Dear Julie: I just got engaged and I’ve begun the process of choosing my bridesmaids. My sister is going to be my maid of honor and my two best friends are bridesmaids for sure. My question is about my fiance’s two sisters. I am friends with one and I think my fiancé would really like it if I asked her to be a bridesmaid. He has another sister, though, who I don’t know as well. She lives out of state and I haven’t spent much time with her. Should I ask her to be a bridesmaid too? I don’t want to offend her by not asking. And I don’t want to put her on the spot and make her feel like she has to do it. What do you think?
Answer: Congratulations on your engagement! And welcome to the wonderful world of negotiating a whole new bunch of family politics with your future in-laws. You’re instincts are right; feelings can get hurt in this kind of situation and etiquette can be tricky. Traditionally, I think if you were to ask one of your fiance’s sisters to be a bridesmaid, you should certainly ask them both. However, etiquette has loosened up so much around weddings these days that anything goes. Who knows, his second sister may not even want to be a bridesmaid. May I suggest having your brother speak to her? He can tell her the situation as it is: that you’re asking the other sister to be a bridesmaid and that you’d also like her to be a bridesmaid if she would like to be. This will take the pressure off and allow her to say yes or no. If she doesn’t want to, no harm done. If she does want to be a bridesmaid, welcome her with open arms. It will make things happier with your new family down the road.