Attending a wedding post break up
June 22, 2017 3:14 AM   Subscribe

I'm meant to be attending a wedding in two months. I was invited to, and RSVP'ed for this wedding the better part of a year ago. A few months ago my long-term boyfriend and I broke up and now I'm not sure how to handle the wedding--can I cancel this late and how?

He's been friends with the bride for years and I met her through him. I consider myself to be friends with the couple and after my boyfriend and I broke up, assumed I'd still go to the wedding because I saw it as attending the wedding of friends regardless. We would occasionally do couples activities with this couple (we were together for 5 years).

But since we broke up I haven't seen this couple or any of the people in that social circle, and haven't even really had any contact with my ex. The break up was amicable but I'm beginning to feel uncomfortable with the idea of going to the wedding, in large part because they feel like "his" friends now and now I'm not so sure I'd have been invited to the wedding in the first place if I hadn't been his partner. I think it will be awkward to go to a wedding with all these people who I used to consider friends but now feel like they are his friends. I've already stopped getting invitations to other things. I'm not sure whether they actually want me at the wedding or would rather save the cost of me being there but just can't dis-invite me. I'm not sure if it would be more rude and awkward to cancel or to attend.

I've considered contacting my ex and asking what he thinks and have considered just contacting the bride directly and asking her, but I don't really know what to say. I think I'd rather not go but I don't want to be rude or seem like a brat. On the other hand, I don't want to turn up if everyone else would rather I weren't there. Can I just say that, given the circumstances, I'd like to cancel if it's not too late? What's the right thing to do in this situation?
posted by Polychrome to Human Relations (24 answers total)
Two months is plenty of advance notice, if you really don't want to go.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:27 AM on June 22, 2017 [34 favorites]

My answer assumes you and your ex received one invite as a couple: I think you could let your ex know that you don't plan to attend the wedding. Given that the bride is more his friend and yours, I would assume he "retained custody" of the invite. I don't think you need to communicate directly with the bride; if she knows about the breakup, she probably already assumes you are not coming.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:34 AM on June 22, 2017 [38 favorites]

"I'm so sorry, but I've had an unavoidable conflict and will not be able to attend. Jane, I hope I can see you later on and have a chance to catch up." Pair this with a nice gift.

Then follow in a few months with a casual lunch invitation and see what happens.
posted by frumiousb at 4:31 AM on June 22, 2017 [13 favorites]

Regardless of how amicable your break-up was, are you ever going to enjoy attending a wedding with your ex, to which you were invited while you were still together? I'm not sure I would find that appetizing, regardless of who knew who first. Look after your feelings first in this, not the bride's logistics.

But I concur with ThePinkSuperhero. In the gentlest way, I think you have to consider these friends as being in the same category as furniture or a nice set of knives: he brought them into your life and, regardless of how you've gotten used to them, he gets to 'keep' them at the break-up. It's his invite to the wedding. This doesn't reflect on you as a person, or your invite-ability - it's just a sad fact of human relationships and how we all take sides after a breakup.
posted by citands at 4:40 AM on June 22, 2017 [6 favorites]

Assuming you received a single invitation, I don't think you are really "invited" at all anymore. They would probably be shocked if you attended.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:43 AM on June 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We received separate invitations if that makes any difference--but I think all couples did (no paper invites)
posted by Polychrome at 4:53 AM on June 22, 2017

Give your regrets and send a token gift.
posted by shoesietart at 4:56 AM on June 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think you're fine either way: you can go if you want to go and think you will have a nice time (they invited you), or you can cancel if you don't want to go (expecting a 100% firm commitment six-plus months in advance, even to a wedding, is unrealistic for anyone except immediate family members).

Signed, someone planning a wedding for November who has not sent invitations yet.
posted by mskyle at 4:56 AM on June 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Send a lovely card and your regrets - the timing is just fine, and it's ok not to go.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:21 AM on June 22, 2017 [8 favorites]

When you send your regrets to the couple, you will be doing them a favor, because they have probably been tearing their hair out wondering where to seat you and your ex since you are no longer together (and obviously were going to be seated together at the time of your invite). Depending on the size of the wedding they may have even been trying to figure out if they need to accommodate each of you plus a date. Since you genuinely don't want to go, it's a good deed to let them know you won't be there.

If you want to maintain your friendship with the couple, frumiousb's instructions are spot on.
posted by telegraph at 5:40 AM on June 22, 2017 [13 favorites]

Unless there is something unique about this wedding, two months in advance is well enough time to cancel. IIRC we didn't need to give final numbers to the caterer until like two weeks before the reception. With an RSVP a year in advance, it's only natural that some unavoidable conflict would come up.
posted by muddgirl at 5:40 AM on June 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

As someone who just got married, please please please contact the bride and change your RSVP. They will understand and be happy that they can adjust their guest count well in advance of catering deadlines. Whether or not you send a gift is up to you.
posted by honeybee413 at 5:58 AM on June 22, 2017 [10 favorites]

Yeah, frumiousb is right on, but I'd add that if you aren't really all that interested in maintaining your friendship with the couple (and it sounds like you are not) you can omit the "let's catch up later" and follow-up invite thing and just send a reasonable gift, not an extra nice one.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:20 AM on June 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

It *is* plenty of time to cancel, don't feel bad about that. but it's also plenty of time to recover the friendships if you felt strongly. HOWEVER, consider that if this would be the first time you had seen most of those people since the breakup, that would be incredibly awkward. If you want to maintain these friendships, you have to start friending NOW, not wait till a major event. If you are friends with the bride then she would be someone who you would feel fairly comfortable getting in touch with and saying "Hey Angie, you know Steve and I broke up. We're getting along the best we can, I feel like it was pretty amicable, but one of the things I really regret is that it feels awkward getting in touch with the really awesome people who I met through him. I know you'll always be Steve's friend first but I just wanted to let you know how happy I am to know you, and that I hope we won't lose touch. Would you like to (coffee/bar/whatever invitation)?"

Personally I would cancel because I can image too well how awkward it would be to either sit with strangers or sit at a table with my ex and his/our friends who what to choose whether to talk to him or to me at any given moment. But I am blunt enough that I wouldn't claim prior commitment, I would send a card (standard congratulations wedding card) that says how happy I am for them and their marriage. And while I am happy to know them [and want to see them again soon (optional)] I feel it would be awkward for everyone if I were at the reception, so I'll just lift a glass in their honor.
posted by aimedwander at 7:15 AM on June 22, 2017

Someone let me know she wouldn't be able to go for this reason at a lunch where she gave me (us, but I was the only one there) a wedding gift, and then after the wedding, she again set up a lunch and asked to see pictures. You probably don't need to go to those lengths, especially since you haven't seen them since the break-up, but it was very considerate and made me feel closer to her rather than further away.
posted by slidell at 7:16 AM on June 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

To be honest, if you've not had any contact with the couple or anybody else in that group of friends since the breakup it is very unlikely that you are still being considered part of that group as a result of the breakup. Absolutely let them know you won't come, send a card (or not) and a gift (or not) as you wish.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:17 AM on June 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Wedding invites traditionally go out 6 to 8 weeks in advance so you should be fine changing your RSVP at this point.
posted by vespabelle at 7:19 AM on June 22, 2017

This happened at my wedding. A close friend of my partner broke up with his girlfriend, about a few weeks before our wedding. She chose not to come and had told her ex to relay the message to us. It was totally fine for us. Though I liked her and she was a good mutual friend, I understood her decision. I got a Facebook "congratulations!" but no card or gift--which were not expected anyways, I know she had a lot on her mind.
posted by inevitability at 7:47 AM on June 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think if you call the bride and ask her if she wants you there, she's pretty much obligated to say yes, because to do otherwise would be unspeakably rude, and even if she's staying friends with your ex and not you after the breakup, that doesn't mean she wants to actually say out loud 'no, we aren't friends anymore'.

So, if you're certain you don't want to go, send a note of regrets, by email or actual mail depending on how you RSVPed in the first place, that says that given the breakup you think it would probably be less awkward for everyone if you bowed out but that you wish the happy couple well, etc. If she really wants you there, she can call and protest that you should definitely still come, but by doing it in a mode of communication that doesn't invite immediate reply (phone, text, messenger) you avoid putting her on the spot to make those protestations. If she doesn't really want the awkwardness or doesn't care that much either way, she can just reply and thank you for letting her know without trying to change your mind.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:04 AM on June 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would cancel with your regrets, and send a nice gift, one that you would have presented had you attended. I would not see the gift as optional, but I'm old fashioned that way, believing that if you're invited you give a gift, regardless of whether you choose to attend or not. You give a gift to thank the couple for inviting you.

Cancelling with plenty of notice and sending a gift -- you will have given no reason for anyone to complain about you.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:22 AM on June 22, 2017

There's plenty of advance notice and it isn't rude at all to change your RSVP. I don't think a gift is necessary, though of course you're welcome to send one if you wish. This exact situation happened to me 2 years ago after I broke up with my long-term ex - I sent a nice note with my regrets basically wishing them a wonderful celebration and a happy life since I didn't expect to cross paths with them in the future, and the person getting married responded kindly in the same spirit.

It sounds like you'd prefer not to go, so don't second-guess that instinct. Speaking anecdotally from my experience, I have never regretted gracefully declining to attend something with mutual friends that I feared would be awkward, but I have regretted forcing myself to go to a few such events when I didn't really want to. Listen to your gut and be kind to yourself!
posted by superfluousm at 8:41 AM on June 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Our wedding venue allowed us to adjust our attendees number right up to the day before. So the planners will have plenty of time to adjust logistics to you not attending if you let them know now. As others have suggested, a simple "I will no longer be able to attend, congratulations and best wishes" type message is all that is needed.

If you're on good terms with your ex, it might be nice to let him know. (So he can assure them he is still coming.) But that part isn't really your obligation.
posted by Cranialtorque at 11:35 AM on June 22, 2017

You can absolutely cancel at this point - two months out is very well within acceptable parameters, and could really even be considered 'early' notice. As to how, since you are friends with the bride, go ahead and call her or email and let her know your circumstances have changed and you're no longer able to attend. You don't need to give a big explanation. Its likely she'll simply say 'okay, thanks for letting me know', but *worst* that happens is she tells you that she really values your friendship and wants you to still come. In which case you are still allowed to say you can't make it. You don't have to send a gift, but a card would be nice.
posted by AliceBlue at 2:36 PM on June 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

It is totally fine not to go.

I had a similar situation with much more condensed timing (like two weeks), and ended up sending the bride an email congratulating them on their upcoming wedding and sending my regrets that I wouldn't be there. I didn't send a gift (I probably should have, but I was dealing with way too much). She sent back a nice email saying that she totally understood and we should definitely stay in touch. (We did not stay in touch except on instagram, but we also live in different parts of the country so no big deal).
posted by aaanastasia at 12:32 PM on June 23, 2017

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