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Q: Hi APW,
I’m in the beginning stages of wedding planning right now and am so excited to get married in early 2023. Everything has been going great so far but I’ve been avoiding inviting people to be a part of my bridal party because I’m not sure what to do about this certain predicament.
Some context: my bestie of 20+ years and I have been talking about her being my Maid of Honor since we were kids but now that that time is upon us and circumstances have changed, I’m having a change of heart. In the time that I’ve been with my partner, my childhood friend moved out of the country and I’ve also become incredibly close with FH’s sister (I already think of her as my sister).
Logistically speaking, I think it would make more sense to have my future SIL be my Maid of Honor since we’re so close and she’s located nearby, plus she will be my SIL after all is said and done. I also don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on my friend if I ask her to commit to being my Maid of Honor when she’ll only be in town for the wedding weekend anyways.
Where I’m stuck is how to approach the topic without ruining our 20+ year friendship. Is there a way to graciously share my thoughts or should I just ask my out-of-country bestie to step up to the role and hope for the best?
A:Hey Torn BFF,
First of all, congrats! The early stages of wedding planning are fun (and maybe a tad stressful)… but you’re in the right place. If you haven’t already, you should definitely poke around and find our free tools, and maybe even snag yourself a wedding planning book and planner. Honestly, the book has so much good guidance on this sort of predicament (and all the others you’ll run into in the next year+).
In the words of Meg, “On the surface, it seems like picking bridesmaids and groomsmen should be easy, but in reality, it’s often not. First, and most fundamentally, the wedding party is a way to honor important people in your lives. These people should reflect your life as it’s lived, not an attempt to style your life so that it looks like a magazine picture.”
Let me just pause and add a thought here… I think the way we do wedding parties in our culture is a little off. We ‘ask’ people, but assume the answer is yes without too much regard for those individuals’ budgets, lifestyles and time restraints, or anything else. Or we decide not to ‘ask’ people because we make assumptions about their availability and opinions. Some of us accidentally find ourselves stuck on the idea of the ‘perfect’ wedding party with equal sides for ourselves and our partner. Or we let ourselves get caught up in titles and labels instead of the overall feeling, connection, and support that is really at the core of what a bridal party should be.
Essentially, I just think there are a lot of ways curating a wedding party can ‘go wrong.’ So, my first tidbit of advice is to try to not make assumptions about… well, anything. You should definitely plan to have some real conversations with your friend(s) and family. Maybe you’re right, and your bestie will not feel up for traveling for more than just the wedding weekend. Maybe you’re wrong, however, and your bestie has every intention of coming to town for all the extra events, too—because she’s been dreaming of being your MOH for 20+ years, too. Either way, if logistics are the main thing you’re worried about, it’s going to be so much better to give her a chance to be involved in that conversation.
Another thought is this… why do you have to have just one MOH? Speaking from experience, you don’t. Two separate times, I have been a MOH and shared the title with the bride’s sister… and guess what? It worked out wonderfully! Here’s why. While being chosen for the honor of being someone’s MOH is really special, there are also many parts that aren’t particularly glamourous. It gets expensive and time-consuming planning all the special events that you want to spoil your bestie with, you have to wrangle and coordinate the rest of the wedding party, and you’re on deck for picking up the slack when it comes to planning tasks or day-of-wedding ’emergencies.’
So, consider having two MOHs—your future SIL will be your local right-hand gal, and your bestie (who will fly in from another country) can be a super helpful left-hand gal from afar.
Or, having no MOH… that’s what I did. I invited my very best girlfriends to be in my wedding party with no one person taking on that priority role… it worked out great for me (though my wedding was small and my pre-wedding events were minimal).
Lastly… even though you and your long-distance best friend have been discussing MOH roles since you were kids doesn’t mean you absolutely must follow through with that plan. Lots of things and relationships change with time, and it’s totally okay to not keep a loose promise you made when you were 8. If you truly feel that your future SIL is the right person for the role, and you don’t want to have two people share that limelight—then, trust your gut and go for it. It’s your wedding, after all, and you get to make the call.
Now, for the ‘how’. Depending on which of the choices you make, your chat with your bestie may look a little different.
- If you decide to just ask her about her availability and commitment to the gig, then it may sound a little like, “Hey, bestie… I wanted to chat with you because I’m starting to plan out some wedding details. I know we’ve been dreaming about our future weddings together for decades, and you know I can’t get married without you there. But since you live so far away, I just wanted to ask you how you feel about being my MOH. I’d really love to have you in that role, but I don’t want you to feel pressured to fly out here a bunch or take on tons of tasks from far away. So I just wanted to chat with you about all those logistics, first.”
- If you land on having two MOHs, it may sound more like, “Bestie! I cannot possibly get married without you by my side. Will you please please be my MOH like we always dreamed of? I want you to know that I also asked SIL to be my other MOH which will make all the stress of the planning and so much easier on both of you. She’ll be the feet-on-the-ground MOH since she lives close by, and I just know you two will love each other so all the fun stuff with both of you is my dream. I hope you’re up for it.”
- And, if you end up choosing just your SIL to take on the MOH role, I would definitely (strongly) recommend an intentional chat with your best friend so that her heart is protected from any surprise hurt. Try asking her for a time you can drink wine and chat together on zoom and then keep it real and loving. “So, I wanted to talk to you about wedding party stuff. I’m getting so excited about all the fun things to come. I know you and I have been talking about our future weddings forever, and I just wanted to share with you my thoughts. Since you live so far away, and life is so hectic, I’m going to ask SIL to be my MOH and take on all the planning and extra work that comes with it. I obviously can’t imagine getting married without you by my side, and I’d love to have you here for as many of the events as possible. So… will you be my bridesmaid?”
I know that these sorts of conversations can be hard… but trust me when I tell you that having the conversations is easier than losing a friendship because you didn’t rip the bandaid off and share your true feelings with someone who matters so much to you. Calling out your choice (whatever it may be) and keeping it real with everyone involved, will always be preferable to leaving your bestie in the dark to figure it out when she gets a surprise bachelorette invitation text from your SIL signed “SIL, MOH”.
What do you think, APW? Did you run into MOH conundrums, too? How did you proceed? Help out Torn BFF by dropping your best guidance in the comments.