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Woman Balks After Engaged Sister Plans To Edit Her Out Of Wedding Photo With Late Mom

Mother and bride preparing for wedding
Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

Not all of us were blessed with incredible relationships with our parents and extended families, but those of us who were would argue moments with those loved ones are irreplaceable.

So much so, they might become desperate to find a way to have their loved ones at their special events, like weddings and graduations, even after they’ve passed, reasoned the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Coffeetablecat and her younger sister had lost their mother, and she knew her sister was struggling with the fact that their mother would not be at their upcoming wedding.

But when she began to feel like her sister was sabotaging her own wedding memories for the sake of her own, the Original Poster (OP) felt the need to speak up.

She asked the sub:

“WIBTA (Would I be the a**hole) for telling my little sister she can’t remove me from my wedding photo and photoshop herself into my place?”

The OP had a beautiful photo of her mom taken at her wedding.

“My little sister (28 Female) is recently engaged. I (30 Female) got married about six years ago (I’ve since divorced and am engaged again).”

“Our mom died five years ago, shortly after my wedding.”

“At my wedding six years ago, the photographer took a photo of my mom fastening a necklace around my neck.”

The OP’s sister wanted to recreate the photo but in an unusual way.

“My little sister has told multiple people that when she gets married, she plans to hire someone with graphic design skills to remove me from that photo and photoshop herself in my place.”

“So far, I’ve said nothing, but I’ve always felt hurt by that idea and now that she is actually planning a wedding, I am wondering if I should put my foot down. At the same time, I don’t want to add to her pain, either.”

The OP had done what she could to support her sister after their mother’s death.

“I want to provide some background on how I’ve been prioritizing her feelings/wants leading up to this point:”

“Very shortly after our mom died, all my sisters (including my older married sisters) expressed that they wanted our mom’s engagement ring. As my little sister didn’t get to have our mom at her wedding and the rest of us did get that experience, I urged my dad to hang on to our mom’s engagement ring for our little sister for when she eventually were to get engaged.”

“Ultimately, I was successful in advocating for her to inherit our mom’s ring. Once engaged, she decided to reset the ring so the only part of it that remains is the central diamond. It is a completely different design now and is unrecognizable. We are all a bit miffed by that but what’s done is done.”

“Next, we both wanted to use our mom’s wedding dress in our upcoming weddings, but she plans to alter it beyond recognition as it was a long-sleeve, A-line dress and she wants a strapless, mermaid-style dress. I proposed that we each wear it but not make significant alterations, but she brought up, ‘I’m the only one who didn’t get to have mom at her wedding,’ and I do feel for her, so I dropped my bid to wear the dress.

But the OP felt the need to draw the line at the photograph of her mother.

“At this point, I feel inclined to draw the line at removing me from my own photo with my mom. Yes, I did get to have my mom at my [first] wedding. I won’t have her at my wedding to the person I’ll be spending the rest of my life with, so I’m feeling some sadness there, too.”

“If someone is going to be photoshopping someone out of that picture, I feel it should be me photoshopping my 24-year-old self out for my 31-year-old self. She also has tons of photos with our mom she could use for this purpose instead, as well as photos of our mom solo that no one would need to be removed from.”

“Obviously, I can’t force her to not do as she pleases with the photo, but would I be the a**hole if I tell her I’m not okay with that and that she doesn’t have my permission or blessing to remove me from my wedding photo with my mom?”


Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some wondered why the OP was more concerned about the photo than the dress.

“I guess I don’t understand the dilemma… Will the original photo with your mom be purged from the earth if she photoshops it?”

“I feel like there’s an opportunity for everyone to have their cake and eat it and the only thing preventing that from happening is… the right to make and alter copies… which seems pretty harmless.” – Mhunterjr

“The question to actually answer is if your denial is a jerk move. I’d say probably no, it’s okay to want something all to ourselves when they are ours to keep.”

“Her desire to do so isn’t an ah thing either though. It sucks to not have the people you love at the things that you want to share with them and although it’s an odd way to try and fill that hole, I get it.”

“NAH, her for asking you to decline.”

“On the wedding dress I do think you’re kind of being one because if it was precious to you you should have worn it on round one.” – ktjbug

“I guess I don’t understand why this is the hill that you’re willing to die on. I would be more upset about her altering the ring and wedding dress.”

“You still have that picture with your mom. If she were to have it edited, it’s not like that picture is going anywhere. She won’t have any pictures with your mom on her wedding day.” – klo1994-

“OP, I completely understand the way you are reacting, but I think it is because of the way you (and I the first few times I read this) are thinking about it. She’s not removing you from your photo, your photo still exists, she’s making a new photo of her and your mom.”

“Everyone knows your mom passed away, OP. They will know it’s not capturing a real moment. Given that, they will probably also know that the photo was originally from your wedding. In any case, your photo with your mom still exists and you had the moment for real with your mom, that can never be taken away or altered.”

“I don’t know if it would help, but think of it not being about erasing you, but rather sharing a moment with your mom that you had in real life and she can only imagine.” – Even_Budget2078

“Idea. She could have a photo taken of HER on the wedding day, and then get the person to take your mom from your photo and Photoshop it into her photo.”

“So basically, the same image of your mom, but different pictures (different backgrounds, etc.) making it more her special photo and leaving you yours.” – AffectionateMarch394

Others disagreed and found the OP’s sister’s behavior to be disrespectful and hurtful.

“OP, you seriously need to set some boundaries with your sister. Normally, I wouldn’t say someone is using a parent’s death to use in their entitlement parade, but that’s exactly what she’s doing, and you’re so afraid of hurting her feelings that you’re letting her, and she knows it.” – okamijunin

“THE SISTER WANTS TO STEAL OP’S MOMENT WITH HER MUM. What is so hard to understand about being upset because someone wants to write you out of your own memories and take them for themselves.” – Environmental_Art591

“I totally get OP. The material possessions, while sentimental, are things that belonged to OP’s mom. This picture isn’t just a picture, it’s a memory of a moment that OP shared with her mom. It belongs to OP.”

“Of course, that picture still exists even when it is altered, but it’s like someone else erasing you out of your moment to replace themselves in it, like you were never there in your own core memory: it would break my heart.” – Phoebeish_

“NTA. This is strange behavior. If she’s hiring an artist anyway, she can have a lovely new photo made, it’s weird to photoshop you out of one. It sounds like this is only a symptom of a larger issue though.”

“It’s time for your sister to put to bed the whole ‘I don’t get my mom at my wedding’ thing; she got the ring to help heal from that particular wound. I’m sure it’s hard for her and it’s fine to sympathize, but she doesn’t get to go around making unauthorized and weird edits to other people’s photos, demanding to cut up your mom’s dress.”

“She was equally both of your mother, as much as your mom’s sentimental items can be given equally, they should be. She got the ring, you get the dress. The photo was never hers or your mom’s, so it’s not on the table for discussion. You gotta set some boundaries OP. She’s being an AH and a bit spoiled.”

“She really needs to understand that you also lost your mom. You didn’t take her mom from her. It’s not your fault she won’t be at your sister’s wedding. It’s sad, but not a sin you have to pay for or be guilted for. She doesn’t get to rifle through your sentimental moments with your mother because of her own grief.”

“None of that is hers to have. She has a right to a fair split of your mother’s things, not yours, and you don’t owe her anything.” – CuriousCuriousAlice

“NTA. Does your sister even hear herself? Or look in the mirror ever?”

“The purpose of a family heirloom like a ring or a dress is to honor the original holder, honor the family, honor the tradition. That means MINIMAL, if any, changes should be made to the thing. It’s so disrespectful to me to just completely change something to suit your taste or modern sensibilities when that’s not the point or purpose of inheritance. I would bet money your mother is rolling in her grave.”

“But putting that aside, it’s fu*king dreadful to steal someone else’s precious memories (and worse, memories that have been tainted and made bittersweet by death, divorce, tragedy, and heartbreak) to use for your own selfish purposes. Ghastly. Cruel. Narcissistic. Tasteless. I could go on.”

“Absolutely NTA. And if she does it, I’d rip that picture right in half.”

“OP, your sister’s focus is on filling a mom-sized hole at her wedding at the expense of her other family, including you, who are still here. It is sad your mom won’t be there, but she is not the only person who cannot make new memories with your mother or go through important milestones with your mother. As tough as it may be for her to hear, she can’t just photoshop your mother back into her life.”

“Also, I’ve been to weddings after a bride or groom with older siblings has lost a parent, and there are wonderful ways to honor the parent and show how deeply they are missed without stomping on or erasing other relatives’ memories. Especially by doing something as absurd as photoshopping their sibling out of the sibling’s old wedding pictures.” – Possible-Tutor-1074

After receiving feedback, the OP shared an important update.

“I pulled from the thoughtful suggestions on this thread and called my little sister this afternoon and asked if we could talk about her plans with the photo.”

“I asked if instead of switching us out of my wedding photo if she would be open to instead her and I recreating that image at her wedding and then editing our mom into that photo in my place.”

“I shared a little about how I feel, that incorporating our mom into her wedding day is something I fully support and understand but that seeing myself removed from that moment with mom at my wedding (and from that hotel room where my dog, who has also since passed, is looking on in the background of the photo), would be painful to look at.”

“She said she hadn’t thought about that and that she loves the idea of adding our mom into a photo on her wedding day instead of putting herself in my place in that photo from mine. So thank you to those who suggested that, it accomplishes her goal but seems to feel better to us both (plus I’m the same height as our mom while she’s a bit taller so using me as a stand-in for our mom might be easier to work with as far as angles for the editor).”

This conversation led to another really important one.

“That led to a general conversation about how we both want to find ways to honor our mom at our upcoming weddings, which led us to the dress topic. She mentioned she’s been feeling torn about the dress because she wants to wear it because it was mom’s, but she doesn’t like the style, and with how costly such significant alterations will be, she’s realized that a new dress would cost less.”

“So I reiterated my interest in the dress and used an additional idea from this thread to suggest she buy the dress she wants but does some of her bridal portraits in our mom’s (unaltered) dress. She seemed to like that idea and said she just wanted to make sure she ‘finds her dream dress’ before she commits to going that direction.”

“She has some appointments scheduled at bridal boutiques this weekend. I’m not going to die on that hill if she decides to go the dress alteration route, so we’ll just have to see on that one.”

The OP also loved the idea of hiring a portrait artist.

“I really liked the ideas people shared here about commissioning an artist to create a painting including our mom (and several other loved ones we’ve recently lost; it’s been a brutal few years in our family) in a ‘wedding photo’ for her, so I’m going to figure out something along those lines for a wedding gift.”

“Thank you to those of you who shared your perspective (and ideas, which I wasn’t expecting!) in a compassionate way. It was very helpful.”

After a whirlwind of a situation, the subReddit was relieved to see that the OP and her sister were able to have a productive conversation about her photographs and their mother’s wedding dress.

At the end of the day, the two women were grieving the loss of their mother and her presence on their special days, and their ultimate goal was to honor her at their weddings.

It’s wonderful to see that they’re both several steps closer to being able to do that without hurting anyone’s feelings, including their own.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.