Avoiding Lesbian Drama Over Who Is — And Isn’t — In The Wedding Party

Steven PetrowQuestion for Steven: I hear through the grapevine that an old friend of mine feels snubbed because I didn’t invite her to be in my wedding. It’s going to be a small ceremony, but the truth is that I don’t think of her as one of my closest friends. In fact, several years ago I downgraded her in my mind to an “acquaintance.” So how do I make it right? Tell her the truth? Smooth talk her? Or just pretend like everything’s okay and wait to see if she gets over feeling left out—and accepts my invitation to come to the wedding as a guest? I really want to avoid any lesbian drama!

Steven Answers: This is the kind of interpersonal problem that can really foul up a friendship, not to mention a wedding celebration. That is, unless you deal with it directly. Of course, your “grapevine” may have exaggerated the situation and your friend may not be ready to cry her poor eyes over this offense, but it’s best if you go ahead and assume that she’s hurt.

I’d reach out to this friend right away to try and clear things up. Forget communicating through common friends or dropping hints that you hope will find their way back to her. This is a case where I would definitely not rely on e-mail (or even a handwritten note); you really need to pick up the phone and talk to your friend (no voice-mail messages here, except if the need arises to simply say that you’ve called).

Give some thought before you call about what you want to say to your friend that will make her feel better while not putting yourself in the position of actually lying. For instance, you definitely don’t need to tell her she doesn’t rank high enough among your friends nor that you downgraded her to the “acquaintance” level! (By the way, this is definitely not the time to confess that you never liked someone, prefer your other friends, or don’t trust the person with an attendant’s responsibilities.)

But do explain that you’re having a small wedding—and you wish it could be bigger (for instance, you wish you could afford a bigger wedding). If it happens to be true that most of your attendants will be family members or friends from college (assuming she’s not), mention that as well.

Do your best to make your friend understand that not inviting her to be a part of your wedding party is not a litmus test of your feelings for her. And before ending the call, make a point of telling her that you really want her at your wedding. Then, it’s time to go Buddhist: Sit back and wait until the RSVP deadline to see how persuasive you were. With any luck, she’ll feel better about the situation – and you’ll have nipped any lesbian drama in the bud.


Steven Petrow is the go-to source on contemporary etiquette, as cited by The New York Times, People, Time, and NPR. His sometimes gentle, sometimes snarky, always insightful advice has made him a nationally recognized expert on modern manners. In addition to his three prize-winning etiquette books, Steven writes the “Civil Behavior” column for The New York Times and is a sought-after speaker on all matters of civilized living in the 21st century.