Hen Party Rejectee
July 3, 2011 8:08 PM   Subscribe

I was invited to a wedding but not the hen party. I'm not hurt or angry, I'm just curious. And also slightly embarrassed and awkward...

My friend, let's call her Anna, is getting married this summer. She has invited me to her wedding but not her hen party. Details are:

1) We're in our mid 20s.
2) She has invited about 15 women to the hen party.
3) We were part of the same five-people group when we were undergraduates, but our recent contact in the last year has now been limited to sporadic emails and an occasional meetup if we are in the same town. In other words, she was a "life-phase" friend - we had great times back then, but we have both moved on. Two of those people are in our group are guys and they have not been invited. The other girl has been invited, but she was closer to Anna than I was. And she was also part of the second group (see 4)
4) She has invited all the girls another group from uni. We were all in the same course, but I wasn't particularly close knit friends with that other group.
5) Transportation involves a small flight, but it is not a big issue (and she knows this).
6) I think the wedding will be about ~120 people or so, but I could be mistaken.
7) Would I invite her to my hen party? I think this is a different question, as I feel supremely uncomfortable about the thought of having a hen party just for me. I think it'll be just my very very closest girl friends, i.e. 3 people, max, if I even do have a hen party. So, no.

So, am feeling slightly awkward. What is the appropriate hen-party protocol? I know that sometimes people are invited to hen parties but not invited to weddings, but not the other way around.

Another question: How do I deflect questions of "how was the hen party" gently (so as to not embarrass her or I) as it seems that I was the only girl from her undergraduate years who wasn't invited... I can't even say something along the lines of, "Oh, I was busy," because I wasn't. The worse part is that photos will be up on facebook.

Anonymous because I'm feeling really awkward.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't even say something along the lines of, "Oh, I was busy," because I wasn't.

Why not? Little white lies are a mainstay of awkwardness-avoiding politeness. "I couldn't make it" is exactly how I'd respond if I wasn't invited to a bachelor party but people assumed I was.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:14 PM on July 3, 2011

>know that sometimes people are invited to hen parties but not invited to weddings, but not the other way around.

Yes the other way around, quite often. This will only be awkward if you make it awkward. Relax and enjoy the wedding!
posted by cyndigo at 8:14 PM on July 3, 2011 [12 favorites]

Where are you from? In the US, an invite to the wedding does not presume an invite to the hen party.
posted by dawkins_7 at 8:18 PM on July 3, 2011 [5 favorites]

I (a guy) was recently invited to a wedding, but not the buck's party. I was part of his "school days friends group", of which everyone else was invited so far as I could tell. I found this strange, but I was never terribly "tight" with the guy, friendship-wise, so I didn't really worry about it.

Then I got an invitation to the wedding. I found this strange. I declined. I wasn't terribly close to the guy anyhow, and getting an invitation only to the wedding made me feel weird, somehow.

Sorry I'm not offering any real advice. Just letting you know someone else has been there, done that, and what I did.

Haven't heard from the guy since, but I doubt I would have anyhow.
posted by Diag at 8:19 PM on July 3, 2011

I found out the day of my bachelorette party that I had offended people by not inviting them. Two of my bridesmaids planned the whole thing out and planned it for only the bridesmaids and myself, the bride. I thought nothing of it - seemed normal to me.

What I'm trying to say is, I'm a recent bride who had no idea people would be offended if they weren't invited to the bachelorette party - I could easily have done the same thing you described here and not even realize I had hurt you.
posted by kthxbi at 8:23 PM on July 3, 2011 [5 favorites]

Wedding invitation = she wants a gift.

Personally, I'd decline the wedding invitation if your only contact with her is sporadic emails, facebook and occasional meetups.
posted by winna at 8:32 PM on July 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure if things are different with Hen Parties and UK etiquette, but in North America, outside a few exceptions (office showers and destination weddings being the main two), inviting someone to the wedding-adjacent events (showers, bachelorettes, etc) and not inviting them to the wedding is pretty much rude. Inviting someone to the wedding, and not the wedding-adjacent events, however, is totally normal.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:33 PM on July 3, 2011 [24 favorites]

Is it possible that she simply doesn't like you as much as you thought she did?
posted by toomuchpete at 8:45 PM on July 3, 2011

When we were getting married, the idea of inviting somebody to my bachelorette party if I knew it would require a plane flight for her to get there... well, it wouldn't even have occurred to me. A bachelorette party is such a minor, light-hearted part of the experience, I can't imagine expecting somebody to fly to get to one. (Haven't there been AskMes before with people perplexed that they had been invited to a hen party that would require air flight?)

Wedding invitation = she wants a gift.

My, that's cynical. It could also be that she has fond feelings for a school friend and would enjoy said friend's presence at her wedding and reception. Many people would argue that if the bride had invited the OP, with the consequent expectation that the bride's hen party is important enough for the OP to drop a couple hundred bucks on the trip, that would be indication of the kind of present-grubbing attitude you imply.
posted by Lexica at 8:47 PM on July 3, 2011 [26 favorites]

I know that sometimes people are invited to hen parties but not invited to weddings, but not the other way around.

I don't think I've ever heard of that happening - only the other way around. Hen's party = inner circle, whatever she determines that to be, and inner circle is definitely coming to the wedding.

Wedding but no hens party just means you're not in her inner circle. That's not a bad thing - you say yourself you're not close these days. Just be happy to be invited to the wedding. If you're asked about the hens night, just say you weren't there. Are you expecting lots of people to expect you to have been there given that you haven't been close for a year and live a plane flight away?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:56 PM on July 3, 2011 [9 favorites]

The hardest part about getting married is juggling who gets invited to what, when. A lot of thought goes into it and things still get forgotten, go wrong or just don't occur until in hindsight. Money, space and distance are all factors above and beyond friends, family, social obligations, family obligations, surprises ("we're flying in [4,000km uninvited] for your wedding where can we stay [two days from now]?") and more.

Don't take it personally, dont read anything into it besides the fact that they care enough about you to want to share their wedding with you. The Same thing goes for when they only get to talk to you for 5 minutes at the banquet or for when your table is super far away from the head table.
posted by furtive at 9:09 PM on July 3, 2011

Invites are based around who friends are now, not back in the day. You may not know how much the bride talks with the other people who were invited; she may not have put the hens' list together herself, friends often do it; the hens' party may be on a separate date to the wedding and she doesn't want you to have to make two flights; maybe the venue it's at had limited space and you were the first to leave tribal council so to speak; there's a million different reasons why you wouldn't have been invited, and the reality is most of them reflect what you seemingly already know: You're not especially close with this person currently.

If someone asks you about the hens night, just say, "oh, I didn't go, I heard it was really fun." There's nothing awkward about this - most people at the wedding didn't go, either. Re: embarrassing the bride, I don't think she's gonna care, and it doesn't sound like you're gonna be on her table anyway.

As friendships change, evolve, and sometimes fade away, there can often be awkwardness - emotional, logistical, social - when rituals come up that expose this ambiguity, because we are unsure of the roles we are expected to take in them. This can lead to feelings of shame, discomfort, anxiety, and anger or resentment as we try to grapple with what role we should take - which may be different from the role we would have taken at one time, or the role we want to take, or think the other party wants us to take.

The solution is to take our heads out of these semi-formal, ritualistic arrangements, and rather than focus on a role, per se (example: good friend, "one of the girls", vs old aquaintance/distant friend), and instead focus on the commonalities that all the roles in a given situation will share, namely: happiness for the couple, excitement to be at the event, generosity towards yourself and the other guests. By focussing on the commonalities, in a lot of respects it doesn't matter what role you find yourself in, or projected on you - even multiple roles at a time - because you will be satisfying all of them, and focussing not just on what is most socially cohesive for you and your identity, but hopefully also the most genuine and enjoyable for you on the night as all.

Go the wedding, enjoy yourself and enjoy that you were invited to and are sharing this fun time with a bunch of other people, some of whom you know and some you don't. Don't worry about where you weren't, or what you are and aren't. The bride obviously likes you and enjoys your company such that she wants to share an important moment in her life with you; that's more than enough. :)
posted by smoke at 9:19 PM on July 3, 2011 [5 favorites]

Agreeing with jacquilynne here. I had a (very low key) bachelor party and it was me and three of four of my very closest friends. Not being invited didn't mean that I was just inviting you to the wedding to get a gift, it just meant that you weren't on the "People For Whom I Would Reschedule The Wedding" list.

If you want to go to the wedding then go to the wedding. If you don't want to go to the wedding then don't go to the wedding, but don't assume via some complicated calculus that the bride-to-be doesn't want you at event X because she didn't invite you to event Y.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:48 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

We had 85 people at our wedding, and maybe a dozen between us at the respective stag/whatever night.

"7) Would I invite her to my hen party? I think this is a different question, as I feel supremely uncomfortable about the thought of having a hen party just for me. I think it'll be just my very very closest girl friends, i.e. 3 people, max, if I even do have a hen party. So, no. "

You've answered your own question. The hen's night isn't a free-for-all for all the women at the wedding. It's not a different question; it's the same one. It's for the people you're kicking around with most at the time of the wedding, while a wedding invite may well include a bunch of people you like but aren't that close to.
posted by rodgerd at 9:57 PM on July 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm going to assume you're in the UK based on the term "hen party" and "uni". I'm in Canada, so my cultural perspective may be off for your scenario.

Like the people above, I've never really heard of people being invited to the hen party and not the wedding. To me, that would be extremely rude - the wedding is the big event.

As others have noted, the hen party is often for "the inner circle". You've said yourself that you don't see her much, so you probably aren't in her inner circle any more. The girls from that other group probably are - social lives evolve, either apart (like you and her) or closer together (like the bride and the other girls).

I really don't think you should be angry or embarrassed. (I also think the likelihood that someone will ask about the hen party while you're at the wedding, but if they do, just say "i wasn't there". It doesn't imply anything about the bride or you or hurt feelings, and it's completely true.)
posted by Kololo at 9:58 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

our recent contact in the last year has now been limited to sporadic emails and an occasional meetup if we are in the same town.

This was the type of friend that I very much wanted to invite to my wedding--and was thrilled if she could attend--but didn't necessarily think to include in the list of guests I gave to my bridesmaids when they asked me who should be invited to my bachelorette party. Not because I wanted to exclude them, just because... they weren't the people I was close to at the time of my wedding. In fact, there was one person who attended my bachelorette, who is a lovely person and an old friend, who had a very awkward time because she was so, so, so different from the rest of the group and because she and I hadn't been close in years. I care about her, and I was very glad to have her at my wedding, and I wasn't upset that she attended the bachelorette, but there were a couple moments during the party where it became painfully obvious that she and I may have known each other since we were 5, but we were definitely life-phase friends.

My guess is that this wasn't at all a snub, and wasn't a gift-grab. Based on your comment that you and she were "life-phase" friends, your location a plane ride away from her, and the fact that your personality is such that you wouldn't want a big hen party--I'd guess she just didn't think you'd want to come, or that you wouldn't have fun, or that it would be awkward to have a group of her current close friends and you, or that you'd feel pressured to fly out even if you couldn't afford it, or something like that.

Don't take this as a snub. Don't feel awkward. There's nothing wrong with you or with her. Go to the wedding, wish her well. No one will ask you about the hen party--or, if for some bizarre reason they do, no one will bat an eyelash if you say, "I couldn't make it, but I'm so glad to be here today."
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:14 PM on July 3, 2011

Your embarassment is a sign that you feel you should have been invited to the hen night, while the fact that you weren't is an indication that you're just not that close to the bride anymore. You need to resolve these two conflicting facts before you go to the wedding. She obviously still likes you enough to be a part of her big day, so if you decide to attend it should be free of any resentment of your status in her life. If you can't get past this, maybe you should politely decline and accept that your friendship is a thing of the past.
posted by londonmark at 2:12 AM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

UK here, and what jacquilynne said applies just as much on this side of the pond in my experience. Getting a wedding invite but not a hen/stag night invite is common; OTOH, I've only once heard of people getting invited to the hen/stag night but not the wedding, and that's still getting brought up three years later as an example of why that couple are weird.
posted by Catseye at 2:27 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

On the basis that there are going to be many more women at the wedding than the hen party it is like that the majority of femal guests will not have been invited to the hen party....therefore you will be in good company. Why are you even worrying about this? Go to the wedding if you want to and pass if you don't. Either way you say yourself the friendship has run its course.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:46 AM on July 4, 2011

posted by koahiatamadl at 3:47 AM on July 4, 2011

I do think your perception of invitations to hen parties/weddings may be off a bit, which may be why you are feeling awkward. However, this is a US-based observation.

In the states, the bachelorette ("hen") party is a lighthearted fun little thing that a friend of the bride-to-be throws to go crazy one last night. It's usually reserved for close friends of the bride. There usually aren't a ton of people. Almost always, these people will definitely be at the wedding, or at least they have been invited to the wedding.

On the contrary, the majority of the people at the wedding will have not been invited to this party. That's okay. It's definitely normal to be invited to weddings but not bachelorette parties.

But what if someone assumes that you were at the hen party? White lie. "I wasn't able to make it", or "I had other plans but I'm sure it was fun!". It's not a big deal.
posted by amicamentis at 5:37 AM on July 4, 2011

As you can see wedding "etiquette" can be regional. In the United States the bride does not (well technically - shouldn't be) plan her own bachelorette party. The responsibility goes to her Matron or Maid of Honor. They will take recommendations for the guest list, but may not follow it. Perhaps you are not being invited because it was an oversite of the person in charge. I wouldn't take it personally. I wouldn't bring it up to her at all, and congratulate her and her new husband at the wedding.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 8:35 AM on July 4, 2011

I think it's pretty normal - my boyfriend's brother got married, and I was invited to the wedding (OH was the best man) but not the hen party, which was entirely what was expected because I don't personally know her well. I think it's a close current friend only thing, although as others have said it depends who's organising. I wouldn't, for example, be expected to be invited to the hen party of someone I work with unless I spent a lot of time with them outside of work. Sounds like a similar thing with this person - you spent a lot of time with her once, but now you're just as close as you are with relatives or colleagues.

(NB - we don't have bridal showers in the UK, so I'm not sure if that has an etiquette of its own. The wedding is when people usually give gifts, as with the christening/birth for babies.)
posted by mippy at 9:49 AM on July 4, 2011

I agree with other posters that this is not strange at all - it would be rude to be invited to the hen party but not the wedding, but not the other way around. Something you might not have considered is that you live a plane's ride away from the bride, and possible the other people attending the hen's party. I've always thought of hen's parties (or bachelorette parties, in the States) as small events where you invite your closest, local friends. People generally shouldn't have to travel for bachelorette parties unless they are bridesmaid-level close, and some invitees might even consider it rude to be invited and expected to pay for hotel rooms and the bride's share of the evening's festivities.
posted by fermezporte at 10:24 AM on July 4, 2011

In my circles of friends throughout the years all across the country (although most of my friends get married in their late 20s or early 30s), the hen party is for your "in town" and current friends and very few people come from out of town - not even sisters.
posted by k8t at 12:34 PM on July 4, 2011

It could just be that she only invited local friends to the hen party, or is keeping it very small and intimate to people who are her close friends now. That's what I did - invited only local friends who were invited to the wedding and kept it to people who I was good friends with at the time. I wouldn't take any offense and honestly, the chances of someone asking you if you went to the hen party are very small. If they do, just be honest and say you didn't go. No need to talk about why.

Oh, I just read what K8t wrote. Same thing!
posted by echo0720 at 1:33 PM on July 4, 2011

I've just been to a hen party (in England, ages 20-30 + bride's & groom's mums) where numbers were tightly limited due to the events planned for the day. A couple of people on the original invite list couldn't make it, and their places were filled at fairly short notice - it wasn't that the hen didn't want to invite more people, it was that there wasn't space for everyone she wanted to invite.

I would think it was really rude and weird to be invited to the hen party but not the wedding, sort of 'you're a good laugh and buy your own drinks, but I wouldn't want you to meet my family'. I certainly wouldn't see it as a demand for a present to only be invited to the wedding.
posted by Lebannen at 4:01 PM on July 4, 2011

Hello!! Original OP here. Now that I'm feeling a little less awkward, here's my response. Thank you all for responding, and thanks especially to the people who gave me and my friend the benefit of doubt. It cleared up my thought process.

Now that I had a chance to process all of this, I realized that I was taken aback NOT because I wasn't invited to the hen party (have been to other weddings where I definitely wasn't invited either), but because all the other girls on my tight-knit undergraduate course were invited and I wasn't. To be fair, I have drifted apart for the last two years, but even then, it was a bit of a shock when I saw pictures on facebook of all 6 girls on my undergraduate course at my friend's hen party. To give a little perspective, there were only 30 people on my undergraduate course and 8 of them girls. And we had the same classes for two years, saw each other every day, lunch, dinner, went on class trips together. I guess we have drifted apart, and I know I'm not in her inner circle, which is totally fine, but wow, it did hit a little too close to home that all the other girls else were invited. Maybe I need make more effort to maintain friendships.

To some other posters - wow harsh much. I said right from the start that I wasn't hurt or angry, just curious and feeling slightly awkward. I am obviously happy that I was invited to the wedding. And our friendship is definitely not at risk! Don't you ever have once-close friends who, due to issues of distance and time, have drifted apart over the years? Facebook messages and occasional meetups are great for keeping that friendship alive.

I also have said, "Transportation involves a small flight, but it is not a big issue." It costs less than <>
About hen parties and weddings: I have been to hen parties where the bride could not afford to invite everyone to the wedding (either because she wanted a small wedding or because of costs).

Last note: "I wasn't there," is a great answer, and is what I will say when all the guys from my undergraduate course ask me (and they will).
posted by moiraine at 4:06 PM on July 4, 2011

*I don't know why pound sterling sign did not show up right, but one of the paragraphs should have read (before it was truncated):

"I also have said, "Transportation involves a small flight, but it is not a big issue." It costs less than GBP 80 for all transportation expenses. Some of my weekend trips cost more than this. And due to the nature of our profession, most of us live scattered all over UK and Europe. I'm actually geographically closer to the bride-to-be than some of the other girls."
posted by moiraine at 4:08 PM on July 4, 2011

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