How do I demote a bridesmaid?

Friends not talking to each other after a fight at home on the couch

I’m wondering, how do I go about demoting one of my bridesmaids? I am very disappointed in her; after nine years of friendship, she refuses to pull her weight in the wedding planning and she constantly creates conflict. I no longer want her in my bridal party but I don’t mind if she’s a guest. How should I manage this situation?

Samantha says

I’m so sorry to hear you’re having so many troubles with your bridesmaid.

First of all, what do you consider a bridesmaid needs to do to “pull her weight”? While they do hold an honorary position, they haven’t signed up for servitude or an unpaid internship at the house of love and marriage. At best, bridesmaids are typically expected to wear their designated dress, show up to wedding-related events, attend to your needs during the big day and – if she’s offered – host a bridal shower. So unless she’s reneged on any commitments in that regard, it’s hard to know how she isn’t pulling her weight.

Plus, think honestly – when you asked her to take on the role, did you do it because you adore her, or because you thought she would be available to cater to your every whim? The first reason is great, the second much less reasonable. And, more to the point, did you take the time initially to spell out to her what was expected? Without the benefit of this foresight, she may not even be aware that she’s not making a good fist of things.

In terms of creating conflict, I can see a couple of ways this could be playing out. If the other bridesmaids also feel that she isn’t pulling her weight, then that’s one thing. But if she’s actually causing troubles between yourself and the rest of the wedding party, then that is definitely an issue and it needs to be addressed.

My best advice, however, is not to simply kick her out of your wedding party and, in turn, lose the friendship altogether (unless that is your aim). It would be far better to take her out for a private coffee and, in a calm and measured way, explain how and why she is making you feel to start a dialogue that will hopefully get things back on track. Part of this is also acknowledging any failure to clarify your expectations at the start, and to explicitly explain what you need moving forward. This should also include an immediate end to any behaviour that’s impacting negatively on the bridal party as a whole.

The main thing is to illustrate that the time leading up to your wedding is hard enough and you are counting on her and your other friends to make the process much less stressful. Remind her that things such as bickering and stubbornness help no one, and in fact will only push you away. This gives her a chance to raise anything that’s on her mind too, and you should also ask if there’s anything stressful going on in her life. She may not have wanted to burden you with it, but may not realise it is making itself felt in different ways.

So talk things through and see how it goes. If, at the end of day, you still feel that she is not the right person to be a bridesmaid, the best idea is to demote a bridesmaid in person, to try to make it about what you need rather than what she’s lacking, and to try and keep things civil. At least this way you might still have a chance at keeping your friendship intact. Good luck out there!

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