Congratulations, you're engaged!
But what do you do when a friend expects to be in your wedding party... but you don't want them there?
Because these situations are complicated, we talked to a couple of experts to get some advice.
Here's the most important thing: You have to be the judge of your relationship with your friend.
Only you know what your friendship is like, and these are guidelines, not actual rules that you must follow ~or else~. Every friendship is different, and a script that might work for one person isn't going to work for everyone.
1. Do it early.
This all boils down to being considerate, honest, and respectful of the other person and their feelings. "Don't put it off, because the longer this person thinks they're in the team, the harder it is for everyone later," Aleisha McCormack, host of the podcast Save the Date, tells BuzzFeed. "The goal is to minimize dramas and maximize the good times."
2. Do it one-on-one, especially if this person is acting like they're automatically a part of the bridal party.
"If they're long distance pals, then a Skype or phone call is cool," McCormack says. "Texts are impersonal, and, although easy and swift to execute, can be misinterpreted in a hot moment and cause waaaaay more trouble than necessary."
Which is true — but: BuzzFeed's Weddings editor, Rachel Wilkerson Miller, recommends having this conversation in whatever way you most commonly communicate with them. So if you've done nothing but Facebook message and text for the past two years, it might be OK to break the news to them via text or Facebook message. "For younger people who rarely use the phone, an unexpected phone call might immediately put them on edge," she says.
3. Favor honesty, but be kind.
"As awkward as it can be, in the end honesty can actually be the easiest and swiftest route," says McCormack. But that doesn't necessarily mean unloading all of the frustrations you have about your friendship all at once.
"You know this person. How do they react to real honesty?" says McCormack. "I'm not advocating lying, but sometimes it's best to cushion the blow and not make your friend feel like shit."
4. Stay calm and be respectful of the other person and their feelings.
It's OK for them to be upset. Their feelings of disappointment and hurt are valid and okay, and acknowledging that is important. Lizzie Post, one of the hosts of the Awesome Etiquette podcast and author of multiple etiquette books, including Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, suggests saying something like, "I'm so sorry, I know you're [insert their emotional reaction here]. But I'm really looking forward to having you there and spending some time on the big day with you."
"Trust your judgement and be nice," McCormack says. "Try and avoid saying things you will regret." There's not necessarily an ~easy~ script to read that will make everything OK, or guarantee that your friend's feelings won't be hurt, but try not to get defensive if they are hurt. And most importantly, don't forget that they are your friend, and that you want to be as kind and respectful as possible.
5. Anticipate that they may express real hurt.
"Often people say things in the heat of the moment that are for dramatic effect," says McCormack. Hopefully, your friendship will be able to weather this discussion, even if there are hurt feelings involved. She also points out that if they do say things that are awful, you've probably made the right decision to not have them in your bridal party.
6. Consider asking them to have another special role in the wedding.
Again, you know them, so you have to use your judgement as to how they'd feel about what you ask them to do. "They might be far more suited to the role of an MC, or be fantastic speech makers or cake makers," says McCormack. "I think asking them to be a part of the wedding in some capacity is a nice gesture and could help you out, too!"
7. But don't make them a third wheel in other wedding-related events.
"You want to avoid the unintentional (or intentional) mean girls moments with this choice. The decision of what events you'd like to include them in and what not to invite them to should be made early," says McCormack.
This obviously depends on how cool your friend is with being excluded from the bridal party. If they are a close friend and you know they'd be OK with it, you could potentially invite them to traditionally bridal-party-only events. "We actually did that for my sister's bachelorette party," says Post. "They had just decided to keep the numbers even, so one of her close friends ended up not being in the bridal party." But she was invited to most of the other events.