I should go to the wedding. Or should I?
July 14, 2014 3:43 PM   Subscribe

Two lovely friends of mine are getting married. A number of people I know are also invited, none of whom are close friends. Unfortunately, my terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad ex - the one who did this to me - is invited too. Help?

Some background: Two years ago, my ex, the couple who are getting married, and a former female friend (FFF) were all part of one of my circles of friends. Then, my relationship with Ex ended. The year thereafter was the hardest year of my life. Ex ended things with me quite cruelly, and I was a pretty big wreck for a long time. I saw a psychiatrist, did a year of therapy, and made some major changes in my life, including ending friendships with toxic people, spending more time with my family, and nurturing relationships with other friends. Almost two years later, I'm now in a much better place.

When my relationship with Ex ended, FFF immediately dropped her friendship with me and glommed onto Ex. I remained friends with others in our circle, including Couple, but it was clear that I would no longer be invited to social functions where Ex would be present. To their credit, Couple made an effort to continue to hang out with me in other situations, as did a few others from our circle, but I wouldn't say any of them are close friends.

So I'm invited to Couple's wedding. So are Ex, FFF, and a number of other people from our old circle. If I'm honest with myself, my fear about attending is having no one in my corner, so to speak. I have no idea what the relationships between Ex, FFF, and Couple have been like over the past two years, as we're all in different geographic areas at the moment, but Ex will presumably have FFF in his corner, and the fact that I was excluded from social functions in our former circle following our breakup makes me worry I'd be excluded at the wedding, and spend it feeling very awkward.

Additionally, I am presently single. I'm invited with a plus one, so I could conceivably get a date. But I have no romantic prospects at the moment, so any date I could bring would be a friend. (Bonus: I haven't been to many non-family weddings and I'm not sure what the etiquette is with respect to bringing a friend as a date.) There's also the possibility that I might not be able to find a date at all. I'd normally be 1000% fine with going stag to a wedding, but.

Finally (this may be irrelevant), although I blocked FFF (and Ex) on the social media I use regularly long ago, FFF recently sent me a friend request on a platform I rarely use. I have no interest in being her friend again, given her behavior after the breakup - but maybe I'm reading the friend request as an olive branch when it's not one.

I know I could handle being around Ex at the wedding. What I'm less sure I could handle is feeling excluded by everyone else. But, I'm really happy that Couple invited me to the wedding, and I'd love to share in their day.

What should I do? Opinions on any part of the above are welcomed.
posted by sevensnowflakes to Human Relations (35 answers total)
Send your regrets and a gift.
posted by 724A at 3:49 PM on July 14, 2014 [38 favorites]

FFF recently sent me a friend request on a platform I rarely use

If it was LinkedIn, I wouldn't read any intent into it, at all; it's harder to not spam everyoe you've ever had any sort of email contact with when you set up a LinkedIn account than it is to unintentionally send out those requests.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:49 PM on July 14, 2014 [9 favorites]

This sounds nerve-wracking to me. I'd be too haunted by the bad behavior of ex and FFF to really relax and enjoy myself. Weddings can be fun and awesome, but they can also be awkward and lonely if you're not with a giant pile of friends.

I'd also send a gift and regrets. Or, if you want to visit with the couple, I'd take them out for dinner as a gift after the wedding. That way, you get a nice visit in without the trauma of having to see awful people.
posted by quince at 3:55 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's generally fine to bring a friend instead of a date, if there's someone you would enjoy hanging out with and rolling your eyes at the horrible people no longer in your life. The great thing about weddings is that you can go to the ceremony (zero having to stand around and chit-chat) and bolt if you're not feeling it after that. You don't have to stick around for the reception.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:55 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you really want to go to this wedding?

Here's the thing about weddings (note that this doesn't apply to people for whom you are legit bffs or close family members or something): the couple does not care if you are there or not. They really don't. Sure, they want their friends there, and if you go they might get 3-5 minutes to talk to your table and say hi, but on a person-by-person basis, they invited you because they like you and are glad you're in their life and they wanted to recognize that in an abstract way, not because your personal presence is vital to their experience of the day.

So go if you think you will have fun at the wedding, knowing that you will probably not really get to speak to the couple, and knowing what your level of social awareness/happiness with people you don't know is, and knowing that there's a good chance they'll place you at a table with your old circle because that is who you are most associated with (unless they are very aware that that is bad). If you have any thoughts other than "I will enjoy this wedding!", then don't go, and don't feel guilty about it, you're not hurting them.

If you're local to the couple and would like to see them but decide you don't want to go, then after you RSVP it might be nice to invite them out to brunch or something "since I can't be there for your wedding", some time a few months before or after, because that is probably a better way to spend time with your friends.
posted by brainmouse at 3:56 PM on July 14, 2014 [29 favorites]

Go to the wedding and try to enjoy yourself. Have an escape plan so if things get awkward you can leave and go enjoy yourself somewhere else.

It's fine to bring a friend to a wedding.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:56 PM on July 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Don't go. You've moved on and there's no need to bring back the past. It's perfectly fine to not go. Say it's your cousin's birthday. Your brother's baby shower. You're traveling for work. No reason to go see the people that treated you that way.
posted by winterportage at 3:57 PM on July 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

2nd Brandon Blatcher -- go with a good friend, celebrate these nice people, and if you're brought into contact with the ex and fff (hopefully it's a big enough wedding and you'll be at opposite ends of the room), smile, and severely limit any conversation, which I think you should keep at surface level or about the couple. Basically, don't let them see you sweat. There's potential for this to be empowering. If you find it isn't, maybe you develop a headache.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:01 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Don't go, and don't even say why -- "I'm so sorry that I won't be able to attend, and I wish you every happiness" is all you need.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:02 PM on July 14, 2014 [13 favorites]

Send a gift, and wishes to see them next time you are in the same city.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:08 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you want to go to the wedding, go and be glad that you can bring a friend. Honestly, I would not like to be a romantic partner attending a wedding with someone who had the background with ex and FFF that you describe, but going as the plus one with no romantic overtones could be easy and possibly quite fun.

If you don't want to go to the wedding, don't. But if the only reason you don't want to go to the wedding is because you're concerned with how other people view you, rather than the discomfort of dealing with two wackadoodles who apparently consciously and willfully hurt you, then think about whether those people (the ones other than ex and FFF) wouldn't have a better opinion of you if you were to go and sail through it. Remember Tom and Lorenzo's advice on the affirmation you should say to yourself whenever you leave home: Everyone wants to be me or do me.
posted by janey47 at 4:09 PM on July 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you wanted to go you wouldn't have asked this question.

Send a gift and your regrets. Make plans to see the couple soon.
posted by sockermom at 4:20 PM on July 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

I say go & bring a friend and try to enjoy. Wear something you feel happy and comfortable in, smile and congratulate the couple, then make a french exit and go out with your friend for drinks if it's awkward.

I didn't attend a wedding several years ago due to some nastiness with an ex. Ex got plastered at the wedding and I'm told said ex made quite. the. spectacle., but the bride's still upset with me for not coming at all. It's been years now but it feels weird. I wish I'd gone.
posted by mochapickle at 4:27 PM on July 14, 2014

I recently skipped a similar situation with a little sadness but no regret. Honestly, most weddings tend to be busy enough that the quality time with the bride and groom is limited - I'd rather send my regrets and then spend a weekend with a couple later when things are calm and I can really enjoy their company.
posted by Candleman at 4:35 PM on July 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't go. Not for any of the reasons you've said, but because it doesn't sound like any fun at all. You'll be so worried about all the people you want to avoid, you don't know any of their other friends.

Send your regrets, and a gift and plan something fun with your other friends for that day.

Just do whatever it is you ACTUALLY, really want to do. If you want to go, take your very best friend who can crack you up in the worst of circumstances and go. But if, as your question indicates, this is fraught with angst and feelings and general yuk, give it a miss.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:43 PM on July 14, 2014

When you go to a wedding, the people you are going to see the absolute least are the ones getting married.

Don't go. Send a gift and your regrets and make plans to see them after the honeymoon.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:43 PM on July 14, 2014

I can image this scenario happening in my former friend circle and I would definitely not go. Sounds like a lot of anxiety even if there's no drama. If you want to go, though, I think it's perfectly acceptable to bring a friend as your plus-one.
posted by rawralphadawg at 4:47 PM on July 14, 2014

If the wedding is in your geographic area, go--why not, you can always leave after the ceremony if you feel uncomfortable. If the wedding is not in your geographic area, don't go. Don't spend the travel money and then feel trapped there if you feel uncomfortable.
posted by snorkmaiden at 4:57 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd say don't go, send a gift and regrets. But if you want to go, take a fun friend with you, let the fun friend in on your terrible ex. You and fun friend will be appropriately mysterious about your relationship status ("Oh, he's just a friend!" with a laugh that suggests perhaps otherwise, and some judicious reciprocal pre-planned flirting) and then you act like you can BARELY REMEMBER ex and FFF and when they talk to you you look slightly perplexed like you don't quite understand why they think you care, but you're really warm and enthusiastic like, "Wow, I'm glad everything is going so well for you!" to everything they say. With your other friends, you're SO THRILLED to see them after all this time, and life is going GREAT! (Don't lie, just make it the facebook/job interview version of your life.) If anyone mentions anything about ex or the breakup, you just laugh and say that seems like a long time ago, you barely even remember. Also devote time to chatting up family members of the bride and groom, who don't have close ties with the other friends and are delighted to hear your Couple-related stories.

Basically you just spend the evening being warm and awesome and funny and friendly, and acting like you don't quite remember why Ex and FFF are acting like things are awkward or like you were once close friends, but you'll be kind to them even though they're being weirdos because you're a warm and awesome person.

If Ex or FFF are in any way weird, they then look like the antisocial jerks who bring drama to someone else's wedding, while you look like the kind of cool, kind person who's polite to her ex and isn't ruffled by other people's drama.

Also it's pretty empowering to go to this kind of thing and face a Horrible Person whom you never want to deal with socially again, and leave them chagrined that they couldn't "get" at you and that your life is obviously awesome.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:01 PM on July 14, 2014 [41 favorites]

I came on to write pretty much exactly what Eyebrows McGee said, right down to the mysterious relationship status between you and your guest. But seriously, it sounds stressful and not much fun at all. Send a nice gift, write off your nasty non friends and go have fun with some new ones that weekend instead. Leave the drama behind, the couple getting married will understand.
posted by Jubey at 5:25 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Personally, I wouldn't travel to the wedding under these circumstances, but if it were local, I'd at least go to the ceremony. And if you do go to the reception, bring a super awesome friend at your +1.
posted by ktkt at 5:32 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd take the money you would have spent on the wedding (travel, clothes, etc.) and spend it on an amazing trip/present/spa day for yourself.
posted by 3491again at 5:43 PM on July 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

I never expect other people's weddings and receptions to be something I'm going to enjoy, so take that into account, but.. for me, the reason to go is that you've been invited by your friends to help celebrate and witness one of the most important transitions in their life -- i.e. you're there to support your friends in their rite of passage and the other stuff is incidental. If you really think the presence of the ex is going to be a problem for you, go to the ceremony to witness the ritually significant part and send regrets about your inability to make it to the after-party.

I think ktkt raises an important distinction here: distance to travel and expense that would be incurred on your part can be factored into your decision. But if you can, try to be there for your friends, and if you absolutely can't then indicate you approval and celebration of their union in some other way because you cannot tell them why you would be refusing and you don't want to allow them any scope to believe that your decision not to attend is because of them.
posted by Nerd of the North at 5:49 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had this whole thing written out, but yeah, Eyebrows McGee FTW.

I have to disagree with what ktkt said about going to the ceremony and not the reception. That's happened a few times in my family, and the convo at the reception table was always "oh, where's Joe? I saw him at the church!" "Oh he left, you know...the situation with Sally..."

If you go, bring a fun friend, have an awesome time, and remember that you're in a much better place now and have no time for that petty silliness.
posted by AlisonM at 6:24 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

weddings are often expensive to attend and only worth it if you are excited to be there. I would spend the money you'd have spent on a dress/travel/etc on something fun with a new friend.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:43 PM on July 14, 2014

If the wedding is local, you have a friend to go with and clothes you already own that you could wear, I'd go (but escape super early and go with your friend to a bar and talk it all out and have a good laugh about all of it).

If you need to spend much money on it (new clothes, a hotel room), don't do it. That's just extra stress. And if that's the case, that's a great excuse! I imagine your friends will understand the situation is awkward and the invite was meant with kindness. I don't think they'll blame you for not going.

Definitely give the couple a gift, though, either way.
posted by darksong at 7:02 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Shit no, you don't have to go to the wedding. THey will barely notice.

(of course we sent an invite to my aunt and her daughter, specifically omitting her two sons, all of whom still lived with my aunt, so perhaps I'm not a master of wedding etiquette...)
posted by notsnot at 7:42 PM on July 14, 2014

If Couple is aware that you don't attend things that Ex is at and invited the both of you, I think Couple should reasonably expect that you won't be attending the wedding. Which you shouldn't do.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:11 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't go. You sound very grounded after a difficult couple of years. You don't have to go to the wedding and be reminded of toxic EX and toxic FFF. A card to the couple would be appropriate. Save your sanity and continue to move forward with the life you deserve.
posted by Sal and Richard at 8:14 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Hmm, rethinking. Although I agree with Eyebrows McGee and others suggesting that this could present an opportunity for, like, a useful challenge that could maybe win you back some face, or help you come to a different understanding of things, I've been persuaded by others that if your own sense of security is still a bit on the fragile side (after what sounds like a lot of work), skipping the wedding wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Weddings do tend to be sticky memories for the couple, but, I'm sure they'll accept and understand a good enough explanation (and/or gift.. I do think that, like, a good gift would effectively signal your affection for them in your absence, and it'd still probably be cheaper than going.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:43 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Send a present and felicitations. Blithely do something interesting with someone else that weekend.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:47 PM on July 14, 2014

Living well is the best revenge.

Go. Be happy for your friends who are there.
Ignore the ex.

Don't hide from you fears.
posted by Flood at 4:20 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's a real charm in doing what Eyebrow McGee suggested, but you have to have the emotional stamina to do it.

If you don't think you have that stamina, send your regrets and a gift.
posted by magstheaxe at 5:04 AM on July 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

You don't have to go and put on a fake show of how great your life is going, and be all warm and fake happy and all the bullcrap. Why would anyone want to contort themselves just to give a certain impression to a bunch of a-holes who don't give a crap about you?

If you go, be yourself. Don't abandon yourself to play some ridiculous role to prove some ridiculous point.

Your ex is a chump, and so is the FFF. Those people are dead to you. If you choose to go to the wedding, feel free to act in whatever way makes you feel good about yourself.

I wouldn't feel obligated to attend, though. You went through a year of psychiatric treatment and therapy...and these people didn't have your back. Have your own back, do what is best for you. The wedding is 100% optional.
posted by nacho fries at 8:14 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you don't go, write a very warm and lovely note and include it with the gift you send. If they have any whiff of bad feeling about your not coming, the note will whisk it away.
posted by wryly at 9:11 AM on July 15, 2014

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