Dear Wedding Maven,
I have a sticky situation relating to my bridesmaids. I got engaged 1 year and 3 months ago, and at that time, I asked my brother's fiancée to be one of my bridesmaids, along with my sister (as the maid of honor of course) and my fiancé's sister. I wanted to keep the number kind of small, 3 is a perfect number. However, about 6 months ago, my brother and his fiancée broke up. For about a month, no one really knew if they were going to be back together or not, but it didn't look good. So, I asked my good friend who I really wanted in my wedding anyways to be my third bridesmaid. But now, my brother and his fiancée are back together. Although my family has doubts about the strength of their relationship, my brother obviously thinks she's the one and they've been dating for the past 5 months. (Though they have no solid wedding plans and we never know if they are actually engaged) Now my wedding is going to be here in 9 months and I don't know what to do! Is it rude to retract an invitation to be a bridesmaid? I would still prefer to have only the 3 bridesmaids but I don't want to start a family rift if I ask her to no longer be a part of my wedding. I'm trying to balance both sides - for example, it would probably be pretty awkward for my brother if they do break up again and his ex is in all of my wedding pictures. I could always find a fourth groomsmen if necessary, but again, would prefer not to (and fiance prefers not to as well).
One too many
This is one reason I recommend that people not choose their bridesmaids shortly after getting engaged. Shortly after you get engaged you’re filled with oxytocin or serotonin or whatever hormone it is that makes you love everybody. You can get carried away and ask way too many people, or the wrong people to be in your wedding. Ideally, you shouldn’t ask anyone to be in your wedding (except maybe for your Maid of Honor, who is probably a given) until you have a good sense of what your wedding will be like, and what the budget is. Eight to ten months before the wedding is still plenty of time to ask your friends, and order dresses.
That being said, you’ve already asked four women, and four women you’re going to have. Given that there’s a strong likelihood that your brother will marry this woman, or at least that she’ll be around for a while the fall out from disinviting her is way too big to risk it.
You could approach your PFSIL (possible future sister-in-law) and in a very neutral way say something like “I’m glad you and Johnny got back together, he clearly loves you. I wasn’t sure if you were still interested in being a bridesmaid?” She may decide to bow our herself, but if not, you’re stuck.
I wouldn’t invite a fourth groomsman, unless there’s someone that your fiancé wants to include. There’s really no reason why the bridal party has to be even, and there’s the chance that Johnny and your PFSIL might break up again, then you’d be stuck finding a fourth bridesmaid to re-even things out.
I also wouldn’t worry too much about your brother feeling awkward about having his ex in your wedding pictures. Your brother probably doesn’t care that much about your wedding pictures. Seriously, when is he even going to see them? Make sure to get one or two good shots of JUST the siblings with no spouses or others so that even if they do break up again, your mom has a nice shot of her kids to hang in the living room.
By the way, excellent decision to have a small bridal party! Each additional member of the bridal party can add as much as $200 to your budget.