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You’re fired! A how-to guide

by | 28 January 2017 | Wedding Entourage

Firing someone doesn’t feel good at the best of times. But when it’s your bridesmaid or groomsman, aka a close friend or relative, it feels even worse.

Maybe you’re firing them because of high drama (say, a huge friendship bust-up, or they came on to your husband/wife-to-be). Or maybe it’s a circumstantial thing (an unexpected illness, pregnancy, life change or injury). Either way, firing a bridesmaid or groomsman sucks. But sometimes, you’ve gotta do what you gotta to do.

So this week, I’m helping you navigate both sides of the ‘Fired from a Wedding’ coin. And I’ve asked some of the Popup Weddings team for their insights along the way.

If you’re doing the firing

If you’ve read our guide to choosing your bridesmaids (applicable to groomsman too; just swap ‘bridesmaid’ for ‘groomsman’), you should be going into your wedding with the very best bride and groom party for support.

But things don’t always go to plan. And, instead of making the run-up to your wedding even harder, sometimes the best thing to do is take the person out of the equation. So here’s how to do it with minimal damage.

You're Hired, You're Fired

Consider exactly why it’s time to fire them

Make sure you have rational reasons for firing your bridesmaid/groomsman. If they’re not living up to your expectations, you’ve had a falling out, or you don’t think they’re up to it because of health/financial/availability issues, make sure you can explain this to them.

And be honest with yourself – if they’re not supporting you the way you’d hoped, have you told them what you expect from them? Or have you just let them get on with it, hoping they’d get it eventually?

Popup Weddings co-founder Alasdair says:

If we couldn’t reach an accord then I’d explain that the role requirements aren’t being fulfilled and I’d need to change it to something with less responsibility. I’d hope that if they’re already struggling that they may see this as a relief, especially if I’d tried to make suggestions for improvement already. Keep your cool; leave emotions out of it

Whatever the reasons, firing one of your closest friends or relatives is bound to drag up old and new feelings. And it can be very easy to say or do something regrettable. But, to get through the process with the least amount of damage, you must keep your cool and leave your emotions out of it (there’s no guarantee that they won’t though).

Popup Weddings co-founder Kerry says:

In my head, I’d bitch slap them. But in reality, I’d probably have a chat with them about their unacceptable behaviour. I would be very clear about what the plans were going forward, so there wouldn’t be any misunderstandings.

Be firm but fair

When it comes to firing your bridesmaid or groomsman, do it in person to avoid any miscommunication (emails are a definite no-no).

Stay calm and listen to their response with an open heart. But try not to feel like you should give them another chance just because they’re your friend: you’ve considered exactly why it’s time to fire them, so be firm, but fair. And stay focussed on the facts relative to this specific situation – don’t drag up old stuff.

Matt, one of our Popup Weddings writers, says:

Being a prominent member of a wedding party is a very specific social skill. And some really don’t have it. If that’s the case, I’d say, “Dude, I love you as you are – but as you are, you’re a terrible groomsman. So you’re on the B team for the big day, but still on my A team overall.”

NB: If they’ve already forked out for the bridesmaid dress you asked them to wear, or paid to go paint-balling for your stag do, it’s only fair to reimburse them, depending on why you’re firing them.

Being firm but fair

If you’re being fired

Being picked as a best man, groomsman, maid of honour or bridesmaid is a BIG deal. It’s the bride’s or groom’s way of saying ‘you’re a really special person in my life and I want you standing by my side at my wedding’. It’s an honour.

But sometimes, drama happens, situations unfold, and people who were once a significant member of the wedding party aren’t anymore (even after all the ‘he said, she saids’). So how do you deal with it graciously?

Respect the bride’s/groom’s decision

Depending on the circumstances, you might already know of your impending wedding demotion doom. But if you don’t, keep your emotions in check and try not to react too wildly.

Being fired by your close friend is never going to be nice. In fact, it’s probably going to be the most awkward moment of your life. But, given the pressure that comes with getting married, it’s probably best not to resist their decision. Listen to them, try and see it from their standpoint, respect their decision, and then go home and cry.

Best friends

Alasdair says:

If this seemed out of character for my friend, I’d probably put their decision down to it being their big day and wanting things done a certain way. I’d probably accept that if they don’t feel I’m the person to fill that role, then so be it. Let them have it their way.

Ask what your new role is

If you were fired for high-drama reasons, you’re probably long gone by now. But if you were fired because you weren’t pulling your weight, or if your life circumstances got in the way, it’s important you ask the bride or groom what your new role is.

Despite your demotion from the top table, you might still have responsibilities, in which case, you’ll need to know what these are. Or you might just be expected to show up on the day as a guest. Either way, it’s important to establish where you stand. Plus it will give you both a chance to clear any tension before the big day.

Kerry says:

I would respect their feelings and do whatever they asked me to do. I would ask what my place was in the wedding, just to clarify everything. And when attending the wedding, I’d look happy on the outside. I’d stay out of their way so any bad feelings wouldn’t crop up. But I would feel awkward and feel everyone would know – I wouldn’t want anyone to ask me what happened.

Show up and smile, or ship out

After the shock of being fired has subsided and you’ve done all the necessary crying/bitching/moaning (I’m mostly looking at you, girls), it’s natural to wonder whether you should even go to the wedding.

Firstly, you’ll be embarrassed if other wedding guests know of your demotion and ask you about it. And secondly, you’ll have to put on a smile and act normal around your friend, which is near impossible if you or the bride/groom are harbouring animosity towards each other (and one or both of you have one too many drinks).

But those reasons are centred around you and, ultimately, the day is about your friend getting married. If seeing your friend tie the knot isn’t up there on your priority list, it’s probably best you don’t go (or keep up with this ‘friendship’).

But if you still want to be part of your friend’s wedding, ask them if you should attend. To save any unnecessary awkwardness, voice any worries or concerns you have about how to behave or where to stand ahead of the big day. (But there’s no guarantee it won’t still be awkward…)

Matt says:

If the groom wants me to go and me being there doesn’t make things awkward, then yeah, I’ll still go. I think it would only be right for me to go if I can act totally normal though. Otherwise it’s just a bad idea for everyone.

Friends and family toast with the bride and groom

Have you been fired from being a bridesmaid or groomsman? Or have you had to fire a member of your wedding party? We want to know how you dealt with it and if it’s had any lasting effects on your relationship with the friend in question. Share your story in the comments box below.

About the author

Jo Wigley

From her word-nerd studio (way) down under in New Zealand, the copywriter in Jo crafts websites, advertising campaigns, scripts, blogs and brochures for businesses across the world. While the creative consultant in her helps brands, big and small, find their voice in one heck of a noisy world.

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Wedding Entourage You’re fired! A how-to guide