Maybe there isn’t, and maybe you are. But both are ancillary problems to the main problem — that this is your best friend, and she’s marrying someone you strongly dislike.
It raises a larger question than how to deal with her wedding: how to deal with her marriage. Will you tell her how you feel beforehand (if she doesn’t already know), out of a duty to warn her, or a duty to be honest? Will you shut up and hope you’re wrong about him? Will you try to socialize with her one-on-one? Or suck it up and endure them both?
Will you pull off a triumph of grace and bet-hedging that draws the best from all approaches, preserves your friendship and empowers her to make better choices? And if you do this, can we have what you’re having?
I wish I could be more specific. But each of these approaches is “right” only when you believe in it. Like all losing campaigns.
There is one bright side, though. When you do find an answer you can live with to this big and terrible question, the maid-of-honor one will have answered itself.
January 2004: Just say no?
Can you tell me the most gracious way to decline the invitation to be a bridesmaid in a wedding? I recently tried to do so (in short because our friendship has drifted and bride-to-be has refused my attempts to talk about the issues), and now she is accusing me of “bailing” on her big day because I am jealous. I tried to explain that I would love to be a part of their celebration, but I did not feel comfortable being in the wedding. I feel I was honest, but it’s backfired, and now I am wondering if I should have just sucked it up, kept my mouth shut and been in the wedding. Thoughts?
— Banging My Head Against the Wall
That a damp washcloth is magic on a sore forehead.
It sounds as if your friendship has drifted because the bride-to-be refuses to talk. It also sounds as if you did decline the invitation graciously.
And it sounds as if honesty isn’t a language your friend is comfortable speaking, no matter how gracious the terms. And so she lashed out in the languages she prefers. Denial, deflection, blame.
Bummer. For her, though, not for you; you were right to say what you said, even if you’re now stuck seething over the idea that she actually thinks you’re jealous of her. (If it helps: She doesn’t. People confident in their beliefs don’t fling them in anger at others. Besides, the last word is hardly a victory when it’s a fatuous one.)
That’s assuming, of course, you wanted to put this friendship on honest footing, even at the risk of ending it. If you would have preferred keep-your-mouth-shut-and-stay-bad-friends footing, then you should have sucked it up. Unfortunately, going that route means you also have to suck up whatever else she throws in your face. Not a path I’d recommend.