About four months ago, I helped my best friend of ten years propose to his girlfriend. Today I received a gift invitation to be a groomsman for their wedding. This will be the first wedding for me where I am in the wedding party. I’m not his best man but will be next in line. This is a smaller, less classy wedding — meaning less food, less time, less everything. Again, he’s been my best friend for a decade, and, since my girlfriend and I moved from the state, I won’t have an opportunity to see them or take them out and I feel that, by not going, I could permanently destroy my relationship with him.
My girlfriend’s wedding is in northern New Jersey; mine is in Florida. Both are scheduled on the same day at the same time. My girlfriend is extremely upset/sad about this. We feel that we both have to attend our individual weddings and that there is no other option. But the fact that she has to be alone at a wedding with her ex-husband and his girlfriend at the same time is making her sad. She says it will chip away at her and she doesn’t think she’ll handle it well. She knows she will think about her first wedding while she is there since I won’t be there to help her think about our future wedding instead.
I tried looking at airlines to see if I could do what’s needed in mine and get to her as soon as possible, but that’s looking like an impossibility as well.
I don’t know what to do. Please help me. — To Go or Not to Go
Honestly, you both sound like a couple of drama queens here. The whole, “this will be the biggest event of her life” because the cousin has money and will spend a lot on the wedding is… well, it’s tacky. Why should that even matter at all? And you’re whole “I’m not Best Man, but I’m second in line, and, if I don’t go, the friendship is ruined!” is kind of crazy, too. What does “second in line” mean? It’s a wedding party and not a royal family. And if it was such an enormous deal that you be there or else, your friend should have run the date by you. That’s what people do when they want to make sure VIPs will be available for their wedding. If you choose a date and someone is already committed to doing something else on that day — just as you were supposedly committed to accompanying your girlfriend to her cousin’s wedding — you accept that that’s life and you move on. The idea that your friendship would be “permanently destroyed” by honoring the commitment you made first is kinda wacko and suggests that maybe this friendship isn’t all that stable in the first place. (And I’m especially inclined to think that since you suggest that traveling to see them another time is an impossibility. Why is that? And if you think you’re not going to see the guy again outside his wedding, maybe honoring your girlfriend, whom you say you want to marry, is the wiser decision.)
You say that you and your girlfriend are friendly with her ex-husband and his girlfriend, and yet, if she attends a wedding where they are present and you are not, she’s going to spend the whole time thinking about her wedding to her ex? But if you’re there, she’ll be thinking about your “future wedding” instead? Really?! Is that what she’s telling you or what you are assuming? Because it’s all just nuts. You don’t think that instead of thinking about her own bygone wedding or hypothetical wedding to you (whom she’s not actually engaged to), that she might be thinking about her cousin’s wedding? You know, the one getting married that day? No? Well then, to all of you, I say: get over yourselves. Really. Everyone is going to survive whatever decision you make about which wedding to go to. Your friendship with your buddy will survive if you decide to skip his wedding, and if it doesn’t — or if you never see each other again — then it wasn’t a very strong friendship in the first place. Your girlfriend will survive attending a wedding without you if you decide to skip the cousin’s wedding, and, if she seriously doesn’t think she can handle it and that she’ll be consumed with thoughts of her wedding with her ex, then she might benefit from some therapy to get over it.
If it were me, I think I’d go to the wedding I knew about the longest and had already committed to going to, especially if it were super important to the person I wanted to marry and spend my life with. I’d be annoyed that my friend thought enough to invite me to be in the wedding party but didn’t run the date past me first. I would accept that sometimes in life you have to choose between two important events, and that most sane, rational adults expect and can handle that conflicts arise and that our not being there isn’t a reflection of our feelings but is instead a result of living a life of responsibilities and limitations (of time, money, and energy).
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