Photo: Getty Images
What woman doesn't dream of sharing her wedding side by side with her BFF — that is, until it turns into a real life version of Bride Wars, in which one or both brides try to upstage the others' big day in big ways. "Women are competitive creatures from an evolutionary standpoint," explains Debbie Mandel, stress management specialist and author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7-Step Program To Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity In Life. But a wedding is no place for best-friend drama. Here's how to nip a spotlight thief's dramatic antics in the bud.
While you may be tempted to bite your tongue and bear it, "suppression makes your blood pressure boil," says Mandel. "It is best to take your friend aside and state your case in two minutes or less. Beyond that, you are venting." You'll want to provide examples of which behaviors are particularly bothersome, "as if you were narrating a movie," suggests Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage. "Don't make assumptions about what she was thinking or feeling. Instead, ask her if she remembers the incident and then ask what was happening for her in that moment."
Do your best to keep the conversation kind, not accusatory. "Sometimes verbalizing the negativity keeps it alive," Mandel cautions. "Reinterpreting the tug of war with compassion — making up a kinder story about her jealousy — enables the bride to let it go and enjoy the day." Take a deep breath if the conversation take a turn toward argumentative, and "change up the energy with affirmation," she says. "Compliment the spotlight thief and make her feel good in the role you want her to have — as if she were fulfilling it. She might just live up to your positive expectation."
Of course, if your friend has tried to upstage you since the time you were children, you may be headed for defeat no matter your tactfulness or kindness. "If you have made a good attempt to talk about your feelings, what you've experienced, and what you would like instead — without criticism or strong emotion — then you have done all you can do," Doares says. "Turning it into something humorous — 'That's just Jen being Jen. Don't you just love her?' — can take the edge off."
Then, turn your focus back to the only place it should be: The love between you and your fiancé, and your upcoming commitment to one another. When you do that, you'll no longer even notice your friend's bad behavior. "Your friend's behavior is about her," Doares points out. "When you choose not to let it bother you, it won't. Only you can give her the power to ruin your experience."