical of you for seeming to think about the money more than your friend’s needs (and I’m sure you’re not even doing that), but god, I don’t blame you if you’re a little MIFFED that your friend is letting you spend an exorbitant amount of money for her in honor of an event that even she knows is a giant mistake. And I personally wouldn’t blame you if you said you needed to step out of the wedding, either (I mean, I think you should view this with compassion towards her and not anger, obviously, since she’s confused and going through a rough time and everything, but you’ve already gone above and beyond as a friend. WAY above.)

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      • avatar

        TECH May 15, 2013, 11:21 am

        I have no intention of stepping out of the wedding. I do have compassion for my friend, and I hope that came through in my post. My dilemma is that the bride is has articulated several times “I’m not in love with him, I shouldn’t be getting married.” But then she says, “Yes, carry on with the bridal shower, carry on with paying to get your dress altered, etc.”

        And yes, I know that this is about the bride. This is not about me. But it’s just kind of hard when she says, “I know this is a mistake, but keep doing what you’re doing, let’s act like everything is normal!” I don’t think this is a case of cold feet considering that she has tried to break up with her boyfriend/fiance multiple times. Once again, not my decision. This her decision to make.

        So like @ebstarr said, maybe “miffed” is the right word. But I still love and support my friend regardless. Like I said in my original post, “I know my role is to support her in whatever she decides to do.” I know I’m getting flack for asking the question I asked, but some commentors have criticized me for not thinking about my friends needs, which is not at all what I was trying to imply with my post.

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      • avatar

        kerrycontrary May 15, 2013, 11:36 am

        I’d be miffed too and I don’t think that you are being insensitive. Also, the average bridesmaid spends 1200 on a wedding. So the LW’s amount is about normal. If you don’t think you have, add up your dress, shoes, travel (gas included!), any meals, hotel stays, gifts, bridal showers, bachelorettes, and random crap and the cost goes up quickly.

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      • avatar

        csp May 15, 2013, 2:21 pm

        don’t forget hair, makeup, nails, engagement gift 🙂

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      • avatar

        ebstarr May 15, 2013, 11:46 am

        No, absolutely. I was saying I didn’t even think you HAD to consider your job as being to support your friend no matter what she decided, if “support” meant “spend even more money to stand up next to someone who’s flat-out told you she’s making a mistake.” But if support means “love her and want what’s best for her,” then yes that’s your role.

        I’m all sympathy for you right now. I didn’t mean you should step out of the wedding, just that I think it’s OK for you to think/write about your own needs alongside your friend’s needs.

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      • avatar

        TECH May 15, 2013, 11:55 am

        Thanks @ebstarr

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      • avatar

        bcamber May 15, 2013, 11:22 am

        I agree.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest May 15, 2013, 4:45 pm

      Did you ever speak to her to assure her that its ok to back out now, and why its ok, and you’ll help her cancel everything?

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  • avatar

    SasaLinna May 15, 2013, 10:12 am

    Wow, that’s a lot of money! I really liked Wendy’s point that you should view this as a one-time expense, and that you don’t have to her bridesmaid again if this wedding is cancelled and there’s another one later.
    As for continuing with the preparations when the bride has said “I shouldn’t be getting married” – yes, that’s a difficult spot to be in. But I can’t think of anything you could actively do that would be helpful, other than being there for your friend no matter what.

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    • avatar

      SasaLinna May 15, 2013, 10:13 am

      This was meant as reply to TECH.

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  • avatar

    Stephanie May 15, 2013, 10:20 am

    WFS! Maybe I’m PMS’ ing but I’ve found most of the brides featured during Wedding Week to be insufferable. I understand supporting a friend during a difficult time but all this waffling back and forth about whether or not you’re even getting married has to be exhausting for her friend to endure. Her friend isn’t complainign about all the money she’s spent and the arrangements she’s had to make to travel 900 miles to be there for her friend, just a heads up so she can make alternate plans n the event the wedding is cancelled. It’s not like she lives 20 minutes away for goodness sakes! Why isn’t there an expectation for brides to treat their friends with the same level of care and respect everyone is asking the LW to show her?

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    • theattack

      theattack May 15, 2013, 10:23 am

      Wow, seriously? The bride is supposed to be making one of the biggest decisions in her life around a convenient timeline for her friend? That’s ridiculous. This isn’t about the friend, and if the friend thinks it is then she is very self-absorbed. The friend should be caring about the bride and sympathizing with her instead of being impatient for her to make a decision.

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck May 15, 2013, 12:30 pm

        She can support her friend emotionally and be there for her without shelling out a ton of money for a wedding that the bride has clearly stated she doesn’t want (because that’s the message you send when you attempt to dump the groom, get engaged because he guilts you into it, and spend your bridal shower discussing how she wants to break of the relationship). Just because the bride in this situation is having a really difficult time trying to get out a relationship and cancel a wedding doesn’t mean she can treat her friends poorly. The LW clearly sympathizes with her friend’s situation, and her worrying about throwing money away (which directly impacts her own well-being through her budget) doesn’t detract from that.

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      • theattack

        theattack May 15, 2013, 12:37 pm

        I don’t disagree with the fact that the bride should be more considerate of her friends, but Stephanie is suggesting that the bride needs to make a decision about getting married because it’s stressful for other people. How about she needs to make the decision because it’s important for her? Also I didn’t say that Tech wasn’t sympathizing with her friend. I definitely think she is, but it’s ridiculous for the bride to base her decision to GET MARRIED on her friends.

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      • avatar

        Stephanie May 15, 2013, 4:41 pm

        I’m not suggesting that at all, the attack. It would be to the bride’s benefit to make a decision so she can get herself off of the emotional rollercoaster she has created for herself. The more time that passes seems, in this case, to make it more difficult for her to make a choice which it why, it seems, she has gotten the LW so involved in this mess. I’m not unsympathetic to the bride, I just think that she’s making herself crazier as the wedding date approaches. It appears as though she has a tremendous support system around her and their main concern is her health and well being, not losing money on a wedding gift. She can get married or not, this state of uncertainty isn’t good for any of the parties involved.

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    • avatar

      SasaLinna May 15, 2013, 10:27 am

      The thing is, no one waffles on something as important as getting married just for funzies. I would bet that the friend is in a very painful, stressful situation right now. That’s why her behavior with the bridesmaids is somewhat excusable.

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  • avatar

    Bossy Italian Wife May 15, 2013, 10:25 am

    It can be really difficult to watch someone marry someone that they are not in love with…and I even understand feeling a little resentful about the costs that are incurred when it seems to you that the logical thing to do would be to cancel the wedding.

    The problem with all of that is that it’s not your life or your decision. I sympathize with you LW because I HATE watching people making bad decisions. In the end, though, she has to live with it, and you sound like you want to be supportive….so think of this way: you are going to town whether or not your friend gets married–plain and simple.

    If she gets married, show up and be happy for her. If she doesn’t show up and be happy for her. If she doesn’t, use the time to help her package gifts she needs to return, write thanks yous, list her gown on ebay–whatever she needs. This is an opportunity to be a good friend, and that doesn’t mean that you have to give your opinions on what she should or shouldn’t do. Easier said than done, but you gotta put on your big girl panties, and show up as a nonjudgmental friend, for better or worse!

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  • FireStar

    Firestar May 15, 2013, 10:36 am

    My husband wanted to cancel or postpone his first wedding – and asked the bride but she said no because the invitations went out already. It’s his biggest regret that he didn’t insist. Because under two years later they were divorced and both knew they should never have married. A cancelled wedding is infinitely better than going through with something you know you just shouldn’t. The cost, the “embarrassment”, the disappointment is far more acute after the vows have been said. It’s one thing to have a marriage break down after the fact – it is something else when you saw the writing on the wall before you walked down the aisle.
    It’s a hard position your friend is in. And I understand the advice that it is not your place to put pressure on her. And certainly don’t speak to her about cancelling because of the expense and costs everyone else is incurring – because if they love her, they will forgive her and understand, and if they don’t then they don’t love her and shame on them for not understanding she has to do what is best for her …even if it is at the eleventh hour.
    But I would argue if this is your best friend, talk to her about her choices right now and let her know what you think. Why can’t your friendship survive a conversation about whether this is the right guy for her? With my husband’s first wedding – people in our friend circle all told him before to not do it (including me since we were friends for years before we got together). Funnily enough, it turns out a bunch of us told him to rethink things without even talking to each other so he had plenty of warning ahead of time. And he was friends with all of us after…and wishes he actually listened and tried harder to postpone it until he was sure one way or the other.
    I know people think that it is overstepping to say something but I think if you love someone – you warn them of any danger you see – you give them the information you have and then you accept their choice. I would hate to think someone would be silent at the time and just say “Yeah, I always thought so” after the fact. That, to me, is less of a friend than someone who says “Firestar honey, do you think this is for the best? Because I gotta tell you – I’m not so sure.” Every friend that has done this to me in my life I treasure. Even if I didn’t agree. Hell, especially when I didn’t agree because I know they went out on a limb… and they did it for me, with my interest in heart.

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    • avatar

      SasaLinna May 15, 2013, 10:42 am

      That’s a great comment. I think, reading this, that going through with something as symbolically important as a wedding will almost inevitable further delay a necessary break up. That’s why it’s important to get out before, even if it’s at the last moment.

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    • avatar

      TECH May 15, 2013, 10:57 am

      I am the OP who posed the question in the forums. I have had many hearts to hearts with her about this. She has flat out asked me what she should do, and I have given her my honest answer: that it’s better to call off the wedding now rather than endure a divorce. But I know that it is ultimately her decision and not mine. I have told her I would support her regardless of the decision that she makes. I have also told her not to worry about the money and that she needs to make the best decision for herself.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl May 15, 2013, 10:48 am

    I’ve never understood why people get engaged with out being 400% sure they actually want to get married. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

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    • avatar

      SasaLinna May 15, 2013, 11:03 am

      I think lots of people have never known that 400% certainty and don’t believe they can do better.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary May 15, 2013, 11:14 am

      I think the same reason people get married without being 100% sure they want to marry the person: they get caught up in the event and they think it is what they are supposed to do. Some people just don’t have the self-reliance or confidence to stand up for what is really right for them in their lives until it is too late. It’s really sad.

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      • Jess

        Jess May 15, 2013, 11:56 am

        I think this is a big thing. People associate marriage with phase of life more than their choice of partner (at times). I know I felt this in reverse. Being single in my early 30s was frustrating because I felt like I was being held back from the things associate with that age. I wanted to be married rather than out at bars meeting men with the 20 something set. I wanted to do backyard BBQs, buy a house, and raise kids. BUT, I was always very clear with myself that finding the right partner was worth the wait. Those other things are not satisfying without the right person. I learned that by dating a few men who were quick to offer me all the things I wanted but didn’t inspire the feelings that I knew I should have for them…

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      • avatar

        ktfran May 15, 2013, 12:44 pm

        PREACH!

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    • theattack

      theattack May 15, 2013, 11:35 am

      I agreed with you at first thought, but now that I’m thinking about it, not very many people are 100% certain on everything they do. Some people are deciders who never look back, and some people question every decision they make. People who have a low grade of anxiety about everything (a lot of people) have a difficult time differentiating between what’s a real concern and what’s just their nerves. People who have high anxiety have it even harder. Not that this applies to everyone, but I think it explains a lot of these scenarios.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl May 15, 2013, 11:46 am

        Low grade anxiety and completely waffling on a decision are completely different, in my book. Even high anxiety is different. But the bride in this situation pretty clearly appears to NOT want to marry (or even date…) this guy. It’s just going against the better judgement, IMO. Getting caught up in the event like Kerry said.

        I’m a little anxious about getting married. It’s a BFD!! I think that is normal and healthy! Running off to your sister’s to get away while speeding towards a wedding is not, IMO.

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      • theattack

        theattack May 15, 2013, 11:54 am

        I agree with you entirely on this bride. I was mostly just responding to your question about why someone would get engaged when they weren’t 400% sure. I was about 99% sure when we got engaged. There was still the random thought of “Maybe I don’t actually know him, and he’s just trying to marry me as part of an international intelligence plot that involves aliens and assassinations and waterboarding.” Not actually a real concern, but there are always possibilities that people wonder about. Having actual concerns and running away is entirely different.

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      • avatar

        kerrycontrary May 15, 2013, 4:11 pm

        I sometimes have totally irrational thoughts about this. Like maybe my boyfriend is leading a double life and has other girlfriends. (There are no signs that any of those things are true, but you see it on tv and you go “well that could happen to me!). And then the thoughts go out of my head. But I think it’s normal to have these fleeting concerns every once in a while.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle May 15, 2013, 11:51 am

        I have a moderate level of persistent anxious thoughts, so I agree with you about it being tough for some people to differentiate between cold feet & legitimate doubt.

        BUT, I don’t think that’s what is going on here? The bride has tried multiple times to break up with this dude, entertains (out loud) thoughts about calling off the wedding, & seems to have given the relationship multiple “chances” after trying to dump the guy. That reads more like it’s an on/off thing that should really have been “off” before it got to this stage.

        There’s a difference between internal moments of doubt (when you actually ~know~, in the larger perspective, how 100% sure you are) & actually attempting to follow through with a break up, and only getting back together after the fiance convinces you (which is happened here, if I’m not mistaken).

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      • theattack

        theattack May 15, 2013, 11:56 am

        I completely agree with you. This bride isn’t experiencing anxiety. It’s a real concern for her.

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      • thewriteway

        thewriteway May 15, 2013, 11:53 am

        I am definitely someone who questions every decision I make and who has the low level of anxiety. So I can completely relate to that, but if the day ever comes where I’m getting married, I don’t think I would keep the wedding going if I were honestly saying I wasn’t in love with Future Husband and we had that many problems.

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  • avatar

    L May 15, 2013, 11:28 am

    This was me in 2008, right down to the wedding the last weekend in June. I knew I shouldn’t have gotten married (though because of cheating and verbal abuse), but my parents had shelled out so much money, people were coming from out of town, and my bridesmaids had bought dresses. I went through with the wedding because I felt I had the obligation you are asking about. Please support your friend, let her know she does not owe you a wedding for your commitment and expenditures. There is always more than meets the eye in situations like this.

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  • Jess

    Jess May 15, 2013, 11:39 am

    I remember this from the forums and I do find the topic of ambivalent brides/grooms to be pretty interesting. Of all my close friends who got married, I’ve seen a range when it comes to cold feet. But almost all had some degree of cold feet. However, LW (Tech)’s friend is really over the top.

    1. I never heard my sister express cold feet but I saw first hand how the wedding stress was getting the best of them and tensions were running high. They’ve been happily married for 7 years.
    2. A good friend of mine called me crying a month before her wedding and said she was questioning if she was marrying for the right reasons. I remember telling her that if she wanted to cancel, she shouldn’t worry about the aftermath. I promised I would be there in a heartbeat to help her clean up the mess. I added that if she went through with it, I would still be there and first in line to hug her and her new husband. They’re now happily married for 4 years.
    3. Another close friend told me how her fiancee openly questioned where they should go through with it a number of times during their engagement. Even before proposing, he vocalized being unsure about her. She asked me a few times if she was making a mistake.I tried to tactfully point out my concerns but she married him anyway and I will always support her no matter what the outcome. It’s her life. Now they’re unhappily married with a kid. He doesn’t lift a finger to help and he wants a second! *sigh* But friendships, in some ways, are just like marriages. You don’t always love the choices your friends make but you support them through thick and thin.

    Now that I am getting married, it’s interesting. I don’t want to sound smug but I don’t have any doubts about marrying my partner! Truly, none. And we’re about 5 weeks to go. Maybe it’s because I’m older and more confident about my decisions. I also think it’s because I chose the right person. With that said, I have to confess that I have had the weirdest stress dreams where my fiancee cancels the wedding or where I find myself cheating on him! I think that’s my minds way of exercising the fear that something so good might get snatched away.

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  • Jess

    Jess May 15, 2013, 11:47 am

    Reading through the comments, it’s amazing how many people get married when they (at least semi-consciously) know it’s not a good idea. Keeping that in mind sort of skews the divorce rate a little bit. At least it sure makes me feel better about entering into a marriage where we feel really solid with each other.

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    • landygirl

      landygirl May 15, 2013, 1:30 pm

      People are dumb. Sorry but it’s true. I don’t exclude myself from that statement.

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  • avatar

    AKchic May 15, 2013, 12:47 pm

    The only obligation she has to you is to tell you whether the wedding is still on or not. Period.

    It would be nice if she could tell you sooner rather than later if it’s off.

    Having said that though, the best thing you can do is be “there” for her. Be as supportive and unobtrusive as possible. I’m sure she’s getting stressful lectures already from family. If her family is anything like my family, or any of the families I know, her sister has already mentioned it to Mom or friends, or her fiance has blabbed to Mommy, who gossiped to friends, or Mom is pressuring her to make a decision and stick with it. All the while fiance is pressuring her to stay (because they are “perfect” for each other and he “can’t live without” her!). All the while, she’s feeling the guilt and pressure of already paying all this money (which is probably non-refundable) and getting her guests to pay money to come see this event. It’s a big decision to cancel a wedding. The social stigma, the costs involved, the fall-out, the gossip… it’s a lot to take. Everyone starts saying it’s “cold feet”, when really there’s usually a very good reason why the wedding (and relationship itself) has been called off.

    Continue to be an ear/shoulder to vent to/cry on if possible.

    Update us if you can!

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  • Lindsay

    Lindsay May 15, 2013, 2:06 pm

    I read this originally in the forums, and I didn’t take it the way that Wendy took it. I don’t think it’s selfish to simply ask what the bride’s obligations are or to express concern that you’re spending all this money on a wedding that may not happen. Yes, we should all support our friends, but I seriously doubt everyone here wouldn’t also feel slightly annoyed if this were happening to them. I sort of gathered that the bride is letting the money already spent influence her decision, which is why it’s actually useful for the LW to be more knowledgeable about what, if any, obligations the bride has.

    I realize that it’s probably painful for the bride, and the important thing is that she makes the right choice for her. That’s much, much more important than whether people bought some plane tickets that won’t be used. But it doesn’t make it suck any less for people who’ve spent hundreds of dollars on an event they thought their loved ones actually wanted. Being slightly annoyed to yourself doesn’t make you a bad friend.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 8:28 am

    Maybe it would help her to think about this if you ask her if she respects him and is proud of him. I think there are some basic emotions you should have if you are going to marry someone and that would be to love them, respect them, trust them and be proud of them. From your description I get the feeling that instead of respect she feels contempt and that usually destroys marriages. Also, ask if she sees herself happily married to her fiancé in ten years and in twenty years. Does she love the idea of getting old with him.

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