My friend's husband can't attend a wedding with her tonight. Is it crass for me to go in his place?
August 21, 2010 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Weddingfilter: A friend has asked me to attend a wedding with her in her husband's stead. I don't really know the couple getting marrried. Yay or nay?

My friend (let's call her Jill) and her husband were invited to a wedding - it's tonight. They have a 10-month old, and yesterday, their child care plans fell through. As a result, her husband has decided to stay home and watch their child so that Jill could attend the wedding. Jill doesn't want to go alone since, according to her, she either won't know or won't like most of the other guests. She has asked me to go in her husband's place. I feel very uncomfortable about this - I personally feel it's rude to bring uninvited guests to a wedding, even as a substitute for an invited guest.

So, my question: Is it, in fact, rude or presumptuous to bring a "sub" to a wedding in the place of an invited guest? My friend's reasoning is that, since she's already replied that 2 are attending, the couple has already paid for two meals at the reception, so it doesn't matter which two people actually attend. I think differently. Married Mefites, how would you have felt if someone brought an uninvited guest in place of an invited one to your wedding? Am I just being silly or am I overthinking this? I know there's a chance the newlyweds won't even realize I'm there, but I'm still uncomfortable about it.

(Also, as an aside...I realize one possible solution would be for me to volunteer to watch their child so that they could both go. I'm just not sure I'm up for it, for several reasons that I really don't want to get into right now. For the sake of this question, let's assume that this is not an option.)
posted by pecanpies to Human Relations (42 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Go, have a good time, congratulate the couple and make someone happy on the dance floor.
posted by furtive at 8:08 AM on August 21, 2010

For me it would depend on how many other guests are expected at the wedding. If it's a relatively intimate affair of less than, say, 75 guests, then the bride and groom will probably know everyone there and you will stick out like a sore thumb. But if it's a huge thing with the 2nd-cousins-twice-removed and dad's boss's wife invited, you'd be fine. I would especially think you're fine if non-married guests were invited to bring an unspecified date, because then the couple is expecting people they don't know. In the end you kind of have to rely on the judgment of your friend, though, because she's the one who knows the bride and groom. Encourage her to think of what THEY would want as the happy couple getting married, not what she would want as a guest.
posted by vytae at 8:12 AM on August 21, 2010

Not to be crass, but your plate is already paid for. I've seen brides and grooms get more upset at empty seats after contracting a caterer for x number of guests.
posted by availablelight at 8:14 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think Jill should ask her friends if it's okay to bring a sub. If they say fine, I say go and have a good time. Free wine and cake!
posted by sillymama at 8:16 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I vote "don't go." You write:
"Jill doesn't want to go alone since, according to her, she either won't know or won't like most of the other guests."
If this is the case, she shouldn't have accepted the invitation. This scenario is no different from the jr. high school girl "needing" a girlfriend to go to the bathroom with her.
Maybe I'm's a rare wedding that hasn't made me fervently wish to have that particular Saturday back.
posted by BostonTerrier at 8:16 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding that you evaluate based on more info about the wedding -- big/small -- and what the couple's preference is. Is there any way Jill can call someone in the wedding party to get a second opinion?

Also, I'm wondering what you mean by you don't "really" know the couple. Have you met them?

All that said, my inclination is that almost definitely you will be totally fine to go and enjoy the party. :)
posted by hansbrough at 8:17 AM on August 21, 2010

Perhaps you and a friend could watch the baby. Babies make me so nervous - I feel bringing in the cavalry is warranted! :)
posted by amanda at 8:23 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the feedback so far! Wedding etiquette is so nuanced that I'm just not sure whether or not to trust my gut on this one. I'll ask about the size of the wedding. I'm guessing, based on the location of the reception, that there will be around 200 guests - plenty big enough for me to blend in.

hansbrough - Sorry to have been so vague - I just wasn't sure if it was relevant or not. I've met the couple and have run into them on several occasions, but they're merely acquaintances. It's a male/female couple, just to be clear. The woman has always been standoffish and arrogant in our interactions, and I don't particularly care for either of them, but I'm not sure it matters.
posted by pecanpies at 8:28 AM on August 21, 2010

Nearly every etiquette expert agrees that it's terribly rude to substitute one guest for another who was specifically invited. From the phrasing of your question, it sounds as though you don't want to go, and are hoping that someone will agree that you shouldn't or don't have to. Well, I think that you shouldn't. So, there you go.
posted by decathecting at 8:31 AM on August 21, 2010 [11 favorites]

Why don't you just watch the baby so the husband can go? I would rather watch a baby than go to the wedding of a stranger. In fact, I would rather watch a baby than go to the wedding of most people I know. You don't like these people, why are you going to get dragged into going to their wedding? I vote don't go.
posted by elpea at 8:32 AM on August 21, 2010 [10 favorites]

The woman has always been standoffish and arrogant in our interactions, and I don't particularly care for either of them, but I'm not sure it matters.

It definitely matters. Don't go.
posted by grouse at 8:33 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Someone did this at my wedding - brought along someone other than the SO who'd been invited. We didn't know this guest-of-a-guest at ALL, and I was pretty ticked. We invited people carefully, based on who we wanted with us that day, and suddenly there was an uninvited stranger in the crowd. Not OK.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 8:33 AM on August 21, 2010 [8 favorites]

Is she expecting you to show her the responses to this AskMefi question? Because otherwise just tell her that you really would feel awkward and you don't think it's right for you to join her uninvited, and then you won't have to go like you clearly don't want to.
posted by thebazilist at 8:36 AM on August 21, 2010

If it were my wedding I would be pissed if you showed up without a phone call first. Hard to do on the day of the wedding. TO me, the plate is a sunk cost at this time. A friend's kid got sick and they are doing a mitzvah by having one come rather than both miss. Your friend wants to give you a free party so she won't be bored? Meh. Not polite. I am not even sure it is appropriate to call and ask to substitute, but if you must that is the only way I would go. Sounds to me Jill is drinking alone.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:38 AM on August 21, 2010

Go and support your friend Jill if you absolutely can't watch the baby (though that is the better option). Enjoy, have dinner, and relax. The plate is paid for, and the RSVP was for two. Most couples whose weddings I've been to, there were always significant others, children, and other +1s that the couple may or may not have known.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:43 AM on August 21, 2010

If your friend, who is already an invited guest (and presumably knows the couple) has asked you to go, I think you shouldn't worry about whether it would be appropriate on whatever level. Your friend wouldn't have asked you if she thought you'd stick out, would deprive the couple or other guests of something, or otherwise wouldn't belong there.

On the other hand, this:

"Jill doesn't want to go alone since, according to her, she either won't know or won't like most of the other guests."

Makes it sound like Jill doesn't know the couple very well and doesn't really want to go, herself. Which might be awkward, especially if it's the absentee husband who is the connection to the couple getting married.

Either way, I'd say that if it sounds like it would be a fun time, go. If it sounds like you and Jill are going to stand around next to the punch bowl being bored and complaining about Cousin So-And-So over there who thinks Obama is a Kenya-born Muslim, I'd skip it.
posted by Sara C. at 8:46 AM on August 21, 2010

If you can't watch the kid yourself, could you help them find someone else to do it, or to at least help you with watching the kid? I definitely wouldn't go to the wedding if I were you.
posted by NHlove at 8:55 AM on August 21, 2010

If I were the bride, I'm not sure I would want someone who didn't even like me at my wedding. YMMV.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:59 AM on August 21, 2010 [8 favorites]

If you don't like the bride DO NOT GO! Sunk cost or not, while the couple might be frustrated at people's inability to honor RSVP's they will DEFINITELY remember someone they don't like AND DIDN'T INVITE at their wedding. If you didn't know them at all, I might deal with your friend's inability to socialize politely at an event and the overall rudeness of attending an event you weren't invited to, but you don't LIKE the bride.

Seriously, how can you even consider going? This is incredibly rude.

Offer to watch the couple's child so they can attend together. But don't go.
posted by micawber at 9:05 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

What's with all the babysitting advice? The kid doesn't belong to the O.P!

Now get this, pecanpies, you will not go to this snore-fest event, nor will you volunteer to "watch the baby." This fake dilemma is Jill's; it has nothing to do with you. Go sort your sock drawer or something.
posted by BostonTerrier at 9:06 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

Just have your friend call a bridesmaid or groomsman and explain the situation and ask if they think it's ok. Bride and groom probably don't want to see their phone ringing today, but a bridesmaid can easily answer the call, make a quick comment to the bride, and bride can say "Sure, no problem." (Or groom, if that's who friend is closer to. Groom might be best if bride gives off even a slight bridezilla vibe.)

If it were my wedding and the food and everything already were been paid for, I would have said no problem at all. (Along with many women who got married around the same time as me, I was more irked at people who RSVPed but did not show up.) However, without a heads up, I would have thought it was weird or rude.
posted by Terriniski at 9:06 AM on August 21, 2010

The options basically go like this:

1) The couple goes, you pinch hit as a babysitter/they find childcare.
2) You and Jill go.
3) Jill and husband don't go.

It's Jill's job to find out what's preferable to the bride. Have her give her a call and see what the situation is, and which of those options would be more amicable. It really depends on their wedding philosophy, moreso than any formal wedding etiquette that you may or may not be following.

On preview, my wife has some better ideas than mine. You should probably go through a bridesmaid or the best man. It's their job to diffuse situations like this before it gets to the couple (generally).
posted by SNWidget at 9:08 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

As a toddler parent, I can see the problem. A 10-month-old being sat by a stranger? Hard. A 10-month-old being put to bed by a stranger? Close to impossible.

My kid is 21-months-old and I wouldn't have him put to bed by a non-parent for the sitter's sake!

I vote she goes alone.
posted by k8t at 9:14 AM on August 21, 2010

Oh good lord. Jill doesn't want to go and she's trying to drag you along to this miseryfest? You know them well enough not to like them and weren't invited. Count yourself lucky! Tell her no, and you do NOT have to watch their baby or feel guilty about not doing it. Weddings are a special kind of torture we go through for people we like and care about. If neither of those are true then why put yourself through it! Hell, Jill should tell them her kid is sick and she can't go.
posted by lemniskate at 9:16 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding a call to the groomsman/maid of honor/mother of the whoever. This is what Jill needs to do. You can also provide her with the phone number of a last-minute childcare provider, if you feel really nice. You have stuff to do (that stuff may be avoiding a terrible social event you weren't invited and don't want to go to, but still.)
posted by SMPA at 9:22 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Weddings are a special kind of torture we go through for people we like and care about

Um, some people actually like weddings. But even so, I don't think you should go OP, especially since you don't even like the bride. This is Jill's problem, not yours.
posted by Lobster Garden at 9:26 AM on August 21, 2010

I say go, you and Jill enjoy yourselves. In fact, anyone who's seen 'Four Weddings' on TV knows how much fun it is when women go to weddings together. You can critique the dress, the guests, the bridesmaids, the music, the food... You and Jill will probably have more fun going to this wedding together than if she'd gone with her husband, you can dance the night away and who knows who you might meet.

And if you don't go, the unthinkable might happen - a DJ might eat your spare meal ...
posted by essexjan at 9:43 AM on August 21, 2010

I feel very uncomfortable about this - I personally feel it's rude to bring uninvited guests to a wedding, even as a substitute for an invited guest.

So, my question: Is it, in fact, rude or presumptuous to bring a "sub" to a wedding in the place of an invited guest?

"rudeness" is not objective. I doubt it would have even occurred to me to wonder if this was rude, but if it's rude to you it will make you uncomfortable all evening. Do what you want to do, not what someone else would have done.
posted by mdn at 10:05 AM on August 21, 2010

This is entirely down to whether you want to go or not. A wedding of ~ 200 guests is going to include many guests who are not close to either bride or groom and many +1s nobody knows.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:14 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Miss Manners says, "It seems that many people today have forgotten that invitations are issued only to the people whose names are on the envelope."
posted by Houstonian at 10:16 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

Just came in here to say exactly what Houstonian posted. Don't go - you weren't invited.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:58 AM on August 21, 2010

I had a few +1s I never met before my wedding date. They were there to make the invited guest more comfortable.

I was, however, pretty aggravated at the few people who didn't bother to show up. One had some pretty lame excuse about car problems (earlier in the day. and they had two cars. because the wife still came.), the others just didn't even show.

And you know what? I had people I didn't necessarily adore at my wedding, too. Wasn't a big deal.

You'd be doing a huge favor to your friend if you went, for sure. It really does suck to go to a wedding alone, I don't think it's junior high to be happier in the company of someone who is your default conversation partner at a table of couples. If calling someone close to the bride and groom is impossible, you'll probably have to use your best judgement - is she standoffish because she dislikes you, or is that just her way? Your friend should know pretty well.
posted by kpht at 12:28 PM on August 21, 2010

Just to add, if you were a total stranger to the bride and groom, it wouldn't be as weird for you to go. You'd just be random date #15, but since you do know them and weren't invited to the wedding, it's a bit weirder.

As a toddler parent, I can see the problem. A 10-month-old being sat by a stranger? Hard. A 10-month-old being put to bed by a stranger? Close to impossible.

I recall babysitting and putting to bed many an infant and toddler even as a teenager. It wasn't some kind of huge deal. Do parents of 10-month-olds never got out at night nowadays?
posted by elpea at 1:13 PM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

posted by elpea at 1:13 PM on August 21, 2010

Lots of ideas above. If it's okay with the bride/groom, they probably would be okay if you came to support a friend who might feel so out of water that she wouldn't otherwise attend.

But, instead...maybe you could support the parents by having them both go, but where you are on hand to watch and comfort the baby for short times, if s/he's fussy. (My kids would NEVER have settled for a stranger and I wouldn't have been okay with a sitter for my 10mo. However, it depends on the family/baby. And, if they aren't okay with leaving the baby with you, they might be okay with having you there if they need to sneak out for a bit here and there. For example, if the baby was fussy during the meal or speech, you could whisk the baby away for a little bit in the stroller, go for a walk, and come back. That way, the parents could enjoy the meal or whatever speech. If there's someone to remove the baby on demand, people might not be offended that a baby has been brought along.) Ideally, the parents could take turns going outside with the baby (the dad maybe would do this more, since it's the mom's friends?). But perhaps having you around to help out would be okay. Then you just have to take the baby for a quick walk. You don't have to do stuff like feeding them, putting them to sleep, etc and you don't have the stress of having them the whole evening. Maybe you have another friend who'd come with you?

When I got married, I didn't invite any children. Ever since I was pregnant with my firstborn, I have regretted that decision and felt guilty. I remember being worried that a baby might be really fussy during the service/meal/speeches and other people telling me not to invite kids. So, anyway, if the family is worried about the baby being fussy or imposing on the wedding with a baby, having you around as an on-site caregiver might help solve any problems. If the baby got to be really difficult, they could just leave. I mean, otherwise, they wouldn't be going.
posted by acoutu at 1:19 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Er, just to be clear, those options should be checked with the married couple to see what would work best for them.
posted by acoutu at 1:22 PM on August 21, 2010

As you can see, some people find it the height of rudeness to have somebody at their wedding that they didn't invite (and don't even like). Other people would never dream of considering that rude.

The question is not which of those two positions we anonymous internet people take, the question is which position the bride (and groom) are going to take.

Rule of thumb: If you can't tell whether the bride would be ok with this, then don't go.

Oh, and even asking the bride whether it's okay would be considered rude by the Miss Manners crowd.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:25 PM on August 21, 2010

Response by poster: Well, it seems the general consensus is don't go, although there are some strong arguments for going, too.

Just to clarify: I'm not fond of the bride. I have no idea if she likes me or not - it's probably much more likely that's she's completely indifferent. Suffice it to say that were this high school, she'd be the beautiful, popular cheerleader, and I'd be the band geek. I still feel those same snooty, cold shoulder vibes. I also really couldn't care less and I still don't know if it's relevant - I'm guessing many people have wedding guests they either don't know (all the +1s) or don't care to know.

My friend is the connection to the couple, but she does not know any of the bridesmaids or groomsmen, or else she would've called to run this by one of them. She works with the bride & groom, but they're not in the same social circles. I expect hers was a semi-obligatory co-worker invite.

I'm still chewing it over. The responses have been helpful and I think a strong case could be made either way. Thank you, everyone!
posted by pecanpies at 1:30 PM on August 21, 2010

If you're not fond of the bride, you shouldn't go to the wedding. Why on earth would you go to the wedding of someone you're not fond of? Someone at my church who hates me- HATES ME (for reasons understandable, if you know the story)- came to our wedding, and it still kinda blows my mind.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:44 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you want more opinions from the etiquette savvy crowd you might try the forum over at You aren't the first one with that kind of question, and the response has mostly been a horrified "don't".
posted by Omnomnom at 1:59 PM on August 21, 2010

I wouldn't have cared at _all_ at our wedding as long as the substitute behaved themselves. We already paid for the seat and we wanted all our guests to enjoy themselves.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:54 PM on August 21, 2010

I'm sure it's too late to matter, but this did (sort of) happen at my wedding. The best man's boyfriend brought a random friend we'd never met to the wedding. I don't object on principle, but it was annoying for three reasons.

1)There was no RSVP for him, he wasn't filling in for anyone, and we were really tight on chairs. 2)He didn't dress appropriately. We had a pretty laid-back afternoon wedding but he showed up in jeans and a bright yellow plaid shirt and then 3)managed to get into about half our wedding pictures. So when people look at a picture they always ask 'who's that guy (with the really weird beard and the bright yellow shirt)?' And I have to say, "I have no clue."
posted by threeturtles at 10:50 PM on August 21, 2010

« Older Mac Alternatives to Phrase Express?   |   Help me find this illustration! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.