Dear Carolyn: My daughter was just officially engaged. It wasn’t a total surprise, but she’s so happy nonetheless. She had a venue in mind and checked availability (a place that fills up quickly) to coincide with an annual family event next summer. It was available, so she booked it and sent in the deposit.
She then asked her cousin, my niece, to be her maid of honor, and in fact her only attendant. My niece said yes and also said a friend of hers had asked her to be in her wedding next summer, too, but no date was mentioned when she was asked.
Well, the date chosen by my niece’s friend is the same as my daughter’s. My niece’s friend thinks that because she asked first that my niece should be in her wedding (one of a couple of bridesmaids). My daughter thinks her invitation with a definite date supersedes the other request my niece received.
Needless to say, this is putting a lot of strain right now on what should be a happy time. My daughter does not want to (or think she should) change her date.
Does a “yes” answer without a definite date override a second request with a definite date attached? I think these requests were made within days of each other, by the way.
– MOB in AZ
A: Your niece is in a terrible spot. There’s your “needless to say” element of this conflict.
For this bit of bad luck to put “a lot of strain” on anyone else is not a given at all, though – it’s a choice. Both of these brides can choose to be gracious: “I completely understand that you committed to the other bride first.” “I completely understand that you committed to this date first.”
That neither of them is doing so is unfortunate, and I hope someone in each of their camps who is a little more mature and a little less invested (ahem) will guide them accordingly. “Your cousin is in a terrible spot,” I hope you’ll advise your daughter. “Instead of pressuring her on top of that, a true friend will tell her that of course you want her at your side, but also understand she has to do what she thinks is right.”
Stepping back will make it easier for your niece to say no to your daughter, yes. Counsel patience, though; the high road might ruin the day and save the friendship.
If this column sees daylight after your niece already has chosen the other wedding, then the mature adviser’s role is to urge your daughter to forgive.
Am I secretly thinking this other bride would be a complete doink to pressure her friend to choose her wedding, where she’d be one bridesmaid, over her cousin’s wedding, where she’d be the only? And am I also thinking Other Bride should say, “This is your cousin! Of course you go to the family wedding – as much as I’ll miss you”? Yes, I am, except now publicly.
But don’t mistake this honesty for relevance. Just because you or I think your daughter has the slightly more compelling claim – the other bride’s is arguably as strong, for different reasons – doesn’t mean you get to advance it as such. Counsel grace, and model it yourself. It’s the path to zero regrets.