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“I Did Lose My Cool”—Bride’s Fiancé Asks To Pay Tribute To Deceased Girlfriend At Wedding

Planning a wedding is supposed to be an exciting and fun time, but we all know that conflicts can arise between the couple, between the couple and their families, and between the couple and friends. And between friends and other friends, between future in-laws, between vendors, etc. Everyone’s trying their best, but stuff can get complicated or overwhelming. But what if the conflict you’re having is about someone who has been dead for a while and still feels very much a part of the celebration—in a way that’s not ideal.

That’s what one Reddit bride-to-be is experiencing. It turns out that her fiance’s dead fiance of six years ago is becoming more of a focus than the bride-to-be feels comfortable about. 

“My fiance was engaged for about a month to his high school sweetheart when she passed away in a tragic, freak accident. For personal reasons, I don’t want to get into how it happened, but it was no one’s fault. This was maybe 6 years ago. Just for the purpose of the post I’ll call her Mandy,” the OP writes. 

“My fiance has been very open about this loss and how it has affected him throughout our relationship. I know he misses her and the memories he has with her and important and special. I don’t want to take away anything or demean the relationship, and I’ve always been there for him on hard days and supported him when he needed it.” 

The OP writes that they got engaged last year and have been planning a wedding. But, she feels like she’s “not only planning it for myself, but for Mandy as well.” What started as comments from his family about what Mandy would have liked turned into something of a nightmare situation for the OP. 

“When I went dress shopping, his mom and sister came. They kept talking about what dress Mandy would have worn, what they could see her in, etc. It might seem like nothing, but it really overtook the conversation, so much so that another bridesmaid told me later that she felt uncomfortable for me too.” 

“My latest project has been compiling old photos of me and my fiance for a slideshow at the reception (or rehearsal dinner we haven’t decided). He told me theres something he’s been wanting to ask me: he really wants to include some kind of “in memory of Mandy” into our wedding, and thinks the slideshow would be a perfect place.” 

Understandably, the OP said no, it would not be appropriate to do that. She added they are having a table with pictures of loved ones who have passed away, and Mandy will be featured there. The OP’s fiance said he wanted to “incorporate her in a bigger way, as she never got her dream wedding.” 

“I did lose my cool, I will admit. I told him honestly how I felt about the Mandy situation taking over our wedding, and how I’m uncomfortable with it. I also asked him if he could ask his family to limit the Mandy comments at our wedding, since now I’m afraid the whole wedding will be focused on her. I told him that I need time away to think and have been staying at my parent’s house, but we’ve still been talking.” 

This whole situation just seems so fraught. Grief is powerful and long-lasting, but should Mandy be that integral a part of the wedding? Redditors weighed in, emphasizing that the OP’s fiance likely needs therapy to work through the trauma and grief he has clearly not processed before they should go forward with their marriage. 

“There a hundred ways to honour your past, your wedding day to the person who is your present and future isn’t one of them. I say this as someone who lost my fiance as well- none of this bodes well for anyone involved. He needs therapy, his family needs closure, Mandy’s parents need to be left in peace and OP needs some time away to make sure she’s okay with living her life in a ghost’s shadow who will be immortalized as perfect forever while she will always make human mistakes.” — DramaticLychee8

“OP you have every right to be upset & questioning everything going on. People do grief at their own pace but this has been 6 years & if not your fiance his family should have at the very least moved on somewhat and concentrated on helping you pick out a wedding dress not reminisce about someone who’s been deceased for 6 years at the very least keep to themselves. If one of your own bridesmaids has said something to you & she’s uncomfortable about whats going on ,can only imagine how much more difficult it is for you. You really need to talk to your fiance. By all accounts you have been super supportive throughout all this but this is your wedding & his but it would seem your future I.L are making it impossible to move on from your F.H deceased fiance.” — 20MLSE20

“Perhaps you could suggest to your fiancé and his family that you have a reminisce about Mandy, and all the things she would have loved, won’t get to experience, etc, day. Pick a day and make it all about that. Make her favorite foods, talk about what her dress and her wedding would have been like. Tell them that is Mandy’s day but your wedding day is your day. Bring up every wedding related thing you can think of on her day and let them have at it, with the understanding that your wedding day is all about you, not her.” — hmets27m

“NTA – and based on this post it honestly seems like you will always be an afterthought and a replacement for Mandy, his one ‘true love.’ Talking about what Mandy would have worn for their wedding, had she not died? Wanting to include her in a slideshow about you guys? This is troubling, to say the least. I really hope you don’t spend your life being forced to compete with a dead girl.” — rose_glass

“The only reason she should be given additional consideration than any other dead relative or friend, is if we consider ‘oh, but this could have been her wedding.’ And that, folks, is creepy as hell. And utterly, utterly disrespectful to you. You can soften this up, you can wrap it up in kisses and sunshine, but he needs a stern fucking talking to, and to get this through his head: Asking you to consider this wedding as some sort or “the wedding she never got” is completely unacceptable! Unless he is an actual asshole, and not just a person who utterly fucked up in the face of recalled tragedy and trauma, he should be able to see this. Ask him if he really thinks of this wedding as somehow specially related to her, if she has some special place in it. And if it does, that is a discussion between him and a therapist. Or some other confidant. And if you generously volunteer to listen to and help him with these feelings – on some other day and occasion! – he should count himself lucky. Mandy will always have a place in his heart. And that is OK. He didn’t get to fall out of love, and that does not mean he is still in love or loves you less, but it (apparently) means he has a hard time letting go of the memories of her, etc. etc. That is fine. But if your wedding is not the time to put that aside and focus on the actual, living partner by his side, then…” — 343427229486267

“You have done nothing wrong, for sure. Your fiance and his family are grieving. They aren’t assholes, they’re just unable to act reasonably due to that grief. Your fiance and his family need to seek out some counseling. Mandy is still important, but her unfinished life business is not your burden to carry. You weren’t put on this earth to live out Mandy’s life. You may sit down with your in-laws privately and explain your feelings, if you think that would be a reasonable conversation. It’s entirely possible they don’t realize how they are making you feel…Please reach out for help. You and your fiance can have a beautiful marriage, but not if Mandy’s “could have beens” are always in the way.” — 1000livesofmagic

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Patricia Grisafi

Patricia Grisafi, PhD, is a freelance writer and educator. Her work has appeared in Salon, Vice, Bitch, Bustle, Broadly, The Establishment, and elsewhere. She is passionate about pit bull rescue, cursed objects, and designer sunglasses.