Scheduling a wedding around a family member's pregnancy?
April 30, 2009 2:08 PM   Subscribe

I've recently become engaged and my fiancee and I were planning on getting married in the fall. We've learned that one of our sisters is pregnant and is due around the same time. How late is too late for her to travel? Are we being unreasonable in picking a date when we know there's a high likelihood she won't be able to come?

My fiancee and I have been dating for several years, and have decided to wait until marriage before living together. We recently got engaged (yay!) and would obviously like to be married as soon as possible to start our lives together. We are planning on participating in Pre-Cana at our church, which requires a minimum of six months of preparation before a wedding. This puts us into the fall, and we had found a perfect date where our local church and priest would be available. Unfortunately, this would be only a few weeks (~3-4) before the aforementioned sister is due.

We are thrilled about the pregnancy but are conflicted about whether to delay the wedding or not. Our relationship with this sister is very important to us, and we know that she would be really upset if she wasn't able to attend. We would also be upset, but at the same time aren't sure how to balance that against having to postpone for several months.

Because of the holidays, delaying would push us into early next year some time. Based on the weather where we are planning to hold the wedding, doing it in the fall would be much better than winter. Additionally, delaying means several months more of waiting before being married. We'd essentially be postponing just for this one reason.

That said, a few questions for the hive mind. Obviously, you don't know us or our relationship with this sister. She lives about a 7-8 hour car ride away. Is it unreasonable for us to think she would be able to come? It's her first pregnancy, so she's being very conservative about things, and apparently her doctor has advised her not to travel so late. Are we being unreasonable for scheduling it when we know she probably won't be able to attend?

(Sorry for the generic speak, trying to keep this as anonymous as possible. Flames, comments, personal judgments to
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, it is unreasonable to think that she can come. Babies are full term 3-4 weeks before the actual due date. Not a good time to be 7-8 hours away from your doc & hospital.
posted by gnutron at 2:11 PM on April 30, 2009

Honestly, if your relationship with your sister is important, what's a few more months when you guys have been together for several years? I'd postpone until the spring.
posted by chiababe at 2:13 PM on April 30, 2009

Rather than postponing why don't you just have it earlier?
posted by cestmoi15 at 2:14 PM on April 30, 2009

The wedding, not the baby... obs.
posted by cestmoi15 at 2:14 PM on April 30, 2009

Why don't you talk to the sister? Explain the situation, and ask if she thinks she'd be able to travel at that time. If she isn't, postpone until the new year.

Doing otherwise (unless the sister volunteers to miss the wedding, which seems unlikely) is likely to create an unpleasant family situation.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:16 PM on April 30, 2009

Are you sure you couldn't convince the church to move the date up at least a few weeks? Pre-cana really does not take six months, and they might be willing to bend. Otherwise, yeah, I'd wait until spring too.
posted by dpx.mfx at 2:16 PM on April 30, 2009


From the question: We are planning on participating in Pre-Cana at our church, which requires a minimum of six months of preparation before a wedding.
posted by chiababe at 2:16 PM on April 30, 2009

cestmoi15, they can't have it much earlier because of the wedding preparation they are required to go through with their church.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:17 PM on April 30, 2009

Could you hold your wedding very close to where your sister lives, so that she doesn't have to travel? That seems like one possibility to consider, especially if you're seriously thinking about pushing back the wedding a couple of months to accommodate her.

It would be a big enough gesture that I think you'd get a lot of understanding from her about scheduling your wedding pretty close to her due date, and if she eventually misses it because she goes into labor, no one could really say that you hadn't made every effort to make sure she could be there.
posted by iminurmefi at 2:17 PM on April 30, 2009

One of my personal mantras is that our own assumptions shouldn't limit our decision-making. With that in mind:

1) Can you talk to the priest, explain the situation, and see if you can speed up pre-Cana to get married sometime in the summer?

2) Can you hold the ceremony somewhere closer to your sister? My husband and I picked a ceremony location far from home, but closer to my family to help them attend (Of course, this wouldn't help if she went into labor early...)
posted by muddgirl at 2:17 PM on April 30, 2009

I'm not sure what the deal is with your Pre-Cana, but that sounds like a really long time prior to the wedding to prepare (my experience is Pre-Cana happened two months before the wedding, obviously YMMV). So I'd shoot for an earlier wedding and discuss other Pre-Cana options with your church.
posted by December at 2:18 PM on April 30, 2009

Are we being unreasonable for scheduling it when we know she probably won't be able to attend?

Talk to her, see if it matters to her. If it matters, postpone, as it'll make everyone happy and this relationship is important.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:20 PM on April 30, 2009

There's three competing desires here, not two. You've hinted at the third one, but I'm not sure you've consciously considered whether that might be sacrificed instead of one of the other two. I.e.,

1. Have your sister at your wedding
2. Not wait several months longer than you originally expected
3. Not have crappy weather for your wedding.

Are you sure you're not willing to give up #3 in order to have #1 and (at least partially) #2? I'm not you, but while it's nice to have good weather, that seems to me to be considerably less important than either of the first two considerations. I.e., instead of delaying your wedding from (just a rough guess of the months here) October to April, could you just delay it until January instead? Especially keeping in mind there's no guarantee you wouldn't have thunderstorms all weekend in October or April, either. (Unless you're in the desert or something, but then a January wedding wouldn't be so problematic, either.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:21 PM on April 30, 2009

Talk to the sister. My mom was in this situation (her sister ended up being too pregnant to be in the wedding) and talking pretty much cleared it up. Of course Sister wants to be there, but she's having a baby. Realistically, she's not traveling to a wedding for some time after giving birth. So if you can't have the wedding a decent time cushion before the due date (which it sounds like you can't), you will have to schedule it for (I'd say at least six months) after. I can't imagine a sister you're close to asking you to delay your wedding like that.

You'll still be married and she can celebrate your happiness anyway.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:21 PM on April 30, 2009

I think you need to talk to the sister. I went camping while I was 37 weeks pregnant about 2 hours from the nearest hospital, 5 hours from home and felt fine doing that but everyone's tolerance is different. Additionally, she might end up with a difficult pregnancy that requires bedrest for months and/or could deliver anywhere from 25 weeks (quite rare) on so there's a huge swath of time that is conceivably off limits for your wedding. And she probably will be unwilling to go anywhere for a month or so after giving birth. So if you really want to take her needs into consideration, you need to check with her.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:22 PM on April 30, 2009

Ooops! Missed that part, sorry.
posted by cestmoi15 at 2:22 PM on April 30, 2009

I know people who did pre-cana over a weekend, so those options exist and I can't imagine that your priest wouldn't allow you to opt out of the usual parish process and get it done elsewhere. More importantly - you actually said above that you're weighing the importance of the weather on your wedding day vs. whether your own sister can attend. That's cold, and I don't think that's you - you probably just aren't thinking clearly, because it is stressful to plan these things.... but the short answer is that yes, it would be terrible to prioritize your envisioned wedding place and date over your sister's ability to share the day with you.
posted by moxiedoll at 2:23 PM on April 30, 2009

I think you should postpone. If you were to go ahead and have the wedding with your sister unable to attend, everyone is going to wish she was there (including you). Moreover, since there really is no way she can be flexible, everyone will wonder why you were so rigid as to have the wedding at the exact only time when she could not come. Sure you may have your reasons, but not everyone is going to understand them, and so people might be upset with you for being so rigid. It will hang in the air during the wedding and possibly long afterward.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:24 PM on April 30, 2009

Is pre-cana truly a non-negotiable for you? Is there another church where pre-cana won't last as long?
posted by pecanpies at 2:42 PM on April 30, 2009

Six months of Pre-Cana? That's a bit much. We did our several weeks, one hour long or so session a week. Talk to your priest about that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:42 PM on April 30, 2009

The purpose of getting married with family in attendance is to share the day with them. I would not be surprised if once you get in planning mode you start to want to have it planned already so you can get married after several years of dating already and move in together already. Once you have a plan and a date, you don't want to go back to the drawing board, particularly if it interferes with your vision for your wedding.

But, if you knowingly schedule it in a place at a time when your sister could only attend against medical advice (and likely with serious discomfort), that seems to cut against the purpose of having a ceremony that includes family. This is the kind of thing that sets people to not talking to one another. Either elope and have the celebration later, find an alternative to the extended premarriage program and move up the date significantly, or have it a little earlier close to her. Otherwise, it can read as you not giving a fig whether she can attend, which is presumably not the case. Short answer: yes, you are being unreasonable.
posted by *s at 2:54 PM on April 30, 2009

I think people harshing on the poster for her concern about the weather are being a little hasty; in some parts of the country winter doesn't just mean "crappy-rainy-gloomy." It can mean cancelled flights, icy roads, etc. It doesn't sound like the poster is saying she just wants to up her chances for having pretty, mild weather on her wedding day.

Anyway, I'd still wait till spring.
posted by Neofelis at 2:56 PM on April 30, 2009

Are you sure they said six months and not six weeks? You really should check back with your church and verify what you heard.
posted by contrariwise at 3:26 PM on April 30, 2009

Is weather REALLY that big of a deal since you are obviously having a church wedding?

Winter is a great time to get married. Lots of vendors and venues offer off-season discounts, and dramatic weather often adds to the coziness of a celebration with family and friends. My FAVORITE events are the ones that happen around Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year (though it is sometimes a bit more of a hassle for those if travel is involved)

Good luck! Congratulations!
posted by mojoworkin at 4:11 PM on April 30, 2009

Could this be part of the Pre-Cana confusion (from a church in Brooklyn's Pre-Cana information website)?:

Basic Guidelines

You and your partner must be at least 18 years old.
You need to notify your home parish (of either the bride or groom) at least SIX to TWELVE MONTHS prior to the desired date.

You need to attend a pre-nuptial interview with a priest or deacon from the parish.
You need to gather the necessary documents.
etc etc

The sessions themselves seem to be from 2 days to 6 weeks, but you have to schedule your actual wedding 6 months out at least.
posted by tristeza at 4:25 PM on April 30, 2009

I'm surprised at the number of people who are suggesting that you plan around her pregnancy. You schedule, and either she can come or she can't. As someone who's had a kid, I think that it's absolutely ridiculous that she claims that she can't travel a month before she's due. Contrary to popular belief, pregnant women aren't beautiful special snowflakes who have to be coddled and protected so that they don't melt.

If she is a reasonable person, she understands that you can't plan your life around her pregnancy any more than she should be expected to plan her pregnancy around your wedding. What happens if you put it off, reschedule on her account, and then something goes wrong? What if her child has a medical problem and isn't able to travel for months? What if she gets sick the weekend of the wedding? Will you reschedule again?

It's not like you picked a date to conflict with her pregnancy. You picked a date and then found out that she's pregnant, from the sounds of it, and she should be an adult about it and not expect you to reschedule for her convenience--or be offended if you don't.
posted by MeghanC at 5:37 PM on April 30, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm not Catholic and don't know anything about "pre-Cana", but I agree with Brandon B and tristeza -- talk to your priest, and try to have the wedding sooner. I mean, it's not like you & your fiance just met, and your reasons for hastening the wedding are good ones.
posted by kestrel251 at 6:15 PM on April 30, 2009

"would obviously like to be married as soon as possible to start our lives together"

I get that because you aren't going to be living together until after the wedding, there will be some practical differences pre- and post-wedding. But you're an engaged couple and you've been dating for several years-- you've already started your lives together! You love each other and are committed to each other... the wedding will change some things but many others will be exactly the same. If you haven't already, it might be helpful for you two to think and talk about the specific reasons why you're unhappy with the idea of waiting a few extra months to get married... that might help you weigh them and decide whether or not they're worth "really upsetting" your sister/not having your sister there to share your wedding day (I'm not saying that they're necessarily not worth it, but that you're probably more likely to make a decision you're ultimately satisfied with if you go deeper than "of course we want to get married and move in together ASAP.")

Also, consider some of the other options mentioned even though they might mean your wedding not looking exactly like you envision-- having the wedding where your sister lives, doing the wedding in the winter, getting legally married in the fall but postponing the wedding itself until the spring, etc.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 6:20 PM on April 30, 2009

You schedule, and either she can come or she can't.

For once I disagree with this. Your sister having a kid will involve a whole lot of family even if it does go along textbook-ly.

In my (limited) experience she should have everyone's support and it will be really hard on your parents and any other siblings if they have to decide between supporting her and stressing about travelling to your wedding.

And if she really is that important to you, I would guess that her baby and her health, mental and physical, trumps your party in terms of importance, so make it easy on all of you and move the wedding.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:57 PM on April 30, 2009

The friction here is that you've decided on your church, and that church has (a really LONG IMHO) waiting list. I would suggest that you consider a different venue. Can you be flexible on that?

I got married in Hawaii, and my big compromise to my wife was that we had the wedding in a big church in Honolulu, while I wanted to have a much more casual outdoor ceremony. It seemed silly to me to have a wedding inside a building while in Hawaii, land of (almost) perfect weather. But I gave in, of course. But I still imagine what a nice beachside wedding would've been like. In short, be flexible.
posted by zardoz at 7:00 PM on April 30, 2009

Regarding the weather issue... My husband's sister had her wedding during finals week of my last year of college. The reason for choosing this date, apparently, was that that was the only time they could get the photographer they wanted.

I didn't go. My husband did. As a result, I got to deal with a chunk of finals week (no-really-this-is-it-this-time-aak!) without him home to support me, and I got to deal with the knowledge that getting the right photographer was more important to my sister-in-law than having her only sibling's fiancée there.

I decided I wasn't going to let it affect how I feel about her, and for the most part I've been successful. (I'm sure it helps that we live 3000 miles away.) It's not something I dwell on, and at this point (11 years later) I rarely even think of it. But if I'm completely honest, I have to acknowledge that it still smarts a bit.

Family is more important than weather, I think. And I think you might miss your sister's presence more than you realize at this point, especially when you look back at the photos. We did the shuffle-reshuffle for family photos (us with his parents, us with my father and stepmother, us with his extended family, us with my extended family, etc.) and I still feel a pang when I look at the photo of us with my extended family and realize we forgot to include my uncle, my aunt's widower. But at least he was there, and I have both memories of spending time with him and a photo of the three of us laughing. If your photo album has no photos of your sister, and it's because she wasn't even there, I think your pleasure in looking at the photos might be noticeably diminished.

And as a photographic benefit, babies are cute. One of the sweetest photos we have is of my husband's grandma and my grandma with a friend's baby.

Spring is a nice time to have a wedding, if there's no way to get the pre-Cana process sped up...
posted by Lexica at 8:55 PM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth, you'll save some money if you have a Catholic wedding around Christmastime. The church will already have a lot of flowers and decorations in place... less for you to have to provide.
posted by Kellydamnit at 9:27 PM on April 30, 2009

I think the Pre-Cana has to do with scheduling, we only had a handful of evenings and a day retreat but we had to start 6 months out to sign up for classes that filled up quickly. Talk to your priest, the requirements vary by diocese and they are often more flexible than you may think. He may have alternatives, like attending classes in a neighboring diocese. After all, the ultimate goal of the Church is to see you happily married!
posted by TungstenChef at 1:16 AM on May 1, 2009

Talk to the sister.

Talk to the church about moving it up - and tell them your concerns about the sister being there. I suspect they have some latitude.

Deal with the winter weather. Get married indoors. People can get to the church/reception even in snow and ice. For all you know, your perfect date in the fall will be the day that a freak hurricane comes through.

If this is your future wife's sister and you push to have this wedding knowing that the sister won't be able to come, and you know that it's important to your wife, you will regret it, trust me when I say that it will come up again.
posted by KAS at 6:40 AM on May 1, 2009

Pregnancy is the most unpredictable thing ever. Normal pregnancies can quickly turn abnormal and women who ignore their doctor's advice about staying put to avoid stress and strain are not doing themselves and favors.

I understand your desire to have your sister there... if that is the most pressing thing about this decision, then have the wedding after the baby's due date plus six months (to allow mom and dad to get into a schedule with the baby, avoid travelling during the height of flu season, let mom get back to feeling like herself again, etc).

My brother missed my wedding for a job tryout. There was just no way around it. It was OK.

My point is, do what you need to do... don't schedule around something, because there will always be something to schedule around!

Also many Catholic parishes will not do weddings during Lent. If you wait until spring, that may mean delaying until after Easter.
posted by FergieBelle at 10:23 AM on May 1, 2009

I would try and plan it as early as possible so there is at least some chance she'll be able to come and then just see what happens. Will things really be all that much easier once she has a 2 month old? You've made it clear that delaying this wedding is going to delay your lives also, which really isn't the kind of sacrifice I would make for one wedding guest. Try and make some sort of gesture like maybe a big dinner in her town a few days before the wedding with immediate family so she doesn't feel so left out.
posted by whoaali at 10:16 PM on May 3, 2009

« Older Wedding Present Chicago Couple   |   Please hope me Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.