Dear Carolyn: My friend is having a destination wedding — by which I mean many, many, many hours in the air. We have small children, which would make the travel very difficult, and we have nobody to leave them with at home for the trip. And while we could technically afford it, it would set us back more than we are comfortable with — it’s our “if something bad happens, we need this” pot.
We do not question our decision to send our regrets. The problem is that our friend is taking this personally, and the guilt trips, while relatively mild, are persistent. I really think if you have a wedding that requires (multiple!) planes, you need to recognize your guest list may shrink and not blame guests who are unable to make the trip.
I’m struggling to say this in a kind way. I’ve said other things about the difficulty of travel with kids, although not the bit about the money, since I don’t like sharing finances with friends and worry the friend would also take our prioritizing of the rainy-day fund personally, too. Any suggestions?
Destination Wedding Blues
Please worry less about kind and go for clear – because often clarity is kindness. Next time Friend cranks out the guilt: “Multiple planes + small kids = nonstarter. You seem to be taking this personally; am I hearing you correctly?”
Get it out there, say what you need to say, listen to what you need to listen to. Then, that’s it — you no longer engage on this topic.
Normally I’d skip right to the do-not-engage square, since “no” is both a complete sentence and a sufficient RSVP. However, your attempts to say this “in a kind way” suggest you’ve undermined your goal of communication by mincing around the truth. So, be direct, then be done.
Dear Carolyn: I have a very dear friend who is about to get married in a family-only wedding. She has also announced she will be having a wedding reception two days after Thanksgiving. My in-laws are super-sensitive about any perceived slights given the (not very much) time we commit to spending with them, and we committed to Thanksgiving this year. They live far from the reception location.
If this were my friend’s actual wedding, I would go no matter what. But for a party, I don’t want to take on the hassle involved in finding a way there. I’ve often used your wedding advice as a guide, but I don’t know what you would think about a pseudo-wedding.
Attending the Re-enactment
Scoff much? This isn’t a “re-enactment” or “pseudo-wedding,” it’s a reception, apparently announced as such. If you just don’t want to go, then don’t go, but in the process at least give your “very dear friend” the benefit of the doubt.
I often advise an after-the-fact reception as a reasonable solution to many problems that plague weddings — including but not limited to high costs, planning hassles, problematic family members, loved ones who live far from a wedding site and a desire for an intimate wedding but an inclusive celebration.
If anyone deserves skepticism here, it’s people too “super-sensitive” to defer to a very-dear-friendly life celebration, especially if you go solo and their child comes as planned for Thanksgiving. But maybe that’s just me.
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