From bridesmaid to stranger: How weddings can destroy friendships

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The bachelorette started with a luxurious morning of pampering, and ended in a fight with a tiara being ripped off the bride’s head.

Jaclyn*, who asked Global News to change her name to protect her identity, had planned a lavish, fun day for the bride and a few of her closest friends earlier this year in Toronto. Jaclyn said the bride drank too much throughout the day, and had a meltdown at the end of the night.

At one point in the night when the group was at a club, Jaclyn stepped outside for fresh air. When she returned, the bride was angry with her for leaving.

“The bride stormed out of the club,” she told Global News.

“Incomprehensible and nearly foaming at the mouth, she announced we were leaving,” she said. “She charged across the street and was almost hit by a few cars. We made it back to the hotel where she proceeded to scream at me for leaving the bar.”

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Jaclyn tried to get the bride to stop talking by pulling her tiara off her head. Unfortunately, she forgot it was pinned to her hair.

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Jaclyn realized this was the wrong thing to do, and in turn, the bride tried to fight her. She says “chaos ensued” and the bride’s sister got involved. After Jaclyn threatened to call hotel security, the bride backed off.

Suffice to say, Jaclyn will not attend her wedding.

“[The bachelorette] was expensive and beautiful, and took a lot of time, money and effort,” Jaclyn said. “I bent over backwards for this woman, and no, we’re no longer friends.”
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Why weddings cause conflict

According to Nicole McCance, a Toronto-based registered psychologist and relationship expert, it’s not uncommon for tensions to rise during wedding planning. While acting out violently or aggressively is never acceptable behaviour, McCance says that stress can affect people in negative ways.

“For a lot of people, [a wedding] might be the very first time in their life that they’ve had to lead such a major event,” McCance told Global News.
“This is the event that you’ve maybe been fantasizing about since you were younger; this is the event that your mom is always talking about, so [there’s] all that pressure.”
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This pressure can affect people in negative ways, especially brides and grooms, and can cause feelings of irritability and anxiety. When people get overly stressed, McCance says they can act in a way that’s out of character. This can be jarring for family and friends involved in the wedding planning.

“I don’t think a wedding creates this ‘other’ personality… but now you see this person under extreme stress and pressure,” McCance explained. “And if they’re at all perfectionists and are attached to having [the wedding] go a very specific way, then this is them on stress on steroids.”

The stress of planning her own wedding ended Marie’s* friendship with her best friend of 20 years. Marie, who asked Global News to change her name, asked her longtime pal to be her maid of honour, but they had a massive disagreement three weeks before the wedding.

“We both become so stressed and got into a blow-out fight at the bachelorette party,” Marie said.

“I think it built up over the year of planning. She was really involved and was taking things really seriously, but I felt annoyed that her stress was actually stressing me out. It felt like the opposite of what was supposed to happen. I feel pretty selfish looking back, because that probably wasn’t the most mature of me.”

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Marie said her maid of honour came to the wedding, but left early. The women spoke after the wedding but decided they couldn’t move past what had happened at the bachelorette.

“We are no longer in communication,” Marie said. “Part of me hopes we will reconcile eventually… it’s upsetting that such an important female friendship ended over something so trivial.”

Unappreciated efforts

Catherine*, who also asked Global News to change her name, says being involved in her friend’s 2017 wedding planning caused a huge divide in their friendship. The 32-year-old says that when she was asked to be a bridesmaid, she stepped up to the plate, but her efforts never seemed to be good enough.

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“[The bride] asked me to help plan the bachelorette party,” Catherine told Global News. “This resulted in me meal planning, grocery and booze shopping for 20 girls (with crazy dietary restrictions) for a three-day bachelorette.”
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Catherine says all the women had a great time, but the bride started acting “weird” after the weekend getaway.

“She never even acknowledged my birthday a few weeks after the bachelorette, [and] leading up to the wedding, she was pretty distant with not telling me about plans and key information,” she said.
“I kept making excuses for her, [like] ‘she must be so stressed with the wedding.'”

But after the wedding, Catherine says the bride ignored her and didn’t talk to her for weeks. Eventually, Catherine says the bride texted her to tell her she wanted to end their 10-year friendship.

“After weeks of negotiating with her, I managed to get her to agree to jump on a call on a Tuesday night — this is the only time she would give me — to hear about what I did that upset her so much,” she said.

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“She felt I had a bad reaction to being asked to be a bridesmaid, [that] I never said thank you for the thank-you card she gave me (to thank me for the bachelorette weekend planning), [and that] I didn’t donate to [her] charity bike ride.
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“I was beyond upset.”

Communicating expectations

Andrea Syrtash, a New York-based relationship expert and the author of Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband), says if expectations are not clearly communicated, resentment can build. If a bride really wants her maid of honour to throw a big bridal shower, for example, she needs to be honest and upfront about it. Otherwise, reality may not meet the expectations she has in her head.

“The person getting married is coming in with his/her own grand expectations and desires for the day, and friends may not contribute to the planning the way the people getting married expected,” she explained.

“And, if a friend [is] going through a rough patch in her own relationship or is unhappily single, sometimes resentments or a strange dynamic pop-up at this time.”

To combat this, Syrtash says having honest conversations with friends and family is vital. They can be hard, but they’re important to protect and maintain friendships.

“When disappointment sets in, the way you share feedback is also important,” she added.

“Rather than accuse someone of doing something with bad intentions or attacking their character… it’s worth sharing how you feel and what you want. Try not to accuse people without honestly sharing your feelings, listening to them and hearing their perspective.”

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McCance says a falling out from a wedding can sometimes highlight the quality of a friendship. She says that all relationships have their own dynamics, and if you’ve sometimes felt taken advantaged of before, or underappreciated, wedding planning can only “magnify” those issues.

“If you feel [a certain way] in the friendship a little bit normally, that will come out even more when the wedding planning comes because everything is to an extreme,” she said.
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“In that case, you need to ask yourself the hard questions, like do you want to sit down with this person and fight for this relationship? Or do you want to remove yourself a little bit after the wedding?”

Today, two years after the wedding, Catherine says she talks to her former best friend, but they aren’t close. The way the bride acted really hurt her, and she hasn’t forgotten what went down.

“We agreed to remain friendly for the sake of our larger group of friends,” she said.

“Gradually our interactions have become more normal, but I keep her at a very big arm’s length away.”


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