Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Bride needs to reflect on hurt feelings from excluded friend
Florida: I can't have all my eight BFFs in my wedding, and I can't choose without hurting feelings, so I let them all know I was leaving it up to chance — they drew straws, and three randomly chosen friends are now my bridal party.
Now I find out the one I've known the longest is hurt that I didn't pick her. Others have said they wouldn't mind if I added her, but I feel like that would open a can of worms. Is this too dumb to even devote mental energy to?
Carolyn: Hurt feelings are never "too dumb" for our attention.
Now, there's some "duh" residue in (a) having eight "best" friends; (b) deciding arbitrarily that having three bridesmaids is okay but eight isn't; (c) drawing straws instead of including all of them or none of them; (d) your oldest friend taking things personally instead of just recognizing the desperate act of a desperate bride.
But still, you can't brush off a friend who's smarting. Tell her you're sorry for . . . not thinking more clearly, or lumping all your friends together, or not anticipating how much she'd care, or whatever else you regret.
If you're not sorry, and instead you think she's overreacting, then stick kindly to your decision, with a response along the lines of: "I hear you, and I see now that you're hurt, but please realize that I was trying to pre-empt hurt feelings."
Which, again, is a good argument for not having a bridal party at all — an option you still have at this point. The hard feelings and unwelcome expenses so often take away more from weddings than the uniformed camaraderie brings.
Anonymous: Re: Bridesmaids: Three bridesmaids is such an arbitrary number. But I guess if it has to be three, could you have the other five involved through a reading at the ceremony? Or maybe have some usher-ettes that don't stand up but have coordinated outfits so that everyone feels involved? Weddings, in my opinion, should be about inclusivity.
Carolyn: Not to sound insensitive, but, barf. Putting names on the board for little make-work jobs is the stuff of kindergarten classrooms. If you have eight people whom you regard as legitimately close to you, then take a moment to be thankful that you have quality companionship in such an unusual quantity, and then send them all the same invitations to your wedding that you're sending everyone else. That is inclusion. Creating a hierarchy of inclusion is the idea that launched a thousand matrimonial train wrecks.
Anonymous: Re: Bridesmaids: How do you know three is arbitrary? Maybe she's getting married in a small chapel. Maybe her husband only has three attendants and she needs a compatible number. Maybe they can only afford gifts for three. Maybe three is her favorite number. It's not arbitrary to the bride.
Carolyn: The need for all of the attendants to stand at the altar? Arbitrary. The need to match his number of attendants? Arbitrary. The need to spend a certain amount on gifts for the wedding party? Arbitrary. Three as favorite number? Arbitrary. Feelings of the people you love? Priceless.