Do I have to attend a wedding if the bride hosted my engagement party?
January 11, 2017 4:22 AM   Subscribe

Someone I used to be close with but haven't seen for over a year even though we live in the same metro area has sent a 'save the date' card. She voluntarily threw my husband and I a lovely wedding reception when we eloped 6 years ago. Am I obligated to go to her wedding because of this? Snowflake circumstances inside...

I wish her well and will send a gift but I don't want to go for multiple reasons:

- We aren't friends any longer. We do not spend time together.

- I hate weddings and get anxious to the point of getting one-off Xanax scripts from my shrink in order to be able to handle them. I have Celiac Disease so I get super worried about what I can eat and 'do I even say anything to an overhwelmed bride' etc.

- She is 20+ years older than me and it is her second marriage. I doubt my absence would be a big deal, esp since then they don't have to deal with the Celiac meal issue. My family and I were at her first marriage which was a big to-do but sadly did not end well. I have met her fiance twice before but have not hung out with either of them really since they met.

The reason I feel like I should go:

Six years ago my husband and I 'eloped' at a surprise mini wedding we invited like 5 people to because we couldn't afford to do anything big. We got married at our place then went to a bar for tacos. Highly recommend! It was great. This friend was there (was a witness) and kindly threw us a very nice reception several months later at her home.

Thanks Mefi. I am aware of how neurotic this sounds.
posted by ShadePlant to Human Relations (61 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"I'm sorry, I won't be able to attend. Here's a lovely gift."

There's like a 3% chance she'll follow up on it and demand to know why you can't attend. You're on her list of people, and there will be others who can't be there either. Stuff happens.
posted by Etrigan at 4:27 AM on January 11, 2017 [15 favorites]

We aren't friends any longer. We do not spend time together.

That's reason enough!
posted by mskyle at 4:31 AM on January 11, 2017 [9 favorites]

It doesn't sound neurotic. Your reasons sound legit. You don't need reasons not to go.

Since it's a save-the-date you don't need to reply now. When you get the invitation, enclose your regrets in a nice wedding-card and wish them well. You can add something like "We had hoped to rearrange our schedule based on your save-the-date but unfortunately weren't able to. We wish you every happiness."
posted by headnsouth at 4:32 AM on January 11, 2017 [12 favorites]

Disagree. Go and be nice. She didn't do anything mean to you. And she once did something above and beyond nice. It's a wedding. You don't have to like people to maintain social reciprocity with them. It's one night. Eat only vegetables, and xanax is cheap.
posted by spitbull at 4:41 AM on January 11, 2017 [48 favorites]

I get the "be nice" sentiment, which is feedback I want, but "eat only the vegetables" isn't how Celiac works jsyk.
posted by ShadePlant at 4:47 AM on January 11, 2017 [24 favorites]

The bride has more on her mind than your attendance. Decline and send a nice gift. She's aware that you don't spend time together and are no longer friends - she might even feel that this is a duty invite. Also, "if I miscalculate about food I could have a celiac flare-up" is a legit reason to skip things, IMO - as I understand it, not only are celiac flare-ups really bad but they impact your long term health. You should stay home, and if you send a nice card with nice memories about your reception and a lovely gift, it will be fine. I missed my best friend's wedding because it was remote and a family member was ill; we're still best friends.
posted by Frowner at 4:54 AM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Sorry, I was joking about the vegetables. So when they send the meal choice card indicate that you have a food restriction. Likely half her other guests will as well, hell it's practically au courant.
posted by spitbull at 5:01 AM on January 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

Not really wanting to go is reason enough to skip this. Sure, Xanax is cheap, but why put yourself in a position where you need to take it? (Like, as a Xanax-taker myself, it's one thing to take it because you HAVE to, and another to voluntarily go to an optional event that will make you need it.)
posted by schroedingersgirl at 5:02 AM on January 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

People decline weddings for all sorts of reasons - don't quote me on this but I seem to recall that couples are told to expect only about an 80% "yes" rate when they send out invites (actually, that might even be high). Thinking back on my own wedding and the people who declined, there were a few that I really wished could have attended, but absolutely nobody at all whose absence felt like a slight or anything to be personally upset about. The wedding will go on just fine whether you're there or not.

If you have to medicate yourself to go to weddings, I'd only go to the ones you really wanted to attend. Moreover, you say you aren't even friends with this person any more. I think sending a nice card and gift would acknowledge the friendship you once had, without putting you through needless unhappiness now.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:04 AM on January 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

Thinking of it another way, I can think of some people whose absence would probably have hurt me had I gotten married six years earlier than I did, when we were close friends - but with whom I'd fallen out of touch by the time of my wedding, to the point where some I invited, some I didn't, and even the ones I did invite were more out of a sense that I "ought" to than anything else. Doesn't make the friendship we'd had any less meaningful, but people change, lives move on, none of us are the same people we were six years ago.

Had this person gotten married back when you were close, I bet you wouldn't even be asking this question. It's okay that you're no longer the people you were, and you don't have to go to the wedding now as payment for some "friendship debt." Again - nice card, nice gift, maybe spend a moment sending positive thoughts her way on the wedding date; given where both of you are now, that is enough.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:12 AM on January 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

When I got married I invited some "now-distant friends I sort of miss, but not enough to actually reconnect prior to the wedding." Some of them came and it was nice. Some of them "regretfully declined" with a nice note written on the RSVP card and that was also very nice.

If you want to reconnect with this person, it doesn't have to be at their wedding. Call them up, congratulate them on their engagement, and ask if they want to hang out on a specific date.
posted by muddgirl at 5:24 AM on January 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

Eat before, bring your own snacks. Food isn't the reason for the dinner at a wedding.Unless you really don't ever go anywhere that food is served because of your Celiac disease, I do think you should go.
No, you don't *have* to. But i nearly always find that I'm glad I actually made the effort to go to things I'm contemplating skipping for reasons of discomfort or anxiety.
Not seeing you for a year would not make you "not friends anymore" in my book - it would make you a friend who I unfortunately don't see enough of -- and (unless you really don't want to continue this connection in the friendship category, for reasons other than this) I would bet that your anticipation is worse than the actual event, and that you'd be glad you made the effort. That's my experience -- YMMV.
posted by flourpot at 5:31 AM on January 11, 2017 [30 favorites]

Friendships and lives and values are complicated enough that I can’t guess whether the potential of hurting the bride outweighs your desperation to avoid the event. If you decide that you feel you should go, depending on what part of weddings triggers your anxiety, attending only the ceremony could be an option. Let her know in advance, you’d get the points for being there, and if it’s primarily the reception that makes you miserable, it’s not too big a deal for you.
posted by metasarah at 5:48 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think you should be nice and attend the wedding. You can eat before you go, or bring your own food if the caterers can't provide a suitable meal.

Even though you haven't seen this person in a year, it seems to me you're still friends unless you've had a falling out of some kind. Taking a one-off Xanax doesn't seem to have any long-term negative consequences.
posted by Frenchy67 at 5:53 AM on January 11, 2017 [11 favorites]

I'd urge you to go.

I think the Celiac Disease is a red herring - caterers deal with food intolerances all the time and as long as you let them know in advance, they will be fine. You will not be the only one present with a food intolerance or special dietary requirements either, I'm sure. Do not use the disease as an excuse as why you won't be going.

Listen, the bride was really kind to you once and she has reached out to you wanting you to be a part of her big day. That to me sure sounds like a hand of friendship.

Yeah, I think you should go. Anything else would just be ungracious.
posted by kariebookish at 5:56 AM on January 11, 2017 [21 favorites]

The general anxiety is truly bigger than the Celiac. The Celiac is *part* of why I find receptions difficult but not the whole deal.
posted by ShadePlant at 6:02 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have rarely found that the effort and pain involved in me attending an event result in an equally positive result for the person I'm doing it for, to the point that I am completely bewildered by those nice Mefites above encouraging you to do so. Weddings are busy affairs, even were they close to you, they would probably find only several minutes to spend with you saying they were glad you made it. A nice person would be appalled that you chose an afternoon of pain for those few minutes. A nice note will do as well. Don't go. They won't miss you.
posted by b33j at 6:05 AM on January 11, 2017 [26 favorites]

We don't have enough information here. Did you have some kind of big final friend conflict? Are there mitigating factors in ending the friendship, like you don't actually like her? Or are you simply out of touch with her? If you like her and would still be friends with her given the opportunity despite your anxiety, I would attend the wedding. If not, skip.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:07 AM on January 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

It is fine to send regrets and a gift. Do you want to be friends? Then call her up for lunch or a drink. If not, then continue on with your life.

The only wedding that really requires your attendance is your own. I've been married. I had a wedding. Some people couldn't make it. The only non-attending person that I found irritating was the person who RSVP'd yes, didn't show up and never sent a note.
posted by TORunner at 6:08 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

There was kind of a break in the relationship after my spouse and I moved to a new neighborbood. Before we lived close enough to walk over all the time and shared keys, etc. After we moved, Bride made it clear she didn't like our new place or that we had moved. At that point I made considerable effort to be like "come over or I will come visit" etc but things petered out. I think Bride was upset I could no longer could just go over whenever like we used to. Bride then met her now fiance and we haven't done much since. When we have hung out it is weird and she primarily talks about her family, which is normal as it is a huge family with lots of goings on. Whenever I talk about stuff she pooh-poohs me, so I just let her talk. My husband said she has always done this but I never noticed until we weren't together all the time. She is VERY generous but also wealthy and snobby. I don't even think she knows she is being snooty sometimes.

Me: Oh cool, art prints! (Art I can afford!)

Bride: We don't buy prints, that's trashy. Only original art.
posted by ShadePlant at 6:26 AM on January 11, 2017

It sounds like you have several reasons for wanting to skip it, and maybe not one alone is sufficient which is making it hard. And if you were to plead health (anxiety + celiac) she would probably bend over backwards trying to make it easy for you, and you don't want her to make that extra effort. I would just write her and say there's too much going on, and mention that you will have especially fond thoughts of her on that day because you remember that great reception she threw for you. And send a really nice gift.
posted by BibiRose at 6:28 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh yes, and don't write until you get an invite.
posted by BibiRose at 6:29 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was in camp be nice before I read your last update. Now I think you shouldn't go because you seem to actually dislike her.
posted by meijusa at 6:32 AM on January 11, 2017 [15 favorites]

I guess I should have clarified. My question truly is about obligation because I don't consider us friends anymore but she did me that kindness when I was married. I can't throw her a reception but was more wondering if I HAD TO go to her wedding because she was part of mine.
posted by ShadePlant at 6:38 AM on January 11, 2017

Don't go, but as well as sending a nice gift, include a handwritten note acknowledging her previous generosity - "I'm so sorry I can't come, especially after you helped to make our wedding so special, but I'll be thinking of you and hope you have a wonderful day."
posted by penguin pie at 6:38 AM on January 11, 2017 [38 favorites]

She could have saved you from a burning plane crash; you're still not obligated to go to her wedding if you're not close anymore and you don't feel like going. Send a gift and your regrets, and it's a nice touch to mention in the card that you still remember and appreciate her gesture.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:41 AM on January 11, 2017 [13 favorites]

Simply tell her, by email, by phone, by snail mail that you will not be able to attend. Wish her all the best and send a gift. Done. Finished.

We got married at our place then went to a bar for tacos. Highly recommend!

I don't know why more people go for that type of wedding. I often tell my younger friends who are thinking about marrying to go that route. My gosh, and the $$$ saved!
posted by james33 at 6:49 AM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

She will probably simply appreciate your clear direct timely answer to the RSVP. There is a lot going on planning a wedding, and a lot of people who get very flaky about the invites. (Both ways: some won't respond because they assume you'll assume "of course they're coming!" and some won't respond because they imagine you'll be so crushed by their "no".) Meanwhile, the people planning the wedding just need a head count for those expensive meals.

The other thing people vastly overthink is the wedding gift. If there's a registry, buy from there. It's what they would like. Otherwise cash or a check.

If you want to make it a bit more personal, I suggest a hand-written note that simply says "I regret that we can't attend your wedding. I hope you have a wonderful day and I wish you both every happiness."

FWIW, having planned a big, fussy (for me) wedding, I'm very jealous of your taco elopement.
posted by Cranialtorque at 6:52 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

You do not have to go to anyone's wedding. Period. And you don't have to make excuses to yourself or anyone else. Weddings are especially easy to decline because invitations come with those returnable cards with checkboxes. Check the "regrets" box, drop it in the mail, and move on with your life.

A card with a note is a nice touch, but honestly I think in the busy-ness and flow of invitations and regrets and cards and gifts, it's not likely to make much of an impression either way. So do what you feel moved to do, and what has meaning for you.
posted by Orlop at 6:53 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's nearby? Could you and your husband do it as a fly-by and stay for the wedding and a small part of the reception and then duck out? I am with everyone else, of COURSE you don't have to go, but if you feel duty-bound remember that you can also choose how you go and that might be to witness the wedding and then leaving before you wind up with food-related concerns and anxieties. Or if your husband is less wedding averse you could even leave him there for the meal and you could scoot home.

So, if it were me and I always want to not go to these things, I would give myself a job. "My job is to go, witness the wedding, say 'you look so happy' to the bride, have a drink and be out of there" and then get a nice outfit, go and do exactly that.

It's 100% fine to not go, but if you think you maybe should, there are ways to make that more tolerable.
posted by jessamyn at 7:02 AM on January 11, 2017 [10 favorites]

No one ever HAS TO go to a wedding, unless they're the bride/groom/part of the wedding party/ get the gist.

I would hope that no one is doing the tit-for-tat thing, where she threw you a party and so now you "owe" her one. Does no one do anything out of sheer kindness anymore? I would be appalled if I thought my friends thought they owed me something if I threw them a party. That's not how friendships should work, IMHO. I love my friends! I love doing nice things for them! I love seeing them happy! I don't do nice things for them with the unspoken expectation that they, in turn, will do something nice for me.

Are you going to feel guilty for the rest of your life if you don't go? Only you can answer that. If yes, then go. If no, don't go.
posted by cooker girl at 7:10 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

No, you're not obligated to attend her wedding because she did something kind and wedding-related for you six years ago. It's entirely possible that, since you are no longer close, her invitation to you was somewhat out of a feeling of obligation because you'd been to her first wedding and she'd been to yours.

Decline with your regrets that you aren't able to make it, and send her a thoughtful gift and a nice card. (I give you permission to pretend in your head that you have an actual set of conflicting plans.)
posted by desuetude at 7:15 AM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

An invitation is never an obligation nor a demand. It can raise feelings of obligation but it is not one. Balance the time, emotional energy, cost (clothes, travel, gift) of going against the entertainment/nice time value, social reward and emotion benefit of going and choose the option that feels better. You're not doing it wrong in choosing not to go and you're not expressing virtue in going. They're just choices and like every other invitation, you're free to stay home or go to something else instead.

So, if you're not interested and it will be stressful to attend and you won't regret not attending, send your regrets (when the invitation arrives, of course) and forget about it.

A card or a gift is thoughtful but don't feel a card or a gift is the cost of turning down the invitation. The "cost" of turning down the invitation is being congratulatory, and expressing regret at not being there, the next time you see the bride or groom.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:18 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Don't go. A low grade friend you haven't talked to in a while won't care.
posted by so fucking future at 7:25 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'd vote don't go -- it sounds like weddings aren't fun for you, and you don't particularly like this person or want to reconnect at this point in time. I would suggest writing a little note on the RSVP card when it comes -- I did notice and appreciate it when people did that! It doesn't need to be an excuse/explanation of why you're not coming but just something like "So sorry we can't make it for the special day -- wishing you all the best in your marriage!" And then, get something nice off the registry (within your budget -- I am imagining with given what you've said about this person that her registry might be full of $300 Le Creuset or something, and I think it is fine to set your budget and stick to it!)
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:38 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you really wanted to go because you cared about this friendship I'd say find a way (Xanax, bring your own meal) to make it work.

But you don't want to and just feel obligated. I'd say don't go, and send a nice note with your RSVP.

Whenever I make myself do something because deep down I actually want to, I'm usually glad later. Whenever I make myself do something solely out of obligation, I tend to regret it afterward.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:43 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

You have zero obligation to go to this wedding. If she were immediate family, that might be different, but this is at best a distant friend. She did a nice thing for you six years ago, and your obligation was to thank her for that (which I am sure you did). There is no need for reciprocation in kind.

If she was someone who you wanted to reconnect with, I might encourage you to consider figuring out the meal stuff and going. But it sounds like she isn't. And even if she were, you could ask her out for coffee or something -- weddings are not a time to "connect" with the bride or groom, they have too many other things/people on their mind.

Decline. Have a gift off of their registry delivered* and send a nice card.

*maybe, MAYBE, go for one of the spendier ones, since you won't be spending money on attending the wedding. (I tend to do a fair amount of calculus when deciding how much is appropriate for me to spend on wedding gifts, so that is the kind of factor that I would take into account but I'm not sure that that is how normal brains work)
posted by sparklemotion at 8:10 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

People can of course do what they want, but I disagree (in general) that people should *only* do things they happen to feel like for any reason at all. I agree with spitbull on that (& the reasoning - I mean avoiding reciprocal exchange is a good way to find yourself friendless and alone in later years, and you just never know who will end up being there in rough times, sometimes it's the people you wouldn't have expected). I also think social anxiety should be actively managed, and that doing things that challenge it is probably more salutary than catering to the goblin. There are probably ways around the food issue.

But all those sound like rationalizations for your real reason for not wanting to go, which is that you've been actively and consistently resenting her, for years, and now quite dislike her. But you sound like you do feel obliged, because she did play an important role on your big day. So yes, either attend just the ceremony or send a decent gift and note.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:16 AM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

So, ten years or so ago my husband's best friend and his girlfriend were going to have a baby. I helped throw a baby shower for them with her sister. Fastforward to four years ago when I was going to have a baby. She RSVPed but ended up not showing up because she was watching a parade and it ran long. I was really hurt by it, and it was just one more thing in a long list of off-balance friendship attempts.

If it is a smaller to-do, she will know everyone on her invitation list. It is her second wedding. Unless she is a Bridezilla, she will be expecting some acknowledgement of the event from you personally. You don't have to go, but do send a card/gift with a personal note in it. If you do wish to get close as friends with her again in the future, offer to host the couple for dinner one night or something.
posted by jillithd at 8:20 AM on January 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

It's interesting that the responses here seem to fall onto one of two poles. Either friendship requires lots of contact over some time period - or it doesn't.

I'm firmly in the "it doesn't" camp. I think you're being confronted with a choice. Not to attend the wedding, or not - but rather, do you want to maintain this friendship, or not?

If no, then do the bare minimum in terms of social obligation: RSVP your regrets, note and gift. If yes, then invest some time and energy and go to the wedding. Look, there was a time you didn't know this person and made a choice to be friendly with them, yes? Now there's a time where you haven't been that close - that's got no bearing on what you should (or should not) do going forward. I would personally choose to reconnect - but your calculations might be different.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 8:31 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

You really want us to say you shouldn't go.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:33 AM on January 11, 2017 [9 favorites]

Yes, I want people to say I shouldn't go. But I asked because social anxiety can warp perceptions of things. It can make seemingly easy things complicated. It helps to hear some people say "deal with it." It's about a social debt, not fondness for her.
posted by ShadePlant at 8:36 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Whenever I talk about stuff she pooh-poohs me, so I just let her talk. My husband said she has always done this but I never noticed until we weren't together all the time. She is VERY generous but also wealthy and snobby.

Are you aware of the fact that you don't like her very much? If not, reflect on the above passage that you wrote. Those aren't words of admiration or fondness or even lukewarm good feeling.

You are under no obligation to attend the wedding of a person whom you dislike, even if they once did something lovely for you, even if you once felt more positively about them. In fact, most brides would not wish for the attendance of someone who thought they were snobby and disrespectful.

Send your regrets, with good wishes for her happy future.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 8:37 AM on January 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

Tit for expected tat is exactly how friendships work - through extended exchange, with one person always owing, with intent to repay, in roughly equal value. People feel miffed when there's a perceived imbalance (when they've done too much, or when the other person hasn't done enough - or has done too much*) - a sense of fairness or balance matters tons. (Concealing or downplaying the exchange aspect is also essential.) People are surprised when they don't support a friendship with actions and find they've drifted apart, but actions are really key.

*Has your friend tended to do too much for you? More than you could repay?

So 2nd NoRelationToLea that you should decide whether to go or not based on whether you would like for this friendship to continue, because I agree, it will be a big drop in one bucket or the other.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:48 AM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Social debt really only matters if you're trying to retain the friendship. Since you clearly don't care to be friends with this person, not going to her wedding will help you along that path.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:32 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is what 'lying about an out-of-town business trip' was invented for.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:38 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Right, I get that you're asking for answers, but it seems like you're also trying really hard to control the direction of the conversation. I am not trying to take a jab at you by saying this! I do think that it indicates that your social anxiety is not being well-controlled. That makes this kind of decision really difficult to make, and I'm sorry about that (been there!)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:43 AM on January 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

Social anxiety is the worst. I have it and I know how hard it is to force yourself to go to these big events. Your first instinct is always always going to be your brain trying to find ways and excuses to get out of it. Since she did such a big thing for you for your wedding, I think you should go. Take your xanax. Sit in the back of the wedding ceremony, but don't go to the reception. And since you're already dressed up, get your husband to take you out somewhere nice to eat for dinner as a celebration of successfully having survived the ordeal.
posted by ilovewinter at 10:03 AM on January 11, 2017 [13 favorites]

Look, don't go because you don't want to go and people around you will know it. It's that simple. There's nothing worse than being at a party and having someone at your table really not want to be there. You won't be happy, those right around you won't be happy and the bride will be so busy that she'll barely notice you anyhow.

Once you get your invitation, decline and then send a nice gift and a thoughtful handwritten card congratulating your friend with some personal remembrances (ex "I look back at my wedding reception which you hosted for us with such fond memories. I hope your day is just as special.") and don't feel bad. You're making the right choice for everyone involved.
posted by GilvearSt at 10:52 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm also socially anxious and had skipped several weddings and always thought others Also viewed them as ugh-social obligation. I'd see other people getting hurt when people didn't go to their weddings and Boggle that they cared - wouldn't they prefer it was a smaller wedding?

Then I got married, and was surprised that it hurt when people whose weddings I'd made the effort to go to rsvp'd no to mine. It's fine, we can still be friendly in social situations. So of Course you don't have to go and it should be alright. But if you'd like to repay a little of her past kindness, do what you can to go (and make it as painless for yourself as possible). Repaying her past social efforts will be its own reward, and then you can go on to continuing to not really being friends.
posted by ldthomps at 11:21 AM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

I got married a few months ago and there were plenty of people who came who I hadn't had much contact with for a year, or even more. But they were all people who had been really important parts of my life at some point, who I still considered important to me and wanted in my future, even if living in different places/busy jobs/being consumed with young families etc. means that we aren't in touch much right now. It really meant a lot to me that they came, because it was a sign that they were still invested in the relationship too, and that I meant something to them.

But note that this warm fuzzy feeling was predicated on still wanting to be friends. I get the feeling you'd rather this friendship just continued to fizzle out, and if that's the case, not going to the wedding is likely a good way to achieve it. I'd still send a thoughtful note and a (not necessarily big) gift though: she did a really nice wedding-related thing for you once, and it would be kind to show you still appreciate that.
posted by FavourableChicken at 12:27 PM on January 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

This is interesting. I was firmly in the "go to the wedding" camp and baffled by your reluctance 'til I read your update about how precisely the contact stopped. What really cinched it was that "prints are tacky; only originals for us, dear" example. Are you going to be a poor little country mouse surrounded by richamadoodles? Because a reluctance to be that I understand completely. I still think you should go, partly to pay back an obligation, partly to give her one last chance, and mostly to see just how spectacularly snobby this affair turns out to be. Maybe it won't be at all, maybe she'll surprise you and be personable and kind and have all sorts of people there. Or maybe it'll be a solid "prints-are-tacky" crowd and you can smile gently and grit your teeth for a few hours, secure in the knowledge that now you can hammer the final nail in the coffin and stop thinking about this friendship forevermore.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:19 PM on January 11, 2017

Just to add to my thoughts above re: social debt. Generally speaking, you get into social debt by being hosted and get out of it by hosting people. She hosted your party, but she's also hosting this wedding -- so going to to it doesn't really pay off any social debt. If the question were "Do I have to invite her to my anniversary party?" the answer might be 'yeah, you kind do' but in this case, going to her wedding just incurs more social debt.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:37 PM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you go - which I don't think you have to - then do a drop by with an "I can't stay long I'm not feeling well." Because as I've learned from having a chronic illness a vague "I'm not feeling well" can get you out of anything OR let you stay a bit longer because you "started to feel a little better" if you choose.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:28 PM on January 11, 2017

Am I obligated to go to her wedding

You are never obligated to attend a wedding, though there is generally some level of expectation if it's your own.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 4:03 PM on January 11, 2017 [8 favorites]

Regrets and send a nice art print as a gift.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 7:34 PM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

To phrase it a slightly different way, given that she threw an amazing party for you and made you feel loved for your wedding, you do now have the obligation to make her feel loved in return. The most straightforward way to do this is to go to her wedding and act happy. If you really, really don't want to do that, then you should make sure that she knows that you still appreciate what she did for you and that you wish her all the best. How you do this is up to you, but really think about what she likes and how what has made her feel appreciated by other people in the past.
posted by kjs4 at 8:25 PM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Whenever I talk about stuff she pooh-poohs me

True friends don't do this to each other.

Nthing don't go.
posted by brujita at 10:40 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't think you have to go to the wedding at all. When you get an invite, send back a lovely card and gift and wish her the best. I like what kjs4 said try to make her feel loved with your message. She may be wanting to reconnect (in which she will respond to the card with something like "let's get together after the honeymoon!"), she may simply have sent Save the Dates to everyone in the area because that's the cool thing to do, who knows.

There's also a chance you may be invited to a bridal shower for her (or some other celebration) before the wedding. If you can, go to that. It should be lower key, more intimate so you can chat with her and see if you still actually like her or not, and easy to duck out of early if you have "another obligation this afternoon, but I SO wanted to see you so I fit both into my schedule!"

As another option...would going to the wedding ceremony but not attending the reception be a less anxiety inducing option for you? It would take out the Celiac worries if you aren't around for the dinner, but not sure how your anxiety would adjust to simply being there sitting in a chair/pew. Might be something to consider.
posted by MultiFaceted at 9:41 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Honestly, the reasons why the relationship petered out, or the fact that that in hindsight you saw that she can be rather a snob, that stuff isn't even relevant anymore. You're not declining to signal your disapproval or to insult her. This person isn't a close friend, they're an acquaintance with whom you once had a closer friendship. You're just not involved enough in her life to go out of your way to attend her wedding. That's fine. Declining the wedding invitation of an acquaintance is not a personal judgement.
posted by desuetude at 1:01 PM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks for alllllllllllll (this question kind of blew up!) the responses. I tried to mark the ones with options as best answers. (Like, if you don't go, try... or if you do go, you could...).

1. I can't do the ceremony and skip the reception because both will be at her home, same day.

2. I do not want to pursue a friendship with her any longer, but this never occurred to me as a reason not to try to deal with social debt. (Should have clarified.)

3. I will not go. I WILL send a nice gift and I do wish them well, but will not send an art print or a lesser version of something she could buy herself.

4. I got a housewarming invite for her the day after I got the save the date notice. I bought a card and some gifts from a local boutique-y store and mailed them. Boom. Done.

5. I haven't seen her in a year, but the last time she spoke to me (this summer) she asked me to pick up dog poop in her yard so a real estate agent could show it, while she was out of town. My husband said that sealed the deal for him re: us not going to the wedding. Friends don't just call people to literally pick up shit.
posted by ShadePlant at 4:04 PM on January 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

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