Am I wrong to be totally unenthused about a friend's wedding?
June 19, 2014 8:28 PM   Subscribe

A friend is having a 2-day wedding to a man whom only one of the 4 of our invited group has met, in a location that's an expensive pain in the butt to get to, and will make us all late for work Monday. None of us really want to go. Are we horrible people?

Snowflake details are as follows:

- Friend is marrying a guy who only one of us (namely, me) has met. They've known each other for under a year or so, and this has a strong tinge of "I'm in my mid-thirties, you present minimal red flags, let's do this so my parents will shut up about it." That's her decision, it's fine. It's a little bothersome that zero effort has been made to acquaint us with the groom, but since they've been doing long-distance with visits perhaps it merits a pass? Even a beer or dinner with the rest of the gang would have sufficed...

- The original plan was for the (American) groom to move up here (Canada) once they were married. The plan was suddenly changed as per the groom, and now our friend is moving stateside once they've tied the knot. As an invited friend put it, it will be "Oh here, meet my husband... for the first and likely last time." Sigh. I wish this wasn't true, but see above point regarding no perceivable effort to make our collective acquaintance (on both their parts, not just his).

- The wedding is taking place a 2-hour-each-way ferry ride away (at a cost of about $250 return). No problem, except that the reception is at 6 PM on Sunday (it's a two-day wedding) and the last ferry is at 9 PM. The first ferry on the Monday means at least one of us (it's me, again) will be late to work on Monday morning. Argh.

- The wedding is likely going to be pretty massive, so we're going to see very little of our friend and the appeal of being 1/500th of her guest list is rapidly diminishing when she seems to be chomping at the bit to up and GTFO once the deed is done (her most recent invite to hang out was touted as "one last time before the wedding" but maybe I'm reading into that too much.)

- Adding to the overwhelming negativity I'm feeling is the fact I was handed all of the invites for our friends to hand deliver. Getting to and from, accommodations for the full weekend and your gift are going to close in on four digits and you couldn't be bothered with postage?? These were also given less than a month prior to the wedding date, so minimal time to make arrangements work-wise, etc.

- A friend who's in school full-time and working part-time (and strapped for cash) accordingly advised she may have to skip one of the days and was replied to with, "But it's my wedding." Okay?

On the flipside:

- She was super hyped for our (conversely very low-stress, low-cost and small) wedding, and I feel I should at least make an effort to feign enthusiasm for her big day.

- We've been friends for a decade or so, and I don't want to ruin our friendship (or what will remain of it once she's moved away, anyway).

- I feel really guilty about all this, and keep vacillating between wanting to be there for her and thinking how lame it is, considering she's a smart person and we've never heard her give any indication of having feelings, excitement to be with, etc for this guy. It's all very transactional. Maybe that's a cultural thing?

My SO is ready to bail and I'm trying to be the rah-rah-it'll-be-fun-maybe(?) guy and it's not working. Help?
posted by to Human Relations (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can see that you're annoyed, and perhaps rightfully so, but are you seriously willing to trade in a decade-long friendship for being late to work one Monday?
posted by kestrel251 at 8:38 PM on June 19, 2014 [51 favorites]

You can "go to the wedding" without being at every last piece of it. It's a 2-day extravaganza, so be sociable on Saturday, go to the ceremony (on Sunday?) and show up at the 6pm reception. Get your photo taken to prove you were there, then just wander off, and go catch your ferry. You don't need the bride's permission to be absent, and you don't need to make a big deal about leaving.

On the other hand, if you're asking for the internet's permission to be unable to go, then yes, you are allowed to skip this wedding. Send the rsvp, make a polite excuse (like "oh, I'm so happy for you both, but I'm afraid I just can't leave town that weekend!"), send a gift, and worry no more about it.
posted by aimedwander at 8:38 PM on June 19, 2014 [45 favorites]

You can be unenthused if that's your feeling but it sounds like you guys are gossiping and being really catty behind your friend who's getting married's back, and that's super uncool.

Make a choice about going or not, but it's not necessary to get all cattywampus in a wealth of bad feelings.
posted by spunweb at 8:39 PM on June 19, 2014 [57 favorites]

Skip it, send them a present, and write her a lovely note expressing nothing but joy and positivity, and tell her you want to have them both over to dinner when possible. The end. No need for any of this drama.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:43 PM on June 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

I have never regretted going to a wedding.

I have, however, regretted missing the weddings of people I love.

Is it worth it just to go on Sunday morning, have a long and fabulous day, and duck out in time to catch the ferry (like aimedwander suggests)?
posted by mochapickle at 8:44 PM on June 19, 2014 [23 favorites]

When you said it was going to be a pain in the ass to get to, I was thinking like international destination wedding with a flight and I was coming to say it's not a big deal if you don't go. But I really don't consider a 2 hour ferry ride to be an insurmountable distance to travel. $250 return is steep for a ferry ride, is that the price for a vehicle, and if so can you carpool? Seems like even if it does cost you $250 to get there, unless you're staying someplace really ritzy and getting a rather extravagant gift, I'd be surprised if the rest of the 2 days cost you $1000. She's probably paying a mint to fund the costs of having you there. I don't think you should go if you really don't want to, but I don't think it's an obvious 'don't bother', either. It seems like it won't look good if you don't show up unless you tell a white lie about the reason.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:45 PM on June 19, 2014 [13 favorites]

I think it's entirely reasonable not to go. It sounds like it's expensive and maybe not feasible due to work. This is 100% an OK reason to decline the invitation.

That said, basically all of your other reasons that you're irritated with the bride are immaterial, and pointless things to be upset about. You are allowed to not attend a wedding simply because you can't make it. You don't have to be enemies for life or anything, and it doesn't sound like she's really done anything wrong. She presumably didn't decide to get married just to spite you, decide to move to the states just to spite you, decide on the location just to spite you, decide to invite 496 other people just to spite you, etc. You're taking this all extremely personally.

Also, it is hard to tell here whether "the four of us" is a polyamorous family unit, two parents and their two children, two otherwise unrelated couples, or four independent friends.

It would be weird for the other three invited guests to decline to attend the wedding because one random person (you) can't make it, assuming you're not a family unit. The other three people are grown adults and will have to make their own decision whether to attend the wedding, regardless of your work schedule.
posted by Sara C. at 8:45 PM on June 19, 2014 [12 favorites]

I go to a wedding to be a witness to a major life event for my friends and family. I also often have a good time, but really it's just one of those things in life to show up for, because you generally only get one shot at showing up for that thing.

That said, I wouldn't bankrupt myself or get fired. If you really don't want to go, send a gift, stay home. If you do want to be there I'd take a vacation day on Monday and take that as a sign to spend the day indulging in whatever fun activities...if your spouse can get the day off, spend it in bed renewing your own sexy fun. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 8:45 PM on June 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

The friendship will like be over for all practical purposes if you don't go. I get it she's being weird and not very gracefully moving onto another chapter in her life. But sometimes these things ebb and flow and I wouldn't consider any of this a decade friendship ending offense. So yeah I would go.
posted by whoaali at 8:51 PM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've long held a theory that 'destination' weddings are specifically done to minimize the number of people at the wedding. This way they can invite loads of people but not actually have to deal with all the expense and planning that loads of actual guests would entail. I don't think anybody but immediate family is actually expected to show up at a destination wedding.

Skip it and send them a nice gift.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:51 PM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think that's probably true for weddings in, like, Bora Bora, but not for weddings a few hours away on a ferry. OP, you sound really cranky about this. Is it possible that your sadness about your friend leaving is manifesting as anger?
posted by c'mon sea legs at 8:55 PM on June 19, 2014 [52 favorites]

I should add that it's okay not to go, but you shouldn't expect that it will be okay with your friend. That's a calculation you need to make yourself. Personally, I wouldn't put that kind of pressure on a decade-old friendship, especially when someone is about to leave.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 8:56 PM on June 19, 2014

Thanks all for the responses. Negativity can be a slippery slope, it seems.

Hotel room has now been booked - going to catch the last ferry on the Sunday night as a bit of a compromise, but will be there for the wedding itself (Saturday) and at least a good chunk of reception.
posted by at 9:09 PM on June 19, 2014 [29 favorites]

Compromises are the way to go in this situation, absolutely. One of my dear friends invited me to be a bridesmaid at his wedding over a year before the event in question. Six months later, my brother proposes to his girlfriend and they decide they must ABSOLUTELY have the wedding the day before my friend's wedding.

I attended both, despite the fact my brother's was here in Montreal and my friend's was just outside of New York City. It meant going to my brother's ceremony and skipping all but 30 minutes of the reception, flying to Toronto, staying there overnight on the Saturday, then flying to Newark in the early AM, making it JUST IN TIME for my friend's wedding pictures (which I was in, being a bridesmaid), then attending their ceremony and reception before flying back home at 7am on Monday morning. I missed my friend's rehearsal dinner and day-after breakfast, but I had to compromise on some things to make it to both events.

It's been just over a year and I'm still very satisfied that I did whatever I could to be there for both my brother as well as my friend. I think your idea to take the last ferry is a great idea and an excellent compromise. You'll be there for the important part and I think you'll be pleased you went. :)
posted by juliebug at 9:19 PM on June 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

will be there for the wedding itself (Saturday) and at least a good chunk of reception.

It's totally acceptable to attend just the wedding and skip the reception. Someone did that at one of my friends' weddings last year and the rest of us didn't find that weird at all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:26 PM on June 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

It's very obvious that there is no one-size-fits-most answer to this question. For instance, in my very long life, I have never regretted missing a wedding, but I have indeed deeply regretted attending several weddings. (And I'm not counting my own first wedding...)

If it were me, a Two Day Wedding isn't a wedding, it's a giant Party For Me, but she's your friend and only you can make the call. Hope your compromise works out and leaves you happy for your friend.
posted by kestralwing at 9:34 PM on June 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

but since they've been doing long-distance with visits perhaps it merits a pass?

I don't want to pile on, since you've made a decision (and I hope you have an awesome time!), but I did want to touch on this. My future wife lives halfway across the country from me, and since we got engaged in December, we have been driving back and forth across the state introducing each other to friends and family. She didn't meet my sisters until last month. There are important folks who live the next town over that she hasn't met yet. There's just never enough visit time, and people's schedules are nuts (and then adding wedding planning in on top of it...) I've turned into a giant out of touch flake lately, handling a LDR, several jobs, family responsibilities, blah blah blah.

Hopefully, after the wedding, things will settle down, they'll come visit (or you guys will go there), and you'll get a chance to know the dude better.

So, go, have a good time, meet the dude (even if it's for 5 seconds), make some new friends, and enjoy your vacation. Kudos to you for figuring out how to make it work and support your friend. :)
posted by joycehealy at 9:43 PM on June 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

It sounds like she's on the way out of your life already. She's disappeared into 'wedding stress' land, and maybe I'm projecting here, but I would be surprised if she went to the US and essentially disappeared from your life. She sounds like the sort of person who is sooooo happy to be part of a couple that that will now take up her whole life.

The two day wedding in an inconvenient place would irritate me. Please spend lots of money and give up a whole weekend so that you can be an extra in my 'perfect day'. Bah. Humbug. kestralwings 'Party For Me' comment is spot on for me. The only caveat is if it's where her/his parents live, in which case, it's more understandable.
posted by kjs4 at 11:07 PM on June 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think it's reasonable to not want to go to a wedding, especially one that involves shelling out a lot of money and time. What happened to a wedding only taking up an evening? Why does it have to be a two-day extravaganza? I think giving your friends invitations a month before a large wedding and asking one friend to hand deliver them is incredibly dickish. Weddings can really bring out a narcissist.

I think your current compromise sounds like a good one, but please keep the catty gossip shit in check. I understand the gist of what you're saying, but adopt a more charitable attitude toward your friend's relationship. She might be acting like kind of an asshole about certain aspects of her Big Special Day, but that doesn't mean that her future marriage is bullshit. Be supportive.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:49 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're not wrong to be cranky about this. The wedding is Saturday and the reception is Sunday evening? That sounds like awfully inconsiderate planning, and there are bound to be people for whom this is even more of an inconvenience. (If I were on the guest list, I'd be grumbling "and there better not be a goddamn fondant cake" right now.)

On the other hand, this is one of those times when getting pissed is not going to benefit anyone. You can't change the wedding plans, you can only choose whether to go and for how long. And you can choose to stew or to make an effort to enjoy yourself. And if there's anything ruder than an inconsiderately-planned wedding, it's holding a grudge over an inconsiderately-planned wedding. For all you know, she may have made every effort to make this wedding pleasant and convenient for as many of her guests as possible, and will feel lousy for weeks about the things she may have inadvertently fucked up.

And please don't conflate your gripes about the wedding with her actual marriage, or her friendship with you. You don't know the guy, but that doesn't mean she doesn't know him and love him. And no one is obligated to introduce their partner to all of their friends before they decide to marry. If something about their relationship was throwing up red flags, that would be another story, but you're jumping to some uncharitable conclusions about your friend and her intended.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:29 AM on June 20, 2014 [6 favorites]

the work thing seems a pretty weak excuse, almost like you are just trying to run up an excuse to justify your feeling of not wanting to go. There is no need for you to attend the full reception, you can able in time to get the last ferry or talk to work about flexible hours or take a half day.

What you need to do before making that decision is whether you should just admit to yourself you don't want to go and then bite the bullet and not go or whether you fell you should go. Then just say 'We'll be there' or 'We can't make it'.
posted by biffa at 4:45 AM on June 20, 2014

Just as a data point about not having to attend everything, I'm attending a wedding tomorrow and skipping the reception; my sister is coming in from out of town for this wedding and skipping the ceremony but attending the reception (while my husband and I watch her kids). I've spoken to the bride about it and she seemed totally unbothered by the switch. I think your compromise is just right.
posted by SeedStitch at 5:47 AM on June 20, 2014

You did the right thing. For some reason people REALLY care if you show up to their wedding. BUT, you only have to shake hands in the reception line for that to be a fact in their mind.

I can't tell you how many weddings I've been to where I waved to the bride and groom, and that was the sum total of wedding interaction.

Even the wedding of my best friend, where my father officiated, I didn't see very much of her.

So, do the bare minimum you need to do, and draw the line when it starts getting stupid.

I once left a wedding out the back gate of a B&B, because it was too hot to be outdoors. The bride suspected, but we're still friends.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:47 AM on June 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think you should go. However, I wanted to chime in on a couple of other points. First, a two day wedding is not particularly unusual in some cultured, so I don't think it's "inconsiderate" or "not a wedding." Secondly, the same goes for invitations. I know at least one friend who had a similar multi-day multi-hundred person wedding and one of the things she talked about was delivering the inviitations. Apparently in her culture it would be extremely guache to mail them and so each one entailed a visit to the household being invited for tea and cookies. Given that I'm guessing this wedding is in BC, it seems like non-small chance that the bride and/or groom may be from a culture where this is an issue.

Also, I think "one last time before the wedding" doesn't mean "because after the wedding we'll never see each other" but "this is a big marker in my life and it feels like the end of an era. I want to see you again in this era." Regardless, I don't think you should assume this is the end of the road for your friendship. If her family is in your area she will likely visit and of course you can visit too, and let's not forget the marvelous communication technology we now have.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:03 AM on June 20, 2014 [9 favorites]

I've hated almost every wedding I've gone to.

In my experience, particularly at large weddings, the bride and groom are almost never around to talk to or visit with their guests (why the heck have a party anyway?)

She's unlikely to even notice your absence, but probably will notice a "no" RSVP to the invitation.

I'd say you should make an appearance, but not on all three days. Go just for the reception on Sunday, sneak out early, catch the 9PM ferry, and get to work on time on Monday morning. That way you won't have to pay for a hotel room.
posted by tckma at 6:14 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

You aren't wrong to feel this way. I often have to stop myself from getting bent out of shape at all the money and time it takes just to ATTEND a wedding. Try not to let it get in the way of your friendship and enjoyment of the time. As other suggested, it's not like you'll be with the bride through the whole thing so you can sneak out or whatever you need to do for sanity's sake if necessary.

Sounds like a big part of your lack of enthusiasm is that you're unsure what to make of the guy your friend is marrying. One great thing about attending the wedding is that you'll get a better idea of who he is, how he is with her, his family dynamics, etc. It's a little microcosm of him as a person.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 6:30 AM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do you even like this friend? It sounds like you don't. And this may be causing the other problems.

If you are worried about the suitability of the match, or that she's been sucked into this relationship, you take your friend aside and mention it. It's the pre-wedding 'voicing of the concerns.' I've done it. Then at least it's off your chest and you can celebrate with her more sincerely.

If she's not a good enough friend to do this, then it might not be worth the effort to go to her event & you can decline with regrets. Sometimes friendships fade. Sometimes they're part of a social circle and you think you should be closer to them than you are, or that you should like them more than you do.

Looking at it from her side, I don't see anything egregious that she's done aside from be excited about getting married and wanting you all to attend.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:45 AM on June 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

I wouldn't go, because it sounds like you don't really like this person, anyway.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:45 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think in this case, it might be helpful for you to separate your feelings about how annoying it's going to be to attend this wedding from your disappointment and frustration that your friend is moving away and worrying that this is the end of your friendship.
posted by inertia at 6:52 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am basically your friend. Not in all details, but we originally thought that my new husband would be living in my state of origin, and now we will be moving to his state of origin. It is really, really hard to tell my friends. I've been trying to break it to them gently, but it's hard because they react with betrayal, as though the idea of my moving is a personal slight against them or the friendship. It's hard to talk about the complicated reasons behind the choice without it being a Thing.

If I were about to move right after the wedding, I would be heartbroken if you didn't attend - if I had to leave without seeing my decade-old friends for such an important occasion and without seeing you once more.

If she's in her mid-thirties and you suspect this is just a "not too many red flags, let's do it" wedding, this may be her only chance. You don't know what pressures are going on in her life. Try to cut her some slack. I really wouldn't think of her as "chomping at the bit." It may actually just be trying to put a brave face on things.
posted by sockmeamadeus at 6:59 AM on June 20, 2014 [7 favorites]

Seconding the suggestion that this may be fueled by the fact that it may be easier for you to feel mad at your friend about the wedding that sad that your friend is leaving.
posted by prefpara at 7:42 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're under no obligation to attend a wedding that you don't want to attend. Travel and expense is a common and legitimate barrier and I'm sure your friend understand why you can't make it.

In fact, I'm detecting some judgement of her and her decision to marry in your question, and so I think in this case especially, when you can't wholeheartedly support and congratulate the couple, staying home is probably for the best.
posted by Asparagus at 7:44 AM on June 20, 2014

You're doing the right thing by going. You won't be sorry.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:18 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the core thing is that you're feeling hurt by all this, and I think it's reasonable, but also I have to see her POV--it may not be entirely her idea to be moving away, she's going to be losing all her friends, she may or may not be making the best decisions about any of this in the wake of what she's going through and I think some slack-cutting is warranted.

I ended up moving a very long distance for a significant other, once, and the move was a really difficult thing. I'm trying not to generalize the fact that my own circumstance ended poorly and with me moving home, but--well--just in case this is the beginning of something she may end up looking at later as a big mistake, I think whatever gesture you can make that you're still her friend, it will be a good gesture to make. I mean, even if the relationship is fine, the move might not be. Don't let her burn her bridges even if she's sitting on them playing with matches, she's in the midst of a stressful time and you'll all be happier later that you didn't.
posted by Sequence at 2:48 PM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

If it was that big a deal, I'd go to the wedding and skip the reception, or not go at all. I seriously doubt that the bride is going to hold grudges against the enormous number of people she must have invited to a remote, expensive, two-day wedding to actually have 500 guests show up.

Also keep in mind that you seem to be expecting personal treatment, when she invited at least 500 other people. If she saw every couple at the wedding every day, it would take most of a year to get to everyone who is actually going to show up.

My advice: cut her some slack. A wedding is stressful and a lot of work. I'm sure she's doing her best to accommodate everyone.
posted by cnc at 3:29 PM on June 20, 2014, I think you made just the right decision. Even if there are 500 guests coming, it sounds as if your presence is important to your friend. Also a three-hour non-airplane journey is not a "destination" wedding. You don't even have to sleep over anywhere. Making sure you get your 9PM ferry is taking care of yourself. Have a good time!
posted by DMelanogaster at 4:01 PM on June 20, 2014

If you are worried about the suitability of the match, or that she's been sucked into this relationship, you take your friend aside and mention it. It's the pre-wedding 'voicing of the concerns.' I've done it.

Please, for the love of all that's holy (and all that isn't), do not do this a few weeks before her massive, dream wedding. She's made her decision. This is not about you.
posted by Leatherstocking at 4:24 PM on June 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think you've made a great decision. Celebrate the wedding, bug out early, you support a friend in her major life change, and she knows you cared enough to come see her wed. (Beyond that, with all those people she'll be plenty busy the next day.)

From the tone of your reply email, it sounds like your comfortable and happy with the decision you've made, and I'll bet most of the negativity was coming from the stress you were under trying to make a black or white decision to attend/don't attend.

Have a nice time at the wedding!
posted by BlueHorse at 7:41 PM on June 20, 2014

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