Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The hazards of pre-engagement


Dear ESB,

I'm pre-engaged. The man and I will get married soon, we're not engaged yet but the details are in the works. Ring selected and such...

One of my girlfriends pre-asked to be a bridesmaid. We were talking about how well things were going in my relationship a few months back and before I could finish a sentence she excitedly blurted out "Can I be a bridesmaid?"

I hadn't even given it much thought at that point. I was kinda taken off guard because I was of the opinion that YOU WAIT FOR SOMEONE TO ASK YOU to be a bridesmaid. Am I wrong?  I answered something like "Umm I guess so, we're not engaged yet though."

Since then she has referred to my yet-to-be planned wedding and asked questions about it. Even though I already have a clear picture of almost everything I want I'm not really talking about it with people yet because afterall....I'm not engaged yet. She asked me what color I think I might want her to wear. When I replied "I don't know, maybe gray." She complained.

I'm not engaged, she's not a bridesmaid, and the wedding hasn't been planned...and she's already complaining. Ugh.

This is something that plays out in our friendship often over the past years. She can be moody. Not so moody that it's a deal-breaker but enough that it can be annoying.

I really wanted a tiny wedding party or even none at all would be fine with me. I would have asked her to be a maid anyways but her pre-asking took some of the happiness out of it. Sorta like she stole a little of my thunder.  Her pre-asking and pre-whining is making me have second thoughts. If this is how she is NOW, is it only going to get worse later?

Ok, so now I've typed it all out and I'm about to ask my questions I think I already know what you're going to say.

 *Am I obligated to have her as a bridesmaid?

 *If I choose not to have her, what is the best thing to say? Because she WILL pout if she's not a maid.

 *Should I put my foot down on any whining if I do choose her as a bridesmaid?

Thanks!

*****

Un-asking someone to be a bridesmaid is kinda like un-inviting someone to your wedding. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK. She may never speak to you again.

As for "putting your foot down on any whining," how do you propose to do that exactly??

Ellinore Erichsen by Johan Sandberg for Marie Claire Italia

51 comments:

  1. ESB is being uncharacteristically nice this morning...

    This fucking email makes me want to punch someone in the throat. Pre-Engaged? What in the fuck is that? There is no pre-engaged.

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    Replies
    1. I'm not a fan of the term, but yes there so is. It's the wonderful, terrible, awful, stressful middle state of knowing as a couple that you're getting married, but not being ready to change the FB status, usually after a ring has been shopped for but not given, where wedding ideas fill your head and get you carried away.

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    2. That is actually just called "life" or "waiting."

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    3. Pre-engaged should totally not be a thing.

      Anon 5:56 is spot on.

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  2. It sounds like me that you made things really hard for yourself, talking about a wedding with your friends before you are even asked to get married. I can see you are excited with the prospect, but pre-engagement is ridiculous both in word as in action. Also, don't make things unnecessarily hard; you say you wanted to ask her anyway, so what is the big deal? And if you want her to wear gray, just let her wear gray for crying out loud... Good luck! I hope you will have a wonderful wedding!

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  3. I don't feel compassion for anyone who panics and says "yes" to things. You should always say "I don't know." Like, "Can I be a bridesmaid?!" "Well, I don't even know what kind of wedding we'll have..." Just duck and weave, kiddos.

    That said, if you would have asked her ANYWAY, when the time comes, I would still have her be a bridesmaid. Really, the only thing SHE did wrong was to ask--"stealing your thunder." I wouldn't worry too much about the complaining. That's unavoidable. Any other maids you have will complain, too. Girls be difficult.

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  4. I'm with the previous commenters. She "pre-asked" and is "pre-whining" but YOU are the one who is "pre-engaged." Seems like you started these shenanigans. DON'T BE PRE-ENGAGED. It will take the fun out of being, you know, actually engaged.

    Also: why say yes when she asked if you didn't want her? Oh, wait, you DO want her to be a bridesmaid? You were going to ask her ANYWAY? Is there even a real question here?

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  5. 'you wait for someone to ask you to be a bridesmaid, am I wrong'

    well.. hello - you wait for someone to ask you to marry them, am I wrong?

    she is being no less ridiculous getting involved in your pre-wedding plans, than you are of making and talking about plans before being engaged!

    you are making issues for yourself. and just wait until you are actually engaged and planning starts, there is enough drama at that stage.. why make pre-drama for yourself?

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    Replies
    1. These situations are not remotely comparable. She's in a relationship with her guy and they've selected an ENGAGEMENT RING together. They're clearly about to get engaged, even if her guy hasn't officially asked her yet. Meanwhile, her friend completely jumped the gun without even knowing whether there were going to be bridesmaids at all and put her friend on the spot.

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    2. Lauren: Preach.

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  6. I don't understand the term "pre-asking"; asking a question is asking a question. If you didn't want to talk about the wedding or your "pre-engagement"... then why did you talk about the wedding and your "pre-engagement"? Obnoxious.

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  7. I don't think you have to un-bridesmaid her, just table the wedding-planning conversations until there's a wedding to plan

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  8. A friend just used this method on people complaining at her wedding. It was very successful.

    Bridesmaid: Just so you know I can't handle gray.
    Bride: Just so you know I can't handle complainers.

    Guest: I hate mosquitoes!
    Bride: I hate complainers.

    It really shut people up.

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    Replies
    1. Yiiiiiikes. Don't do this. Stay classy.

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    2. Ummm yeah it's one thing to "put your foot down about whining," it's another thing to be an asshole. How about just asking nicely for people to roll with you? Another good strategy: saying nothing at all. People can and will deal :)

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  9. Prepare yourself- everyone will have an opinion about your choices. Your friend voicing hers about the color gray is only the beginning. If you don't like their advice, say something to the tune of "Thanks so much for your input, but we have a pretty clear vision for this wedding and I'm already really excited about the things we've decided."

    Sometimes people chime in on things because they think they're being helpful by talking it through with you. Find a nice way to re-direct their energy and willingness to help into something that actually helps you. And don't seek out drama like this. You're no better than "the complainers" if you complain about them.

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  10. Ok, a little tired of the folks jumping on her for being pre-engaged. One can't help being pre-engaged sometimes. And no, sometimes you don't sit around waiting for someone to ask while being mute. You discuss getting engaged with your significant other like an equal partnership. And then maybe one person does want to do a formal ask, so you wait for that person to do it. But if you've decided you want to get engaged with that person, but the engagement hasn't happen, you end up in a bit of a limbo.

    I'm guessing this person isn't gushing about her pre-engaged status to the world. She told her friend, who must be close since she was going to ask her to be a bridesmaid. These are things you talk to your close friends about because sometimes waiting for a proposal is hard. Your friends are your support system.

    Sounds like the friend is the one out of line here, not our pre-engaged writer.

    So to the writer, I'd ask your friend not to bring up wedding planning again. If you need an outlet until the proposal, find another friend who is a bit more reserved. Then when things become official, still ask her and do it your way. Just because she "pre-asked" doesn't mean you don't get to ask yourself. And now that you have a preview of how she might act, maybe a mutual friend could help contain her excitement/whining.

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    Replies
    1. YES. Everything.

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    2. Ha ha, love it! Great reply. Asker, just read this one and ignore all the haters.

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    3. Logic prevails! Excellent response, my thoughts exactly.

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    4. But, like anon above said, this is called LIFE. Or we are planning on getting married. Creating a whole 'nother stage and title for it is asinine. When you are actively planning a wedding youarefuckingengaged.

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    5. Anon 7:39 you can still be notfuckingengaged and planning a wedding and it can quite honestly be the best way to do things since you don't have the whole world jumping down your goddamn throat pestering you with "when's your date, what's your venue, what's your colour, where are you registered" insanity.

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  11. I agree with Tonia. You're about to get hit by a shitstorm of other people's opinions, so just get ready for it. Tonia's response sounds polite, but people will get the message.

    I think it's rude that your friend asked to be your bridesmaid, but the good news is that you were going to ask her anyway. Chalk it up to her excitement about your wedding and let it go--this would really only be a problem if you weren't going to ask her at all. Your bridesmaids will probably all annoy or upset you at some point in this process, so maybe you just need to lower your expectations and try not to let them upset you.

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  12. I don't get why you can't still "formally" ask her when the time comes. Steal your thunder back.

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  13. I don't understand these peole who can't communicate with their best friends! Tell her she bummed you out by pre-asking and that you don't want to talk about the wedding until you're engaged. When she whines say, "you are hurting my feelings/this action hurts my feelings/ etc."

    Also, only uninvite her sif you don't actually want to be friends with her, because that shit gets ugly.

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    Replies
    1. Have you guys read Sheila Heti's How Should a Person Be? The entire book is about best friends Sheila and Margaux, and they have communication problems numerous times, hurting each other, not saying what they meant, saying too much. They write emails back and letters when they can't handle it in person. But they're obviously really close. Sometimes the issues are just too much or too new. I totally get it, and just because there's a problem doesn't mean it's irreconcilable or the friendship is worthless.

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    2. No, I didn't mean to suggest that the friendship is irreconcilable or worthless at all. I just find it so frustrating when people don't communicate their hurt feelings (usually because they do not think they are actually fully valid) and then end up more hurt/resentful/acting passive-aggressive (the latter of which creates its own hurt feelings and AGH VICIOUS CYCLE).

      It sucks that the OP is considering uninviting her friend to be a bridesmaid, which is super drastic, without actually considering having a frank conversation about her wishes and her feelings. People can't fix problems if you don't tell them what they are.

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  14. As for the "she doesn't like grey" comment I'm with Tonia. Weddings are ALL ABOUT hearing a shit ton of people complain and whine and moan. Letting that go in one ear and OUT the other! Don't take such whiners to heart or you'll spend all of your engagement time (and pre-engagement time) feeling bad.

    Also, maybe it's just me, but there will also be a lot of thunder stealing. Other people get engaged, during engagement time people can get sick or die. People will insist on certain activies. Mothers in laws will wear white. Shit happens.

    If you want to have a thunder-full awesome time in what might be a long pre-engagement and engagement time you have to MAKE your thunder. And if anyone tries to steal it? Realize there's an unlimited supply and keep rocking on. She didn't steal the excitement from you by asking. Maybe she was just a little TOO excited (like you!)

    I could just be a sourpuss that has had a TOO long engagement and a relatively hard time. But I feel like wedding time and planning can be fucking hell. Party planning and dress shopping and yadda yadda. The best thing to learn early is that you have to take the bad with a grain of salt. Hold the good stuff close, create happiness. If you want to focus on whiners and negative, you'll have a LOT to dwell on when it comes to weddings. (But it can also be the BEST time of your life if you let it.)

    Be excited, do something fancy or official, act like she never asked. But if she annoys you in normal non-wedding life? Maybe ditch her as a bridesmaid.

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  15. "I'm not engaged, she's not a bridesmaid, and the wedding hasn't been planned...and she's already complaining. Ugh."

    YOU aren't engaged and are already complaining! Ugh!

    " If this is how she is NOW, is it only going to get worse later?"

    If this is how YOU are NOW, is it only going to get worse later???

    *Am I obligated to have her as a bridesmaid? No.

    *If I choose not to have her, what is the best thing to say? "I've decided to have a small party or none at all. If I had one you would totally be in it. It's not an offense to you. Please don't take it personal. I love having you as a friend. We just decided that having a big wedding party isn't really US."

    *Should I put my foot down on any whining if I do choose her as a bridesmaid? Nahhhh. Unless she gets REALLY out of hand.

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  16. I think a strongly worded "back the hell off" is merited in this situation.

    You can nice it up by telling her you just aren't comfortable talking about a theoretical wedding and it's making you stressed out.

    Deal with the bridesmaid business when there is an actual wedding. If you decide you don't want a wedding party, that's your easy out. She won't like it, but it isn't nearly as crushing as you choosing other people and uninviting her.

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  17. Re the whole 'pre-engaged' bs; I thought it was called, 'ring shopping'. When you're trying to get pregnant, do you call it, 'pre-pregnant'? I dont know which trimester that is, I missed that day in health class.

    That being said, we understand what stage in the planning you are. Stage 0. Just rememeber that and reiterate that to anyone who gets a wedding boner around you.

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    Replies
    1. LOL. Exactly. I'm still laughing at 'pre-asking'.

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    2. OMG LOVE the phrase "wedding boner" because it's so apt.

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    3. LOL thanks! Very useful in many situations.

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    4. Wait a minute, I window-shop for rings all the time!! Does that mean I'm pre-engaged, despite not having a significant other? LOL.

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  18. whoa yer friend(s) suck and you are crazy.

    sorry.

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  19. why don't you just say exactly what you wrote : "i'm not engaged, you're not really a bridesmaid yet and if you're whiny and complainy when I am and you are we're gonna have a problem. ya hear?"

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  20. People. We no longer live in a world where engagements are expected to be surprises. Some people discuss getting married and getting engaged before the proposer gets down on one knee or whatever. You know deciding whether or not to get married before popping the question? Eventually these discussions lead to the shared decision to get married, but the couple may still be attached to the idea of a formal proposal. This time between the agreement of marriage and the formal proposal and public announcement of your intention to marry can be quite some time depending on your situation. You know you will be married but for some reason you have not announced your intentions publicly. These people call themselves pre-engaged.

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    Replies
    1. haha, yeah. I guess I am also in this stage of life, but I'm not going to name it. But to each his/her own!

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    2. I get this. I do. Some people want the whole traditional shebang, but want the equity and partnership of a modern relationship, too.

      But "pre-engaged" just sounds really awkward and weird. Maybe "informally engaged" is a better term. Or, as I would say when people asked me about my now-husband before we took the plunge: "We have an understanding."

      I think you have a good point about "announcing intentions publicly." Key word there. If you don't have anything to talk about, don't talk about it!

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    3. I was 'pre-engaged' by these standards, but there was no way in hell I would have referred to myself as pre-engaged.

      Why does there always have to be a term for everything? 'Bucket-list', 'babymoon', 'date night'. F it! It's 'things you wanna do before you die', 'a holiday before the baby comes', and 'going out with your significant other'.

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    4. I think its most commonly used on wedding blogs. I don't think people will announce that they are pre-engaged to their family and friends. But when you are online its easier to say you are pre-engaged rather than explain your personal situation... its also nice to have a group of women who say yep, we know we will get married, yet because of life we are waiting just like you. Its a simple term for whatever complicated life stuff you have going on.

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  21. You should say that you have always wanted to just have family as bridesmaids. Sisters and cousins only. It makes it so much easier. I cannot tell you how many women I know that don't even speak to their friend-brides maids anymore. I told my girlfriends this years ago, so they would never bug me about it. Phew

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  22. not to bum anyone out, but discussing marriage and ring shopping does not always lead to an engagement. so yeah, you are not "pre-engaged"; you are simply someone's girlfriend.

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    1. Why ever would that bum anyone out C?

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  23. I think that just because you may identify with the term 'pre-engaged' (because you have discussed marriage, are certain you're in it for the long haul, and yet there hasn't been an official proposal yet), doesn't automatically make you a whiny, girly, annoying, type person, who's obsessed with weddings.

    It's just a term, like it or loathe it. But I don't think this term really matters and I don't think it warrants this much negativity towards the OP.

    My response to this letter is:
    No need for any drama, next time she brings up the wedding just say you'd now rather not talk about it until you're actually engaged - which of course may well be a while.

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  24. Hey Bitches, I love you all.
    This girl doesn't sound like someone the bride even respects, so why is she friends with her? If she's a friend, she'll stick. Get her drunk and say you totally messed up and your 2nd cousin, or whoever else, has to be a bridesmaid, because you can only have X bridesmaids, and you've known her longer, etc, etc. Tell the slightly veiled truth. If she's a friend she'll gracefully bow out. If not, then she's making about her. Fuck that. Get her out of your sphere.

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