– Ask Cheryl – How Do I Tell My Bridesmaid that her Boyfriend is not Invited to the Wedding?

Dear Cheryl,

I’m getting married next year and a very good friend of mine is a bridesmaid. We have been friends for over 20 years. She has already bought her dress. My question is how do I tell her that her boyfriend of over 2 years isn’t welcome? He has a drinking problem and we are planning on serving alcohol. It has gotten so bad that one time they were at the bar for a night and I had to go pick her up because the bartender knew she wasn’t safe. I can’t imagine her not being part of my wedding, but my fiancé and I do not want her boyfriend there.

I have already hinted to her he is not welcome, but she acts like we will change our minds. How do I tell her he can not attend?


Hi Jennifer,

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Your situation is challenging, and sadly, your friend appears to be in denial.

From an etiquette point of view, it is standard practice to invite the significant other of any wedding guest, especially someone in your bridal party, if they have been dating for over a year. However, it’s your choice who to invite to your wedding, and no one wants a ticking time bomb at their wedding reception.

I recommend seeking additional counsel from others who have had a similar experience or a professional counselor. While my expertise is etiquette advice, I can suggest a few options.

Option 1:

The only way to tell her he can’t attend is to be direct. Sit down with your friend, possibly invite her for a girls’ night out, and have that tough conversation over a glass of wine. Be kind but direct. Tell her that her boyfriend is not on the guest list. Stay firm if she gives you a hard time or says he will behave at the wedding. Tell her that is the decision you have made that is best for your wedding. Give her time to think about it, but it’s her choice whether she wants to be part of your day without him, and you are not in control of her choices. But you should be mentally prepared for her to make the choice that makes you sad. A true friend will want what is best for you.

Option 2:

Tell her you are concerned about his behavior but want to invite him for her sake. Assign someone to monitor him to ensure he doesn’t get out of control. Or hire security, and have them on hand to escort him out if he gets angry or disruptive. Maybe your venue can provide it or a company they work with.

Option 1 has emotional consequences, and Option 2 will increase your wedding budget.

Since the wedding is next year, she probably hopes her boyfriend will change, but we know the odds are against it. Hopefully, she will wake up, realize he is not a good partner, and end the relationship. Again, that is not within your control, and you must stick with what you know to be true.

It’s unfortunate that you even have to think about this, but you are not alone. You may find a few helpful ideas in our article, What to Do When Wedding Guests Behave Badly.

Emails in this column are received from readers. Emails may be edited for spelling, length, and grammar or to remove sensitive information. However, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.

If you have questions or comments about gift giving, bridal showers, baby showers, or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email [email protected].

Cheryl Seidel is the founder and President of RegistryFinder.com, an intuitive search engine that helps gift givers quickly and easily find online registries for weddings, baby showers, graduations, and more.

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