Will I stay friends with my wedding party members after the wedding?

By on Jan. 30th

Original photo by k8luvsmicrobes. Remixed under Creative Commons license.

How often do brides/grooms end up no longer particularly liking some friends from their bridal party?

Quite a few of my friends have gotten married in the past couple of years, myself included, and I'm wondering if I'm noticing a scary trend. I was talking to one friend, and she only talks to one of her bridesmaids now, and her bridal party was created from a very strong friend base for her. I'm still very close to most of my bridal party, with the exception of one person, and I was just wondering if anyone else has experienced this.

Is it common to drift apart from those we've been so close to? -Victoria

The other day, Aaron looked over at the photo of us with our bridal party and asked the question that's been nagging at me for a while, "Do you think we can photoshop some of our wedding photos?" So, clearly, I DO have experience with this. Aw, sad face — I know. Out of the six people in our bridal party, we aren't that close to two of them anymore. But — yay for you — Ariel and I are here with some perspective, experiences, and even some advice on how you can mayyyyybe avoid this (and why it's actually not a bad thing if it happens).

MEGAN had a wedding party

Here are four things I wish someone had told me when I was planning my wedding party:

  1. Choose carefully. Seriously, sit with it for a while. I know you're probably excited and want to ask people right away to be your maid of honor, etc. But — duh time — the more you think about it, the better your choices will be.
  2. Don't pick the closest people to you RIGHT NOW, pick the closest of all time. We asked one of our band members to be in the wedding. I mean, we were in a freaking band together — spending HOURS every week in a small room, how could we not be super close? And that's all good and well… until the band breaks up and you realize… you never spend ANY time together anymore.
  3. If someone backs out, they don't necessarily NEED to be replaced. When one of Aaron's best friends couldn't make it to the wedding, we asked our bandmate to replace him. We could have easily had an uneven wedding party and it would've made NO difference. (Except there would have been one less pair of amazing plaid shorts present.)
  4. You can avoid ANY chance of having to photoshop your wedding party photos by just NOT having a wedding party at all!

Here's something else to keep in mind: when I told Aaron that Ariel and I were going to take on this phenomenon he responded with, "You know, I look at my mom and dad's wedding photos and I've NEVER met any of those people." So it must be common that the people who were closest to you at one point don't always remain so.

Like I mentioned before, I had two people in my wedding party that I am no longer close to, but on the flip side, there's someone that Aaron and I are SO close to right now that it's unbelievable that she WASN'T in our wedding party.

So the thing is, it doesn't matter when or how you plan your wedding party — you still may have not even met your greatest friend, or your kids may never meet your man of honor. For more on this concept, here's Ariel…

ARIEL didn't have a wedding party

"Is it common to drift apart from those we've been so close to?" Yes. It totally is, and it's actually got nothing to do with weddings, and isn't at all a bad thing. Thankfully, people change and grow. Lives shift. Interests overlap and then diverge. Locations change. Friends are transient, and social spheres can flow and shift without popping like a bubble.

I didn't have a wedding party, but I did have a big ol' campout with 75 friends and family. And then, every year since then, we've had another camp-out for our anniversary. I look at pictures from our wedding, and while I see some of the same faces, there are a lot of faces missing — as in, people I adore who are crucial, close parts of my current life, who I simply didn't know yet. It's like our photos have these ghosts of people we hadn't met yet, waiting patiently in our future to be part of our lives.

And yeah, sure: I also see the very real faces of friends who I don't see as much any more, for all sorts of reasons. Some wonderful (my best man got an amazing research position at Columbia University) other less so — but it's all fine. I loved our community, and I'm so glad those important people were there with us on that day… even if they're not around much in our daily lives now.

I see this as a good thing: of COURSE your friend groups change and you're not friends with the same people … it can be an indication that your group of friends aren't stagnating. I love that my friends have moved into different spaces in their lives that make them happy, even if it means I don't see them as much. I'm selfish sometimes, but I'm not so selfish as to want, say, my sun-loving LA friends to move to Seattle to be closer to me. I'd rather see them happy once a year than Seasonally Affective Disordered once a week through a grey Seattle winter. (They watched me suffer through a bright, warm LA winter that almost did me in — TOO MUCH LIGHT! SHRIVELING!).

Release the fear that you'll regret something about your wedding because it reflects where you are now and not some sort of imaginary timeless "Perfect Time." The dress will not always be stylish and not all the friends will be forever. Let it go. Life is a fluid, messy, sticky thing, and for me, I like that my 2004 wedding dress looks a little dated because you know what?! That was eight years ago. After almost a decade of living, I'd hope I'd learned a few things, shifted a few interests, and grown into a different place. That's called personal development, and it's not something to be afraid of — it's something to expect, embrace, and enjoy.


This is Rob at our wedding! He was a +1 guest, but he's still with us almost 8 years later!

At this point in my life, I've got waves upon waves of social circles and friend groups who've come and gone and looped around and drifted away and reconciled. Childhood friends, high school friends, college friends, raver friends, hippie raver friends, aging raver friends, media colleagues, web nerds, burner friends, parent friends, family friends… everyone at all ages is shifting and growing and moving and breaking up and having kids and falling in love and getting new jobs and ditching old hobbies and it's just time and life and it doesn't have to be drama.

It doesn't have to be a tragedy when people find themselves heading on paths that diverge. Send postcards back and forth — how are things going down that path I didn't take with you? These communiques can be dispatches from a you who might have been. We don't have to agree all the time.

At our anniversary party this year, I looked around at Andreas' and my wonderful community of friends, and realized that very few of them were there with us at our wedding. In fact, there was only one friend who'd been there every single year. 2004 – 2011, he had not missed a single year of celebrating with us.

Was this my best man? No. Was this Dre's cousin? No. This was a guy named Rob, who came to our wedding as the guest of an old friend. We'd hung out casually a few times and I knew he was a nice guy, but if you'd told me that seven years later, of ALL our 60+ friends who were with us at our wedding, Rob would be the ONLY ONE who was with us every year to celebrate!? I would have been shocked. (But yay, Rob!)

This is all to say, don't worry about it. Your life and the lives of your friends will shift in unpredictable ways. It's natural, it's awesome, and it means everything's proceeding along exactly as it should.

Gentle reminder to commenters: please be considerate about over-sharing interpersonal drama in the comments. We'll remove any comments that veer into "bitching about loved ones" territory. Here's why.

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