I’ve made a really big mistake, but I’m not being allowed to apologise.
I’m getting married in a few months — a themed ‘winter wonderland’ wedding — with ten bridesmaids: two sisters, cousins and friends.
My sisters and I have all always been large — my older sister and I are very big, my younger sister less so. Two years ago we made a pact to lose weight for the wedding. It all started well, but eventually my older sister and I fell off the wagon. I’ve had to upsize my wedding gown. My younger sister lost all her weight and looks phenomenal.
Over the past year I’ve felt so jealous I cannot be around her. I’ve tried everything, shakes, fasting etc, but can’t stop eating.
For the wedding I decided to allow my bridesmaids to wear the same dress but pick their own shoes and jewellery (as long as they’re silver), and also choose hairstyles.
Three months ago, I asked all the bridesmaids to gather and show me what they’ve picked. It was an anxious time. I’ve morphed into a ‘Bridezilla’ and spoken appallingly to wedding suppliers, florists, caterers etc because the desire to be perfect is all-consuming.
My younger sister’s husband is so proud of her weight loss he’s treated her to a pair of silver Louis Vuitton shoes. I saw red. I told her she was making the other girls look rubbish as they could only afford bog standard shoes. I said her jewellery was tacky and her hair design was a mess. In truth, she is slim, beautiful and will look ten times better than me — when I want all the attention.
Because I’m ‘Bridezilla’ everyone was too afraid to intercede and just sat there as I was laying into her. My sister thought they were all agreeing with me.
She walked out and I’ve not seen her since. I’ve tried calling, texting and emailing. Nothing. This morning I received a call from her husband saying they will be coming to the wedding — as guests. She will no longer be my bridesmaid.
I’ve just been to their house. They were out. Looking through their garage door I was hurt to see her dress still in its bag, flung over her husband’s motorbike.
How can I apologise if she won’t even hear me? But her husband has said there’s little chance she will change her mind. What can I do to resolve this so my sister can be in her right place at our wedding?
My parents are refusing to get involved and my other sister is too frightened to say anything.
TEN bridesmaids? My goodness . . . really, ten? That detail alone serves to suggest why you have ‘seriously mucked up’, as your longer email puts it.
Why, the Princess of Wales only had four bridesmaids and two pageboys, no doubt prompting Meghan to go large with six bridesmaids and four pageboys.
Internet wedding forums say there’s no upper limit, whereas plain common sense should tell any bride-to-be that ‘more’ of anything triples, quadruples, then multiplies even more the expense and stress of a wedding to the point of lunacy.
Your wedding is being themed and micro-managed so much it’s turned you into the very worst sort of nuptial-numpty — as you know quite well. I admire your honesty — admitting your nastiness and jealousy — and do feel rather sorry for you. But exasperated, too.
Thought of the day
Pull down thy vanity, it is not man
Made courage, or made order, or made grace,
Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.
Learn of the green world what can be thy place.
And what is at the root of all the present pain, that’s to say, the hurt inflicted on the sister you love and your resentment that she won’t accept your apology?
Only your acute misery at your weight; the glum awareness that no fancy snowball dress will be able to shift your despair that on your ‘big day’ you’ll look like a large lass who wishes she could stop scoffing.
I could rejoice if you were relaxed enough to say: ‘Hey, this is big, happy me.’ But if you were
‘body-positive,’ none of this would have happened, would it?
You could still address this. Yes — you could.
I’ll just point out that there’s not a single word about your fiance in this letter.
No ‘winter wonderland’ or silver shoes can make up for the fact that you fail to mention what your intended husband thinks and feels about all this.
Has he witnessed your ‘appalling’ behaviour? Have you told him just how cruelly you spoke to your sister in public and why? Would you be ashamed to confess? Have you asked whether he could have a quiet word with your younger sister’s husband, to say how desperately sorry you are?
Have you inquired whether he wants all this monstrous kerfuffle on his wedding day? This is not all about you. All that ‘bride’s big day’ stuff is nonsense.
You have a few months to go, so I urge you, most sincerely, to take some deep breaths, calm down about the whole shebang, revisit an eating plan and talk seriously to your fiance about your worries.
You should discuss whether it’s possible to cut some corners — for the crucial reason your ‘desire to be perfect’ is foolish and destructive. Nothing can ever be ‘perfect’ — least of all a big wedding. I beg you to get that into your head, for your own sake.
Now to your sister. Can you blame her for leaving the bridesmaid dress in the garage after you were so mean to her? She hasn’t ‘discarded’ the dress, but discarded the whole notion of being a bridesmaid whom the bride seems to detest.
The fact that she wishes to attend as a guest says much for her willpower — that very strength that enabled her to lose so much weight her husband was proud of her. She’s choosing not to turn her back on your wedding, even though you hurt her so much.
So I’d return her love by being bravely humble now (kill that inner Bridezilla) and letting her know you are grateful she will come at all. Respecting her wish would be an apology.
Another plan might be to change plans so your two sisters lead, as matrons-of-honour in elegant dresses different to those of the posse of bridesmaids.
That would make them much more important — which, after all, you believe they are.
A single insult has torn my family apart
It happened like this. My very elderly father said something to my sister’s eldest son. I don’t know what it was, but it caused great offence.
So he has cut Mum and Dad out of his life totally. They are in their 90s and distraught. Especially my mother.
More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail…
My wife phoned our nephew and tried to explain that his grandparents are very old and are now so unhappy. But he didn’t want to know and — for intervening — we have also been cut out of his life totally.
Our nephew and his partner have no children and aren’t married. My poor sister has developed severe heart problems, without a very favourable prognosis. Her husband died many years ago.
I know that she desperately wants us all to be reconciled, while she is still with us. But how can we be if her son, our nephew, is being so intransigent?
My sister could collapse any day — and then what? I guess that neither us, nor our parents, would be welcome at the funeral, which is (I feel in my heart) only a matter of time. I just don’t know what to do.
Your email subject line said, ‘Family Feud — Aghhhhh’ — and that’s how I felt reading your problem (and the one above, too).
These days family issues have become the bulk of my postbag, and it makes me wonder why. Of course, family members have always fallen out, but these days might an additional factor be that spending too much time on social media or internet forums makes people more snappy, opinionated and liable to take offence?
Lord knows, elderly folk can speak out of turn, yet don’t they need to be cut some slack by the young? I’d say so. But if the next generation but one after them has grown used to feeling insulted/irritated at the slightest thing . . . well, there may be trouble ahead.
It’s a little premature to be thinking
about your sister’s funeral, but I do understand why you are so concerned about her welfare.
This problematic nephew is your sister’s eldest son, so what is your relationship with her younger son? Would he not have a view about life — and death? If you and your wife were to explain the situation carefully to him, pulling no punches about his mother’s health and his grandmother’s great distress at the rift, then he might be persuaded to intervene.
He could start by explaining the whole situation to his brother’s partner. But, of course, if your elder nephew is a bit of a bully that would do no good.
Call me an old cynic if you like, but it occurs to me that money is usually a
What if you were to write to your elder nephew, in the form of a quiet word to the
wise, pointing out to him in the friendliest, most conspiratorial, terms that your
father is once more looking at his savings and his will.
You could imply that this feuding nephew and his brother would be extremely likely to benefit from the will, but that your father and mother are so upset at being ignored that everything is being re-thought.
Who knows what might happen? But a beautiful spirit of sweet peace and reconciliation and tolerance for the old might suddenly sweep into his heart.
And finally… Little things in life make a difference
This week two news stories flagged revelations from scientific researchers.
One study (by University College London and universities in Japan) found that having active hobbies later in life helps people feel happier and healthier.
The second (by Cambridge and a Chinese university) listed seven healthy habits to reduce the risk of depression — including exercise, a healthy diet and ‘frequent social connection’.
The first study involved 93,263 people; the second, 290,000. But I’ve been giving readers advice along those lines for years! Free with your Saturday Mail!
You may think such research concludes the blindingly obvious — but at least the information is out there once again.
People sometimes mock advice columnists for suggesting those who are lonely/sad/depressed try a new hobby, join a club, volunteer, consider their diet and exercise, start a course, try church activities and so on.
If such advice seems cliched, that’s because it’s been said before but always needs re-stating.
Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week. Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email
Names are changed to protect identities.
Bel reads all letters but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.
You may be reassured to know that reading this column counts as an interest. If everybody took a brisk daily walk to buy a paper that would count as two stars! Gardening, crosswords and card games also count.
My list is: reading (obsessive), crewel (wool) embroidery, studying art, weekly gym and Pilates, going to Bath’s Theatre Royal and local galleries, and talking to our dogs. Plus two newspapers a day, watching good TV — oh, and the job I love.
My husband taught himself kitchen gardening this year and is never happier than when tinkering with three vintage motorbikes. We love seeing friends and family, of course, and shopping for and cooking good food.
Why not list everything in your life that researchers might count useful, along the above lines? Think . . . is it a bit sparse?
Come on, we’ve just started the autumn ‘term’ and it’s a great time for new beginnings.