Bride Feels Pressured Into Letting Flower Girl Carry Miscarried Sister's Ashes Down the Aisle


Flower girl walks down the aisle

It's always nice when a bride-to-be takes her wedding party into consideration while she's planning the big day. But one anonymous bride is feeling pressured to take things a bit too far in that department, according to a recent letter she sent to Slate's "Dear Prudence" advice column. In it, the woman shares that her future sister-in-law wants her daughter, a flower girl, to carry an urn holding her other daughter's ashes down the aisle -- and the bride is feeling cornered into saying yes.

  • In her letter, the bride explained that her sister-in-law suffered a devastating miscarriage two years ago.

    "My sister-in-law lost 'Baby Ella' at about five months," the future bride wrote. "It was a very difficult time for all of them. Baby Ella is now in a small, sealed urn and travels with the family everywhere."

    The bride says that having Baby Ella's urn come with the family most places they go has helped them cope with their loss. Although the sister-in-law welcomed another baby a few months ago, it seems the family is still strongly grieving Ella.

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  • To be fair, the bride assumed that Baby Ella would be somehow represented at her wedding next summer, but she never expected it to be like this.

    Although she thought Ella's urn would be set on a church pew beside the rest of her family, it seems her SIL had a different idea in mind. She busted out the urn-carrying idea over the holidays, and let's just say ... the bride was taken aback.

  • Now, she's struggling with how to deal with the whole thing.

    That's why she wrote in to columnist Danny M. Lavery, to get a final verdict: Would she be wrong to ask Ella's mom to keep her at the pew?

    "I don’t want to be a bridezilla but I’d much rather she carry a bouquet or basket of flowers than an urn of ashes," the woman continued. "I would get a small flower bouquet matching the wedding party’s flowers to set with the urn."

  • In the comments, most people were surprised that the SIL was still carrying Ella's ashes everywhere her family goes.

    "The Baby Ella letter is so incredibly out there," one person wrote. "The parents of the flower girl have completely lost the plot. The little girl will definitely need some therapy to deal with the miscarriage and how they handled it after. Two years! TWO YEARS!!"

    A second person agreed that although it might take some longer than others to grieve, "you can also be cognizant if your grieving process is outside the usual conventions and not force someone to use their wedding as a venue for your grief. Your internal grieving timeline is your own, but your actions affect others."

  • Another person pointed out that this was a strange thing to put the bride's niece through, as well.

    "Come off it; it's borderline negligent and abusive towards the living child, they really need to help her knock off this habit of carrying around the urn everywhere," the commenter wrote. "Their duty as parents to their living child superseded their grief over the miscarriage ... oh, I don't know ... at least 1-1/2 years ago."

  • At least one person empathized with the SIL.

    "I get that people have thoughts about the urn, whether it's normal or appropriate, etc," the commenter wrote. "But I'm a little shocked about the number of people who've declared they need to move on, or who've gone even further to declare the mother is a drama queen, or pandering for sympathy. 

    "You people suck," the commenter continued. "You don't get to gate keep grief, or decide how grief should be expressed and for how long."

  • As for the Slate columnist, he agreed that figuring out a happy medium to incorporate Ella into the wedding would be a nice gesture from the bride.

    In his response, Lavery wrote that although he isn't sure how practical it is for the bride's niece to carry an urn all the way down the aisle, he was "inclined to encourage you to at least consider incorporating Ella’s urn into the ceremony, because it sounds like a lovely, meaningful way this part of your family is able to feel like they don’t have to hide their grief.

    "If your sister-in-law is open to the idea of wrapping a small spray of flowers around the urn," he added, "that might be a lovely way to blend celebration with mourning."

  • But Lavery also agreed that it wouldn't be wrong for the bride to gently tell her SIL that she doesn't want a second flower girl, either.

    "I certainly don’t think it’s overbearing or dismissive to say, 'I’d love to set aside an aisle for Baby Ella and Baby [New Name] toward the front, and have [your niece] carry a bouquet,'” he advised. "Since your sister-in-law asked in what sounds like a fairly gentle manner, my guess is she’d be open to a compromise."

  • After reading through the comments, it appears the bride ultimately decided against including the ashes in the ceremony.

    First, she gave a bit of background to offer more clarity on the whole urn situation:

    "My future niece was quite young at the time [that SIL had a miscarriage] and was really upset she wasn't getting a new sister. She seems to like taking the urn places and refers to Baby 'Ella' quite often. But yes, I do find it a bit weird." 

    The bride added that she does think her SIL should direct her future niece away from the miscarriage.

    "Honestly the new baby seems to have done that for them a bit," she wrote. "My future SIL did ask fairly gently and I said I would think about it."

    But in the end, the bride knew what she had to do.

    "Yeah, I'm going to go back and say that I was really looking forward to her carrying flowers," she wrote.

    Here's hoping her request goes over gently (and that there's minimal awkwardness).