Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Fiance’s Brother is Skipping Our Wedding and I’m Outraged!!”

wedding invitation

My fiancé, “Rick,” is turning 50 years old and we’ve decided to have a combo wedding/big birthday party. We’ve rented a local beach house with sand volleyball court and games. We plan to get married outside then move into the birthday celebration for the rest of the night and weekend. Rick has two two brothers — one who lives 20 minutes from us and one who lives in Florida and is flying in for the wedding and party. In addition, Rick has a good friend, “Ron,” who is high maintenance and does not like me. Ron lives in CA and has been friends with Rick and his brothers since high school.

We sent out save the date invitations for our wedding (coming up in two weeks) and the 50th birthday party weekend back in January so everyone had plenty of notice. We sent Ron an invitation to the double event as well. Ron turned around and scheduled a renewal of his wedding vows on the same day. I was upset but did nothing. Then, Rick’s brother who lives 20 minutes from us announced that his family already has plans to go to CA to Ron’s vow renewal instead of staying local to support us. I was very upset and Rick is very hurt. When his brother was approached and asked why he wasn’t coming to support Rick, his response was that, when they got our save the date, they had already booked their flights and committed to go to CA for Ron. I am furious and so is Rick because we both know that’s a lie. The flights were purchased in April; we saw the tickets and Ron had sent us all emails earlier saying they didn’t have a specific date to renew their vows yet.

Now Rick and his brother haven’t spoken for six months. We saw each other at their extended family gathering. Rick’s brother and wife spoke to Rick but not to me. Rick also met his brother at his mother’s request twice to talk, but they resolved nothing. Rick’s brother wants to take him out for drinks to celebrate his birthday before he leaves for CA, but there has been no acknowledgement of us getting married.

I’m so upset. I am all about family and close with mine who are traveling from Ohio to support our wedding and celebrate Rick turning 50. I am upset that any brother would put a friend before his own blood especially when they get along, hang out, have a close history, and live close by. My fiancé is retired Navy, but, when his brother was getting married, he made sure he was in port and there to support him.

This is a second marriage for both of us. We wanted happy and supportive memories. Instead, this black cloud is over the event. Rick’s family will ask where his brother and family are the whole day/night. Gossip will start. Pictures will be incomplete. We’ve catered the food, hired photographers, are flying our college children in to be in the wedding, and have family traveling from Ohio for a total of about 50 guests.

I believe if Rick’s brother and family do not show up for our wedding and birthday party that we will never have a relationship moving forward. I know Rick feels let down, slighted, ignored, and mistreated, and he has expressed this to his brother. His brother just keeps lying that he had his tickets for CA already. We all know he could change his flights. Ron could change the date to renew his vows (we asked him to do so but he refused, saying that Rick’s brother will choose to attend whichever event is more important to him. So I guess if Rick and Ron were both drowning, Rick’s brother would save Ron first and not his own brother).

I’m not sure I can or will ever again feel comfortable being around Rick’s brother or his wife. The hurt feelings are too much. The lack of support from his brother towards our marriage is not something we will be able to move beyond. Rick’s brother feels he is doing nothing wrong, continues to make excuses, and ignores me. Rick’s parents want their sons to work this out but make excuses for the brother that is skipping our wedding. I just don’t get it. Even if my sister and I barely talked, I would never miss her wedding or major event like a 50th birthday celebration.

What do you suggest? — Outraged Future SIL

I suggest you M(TF)OA!!! I mean, seriously. Embrace the love and support for the 50 guests who will be at your wedding/Rick’s birthday party weekend and quit obsessing over the brother who doesn’t want to be there. You need to accept that he’d rather be out in CA with Ron that day. Yes, that sucks. Yes, I’m sure it hurts Rick’s feelings. And, yes, I can understand how angry you are on Rick’s behalf. But you have to let go of this resentment or it will ruin your whole wedding and possibly your relationship with your in-laws.

You don’t know the reason Rick’s brother has decided not to attend the wedding. Maybe he just really, really likes CA and Ron and had been waiting for an excuse to go visit. Maybe he hates weddings. Maybe his wife didn’t want to be there. Maybe he doesn’t like you very much and isn’t interested in celebrating you becoming part of the family. I have no idea what the reasoning is, but he’s made his decision and fretting over it obsessively and making these grand statements about how you won’t move on from this and you refuse to have any kind of relationship with him and his wife going forward and his absence will be this huge black cloud over your entire wedding and he wouldn’t save Rick if he were drowning, is just… it’s bordering on insane, to be honest.

You need to take it down a notch and realize that for everyone else your wedding/the birthday weekend is basically a party. It’s a couple of days out of your whole lives together. Sure, it’s meaningful and important, but if it’s not 100% perfect, you guys will be OK. It doesn’t define your marriage forever and ever. Even if one person isn’t there and his absence is felt, you’ll still have your parents and other siblings and your kids and your friends. You’ll still have the beach house and the sand volleyball court and games and each other and love. You’ll still have so much — enough that, if you seriously let one person’s absence affect you to the degree you have been so far, that’s on you. It says more about YOUR priorities than it does about Rick’s brother. It says more about YOUR character than anyone else’s. You have so much to be grateful for and happy about and you’re letting this slight against your fiancé cloud everything.

Seriously, just let it go. If people are going to gossip, let them. Who cares? And what is there really to say anyway? “Hey, why is the brother not here? Oh, he had another engagement in CA the same weekend? For his good friend? Oh… that’s too bad.” I mean, honestly, what else is there really to say? I can’t imagine most of the other guests are going to obsess about this like you think they are. And if that’s the thing they focus on in a weekend packed with a wedding, birthday party, family, sand volleyball, and games? Well, then I’m guessing Rick’s brother won’t be the only thing missing from the weekend. You, as a host, should give them so much to do and talk about and remember that no one will give a second thought to old what’s his name visiting CA.

As for your relationship with your soon-to-be BIL going forward, I’d suggest you NOT cut him off. For Rick’s sake, be cordial and try to put this slight behind you. It’s not about you (I mean, the slight may be about you, in all honesty, but the relationship isn’t; the relationship is between the brothers, and, if you think it’s rocky, your giving the BIL the silent treatment forever sure isn’t going to help matters). Put Rick first. Follow his lead in dealing with his family (unless they are being directly rude, unkind, or inconsiderate to YOU personally). And for God’s sake, relax and enjoy this happy time. You’re getting married! No one can take that away or ruin your wedding weekend unless YOU let them.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

43 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Lili September 11, 2014, 8:31 am

    and Wendy’s advice is perfect, relax LW, get this obsession with Rick’s brother lying about his plane tickets out of your head and accept that he does not want to attend your event. do you really want to have someone at your wedding who doesn’t want to be there? You are hurt and that’s understandable but if you make a scene about this you are just feeding the same type of gossip and drama you are trying to avoid, Maybe Ron was trying to create a little drama and something to fight about when he scheduled his vow renewal as he did but the best thing for you to do will be to shut that down. send Ron your congratulations and enjoy the heck out of your own wedding

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    • Portia

      Portia September 11, 2014, 9:11 am

      “do you really want to have someone at your wedding who doesn’t want to be there?” This 100%. And everything that Wendy said too. You have plenty of people who are coming that want to be there: focus on them.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh September 11, 2014, 9:07 am

    I would butt out of the brother’s relationship with each other. Enjoy your wedding and support your fiance. Let him decide what kind of relationship he wants with them. This is not worth ruining a day that you want to be a celebration. Like Wendy said focus on the guests that will be there.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes September 11, 2014, 9:13 am

    LW, Wendy is absolutely right – it is time to put on your Big Girl Panties and not further engage in any of this high school bullsh*t. Incomplete pictures??? WTF does this even mean anymore? Any wedding is very important. But it isnt like this is 1850, and that may be the last time you see your dearest loved ones, because say, you are hopping into a covered wagon and heading west or something. You are getting married to your beloved in two weeks. Enjoy THAT, dont get mired in all these hurt feelings.
    **
    Your final question presumes that there is SOMETHING to do in order to straighten out what you perceive as a huge family fracture. But that is the key- it is your own perception, and likely no one else’s. You truly cannot MAKE other adults do what you want or think best or whatever. Or you cant without a ton of hurt feelings and resentment, etc. You are all adults. The time to act like it is NOW.

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  • avatar

    TheRascal September 11, 2014, 9:15 am

    “I’m not sure I can or will ever again feel comfortable being around Rick’s brother or his wife. The hurt feelings are too much. The lack of support from his brother towards our marriage is not something we will be able to move beyond. Rick’s brother feels he is doing nothing wrong, continues to make excuses, and ignores me. Rick’s parents want their sons to work this out but make excuses for the brother that is skipping our wedding. I just don’t get it. Even if my sister and I barely talked, I would never miss her wedding or major event like a 50th birthday celebration.”
    *
    Yes, I understand your hurt feelings but….are you 12? Does holding a grudge or simmering in feelings of woe really what you should be spending your energy on? Enjoy the new life with your husband. Let your husband deal with his brother in a way he seems fit.
    *
    The last line of this quote really irks me: “Even if my sister and I barely talked, I would never miss her wedding or major event like a 50th birthday celebration.” That’s really great of you however your soon-to-be brother-in-law is not YOU. He makes his own decisions, even if they are shitty ones that you don’t agree with.

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    • avatar

      TheRascal September 11, 2014, 9:17 am

      I probably would have more sympathy for this LW, but the tone in her letter is so dramatic and juvenile. If his brother is that much of a jerk to not attend this celebration, then its probably better that he is not there, yes? Have a good time with the other people who are there to celebrate.

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed September 11, 2014, 9:28 am

        Yeah…this LW comes off really unlikeable and I kind of don’t blame her future BIL for not wanting to be there. Especially since she sounds so image driven. Who care if people are *actually* having fun…people just need to look like they are having fun. Incomplete pictures? Worrying people will spend all weekend gossiping? It’s extreme. Weddings can stress people out, I get that, but she needs a reality check.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh September 11, 2014, 9:35 am

        Yeah I think the tone is very dramatic. I get not understanding how one brother could treat another sibling like that based on your relationship with your siblings, but it’s not your relationship. And so not worth this drama!

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      • avatar

        ktfran September 11, 2014, 10:05 am

        Agreed. I do think the brother is being super shitty and if one of my sisters pulled a stunt like that, I would be super upset. But me being hurt and angry would be on me, not my hypothetical fiance. This LW is way over the top.

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      • Raccoon eyes

        Raccoon eyes September 11, 2014, 10:09 am

        You really hit the nail on the head, TheRascal. In reading this, what really jumped at me was that if the groom is turning 50, and it is the 2nd marriage for both, then LW should be close-ish to that age too…and comes off like a 19 year old.

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  • avatar

    Bcamber September 11, 2014, 9:34 am

    I’m having trouble getting past “wedding-slash-birthday party”.

    I mean, doesn’t a wedding kinda warrant it’s own event?

    Different strokes I guess!

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    • avatar

      ktfran September 11, 2014, 10:06 am

      Meh, it’s a second marriage for both. I can understand not holding a big wedding and reception for a second marriage.

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  • Amanda

    Amanda September 11, 2014, 9:43 am

    I could be reading into things, but you mention in the first paragraph that “Ron” does not like you. And then you proceed to go into 6 paragraphs about the brother choosing him over you. Whoops. Your fiancé.
    .
    LW, not everyone in your fiancés life is going to like you. So stop dwelling on that. Instead, focus on the 50 people who are going to be there and DO like you. The black cloud will only hang over the event if you let it. You said you wanted happy and supportive memories, well, guess what? You can still have them! But it’s up to you to focus on the happy.

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  • avatar

    ktfran September 11, 2014, 9:59 am

    You can’t control others feelings or actions, but you can control your own. Be the bigger person. Holding on to resentment is no way to live. Wash, rinse and repeat.

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  • avatar

    Diana September 11, 2014, 10:23 am

    When I got married last year, my husband’s sister, who has a lot of issues and hotly resents pretty much everyone, having RSVP-ed yes, simply didn’t show. And yes, people asked where she was, but it didn’t reflect badly on us. It just revealed her true colors: she’s a narcissist who creates drama everywhere she goes. While my husband was definitely hurt that his only sister didn’t bother coming to his wedding, it has become increasingly obvious that she did us a favor by not attending. I imagine that “Ron” making himself scarce will turn out to be for the best, too.

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  • avatar

    Kelly Walters. September 11, 2014, 10:30 am

    I agree with Wendy. Let it go. The best revenge is to have a wonderful wedding and a fun family weekend. Be so sickeningly sweet to his brother that it makes his teeth hurt.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous September 11, 2014, 10:32 am

    Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
    .
    This resentment you have is not healthy. It’s going to affect (effect, never know which to use) no one but you. His brother is going to go on living his life and you’re going to be mad/upset at someone who doesn’t even seem to care that he upset you. Would him changing his plans and going to the wedding/birthday party make you feel better?! Then he’s only there because you hounded him so much HE won’t have a good time and will be miserable. Maybe even causing drama. I wouldn’t want anyone at something I was hosting that didn’t want to be there.
    .
    LET. IT. GO.

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    • Amanda

      Amanda September 11, 2014, 12:22 pm

      You used one of my favorite quotes ever!

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray September 11, 2014, 10:37 am

    WWS

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  • call-me-hobo

    call-me-hobo September 11, 2014, 10:50 am

    LW- my wedding is in 9 days, so take this from one bride to another- chill the fuck OUT. Incomplete pictures? What the heck?

    My grandparents and a couple of uncles and cousins who are jerks have decided not to come to our wedding. Their loss! Just focus on everyone who IS there to love and support you and have blast. Seriously, it’s just a wedding. Don’t make it a point of contention between him and his family. The melodramatic “cutting off” is hurtful and unecessary.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray September 11, 2014, 11:23 am

      i think this level of freaking out is what happens when one gets so wrapped up in WEDDING-WEDDING-WEDDING-ZOMG-EMILY-WEDDINGS-POST-WEDDINGS-RULES-MOST-IMPORTANT-DAY-EVER that one fails to see the forest for the trees. step back, breathe, it’s going to be OK, enjoy the weekend, ay caramba!

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  • othy

    othy September 11, 2014, 11:07 am

    Just make a life-sized cardboard cut out of him. That way, you can get your ‘complete pictures’ with him, and he’ll be drama free. It’s the best of both worlds.

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    • Amanda

      Amanda September 11, 2014, 11:17 am

      I like this idea. Plus, you can also keep it around for festive holiday décor! Spooky mask at Halloween, Santa hat at Christmas, bunny ears for Easter…Options are limitless. Another bonus: drama free holidays!

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 11, 2014, 11:30 am

        plus you could put a hole in it and give it away as a sex toy. (oh come on i am sure he would not be offended.)

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      • Amanda

        Amanda September 11, 2014, 11:40 am

        Hey. That’s just what happens when you skip your brother’s wedding.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 11, 2014, 11:42 am

        exzachary.

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    • call-me-hobo

      call-me-hobo September 11, 2014, 11:29 am

      Haha- I had a friend who did this at her graduation. Her fiancé couldn’t make it because of the fiancé visa situation, so her friends made a cardboard cut out of him in the crowd. It was hilarious!

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. September 11, 2014, 11:30 am

    Wow, LW, you need to take the focus off of you. Clearly, there is something going on between the brothers, but that is for them to work out. As for Ron, maybe he picked that date on purpose, maybe he didn’t. Why are you feeding his drama? I have to say if you act like this all the time, I can see why he doesn’t like you. I hope it’s just pre-wedding stress. If you are anywhere close to your fiancé’s age, you should be well past all these high school theatrics.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie September 11, 2014, 10:33 am

    Galileo proved that the universe doesn’t revolve around the earth. Likewise the world (in laws) don’t revolve around ‘Outraged’ and her husband to be as she wishes it did. At most she’ll only spend a few hours a year with them. She’s making it a much bigger deal then reality warrants.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark September 11, 2014, 11:42 am

    This is why I am against child brides. They overreact. To everything… 15 year olds should NOT get married. End of story.
    .
    Wait. What? You’re 50, LW? Not 15?
    .
    Wow. Crazy. You sure that’s NOT a typo?! Because — DAMN! You sound fucking fifteen. Seriously. Grow the fuck up already.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark September 11, 2014, 11:47 am

      Oh. Wait. He’s turning 50. So maybe you ARE 15… Sure seems like it…

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray September 11, 2014, 11:54 am

        she could be a hot young mess of a late 30-year old.

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      • something random

        something random September 11, 2014, 12:43 pm

        HA, HA! Yeah, I hope yesterday’s letter writer is reading this. If controlling Iranian dads are anything like Indian dads and la’s relationship moves forward to a wedding…. Yowzer!

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      • something random

        something random September 11, 2014, 12:44 pm

        lw’s relationship

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  • avatar

    Lily in NYC September 11, 2014, 12:05 pm

    An invitation is neither a summons nor an obligation. This is way too much drama.

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  • something random

    something random September 11, 2014, 12:20 pm

    Perfect reply, Wendy!

    LW, a perfect day doesn’t make a perfect marriage. You do sound a tad like you’ve gone to the dark side.

    Honestly, its nervy and very rude to repeatedly interrogate a guest about why they declined an invitation. I’d probably avoid talking to you, too. While it’s natural going to feel jarring that a brother is flying across the country for a renewal rather than across town for your wedding, your confrontations and asking his friend to move his event to another day is pretty beyond the pale.

    Maybe his friend would rather spend money on a renewal for his wife than plane tickets and a hotel for your event. Maybe there was only so much vacation time or slots available for a venue.

    Maybe brother really did promise to be there before he found out about your event.

    Maybe brother felt like he had already put a ton of time, money, and energy into the first wedding and your event sounded much more casual and elective. With so many people in attendance, maybe he figured is absence wouldn’t make a big difference.

    Maybe your event, designed around making you feel validated and secure in your marriage, boded of making him and his wife feel like a cardboard cutout prop.

    Maybe, maybe, maybe. Wendy’s right, trying to figure out the reason is a complete waste of energy and holding on to the resentment is a bad idea. And really inappropriate, too.

    Please get over this, and put your energy into a having a nice day and a good marriage.

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  • TaraMonster

    TaraMonster September 11, 2014, 11:46 am

    My god, Sarah Heartburn! Relax before you faint and have to be awoken with smelling salts! It’s one day. And since you’ve been married before, I’m sure you know that not everything goes according to plan. Or you could just use regular old LIFE as a way to figure that out. But that would involve less Nathan Lane histrionics, more living in reality. Sheesh.

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  • Portia

    Portia September 11, 2014, 1:12 pm

    There is only one time in nine years that I told Bassanio it was unacceptable what his parents were doing involving a special life event (not one that involved a lot of people, but 6 close family members). One time. In nine years. And I really considered whether to get into that as it was his family and not mine, but I couldn’t sit by and say nothing about it. Even then, once I said my peace, that was it, it was his to deal with and not rehashed over months and months like it seems like is happening in this letter. I recently told my sister about it (I don’t think I told many people about it at the time) and her jaw dropped, so I still don’t think I was overreacting. But, unlike the LW, no one acted like the world was going to end and we wouldn’t speak to them again.
    .
    So, LW, please stop overreacting if you care about your fiance and his future relationship with his brother. In the long run, having a relationship with them is far more important than a single event they didn’t go to.

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  • Cassie

    Cassie September 11, 2014, 7:16 pm

    LW, I understand feeling hurt by his brother not being at the wedding (especially if you value family so highly), but I am another one that says you just need to let it go. And I say this as someone who’s actually been there, done that. My brother chose not to go to my husband’s and my wedding, not because he didn’t love us and support our getting married, but because he was a dumb young 21 year old who wanted to road trip to Texas with his friends. He was supposed to be the best man even. Yes, my husband and I were upset about it, but you know what? We chose not to dwell on it. I felt a twinge of sadness once or twice during the wedding, but was surrounded by people who love us and came to be a part of our celebration. And that’s what you have to do, too. You just have to focus on the people who are there, and the happiness of the day. You are the one choosing whether or not this will ruin your wedding.
    .
    So, I have wedding pictures that don’t include my brother. But, he came back from Texas, felt like a jerk, regretted missing the wedding, and apologized. I forgave him. Yeah, we can’t get that experience back, but it’s not worth ruining our relationship over. Plus, now he knows that one day I am going to make him sit through the entire wedding video with me. I am holding that threat over his head and milking it for all its worth.

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    • Cassie

      Cassie September 11, 2014, 7:18 pm

      *it’s

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  • avatar

    Lucy September 11, 2014, 9:03 pm

    I can empathize with the LW a little. My brother didn’t skip my wedding… he skipped my husband’s memorial service. Because he didn’t want to pay a dogsitter for one day to walk his dogs. I’m not even joking. So I understand feeling like you just cant wrap your head around how someone can be such a douche. (To be fair, this was not at all out of character for my brother.) But stop with the drama. Stop with the pronouncements. Stop with the stirring the shit. Just enjoy your big-ass party and have such an amazing time that everyone who’s lucky enough to attend talks about how awesome it was for the next ten years. Living well is the best revenge, because it makes revenge totally unnecessary.

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    • something random

      something random September 11, 2014, 10:04 pm

      Lucy, that’s horrible. Your brother sounds like a real piece of work. I love your attitude about it all. And I agree with your advice to the letter writer.

      I do think your situation (and Cassie’s) are different than the letter writer’s situation. I don’t get the feeling that the brother is missing the wedding for a painfully trite reason. My assumption is that “Ron’s” renewal is probably a pretty big deal to him. Like maybe they’ve been planning to do this for the last 20 or 25 years but they didn’t get out a save the date in time. It’s not like you can move your anniversary. I kind of think of this as having to pick between two close loved ones major occasions. I do understand the lw is hurt, though. With all the work she did getting people to come in to town, she probably assumed her b-i-l was a sure thing. I hope she can roll with it with the same grace as you and Cassie

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  • something random

    something random September 11, 2014, 10:27 pm

    I just wanted to add that a lot of digital photographers will add a missing guest into the picture these days. If the lW hasn’t’ burned all the bridges of goodwill, this will allow her to have complete wedding photos. It will also be something she can mention to guests that are rude enough to bring up the brother’s absence thereby eliminating the gossipy perception of a rift between the brothers.

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