Do You Have to Make His Sister a Bridesmaid?

Updated 12/01/19

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If you've got your own gaggle of girlfriends you'd like beside you on your big day—or you simply can't stand his high-maintenance, jealous sibling—you might be stressing over whether you have to pop the question to your future sister-in-law.

"It's not uncommon to include the groom's sister in the wedding party—or to see the reverse, if a bride has a brother she wants to include," says Aviva Samuels, owner of Kiss the Planner in Delray Beach, FL. "But what I love about weddings today is that there are no hard-and-fast rules that you must follow. Today, decisions are made based on what is best for the couple—sorry, Emily Post."

Talk it over with your partner

One way to navigate this difficult decision is to discuss it with your fiancé. But be careful: you should talk to your guy about this only if it won't put him in a tough spot with his sibling or you, suggests Samuels.

Make her feel included in your group

If you feel you must invite his sister to join the bridal party, make the best of the situation even if you're not thrilled about it—and remember just how important she is to the man you love.

"No one says the bride has to consider her sister-in-law her new bestie, but bear in mind that his sister has known him since he wore diapers, had pimples, and got his driver's license, which is a heck of a lot longer than she has," says Samuels. "Based on merely that, the bride should provide the same warm welcome as she gives to the rest of the posse. Being gracious is an attractive quality, and when the groom sees his sister treated with kindness by his partner, it is sure to reinforce why he chose her as his bride."

Give her a heads up

Should you decide to chuck tradition and deny his sister the chance to walk in your wedding, tread carefully when you let her know. "Remember: Some day when your sister-in-law's babies are playing with your babies, it will be easy to see how important it was to keep things sweet," says Samuels.

Make her feel special in another way

Let her down easy, then pick her back up with a plethora of other ways she can participate. "Maybe it's lighting a candle, doing a special reading, greeting the guests as they arrive, or escorting her mother down the aisle," Samuels suggests. "Perhaps she can bustle the bride's dress, reapply the bride's lipstick, fix up her hair between the ceremony and reception, or just be there with the ever-so-needed tissues. It really matters not what the assigned task was; it's truly about making her feel included and wanted on a day that is special to everyone, including her."

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