Is it acceptable to ask the bride not to seat me next to someone in particular?
April 4, 2005 5:13 PM   Subscribe

I have been invited to a wedding by my friend the bride. My mortal enemy is also a friend of the bride, and has been invited to the wedding also. The bride is unaware that my enemy and I do not get along. Would it be acceptable to tell the bride that this person and I do not get along, and ask her not to seat my enemy and I near each other? Or should I try and get there early and move placecards if need be?
posted by Fat Guy to Society & Culture (47 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What is your connection to the sworn enemy?
posted by Dean Keaton at 5:19 PM on April 4, 2005

Best answer: This is the day you put your hatred of your mortal enemy aside for the good of your friend. Do not ask to be moved, and for the love of god do not move placecards. If there are assigned seats, the bride has carefully seated the mortal enemies within the family away from each other, and you are going to screw up her divine plans if you interfere.

Aside from eating and sitting through toasts, most weddings are wandering affairs, from dance floor to outside for a quick smoke back to the cake table and so forth, and if you wind up near your disliked person you can always stroll around and eventually find a seat elsewhere.

This is your burden, not hers. Consider it your secret wedding present, and do not ever mention to her or to anyone at the reception that you have given it to her. This is the classy thing to do, and once you're past the evening you will like yourself for it.
posted by melissa may at 5:20 PM on April 4, 2005

don't go unless you can play nice with that enemy no matter what--even if you're at the same table.
posted by amberglow at 5:21 PM on April 4, 2005

For the love of all that is holy, don't move the placecards!!!

You might just have to suck this up. Depending on your personality, this is either what the bar is for or a reason to avoid the bar altogether.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:30 PM on April 4, 2005

Seriously, to what extent can you see your mortal enemy trying to cause a problem? If you think the person is likely to be civil, then what melissa may said. If not, tell us, since I bet that'll change what advice you get....
posted by kimota at 5:33 PM on April 4, 2005

melissa may is exactly right. You are in no position to take either of the actions that you're contemplating. If you can't suck it up, don't go.
posted by bingo at 5:37 PM on April 4, 2005

It's not about you.
posted by sohcahtoa at 5:39 PM on April 4, 2005

I think Melissa May has got it right. Unless the wedding is held in a phone booth you oughta be able to avoid ME for the duration.
posted by fixedgear at 5:43 PM on April 4, 2005

Amen to advice above. Moving the place cards is extremely rude, and asking the bride to accomodate your personal conflict is only microscopically less rude. This day is not about you, except insofar as you can bring love and support to your friend. You don't have to reconcile with your enemy, but it is your responsibility to act like an adult if your paths happen to cross. Even if you're seated next to him/her at the reception, smile politely, pass the salt if they ask, and become fascinated in whatever it is the other person seated next to you has to say. If you're truly not capable of doing that, decline the invitation and send a gift.
posted by scody at 5:45 PM on April 4, 2005

I'm sorry, but I agree with Melissa May as well. Unless you consider yourself extremely good friends with the bride — and by this I mean near the level of best friends — just tough it out.
posted by WCityMike at 5:49 PM on April 4, 2005

I disagree with the people who have responded so far. I think it would be fine to request that you not be seated with your mortal enemy. This is, of course, assuming that you are on friendly terms (and not exclusively formal terms) with the bride and/or groom.

On the other hand, I agree completely that you should not move placecards or reseat yourself on the day of the wedding. If your friend can't accommodate you, should suck it up or not attend.
posted by alms at 5:55 PM on April 4, 2005

The bride definitely should not have to be worrying about whether her two friends are going to make problems for each other or her on Her One Special Day, so do not bring this matter up with the bride. Not even a hint. Let her enjoy the day in utter ignorance of anyone else's personal dramas.

However, if (a) either of you in participating in the ceremony itself and (b) there's a wedding planner involved, you could discretely let the planner know that the event will go more smoothly if you and Friend B don't have to be thrown together more than absolutely necessary. The pros know to expect this stuff, and how to work around it gracefully. The bride need never know.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:00 PM on April 4, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for all the good advice. I think Melissa's was the best.

I do think my enemy (a former co-worker) will be civil. The last time I saw this person was (oddly enough) at a party the bride had about 2 years ago. We pretty much stayed on opposite sides of the room all night and tried to avoid eye contact.

I certainly will be civil to this person, but this person gets angry if I say "hello" and that makes it hard. I would actually like to attempt to patch things up with this person. Maybe this wedding will be a chance to do that.
posted by Fat Guy at 6:02 PM on April 4, 2005

Man, I wish I had a mortal enemy :(

I think it depends on what you forsee happening as a worst-case scenario. Is it a relationship that could possible come to blows if one of you looks at the other wrong? Or is it something that you can get away with ignoring each other comfortably for the day?

If you both can be mature enough to make it through without a scene (for the sake of your friend's wedding, if nothing else), I wouldn't bother the bride with it (I'm sure she's stressed out enough as it is with other things) but if either one of you is going to create a spectacle then PLEASE tell her to be aware of this when deciding the seating arrangements.
posted by robbie01 at 6:07 PM on April 4, 2005

why not make an excuse and pass on the whole thing? obviously, this depends on how much you enjoy weddings, but i don't think you should worry about offending anyone - just make some polite excuse (people are saying "it's not about you" and i think that relieves you of any compunction to attend, since that cuts both ways).
posted by andrew cooke at 6:14 PM on April 4, 2005

I would actually like to attempt to patch things up with this person. Maybe this wedding will be a chance to do that.

If you're going to reach out, do it now, well in advance of the wedding. If the gesture doesn't work out, you can still gracefully bow out of attending. Whereas if you two can walk into the same room knowing there's no more animosity left, great for everyone. But if you try to reconcile on the wedding day, there's too much room for it to blow up in your (and the bride's) face. Especially when dealing with a Mortal Enemy who can't even tolerate "hello". That's russian roulette you'd be playing...
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:27 PM on April 4, 2005

If your mortal enemy is the one who is so easily antagonized that a simple "hello" will drive him/her into a rage... why, for gods' sakes, it's your moral imperative to sit beside said enemy and be the sweetest possible dinner partner.

This will have several effects: one, it will drive your ME insane. Mortal Enemies hate it when the people they hate are sweet to them. Two, it will establish you as the better wo/man in everyone else's eyes. They'll never understand why your ME self-destructed when, three, after the dinner and a bit too much wine, said ME goes absolutely snakeshit, providing some much-needed entertainment before the dance.

Be nice. Oh, be soooo nice. It will prove the ultimate revenge.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:30 PM on April 4, 2005

Be nice. Oh, be soooo nice. It will prove the ultimate revenge.

+2 devilishly clever & highly amusing
-2 beloved friend's happy day marred by Mortal Enemy's meltdown
-1 knowing you pushed those buttons
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:49 PM on April 4, 2005

To add to nakedcodemonkey's list:
-2 being recognized as cause of Mortal Enemy's meltdown even while being devilishly clever.

It's not really that clever. Everyone who has a sibling knows how to play that game and recognizes it when they see it in action.

Seriously FG, take melissa may's advice. Don't ask the Bride to move you and whatever you do don't move yourself. You never know how much effort went into balancing the seating arrangement and what arguments and bitterness moving yourself could cause. You may accidentally cause a chain reaction that could place people less reasonable than you and your mortal enemy together at a table.
posted by cm at 6:54 PM on April 4, 2005

FFF, I hope you're joking, because I'd consider what you're suggesting to be playing with fire. Most people aren't that dumb, they can tell when you're being fake nice as part of some game of one-upmanship. Better to not court disaster with such pettiness at what's supposed to be a day of joy.

I agree with melissa's advice. I'd go one further and suggest the possibility of contacting your mortal enemy ahead to suggest a truce for the wedding day. Whatever the differences between you, most likely he/she will agree that it's best to be civil with each other for the sake of your common friend. If he/she doesn't, then more desperate strategies will have to be employed to avoid conflict, but none of them can involve the bride in anyway whatsoever.
posted by randomstriker at 6:58 PM on April 4, 2005

Depends on how far in the future it is. If it's next week, don't say anything. If it's 6 months from now, go ahead and say something.

We got asked this about a month before our wedding, it wasn't a problem (about a year ago). Note however that the bride and groom may make fun of you behind your back while setting up the seating chart.
posted by true at 7:03 PM on April 4, 2005

Response by poster: LOL true. I guess you and your husband made fun of that person who asked you two.
posted by Fat Guy at 7:15 PM on April 4, 2005

FWIW, when we got married 4 years ago, I would have been totally fine with a friend saying "You may not be aware of this, but there is a lot of tension between me and so-and-so; just wanted to make sure you don't seat us at the same table if you can help it." I can't imagine any bride or groom who's a basically nice person not wanting to know something that takes no effort on her part that could keep two of her guests from having a lousy time.
posted by Raspberry at 7:18 PM on April 4, 2005

Destroy your ME before the wedding. Problem solved.
posted by Goofyy at 8:27 PM on April 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

randomstriker: it does, of course, depend on the ME. But truth is, I had an ME once upon a time: a neighbour.

She went out of her way to antagonise people at the condo meetings. Argumentative, when shown an idea of her's was bad or unacceptable, would just wave her hands and bluster louder. Most people were cowed.

During one particularly long and contencious meeting I snapped and roared my objections, securing myself an ME. OMG. It was quite the thing! Worst of it was, I was the one more in the wrong: I really should have been able to keep my cool, no matter how aggravating and wrong she was.

From that day on she huffed if I so much as glanced at her, and would turn her head from the sight of me when she was fetching mail, and nattered bad things about me, and so on and suchlike. If I said "Hello," she'd stiffen and stomp away. She wanted me to know I was her ME.

Y'see, the thing about Mortal Enemies is that you are the Mortal Enemy of them, not the other way around.

So I decided to lay it on the sugar but thick. If a mere "hello" would make her stiffen in anger, then actually being nice would probably kill her through the sheer stress of hating me.

At meetings, I was cheerful and light when she made a silly complaint or demand; whether or not there were neighbourly witnesses, I was cheerful and helpful to her, sometimes seen shoveling her driveway; as far as anyone could tell, I thought she was grand.

She didn't die of a heart attack, but my ploy worked: she moved on to a senior's complex where she could really rule the roost. At least, that's what I tell myself.

Truth is, we were on less than unagreeable terms toward the end. She was still the dictionary definition of harridan, but she didn't get all rigor mortis when I said "Hello," and we even had a decent conversation while her condo was for sale.

Anyway, being extra-oozy sweet to a Mortal Enemy is basically the best way to deal with them, IMO. Unless, of course, you hardly ever see them (ME In Absentia).
posted by five fresh fish at 8:51 PM on April 4, 2005

Response by poster: Thank you for the new (to me) word "harridan". Up until now I had been calling my ME a shrew.
posted by Fat Guy at 9:05 PM on April 4, 2005

Damn. I call mine the piggy-eyed fuckface. Is there a nice word for that?
posted by LittleMissCranky at 9:23 PM on April 4, 2005

Her majesty the piggy-eyed fuckface.
posted by scody at 9:32 PM on April 4, 2005

Even better since he's XY.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 9:35 PM on April 4, 2005

If ya gotta say something, I meekly suggest saying to the B&G, "Hey, if you haven't done seating stuff yet, do ya think you could sit me with Foo? She's purrrrty, and gawrsh I'd like to talk to her..." (or, "I haven't seen him for ages!" or "He's such a riot," or any number of other reasons why you might want to sit with Foo).

Then, you're not a weirdo with a Mortal Enemy, you're a dude who'd like to sit with someone for honorable or at least booty-tastic reasons, and you don't get the B&G worrying about whether you or your ME are going to flip out Exorcist-style during the ceremony ("Yes! I do! I've got a fucking reason! The reason is that this lying piece of shit...").

And then even if you do end up seated near ME, at least you can bank on having foo to talk to / talk up / stare adoringly at.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:41 PM on April 4, 2005

Several folks have suggested "suck it up or don't go" as if not going is an option. I don't think it is.

I think not showing up to your friend's wedding is a blow in itself. I highly encourage you to find a way to suffer through and actually go. I don't have an alternative to suggest because I don't think you have one. Weddings are long-planned, big important events whose momentum is not to be denied by lesser concerns. Go. Deal.

I am sympathetic, however. Weddings have a way of bulldozing through the delicate social dykes and canals we spend so much time cultivating. But don't be discouraged. Everyone, including your mortal enemy, knows that a wedding is no time to make trouble, and I'm quite sure that everyone will do their best to get through the event without incident. Who knows, if you wound up placed next to this person at table, you might even come away from the event with less animosity for each other.

Stranger things have happened at weddings.
posted by scarabic at 10:31 PM on April 4, 2005

Everyone, including your mortal enemy, knows that a wedding is no time to make trouble

I once watched a bride (for whom I was maid of honor) have to grimly endure her older sister having a very loud, very drunken, and very public meltdown at the reception -- we were informed in no uncertain (though somewhat slurred) terms that since she was oldest, she should have been married first, you bastards, first!!!!!!! So no, sadly, not everyone knows that a wedding is no time to make trouble.
posted by scody at 10:37 PM on April 4, 2005

It depends how mortal your ME is. My most recent enemy was a business partner in a newspaper I helped start; he got caught plagiarizing, then cleaned out the corporate bank account (well, he left $1.64) and took everyone else off of it so we couldn't check the balance. The business subsequently failed, and while that wasn't the only reason, it was a big one. I'd like to see the motherfucker strung up from the nearest tree. But I'd sit next to him at a friend's wedding, if it were a good friend and I had no choice.

Then there's my other ME, who did much, much worse things which don't bear going into here. I'd sit next to him at a wedding, too, so I could get in a point-blank round from a .45 and not have to worry about missing.

You need to decide how mortal your mortal enemy is before you decide how to handle this.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:19 PM on April 4, 2005 [2 favorites]

I have nothing to add except that melissa may is my new hero.
posted by Elsbet at 11:21 PM on April 4, 2005

I'm glad that you merely have a mortal enemy. Some of us have an immortal enemy, and are forced to bear this everlasting existence slowly cleaving the head off friend and foe alike until there is only one of us left.

Luckily for you, the same rules apply to mortal enemies as immortal ones.

* Enemies can be made to act civil when humans, unsuspecting of the godlike alien blood flowing through your veins, are around. Use this as an excuse to be polite in the company of others.

* Holy places are generally considered off limits beheading-wise. If the wedding is being held at a church you should make nice and smile along, all the time assessing weaknesses in your enemies' defence.

* Should your enemy approach you when you are alone at the wedding reception, make a quick move for the cake knife and strike strongly and smoothly at their neck. Two strokes should be enough. Any more than that and the blood splatter may ruin the cake, and the bride will be terribly upset.

I hope this helps.
posted by   at 11:31 PM on April 4, 2005

I don't see any reason not to request a seat away from that person. You don't have to say you hate them, just say there was some friction at work, and you don't really get on.

It's not going to ruin their plans just to have a seating request to think about.
posted by lunkfish at 1:54 AM on April 5, 2005

How does one accumulate a mortal enemy?
posted by quiet at 1:59 AM on April 5, 2005

Quiet - befriend a questionable person, even though better judgment tells you to stay away. Cultivate said friendship and ignore warnings from friends. Become the closest of friends. Wait for said close friend to betray you and choose your significant other over you. Collapse into a simpering heap. Then let your rage make you strong. Instant mortal enemy.
posted by MsVader at 4:33 AM on April 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

Wow MsVader. Except for the significant other part, that's how I got mine! (She's known as The Cuntess.) Personally, I'd rather blow off a wedding than be in the same room, but if it were a really good friend, and the wedding wasn't tomorrow night, I would try to ask discretely to be seated at a different table. A wedding is NOT just about the bride - it's a party for the family and friends and the Happy Couple want it to go well. If they are going to have to worry about seating Uncle Fred and Aunt Agatha as far from each other as possible because they haven't spoken since 1967, they can spare a thought for you and your enemy too. Though the request needs to be made as lightly as possible.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:53 AM on April 5, 2005

Surely every good wedding involves at least one fight? (and at least one vomiting drunken teenager, and at least one crying sister/best-friend/auntie...)

Maybe it's your job to provide this special form of wedding entertainment.
posted by handee at 5:11 AM on April 5, 2005

Trust me, if the Bridesmaids have any inkling that there may be trouble with anyone, there is The Plan. They know in advance what people are problematic and they have a strategy for conking them on the head and hiding them under the bushes outside the reception venue.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:25 AM on April 5, 2005

Second for Medieval Maven. I'm giving my groomsmen knives as gifts just in case there's any problem with mortal enemies in attendence. So it may be a good idea to alert a member of the wedding party about potential problems if you're unsure your ME can keep her shit together for a day.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:12 AM on April 5, 2005

Huh. I interpreted "Mortal Enemy" to mean that the other person hated you, not that you hate someone else.

The latter just seems petty.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:40 AM on April 5, 2005

I have nothing to add except that melissa may is my new hero.

Ditto. It's people like melissa may that makes AskMe the wonderful place it is and my favourite place on (in?) the 'net.
posted by deborah at 10:04 AM on April 5, 2005

These are all wonderful & helpful comments. Let me chime in to say that if the bride really is a good friend of yours, she probably already knows about your ME and wouldn't dream of seating you two near each other. And, it is possible to get through this - I know, because I did it, and my ME and I were both bridesmaids, yet, miraculously, noone died, and noone outside our close friends even knew how amazing that was. However, notice that we are not close to each other in any of the wedding pictures, and the bride (bless her) seated us far, far away from one another.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:14 AM on April 5, 2005

It's a wedding reception, a nice big party for friends and family to celebrate the couple. Not a holy day devoted to tantrums, rigid table seating and ugly dresses. If the bride is a good friend, a low-key request to not be seated at the same table as ME seems reasonable, especially if you make it clear that sitting at the children's table, cranky out-of-town aunts & uncles table, or other less desirable location is fine. If there's 1 table for the group from work, you shouldn't ask to have ME moved elsewhere. Even being on the opposite side of a big table would be an improvement over being seated next to the ME.

If I were the bride, I would not be offended by the request. Of course, when I was the bride, I eschewed assigned seating. Of course, you will be extremely civil to ME at the event.
posted by theora55 at 10:35 AM on April 5, 2005

melissa may is almost certainly right unless your mortal enemy really is a mortal enemy and you're not exaggerating. In that case I'd make an excuse and not attend. A wedding is not the occasion for murder.
posted by Decani at 12:08 PM on April 5, 2005

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