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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SpaceySteph January 13, 2017, 12:08 pm
First of all, I think the OP from the forum topic should probably heed this line of Wendy’s advice as well:
“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 a result of living a life of responsibilities and limitations (of time, money, and energy).”
Now back to this LW… I agree with most of Wendy’s advice but actually have a different opinion on which wedding to go. I would say go to the separate weddings, *assuming* that you haven’t yet RSVPed for the cousin’s wedding. If you already RSVPed then I think you need to honor your commitment. Assuming this is before that deadline and you are staring at 2 reply cards, go to the separate weddings for the people you are close to.
If your GF is really so unstable that she can’t be at a wedding with her ex-boyfriend, then she should probably skip the cousin’s wedding and come with you to Florida. And if she does go to the cousin’s wedding, don’t you think she could ask the cousin very politely to please not sit her at the table with her ex-husband? This seems like a tremendously reasonable request to me. Maybe that means she has to sit at a table with strangers, but I think that’s a small price to pay for not spending a wedding dinner across from your ex.
Also, which wedding will be *nicer* is a dumb way to pick a wedding.
SpaceySteph January 13, 2017, 12:14 pm
Oh I just read back and the weddings aren’t until November so obviously they didn’t RSVP to anything yet. There’s so much that could happen between now and November that makes you not able to go to one or both weddings like, idk, your GF could be 9 months pregnant by the time the wedding rolls around. You and your GF could split up. Either of the bride/groom couples could split up. You could have financial troubles that prevent you from jetting off to Florida.
So yeah my advice is definitely to plan to go to separate weddings. Be a groomsman. Be there for your buddy. If this breaks you and your GF up, then you probably weren’t going to make it anyways.
bittergaymark January 13, 2017, 12:17 pm
Hah. True. I had not one, but two weddings that I was planning to attend go up in smoke this year… One was a real surprise. One wasn’t. But after hearing the stories, both were bullets dodged. Whew…
ele4phant January 13, 2017, 12:30 pm
Do you even have to ask to move tables?
I know this is a classy wedding and all with seating assignments, but generally won’t people be up dancing and mingling throughout the reception, so couldn’t she just naturally migrate to another table and hang out with other family members most of the night?
I mean, I guess sit at the assigned seat for the toasts and meal and what not, but once things are under swing, can’t you just move around freely?
SpaceySteph January 13, 2017, 12:34 pm
I am curious how the GF even knows they’ll be at the same table. Maybe the bride is smarter than that? I had a classy wedding with table assignments and I didn’t even sit all my bridesmaids at the same table because two of them disliked each other and I didn’t want anyone to be unnecessarily uncomfortable. I sat them each with their friend group.
But even so, given the recent discussion about keeping mom and stepmom separate at that other wedding, it doesn’t seem tremendously unreasonable at 10 months before the wedding to just drop the “hey I don’t want to sit with my ex” hint.
ele4phant January 13, 2017, 12:41 pm
I mean, it sounds like they generally get along great, so the bride has no idea that this is causing the GF mental distress. She probably assumes they actually want to sit together.
bittergaymark January 13, 2017, 12:43 pm
I assumed that maybe since it was this big family wedding that the kids were going along as well and so for that reason it would be nice for everybody to be at the same table… I know he doesn’t mention this… I suppose I could be wrong. But otherwise? Where are the kids? Although, hah! If the kids are also going to be at that table then it truly makes the GF even more absurd….
SpaceySteph January 13, 2017, 12:48 pm
That’s definitely true if the kids are coming it would be weird to split up the family. It does seem like the GF is drama-queening about the ex way more than is reasonable since they generally have a good co-parenting relationship.
Also, yes I agree that you don’t sit with your table for more than maybe an hour and otherwise mill about.
But I just think if the GF felt that sitting with her ex would be that difficult, then asking not to sit with him is certainly higher on the reasonable list than asking her bf to skip his best friend’s wedding and an option they should consider.
ele4phant January 13, 2017, 12:50 pm
Yeah, I agree it’s not totally out of bounds to ask to be seated elsewhere. I mean, you should be understanding if the bride says no, but you know 9 months out, why not put in a polite request.
Then again, I’m an asker not a guesser so I have no qualms asking for things and can easily take no for an answer; if they know the cousin and his bride are guessers, then it would be rude to ask.
SpaceySteph January 13, 2017, 1:09 pm
On the other hand, this sentence positively reeks of drama queenery and instability and codependency: “She knows she will think about her first wedding when she is there since I won’t be there to help her think about our future wedding instead.”
Does every wedding send her into a shame spiral about her failed marriage? What about when she watches a movie with a wedding in it? I am now imagining her sobbing uncontrollably when she scrolls past “The Wedding Planner” in the TV guide. Can she make it through “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” Is there no other way for her to think happy thoughts besides to have her boyfriend talking her down?
bittergaymark January 13, 2017, 1:32 pm
I think its because she will be sitting with her ex — her last wedding. Its silly and vapid, still. But its not just weddings that push her over the edge — it’s actually just her NOT getting her way here, I suspect. She was probably expecting the grand gesture here of him ditching his event for hers… And now she is trying to make him feel guilty. Don’t fall for it, LW. Enjoy Florida!
bittergaymark January 13, 2017, 12:11 pm
To me — this a real no-brainer, LW. Trust your gut. You are right. Attend both events separately. (Notmuchofa)NEWSFLASH: Look, each of you will deeply regret not going to “your” wedding. But honestly? Neither of you will ever look back in regret at NOT attending the other. PS — If your GF truly can’t handle going to a fabulous wedding along because her ex will attend with his new wife… that’s… Pathetic. And, frankly, does not bode well for your relationship. This childishness so many people have over Exes is so fucking tedious. (And SUCH a straight thing!) Honestly, it needs to end. Give it a rest, already. Grow up.
bittergaymark January 13, 2017, 12:15 pm
Wait — what? It’s not even a wife yet and you’re ALL friends anyway? What is the problem! Drama, drama, drama. Go be in your friend’s wedding. I’m sorry, but your girlfriend is being the unreasonable partner here… You’re not even married — much less joined at the hip. Go, GO!
SpaceySteph January 13, 2017, 12:27 pm
I try to put myself and my husband in this position and I still think even though married we would go to different weddings. If his best friend and my cousin were getting married the same day 1000 miles apart, I still think we’d split up. (Well, maybe not after we have the baby, but pre-baby certainly). And I love his college friends and would probably be bummed I was missing his friend’s wedding, and I would certainly be bummed to go to a family wedding alone but its hardly the end of the world to spend one weekend at different weddings.
ktfran January 13, 2017, 1:28 pm
Seriously. This. I’m getting married in September and now and in the future, if we were presented with this dilemma, we’d split up. No hard feelings. And I agree I’d probably think differently if we had kids. But we’re not doing the kid thing. So no worries.
Then again, we also plan spend all/most Christmas’ with our respective families, so I guess we’re less traditional than most.
redessa January 13, 2017, 7:09 pm
I have kids and I’d still say we should go separately in a situation like this. Then again, I’ve travelled to visit my family (flying halfway across the country) both by myself and with the kids at times when my husband couldn’t get off work or whatever. And he’s taken the kids with him to visit his mom when I couldn’t come (or heck, just wanted the kids out of the house for a weekend so I could get stuff done). Actually, just this past year, he took 4 of the kids to his family reunion while I stayed home with one because he had mandatory marching band practices that week. It wasn’t ideal but nobody got all angsty over it.
bittergaymark January 13, 2017, 12:25 pm
No, no, no. No. no. no. Let’s not go all guestzilla. The GF needs to grow up. Period. They’re all FRIENDS for Pete’s sake. (By the way, who is Pete? I’ve always wondered.)
baccalieu January 13, 2017, 9:14 pm
Pete is St. Peter – the guy at the pearly gates. You’re swearing by St. Peter – a little less blasphemous than swearing by God or Jesus.
ele4phant January 13, 2017, 12:26 pm
So…I think you should go separately to both weddings. Assuming you are actually close with your friend and really want to be there.
I am sympathetic to your girlfriend to an extent, but this is *her* cousin’s wedding, right? So, she’ll be surrounded by all her family, and therefore I would think would have lots of loving emotional support around her.
I mean, it sounds like she doesn’t even have a bad relationship with her ex. She’s being a little over the top, in my opinion. So she might get a little sentimental thinking about her last wedding, but whatever. Go sit with her mom or another cousin at another table or something if she needs to.
A emotionally healthy adult should be able to deal with this, I would think. Particularly if the relationship between you all is generally fine otherwise.
Sketchee January 13, 2017, 12:58 pm
Great point. She’s hardly alone if she’s surrounded by family who we’re told she’s very very close to.
The worst thing that could happen is that someone says “Where’s your bf?” and she’ll have to *gasp* give an honest answer. “He’s in another wedding party right now! Funny how that timing worked out right? What a beautiful wedding this is!
Juliecatharine January 13, 2017, 12:28 pm
The girlfriend is old enough to have an ex husband and children but can’t handle going to a wedding filled with her entire side of the family solo?? Wow. I know what OP should get her for Valentines Day: a pair of big girl panties.
Anonymousse January 13, 2017, 12:50 pm
I laughed out loud reading this. So true.
Miss MJ January 13, 2017, 12:29 pm
You each go to your own wedding. Your GF is being ridiculous about going to “her” wedding alone. Plus, since your GF’s entire family will be there, I’m sure that she can find someone to talk to and distract her.
Kicia January 13, 2017, 12:43 pm
I’m confused how you even know where you’re sitting 10 months out from the wedding. My sister just got married in October and we didn’t work on the seating chart until 2 or 3 weeks before the wedding. It’s nearly impossible to work on a seating chart until you have all the rsvps in.
artsygirl January 13, 2017, 1:54 pm
I wonder if the seating arrangement was already figured out before the death in the family. Otherwise, it might be that the GF’s immediate family (ex, his new partner, and the children) are all seated at a table.
Firestar January 13, 2017, 1:56 pm
Yes! I find out where I’m seated at a wedding on my way into the reception. Don’t you find out your table number outside the door.? Who tells you 10 months out? And if she is getting a plus one can’t she take a friend? Who can apparently remind her that the wedding isn’t about her ex? Go to Florida LW.
Northern Star January 13, 2017, 12:44 pm
Isn’t the next opportunity to meet your girlfriend’s side of the family at your OWN wedding? Or am I missing something?
Also, I think it’s pretty lousy to choose which wedding you go to based on how elegant it will be. Choose based on how much you care about the people getting married, not about how much free expensive champagne you’ll get to swill down.
Fyodor January 13, 2017, 12:54 pm
Go separately. And if she wants you to miss your best friend’s wedding because she can’t spend three hours by herself thinking about her last wedding, find someone else. Someone like that is not going to be equipped to manage the responsibilities of marriage and family.
Andrea G January 13, 2017, 1:50 pm
LW your GF is being immature and unreasonable. First of all, how does she know what table she’ll be seated at 10 months before the wedding? I’d bet money that the cousin hasn’t even started putting together the seating arrangements. And if your GF is so worried about who she might be sitting with why doesn’t she request being at a table with any of the countless other relatives who will be at the wedding. Your GF is going to be surrounded by numerous members of her family that she can socialize with but since you won’t be there she’ll just be sitting there alone, and sulking, thinking about her first wedding? Really?
artsygirl January 13, 2017, 2:01 pm
I agree with everyone. The should split up (unless already RSVP’d to the cousin’s wedding). The GF can take heart in the fact that she will be with her family, many of whom she has not seen in years so it isn’t like she will be spending the entire night – or even the majority of the night – tied to her ex and his new partner. If she is really freaked out about not having a date, does she have a friend she could invite who could keep her company?
MiMi January 13, 2017, 2:13 pm
Please remember that these events are not about you! She goes to hers, you go to yours and both of you behave graciously to one and all and make sure the focus stays on the happy couples.
Smalls January 13, 2017, 3:02 pm
Split up. It’s not that big of a deal. You both really value seeing each respective group, so you each should make it happen. As for this seating arrangement problem, at most she’ll have to eat dinner at the table for a half an hour, then can be up dancing or catching up with family at other tables. You aren’t table bound for the evening. And if your girlfriend and her ex are friendly, what’s the problem? If she wants you there to show status (see, I’m paired up too! I’m not alone!), then yeah, I would imagine the prospect of being there without you would be upsetting. But still – gotta be an adult about this stuff.
bagge72 January 13, 2017, 3:08 pm
Ok, so I have a couple of things in no particular order that might sound contradictory to each other, so I’m just going to go ahead and spit them out.
1. With the age it sounds like you and your girlfriend are, you should be much more mature with how you are handling these situations. You sound like you are a couple of 19yr olds just out of high-school who don’t know how to navigate the real world.
2. You really should be able to go your own weddings alone, but see 1. as to why you feel like you can’t.
3. If your best friend really was your best friend he would understand if at the time of him asking you to be in his wedding you told him that you already had a wedding that day that was important to your GF.
4. If your best friend told you the date of his wedding before your GF’s cousin postponed their wedding and gave you a new date, you 100% should go to your BFF’s.
5. You GF, is really unreasonable, but caught up in the fact about you finally meeting her family, that you may never meet again.
Moral of the story is that you two should be able to go to your separate weddings because that’s what adults would do, and they would not be mad at each other, but you two can’t act like adults so you are writing in to Dear Wendy. Which I think is great, because I read it all of the time. So I guess thank you.
SpaceySteph January 13, 2017, 3:26 pm
With regard to #3– I agree with this completely. I don’t think it will irreparably damage a good friendship if you were to tell him that you already made a commitment to go to a wedding that same day. But that doesn’t really mean it’s the right choice.
And for #5– yeah, seriously. In addition to the tackiness of factoring in which wedding will be fancier, it’s also pretty tacky to use someone else’s wedding specifically as a meet and greet for your family and boyfriend. I am reminded of when I accompanied my husband to his brother’s wedding only a few months after we started dating and it was actually kind of an awkward position to be meeting this whole family as “the gf” and wondering if in a few years they might be looking at a picture from the wedding and thinking “who’s that random girl?”
SpaceySteph January 13, 2017, 3:18 pm
One other option, since the weddings are still 9+ months away, is to decline to be a groomsman (money is a good excuse if you don’t want to tell him the real reason). If you say yes to being a groomsman then you are basically locked into going to that wedding except in extreme circumstances (like, idk, if someone is pregnant with your baby and due in a few weeks?) If you say no to being a groomsman, then you can decide which wedding to attend when you actually get the invitations 7 months from now. It keeps the options open in case the circumstances change and you do for some reason want to go to the cousin’s wedding over your best friend.
My advice is still to go be a groomsman, but I did want to note the option to kick the can to September and make a decision then.
for_cutie January 13, 2017, 3:58 pm
WES. I am offended by the tackiness of describing how you PERCEIVE the weddings will be. Someone with money can have a modest wedding, and someone of normal means can have an extravagant wedding (or maybe he has money you don’t know about). I regret to see how your perception of wedding expenses has anything to do with anything, other than making you look bad.
In my experience, I always have had more fun at “modest” weddings as opposed to the more extravagant affairs.
SherBear January 13, 2017, 10:49 pm
OMG seriously?? Shockingly its possible to go to a wedding without your significant other and still have a great time. One of my best guy friends is getting married in the Caribbean this year and my bf of 3 yrs is more than likely not coming – it’s a bad time for him work wise and it’s expensive. I’ll miss him but come on we’ll both live and I know I’ll have a great time solo bc it’s a wedding for people I love and it’s about them not me!
Janelle January 14, 2017, 1:07 pm
I agree with Wendy. You are both over dramatic as heck. Also I am exhausted with people making others weddings about themselves. It sickens me. She will feel sad? It is 5 hours one day. Suck it up princess. It isn’t about you. Also for you, if your girlfriend only can think of you when you are sitting next to her, be concerned. She sounds manipulative as crap.
Both of you need to grow the heck up and chill out.
dinoceros January 14, 2017, 2:37 pm
This seems like a very easy situation that really shouldn’t require this much thought. You each clearly have a wedding that you should be attending, no question. It sounds pretty childish that she is this upset about going to a wedding where her ex is bringing a girlfriend alone. Is it a recent breakup or something? I have trouble understanding why a person who has a partner gets that upset by their ex dating someone or seeing their ex’s new partner. Like MAYBE I could see her being upset if she was single and didn’t want to look like a loser or be sad that he’s happy and she’s alone, but even that is not the ideal response. I guess I just don’t get what part upsets her. She wants to prove she’s happy? She wants to distract herself from her ex?
Not to mention that the wedding is about the people getting married. It’s fine for someone to think about their future wedding, I guess, (a little self-absorbed, but whatever) but that’s not the main event. If she’s this distressed over going alone to a family wedding, then it might be good for her to learn how to do things on her own so that your life doesn’t become accompanying her everywhere to avoid her melting down. Trying to arrange it so you can “rescue” her seems silly and expensive.
saneinca January 14, 2017, 2:52 pm
IMO, if the LW has accepted the invitation to go to his fiancee’s cousin’s wedding before he received the invite to his friend’s wedding, he should go to the cousin’s wedding.
What if that was his own cousin’s wedding ? Would he still skip it ? When you agree or RSVP to one event, you need to honor that commitment. I don’t know how the friend can object to that since the LW was his best friend and helped him to propose to his GF. Are the guys nowadays becoming groomzillas ?
dinoceros January 14, 2017, 5:26 pm
If the wedding isn’t until November, it would be very unconventional for the couple to have already set the deadline for RSVPs. In terms of planning (which is the main issue with changing one’s mind), it shouldn’t inconvenience them because they shouldn’t have a head count due to any vendors yet. Even if they previously had all of that set, changing the date should give them a new window and they have to understand that not everyone who could go initially can still go. Since he’s basically invited to the wedding as a +1, then it shouldn’t be offensive as compared with if his girlfriend chose not to attend.
Skyblossom January 14, 2017, 5:16 pm
I don’t understand how your girlfriend can be so upset about going to a wedding without you where she will be surrounded by one entire side of her family that she gets along with well. She should go and spend her time talking to all of these people that she rarely gets to see. If she can’t do that she isn’t emotionally healthy enough for a relationship. If she goes without you and makes a big deal about you not being there and can’t stop thinking about her previous wedding you should consider that a red flag and not get engaged until she is much more emotionally healthy. Nothing good will come from that type of drama or emotional carrying on or emotional blackmail. She is an adult woman and should be perfectly capable of going to a wedding with loved relatives and spending her time there talking with those relatives and asking them about their lives and taking pictures and dancing and eating. She should be able to do all of that even if her ex is there. Even if her ex has a date with him.
You have a lot of time before you need to RSVP to either wedding although if you are going to be a groomsman you need to let them know soon. The previous RSVP to the cousin’s original wedding date shouldn’t bind you to the new date. Some people who could go to the original won’t be able to attend on this date and some people who had a conflict on the previous date will be fine with the new date. If you haven’t specifically told them that you will be there then you are free to go to your friend’s wedding. If you said you would go but didn’t yet have the date you are still free to attend your friend’s wedding. You are so far out from either wedding you should be able to choose either.
strawberrygurl January 15, 2017, 3:29 pm
It sounds like the OP’s girlfriend hasn’t gotten over the ex yet. Screw the weddings, that should be the biggest concern. Why should she “feel sad” about seeing her ex-husband with another woman while at a wedding? Is it because she’s still in love with him? If my boyfriend said he couldn’t go to an event because seeing his ex-wife with a different man would make him “feel sad”… well, personally I would flip out. That is a major warning sign that the person isn’t ready for a new relationship yet.