Unless you want everyone you’ve ever met to be up with you at the altar, you are going to have to cut off your wedding party at some point. Of course, this is never fun because you’re going to have to disappoint someone, but it’s a decision that needs to be made at the beginning of your planning.
Once you’ve made the final (seemingly impossible) decision on who’s in and who’s out of the wedding party, it’s time to spread the word. Though it is never easy to break bad news to a friend or family member, it’s crucial that you approach it correctly or else relationships may suffer. These tips will get you through this sensitive situation and back into the wedding-planning groove.
Be Upfront About the Wedding Plans Early
Let everyone know your plans from the beginning. If you and your betrothed are planning a small ceremony with no bridal party or a family-only bridal party, be sure to communicate this upfront from the time you make that decision. The more open and honest you are with wedding decisions that may exclude others, the easier it will be for them to get on board. As long as your friends and family get to see you say your “I do’s,” they shouldn’t be too bothered about how the wedding party pans out.
Tell This Person Before He or She Finds Out Elsewhere
Before you (or worse, someone else in the wedding party) posts anything on social media about bridesmaids or groomsmen, give your friend or family member the courtesy of a discussion before all of the celebrating begins. For one, you don’t want him or her to find out from someone else. And of course, you don’t want this person to assume that he or she is in the wedding party and start making plans. Although this conversation isn’t an easy or pleasant one to have, you shouldn’t wait until the last minute or try to sweep it under the rug. Try to put yourself in your friend’s shoes. Handle it with as much empathy and class as you can to spare hurt feelings.
Tell This Person to His or Her Face
Whatever the reason you aren’t including her in the wedding—and that is your prerogative—you should set aside some time to tell your friend that he or she won’t be in the wedding. Take your friend to dinner or to coffee and break the news (gently). It’s not going to be easy (and it definitely won’t be fun), but if you take the care and the time, your friend is more likely to receive the news better.
Be sure to let this person know how much the friendship means, and if you feel it’s necessary, explain your reasoning, whether it’s because you wanted a small wedding ceremony or you only wanted to include family. Don’t feel as if you have to provide an explanation for your decision, but if you think it might help your friend feel better, give a little insight into your decision-making process. Stay positive and don’t get too flustered. You never know—your friend could be relieved to not be included for the expense alone.
Find a Place for Him or Her
If you’re open to it, give your friend another role in the wedding. If you don’t have room for your friend or sibling in the wedding party, perhaps there is a role elsewhere. Weddings are huge events that cannot possibly get done without a team of people in both large and small roles helping out, so adding your friend in another area could be advantageous.
Some examples of small roles in which you could incorporate this person include reading a poem or a scripture during the ceremony, helping out with the guestbook, or escorting guests to their seats. Inviting your friend to be part of your special day will hopefully put him or her at ease about your relationship and make your friend feel included. However, be sure to not unintentionally make this person feel like part of the B-team when it comes to special events like the bachelorette party or bridal shower.
Stay Calm if He or She Gets Upset
Though it may be unpleasant, there is a chance that your friend or family member may be very upset if he or she isn’t included in the bridal party. Whether you were in his or her wedding or you’ve known each other since childhood, there might be an expectation of being involved on your special day, so it could be hurtful for you to contradict that fact. It’s never fun to be excluded from something—especially something as momentous and joyous as a wedding—and you may just have to face the fact that your friend could get irritated. However, this does not give your friend the right to berate you. Whatever you do, be sure to stay calm. Hold the line and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty.
As long as you approach the conversation in a friendly way, you shouldn’t have anything to feel bad about. These decisions are never easy, so hopefully your friend will understand your decision eventually.