About three days after getting engaged, I texted my best friend to quickly confirm that he would, indeed, be in my wedding party. Okay, in hindsight, that probably wasn't the best way to go about it. But I was…
1. 100% sure he would say “yes.”
2. In a rush to make a wedding-related appointment that I wanted him to accompany me to.
3. Was in another country at the time, and didn't want to make an international call.
His response was… not what I was expecting. Basically, he quickly turned me down, but suggested that we meet up to talk about it when I get back in town.
In a sadness tailspin, I reached out to my future husband, but he was in the midst of a two-hour work meeting. So I reached out to my ex-husband, who knows my relationship with my best friend the best of anyone. And he had some awesome advice for anyone who has a best friend that said no to being in your wedding party…
1. Calm down
My initial thought was, “what did I do to make him hate me?” Or, “maybe he was NEVER my best friend.” And also, “fuck that guy!”
When I cried to my ex, and told him that I no longer had a best friend, Aaron laughed and said, “now you're just being stupid. I know you guys — you are the best of friends, and have been for years. There's something going on with him that you don't know about. You need to talk before you freak out.”
“Ugh, fine.” So I calmed down. Texted my friend that I was mega-butt-hurt, but even more surprised, and that I'd love to meet up with him to talk about it.
2. Own your shit
Turns out, wedding party proposals can be viewed as a “big thing” to some people. I admitted that I was insensitive in just casually texting him to do something as important and, let's face it, heavily weighted as being a bridesmaid.
I apologized for being so casual about asking. In turn, he apologized being so causal in his brush off. Now we could start talking.
3. Be inquisitive
The best advice Aaron gave to me: Be inquisitive. Something's going on with your friend, and it's not that they all-of-a-sudden don't love you anymore.
When we sat down to talk it over, I repeated Step 2, and apologized again for texting and assuming. And then I asked him what was going on with him.
Turns out, the reasons for a friend not wanting to be in your wedding party can totally not be about you
Sometimes your wedding and/or engagement happens at really shitty times for others. It could be that they're going through a rough break-up, and not really feeling like celebrating love. It could be that their ex just got engaged, and they're having feels. It could that they've recently lost their job, or a family member, or a pet, and don't want to drag you down with their bad energy. It could be that they got a promotion at work, or are tackling a big and awesome personal project, and don't have the time. There are a lot of reasons that have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with you, that would make someone close to you just wouldn't be able to handle being a part of your wedding.
And the parts that do have to do with you are great opportunities to get closer
The conversation that this whole thing sparked, turned out to be really great for my relationship with my bestie. It was one of those “time to re-evaluate our friendship” things. Much like in marriage, a relationship spanning years and years is going to ebb and flow and/or change completely. All long-term relationships need tune-ups. Take this as an tune-up opportunity!
4. Re-frame your request outside of the wedding
But… all the cards being on the table, and being valid and understandable, didn't change the fact that I wanted my best friend in my freaking wedding party!
So I said, “Well, let's think about like this: I want to spend more time with you. And I will be spending a lot of time on wedding stuff this next year. If you're willing to be involved, all those activities can just be an excuse to hang out more! What I'm saying is, I want you to be in my wedding so that I can hang out with you as much as possible.”
Re-framing it as “let's hang out a lot” and not “I need help with wedding stuff” seemed to put it into a different perspective from him, alleviated some of that ingrained bridesmaid pressure, and made him more willing to re-consider being “in the wedding.”
5. Be willing to compromise
Not being so “yay, rah-rah weddings” at the moment, he's still not agreeing to be a bridesman. But he is into the idea of hanging out more. He has agreed to go on some wedding-related missions with me, but not necessarily as an official part of the wedding. Hell, I'll take any amount of best friend time that I can get — wedding-related or not. And maybe, once he sees that being a bridesman isn't all that scary, he'll be more open to making it official?
But no matter what, I made him promise to absolutely attend the wedding. And that's good enough for me (right now).
Have you had a friend refuse to be in your wedding party? What is your best advice for others going through that?