Are Weddings The End of Friendships?

I recently saw this article “Why I Won’t Be a Bridesmaid” and loved the honest take on weddings from a non-bride perspective. Let’s face it, the wedding is all about the bride and rightly so. I love weddings, but there’s a lot I hate about them, too.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been a bridesmaid almost as many times as Katherine Heigl’s character in 27 DRESSES. I’ve had so many dresses and shoe styles and must-wear hair that finally, a few years ago, I decided I would never stand in another wedding again (unless of course it was my little brother getting married before me). There are multiple reasons I said I wouldn’t stand in another wedding again: the rules, the chaos, the Bridezillas, the selfishness of it all, the money, and of course, because I was starting to feel like I’d stood in far too many. “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” everyone loved echoing in my ear.

But a close college friend got engaged so I said yes. I couldn’t imagine not standing in her wedding and was so happy she’d asked. And then a close family member got engaged, so of course I said yes. Another friend actually didn’t ask and it was (to me) a sign she just didn’t care about our friendship anymore. Our friendship was over shortly after that.

Weddings are fun and they’re a great ritual in some ways, but this quote below strikes an all too familiar chord with me–about the fact that bridesmaids are expected to stand next to our friends as we begin to step aside and sometimes lose our friends. Things aren’t ever the same, regardless of whether our friends try to keep them that way:

I can’t be your bridesmaid because I think bridesmaids shouldn’t exist. l think it’s cruel to expect your fellow besties to invest considerable funds and time into proving we’re your friend…at the very moment you’re entering a union that, by definition, means we’re stepping aside for your new “best friend and partner.” – Faran Krentcil for ELLE

I speak from experience. Always having been the bridesmaid, it feels like some people use marriage as their cue to forget their old life and friends and forge ahead with someone new (and great) into a space where single friends aren’t as welcome. Especially single women. We aren’t a threat; we’re your friend. If your husband can only hang out with couples, might that be his issue? Or is it that you’re threatened by me, your friend? Why is it that men usually keep their friends but women sometimes abandon them?

I get that I’m the oddball and not chained down. But still, have you ever been a bridesmaid? If not, hear us out. We said yes because we love you and are happy for you. We wish you nothing but every happiness in the world. But after the wedding is over and your gifts are packed away, we will miss you. We’ll miss the nights we drank together, the trouble we got into and the laughs we had before this moment-that-changes-our-friendship. And even though we want to stand by you to celebrate the change in your life, we’re faced with the fact that things won’t ever be the same and the older we get and the more married you become (and the less married I become), the less we have in common.

I’m not advocating for the no bridesmaid law, but I am just telling you this: If you are married or “consciously coupled” and you feel the Stink Eye coming from your friend, consider that maybe it’s not jealousy or resentment but the pain of slowly losing a friend she will greatly miss.

At the heart of the “bridesmaid” concept is an inconvenient truth: If you’re getting married, you’re gaining another half…and also have less time for people who aren’t your One and Only.