There’s no point denying it: weddings bring out the best and the worst in people.
For every tale of a bride donating her wedding feast to the homeless, or using her big day to bring happiness to one of her best friends, there’s another about a bridesmaid being ordered to gain weight so that she doesn’t outshine the woman in white on her big day. Or the bride demanding that her pal sleep with the best man, because he refused to do the job unless there was a “guaranteed lay for him”. Or, y’know, any number of other painful, painful requests as reported by scarred wedding party members.
Yes, we’ve all seen our fair share of shocking wedding stories. Not many, though, are quite as galling as this mother-of-the-bride’s tone-deaf letter.
The letter – which was published in the Dear Prudence column on Slate – begins innocently enough.
“My 27-year-old daughter and her best friend, Katie, have been best friends since they were four,” writes the mum. “Katie practically grew up in our house and is like a daughter to me.”
That makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, naturally – especially when the mum goes on to reveal that obviously her daughter has asked Katie to perform maid of honour duties at her upcoming wedding.
The only problem, says the mum, is that she’s really not on board with the idea. Why? Because Katie “walks with a pretty severe limp due to a birth defect.”
Yes, if this is a real letter, this woman genuinely thinks it’s OK to prioritise the “aesthetic aspect of the wedding” over love, friendship and all the things that actually matter in life.
The letter continues to stress that Katie “has no problem wearing high heels and has already been fitted for the dress” but the bride’s mother is worried that “it will look unsightly if she’s in the wedding procession limping ahead of my daughter”.
She adds: “I mentioned this to my daughter and suggested that maybe Katie could take video or hand out programs (while sitting) so she doesn’t ruin the aesthetic aspect of the wedding.
“My daughter is no longer speaking to me (we were never that close), but this is her big wedding and I want it to be perfect. All of the other bridesmaids will look gorgeous walking down the aisle with my daughter. Is it wrong to have her friend sit out?”
Naturally, everyone on the internet has something to say about it – particularly with regards to the oceans of meaning hidden in the phrase, “we were never that close”.
my first thought is that the asides "she's like a daughter to me" and "we were never that close" together constitute an entire article— militant lorax 🌲 (@theshrillest) September 6, 2017
My favorite part is that she said Katie was "like a daughter to me," b/c apparently, to her, that means "not that close and I'm mean to her"— David Harris (@Hero_Complex) September 6, 2017
"she is like a daughter to me in that she probably doesn't like me just like my real daughter doesn't like me because I'm a fucking monster"— Melissa B. (@Buote) September 6, 2017
"(we were never that close)" there is a novel jammed between those parentheses i can feel it— Caesar Honeybee (@maryellenmurr) September 6, 2017
My daughter is no longer speaking to me, but as long as everyone in the wedding procession is good at walking, the big day will be perfect.— Kat Leache (@katjl_) September 7, 2017
While some refused to believe that the letter was genuine...
this cannot be real. it just. can't.— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) September 6, 2017
What kind of person sees in a child she has been close to that long as an aesthetic problem to be fixed? I hope this letter is fake.— Kat Leache (@katjl_) September 7, 2017
… Others were quick to remind them that real life generally isn’t a fairy tale:
Real life has no obligation to be believable.— Kevin Stevens (@kevdog) September 6, 2017
And bless the hearts of everybody commenting and being like, "I can't believe this is real!" You precious, self-deluding babies.— Malice Walker (@humblecore) September 7, 2017
Yeah, NO part of me is surprised or suspicious re: this woman existing and expecting validation. They're everywhere.— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) September 7, 2017
Mallory Ortberg, the agony aunt in charge of Dear Prudence, was every bit as shocked as the rest of the internet – although she managed to gather her thoughts for long enough to pen a suitably acerbic response.
“I encourage you to reread it and to ask yourself that time-honoured question, ‘Do I sound like a villain in a Reese Witherspoon movie?’” she suggests.
Read more: 30 genuinely cool bridesmaid dresses
Ortberg continues: “It is not only wrong to have asked your daughter to consider excluding her best friend over this – it is ableist, and cruel, and it speaks to a massive failure of empathy, compassion, and grace on your part.
“You must and should apologise to your daughter immediately, and I encourage you to profoundly reconsider the orientation of your heart.”
Images: Omar Lopez