Thursday, December 2, 2010

My sister is a WEDDING BASHER

Dear ESB,

I'm in need of a bit of help. And the people I usually turn to are, in fact, part of the current problem.

You see, I got engaged many months ago, and am now about 6 months out from the wedding. When it came time to decide if I was going to have bridesmaids, the answer was an automatic YES, and I asked my wonderful sisters, as well as a dear friend. Shortly after I got engaged, one of my sisters also became engaged, and her wedding date was a few months before mine. I was thrilled for her! I was excitedly looking forward to planning together, and bouncing ideas off of each other, as both of our weddings will have some traditional and many non-traditional aspects.

However, it has been anything but. She has been bashing all of my ideas from my shoes, to my guest list, to my choices in general! She yelled at me when I mentioned a signature drink to cut down on liquor costs, saying it was her idea and I stole it from her. She made fun of me when I mentioned that my fiance's nephew would be our ring bearer, saying ring bearer's are tacky, and in turn, make a wedding look tacky. And she's been criticizing my decision about having non-matching bridesmaids. There have been more, but we'll just stop at 3 examples.

First, I'm pretty sure she does not own the rights to having a signature drink at weddings. I'm also pretty sure she wasn't the first one to come up with the idea. Second, I'm not the biggest fans of children in weddings either. Mainly because it is sad to see a poor kid stuffed into a tiny tux carrying a satin pillow. My fiance really wanted his nephew to be apart of the wedding, as it was very important to him. It's his wedding too. But we BOTH want the nephew to be comfortable, and, basically, just run down the aisle before I go. No tuxes, no satin pillow. And finally, I wanted my bridesmaids to like what they are going to wear on the day of the wedding. I did say it should be a dress from J Crew in any shade of blue; I thought it was the best of both worlds. I get bridesmaids in great little blue dresses, and they get to pick what style and shade best suits them. But it wasn't good enough for her, and she promptly decided to tell me non-matching bridesmaids will look silly, and I should force everyone to wear the same thing.

On top of all of this, she bashes all other weddings (including mine), and says all weddings are stupid and tacky. Except hers. Because hers is the most special of special. Not only that, but she's wrangling in my other sister (who loves everything and anything about weddings), to go along with her opinions.

Now, I don't want to kick her out as a bridesmaid; I chose her for a reason. I love my sisters very much, and I value their opinions. But what I don't like is being told my wedding ideas/plans are silly and tacky, and I should do BLAH instead. I decided not to tell her anymore plans/ideas because I'm sick and tired of being made to feel my wedding sucks.

She is constantly berating me about wedding plans, even if I don't tell her anything. What should I do?

Many thanks,

- bummed-out bride


Um, yeah. I'm pretty sure Martha Stewart coined the phrase "signature drink" in 1987.

Here's the thing. Almost every bride is seized with the bizarre conviction that the way she is doing it/did it is the right way/only way to do it. It's like there's some piece that snaps loose in their brains.

Try stroking your sister's ego. Tell her how much you loooooooooooove the stupid dress she picked out for all of you to wear. How cool you think her dumb wedding's going to be. Etc.

But don't FOR AN INSTANT feel like you have to justify any of your choices.

(Photo of Audrey Tautou via Anj Ali)


  1. short-haired gal in a dark blazer FTW

    on the subject at hand, look, sisters are like fight club. the first rule of weddings is do not talk about weddings. also the skinny girls fight 'til they're burger.

  2. You're being extremely accomodating, forgiving, and downright nice about this- starting with the fact that she totally stole your thunder and got engaged and is getting married before you.

    Seeing as YOU were engaged first, and SHE is the johnny-come-lately, she should be EXTRA careful not to step on your toes with the wedding plans. but instead, she's being the opposite of tactful. this is just rude, and not how a sister or friend should treat you. TELL HER how her actions and criticisms are making you feel! Explain to her in your very calm-and-nice way (which I am very impressed by!) that she is hurting your feelings.

    And yeah, no justification of your choices, like ESB said!! Your mismatched blue dresses will look really pretty and NOT TACKY at all, btw.

  3. sorry, esb... you're letting this bitchy sister off too easy.

    dear bummed-out bride,

    your sister needs a serious smack-down. it's ok; you're sisters, which means you're allowed to give each other a decent ass-kicking and still love one another once it's over. it sounds to me like you're younger than this crazed lunatic of a sister, no? this is YOUR wedding not hers and you need to step up and tell her to back the fuck off. there's a difference between constructive criticism, and acting like a total ass. i don't think you need to kick her off of the bridesmaids team, but i do think you need to be stern with her and stand your ground. she's basically treating you like shit because you haven't stopped her from doing it. as an older sister myself, i know i can be somewhat of a bitch to my little sister at times, BUT she always calls me on it. that's what sister do, and it's the right thing to do. Also, tell your sister to take a look at my wedding, and if she still has the audacity to say that ring bearers and non-matching bridesmaids dresses are tacky, she is more than welcome to show up at my door and say it to my face. ;)

    hang in there! i'm sure your wedding is going to be beautiful.

  4. Sit down with your sister and tell her she's being an ass. Sorry, but she deserves some honesty right now.

    Tell her you love her, but she is not the first and last person to have a great wedding. Tell her you want her to be a big part of your wedding, but if she keeps going on like she is, she won't be included in the planning anymore. She needs some tough love right now.

    I have a hunch you aren't alone in your frustrations (she's got to have other bridesmaids or friends that aren't enjoying her superior attitude).

  5. Yeah. I got engaged right after one of my bf's and while I was all YAY! WE GET TO PLAN OUR WEDDINGS TOGETHER! She was a lot like your sister. It was a bummer. What I did was, I found a good friend or two who I could vent to in confidence and let it go. It was either that or cut a bitch. Funny thing, immediately after her wedding, she was fine. Bride brain, it's scary.

  6. I'm with Celia - CALL HER ON IT. You're sisters, so you should be calling each other on stuff. Do it honestly, not passive aggressively. Tell her you love her but her attitude is not okay and even if she genuinely feels that your wedding sucks she needs to man up and behave herself. Expressing an opinion once is fine. Whining about it over and over again for the sake of making you feel bad about your choices is not.

  7. Honestly... I think you need to talk to your sister. I hope you have that type of relationship but I would just be frank with her and make sure to keep your cool.

    If it were me I would tell her how it sounds / feels from the other side and that you really like her plans and aren't bashing them. My guess is she thinks everything you do differently from her is you quietly saying you don't like what she's doing. Just make it clear that its not the case but also I think she needs to understand that its making you not want to talk to her about wedding stuff and that's pretty sad.

    All the best! (also... totally love the idea of non matching blue dresses)

  8. I am so glad I don't have sisters. This kind of drama plagues my friends with sisters and they can't escape it!

  9. Yeah, this is very typical sibling competition. Which is why she's freaking out right now. Everything that you do that's like her wedding is "stealing" her "unique" ideas. And everything you do differently is a challenge to the decisions she's made because it says, "there is an alternative, so your way is not necessarily the BEST way". There is NO winning here because her treatment of you is a reflection of her own insecurities about her wedding.

    I'm with Celia. Call her on it. Or do what I do when my sister's being a total wank: Mock her to her face. When my little sister is being a nutbag, I'll exaggerate her nuttiness and throw it back at her (there is audible "rawr-ing" and stomping around). It snaps the tension and then we're at least both laughing and acknowledging her craziness. (Keep in mind, my sister's still crazy. But she's fun when she's acknowledging it).

    And then in the end, there's also the option of not giving her the ammunition in the first place. STOP DISCUSSING YOUR WEDDING WITH HER. Talk about The Walking Dead, Fantasy Football, knitting, anything but your bridesmaid dresses.

  10. What all the other ladies with sisters said. Time for a good old fashioned yell fest.

    And Lauren is absolutly correct. The first rule of wedding is not to talk about weddings. Tell her to stop being such a f*cking b*tch, and then stop discussing your wedding with her.

    (Sorry ESB, you only children confuse me. I mean, I like your advice in theory, but I can't IMAGINE telling my sister that I think her dress is pretty when I really mean "Get the f*ck out of my face.")

  11. I can't believe that's Audrey Tautou. Bad. Ass.

  12. The ladies before me said it best: don't feel like you have to justify your choices but sit down and talk to her about it. Whether it's an engaged friend, cousin, sister or acquaintance who you talk to, there's always going to be a certain about of disagreement because everyone wants something different for themselves and their partner. So just talk to her; try to get her to realize that she doesn't have to approve of your wedding but that she does have to be supportive. And if not supportive, than she has to avoid being a super colossal hindrance and annoyance. And if that fails, then I'd suggest not talking to her about it. As much as that may suck, it'll be better for you in the long run.

  13. Agreeing with everyone. On a practical level - in case you don't already know, 'I' messages help... saying - "I feel XYZ(sad, angry, humiliated etc) when you do this (criticize my choices)" is an easier way of broaching a subject than "You're horrible to me" - then it's about you, not her and the hearer can take it in and be sorry.

    Also, it sounds like she's jealous and insecure and probably thinks you're prettier better - whatever.

    Muchos luck!

  14. Imho the problem here isn't so much that your sis disagrees with you (incorrectly but whatever) it's that she's getting you down about your own wedding. Not. Cool. Look, she can (and probably would) argue forever about fucking cocktails or whatever (ok, total digression here, but you need to email her and link her up to the 1000 other cool ppl who have done that IT WASN'T HER IDEA; unmatching bridesmaids are brilliant; your ringbearer method sounds fine) but what she *can't* argue with is the fact that she's making you feel like shit. Tell her. Explain how you are feeling because of her. Just straightforward, and calm.

    And if she's still acting like an ass after that I think you should ask her to step down as a bridesmaid, 'cos it'll only get worse as the wedding approaches.

  15. Agreed. I think ESB handled this one 100% right, and I also think Maddie's suggestion to stop discussing it with her is great..although I understand the verbal diarrhea that can happen when you're planning a want validation, you want understanding and excitement...and honestly, you rarely get it during the planning process. I haven't yet at least. Good luck.

  16. Yeah, this is less about the specific ideas and more about the Negative Nelly attitude that she's bringing to your matrimonial table.

    It would be worth sitting her down and gently reminding her that her role in your wedding is to be supportive. If she tries to bluster her way into saying something like, "I am being supportive by saving your wedding by telling you all your ideas suck," point out that what she's doing is hurting your feelings, being competitive, and making you, the bride, feel bad. Ask her if she would want you to do that to her.

    Sisters are tough, and fellow brides (I assume) are tough - get the two together and you're up to your tits in trouble. Solvable, decent trouble.

  17. high fives for celia. if my sibling was acting like this, there would have been some yelling, starting with the words:
    you are BOTH getting married. it is ok for you to be different, and have different tastes. it is also ok for you to do some of the same sorts of things. (let's face it, most weddings follow the same format, we are not all special snowflakes of total uniqueness.) but, it is NOT ok for her to be such a narcissistic perfectionist and then push her perfectionism on you. bring on the pointing out of that fact.

    also, one might say to her - "so, you want me to have the EXACT same wedding as you, eh? EH?"

    i suspect when put in that light, she might not want to bash your different (and gorgeous!) ideas quite so much.

  18. Celia has it 100% right. I'm the youngest and it happens all.the.fucking.time. It took a boyfriend of my sister's to tell her stop being such a royal bitch to me for her to realize what she was doing. She really didn't notice that she was questioning every choice I made. They just can't help themselves.

    Lady, you just have to step up and tell her to stop being so critical. You know your family dynamic best, so that may be yelling at her, telling her calmly to stop being such a fucking asshole over a martini, or sitting her down and telling her that she sucking all the joy out of process for you. Whatever it is, do it and do it NOW!

  19. I agree 100% with Celia + others. That's the wonderful thing about siblings - you can tell them what the fuck is up, fight about it, and then at the end of the day, you're still sisters.

    I *definitely* think she's feeling insecure about her wedding - especially since she's bashing ALL other weddings (not just yours).

    Talk (or yell) it out with her and it may have to be that you just don't talk about each others' weddings - kind of a "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all" type of thing.

    Either way, DEFINITELY call her on it - she's making you as miserable as she is!

  20. By the way, that's an amazing photo of Audrey... totally validates my girl crush.

  21. Oh, I should also mention that as an oldest sister, sometimes we think it's our responsibility to tell *everyone* exactly how to live their lives. We think we're being helpful, but most of the time we're just being self-righteous. If my sister called me out on it, and she has in the past, I like to think that I'd take the hint and back off. I guess we just figure our unsolicited advice is appreciated as long as you're not saying anything.

  22. @Maddie - YESSSSSSS. So true. My sister is 7 years younger and I am totally guilty of this - and with my brothers as well. I try not to do it, but sometimes you don't even know you're doing it.

  23. just joining in on the crowd...

    I see 3 options here - 1) call her on it because she's being an obnoxious brat. 2) stop discussing your wedding with her (she probably won't notice anyway). 3) all of the above.

    Your wedding sounds awesome! Keep with what rings true with you & your guy. Your sister doesn't own the 'signature drink' concept. If you haven't already, check out for tons of wedding pictures that deviate from the norm (and many have mis-matched bridesmaids). I like going there anytime someone makes me start to doubt my own wedding choices because it reaffirms that my ideas are by no means the most 'out-there' and that in most cases, there's a good way to do almost anything without being 'tacky.'

    p.s. there was a time when people said having a 'signature drink' was tacky... whatever. don't worry about tackiness.

  24. Lady, I feel for you. I am seconding the other wise lady's guesses about your "younger sisterness." I can't imagine having my sister get engaged after me and having the wedding before me. I would demand a date change. I would feel so sad and shunned. Do what ever the hell you want to. Tell your rude ass sister that it isn't HER wedding and tell her that she should change the date of her wedding so it's after yours, so she can learn from your mistakes, if she feels so strongly about the issue!
    I'm with you in solidarity lady! Give her the smack down she is asking for. Get your mom involved too! You're mom should be giving her a follow up smack down!

  25. I just sent my sister over to read this because she sent me a text saying "imagine if we were those super competitive types of sisters and I went and got pregnant just so I could do it before you?" Rather apropos! Ha.