weddings

'I decided to have a friend-only bridal party. I don't know if my sister will ever speak to me again.'

We were sitting around a fold-out table in the backyard when it happened. My fiancé and I had just returned from an overseas holiday and were still in our loved up bubble after getting engaged.

While in Fiji, we had made the decision not to share the news of our engagement until we got home to fully enjoy the moment where we would tell family and friends. We had been dating for four years, lived together and had talked a lot about getting engaged when the time was right.

But our trip away wasn’t planned. It was something we’d arranged at the last minute when we found a good deal and the proposal was not expected.

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Now at home in Sydney, we had organised for our immediate family to come over and celebrate our engagement. It was December, it was warm and everyone was buzzing. We were winding down into the end of the year, with special events and Christmas parties coming up.

My partner and I were retelling the story of how our engagement had unfolded when a question floated into the air. “So who are you going to have for your bridesmaids” my older sister Anna asked.

I didn’t realise how loaded the question was at the time and to be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it. We had just got off a plane, were still a little delirious and had only told a handful of people our news. Who was going to be in my bridal party was one of the furthest things from my mind.

But still, I quickly answered with what immediately came to my mind as I began rattling off the names of my closest friends. “I’m not sure, I’ll probably have Alexandra, Caitlin, Emma and Bianca.” A mix of my friends from high school, uni and work.

“You mean you’re not going to have me?” Anna replied in a half-joking, half-serious tone.

“I’m not sure, I don’t know,” I replied. “I’ll probably have Alyssa as flower girl. I haven’t really thought about it.”

Alyssa, Anna’s three-year-old daughter, my niece, was also sitting at the table playing with her food.

Suddenly I began to feel hot as I noticed everyone at the table was looking at us. But while I tried to move the conversation along, Anna wouldn’t relent.

“You mean you wouldn’t have both of us? Well I just think that’s a bit rude. Why wouldn’t you have your sister in your bridal party? I know lots of people who have their sisters in their bridal party,” she continued to argue.

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Next, my brother-in-law interjected followed by my fiancé, trying their best to diffuse the situation, but it was already too late. I felt like what should have been a time of celebration had been ruined and now I could think of nothing else but the scene Anna had made.

I’d hoped it was just a case of Anna being swept up in the moment and not thinking too much about how she was behaving. I assumed the outburst at lunch would be the end of it and we could move on with more important things.

But it hasn’t stopped. Six months have passed and in that time Anna has done everything possible to make the wedding planning process as difficult for me as possible. When we made the final decision about who we would have in the bridal party, my fiancé and I agreed that we would have our friends and not family.

We didn’t see the need to include the family because by default they are already a huge part of the day. Why does a sibling need to hold a bouquet and wear the same dress as four other women to feel acknowledged?

We just thought it was silly and didn’t reflect the true symbolism of what our wedding meant to us.

Yet Anna didn’t see it this way and has been combative at every turn, constantly calling me and telling me how upset she is about my decision. I thought time would resolve what happened that day in our backyard but it hasn’t, if anything it has only gotten worse.

I’ve tried to include Anna in different ways. I have invited her to view venues and come wedding dress shopping. I have asked her for her opinion on what Alyssa’s flower girl dress should look like and how she should have her hair. It’s just not good enough.

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We were due to have our engagement party this month but with the social distancing restrictions in place, we have scaled it back to a much smaller function. It’s been a relief to me because all I have been concerned about is Anna making a scene on the day.

I have tried to reason with her on multiple occasions and told her that as my sister, she will always play and important role; she doesn’t need to be in the bridal party to reflect this. She, however, won’t accept this and continues to tell me how hurt and offended she is.

I don’t want to look back on this time and feel like I couldn’t fully enjoy being engaged because my sister made it so difficult for me. I have offered her other roles and other ways to be involved and she has declined all of them.

It’s upsetting and frustrating and while I still wouldn’t change my decision about the bridal party, it has drawn a line in the relationship I have with my sister. One that I don’t know if we’ll be able to come back from.

The writer of this post is known to Mamamia and has chosen to remain any anonymous. Names have been changed to maintain privacy.

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