July 30

Including a Future Sister-in-Law as a Bridesmaid?

Sometimes, from the moment you get engaged to the instant you say “I do,” it can feel like your wedding is more about friends and family than you and your fiance. As a perfect example of this family compromise versus personal preference scenario, here’s a tricky question we just got from a Wedding Paper Divas fan:

Dear Divas,

I’m recently engaged and fairly new to the whole wedding planning scene, so I was surprised when a good friend of mine was shocked that I wasn’t planning to include my fiance’s sister as one of my bridesmaids. My future sister-in-law is perfectly nice and has always made me feel at home in their family, but she is much older than me and I wouldn’t call us particularly close. Am I obligated to include her as one of my bridesmaids regardless?

Thanks for your help,

Soon-to-Be Sister-in-Law

Dear Soon-to-Be,

This is one of those tricky questions where the answer is—it depends. Is your bridal party big already? Do you get along well with her? Have you heard that she’s even interested in being a bridesmaid? And perhaps most importantly, is it important to your husband-to-be?

In general, I vote for including her as a bridesmaid. Whether you are close to her or not, asking your fiance’s sister to be a bridesmaid is a wonderful way to integrate her into your celebration. Imagine if your own sibling were getting married—wouldn’t you want to play a part in the big day? Plus, you are going to be family once you and her brother tie the knot. Why not make this gesture to start your sister-in-law relationship on the right foot?

The only reasons I would advise against including her is if she has been overtly rude to you or if she has told your fiance she doesn’t want to participate. I know you always imagined standing up at the altar with just your best girlfriends, but let’s face it—wedding planning isn’t just about making yourself happy. It’s not worth it to alienate your future in-laws just to free up a spot in the lineup, so we recommend including your future sister-in-law as a bridesmaid as a generous, loving and kindhearted gesture that will kick off your wedding planning in an elegant way.

And who knows? Maybe when you look back on your wedding photos in twenty years the two of you will be the best of friends after all!

Do you have a question for our wedding experts? Send your etiquette, wedding planning or style dilemma to blog@weddingpaperdivas.com and we’ll post an answer for you!

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About Katie

Katie M. is a Writer at Wedding Paper Divas. She has the privilege of viewing nearly every piece of stationery before it goes up on the website, giving her the ultimate inside scoop on upcoming trends in the stationery world. She loves classic designs with a surprising twist, and enjoys finding new ways to express her ever-evolving personal style—a blend of traditional glamour and bohemian whimsy that makes Wedding Paper Divas a perfect fit! In addition to her love for writing, Katie is obsessed with health and fitness, skincare, UC Santa Barbara, all things adorable, the beach, dancing, cooking, getting real mail, fresh flowers, discount shopping, and shoes (who isn’t?). Katie is a contributing editor to Diva Dialogue. Be sure to check out her recurring feature, “Rant or Rave.”

4 thoughts on “Including a Future Sister-in-Law as a Bridesmaid?

  1. Mrs-to-be

    I would like to offer some advice based upon REAL experience…

    It was my Mother who first suggested that I should have the groom’s younger sister as my bridesmaid alongside my best friends. Like the other bride, I was reluctant as we weren’t particularly close, on the contrary, she had been rude to me in the past, however I simply put that down to her age. Nevertheless, I asked her in order to make the Groom’s family happy, especially seeing as they’d agreed to contribute a substantial amount of money to the wedding.
    To begin with, I was glad that I had as we’d spend hours pouring over websites looking at gorgeous dresses. However, the alarm bells started to ring when she and her Mum bought her bridesmaid shoes before we’d even picked out the dress, without telling me.
    I then made the fatal flaw of taking her to the bridal shop on the day that I was going to buy THE dress, with the intention of looking at bridesmaid’s dresses in the same store afterwards. My Mum accompanied us and the Groom’s Mum asked whether she could come as well, which I saw no harm in at the time.
    After I’d paid for my dress, she started to try on bridesmaid’s dresses, which were picked put by the assistant in the store. It soon became clear that the choice was being taken out of my hands when she tried a dress on that was almost identical to my wedding dress (which is very simple), and she and her Mum were commenting on how perfect it would be. I felt like I was sinking back into insignificance before finally finding my voice and stating diplomatically that I would prefer to have short dresses for the bridesmaids (and to be honest, that is all the budget would allow for).
    She then tried on another dress before bursting into tears and saying that she would rather not be a bridesmaid if she couldn’t wear a maxi dress. She then ignored me for the rest of the day and later publicly insulted me on a social networking site.
    The most upsetting thing though, is that even though the Groom supported me, his family still expected me to have her as a bridesmaid, even though there was no apology.
    The crux of it was that she felt more important than the two other bridesmaids because she was the Groom’s sister, none of the other bridesmaids were with us and her Mum was included in the decision making process.

    I am yet to say “I do”, but I know that when I put my dress on, I am not going to feel the same sense of elation, because I will be reminded of the day that the Groom’s sister humiliated me.

    So, asking your future in-law to be your bridesmaid comes with a health warning, and if you choose to let her, consider the following things seriously:
    1) Go bridesmaid shopping with your entire bridal party and nobody else, even if it means waiting months before you’re able to do so!
    2) Set up strict guidelines and be very clear about what style of bridesmaid dress you want them to wear beforehand. Even though you want them to be comfortable (and trust me, I wanted them all to, I was even willing to pay for a seamstress to personalise their dresses for them so that they’d feel entirely confident in what they were wearing or order them all different dresses in the same colour), the most important thing is that *you* are able to choose a style to compliment *your* wedding dress.
    3) Make them understand that they will need to compromise, because what suits one of them perfectly, will not suit them all.
    4) Don’t let anybody make you feel like you have an obligation to them or to anybody else. You choose your bridesmaids, and nobody else. So choose the people who have earned the right to be your bridesmaids by being loyal to you for years on end; don’t choose people because of the family they were born into.

    An alternative would be to ask her to be one of your witnesses so that she signs the all important documents with you, that way she will feel included.

    I hope that this helps somebody. Sending you all my love <3

    Reply
  2. danielle

    Hmm,

    My groom has TWO sisters! I am not close with either of them (and we live in the same city and are very close in age). However, as my future sisters I felt it was important to include them! Their style is much “different” than mine- i.e. a lot more revealing….so I was worried about how they would react to the more simple, conservative BM dresses I was leaning towards. So far, they have both been wonderful and I think that they feel happy to be included in our celebration. I think I would not feel right not including family, but that is just me. My BFF had me as her MOH and not only did she not include her sis in laws, she also did not even have her own brothers as groomsmen. So, to each his own I guess! Good luck!

    Reply
  3. Bonnie Lange

    When you go to pick out your bridesmaid dresses, bring only your Mom or a close friend. I know that you
    are excited and want to share the moment. But everything will be open for discussion, feelings will be hurt and you will probably not select the dress that you want. ( and you can try on the dresses to see how they look) Consider the budget of your attendants and keep within the budget. Then you pick out the dress, color to enhance your wedding. After that has all been selected, give your girls the information of where the shop is, how much they have to put down on the purchase and what the range in time is to go to the shop and be measured and order the dress. You will be much happier and there will be much less drama.

    Reply
  4. Kelsey

    I’ve asked my fiance’s sister to be in my wedding. We don’t hang out a whole lot but when we do we get along just fine.

    I actually disagree with Bonnie though. As difficult as it may be, I think the bridesmaids should have a say in what their dresses are going to look like (within reason). I mean, after all, they are the ones who are going to have to spend sometimes $100+ on the dress and wear it for hours. I think it’s extremely unfair to go yourself and pick out a dress and make your bridesmaids pay for it sight unseen. What happens if the style that you thought was perfect looks awful on them? That’s a disaster waiting to happen.

    Trust me, I was in a wedding last July in which the dress was picked for me and I basically just got to show up, get my measurements taken and pay $175 for something that I didn’t remotely like. You’re going to have much more drama if you choose to take that route, because there’s a good chance most of your bridesmaids will be pissed at you for not being included. I’m not saying that you relinquish 100% of the say in the bridesmaids dresses, but asking a group of girls to purchase a dress they’ve never even had the opportunity to try on is never a good idea.

    The only time this MIGHT be okay is if you as the bride are covering the cost of the each girl’s dress. Other than that, don’t give your bridesmaids reason to think you’re a controlling Bridezilla incapable of relinquishing some say :)

    Reply

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