Wedding etiquette regarding invites and rsvp
January 13, 2012 1:51 PM   Subscribe

My partner was not invited to my friend's wedding yet my ex-husband and his new girlfriend are. Bride and Groom to be were both invited and attended ex and my wedding previously. I live with my partner and its a serious relationship. My ex-husbands gf is now pregnant. I find this all upsetting. How should I respond?

Slightly confused about how to respond to a wedding invite for a friends wedding as I have been invited but my partner (whom I live with) has not. The wedding appears to be a more low key / casual affair, in the grooms parents old farm property (hall) about 2 hours out of town. It is now a sit down dinner but more of a "barn-dance". They have recommended to take camp gear as accommodation onsite and the following day will be with activities / BBQ / exploring the area etc.

I have known the bride and groom for ~5 years now (they actually met at my house) and catch up regularly with them, my new partner has met them numerous times over the last year. We are not "super close" with the bride & groom but certainly the bride comes over to my house for dinners as I organise regular girl catchups (there is a group of about 8 girls and we often hang out together) and we often have pub meals with the bride and groom in small groups. The bride and groom are aware that I live with my partner.

In 2008, I married my ex and in 2010 split up, the divorce is only going through next week. The bride and groom both attended my previous wedding as partners. They have made a point of inviting my ex husbands new girlfriend, most probably because she is now 2 months pregnant. It was quite a messy split with my ex husband and its a bit controversial that he is now having baby with new partner. The bride to be has always been supportive of me regarding the split with the ex husband.

I think it will be quite upsetting for me to attend the wedding and be exposed to seeing my ex with new pregnant gf, especially without the support of my partner and given the wedding requires overnight accommodation. I have many close mates that will be there and I'm sure I will have a great time but it still seems like preferential treatment: if they have made an allowance for her, why wouldn't they do so for my happiness too?

A close mutual friend of the bride has told me that the reason my ex's girlfriend is invited is because a) she is now pregnant and b) my ex husband is supposedly helping with some catering choices. The bride also told my friend that I am invited as "the brides guest". I think its a bit odd though considering both the bride and groom attended my wedding previously. Another friend has mentioned they have a number blowout around 150 and are trying to cut numbers down. I for one know how difficult it is to get the numbers right and try not to upset guests at the same time, I dont want to be a pain but it seems like preferential treatment, do you think?

Anyhow, I haven't yet been able to speak directly with the bride and will do so shortly, my question is, how do I handle the situation?
posted by Under the Sea to Human Relations (65 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Apologies, I meant it is NOT a sit down dinner.
posted by Under the Sea at 1:52 PM on January 13, 2012

Response by poster: Also, it is over the easter weekend long weekend..
posted by Under the Sea at 1:53 PM on January 13, 2012

So you don't know for sure if your partner is excluded? Maybe they're not the ones who drew up the invitions.

Call up the bride and ask her. "Hey, I got your invitation! [Name of your Partner] wasn't on it though, is she/he invited as well?"

Worry about how to handle the situation if the Bride tells you straight that your partner isn't invited.
posted by royalsong at 2:01 PM on January 13, 2012 [18 favorites]

If they really didn't intend to invite your partner, I'd stay home and send a card. Why should you celebrate their relationship if they won't even acknowledge yours? If they did intend to invite your partner.....honestly, I'd still stay home, that whole thing does not sound like my idea of a good time, from the pregnant ex down to the tent (are you supposed to sleep on their property? If so, what's the bathroom situation like?)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:02 PM on January 13, 2012 [23 favorites]

You should do nothing except decline with graciousness or attend, as invited, with graciousness. It is her(their) wedding to plan execute. A mistake may or may not have been made but you role as a guest is not to change the agenda or point out issues. If you attend it is your responsibility to transcend hurt feeling or uncomfortableness.
posted by rmhsinc at 2:02 PM on January 13, 2012 [41 favorites]

It depends on what you want the end result to be and how much you value your friendship (as it stands). You could ask her (the bride) if it was an oversight since you and 'Patrick' would need to make overnight accomodation arrangements. Then after that potentially uncomfortable conversation she would either say he was invited, in which case, proceed as you like, or that he's not, in which case you would have to decide whether or not you want to decline altogether.

It sounds like there's a zero percent chance that the gf will get uninvited or that you will not run into both. Is the problem more that they are there together or that your boyfriend was not invited? If he is invited, will that change your feelings? Do you want to go to this wedding and run into your ex and his new partner? No judgement (obviously!) either way, but it is unclear what you want the end result to be.
posted by bquarters at 2:02 PM on January 13, 2012

Your friend has done you a disservice here, but whether they are being rude or whether they truly are having some kind of behind the scenes catastrophe regarding numbers is not for you to know, and it should have no bearing on your response in any case. Either gracefully decline the invitation, or gracefully accept (alone). In each case assume the best of your friend, i.e. that their hand was forced by circumstances beyond their control, and that this has nothing to do with you. It perhaps is preferential treatment, but the whole problem with cutting the numbers is that you have to prefer somebody.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:03 PM on January 13, 2012 [7 favorites]

Whatever the answer is do not wear your heart on your sleeve. Their wedding is not about you or your partner so that should not even enter into your discussion as much as you would like to.
posted by JJ86 at 2:03 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Maybe they just assumed you would bring your partner as a plus 1?
posted by katypickle at 2:05 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Their wedding, their rules.

Whether or not you are upset about this ought not be a consideration.

Either accept the invitation or decline it, but don't bother them with your feelings.
posted by dfriedman at 2:05 PM on January 13, 2012

Anyhow, I haven't yet been able to speak directly with the bride and will do so shortly, my question is, how do I handle the situation?

Just ask her outright, "I think there may have been an oversight as Partner was not on the invite, did you mean to invite him?"

And if the answer is "no" or some variation of "we wanted to avoid drama" or whatever, then be prepared to say "well I'm sorry but I won't be able to come without Partner. Of course you know I wish you all the best!"

I think it will be quite upsetting for me to attend the wedding and be exposed to seeing my ex with new pregnant gf, especially without the support of my partner and given the wedding requires overnight accommodation.

Then I'm not sure why you want to go at all. If all of your friends are mutually friends with your ex, and it's upsetting for you to be around him given the circumstances, it may be time for new friends. Not saying anyone's done anything wrong, it's just when couples break up, friends tend to socialize with one or the other, and there's often a second breakup that occurs for one of the two.

it still seems like preferential treatment: if they have made an allowance for her, why wouldn't they do so for my happiness too?

Don't go there. This is the drama that makes friends cringe when couples break up.
posted by headnsouth at 2:06 PM on January 13, 2012 [12 favorites]

This is a tough situation, and I'm sorry that you've been through what sounds like a painful split so recently. At the same time, you mention that you know how tough it is to plan a wedding and keep costs/guest lists/family and friend politics etc. all under control. I agree that it is a bit unfair that they have included your ex's girlfriend and not your partner but it's difficult to say why she may have been included while your partner was not. It sounds like the bride would certainly value having you there, but I certainly understand that it could be painful to do so. Remember that your role as a guest is to support the couple, in part by minimizing stress for the bride and groom. If it's too uncomfortable or painful for you to attend without your partner, that is certainly understandable. Be sure to congratulate them, and send your regrets that you cannot be there in person to celebrate with them. If you want to support them with your presence, that would be lovely too. Please, though, do not approach them about whether their guest list is fair or unfair. As you know, they have plenty on their plate at present.
posted by goggie at 2:07 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Especially given the nature of weddings as couple-oriented events, I have always argued that it is bad form to invite a single adult to a wedding without giving that adult the option to bring a friend a date, who may or may not be known to the wedding hosts. It is in doubly bad taste to invite one half of an known-to-be-established couple without the other.

That all having been said, there is no accounting for taste, and bad manners are sadly routine. But the invitation stands as it is.

So the question becomes: do you really want to go to this wedding? You haven't known the couple that long, and are not "super close". In your position, I'd probably politely decline to attend rather than have to endure a couple-oriented event as a "single" -- and particularly one in which there was potential for undue stress on myself.
posted by cool breeze at 2:09 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

dfriedman: "Either accept the invitation or decline it, but don't bother them with your feelings."

...except they might actually have fucked up. For our wedding, the wife and I decided that we'd go out to cousins and spouses, but not cousins' kids. So we addressed the invites to Cousin and Spouse. And yet, cousins (well-heeled ones, too, that should know better) still called and asked if there would be food appropriate for their kids. Point being, there may be a mistake, there may be confusion on how to address cards, and and and...just call and ask before you get your nose out of joint.
posted by notsnot at 2:10 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is why you always invite your guests' significant others. Always. Invite less people if you have to but do not split up couples when you're inviting people along to celebrate your couple. Preaching to the choir, I'm sure, but I feel like you need reassurance that you're right to be upset. This was poor, poor form on their part.

As to what you can do about it, well. Ask them flat out, politely, if your SO is invited "because you need to figure out arrangements/travel/vacation days/whatever." If they confirm that he is not invited you have two choices. Attend, knowing that they're rude and blind to social etiquette, which is neither here nor there, but also are blind to your, their friend's, feelings and possible discomfort. Don't attend, send a card and your regrets.

I'd stay home, personally, but I'd want to make sure they were actually and consciously not inviting my partner before jumping to conclusions.
posted by lydhre at 2:11 PM on January 13, 2012 [9 favorites]

Just don't go to the wedding. Say you can't make it because you have other plans. Especially because you think it will be upsetting for you to go and see your ex-husband and his pregnant girlfriend -- it's going to be easier with the support of your boyfriend, but still difficult. Why put yourself through all that?

Send a gift if you'd like. Send your regrets for not being able to attend. Then, plan something fun for you and your partner to do that weekend together. This could be something big, like a getaway weekend for you two to a bed and breakfast, or something small, like plans for a nice dinner in and a movie.

I would not ask if your partner can attend. That's a pretty big no-no as far as wedding etiquette goes. If he's not on the invite, he's not invited.

On preview, headnsouth said the first part better than I did.
posted by k8lin at 2:13 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think it will be quite upsetting for me to attend the wedding and be exposed to seeing my ex with new pregnant gf

Then just send your regrets and a very nice gift. Job done. Stress over.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:15 PM on January 13, 2012 [13 favorites]

There is absolutely no way to ask if this is in fact the bride's intention and be guaranteed that she will not be offended.

Additionally, asking puts her in a tough position. If it is an oversight, she might (rightly) be embarrassed. If it was intentional, who the hell knows how she'd feel, especially given the possible economic constraints of feeling obligated to pretend it was an oversight.

Take the high road and decline with regrets. Send a card and whatever gift you feel is appropriate. Then, reassess your willingness to continue inviting her to the more casual close knit things she has been attending.
posted by bilabial at 2:18 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

If your partner's name isn't on the invitation, then your partner isn't invited and they have violated etiquette by not extending the invitation, regardless of their reasons. Your choice is to accept the invitation as is or gracefully decline.

It sounds like you would find it uncomfortable to attend anyway - why not take this as an easy out?
posted by eloeth-starr at 2:24 PM on January 13, 2012 [9 favorites]

Maybe this is an "ask versus guess culture" thing but I see no issue with asking outright, as long as you word your question tactfully. I would go with something like, "hey! I received your wedding invite and I just wanted to know if my partner can come with me? I totally understand if the guestlist is really tight and it's not possible. Weddings really are ridiculously expensive, eh?"
posted by joan_holloway at 2:28 PM on January 13, 2012 [10 favorites]

Buy them a nice gift, send it ahead of time and don't go. You are having way too much personal drama to enjoy this. It is their wedding and it is about them. Be a good friend and stay home.
posted by myselfasme at 2:30 PM on January 13, 2012

Best answer: Couples are properly invited as couples. They have met your partner several times and know that you live with him.

If his name was not included on the invitation then he was not invited. There is nothing that you have to "ask" or "talk to them" or "clarify" about this.

It is possible that they have no idea how to send wedding invitations/think it's the same kind of deal as a Facebook blast/forgot to write your partner's name. But if they did, it's not the kind of mistake that you can rectify. It's on them to get a clue and say to you, "ZOMG, I've just realized that we sent out your invitation without Partner's name on it! How could we have been so flaky! We want to make it clear that the invitation is for both you AND Partner, of course we would never intentionally leave Partner out, you know that, right sweetie?"

If they don't do this, you must assume that they have intentionally left Partner out.

I think they did.

This means they are not treating you well, and who else they've invited doesn't change the etiquette of that. Although from an interpersonal/emotional point of view, you have evidence that you are being excluded here, and that's obviously hurt you.

The fact that they have a limited guest list is not an excuse. Everybody has limits on how much of what kind of entertaining they should do. They don't get to say that they couldn't afford to be polite to you. If there was no possible way for them to include all of you and stay in budget, then their obligation was either to exclude all of you (along with all friends of equivalent closeness or less); or to exclude none of you.

There is no way you can bring this up with them and not pressure them to extend an invitation which, on current evidence, they had no intention of extending. It will come out as fishing for a couple-invitation no matter how carefully you put it. They should have issued a couple-invitation, but they didn't, and you can't ask for one.

I think that what you should properly do is decline the invitation. You do not have to give a reason, just reply to the invitation in the same format in which it was issued and according to correct form. They've sent you a message, so it's okay for you to send them one back.

Meanwhile, send the gift to the bride's home ahead of the wedding, and sign the note "From Under the Sea and Joe Partner".

If you hate the idea of sending a gift, you could simply send them a letter of wellwishing, also signed "From Under the Sea and Joe Partner", but you will need to be extra-careful about how much hostility you project here, so I'd err on the side of sending a gift.

Sorry, it sucks.
posted by tel3path at 2:37 PM on January 13, 2012 [8 favorites]

Excluding a live-in partner from a wedding invitation? That is rude. It is very different from leaving off a plus-one or children, which are both perfectly polite things to do.

If you would like to go if your partner were invited, then you can sort of ask: "I got the invitation, and it looks like so much fun -- I didn't see Partner's name...." Honestly, people are sometimes less thoughtful than you'd imagine; I can imagine some people who wouldn't know how to spell the name and would just leave it off and figure you'd know they meant both of you. My cousin didn't include my kids' names on his wedding invitation, and I just figured they weren't invited, no big deal, except that a few weeks later he contacted me about what they would like the caterer to prepare for them.

If the answer is that he's not invited, then just say, "Okay, thank you for the invitation -- I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it by myself, but best wishes to you both!" And then send the card back with "no."

If you don't want to go either way, then don't. No obligation just from receiving the invitation.
posted by palliser at 2:38 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could decline (super politely) saying that you are just not able to leave partner/not be able go by yourself and then they may contact you and say of course partner is invited, or not, in which case you don't go.
posted by zia at 2:41 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Who the hell invites people to a wedding without a "plus guest" invitation? Especially if you know that person is dating someone? Even if you don't know whether your invitee is dating someone, it's simply SOP to invite adults to a wedding on a "plus guest" invitation.

I also find it a bit hard to accept that they're in such a numbers crunch if it's around 150 attendees. If they were trying to have a wedding with 20 guests, that might be a different story.

Not to mention that these people clearly know you well enough to know that having your ex-husband and his somewhat controversially pregnant girlfriend at the same party as you might be a bit uncomfortable already, without the added element of this disparity in invitations.

If I were you I'd simply say that you weren't sure whether the invitation included your partner or not, and ask for clarification. If the answer is "not," then you can just politely decline, saying that you don't think you'd be comfortable attending a weekend-getaway wedding to which your partner is not invited, and perhaps mentioning that it you might have difficulty enjoying the event with them if you were faced with the prospect of bumping into your ex-husband and his pregnant girlfriend without your partner. This, of course, is their opportunity to show some empathy and extend the invitation to your partner as well. If they don't? Well, then it's good that you're not going.

Regardless of what people may say or try to do, when there are breakups people choose sides in a variety of ways. And if they're willing to invite his pregnant girlfriend but not your partner, then they are choosing him in this situation -- no matter how passively they may be doing it.
posted by slkinsey at 2:43 PM on January 13, 2012

Send your regrets, and leave the "hey, did you do this right?" faux pas to someone else.
posted by ellF at 2:43 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

It doesn't sound like you want to go at that badly, even if your partner were invited. At least not if certain other people do attend, which you can't control. If that's correct, just politely decline and put it out of your mind.

Weddings have this weird way of causing these kinds of awkward situations. Forget about rude vs not rude. It doesn't matter because you're unable to attend for unrelated, vague fake reasons. You have the power to let the drama stop there so everyone can just move on.
posted by lampoil at 2:44 PM on January 13, 2012

Do you want to go to the wedding?

If yes, do you have another close friend or two who can provide support? No doubt, given the awkward ex+pregnant gf situation. Arrange your support network, go and try and have a good time. Don't bring it up with the bride and groom, it's their wedding etc etc. Rude yes, but unfortunately not yours to make a ruckus of.

If you don't want to go to the wedding without your partner, what about opening up to the bride/groom and saying something along the lines of: given the situation with ex+preg gf it will be too hard to be there without support, but you totally understand it's their wedding and keeping numbers down is hard etc etc, no hard feelings, have a great time.

Grace and dignity, don't make it about the rudeness of leaving your partner out (which would probably make them defensive and it'll be awkward etc), but make it about not putting yourself in a situation where you have to be confronted with this stuff without the support you need, in a way that's opening up to them, rather than blaming them for being rude. Even if they are being rude, which they kind of are. Wedding etiquette's a hard thing to navigate.

Good luck!
posted by mooza at 2:46 PM on January 13, 2012

it's simply SOP to invite adults to a wedding on a "plus guest"

It's SOP to invite couples as couples.

It's not SOP to invite one person plus one stranger, and it's also not polite to invite someone whose name you don't know and to express this by inviting them as "guest". If you know somebody is part of a couple but you don't know the partner's name, you find out and then put their name on the invitation.

My point here isn't simply to be pedantic [1] but to be very clear that they know full well you're part of a couple, no ambiguities; therefore they should have invited you. This is not the same as if the OP had gotten upset about not being able to bring some total stranger as a guest.

[1] although obviously I do want to be pedantic
posted by tel3path at 2:47 PM on January 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

I agree with joan_holloway that this is an Ask vs. Guess issue. When I was emailing my friends to ask if they thought they would be available on a potential wedding date, I forgot to ask my best friend whether her live-in boyfriend could come that day too. It had just completely slipped my mind - and I was so chagrined and relieved when she wrote back about both of their availabilities. Obviously I'll try to make sure that doesn't happen with the actual invitations, but people do screw up sometimes. As an Ask person, I'd be really sad if someone turned down an invite because they didn't want to check if I made a mistake. Do you think your friends would agree, or would they more be embarrassed that you brought it up?

If you don't actually want to go to the wedding, though, don't go! That would be totally understandable.
posted by synchronia at 2:48 PM on January 13, 2012

It doesn't sound like you want to go, even if this was an oversight and they meant to invite your partner.

Not attending someone's wedding isn't a slap in the face by any means. If you don't want to go to the wedding, don't go. If you want to clarify with your friend whether the non-invitation to your partner was an oversight or deliberate rudeness, having a low-stress conversation about it sometime after the wedding is over might be the way to go. Or you could just let it slide, since you don't want to go to the wedding anyway.

Now, the truly sneaky "upmanship" style thing to do is to send a note signed by both of you saying "Unfortunately, we won't be able to attend your wedding, but we both wish you all the joy in the world!"
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:49 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'd be really sad if someone turned down an invite because they didn't want to check if I made a mistake

I agree they could have made a mistake, but there's nothing you can really do about it. It's on them not to make mistakes with something as important as a wedding. You can be pretty sure they didn't get the address mixed up, and they even went so far as to plan activities for the day after the wedding.

Just as you wouldn't call them up and ask "hey I assume you meant bring krumping gear and the camping thing is just a typo, right? I mean who ever heard of a wedding without dancing, that was obviously a mistake!" It's too bad if everybody shows up for the krumping session so laden with backpacks and tin cups that they can't bust any moves, but it's not the guests' place to do the proofreading here.
posted by tel3path at 2:54 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Given that you're living with your current partner, it's pretty tacky for them to invite you and not him. People who live together are to be treated like spouses and invited as a unit. So, you're justified in feeling hurt on that score.

But please, please, please for the love of god, don't compare this to whether your ex-husband's girlfriend got invited. That way lies madness.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:18 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

It is generally considered entirely inappropriate to leave off the partner that someone lives with in a wedding invitation, especially a wedding that takes up a whole weekend. From what you said, it sounds like they didn't want to invite him, and they didn't want to invite your ex's girlfriend but figured they had no choice with her.

If you do want to go, but only with partner, it's appropriate to bring this up to the maid/matron of honour. You can also say something like "I know partner isn't invited to the wedding, but I'd like him to come camping with me, he will take care of himself during the reception, is that okay?"

FWIW, you're not actually obliged to send a gift if you don't attend.
posted by jeather at 3:22 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

A close mutual friend of the bride has told me that the reason my ex's girlfriend is invited is because a) she is now pregnant and b) my ex husband is supposedly helping with some catering choices. The bride also told my friend that I am invited as "the brides guest".

This sounds like you have already done the "ask a third party" thing (ie asked her friend to check with her about whether your partner is actually invited), which is the only properly face-saving way to broach the "was this a mistake" angle. Sounds like you've asked the mutual friend and you've been told it's not a mistake.

If that's correct, then your options are to decline gracefully or attend gracefully, and try not to let your feelings be too hurt. As you say, it's a tough situation to have to reduce your guest numbers for a wedding, and there will always be some sub-optimal outcomes. Just assume that this is one of those sub-optimal outcomes, accidental, and does not reflect the bride and groom's feelings about you or your partner.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:08 PM on January 13, 2012 [7 favorites]

You can make all the assumptions you like about why your partner's name isn't on the invitation, but unless you ask, you'll never know. Joan_holloway's approach is the one I'd go for.

But before you ask, be clear in your own mind about what you would do in each of the scenarios. And that involves thinking about why you're upset about this in the first place.

Are you upset because you're worried about going without your partner and having to face your ex and his new partner? Or is it because you feel that it's unfair that your ex's new partner is invited and yours isn't, and that you feel somehow that your friendship is valued more than yours?

Option 1: Your partner is invited and it's a horrible mistake. Sorted, you both go.
Option 2a: Your partner isn't invited and you go anyway, enlist the support of other close friends who will be there, avoid your ex, and have a good time.
Option 2b: Your partner isn't invited and you decline the invitation. What would that mean for your friendship? Is this something that you're willing to lose a friend over?

Note - if you ask about whether your partner is invited or not and they're not, you've lost the opportunity to claim a prior committment and decline gracefully and retain the friendship. If you decline after asking, you're saying "I'm not going if my partner isn't allowed to come with me" and that may need explaining. Which I think can be done in a sensitive way, as other posters have suggested, but still makes it about you and ultimately it's their day, not yours. But anything remotely resembling a hissy fit might result in a cooling of the friendship.
posted by finding.perdita at 4:12 PM on January 13, 2012

I think you just have to assume they didn't intend to invite your partner. Maybe it's an oversight but I think it would be incredibly rude to ask her. If you don't believe you can attend and enjoy yourself without him, then decline. Send a note that says "I'm sorry that I cannot attend your wedding. Perhaps when you're back from your honeymoon, Partner and I can catch up with you and offer our congratulations in person."

If she did mean invite both of you, then maybe seeing Partner's name will trigger an 'Oh shit!' revelation and she'll call you and apologize and you can sort it out. If not, it's fine. Send a nice gift and make some time to double-date afterwards.

The only other option is to inquire through backchannels. Maybe you're friends also with her maid of honor or sister or something and you could say "I'm sorry to even ask, and I don't want to upset Bride but... could this have been a mistake?" If they say something about numbers, then drop it. It's done.
posted by marylynn at 4:16 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Not attending someone's wedding isn't a slap in the face by any means.

I have found that the relationships I have with people whose weddings I chose not to attend for various reasons were adversely affected. As in, there really wasn't much left, after I chose not to go to their weddings. Even though you have every reason not to go, you might also keep this in mind.
posted by pinky at 4:51 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't ask. They made an etiquette faux pas, but they did it deliberately. I do not think that is an "oops" sort of thing. And ask vs. guess aside, asking = pressuring them to invite him, whether they wanted to or not. Which leads to awkwardness.

I recommend declining the invitation.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:54 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

If they told you through a friend that you're invited as 'the bride's guest' then in a crazy way that means you're the bride's +1 and so you don't get a +1. That analogy might not make sense, but that's how I'm reading it.

You should decide that if not going to their wedding and having them hold some weak-level grudge about it is worth tacitly condoning the fact that they're preferring your ex-husband's convenience to yours, apparently because they're getting something out of him.
posted by winna at 5:02 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, question is about this specific thing, not weddings in general and not manners in general. Could we stick to the topic please? Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:05 PM on January 13, 2012

Have they given you any indication that he would be invited outside of the invitation? I was in a vaguely similar situation a couple of years ago. The invitation was addressed only to me and not my (non-live-in) fiance. I felt horribly embarrassed about asking, but I had to know if he was invited because it involved a cross-country flight. So I just asked the bride and she said that of course he was invited and I should have known that because she had emailed me asking for the spelling of his name before she sent out invitations.

So to sum up, if she's given you any indication that he might be invited, then I would ask. Otherwise, I probably would take your friend's comments as a sign that he wasn't invited and decide whether or not to go based on his lack of invitation. (I probably wouldn't go because I would be annoyed that he wasn't invited. But I'm petty like that.)
posted by McPuppington the Third at 6:25 PM on January 13, 2012

Urg, this is terrible, I'm so sorry. Are you and the bride close enough for you to "confess" to her that you're still kinda emotionally screwed up about ex-husband and his new pregnant girlfriend, and that you're afraid to see them without your partner there to support you? Sort of make it about how you love the bride and groom so much and you're so happy for them and you don't want to ruin anything by being an emotionally unstable mess?

I'm pretty sure the above is a terrible idea. It's also what I would probably do. Because I have terrible manners, apparently. Also this kind of socially sanctioned snubbing which leaves you no recourse but to turn the other cheek absolutely drives me up the wall. GRR.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 6:43 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The part of me that hates hates hates stupid social games and guessing and trying to suss out people's intentions from totally flipping opaque circumstances says for the love of all that is holy and in the name of not having a headache, just freaking ask them already.

The part of me that's really worried about making people feel bad and concerned about looking like an idiot and would rather stay home given the circumstances you've described says SCORE, you can say you won't come and you have an IRONCLAD not-crazy reason if they call and are all "Dude, Under the Sea, why don't you want to come, we LOVE you!"

So, are you learning more towards the "curse ambiguity and nonsense" side, or more towards the "this really didn't seem like much fun anyway" side?

If all else fails, flip a coin (heads = cursing ambiguity,) and once it's flipped, pick the one that makes you less queasy.
posted by SMPA at 7:57 PM on January 13, 2012

Best answer: How unfriendly of your friends to sift this situation in this fashion. I'm sorry.

I believe you've already done your due diligence in confirming in the only polite way by speaking with the mutual friend. I believe it's clear that your partner was left off intentionally (economics, social concerns, whatever). I think accepting that is all you need to do on that part of it.

There's no way to interpret the even messier part of this without getting involved in drama (which is never worth it), so give yourself permission to leave that be. You know enough to recognise there was a lack of consideration on some level and you can use that to temper your interactions with these friends in the future.

With all of that sorted, there's the wedding itself. I don't think you should go. Even if the validation of the ex's coupledom while negating yours weren't uncomfortable (and of course it is), you've already identified that you'll be twisted up in a remote, primitive setting without your anchor, and your description makes it seem this would create unnecessary suffering for you. So don't put yourself through it.

As others said above, sending a gift to their home with gracious good wishes is a brilliant strategy, as it preserves all the etiquette required, shows genuine concern for their happiness, and keeps you out of a maelstrom.

Whatever you choose, I wish you an easy heart.
posted by batmonkey at 7:58 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

A close mutual friend of the bride has told me that the reason my ex's girlfriend is invited is because a) she is now pregnant and b) my ex husband is supposedly helping with some catering choices. The bride also told my friend that I am invited as "the brides guest".

First, a mutual friend of the bride told you this, so you don't know how much is filtered through her own interpretation and what is coming directly from the bride's intentions. It is strange, though, to imply that you would be a guest of the bride while your ex and girlfriend are guests of, what, bride and groom, groom? If so, then she's saying that your friend, the bride, wants to haul you down there to spend the weekend alone, away from your partner, watching your ex and his new, pregnant girlfriend enjoy the status of full guests while you are sorta allowed to come as a guest of the bride. This is so weird I don't know what to make of it. I would in no way be able to accept such an invitation. As sweetly as possible, I'd decline while wishing her all the happiness in the world and sending a modest gift. If she would do that to you, you won't enjoy her brand of friendship in the future, I shouldn't think.

Unless you think this mutual friend might have it wrong, and are willing to simply ask the bride, I wouldn't want to go where I'm meant to be a friend but not even given the common courtesy of a plus one.
posted by Anitanola at 9:29 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Everyone's given you pretty much the appropriate range of advice on what you can do and the fact that, yes, it's odd/weird/not nice of them to invite only half of an established couple. It sounds like the reason they're making a point of the girlfriend's pregnancy is specifically to say that the ex-husband is the exception, not you. So they're not excluding your partner individually, it's just that the way they handled the numbers is to cut down to essential essential essential personnel... except for people they _had_ to invite like the pregnant partner of your ex-husband.

Regardless - you should try to make your choice based on your own feelings about going, not on the fact that your ex-husband's gf was invited (except insofar as you won't want to be around her and that makes going more unpleasant). Whether or not declining affects your relationship will depend on how far it is and what sort of relationship you have; I was unable to attend my old college roommate's wedding due to trouble with the travel, and we are still friends (although we only talk probably a couple times a year, same as before).

Also, the fact that you invited them to your wedding doesn't mean they're required to invite you to theirs. You mention it more than once so I want to make sure that's been said. For the most obvious example of this, think about a couple that has many many friends. Even if all those friends invite this couple to their 100-person weddings, it doesn't mean this couple is required to invite all those friends and pay for a 400-person wedding. That would hardly be right to force on them.
posted by Lady Li at 11:08 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

My guess would be that your ex-husband is friends with the bride and the groom while you're only friends with the bride. It sounds like the groom might therefore be taking your ex-husband's side and he probably doesn't want you or your partner there. The whole "you're coming as a friend of the bride" thing probably means that the bride insisted you get invited, but the groom made it clear that in that case you're her guest and not his. They probably compromised by saying you get to come but not your partner. And then the bride, feeling embarrassed about the situation, got your mutual friend to feed you a semi-explanation about what's going on.

I really don't think this was an oversight. There's just too much going on here for a "random mistake" to be the explanation for it. Your break-up with your ex-husband and then him getting his girlfriend pregnant happened so recently that your circle of friends are probably struggling to process what happened and how to react. It's bizarre also that everyone knows this woman is 2 months pregnant. Don't people usually wait until 3 months before telling anyone but the people closest to them?

It's hard to know what to do in this situation. Normally I'd say just ask your friend the bride what's going on, but weddings are weird and stressful and she shouldn't have to deal with drama between you and your ex and his partner and your partner on top of everything else she's probably got on her plate leading up to the event.

What is your preferred outcome here? It sounds like you don't really want to go to the wedding even if your partner were to magically get un-not-invited. Is that the case? If so then just don't go. To be honest, although it probably seems terribly unfair, you not going would probably be for the best for everyone.
posted by hazyjane at 12:11 AM on January 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is so totally shitty of them, I'm not sure how you might handle it long term.

In the meantime, tel3path has your answer!
posted by jbenben at 12:39 AM on January 14, 2012


batmonkey, too!
posted by jbenben at 12:42 AM on January 14, 2012

planning a wedding is a frikkin nightmare of infinitely elaborate preparations, and you' re not the brides maid of honor or anything. maybe it's not some sort of personalized slight? maybe they just spaced your boyfriends name? maybe her mom did the invites and didn't know the intricacies of the situation? maybe every invite is an assumed +1 and they just happened to write your ex's new girlfriend's name in the spreadsheet but not yours, for a completely random reason?

i wouldn't necessarily assume this was personal. if it were me, i'd just ask, if i'd heard there were issues with trying to keep the number of guests down. but if you feel like that would be awkward, just bring your s.o. it's not a catered-by-the-plate, exactly 120 people no more no less get to eat, you sit here by your namecard, and anyone not on the list has to sit in the corner and starve, right? what are they gonna do, kick you and your boyfriend out?

i dj weddings, plus i got married myself once, and seriously, they're always a logistical challenge to put it mildly. this might not actually be about you. personally i'd just assume they didn't mean anything by not mentioning your boyfriend by name and act accordingly?

although i notice you specifically don't say "boyfriend", you say partner. is your partner the same gender as you? cause despite what i just said, if this is the unspoken case here i might be more inclined to wonder if it was personal. if that's what this is all about, screw those people and their stupid wedding.
posted by messiahwannabe at 6:00 AM on January 14, 2012

about 2 hours out of town [...] more of a "barn-dance". They have recommended to take camp gear as accommodation onsite and the following day will be with activities / BBQ / exploring the area etc.

Oh wow, I only just noticed that part. It was bad enough, excluding your partner from the party, but realizing it's a whole weekend? SLEEPING ON THE GROUND? Alone? Aw, hell no. You don't need that or these "friends."* Send a nice note and, if you want, a present. And make it a lovely fun weekend for yourself and your partner instead!

*unless you are a writer in very desperate need of material, because that weekend sounds like a goldminefield of stories.
posted by mimi at 6:33 AM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

just bring your s.o.

From the "traditional etiquette" point of view, this is totally ruled out. If he is really not invited, you can't bring him.

The only thing you can do is delicately put out feelers (through a third party) to see if there was a mistake.

I think Lady Li's suggestion, maybe they had a number crunch and nobody gets to bring their unmarried SO except your ex, which is an exception because of his "help with the catering"(? is he cooking? is the gf going to be working the BBQ line?) or the pregnancy. Anyway, if it's not a mistake, all you can do is go or skip it, and try to be the bigger person in either case.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2012

Response by poster: Hi everyone,
Thank you very much for your time and consideration in these answers. It's certainly helped alot.

It turns out my boyfriend was excluded, I did ask via email but framed my question re the invite in a way that was concerning my accommodation plans, hopefully it wasn't too rude. the bride left a voice message explaining how sorry she was but they were 30 numbers over, that she was "hugely aware of how difficult it would be for me as my ex's gf was now invited, that she very much wants my bf to come & would try to clarify rsvps this week & let me know if they could squeeze him in but that this would be highly unlikely, and oh, please bring a salad or dessert instead of a gift as your cooking is so marvellous" - !!

I now have to work out a way how to politely decline their invite after mentioning to them how excited I was and looking forward to it without looking like a total tosser, any of your ideas would be much appreciated? I tend to agree with all your comments that their exclusion doesnt acknowledge or recognise my relationship and it would have been less rude to simply not invite me altogether. If numbers is an issue then yes it's best for bride & groom that i don't go. I'm sure I'll miss out on a fabulous time but then it's also time to reassess these quasi-friendships and step away from less meaningful relations.

Yucky bitter sour taste soon to dissolve.
posted by Under the Sea at 4:49 PM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Speaking of sourness, we attended a wedding last night of me & my ex mutual friends with all partners out in force! As the evening progressed my ex's best friend (and best man at my previous wedding) tried to start an argument with my
boyfriend blaming him for my marriage meltdown before telling him he would like to punch him in the face & try to pick me up!? It's all very disturbing & embarrassing really, to make it worse the groom then intercepted to diffuse situation. These are the kind of idiots i once called my friends 😞 :(
posted by Under the Sea at 5:00 PM on January 14, 2012

"Friend, it will just be too difficult for me to be around ex and his girlfriend without my supportive partner. I am heartbroken to miss your wedding, but for the sake of my own mental health, I won't be able to make it."
posted by insectosaurus at 6:24 PM on January 14, 2012

Send a card expressing your and your partner's best wishes for a beautiful wedding and a lifetime of happiness, but that you're so sorry you won't be able to attend. No reasons need to be given! Modest gift or not, that's up to you.

If the bride cares enough to call to ask what happened, you could tell her you just find it too painful to spend the weekend with the old crowd and without your partner. But DO NOT put in writing your hurt about your ex and his girlfriend: I would not put it past these people to share such a letter around. (Seriously.)
posted by palliser at 6:40 PM on January 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Holeeeecow!! You don't need an excuse, you just politely decline. That's all. And with the dramarama I hereby remind you that a gift is an expression of feeling, not an obligation and you are free to not even send a card. Because if I were you at this point it would be so tempting to make that "gift" be a stripper delivery of crappy and scant tuna salad from the local grocer on a paper plate with wilted parsley. Which while awesome and perhaps what they deserve, would be Not Very Nice At All--and therefore disallowed. don't go, don't worry about it, and don't include these people in your world anymore.

oh right plus camping. HERE IS MY MAYONNAISE-LADEN DISH TO PASS. TO FEED 150 PEOPLE. No thanks!!! You will be gladder to stay home unscathed. This party sounds more wtffy by th paragraph. Maybe you -should- be a writer.
posted by mimi at 8:06 PM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

"Dear bride, I'm afraid I won't be able to attend your wedding." She knows perfectly well why you're not attending, so there is no reason to start trying to make up any excuse.

If she pushes you -- which is rude, but she might do it -- then you say "I am unwilling to go for a weekend camping with ex and his girlfriend and ex's best friend without my partner's support."

Now, if you're willing to go to the reception and then leave without camping, that's cool and you can tell her that, if you don't want to, then that's also fine.
posted by jeather at 8:18 PM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

"Hi Muffypants -- I totally understand about the numbers, but since you guys are squeezed for space and like you said, this is going to be mega awkward for me even with Boyfriend there, I'm going to send my regrets and plan to see you guys in (whenever you are next in town.) I am really, really sorry to miss your wedding and demand photos at the earliest opportunity, preferably live from the altar! Love, Under the Sea."
posted by DarlingBri at 12:54 PM on January 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yeah, what DarlingBri said. If numbers are such a problem, let them off the hook by removing yourself from the list.

You will then need to be prepared for the next chapter in the saga, in which Bride feels awful and terrible and they have managed to open up space for both you and your partner, so can you pleeeeease come after all? You might as well decide now whether your answer will be to confirm your regretful "no," because the whole situation has been ridiculous and insulting and who needs friends like this? OR "yes" and then go gladly and put the whole episode firmly behind you, never to be thought of again, because you value the friendship and it's not worth throwing over the whole thing just because the bride made a thorough muck of the wedding invites.

Not knowing the bride myself, I'd lean toward the former (based on your update, you need to get new friends altogether); but pick one so the drama ENDS either way. That should be your primary goal going forward.
posted by torticat at 5:47 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mod note: answers, not snarky revenge fantasies please. thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:34 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think DarlingBri has the right idea on how to express your regrets, and I want to say this in addition:

If your friend is normally less than considerate, or has always taken you for granted, then this might be the straw that breaks the camel's back. But if she is normally sweet and caring, please give her the benefit of the doubt on this and don't end your friendship over bridal stupidity. Wedding planning forces people into making unpleasant choices of a kind they don't normally face, and not everyone holds up to that pressure well. The word Bridezilla exists for a reason, after all, but the fact that your friend is one doesn't necessarily make her a horrible person, so long as she wasn't a bitch before the wedding planning and recovers quickly from the brain fog after the big day.

Her response makes it seem like they are probably over-capacity for their venue and/or over budget for their catering. And while one person here or there isn't going to make much difference at a barn dance, 30 people is a problem at even the most casual event.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:29 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also agree with DarlingBri. I think the bride is being hella rude here, but keeping it drama-free on your end will be the best way to go.
posted by naoko at 10:36 AM on January 16, 2012

Your update and some previous information makes me think that it is likely that the bride and groom differ on the whole "who is responsible for your divorce" bit.

You mention early on that the bride has been suppportive, and taken your side in the situation, but the groom is noticably absent from this equation. Your update makes it clear that at least some blame your current boyfriend for the breakup of your marriage to Ex. Is the groom potentially one of those people? If so, it would make sense why you are not being invited as a couple. They may not consider your boyfriend a friend.

I am helping someone plan a wedding right now, and the groom has said that he plans to invite one of his best friends, but not that guy's girlfriend of 2 years. He has major issues with her, and doesn't want her presence at his wedding.

It is quite possible this is not about you, but about your boyfriend. I wouldn't take this as a slight to your friendship at all.

I also wouldn't make more stress by pushing it and giving the bride and groom one more thing to argue about leading up to their wedding.
posted by corb at 10:53 AM on March 7, 2012

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