“Oh, really? I’m having my dress made.” It wasn’t an innocent comment. I was in the middle of two of my engaged friends having one of their many tense conversations about weddings. After getting engaged a month apart, there have been a lot of these awkward moments. From choosing wedding dates (one of them waited so she could pick a date a month before the other and be the first in our group to get married) to dresses (their budgets differ enormously) it’s been a series of one-upmanship and thinly-veiled competition. And the truth is, only one of them is driving it. But that doesn’t really matter—when friends get competitive about weddings, you can get pulled into it even when you don’t want to.
In a way, a little bit of wedding competition seems natural. “Although I know there are fun parts about experiencing such a major milestone at the same time as your besties (hello, attending bridal events together!), it’s not unlikely that for this ‘best time in your life,’ other feelings such as jealousy, competitiveness, and pride will rear their ugly heads too,” Bridentity Crisis explains. “Why? Because it’s your time. Not hers. Yours. It sounds petty, right? Well, that’s because it is. You’ve been to a child’s birthday party before—were the other kids happy to watch their birthday friend open 25 presents that they also wanted? No! They wanted those damn presents just as badly as the birthday girl. And in a lot of ways, this is the same thing. Substitute Barbies for bridal gowns and you’ll see the point I’m trying to make.”
It’s an uncomfortable truth, but, for some, your wedding day is a day you’ve dreamed about your entire life. You’re protective of it. And when a lot of people start to get engaged around the same time it’s natural that there are going to be some tiffs. Here’s how to deal.
Remember That It’s Normal
Just because everyone does it doesn't make it OK, but try to remember that it’s normal to feel a little competitive. In fact, a survey of 1,000 brides found that 60 percent of them had picked elements of their wedding day just to show up their friends, and 40 percent of brides ranked as “fiercely competitive.” Yikes. So if your friend is making snarky comments or asking a lot of leading questions, remember that it's not personal—it’s probably her being a little insecure and compulsive. It doesn’t make that kind of behavior acceptable, but at least you know she’s not trying to make you feel bad.
Change The Subject
The best thing to do is to simply try to change the topic. “When your wedding planning convos go from fun to fiery, focus on something else aside from this new ‘toy’,” Bridentity Crisis suggests. “What’s going on at your friend’s job? How are her parents? Why not tell her about your idea for the new blog you’ve been wanting to start?” Not only does this deflect and help you move on from the awkward conversation, but it also allows you to put some perspective on the whole situation. Planning a wedding can easily become obsessive and consuming, so reminding your friend that there are other things that matter in life might help soften her competitive edge.
But if she persists, you might have to get a little more creative. If you feel like you know this friend well enough, you can always call her out on being competitive and explain that you think it’s better if you don’t discuss wedding planning. But if you’d rather not, you can still make the subject off-limits if you have to. Just claim that you’re finding wedding planning so stressful that you really don’t want to talk about it. It’s much harder to compete if the subject isn’t even on the table.
Don’t Compromise out of Awkwardness
Finally, it’s your wedding. If you’re someone who avoids confrontation or likes to please people, you may feel the urge to change things about your wedding at a pushy friend’s request. Resist that urge. This is your event and you have every right to have it look just the way you want it to. Plus, the more personal it is the fewer parallels that can be drawn between weddings. Just follow your instincts to make the day as great as it can be—and ignore the competition.
It’s never nice to feel like your friends are in competition with you. And with something as important as your wedding day, it can feel even worse. But it happens all the time, especially when there’s a cluster of engagements and weddings all at once. So try to remember that their attitude isn't about you, it’s about their own insecurities and obsession with wedding planning. Do your best to distance yourself from the conversation (and the competition) and just focus on your day. If you’ve got a really strong friendship, then one day this awkward competition will be behind you.