Friday, September 16, 2011


Dear ESB,

Okay, so here's the deal. I'm getting married next summer, and my fiance and I have just started talking about our wedding party, and who we want to be a part of it. We both decided that it would be a sweet gesture if my brother is one of his groomsmen, and I'm totally fine with that. What I'm not fine with is making my sister-in-law (my brother's wife) a bridesmaid. The problem is, ten years ago when her and my brother were married, she asked me to be one of her bridesmaids, so now I'm feeling like I have to make her one of mine, just on principal.

On one hand, I feel like NOT asking her to be a bridesmaid would be insulting to her (she's the type to hold a grudge), and after my wedding day I could potentially have to deal with the repercussions of that.

On the other hand, if I DO ask her to be a bridesmaid, I will have to deal with her a whole lot more than I would like (she already lives in the same city as me). The reason this is something I don't want is because she can be manipulative and controlling, and tends to make situations more complicated than they need to be. On top of that, any time she's ever helped me with anything, even when I haven't asked, she never lets me forget "how great she is." I'm worried that if I ask her to be one of my bridesmaids, she's going to abuse her position, and end up bossing me around and telling me what I SHOULD be doing at my own wedding.

I'm just feeling so torn up about the whole thing. Of course my mother thinks I should make her a bridesmaid, because she thinks that although it is my wedding day, it's only one day, and I'm going to have to deal with my sister-in-law for the rest of my life. Also, my mother likes to point out that although my sister-in-law is a complete pain-in-the-ass, she really "means well" and does try to show me she cares, in her own way. This is all fine, except this isn't just any other day, it's my wedding day, and I don't want to have to deal with her crap!

Anyway, I could really use your no B.S. advice right about now. So lay it on thick, I can take it. Thanks for any help!

-Bride with no time for B.S.


Give her a different, "very important" job that will keep her FAR AWAY FROM YOU.

Photo: Clémence Poesy by Ellen Von Unwerth


  1. Weddings always involve some personal compromises, nothing is ever perfect unfortunately. That said, you are obviously allowed to choose your bridesmaids as you wish.

    This could actually be a good opportunity for you to assert yourself more and stand up to her a bit. It is YOUR wedding, which she will understand, and a firm 'NO' or 'I already planned that this way', etc will get her to back off.

    Besides - when did the title of 'Bridesmaid' automatically grant powers of authority to the holder? She might get to help choose her dress, if you let her, and maybe silly penis games at your bachelorette party, but thats all.

  2. The thing is ... if you decide to include her, it's still your day. You can learn to say "no, that's not what I want" or "not my style" or "that would be good for you, but not for me" or "that's not what I've planned" ....

    But really. ESB has the best advice here. Give her a job that she can utilize her natural bossiness and 'greatness' ....

  3. I don't think you're required to have her as a bridesmaid. What about giving her a reading for the wedding? That way, she is definitely part of the day, but not part of the decision-making process, and can't have a lot of expectations about the number of events she gets to have input on.

  4. only REAL sisters are allowed to be bossy bridesmaids. and even then it is questionable. give her the job as a reader. that's what we did w/ my sis-in-law. she felt involved and left me alone!

  5. Why not put her bossy nature to work and have her coordinate the vendors or catering?

    As long as she has some sort of "important" role, she'll probably be glowing.


  6. I disagree with the first Anonymous, weddings are not the time to learn to assert yourself with unreasonable people. The less drama surrounding your planning, the better. The idea that "she will understand" sounds crazy to me because.. well, what are you going to do if she doesn't understand? What will you do if she continues to be bossy? It's not an experiment with social interaction, it's a wedding. ESB is right, give her a job that doesn't involve allowing her to make decisions and one that will create the least amount of stress for you. I'd say, given the history, bridesmaid is out regardless of your involvement in their wedding.

  7. ESB makes a good point. Harness her bossiness for good rather than evil, so to speak.

    That being said, if you do end up having her as a bridesmaid, just remember: No one can boss you around unless you let them.

  8. I agree with ESB. Give her another "important" job. It's YOUR wedding. There's no reason you should put people in your wedding party that you don't want to be there.

  9. I disagree with Anon K so much. Putting someone you don't like in charge of something important is a bad idea. If you do put her in charge of something make it some day of the wedding task, or nothing at all. Have her do something with the groomsmen when the day arrives, like coordinate them, or something so she can be out of your way.

    If I had EVERY single person who I was a bridesmaid for in my wedding party it would be 13 people large by now.

    But shoot, if you do have her as a bridesmaid, what sort of role other than "wear this dress, stand there, pose for a photo with me" will she really have? I know some people are assholes, but if she doesn't like it then she can deal with it and just ignore her like you'd ignore any other inane complaint from your bridesmaids.

    ps thank you for not using BM to abbreviate bridesmaid (lol BMs)

  10. I learned after dealing with some people that you've gotta put them in their place. Some people don't know how not to be the center of attention and it's so annoying! I had a bridesmaid talking about her wedding and what she was doing as I was getting ready to walk the aisle! Wish I would've kicked it in the bud earlier! Happy weekend! Oh, check out my jewelry giveaway!

    ~Mrs.C ;)

  11. TOTALLY agree with Georgia about the 'important' jobs AND the BMs (LOL).

    This 'give her an important job' stuff makes her sound like a border collie. My bossy dog likes important jobs, but that doesn't make her any less bossy or any less of a pain in the ass. The only thing that works is peanut butter Kongs and I don't think your SIL enjoy them as much as Siouxsie (our dog) does.

    This seems like another situation where some straight talk is in order. "Hey Ginger. My 4 best friends are going to be my bridesmaids. We've known eachother since middles school {insert your actual story here}, and I can't imagine anyone else by my side when I get married."

    Guess what ? She's your sister-in-law, so not including her WON'T end your relationship. She may get a little huffy, and may even hold a grudge, but it won't be the end of the world. She will survive, trust me.

  12. ps. my cousin was in a similar situation and made the mistake of making her SIL (fiance's brother's bossy wife) her MAID OF HONOR and she deeply regretted it. the woman made EVERYTHING about HER and was a total pill.

    just sayin.

  13. Can you give her a reading to do? That way she gets the spotlight of an "important" job, but none of the actual bridesmaid-ing. Buy her a corsage flower or whatever, give her Corinthians, and call it a night.

  14. I asked a cousin to be a Bridesmaid simply because I was supposed to be a Bridesmaid in her wedding. WORST mistake, BIGGEST regret. Find or create another role for her, trust me.

  15. so does this mean the folks who read at my wedding all think i was trying to distract them from some other job i didn't want them to have? balls.

  16. I don't think there's a rule about reciprocal bridesmaiding. Especially not from ten years ago. Especially if you are not super close.

    Only have her do a reading if you *want* her to do a reading. I actually picked my readers very carefully. There are other bullshit jobs out there, like guest book attendant. Or you could put her in charge of favors. Or she could be an usher (yes, girls can do that).

    Also, it's sweet to include your brother in the wedding party, but I actually think the whole gender segregated wedding party thing is bullshit. Have your brother stand on your side. Then you have your representative from them already.

  17. If you had been her bridesmaid last year, that would be one thing. After 10 years you aren't obligated to return the favor.

    Examples of "very important" jobs:
    - Do a reading that you select
    - Manage transportation/lodging for out-of-town guests
    - Write out the escort cards (if she has nice handwriting)
    - Assemble the favors or programs

  18. Just because she asked you to be her bridesmaid don't assume she wants/expects to be your bridesmaid. As ESB just give her another role in your wedding. She probably doesn't even expect to be your bridesmaid.

  19. IF you allow her to be a bridesmaid, designate a maid of honor who can keep her in check, and let her know that all bridesmaid questions/suggestions go through the MOH. Then give your maid of honor a heads up with a big apology & a big thank you right off the bat.

    If you don't have a friend who could handle her & keep her out of your hair (or if your mom is not willing to do this in place of the MOH), then definitely do not ask her to be a bridesmaid.

  20. you know what's fun. not having anyone but a maid-of-honor and a best man. then everyone else can just party, and leave you BE!

  21. I Agree with ESB like send her to china to pick up some of your gifts rather than having them shipped....

  22. seriously . . . just ask the girl to do a reading or something (one that she doesn't choose herself). or check on your place while you're gone on your honeymoon for gifts piling at the door. she is in town, afterall.

  23. I LOVE Miss Georgia's idea of having her wrangle the groomsmen. Let her boss your future husband's friends around instead. At least you'll know that their ties will all be on strait! Have your guy ask her to do it. Why is she supposed to be helping out on your side of the aisle anyway?

    If you're going to have a reading, pick someone that is good at public speaking and will add something to the ceremony NOT someone who is just too much of a pain in the butt to do anything else.

  24. She asked you to be a bridesmaid because really your brother wanted you up there. Sort of like how you're having him be on your groom's side, right? I think you should just have your brother be on YOUR side and then not worry about including your sister-in-law at all. DONE. Tell her that she can help your brother look good - straighten his outfit, comb his hair...whatever.

    My good friend had both of her groom's sisters as bridesmaids, and those sisters were so mean to her - past, present, and I will assume future. You want people up there that YOU are close to.

    I had a somewhat similar dilemma. My future-mother-in-law told me that her daughter (my fiance's sister) would like to be a bridesmaid. I don't know if that really comes from the sister or the FMIL. My FMIL is known to be a meddler, but it comes from a really good heart - never ill intentions. My FMIL pointed out that family will be forever. The problem was that I didn't feel particularly close to the sister. As a matter of fact, I never could get a good read on whether or not she actually even liked me! Plus my fiance has another sister, who I know and like just the same; plus she actually does seem to like me. Adding to the issue is that I wasn't going to ask my half-sister to be a bridesmaid...because then I'd have to worry about my step-sister feeling left out... Divorced families can be so complicated as far as hurt feelings go! All along I was planning on having my brother be my maid-of-honor. ;) A title he loves - hahahaa! We solved it by having my fiance include his sisters as 'groomsmen.' That just feels so much more natural to me. And my half-siblings (each from a different parent) who are quite a bit younger are acting as ushers...a minor job but one that they're eager to do and as it turns out, a good choice for the job since they know the 'major players' in our families (a rep from each side of mine) can ensure the right people get seated up front.

  25. Yeah, definitely don't ask her. I don't even think you need to give her another job unless you want to. I asked my future SIL to be a bridesmaid out of obligation, and I wish I hadn't. She wasn't bossy; she just didn't care...AT ALL. She looks bored, annoyed, or angry in every picture that she's not posing for. I am secretly terrified that she will ask me to be a bridesmaid for her when she gets married (and again, it will be out of obligation; clearly she doesn't like me). If she does, I will politely decline.

  26. I was in a similar-but-different situation of my own-- i love my sister in law, it's my mother in law that can be a handful... Anyways, I gave my sister in law the job of being the point person for all jobs in-law related. it made her look really important to all the people she actually wanted to impress with her SUPER important job, AND it meant that she was in a better position to make sure that all of her family's "stuff" (travel, lodging, meal requests, babysitter requests...) was handled by her, who didn't have to worry about the kid-gloves with which I might have treated these virtual strangers.