Honoring Obligations: When weddings of friends collide

by epi on June 13, 2012

Q: I will be a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding, and now another close friend of mine has scheduled her wedding to take place the preceding evening, which is during my first obligation’s rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. I feel that the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner are all part of the wedding, and the wedding party is obligated to be a part of that evening. I have told my conflicting friend that I have an obligation to attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The problem is, the wedding that I would be missing is that of a very close friend, and she wants me to be in the wedding party. I told her that I would come to the reception, after completing my obligations at the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. I now have a group of friends that feel that my not coming to the evening wedding is completely inexcusable and that I should ‘simply’ tell the bride that I cannot come to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, that she would ‘understand’. I feel awful about missing my dear friend’s wedding, but I have a previous obligation that I don’t feel right trying to skate out on. Is there an etiquette outlined for this situation?

A: Yes, as a bridesmaid, you are expected and obligated to attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. It’s unfortunate that your other close friend’s wedding will be held that night, but it would be inexcusable to tell the bride you can’t attend the rehearsal or rehearsal dinner much less expect her to understand. Your friends who have told you that it would be inexcusable to miss your other friend’s wedding are totally out of line. You have made a commitment and should honor it.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth L. June 13, 2012 at 10:10 am

As someone who has been a bridesmaid 9 times, I am no stranger to timing conflicts. My best advice is to not involve bride #1 at all, except to tell her (privately and at a good time) that you might be leaving her rehearsal dinner a few minutes early to make it to bride #2′s reception. I’m sure she’ll understand as long as you aren’t missing anything important like speeches or pictures and don’t cause a disturbance.

As for bride #2, if she’s as dear of a friend as you say she is, she will be understanding of your predicament and respectful of your choice to honor your first obligation. She might be upset, but a good friend will always understand. Tell her you want to be as involved as possible and would love to attend any showers and parties she might have. Maybe even offer to help the maid of honor in throwing a shower and bachelorette party.

It’s a very difficult position you’re in, and even if you handle it in the most polite, friendliest way, you may end up hurting some feelings. But your first obligation is to bride #1. Spend lots of time with bride #2, go to every event you can, give a nice gift, and try to make it to the reception. Don’t let this ruin a great friendship. That happened with my best friend and a girl she didn’t ask to be a bridesmaid. That was 9 months ago and they’ve only just started speaking again. Everyone was hurt in the process and it caused the bride (my best friend) a lot of stress and heartache.

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Winifred Rosenburg June 13, 2012 at 10:47 am

I don’t see what is wrong with telling bride #1 what the situation in. Even if you don’t feel comfortable asking if it’s okay to skip the rehearsal you can just tell her the story and say “I assume your rehearsal is going to be that night so I guess I should plan on not going to bride #2′s wedding.” If bride #1 says “Yes, that’s when the rehearsal is so I guess you’ll have to RSVP that you’re not going to bride #2′s wedding,” then that’s your answer. But she might say “It’s fine for you to not come to the rehearsal! Go to the wedding and have fun!”

I’ve been a bridesmaid in weddings where there were bridal-party members missing from the rehearsal. In one case both the best man and the maid of honor were missing, and it worked out fine! The rest of us clued them in before the ceremony (there’s really not that much involved so it wasn’t hard) and everything went fine. I also don’t know if the rehearsal being the night before has been confirmed or if the bridesmaid is just assuming, but sometimes the rehearsal isn’t the night before and asking the bride might result in a pleasant surprise that there’s no conflict at all!

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Lorie June 14, 2012 at 8:48 am

My brother and his wife were married for about 22 years and divorced about 6 years ago. He is remarried to someone new. I have two daughters getting married and they have stayed in contact with their aunt as she was a part of their lives for over 20 yrs and they want her invited to both of their weddings. She still emails them, sends birthday cards and congratulation cards, etc… The problem is my brother now doesn’t want her invited as he said it is not fair to him and his new wife! I reminded him that his ex stays in contact with the kids and he told us she still wanted to be involved with things when they were getting divorced and now he wants to retract that. What is the proper thing to do?

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Allie June 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm

My fiance and I are different religions (I am an orthodox christian, and he is jewish) which as made wedding planning quite difficult… We have finally decided that we will have a very small and intimate ceremony (justice of the peace and a cantor) that we will only invite about 20 very close friends and immediate family to. Immediately following the intimate ceremony, we would like to have a larger reception of about 200 people. How do we word the invitations? Do we do 2 sets of invites? Is our idea in bad taste? My fiance has an extremely large family that he feels very strongly about including, so a completely small wedding is not an option, neither is a destination…. Thoughts?

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