Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

My entire life, I have been the quiet, introverted child and my sister was the extroverted, ham sister. We are now in our 20s. I am starting a career I love and am recently engaged. My sister is a struggling actress. But what was cute and endearing when we were kids has become irritating and a little selfish as adults.

My fiance and I are wondering if asking her to be a bridesmaid is such a good idea because everything about her behavior suggests she is unable to step back and let us shine for the day. I love my sister and appreciate her talents, but I do not want them on display at my wedding.

Should I have a conversation with her about toning it down? Should I ask her and just let the chips fall how they may?

My Sister Is a Ham

No wedding party. I think it’s a great idea even without a spotlight-sucking sister and have said so many times over the years, but when having one comes with an increased risk of scenemaking, it only accrues more charm.

By the way — wedding party or no, she’s not going to “let us shine” no matter what you do, so don’t even think about that as a concern. Just be the bride and groom.

Not only will that put you at the center of attention naturally, but it also will (I hope) keep you from working hard to get that attention. That would be stooping to exactly what you resent your sister for doing. Plus, seeking attention at one’s own wedding just has YouTube all over it, and not in a we’re-laughing-with-you kind of way.

Sis is who she is. Be who you are and trust the outcome — that you emerge married to the man you intend to marry — to be okay.

Re: Ham:

Since many people just can’t eschew the wedding party, I say let the chips fall where they may and invite sis.

Maybe the letter-writer should think about where her fears come from. After all, she needlessly mentioned that she’s “starting a career I love” and that her sister is “struggling.” Her fears of being upstaged at her wedding and this little jibe say a lot about her insecurities, which may be mild, but seem like a less-than-happy thing to harbor for a lifetime. I’d rather get to a zen state where even if sis hopped up on a table at the reception and danced a Watusi, I’d be able to hug my husband and whoop it up with the rest of the crowd.


Many readers flagged the sibling-rivalry overtones, which I should have, thanks. There isn’t a finite amount of attention available to these two, and there is a lot more worth seeking than attention. Peace with themselves and each other, for two examples.

One quibble, Anon . . . everyone can eschew the wedding party. The less we treat any aspect of a wedding as compulsory, the better — besides, of course, the key three: a couple, an officiant, and mutual, informed consent.

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