Your not in the wedding
You Are Not Invited
By the end of our twenties, most women have at least one stashed away in our closet. It’s that dress the bride assured us we would be able to wear again and again. And with each telling, it becomes more outrageous until even a simple, tasteful A-line transforms into an overwrought explosion of crinoline and enormous taffeta bows.
Men generally escape slightly less scathed, provided that the groom doesn’t start mentioning the word ‘retro’ while planning the groomsmen’s attire. Outwardly we grumble about the inconvenience and expense. Inwardly though, we can’t deny the special pride in knowing that the couple chose us, from among all of their friends, to stand with them on their wedding day.
So what happens when, after the initial excitement of your pal’s engagement settles down, you learn that you have not been selected as a bridesmaid or groomsman? There’s no denying that this level of rejection can sting, particularly if the bride/groom is a close friend or relative. But before you pick up the phone to complain bitterly to your nearest and dearest, or dash off a tersely written RSVP informing the happy couple that you wouldn’t dream of missing “Ally McBeal” to attend the reception, stop for a moment and consider your next move carefully. Your actions in the coming months could have a dramatic effect, both on the couple’s special day and on the state of your friendship.
Take a moment and count to ten: Unless your omission from the wedding party is particularly glaring — you’re the bride’s twin sister — your first wedding gift should probably be to let the matter go without comment. There are plenty of reasons why even a close friend or sibling might not make the final cut, and forcing your friend to explain the decision might cause undue embarrassment. In any event, the answer may lie in the wedding party itself. Has the groom named the bride’s eight brothers as groomsmen? Perhaps the bridesmaids are all women who included the bride in their wedding parties. In a perfect world, sentiment alone would determine who joins the bride and groom for their walk down the aisle. However, many couples must deal with pressure to please family and friends, while remaining within their wedding budget.
Consider your words carefully before you speak up: If finding yourself shut out of the wedding party came as a shock to you, there is a good chance that your friends and family may be surprised as well. Unless the bride and groom have given you explicit permission to chat about their choices, it’s probably best to avoid discussing the situation with anyone even remotely connected to the couple and their families. If asked, simply smile and express your gratitude that you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the wedding of two wonderful friends without the stress of attendant duties. Then change the subject. Resist the urge to speculate about the reasons behind your predicament. Rest assured that anything you say on the matter, no matter how innocuous, will find its way back to the bride and groom — though quite possibly not in the manner you intended.
Keep the matter in perspective: Even though you will not be an active participant in the wedding ceremony itself, there are still many ways you can help to make the day as special as possible. Do you have a particular talent to offer the bride and groom? If you are a skilled calligrapher, florist, baker, jewelry maker, or seamstress, your friend may well have left you off the attendant list in hopes of utilizing your professional talents. If your abilities are not quite so wedding specific, consider offering to help the bride and groom by taking on some of the many planning tasks at hand. Perhaps you can research hotel pricing and availability for out of town guests. Or you might offer to take charge of many of the wedding day details, such as distributing checks to the vendors, or keeping track of the bottles of liquor used — if an open bar has been provided. Avoid involving yourself in tasks that are traditionally handled by the wedding party, unless specifically invited. Organizing the bridal shower or bachelor party may serve to focus attention on the fact that you are not an attendant, which could make the bride or groom uncomfortable.
Handling the Situation
Take your cues from the bride and groom: If your friend is reluctant to involve you in the planning process at all, don’t press the matter. He may be embarrassed about cutting you from the attendant list, or perhaps she remembers that time in college when you promised to drive her to the airport and arrived three hours late. If you attempt to force your help upon your friend, you will only succeed in adding stress to the situation. Instead, consider organizing a special wedding gift. Why not prepare a beautiful scrapbook and have the couple’s friends and family fill it with wedding wishes for the bride and groom. If you know your friends are in need of something substantial for their new home together, pitch in with a group to purchase the item as a wedding present.
However you choose to participate, try to focus on the joy of the marriage itself rather than your disappointment at having been left off the attendant list. Remember, your friendship will last far beyond the wedding day and a single decision should not alter the closeness of your relationship. And consider this — perhaps while narrowing the choices for the wedding party, your friend chose you as the person he or she trusted most to handle the disappointment with grace and maturity. High praise indeed from someone who knows and loves you.