How to gracefully not attend a wedding this weekend?
October 10, 2013 6:29 AM   Subscribe

I said I would go to my cousin's wedding this weekend. I am on my second day home sick with a massive cold and just don't think I'll be up to it...

The longer version is, the cousin is from a side of the family we never see (my boyfriend has been with me for two years and this is the first occasion he's had to meet any of these people). So I RSVPd out of obligation and we went to an engagement part last month.

If it was someone I was closer to, I would hope to improve before Saturday and then take medication and tough it out. But I barely know these people. And I know I won't be at 100%. The thought of sitting through a big ceremony, and then a dinner with these folks just does not appeal to me when I am not feeling great already.

I feel bad that they've paid for food and drinks for me and my plus 1 already, and I don't know if they can get out of that at this juncture if I called my aunt and explained that I was too sick to go. I know my aunt had already complained, not very graciously, to my dad that our reply card was a few days late. So I am not in the good books already. I would like to back out at this point as graciously as I can though to minimize any further drama for my dad.

What are my options?
posted by JoannaC to Human Relations (58 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If the wedding is this weekend, there is no way that they didn't already give the final headcount and payment to the caterer. I personally think that with your illness being a cold (as opposed to the flu or something similar) you probably ought to go, get through the ceremony/dinner/cake cutting, and then bail.
posted by justonegirl at 6:33 AM on October 10, 2013 [22 favorites]

I'd tough it out for the ceremony (it is the most important bit after all) and make sure I make it through the first course of dinner. I'd leave as early as possible without being rude.

At this point your costs are sunk- they've already paid, they're expecting you. Unless you are violently ill and not just slightly miserable, I'd do my best to attend. The fact that you don't see this side of the family much is all the more reason to attend. Also if this is your father's sister, I really think you should make the effort, even if they aren't particularly close.
posted by larthegreat at 6:34 AM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Um, I don't think you have any good options. For the sake of your father, I think you hope to improve before Saturday and then take medication and tough it out. Slide out early. Get credit for being a trooper.
posted by carmicha at 6:34 AM on October 10, 2013 [9 favorites]

If you were closer with this family the fallout from not going would be less. It's an awful situation for you to be in, but if you don't go, they will talk about this forever. Forever.

You may not care about that. Your dad might not mind hearing about it forever. But the distant cousin and her mother will remember forever, and they may take it out on you at your hypothetical wedding. (And if you don't invite them to that wedding? More for them to talk about.) Someone is going to show up and say that I can't possibly know that this branch of your family is that talky, but really, they've already gotten mouthy about your RSVP, which they maybe didn't cushion well enough to account for people being a teensy bit late.

In my experience, your best bet is to go to the ceremony, show up at the reception, enjoy dinner, get your picture taken with the bride and then disappear. Do not explain to the bride or her family that you aren't feeling well. This is a dump out situation, even if my equating illness with celebration is...not great. But seriously, you don't get to tell a happy bride or her inner circle that you don't feel well. They don't want to hear it and they definitely don't want to deal with it.
posted by bilabial at 6:38 AM on October 10, 2013 [10 favorites]

I'd make an appearance, and then leave early.

Also, calculating as this may seem, I think the tit-for-tat of weddings is that the betrothed feed you and you buy them a present. So long as you are still giving them a present, I wouldn't worry that you're not attending, or not attending to the fullest. They're not really "out" anything if you perform your side of the deal, particularly if you're not close family.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:39 AM on October 10, 2013

Dose yourself liberally with cold medication, sit near an exit during the ceremony to deal with coughing/sneezing fits, be at the reception long enough to have the dinner they're providing, and then sniffle your way out the door.
posted by xingcat at 6:40 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Rest up as much as possible between now and then, and go and tough it out. Things change over the years and you may get closer as time goes on. It will be easier if there aren't hurt feelings in the bargain.

Show up right as the ceremony starts, and hang out through dessert. Bail before the dancing.

It's not pleasant but it's the right thing to do. Especially if it's not costing you anything.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:42 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

If this involves getting a hotel room, cancel. If it involves driving to the wedding, I'd just go and max out on Dayquil. But don't go just cuz the mother of the groom will be pissed. Go because you like the bride and groom and don't want them to stress about a missing guest.

If you are just too sick, take it from me, if the couple is cool they won't worry about who didn't show up. Last minute cancellations always happen, and once one is there getting married, one doesn't even really notice. Especially if you send em something extra-nice, like $300, cash. No vases, no appliances, no bowls.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:43 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

You have to go.

But you can do things in the next 48 hours to improve: fluids, bed, real (behind-the-counter) sudafed. Really, drink like a half gallon of orange juice right now. And another tomorrow. And don't go to work or go out.
posted by mochapickle at 6:43 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree that unless you are truly sick with the flu or something similar, then you really do have to go. It sucks, I know. I hate weddings....especially ones involving distant relatives that you don't really see that often. But you made a commitment so unfortunately you have to see it through.

Just use the sickness as an excuse to leave early.
posted by barnoley at 6:45 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Send a gift with a nice wedding card. Express your regrets and don't go. You're sick. You could spread your sickness. No one wants to sit next to or have to see/listen to someone sniffling or sneezing or otherwise being sick during a wedding. Especially if there are elderly or small children or others present who don't have a great immune system. Stay home and recover and stop the spread of germs.
posted by HMSSM at 6:45 AM on October 10, 2013 [11 favorites]

I would send a gift, call your aunt and tell her you're too sick to go. To be honest, even if you were doped up on medicine, I were sitting anywhere near someone who was obviously sick at a wedding, I would be very upset. And I don't even have small children to worry about.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:57 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

>It's an awful situation for you to be in, but if you don't go, they will talk about this forever. Forever.

What? No. I had last minute cancellations for my fairly small wedding. I remember because I shifted some seating. I don't think it's ever come up, and it didn't change my relationship with anyone. It is too late for catering to change their numbers, so send a gift next week with an apology.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:58 AM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Wow, do not go to a room full of travelers with a shitty cold. Imagine how much worse your aunt would make you feel if you got the bride and groom sick for their honeymoon.

on preview i see HMSSM has made the same point. The really polite thing to do is stay home.
posted by elizardbits at 6:58 AM on October 10, 2013 [17 favorites]

If you're sick, you're sick. Stay home.

This whole post reads to me exactly like the rationalization I do with myself when I am sick but feel guilty and try to talk myself into going to work. There isn't one person ever who has ever said to me, "of course you should go to work when you're sick." Everyone tells me to stay home. Because I'm sick. And you're sick, so you should stay home. It would be a different story if you just didn't really feel like going, but you do have a legitimate excuse here.

This whole notion of earning your meal at a wedding seems to be a very regional or culturally specific thing, because it's something I would not have thought twice about if someone had called in sick to my wedding. If your family holds this against you, it is not your fault.
posted by something something at 7:03 AM on October 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

The bride is the key. Write her an email or physical letter explaining that you're sick and you really don't want to get anybody else sick or put a damper on her big day. Send them a nice gift, sound regretful, and bypass this aunt completely. Bride says "oh stay home and get well!" and nobody can complain.
posted by Mizu at 7:04 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

I, too, think you should go. It sounds more like you're using the sickness as an excuse to skip an event you didn't want to go to in the first place. But you RSVP'd! Now is not the time to back out. Don't bother the bride or the bride's mother or your father. Just go.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:05 AM on October 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

For God's sake, Stay Home! Nobody wants your germs. Let them know, via email, today that you won't be attending due to illness. Send your regrets and a gift. Don't worry about it again.

By the way, I hope you feel better soon.
posted by dchrssyr at 7:07 AM on October 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

Call the bride or groom now and say that you're very ill and you don't want to get anyone else at the ceremony sick so unfortunately, you're going to have to stay home.

If you haven't already sent a gift ahead and planned to bring a gift to the reception, explicitly ask what the best address is to send it, so they don't end up feeling like you're leaving them totally in the lurch. Send a really nice card with the gift saying how sorry you are to be missing the ceremony/reception and how much you wish them well. If you've already sent the gift, send a separate note that says those things anyway.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:08 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Meh. There were a couple people who missed our medium-sized wedding, canceling at the last minute for health reasons. In both cases they sent apologies via other family members who did come. We were sorry not to see them, but really didn't take it personally at all.
posted by saramour at 7:11 AM on October 10, 2013

Unfortunately, I think you've got to go. Get as much rest as you can beforehand, go to the wedding and the reception, then quietly leave early (after the dinner and toasts, for instance, but before the dancing).

The problem is your aunt: the fact that she complained TO YOUR FATHER instead of directly to YOU that your reply card was 'late' says to me that she'd make her brother/your father's life as miserable as she can; she'll take not attending this wedding as you being disrespectful, and won't accept what she'd consider a minor cold as a valid excuse. (YOUR cold is 'minor': if SHE had the same cold, it'd be 'massive'.)

Alternatively, call your father right now, don't waste another minute --- and ask him: how does HE think his sister will react?
posted by easily confused at 7:16 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

If this had been my wedding, I'd have been overjoyed if you stayed home and spared everyone your cold germs. Even if you aren't contagious anymore, that wouldn't be evident to anyone who was sitting next to you while you were dripping fluids and looking miserable. And if you are contagious, it's not "just a cold" if the wrong person catches it from you. Like the newlyweds, or your 9 million year old grandpa.

And again, if it were my wedding, I also wouldn't want you to struggle through the celebration in feverish misery, when you could be at home under a comforter.

I skipped a cousin's wedding due to illness, and caught crap for it. Whatever. I couldn't have made it, and would have grossed everyone there out. The fact that you don't really want to go is just a happy coincidence. I didn't really want to attend the wedding of my unpleasant criminal of a cousin, but I was going to. Then I was fortunate enough to come down with the screaming barfs. It was like the universe was looking out for me.

Also seconding something something
posted by Coatlicue at 7:18 AM on October 10, 2013 [7 favorites]

Send a [maybe humorous] video to your cousin and their intended apologizing for your lack of atendendance and include a gift. They can maybe play the video at the reception. Your Dad and Aunt will get over it.

Sheesh, you have a cold. Grace isn't up to you here - it's up to your Dad and Aunt. You don't want to attend and infect people. Especially if you have elderly relatives.
posted by vapidave at 7:18 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't go!

Think of all the guests with suppressed immune systems due to stress/lack of sleep/chronic illnesses like Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Think of the guests who are new parents, who can't afford to get sick!

Think of the guests who have just started a new job and don't have any sick leave available yet.

Seriously, don't go!

Going would be the selfish thing here.
posted by Year of meteors at 7:19 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're contagious, you have to stay home. A lot of people have compromised immune systems and what is a five-day cold to you turns out to be a six-month-long ordeal for them. It's serious business. Don't do it.

If you're not contagious, but just feel crappy, then you have to go. You said you'd go, and your relatives made plans in reliance on your commitment. You can't just back out because you don't feel like going.
posted by HotToddy at 7:27 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

So it's your second day home with the cold. Friday is day three, Saturday is day four.

I'm guessing that today is probably the worst of it, and that while you will still have a cold on Saturday, you're definitely coming out of it by then.

Drug it up, and tough it out. Calling now to say that you'll still be sick on Saturday... that's a little dodgy in my book.

If, however, you are still sick on Saturday (and sick-sick, not just miserable-with-a-cold), then bail, with apologies and a substantial cash gift.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:29 AM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Call up your aunt, and tell her you've got a bad cold. Tell her how worried you are that you're going to make someone sick, and how much you enjoyed getting to know everyone better at the engagement party and were looking forward to seeing them all again at the wedding. Tell her how torn you are over this decision. See what she says.

It's possible that her first response to the words "got a cold" will be "that's awful! we'll miss you so much!" Meaning, yeah, whatever, scratch that name off the list. And you're excused and don't have to worry about it. It's also possible that when you mention making other people sick, she'll say "oh, it's just a cold, why worry, I'm sure you'll feel better by Saturday!" and that's your instruction to get your butt to the wedding. You're calling up to ask her if you should go or not, without necessarily directly asking her - but do ask her opinion if she doesn't give one voluntarily, and you should have a backup plan of what you tell her at the end of the call (cancel or go anyway or decide later), in case she doesn't give you a clear direction.
posted by aimedwander at 7:32 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Send a nice present, go and see them after it's all over.

One thing I learned from PG Wodehouse: don't let yourself be pushed around by aunts.
posted by Segundus at 7:43 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was just thinking... I responded above that you should go, but I have since changed my position.

I agree with the commenters who say ask your dad or your aunt. Say you're sick, you want to go, but you are concerned about impacting the other guests. Offer to stay off to the side, away from folks. Or offer to stay home. But your aunt should ultimately decide what's best.

If you stay home, send a gift and a very, very personal card expressing your happiness for the couple.
posted by mochapickle at 7:44 AM on October 10, 2013

You're already in their "bad books", if you don't go you'll be giving them ammunition for a long while. People get really sensitive about manners and etiquette surrounding weddings.

I think you should suck it up and go and stay as long as you can.

As others have said, you're probably in the throes of the worst of it right now. Sleep all day today, re-hydrate, take meds, sleep some more and you'll probably feel like a new person tomorrow.

Seriously, people get weird about weddings.... I think you'd be better to show your face and endure one difficult day than not show up and possibly be in the bad books for many years to come..... people get weird about weddings!!!!!
posted by JenThePro at 7:56 AM on October 10, 2013

Yeah, don't give everyone your cold. What I did recently was sit in the back of the church with some anti-germ wipes in my purse and tell the first family member I saw that I was feeling too sick to go to the reception. You could have your boyfriend come with you and do the telling.

I understand why people are saying to call your aunt to feel her out but I wouldn't waste her time right before the wedding. She probably will sound crabby-- that thing about the invitationcard-- and you will feel worse.
posted by BibiRose at 7:57 AM on October 10, 2013

Small data point - I had the massive cold that seems to be going around right now (sore throat, fever) and it knocked me on my ass for a few days but then actually went away pretty quickly. So if you have the same thing, it's possible you could be well enough by Saturday to attend.
posted by lunasol at 7:57 AM on October 10, 2013

For the fact that your aunt was ungracious enough to complain about your reply card makes me say that if I were in your shoes, I would suck it up and go, for the sake of maintaining family harmony, and duck out early like others have said. She sounds like the kind of person who not only will not forget, but will retaliate by complaining loudly at your wedding that the chicken is dry, the salad is skimpy, that you didn't properly acknowledge her and her family in the wedding program, etc, etc.

Remember that this is her precious presh presh that is getting married, and they have gone to a lot of trouble to plan this beautiful event for you to witness and enjoy! If you really feel like you must make excuses that you are sick, don't you dare mention a mere cold - girlfriend, you better make it sound like you're dying of the flu.
posted by vignettist at 8:05 AM on October 10, 2013

You're sick. Don't go. Give a really extra nice present and a heartfelt card. Never think about it again, just like everyone else won't.

For the fact that your aunt was ungracious enough to complain about your reply card makes me say that if I were in your shoes, I would suck it up and go

Hell no, you don't have to be held hostage to other people's poor manners. Plus, your aunt will forget about this within approximately five minutes, given the other important goings on.

It's an awful situation for you to be in, but if you don't go, they will talk about this forever. Forever.

No, just no. If you're not the bride or groom or immediate family, you won't be missed for more than a moment.
posted by wrok at 8:31 AM on October 10, 2013

If it was someone I was closer to, I would hope to improve before Saturday and then take medication and tough it out.

I know you're not close but you're still family. I missed cousins who couldn't make it to my wedding. Besides, family weddings are special. Years later, we still occasionally talk about the times we had at my cousins' weddings. I don't think you have to be a hero and be the first there and the last to leave, but if you can go, you should.
posted by kat518 at 8:40 AM on October 10, 2013

She was stressed about the reply card because it affected her/her daughter's finances. (Also, having recently thrown a wedding, I'd bet dollars to donuts the "complaining about the reply card being a few days late" was actually harassing your dad to get a response from you at all.) You and boyfriend may be a sunk cost, but she will see this as affecting her finances--especially as inviting you, clearly out of obligation given your description of the relationship, almost certainly meant either someone else was not invited or their budget was expanded--and will not be happy about it. Either go or send a letter + gift, but for god's sake don't bug her or the bride about it right now as they're dealing with a million other minor crises.
posted by kelseyq at 8:45 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh, and we had a cousin no-show our wedding due to work, which to someone who's been planning an event for months with extensive notice is less flimsy than your sniffles excuse but not by much. No one missed his company (he's a racist boor) but privately we were pissed about the catering cost, it caused minor drama in the seating arrangements, and the older relatives gossiped about it extensively. And that's the nice side of the family!
posted by kelseyq at 8:54 AM on October 10, 2013

Stay home. Drink tea, watch television, curl up under a lot of blankets, nap frequently. It's a distant relative's wedding, not a UN summit on the state of global affairs or anything.

My boss came to work sick last week. I caught his "little cold," and since I have pretty severe asthma, it turned into pneumonia. I've been in bed since last Friday, can't go to work, spent $50+ on prescriptions, and feel like shit. One person's "little cold" is another person's "terrible pneumonia," and this is not how I wanted to spend my week.

In ten years, they won't remember that you weren't at the wedding because you were sick. However, I can almost guarantee that if you attend the wedding visibly ill and then the bride or Grandpa Bob or little baby Sally comes down with the crud, they'll remember it forever and it will become part of the family lore. Especially since they don't see you that often - you REALLY don't want their only frame of reference for you to be "that girl who gave her cold to everybody at Cousin Jane's wedding."
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:55 AM on October 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

As another immunocompromised person, I'm adding my PLEASE DON'T GO if you are still feeling terrible.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:10 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would like to back out at this point as graciously as I can though to minimize any further drama for my dad.

Not going will maximize rather than minimize drama for your dad.
posted by headnsouth at 9:25 AM on October 10, 2013

With regard to pissing people off-- forget it; you can't win with people who are minded to be pissed off. Everyone in my family talked for YEARS about how my aunt gave everyone a bad cold when she came to my mother's funeral. That would be her own sister's funeral. Seriously one of my cousins kept saying "Aunt B almost killed my father." I was actually grossed out by her cold and if it was a lesser event would have thought it was strange that she came, but in any case, if you are visibly ill there will be people criticizing you for going, so do what you need to do.
posted by BibiRose at 9:31 AM on October 10, 2013

The only person I know who was "shamed" for not coming, was a person who didn't come, had RSVPd he would be coming, and then just suddenly didn't show up at all. No call, no warning, nothing. People were worried he got in a car accident on the way to the wedding or something. Nope, just decided he didn't want to go. Fuck that guy. He was a good friend of a group of friends from college, and I didn't invite him to my wedding because of that.

Giving advance notice that you're too sick to attend? Perfectly acceptable.

Knowing that you're probably not really "too sick to attend" and then asking your dad to make your excuses for you? Thats a little bit lame and immature. You gotta live with these people for years and years. Make sure you're doing things for the right reasons.

Call sooner rather than later. If this is a catered event, the caterer will be expecting last minute cancellations. Its NBD.
posted by fontophilic at 9:33 AM on October 10, 2013

If you do decide to talk to your aunt about it, you could mention that you'd hate to give the bride and/or groom your cold and ruin their honeymoon. That ought to get you off the hook.
posted by HotToddy at 9:40 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I got married this summer and had 3 people who'd RSVP that had to cancel the week before (way too late to cancel their planned meals) :
- One that made it to the ceremony and left before meal : fine with that
- One that was very apologetic and gave a larger-than-expected gift : fine with that
- One that said on Facebook "sorry won't be able to make it", and didn't give a gift at all : not so happy about it.
We were happy to spend 85$/meal for everyone that RSVP (even those who didn't give us any gift) but bailing on us at the last minute, meaning no one even ate that 85$ meal... not so fun.

So if you're very sick and don't want to go, stay home but let them know you're very sorry about it and help cover the meal they will lose?
posted by domi_p at 9:55 AM on October 10, 2013

We had this occurrence two weekends ago. I'd been sick for two days, both kids were sick, and my wife had the sniffles. Its Thursday. You reach out to the bride or groom or their family (whoever is the point contact), and you tell them that your family is sick and you can't and shouldn't attend. Let them know that you'll be thinking of them. After that, it's go to their registry and pick an item in your price range and ship it along with the card - hopefully to arrive slightly before the wedding.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:09 AM on October 10, 2013

If you're sick, and you (or your doctor) reasonably feel this illness will last through Saturday, do not attend.

Call the bride, groom, or aunt and explain that you have [X] illness and that you are very sorry, but you will not be able to attend this joyous occasion. As a small token of recompense, offer to cover the cost of the meal in addition to the wedding gift, which will be forthcoming in the mail (or hand-delivered by your father, if he's attending). Apologize again, wish the happy couple all the best, and that's that.
posted by CancerMan at 10:50 AM on October 10, 2013

Well, you have a list of many options now. Here's another one!

There's not really much difference between cancelling now and cancelling on Saturday. The catering is ordered, etc. So first, get rest today and Friday and then see how you are feeling Saturday after being awake a couple of hours.

If you're still sick-as-in-contagious sick, don't go. Worse then being remembered as the person who cancelled is being remembered as the person who got everyone sick.

If you're still recovering from being sick - feeling just generally tired and weak - then I'd do as suggested by some and go to the ceremony then to the reception and duck out early. However, if this wedding has the typical cocktail hour between the ceremony and the reception proper (usually while the bride and groom and families are getting photos taken) you can take that time to rest up after the ceremony and recoup for the reception. Just hang out for most of the hour in your car (or back home if you are close) with your boyfriend and relax.

If you end up not going, don't try calling your cousin/Aunt on Saturday - everyone will be busy enough! Let your dad know and he can convey your regrets to your Aunt and you can follow up with a nice note to your cousin.
posted by mikepop at 12:06 PM on October 10, 2013

I'd go. Yes you don't see her often, but she is your cousin. Either tell her she can find someone else or only go to the ceremony and let someone else have your place at the table.
posted by GiveUpNed at 12:19 PM on October 10, 2013

It's ok not to go (and possibly better for everyone, if you really are sick) as long as you send a NICE gift. Like, a fat check. Don't send a butter boat.

(Maybe I'm not "cool", but I absolutely do remember who no-showed at my wedding -- after all the work I put into including people, and seating arrangements, and all that jazz, you better believe I noticed. And I absolutely do remember who didn't send a gift, as well.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:38 PM on October 10, 2013

And, if you can tell her now, the bride might be able to include someone else that she would otherwise not be able to, so I would call her today, apologize, tell her your conscience won't let you bring contagion to her wedding, congratulate her and get her home address to send the gift to.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:46 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think for a cold? You have to go. If you would go to work on day four of a cold you should probably attend a family wedding for which you already RSVPed. As for spreading your infection, again, you'd probably be at work by then, yeah? Don't sneeze on anyone, stay away from kids, people holding babies, the elderly and if the food is buffet style maybe ask someone to get it for you. You'll be in probably a large banquet hall I don't think you can completely miss the event under the guise of spreading your four day old cold.

If you do feel like you would not go to work the day of, call ahead that day and apologize and send a top notch gift, by which I mean from the registry specifically or cash, not anything else.

However a caveat: how did your dad take your aunt's complaint? If the reason you never see them is because he thinks she's a pain in the ass and doesn't care what she has to say, you have a bit more leeway. If he was upset or dealing with this woman causes him anxiety or self-esteem problems? You gotta buy some Dayquil and get there.
posted by itsonreserve at 1:36 PM on October 10, 2013

I wouldn't go. If you're spreading germs around, no one is going to appreciate it. I would send a heartfelt apology card.

In my family, it would be seen as good manners, not drama-ville, to not spread your cold around to everyone, but then we have immuno-compromised and old and baby people in my family, who would seriously be harmed by catching a flu.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:28 PM on October 10, 2013

I'm going to play devil's advocate here. Let's say, I'm your cousin. I'd rather invite one of my friends than you, but my mother makes me invite you because you're family and she thinks that having family there is important.

So I invite you, and I even give you a plus one. After a few weeks, the date rolls around when I've got to start giving the caterer/venue the final numbers, and I'm frantically trying to get responses from the 25% of my guests who can't be bothered to mail a pre-stamped and addressed envelope. At this point, I'm kind of hoping you just won't go so I still have time to invite 2 friends that were cut from the list. I wouldn't blame you -- we just aren't that close. But alas, you finally respond, and you're a yes.

Then, two days before the wedding, I get a call from you. You've got a cold and you don't think you'll be feeling 100% by Saturday. You won't be going to the wedding.

Ok, I'm not your cousin anymore, I'm me. About 10 people cancelled w/in 48 hours of my fairly large wedding for a variety of reasons (flu, death in the family, childcare emergency, flight delay/cancellation) -- we were disappointed, but we understood. One of my friends, however, cancelled for a transparently BS reason, with barely any apology, and I have to say, it really changed how I felt about her friendship in a way that I think will take a long, long time to fade.

In this case, you don't have to worry about salvaging a friendship, so it won't matter as much. Nonetheless, given the history, I think your aunt and cousin will perceive this as mega rude, and I'm not really sure I can blame them. RSVPing to a wedding is a commitment. I don't think that's being bridezillary or whatever -- its just that this wedding is a momentously important day to your aunt and cousin and your half-ass ditch is going to be seen as a pretty clear sign that you don't care about them or their big occassions (not to mention their money). That's fine, I guess, because you really don't. But what I'm saying is, don't be surprised if you get a negative reaction now or in the future.

Lastly, if you're going to cancel, don't just call your aunt -- it's your cousin's wedding. You should also send a card.
posted by snarfles at 6:11 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Three couples cancelled for our wedding after rsvping. Two were my husband's brother and sister cousins and spouses, the weddings of whom we had traveled a long way to. My husband had been the best man to one. Neither couple bothered to ever call us and only one sent us a present, long after the wedding. They passed on the info to some other relatives who were traveling a ways to see us (thus it wasn't a last minute thing). The wife of the third couple called to say she had the flu. [they also managed to get their present onto the gift table somehow.]. Guess which couples we can never really forgive and which we are still close with.

I don't think your cousin really wants you to be sick at her wedding but she does want to feel as though people who rsvp'd actually wanted to come. If you need to beg off, make a call that at least sounds sincere and care about her wedding for the whole call. Send a gift etc now to arrive early or just after. Comment on her Facebook wedding posts later (with a little regret if it is sincere). As long as you are missing it for the good reason of being ill and have expressed some attention,congratulations, and appreciation, who cares if you eat that dinner?
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:09 PM on October 10, 2013

If somebody last minute cancelled to my wedding I'd be put out. If somebody came to my wedding contagious, I'd be livid. If somebody gave me their cold and wrecked my honeymoon I'd be murderous.

Stay home and get well.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:35 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you aren't flying to the wedding or buying a hotel room, then you don't have to decide now, you can wait to see how you feel. However, calling your aunt and offering to bail, using the many scripts given above, may be a good idea.

I had some last minute cancellations for our wedding (for a variety of reasons) and one thing it allowed me to do was invite one or two other people who, for various reasons, I couldn't really invite before (in reality, a friend called and his wife couldn't go for sickness reasons, but there were two of his friends that I knew and liked, but hadn't spent enough time with to be invited originally who were free that he could bring) and because we had a couple other cancellations, we had the meals to do it. I was thrilled to be able to have them there, and they had a lot of fun. So what I'm saying is that you should give your aunt/the bride the heads up about you being sick, and give her the option of telling you not to come and filling your space with some people that ideally would have been fun to be able to invite, or new plus ones of some of the original guests. (and yes I realize that late invites like this could come off tacky (ie. you're my 2nd tier friend, but you can come now!), but there are a lot of situations where there are people that you'd have liked to invite, but couldn't, or new people that you didn't know or know well enough to invite first go around, but would like to have there).

However, if aunt/bride wants you there if possible, then wait till Sat. and the truly assess how sick you are before just begging off because you don't really know these people. Remember, while you don't know the bride's family much, you will know people there you can have fun with (like your boyfriend).
posted by katers890 at 7:39 AM on October 11, 2013

A family wedding that you RSVPed to is not like work where if you don't show up because you're sick you'll make it up later. Weddings, funerals, baptisms are one time deals (or rare deals) and you just show the hell up for the sake of family (even distant family is blood - thicker than water). Unless you're sick enough to be in the hospital or you're vomiting all over the place or you're literally sleeping all day, you just take your meds, show up, be conscienscious not to cough on anyone, and make appearances. Anything less is transparently rude, and if you don't care about being rude to your family, don't be surprised if people think ill of you.
posted by gardenbex at 2:23 PM on October 11, 2013

So, what happened?
posted by carmicha at 4:40 PM on October 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

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