Am I a horrible person if I don't go to my cousin's wedding?
August 1, 2015 12:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to have to go alone to the wedding of my much younger cousin, which will cost me a fortune, and where my newly married former flame will me. Is it really bad if I just make up a white lie and not go?

I'll start off by saying I'm not super close to my cousin, but I am very close to his immediate family. In particular, his parents and sister (my aunt and uncle and cousin). My grandmother will also be going who probably doesn't have a lot of time left although I did go out and see her a couple months ago and if I didn't go to the wedding I could probably swing a trip at Christmas.

My reasons for really not wanting to go are admittedly ridiculous, but I'm going through a pretty hard time in my life and am dreading going to this wedding. Simply put I am in my 30s and very single. Out of 6 cousins (and I am one of the oldest), I am the only single one. I also just broke up with my boyfriend a few weeks ago. It was a short term relationship, but I nonetheless had very high hopes for it and we had been friends for years before we started dating so it was fairly intense. We broke up more or less because he was still reeling from getting out of a very long term relationship and wasn't able to fully commit to the relationship. In addition, this has just been the year from hell between a new job being just awful and one of my best friend's being violently killed. I very much want to get married and have a family one day, but that is increasingly not looking like it will be in the cards and I am trying to come to terms with that.

To compound things, five years ago at my other cousin's wedding (the now groom's sister) I got very drunk and proceeded to make out with one of my cousin/now groom's best friends. Everyone has had a good laugh about it, there are no hard feelings. However, best friend just got married to someone else and will be at the wedding and in the bridal party. He is also significantly younger than me. The idea of being the old maid cousin showing up without even a date at this wedding is just a little more than I can handle at this exact moment.

I realize a lot of this awkwardness is in my head. My family is great and not the type to judge any woman for being single in her 30s. I had really, really hoped to be taking my now ex to this wedding, but obviously that is no longer a possibility. The wedding is on the other side of the country so I can't even drag one of my guy friends to it as a date. I have a female friend who lives a couple hours away from where the wedding will be who has sweetly offered to go with me, but I just feel kind of pathetic bringing a platonic friend as my "date".

To top that off, going to the wedding will cost me over $1k between the airfare and 2-3 nights in the super fancy hotel where they are having it. I could possibly turn it into a week long vacation and go see other family nearby, but I'd be burning a lot of annual leave. I'm planning on going on a big international trip next year and if I go to the wedding, I don't think I'll have enough leave (or money..) to also fly home for Christmas.

If I bail I've decided that I will tell a white lie and say that a work thing has come up and I can't go (with the nature of my work this is an entirely possible thing that could happen). I know my cousin the groom wouldn't care. He's a super nice, laid back guy, but we aren't close at all. My aunt and uncle will probably be hurt, but understanding. I do make an effort to go see them and I think I would try to make it up to them by going to see them for Christmas. I would also of course send a gift to my cousin and his bride.

Am I an awful person if I don't go? Or should I just get over myself, take my friend, and make the best of it because this is an important family event? I'm really not sure why this is making me so anxious, but it is. I'm so, so tired of going to wedding after wedding alone and for some reason this just represents my breaking point.
posted by Duchess Sock McPuppeterson to Human Relations (49 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I grant thee permission not to go!! No guilt required.
posted by cecic at 12:38 PM on August 1, 2015 [72 favorites]

you're not an awful person. sometimes stuff just isn't possible, for whatever reason, personal or otherwise.

make your regrets, send them a nice gift, and stay home. see your family at christmas.
posted by koroshiya at 12:40 PM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Oh, girl. Skip it and do something nice for yourself. For real. A wedding is just one day. I'm planning one right now and I would not care at all if a friend or family member couldn't make it out for whatever reason (and you've got a boatload of them). I think it's totally okay to declare this a self-care moment and give a white lie.
posted by pinetree at 12:41 PM on August 1, 2015 [12 favorites]

$1k to go to the wedding of someone you're not very close with? Totally ok not to go!
posted by missmagenta at 12:41 PM on August 1, 2015 [31 favorites]

It sounds like going would cause you a lot of pain and trouble. That isn't worth $1000! Don't go, and don't feel bad about it. Take care of yourself!
posted by cosmicbeast at 12:43 PM on August 1, 2015 [9 favorites]

It's okay not to go. I don't think you're being ridiculous. Each of us has a finite amount of energy, and each additional stressful situation uses up a lot of available emotional resources. It sounds like you need to conserve your remaining emotional resources right now--it makes sense not to go. It also sounds like it'll be a big financial cost, which is another reason not to go if it will stress you out.

The things that concern you are things you have a backup plan for--you've just visited your grandma recently and you'll do so again at Christmas.

Don't go, and don't feel bad about missing the wedding.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:44 PM on August 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

I very reluctantly went to a cousin's wedding last year. They're divorced now. Despite the admittedly small sample size I confidently and officially declare 100% of cousins' weddings to be stupid. I personally absolve you of any guilt or responsibility you might feel about not attending.
posted by phunniemee at 12:46 PM on August 1, 2015 [13 favorites]

I don't think you're an awful person if you don't go. But I do think that people really underestimate weddings as a tool to grow (and solidify) your social network, which might be helpful to you in the future, and maybe even when it comes to dating. But I would definitely not drink!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:46 PM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Send your regrets and a gift. Don't explain. Don't feel bad about it. If it was a sibling or a parent, you kind of have to go under most circumstances, but other than that weddings are 100% elective.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:51 PM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

"Across the country" is the key concept here. Once a wedding exceeds road-trip distance from your home, it is a special treat if you DO make it, and no problem at all if you don't. Send a card and a gift, take 'em out for drinks when they're on your coast.
posted by apparently at 12:52 PM on August 1, 2015 [24 favorites]

I think you would probably have a better time seeing your family than you expect right now in the throes of a recently ended relationship, but it's no big deal. Send your sincere regrets, a nice present, and proceed to enjoy your trip home for Christmas and your international trip guilt-free.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 12:54 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd say it's 100% ok to not go based on the financials alone - send them a lovely gift instead, make the phone calls you need to make, and see the people you care about at Christmas.

As far as the "I very much want to get married and have a family one day, but that is increasingly not looking like it will be in the cards and I am trying to come to terms with that" - I know you're just coming out of a relationship, and are having a rough time generally, and feelings are what they are, but you can *totally* still have a marriage and family! Four of my friends (most late thirties; one is in her early 40s) got married (and pregnant!) over the past year. AskMetafilter is full of similar stories - look for them!
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:55 PM on August 1, 2015 [8 favorites]

Send a gift and skip it! I have a cousin I love very much and I just bailed on her wedding because it's too far, too expensive, and I just damn didn't feel like it. You're totally absolved.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 1:01 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

No need for a "white lie', just a flat 'sorry I can't make it' is fine.
Send them a nice card.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:06 PM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

It's an invitation not a command performance.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:06 PM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

You aren't under any obligation to go, nor to explain; if asked for an explanation cite superdramatic work issues.

Reply with regrets, and send a really nice yet inexpensive gift.
posted by tel3path at 1:07 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Don't go, and don't worry about it. $1k is a lot of money even for a wedding you'd want to go to. If it's not an immediate family member and not within driving distance, people generally understand when you can't make it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:26 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Send gift and a card and a note with "I'm sorry it wasn't possible for me to attend".
For RSVP, just decline with the same, "I'm sorry it won't be possible for me to attend".
If pressed, use work as the excuse. You deserve a break from the stress.
posted by stormyteal at 1:41 PM on August 1, 2015

As another old maid cousin, you have my permission to make up a lie. $1000, passing up other trips you'd like to take, to feel bad at the wedding? Fuck that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:44 PM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Absolutely don't go. You'll go see your family some other time, when they're not all wedding-crazed and you can actually visit with them.

Life is too short to do totally optional, expensive things you're going to hate.
posted by decathecting at 1:47 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't go! Really. See your family some other time. It's fine. Actually, it's more than fine, it's taking very good care of yourself.
posted by quince at 1:52 PM on August 1, 2015

Response by poster: I guess I should clarify that I am close enough to this side of my family that there would normally be zero question whether I would go. While I'm not in the wedding, I've been invited to the rehearsal dinner and all of the other events for the immediate family. There are far more distant family members than myself flying in from all over the country and even abroad. None of my cousins, aunts or uncles have ever missed any of each other's weddings. I understand the impulse to just decline without need for an explanation under normal circumstances, but I really can't imagine casually declining without explanation. That just seems really hurtful and dismissive of family that has been there for me through a lot of things (not the cousin in particular, but his parents). I don't love the idea of lying to them, but other than tell them the full embarrassing truth of the matter (which I guess I could), it seems like the least offensive option.
posted by Duchess Sock McPuppeterson at 2:00 PM on August 1, 2015

As someone that is the last single cousin and grappling with with aging, I also have terrible phobias of being emotionally compelled to attend weddings or other family type events and I can certainly relate. However what seals the deal in my opinion for not going is:
I know my cousin the groom wouldn't care. He's a super nice, laid back guy, but we aren't close at all.
Say no more. You have plenty of compelling reasons not to go, and there's no reason to go comparing yourself against other attendees. There's no ledger wherein someone is keeping track of how much travel effort each person puts in, no formula for miles traveled divided by closeness to the groom raised to the number of years as roommates in college or whatever. Everybody is different and has different circumstances.

Make whatever excuse you are most comfortable with and remind yourself that your feelings and well-being are more important than the slight chance of maybe making someone else feel temporary mild sadness for a few moments at your absence.
posted by Otto Franz Joseph Leopold von Soxen-Puppetten at 2:39 PM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

I am getting hitched in a few months and am receiving an ongoing trickle of RSVPs, a few from invitees sending their regrets. If you were my cousin (and for all I know, you may be one of my many cousins), all you would need do is tick the "regretfully decline" in place of the "delightfully accept" thing on the RSVP, and I would need no further information.

Both the imminent missus and I have far-flung family and friends, and we accept that a few of the people we have invited cannot attend for personal/financial/scheduling reasons. Maybe it is an Ask Culture/Guess Culture dichotomy, but we would never think to pry after a rationale from those who must decline.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:41 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Around 1980 or so, I was invited to a cousin's wedding. Unfortunately, I was then in a temporary depressed or anxious or some other kind of phase, so I used an excuse about having hurt myself (true but not really serious) and didn't go.

Since then, over the years, I've become great friends with that cousin and her family and regret that my temporary weird mental state made me miss what would have been an important event for me. I might have felt awkward at the wedding, because I was awkward then, but I would have been welcomed with open arms and I would have made some great memories, and gotten into the wedding photos.

I'm telling this story because you don't really sound like you want to skip the wedding. You've given a lot of "reasons" someone might use for skipping the wedding, but it doesn't sound like you want that person to be you. Consider whether it's possible you might need to go to the wedding for your own sake, regardless of all the dramatic details you've laid out.

And it's OK to go stag if you like. Even if the other guests are 100% couples, they'll all be glad to see you and be with you.
posted by JimN2TAW at 2:46 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Is there something in between just not attending and giving a full explanation? Maybe you could write your cousin (+ fiancee) a heartfelt letter accompanying either your gift or your RSVP. Talk about any childhood memories (or memories of shared relatives), your hopes for their marriage, etc. Basically "be there" with them without the part where you spend a lot of money to go to a wedding where you predict you'll just be miserable.

On the other hand, some ways it might look more palatable--

I have a female friend who lives a couple hours away from where the wedding will be who has sweetly offered to go with me, but I just feel kind of pathetic bringing a platonic friend as my "date".

Would she be up for finding you a "real date" instead? (Going with your friend actually sounds kind of awesome but I get why it could feel like adding insult to injury right now.)

To top that off, going to the wedding will cost me over $1k between the airfare and 2-3 nights in the super fancy hotel where they are having it.

You don't have to stay in the super-fancy hotel! If that would be weird or require explanation in this crowd, a reasonable white lie would be that you're staying with a friend in the area. Or maybe there's a family member who wouldn't mind sharing a room?
posted by cogitron at 3:01 PM on August 1, 2015

I have wanted to bail on MANY social events for reasons, but always regretted when I didn't go and ended up having a great time when I did.

A wedding is not like a birthday or holiday that happens once a year. It's a weird thing and a weird group of people combining and most people feel a little weird about going. and honestly, discomfort/anxiety about being alone should not be enough to prevent you from having a good time. What will you be doing if you don't go? Will you be alone? Will you be sad?

No one cares about your past mistakes as much as you - they probably don't care at all. No one will be looking at you and wondering why you are alone.
The reasons you have listed here really make it sound like you need reassurance that you will probably have fun and it will be memorable enough for the cost (cost in time,money,emotional resources, etc.) rather than permission to bail. And having been in similar situations I really think you should go. I promise that I am not sentimental or even particularly close to family, but for some events it matters a lot just being there, and it's SO MUCH better to go and feel a little bit awkward but then have some great memories than it is to not go and regret missing a once in a lifetime event.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 3:06 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Short answer, you are never obligated to go to a function like a wedding. If your family thinks you are then you have bigger problems than the wedding.

It sounds like in this case the family will mostly be OK with it if you can't make it, and this is the sort of situation white lies were invented for. Bow out, tell the white lie so they won't wonder if you are dissing them or something, and save your money and angst for more important things.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:26 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

You don't have to tell them about all the relationship woes. You don't even have to make up a lie! Just tell them the part where you can't afford to spend a thousand dollars (and time off work) on the trip at this time. That's a good enough reason by itself to pass on the event.
posted by JDHarper at 3:26 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm skipping a wedding right now, so I'm obviously going to say skip it.

It's just a wedding, and you don't have to go. You'll feel somewhat guilty afterward, for a bit, but it's just a wedding. Two weeks after the wedding, your cousin and his spouse will be talking about what they should have for dinner, and this really won't matter. Your family will understand, and they will still love you.

Don't beat yourself up, take care of yourself, send your regrets, and tell everyone you love them. Don't worry; it will be alright in the end.
posted by doyouknowwhoIam? at 4:08 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm telling this story because you don't really sound like you want to skip the wedding.

The reasons you have listed here really make it sound like you need reassurance that you will probably have fun and it will be memorable enough for the cost (cost in time,money,emotional resources, etc.) rather than permission to bail.

It's interesting; I had a completely different reading of your question. To me, it sounded like you really, really don't want to go, but you feel pressured into it and guilty about possibly not going. You know you're definitely not in a headspace right now to enjoy it, and you would rather not spend $1000 to grit your teeth through what should be a happy gathering. It did not sound like you need reassurance that it would be fun, but rather you need reassurance that you're not a bad person if you don't go.

You've been through a lot lately--breakup with boyfriend; violent death of a best friend; starting a new job. Any one of those things would be extremely stressful, never mind all three! From what you've said, frankly, I don't think attending this wedding is going to add to your emotional resources--it will drain them. Yes, getting together with family can be great, and it sounds like yours is supportive. HOWEVER, you are not going for an ordinary visit; you're going for a wedding, a happy occasion where the focus (rightly) is on the couple getting married. It won't be appropriate to focus on your own feelings while you're at wedding-related events, so be aware that if you go, realistically you are going to have to spend a lot of time putting on a happy face and suppressing any discomfort you feel.

There is a (seldom acknowledged) cost to doing this. It's a real thing, it takes a toll, and only you can decide if you're willing to pay it.

It sounds like you are happy for your cousin and his wife, but that doesn't mean you need to attend their wedding to show your love and support. You said yourself he is laid-back and will not be hurt if you don't attend. I think it'll be just as meaningful to them if you send a heartfelt letter and a nice gift, and see them when you visit at Christmas.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:21 PM on August 1, 2015 [9 favorites]

> I'm telling this story because you don't really sound like you want to skip the wedding.

I totally disagree with this. I wasn't going to bother answering because it seemed like this was one of those rare unanimous AskMes, but since there are a couple of "Go!" answers, I'll chime in with the majority: you sound to me like you desperately want to skip the wedding and just want to be reassured that that's OK, even though some members of the family will miss your being there, and trust me, it is. The fact that "There are far more distant family members than myself flying in from all over the country and even abroad" is irrelevant; it's still a hell of a long way and a huge commitment, and nobody can or should reproach you for not doing it. Even if it were just across the street you shouldn't feel obliged to go anywhere you're not comfortable going, but the distance makes it an easy decision. If you feel you can't decline without lying, you have my permission to lie; Kant's position on lying (Never ever!) is absurd, and this is one of those situations where a white lie is fine.

Also, I have cousins I like, but I have never been to a cousin's wedding. Really, it's OK.
posted by languagehat at 5:59 PM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Keep in mind that, in issuing invites, people planning weddings are cautioned to expect only 30-50% of out-of-town invitees to make it.

Feel free to send a gift and your regrets, and just carve some time out on your next visit home, and that should cover all your bases in making sure everyone knows you care about them (even while missing the single event).
posted by bookdragoness at 6:09 PM on August 1, 2015

I very much want to get married and have a family one day, but that is increasingly not looking like it will be in the cards and I am trying to come to terms with that.

I just want to say that OH MY GOD, ALL MY DREAMS ARE DEAD, I WILL NEVER BE LOVED AGAIN is a step in the process of grieving a relationship. I just ended a relationship, and this line jumped out at me because while it's not my exact worry* it's MY EXACT WORRY, if you know what I mean.

I have been trying to talk myself out of believing the irrational thought that I'll be alone forever because I'm alone at the moment, so I want to go ahead and share with you that this thought is also irrational for you. The cards look shitty at the moment because you just lost on a bad hand. Doesn't mean the dealer's not gonna deal out another round, you know?

*I'm genderqueer and a mentally unstable drunk and cannot carry or raise children
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:26 PM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

I don't think you have to go if you don't want too, I think the financial reasons are enough. However, its possible that if you use that excuse your aunt and uncle, whom you are very close to might offer to pay.

And as daunting as it seems I think it might be worthwhile to go. I don't think it'll be as bad as you think it is and while I understand the need for solitude when going through difficult times, I believe that the company of those that love you can help as well.

Maybe strike a balance? Go for two days instead of three and try nong you're price on Priceline for a cheaper ticket and hotel. Bonus points if you stay in a different hotel than everyone because then you can have time to decompress and sight see etc on your own. Also, I don't know where you're located and flying too but Spirit Airlines has great deals. I live on the East coast and got round trip tickets to the west coast for $120.

Lastly, about not getting married...I don't think that's true. I know people who've gotten married well into their 40s and in some cases it was a first marriage. Plus, you're still in your 30s which is young my book. Perhaps when you're ready to try dating again try online dating and cast a wide net. There's nothing wrong with getting married later, whether it's voluntary or not and I guarantee you that you have just as much a chance of matrimony and happiness as anybody else.
posted by CosmicSeeker42 at 6:40 PM on August 1, 2015

The main thing here is that nobody is looking at you or judging you anywhere near as much as you feel like they are. Whatever you decide to do is ok; it is of minimal importance to anyone but you. It will not be dissected by anyone else; it will not be taken as a great signifier.

Want to skip it? Skip it!! Nobody really expects that everyone they invite is going to drop everything, pay for cross-country tickets and hotel stays, just to be present at an extended family wedding. They invite you, but they know the chances of you coming are only around 50%. If is entirely within normal, no-explanations-necessary parameters for you not to go.

Want to go after all and be with your family? Then go! Nobody there is going to be judging you for not being married. If they ask you what's up with your love life, it's only because they are stuck for conversation topics. They don't actually care; they'll forget what you say 5 seconds after you say it. You just say "yeah, I'm having fun, definitely" and change the topic.

For me, the budget thing would be a deal breaker; the topic wouldn't need to bear any more examination than that. But whatever decision you make, just know that you really are not being scrutinized by others. They all have their own personal issues; they don't spend their energy worrying about yours.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:48 PM on August 1, 2015

If it were me, I would go because it sounds like it is more of a family obligation than go or no go based on potential enjoyment. However, $1000 to fly cross country and stay in a nice hotel for 2 or 3 nights sounds like you are underestimating the cost. I would see if you can share a room with a cousin or your mom or someone. I might even mention to your mom or aunt and uncle that you are concerned about the cost and see if they offer to help.

I would add that not going is not the end of the world and certainly a reasonable decision.
posted by AugustWest at 10:53 PM on August 1, 2015

Don't make up a reason not to go.

Explain that you were really looking forward to seeing everyone at the wedding, but that you looked at your budget and the work leave you are allowed and realized that you would be unable to travel to see your family at Christmas if you go to the wedding. Say how much you regret having to make the choice between the wedding and Christmas, but that you simply could not bear to be away from your family for Christmas.

Buy a nice gift and send it with a card.
posted by yohko at 11:08 PM on August 1, 2015

As a 1st-gen person with close ties to both family of origin and to physically far-away extended family, who has made a few of these kinds of trips (like, I am not at all cavalier about family obligations) , I'd ordinarily side with the people suggesting you go. And if you could somehow cut down the costs, and get into a slightly better frame of mind, I'd say, yeah, consider going. The "old maid" stuff is in your head, it wouldn't be coming from family; the hookup incident isn't a big deal for anyone but you; you'd be among people you love, with whom you have good relationships, by the sounds of things - they might even comfort you, if you opened up.

There's a lot of distortion going on in your thinking about the old maid thing, and I think it's worth trying to undistort it. But as Juliet Banana noted, it's wrapped up in active grief. And I agree with others - you're being hit from all sides, dealing with multiple losses, and maybe not, for the moment, equipped with the reserve of resilience you'd ordinarily have. I agree that it sounds like for you, right now, it would be just be painful.

I mean, go, if you think you can work through some of this, or manage a couple of days (though sounds like you'd get sucked into going longer [you don't have to though!]). But you're far from a bad person for not going, if you decide it's too much.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:28 PM on August 1, 2015

Totally okay not to go. Give them as much notice as possible, send nice card and gift, and go and visit them another time when you are feeling more like it.
posted by intensitymultiply at 11:29 PM on August 1, 2015

He's a super nice, laid back guy, but we aren't close at all.
If he is super nice and laid back I think he'd be mortified to think he caused you such distress by attending the wedding.

Send your regrets and don't worry about it.
If you were close enough to share the reasons I'm sure he'd give you the permission not to go to the wedding like us Internet strangers.
posted by fullerine at 1:27 AM on August 2, 2015

Another vote for "totally okay not to go." Send your regrets, send a nice card and gift, and don't feel guilty.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:34 AM on August 2, 2015

I think you should go. Not because you "should go" but because you have a great family, you're at a low point, and a weekend spent among the people who know and love you best might be pretty wonderful. I've been where you are and I so get the feelings of "when will this happen for me" and all .. but if this were my situation I think I'd feel much worse if everyone in my family gathered for a big celebration and I stayed away because I was unhappy about myself.

Go get a bunch of hugs from your family. Don't bring a friend as a "date" .. then you're responsible to a degree for someone else's happiness. Get your hair done, wear something you look fabulous in, eat great food, drink champagne and tell yourself that for a weekend, you're putting all the negative thoughts and unhappiness in the storage unit to be dealt with later. Then go forth and take your place among your family.

I think there's a real danger in indulging yourself in negative thoughts like I very much want to get married and have a family one day, but that is increasingly not looking like it will be in the cards and I am trying to come to terms with that.. How do you know you won't meet a great potential partner tomorrow? Or at this wedding, or on the plane ride out there? If you're so great at predicting the future would you please give me the winning Powerball numbers? That kind of negative thinking gives off a vibe that becomes self-fulfilling. You have to refuse to become that unhappy person. You have a lot of stuff you're dealing with and you can make a choice to go swirling down the drain of "everything sucks, why even try anymore", or you can swim upwards toward the light by remaining positive and saying, "Party? Why yes, I'd love to come!"

Personally I love a great celebration and wouldn't miss one with all of my family. Just consider throwing all that stuff you're carrying around aside and going in spite of it.
posted by Kangaroo at 5:52 AM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Miss Manners once put it well: A wedding invitation is not an invoice.

She was talking about gifts, but I think it also applies to travel and emotional costs. No white lie required here, simply a RSVP informing the couple you will not be able to attend and wishing them happiness. A nice gift would signal your support of their union. (Think how nice it could be if you're not blowing the budget on travel!)
posted by Wretch729 at 5:54 AM on August 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

First, to address your actual question: you certainly don't have to go. It's a lot of expense for a weekend, and would likely have an effect on your being able to go again for Christmas. Sometimes you're just not in the mood for a wedding, and that's okay. Having said that, speaking as someone who is also from a close family, it's great to be with your family and get their love and attention. I expect you could have a great time at the wedding.

Second, and the actual reason I'm writing, I understand completely how it feels when you're in your 30s and you want to be married, and it seems like everyone else is. I'm the oldest of my cousins on both sides of my family, and I was the last (father's side) and third to last (mother's side) to get married. My friends were all married and had begun having children. I hadn't dated anyone seriously for years and felt the same way as you - I thought that I would never be married, and I wasn't hopeful for kids. I met my husband online when I was 39 and we married when I was 41. We decided not to have kids. It's not the life I imagined, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Whether you decide to go to the wedding or not, be happy with your decision. There isn't a wrong one.
posted by Wet Hen at 6:24 AM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

You certainly don't have to go, and I would probably have the same initial tendency to avoid it - but I agree with those who say you might find it comforting to be with what sounds like wonderful, supportive family. If you feel ok talking about it, to whatever degree, you might also get some reassurance, perspective, or comfort about some of your worries about "old maid"ness or some of the other things going on for you. I was the "last cousin standing"* at a wedding about a decade ago and to this day I remember another's cousin reaction to a joke I made about this fact that told me it was just fine.

Maybe you can tie the trip in to a visit with the friend who offered to come as your guest, though I agree that you might not want to actually bring her - not because it looks bad but because, as Kangaroo said, you may then feel (partly) responsible for her enjoying herself. Of course, if this isn't something that would affect you, then disregard this part.

*by which I mean, the cousin whose wedding it was had been, until that day, the only other not-yet-married cousin.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 9:46 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Agree with others who say you might have more fun than you think. I am all for skipping empty obligation weddings - but it kind of sounds like fear and shame are the big drivers here. Those are not necessarily the right reasons to make decisions like this.
posted by yarly at 10:30 AM on August 2, 2015

I have skipped lots of weddings, and was not at all offended over the folks that couldn't make my wedding. If you feel the need to give a reason, "I can't afford it right now" is a perfectly valid one -- I've missed plenty of weddings because, dude, $1K+ is a LOT of money and it's not always in my budget! And many weddings that require travel end up in that ballpark, like this one. If you don't feel able to mention money, I think the work excuse is fine too.

I would just say send your regrets as soon as you are able to just to make sure they know when they're getting estimates -- and certainly final numbers -- in to caterers, planning seating charts, etc. While I was not bothered by people who let us know they couldn't attend our wedding for various reasons, I was pretty annoyed by those whose RSVPs I had to track down or who cancelled last minute for non-emergency reasons. Given that you mentioned this is happening at a large, fancy hotel, I'm going to guess that the cost-per-plate could be pretty high. If you delay this because you're embarassed and then back out at the last minute, you could be costing your cousin a chunk of change, which has the potential to lead to more ill will. Just send your regrets early along with a nice card and gift.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:04 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm much closer to my family than my husband is, but most of his is local to us. Mine is scattered to the four winds. When we got married, some of my family showed up and some didn't, and I completely understood. I invited them to let them know they were welcome, but didn't expect every one of them to come - even those who were able to make it out this way for other weddings. Circumstances change, you know?

Permission granted to stay home. They'll be ok without you. Send your regrets and a lovely gift.
posted by RogueTech at 10:17 AM on August 3, 2015

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