No event is more fraught with etiquette minefields than the modern wedding. You’re planning a big party to celebrate your life’s greatest joy – awesome! Everyone wants to be there for you, and they’ll spend major cash on flights and hotels and gifts because they love you. This is not an imposition; your nearest and dearest want to do this! You’re planning a weekend of fun, probably in a great place, and you’re treating your guests and wedding party to food, drinks, I’m speaking from experience here that weddings are THE MOST fun.
Enter the Jetblue bridesmaid, Courtney. She’s a student and a former friend of Alex, the Jumpsuit bride. Here’s what went down:
The internet was quick to weigh in on Courtney’s side, and I get that. Nobody wants to be a fired bridesmaid – how embarrassing to get ousted! But there’s more to this than meets the eye.
Where Alex is wrong:
Sending an email. Why on earth would you deliver this so impersonally? Pick up the phone. This is an emotional conversation, and your friend needs to hear it in your voice.
The passive aggression. “I promise we’re totally cool.” No, you’re most certainly not. YOU should be the one hoping that Courtney still wants to be friends with you after you fired her as a bridesmaid.
Saying “relinquish your duties as a bridesmaid.” “Relinquishing one’s duties” sounds like one must lay a jeweled ceremonial sword before a throne. Being a bridesmaid is a huge honor, but it does not involve any ceremonial swords (unless I’ve been doing it wrong).
Firing Courtney ON HER BIRTHDAY. Or depending on when she read the email, the day before her birthday. Just…avoid doing this around birthday time.
Firing Courtney AFTER she booked her flights. Sounds like someone was worried Courtney would skip out on the whole event! Now that Courtney is an invited guest, she is free to decline the invitation. But now that she purchased flights, she can’t really decline without incurring fees and letting the bride know that she purposefully ditched the big day. I mean, Courtney was going to be a bridesmaid, it’s very clear she had that weekend blocked off for Alex!
Asking Courtney to mail the jumpsuit. Courtney bought the jumpsuit; it’s hers. Asking her to mail it across the country is just salt in the wound. In fact, Alex should have offered – on the phone! – to reimburse Courtney for the cost of the jumpsuit that she will not wear again, because she will not wear it the first time.
Finding a replacement bridesmaid. I get wanting to have a symmetrical number of bridesmaids and groomsmen, but if you fire a bridesmaid, you’re going to have to deal with asymmetry. It’s not the worst thing in the world. You know what would be tacky? Asking someone else who fits in the jumpsuit to step in, as if your friends are interchangeable props.
Having a Sunday night wedding. Big caveat here – if the wedding is on a holiday weekend, Sunday night is fine and Alex is absolved. But if you have a weeknight wedding, some of your guests will have to leave early. People have jobs and school and lots of things that need to happen on Monday morning.
What Courtney did wrong:
Booking a Sunday night flight. If you’re in the wedding party, the least you can do is be there for the whole wedding. The Sunday night thing is annoying, but you can take Monday off (for travel) instead of Friday (for the rehearsal, which is likely on Saturday).
Saying yes in the first place. If you can’t be there to support the bride for the whole wedding day, you just can’t be a bridesmaid. And that’s okay. Now, maybe Courtney said yes before Alex decided to have a Sunday night wedding, in which case Courtney gets a pass.
Posting the email on the internet under her own name. Once you go public with something like this, the friendship is probably not salvageable. Also, now anyone who Googles her will see she got fired as a bridesmaid. Embarrassing!
If Courtney couldn’t stay late into Sunday night (reasonable!), she needed to say so up front. If Alex was dead-set on having the wedding party there the whole time (also, completely reasonable!) she needed to ask the bridal party before booking a Sunday night wedding, and/or asking Courtney to change her flight. No decent person would handle this over email. In a follow-up tweet, Courtney said this is about more than just the email. I’m wondering what other Bridezilla swipes Alex has made at her closest friends. I’m wondering how else Courtney slacked as a bridesmaid.
Treat your friends like people you actually care about. And if you’re not going to do that…spill all the details. Show us the jumpsuit, Courtney!