I must confess: I am not a sister of a sister. But I do understand the dynamics that can come from sister-on-sister conflict, especially when one is getting married.
These special relationships often involve issues of jealousy and revenge, the need for approval and the need for attention. It’s emotional residue of teenage torturing—the time she gave your Barbie a haircut, when she flirted with the boy you liked or when she called you Amazon girl during your very awkward puberty. These are long-festering neuroses that will likely haunt the two of you forever.
And then one of you gets engaged.
There are so many potential conflicts between sisters when it comes to weddings. The thing about sisters is—for better or for worse—you are stuck with them. And unlike your bridesmaids—who you picked as friends—a sister can be as unaware, as selfish and as destructive as she wants to be…and she is still your sister. You are especially sensitive to her snarkiness and she is especially senstive to your vanity. It’s an emotional atom-bomb waiting to happen.
So, whether you are the sister of the bride or the bride, here are five rules for dealing with your sister when the wedding bells ring:
1. Open communication: Maybe you don’t want your sister to be a bridesmaid, or maybe you’re worried she won’t help out or she’ll try to steal the show. Open up the dialogue from the very beginning, and let her know your thoughts (be sensitive, because you know how she gets when you judge her). Tell her about your expectations. And tell her what you want her role to be. If you two talk about it, it can save you from major drama on the wedding day.
2. Make her feel special: If you’ve decided not to have your sister(s) in your wedding, give her another role. Or give her a special shout-out in the program. Have her do a reading, or make a toast. Give her some credit. She is your sister, for Christ’s sake.
3. Relax: If it’s your sister who is getting married, give her a break. Literally. She’s under enormous amounts of stress, so practice some major forgiveness and make sure you offer to help out when you can. When she goes all bridezilla on your ass, be the one who lets her freak and then pour her a glass of Champagne.
4. A wedding is no time for revenge: I’m not sure if this actually happens in real life, or if it’s just a movie thing. You may really want to get your little sister back for all the annoying stuff she did as a kid, but save that for the family reunion or Christmas. Today is her day. Let her have it.
5. Be excited: There is something so simple about texting “yay!!!” to your sister after she sends you a picture of the groomsmen’s vests (super boring, I know). Be happy for them. Show your excitement. Your sister wants you to be super stoked; even if you’re not, pretend.
Bonus tip: A friend of mine asked her little sisters to be maids of honor. But she was so disappointed when they failed to throw her a bachelorette party or a bridal shower. They didn’t help her pick out flowers or find the venue. They were never around to give her advice or calm her nerves. She had to do everything by herself, including her own bachelorette party. Just remember, when you pick women who have never been a bride or bridesmaid to be in your wedding party, it often means they don’t know what it entails. You may love your sisters more than anything in the whole world, and you want them to stand right next to you when you say I do. Just be sure to let your super-organized, overly helpful best friend know you need her to step up and be a leader.