What should I do about a sibling that does not want to be in my wedding?
October 13, 2008 9:13 PM   Subscribe

What should I do about a sibling that does not want to be in my wedding?

This is a bit long, but...

My little brother and I have always been best friends. About 2 years ago, I caught him stealing from me. I called him out on it, told him I forgive him, and to let it go. If he needed it, he needed it.

We started talking again, and everything was fine. He always seemed a little uneasy around me since then, but I figured it was him not being happy with what he had done. I thought our relationship would get easier over time, and it did.

Roughly two years go by (FF to present day), and I ask him to be in my wedding. I wanted him to be my best man.

And he says no.

Just a flat no. He's not coming to the wedding, he wants nothing to do with it. I talked to my two other brothers, and they said he said he is just out to ruin my "big day."

So what do I do about this? Do I wait until closer to the wedding and ask again? Or just give up on it and ask a friend instead? If you need more info, email ohmetafilter@gmail.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Girl, ask someone else. I know you imagine how hard it would be not to have him as your best man, but you also need to imagine how hard it would be to have him there and behaving in ways designed to hurt you. Invite him, but don't put any eggs in that particular basket.
posted by liketitanic at 9:29 PM on October 13, 2008

I am not a guy and don't really know guy dynamics but I did want to share a story so that you wouldn't think you're the only guy this ever happens to.

A similar think happened to my brother. He asked our older brother to be his best man and he was turned down. I don't know if any of us know why...if he gave a reason, I never heard it. He wasn't opposed to the wedding or anything, and he did attend as a guest.

Our brother-in-law was his next choice and everything turned out fine in the end. My brothers have a fine relationship today, as far as I can tell.

So, if you have someone else you can ask, who you think is an appropriate choice, maybe you should ask him to do it and be done with it.
posted by cabingirl at 9:30 PM on October 13, 2008

I think there are 2 issues: 1. the wedding. Ask someone else. 2. your brother. Why was he stealing? a lot of money or a little? Find a mediator, maybe someone in the family, a minister, counselor, and sit down with your brother, who you obviously care about, and resolve your conflict.
posted by theora55 at 9:31 PM on October 13, 2008

Oh, and sorry if I assumed you were a guy and it turns out that you aren't.
posted by cabingirl at 9:31 PM on October 13, 2008

And sorry I called you girl. It's pretty much my gender-neutral term.
posted by liketitanic at 9:32 PM on October 13, 2008

What, he's required to be your best man on demand?

Let it go, pick someone else, not a big deal.
posted by rokusan at 9:49 PM on October 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Well, to be honest, if your other brothers' information is correct, there's not really a lot you can do. He is being a dick. In your shoes, I would leave the invite to the wedding open, find someone else for a best man, and if your brother didn't show as a guest, start kindness-bombing him. My reasoning for this is that he's probably trying to start a confrontation, and by being nothing but absolutely saccharine-sickly kind to him, it'll drive him up the wall. You could start it off by writing him a note and send it along with a small gift from your honeymoon thanking him for not showing up at your wedding as it was "great that he recognized he had some issues to work through" and "you really appreciate that he had enough love for you to not ruin your big day", and "you look forward to talking to him when he feels ready", etc. And then move on from there.
posted by barc0001 at 9:50 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

First, you should ask him why he said no. Your brothers may be completely accurate in their assessment, but it's still worth it to ask him for an explanation rather than have the siblings discussing him and analysing the situation without his input.
posted by desuetude at 9:51 PM on October 13, 2008

He has every right to not be best man, or even attend. Leave him alone.
posted by pompomtom at 10:00 PM on October 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

This is sad but it is his issue, please don't let him make it yours. Sounds like he may be jealous, or have unresolved issues from previously, or even feel unworthy, given your history. It is hard to tell if he is trying to punish you or punish himself, or some sad mixture of both.

You can ask him why, but don't expect him to be willing or able to articulate it. Probably best just to tell him you are sad about his decision and will miss him, as you could have used his support, and that the invitation to the wedding is still open. Then move on and find someone else to stand up with you, and don't let him spoil things for you.
posted by gudrun at 10:16 PM on October 13, 2008

Ask one more time, but don't beg. If he says no, accept it, but let him know he is welcome at the wedding.

Then let it go, pick someone else, and have a great wedding.
posted by dogwelder at 10:17 PM on October 13, 2008

He can refuse if he wants to...certainly his prerogative but it feels awful when it comes from family. Personally I'd inquire as to why he turned you down so bluntly (you are family after all so you are allowed more latitude in asking such questions) but then I would drop the matter entirely. And drop it completely, no speculating with your other brothers or family or with anyone that will get back to him. Keep the invite open to him and make it clear to others that it is a sincere invite.
posted by mmascolino at 10:25 PM on October 13, 2008

How sad that he wants to ruin your relationship. That's his decision. Drop the issue, but send him an invitation to the wedding. If he decides not to come, the best you can do it be open to reconciling your relationship if he wants to in the future.
posted by Dasein at 10:30 PM on October 13, 2008

If I were in your shoes, I would immediately ask someone else. If he truly just doesn't want to be your best man, then moving on as if it isn't an issue is the mature thing to do. If he is trying to be a dick, moving on will spoil his fun.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:41 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is it the stealing, or your choice of partner, or is he just an asshole? I somehow doubt it's the stealing this far out from the original event.

You can't make him be in your wedding, you can't make him show up, and you can't make him stop being an asshole, so don't try. Go on with the plans-- without him-- and make sure your handlers know that if he shows up even though he says he's not going to, he needs to be watched carefully and escorted out firmly and politely if he starts something.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:55 PM on October 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Pick someone else...? You can't force someone to go to your wedding, even family.
posted by Nattie at 10:58 PM on October 13, 2008

Ask him directly, face to face, as soon as possible. But be prepared for him to give the same answer. Be prepared for him to say something very hurtful too.

If he doesn't want to be in the wedding, you can't make him. If he doesn't want to give you a reason for not wanting to be in the wedding, you can't make him. I think he's perhaps still feeling guilty about the money, maybe? But the only way you're going to find out is to ask him, directly and clearly.

Whatever he might say, though, I bet he still doesn't want to be part of the wedding. And sadly, there's nothing you can do to change that.
posted by Solomon at 11:18 PM on October 13, 2008

He is being a dick. In your shoes, I would leave the invite to the wedding open, find someone else for a best man, and if your brother didn't show as a guest, start kindness-bombing him. My reasoning for this is that he's probably trying to start a confrontation, and by being nothing but absolutely saccharine-sickly kind to him, it'll drive him up the wall.

Wait, is that supposed to make your relationship better or worse?

As to the poster's question: I agree with everyone who says "find another best man". Think of it from the perspective of the second-in-line-best-man, your brother or close friend: they take second place to your stealing, invitation-refusing, asshole younger brother who doesn't even want to come to your wedding?

Of course most men I know aren't drama queens and don't think like that. But come on, the guy's said he doesn't want to do it, give the job to someone who does.
posted by Mike1024 at 12:51 AM on October 14, 2008

I feel like part of this story is missing.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:20 AM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

I disagree that this is no big deal. It's your family and you care enough about him to ask him to be a big part of the wedding. If he doesn't want to do it, you have every right to be concerned and to try to resolve the problem.

So, I'm going to give you some retro advice.

Go to him. Give him one chance, and only one chance, to explain why he won't be your best man. If he demures, ask him whether he intends to ruin your wedding. If he says yes, or is evasive and thus implies that it is so, kick his ass. Afterward buy him a beer (or 8) and ask him again. Repeat, as necessary.

He's is being a jerk and deserves to be made to pay for his actions.
posted by oddman at 4:21 AM on October 14, 2008

I don't get what turning down being the best man has to do with stealing from you two years ago. What makes you think the two events are related?

Or more pointedly, perhaps YOU are having a hard time letting go of him stealing from you and despite saying you forgave and forget this has created a wedge between your relationship that you're not seeing.

Find someone else to be your best man but have a good talk with your brother to actually let go of a past indiscretion.
posted by like_neon at 4:35 AM on October 14, 2008

The stealing was the tip of the iceberg. There are other more serious problems beneath the surface. He doesn't want to participate because these problems, like his other problems, are symptoms of psychological illness.

Don't pressure him to participate. If nothing else, you need to start thinking about protecting your new family from your old one.
posted by ewkpates at 5:01 AM on October 14, 2008

I feel obligated to point out that some people hate attending weddings. It's not a universal pleasure to dress in uncomfortable clothes, attend church, and eat mass-produced food. Or so I'm told, at least.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:12 AM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

I feel obligated to point out that some people hate attending weddings. It's not a universal pleasure to dress in uncomfortable clothes, attend church, and eat mass-produced food. Or so I'm told, at least.

That's what I was thinking. Sure, there are potentially interpersonal reasons for his actions. However, I know some folks that really, really don't like weddings. I know others that would be mortified if they had to participate in a wedding as a best man. Don't have any idea if that's where your brother's at, but could be another angle to consider.
posted by GPF at 5:49 AM on October 14, 2008

Don't wait until later, ask someone else.

Weddings can be sad for family members, you are starting a new family now and that can make them feel abandoned. Especially if they rely on you. They know you'll have other responsibilities now.

If he changes his mind and wants to be included, you can let him do something else that is meaningful, but not vital to the success of the wedding.
posted by sondrialiac at 6:39 AM on October 14, 2008

Maybe he can't afford it (the clothing rentals, the gifts, the hosting of a bachelor party, etc.). Maybe spending that kind of money brings up unresolved issues about the stealing, or he thinks this is part of the ongoing payback. Maybe he has anxiety issues that preclude getting up in front of people, offering toasts at the reception, being nice to old ladies, and the other social tasks of best-mandom. Maybe the reason your relationship has gotten easier is because he's withdrawn from you over the past two years. You won't know unless you ask, and it sounds like there's air to be cleared that isn't wedding-related.

Frankly, if I were out to "ruin someone's big day," I'd jump at the chance to be a best man or maid/matron of honor - imagine the chaos inherent in the situation and how easy it would be to destroy the party with a cheerful smile.
posted by catlet at 6:42 AM on October 14, 2008

I wouldn't ask him again. I'm a woman but given the weddings I've been involved in, do you really want someone reluctant or not a good fit for the job organizing your stag, filling your ushers in on their jobs, giving a great speech, etc. You'll be dragging him through the process, which will be stressful for you and torture for him. Ask somebody else.

Now asking him to attend is a different matter, and you should definitely be discussing that.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:43 AM on October 14, 2008

Being the best man can require lot of responsibility, cash money, and public face time: giving a speech, organizing a bachelor party, holding onto the ring, escorting the maid of honor, etc.. I don't know how much the best man at your wedding will be required to do. If you want him involved, could you invite him to be a groomsman instead (rent tux, show up)?

In your shoes, I would want to make sure that my best man was someone that I could rely on when things get stressful, and regardless of his reasons, it sounds like your brother might not fit that description.
posted by cadge at 6:47 AM on October 14, 2008

Being a best man/maid of honor is a big responsibility and can take a lot of time and effort in the months leading up to the wedding. Someone shouldn't feel drafted into it if they know they're not up to the challenge. Don't take it personally.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 6:47 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

This goes deeper than just stealing a few bucks. He could be jealous of you. I would ask someone else you can trust. Best man is a big position. Your bro does not seem like the type that would fit the bill. You obviously need to work somethings out with him but that can wait. Focus on your wedding dude. Congratz.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:27 AM on October 14, 2008

Recently engaged (though planning on eloping, eventually), I spend a lot of time reading on indiebrides, where this sort of problem comes up a lot. There are all sorts of questions on their forum like "How do I make my antisocial mother feel included??" and "Why won't my sister be my maid of honor?"

But the truth is that not everyone is into wedding stuff, for whatever reason. Maybe they're extremely shy and the thought of standing up there in front of all those people (I recently went to a great wedding where the groomsmen and bridesmaids had to dance down the aisle; it was cute, but imagine being asked to do that if you have anxiety!). Maybe, as [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] points out, they don't want to spend the requisite time and effort planning parties. Maybe he's had an expensive vacation planned for years. Who knows?! Well, your brother does, and if a reason is really important to you, you should ask him.

But as for pestering him further to be part of the wedding, don't do it. No matter how much you resent him for not taking part, the truth is that he doesn't have to--that's why you ask someone to do this sort of thing. It's his choice, and you'll all be happier if you respect that. In the event that he does chance his mind, I'm sure he'll let you know. As for what your other brothers said about him trying to ruin your wedding, the only way that would happen is if you let him. Seriously, let it go. Ask someone else.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:40 AM on October 14, 2008

He might also actually have a problem with your wedding.

As a brother who happens to kind of detest my sister's boyfriend (soon to be fiancee), I can say with all honesty that IF she asked me to be her best man at her wedding, or even asked me to participate in the ceremony in any way, I would have to decline. The truth is that I think her future partner is scary and dangerous and bad for her. I couldn't - in good conscience - stand up and witness that wedding. I would probably attend, quietly, as a guest, but even that would be very difficult.

I'd say that there may be more to this story. Time to take a long hard look at the whole situation. Perhaps even the parts you'd prefer not to identify.
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:50 AM on October 14, 2008

Just a flat no. He's not coming to the wedding, he wants nothing to do with it.

You asked; he said no. You've got other brothers and presumably other friends. Ask someone else. Also, if he told you he's not coming to the wedding, then I wouldn't invite him. Why stir up his emotions by sending an invitation he doesn't want?

It's not "your big day", it's the big day your are sharing with your future spouse and the friends and family who love and support you. If your brother can't be part of that, then no amount of groveling on your part is going to make him support you.

Oh, and stop the discussion with your other brothers. Talking behind someone's back sets up a horrible dynamic. If they hadn't been discussing you and your wedding, how exactly do they know his motivations? Doesn't feel good, does it?
posted by 26.2 at 10:02 AM on October 14, 2008

I agree you should give up on asking him to be in your wedding, but I don't think it would be too much to ask him why he is so against it. It would be something I would want to talk through with a sibling, even if it raises issues that are difficult to face. Perhaps they can be resolved; or perhaps you will at least be more at peace with his position. If his response to your efforts to communicate is hostile, you can back off then.
posted by AwkwardPause at 1:25 PM on October 14, 2008

It sounds to me like he has a problem with you getting married. At least, when I hear about someone refusing to attend a wedding, I assume it's because they disapprove of some aspect of the wedding, probably the person their friend/relative is marrying.
How does your brother feel about your fiance/e? Is there some other aspect he might be upset about (not inviting/inviting divorced relatives, including/not including a religious aspect, etc)?
If your relationship seemed positive right up to when you asked him, I'm betting this isn't about the stealing but about the wedding itself.
posted by smoakes at 2:14 PM on October 14, 2008

To be honest, if my brother asked me to be in his wedding I'd consider saying no! I don't even want a wedding of my own - I really don't enjoy attention and photos and silly dresses etc. Is it possible he just hates the idea of being part of a wedding party?
posted by mjao at 1:07 AM on October 18, 2008

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