“My Friends Aren’t Showing Up for my Wedding”

I am a 40-year-old woman from South America. I have an adult child, and I will be getting married this May. I was in hetero relationships my whole life and they were all healthy. A few years ago, I fell in love with a colleague from work (we now work for different companies) – same age, same sex. While she has been with women her whole life, she was my first. We dated for a year or so, moved in together after that, and got engaged a year later. Everything is perfect and she is the best person ever, but while I love the idea of being married to her, I’m less excited about the wedding day and here is why:

After our friends were asking why I am not planning a wedding, I decided why not! So we rented a nice venue, videographer, photographer, musician and all. For the invitation portion, I wanted to do online because I have few people living overseas. The thing is that one of my friends, whom I met when I was 19, lives in Singapore but is traveling to see her family in South America right now and has not replied. Back in 2018 when she was getting married, I took vacation, went to her wedding in Singapore, was her bridesmaid, and did all the sweets for the wedding myself and helped with her wedding in other ways.

I have another good friend who lives in Belgium and I am a godmother to her child. I also have been there for her wedding and to baptize her child. She replied that she couldn’t attend my wedding and sent me a nice note, but I can’t help but feel sad. It is a small wedding – 70 guests – and will be beautiful. I wanted my people with me and not having them there makes me sad. Money is not the issue here but logistics with her child in school and her job. I just wish my friends were like me as I left everything to attend to their big days.

My question is if anyone has been through this and any advice? It turned out that planning a wedding IS way more stressful than I thought it would be. — Planning a Wedding is Stressful

Well, first, congratulations on finding happiness with your partner and on your upcoming nuptials. Since you have friends who talked you into having a wedding in the first place, I know that you WILL actually have your people with you. Seventy of them, as a matter of fact! True, you may not have ALL the people you want, but that’s part of having a wedding, especially one where you are inviting people from across the globe, and especially when those people have kids and the wedding is during the school year. I mean… do you really expect your friend(s) to pull their kids out of school for a week or two to attend your wedding? Or, to leave their kids for that long? It’s ok to be sad, but I would try not to take it too personally that your friend in Belgium can’t make it. She wrote a nice note, and maybe she’ll send a gift as well.

As for your friend from Singapore, maybe she hasn’t replied to you yet because she’s traveling and hasn’t had time to figure out whether she can swing another trip to South America so soon after her current visit? Did you just send out the digital invitations? If you did, and if the invitations weren’t preceded by Save the Date notifications, it would be understandable that long-distance friends, given only three month’s notice, might have difficulty making a wedding that’s across the globe. People often need a year to plan such a trip. If you did indeed give plenty of notice and haven’t heard any word from your friend from Singapore, I’d say it’s worth reaching out to her to make sure she’s received the invitation and to express again how much it would mean to have her at your wedding, while also letting her know you know how challenging it might be to make such a long trip and you would understand if it doesn’t work for her right now. That’s the gracious way to handle this.

Having grace doesn’t mean you won’t have hurt feelings, and if you have felt that, in general, these friends have taken more than they’ve given – that you aren’t getting a good return on the investment you’ve made in these friendships, perhaps it’s time to re-evaulate their roles in your life. A friend who completely ignored a wedding invitation probably needs to be downgraded out of your inner circle. A friend who can’t make your wedding for legitimate reasons (like scheduling conflicts, financial limitations, or health issues, for example) but otherwise continues to lend emotional support and shows up for you in other ways should be granted some amnesty. Everyone’s circumstances are different and what might’ve been your situation five years ago to allow you to show up for a friend’s wedding in another country may not be a situation your friend enjoys today. If your friend can celebrate you and your special occasion in other ways, it would behoove you to take what is offered and not compare that to what you were able to give years ago, with potentially different lifestyle limits.

My boyfriend and I have been together for nearly two years and have lived together for almost one. We are both male. I encouraged him to take a job in the same city I was working in because I noticed he was getting depressed where he worked and lived. Fast forward a few months and he’s very good at his job and very likable so he was invited to a wedding after-party. He initially told me, and I quote: “We’ve been invited to my manager’s wedding.” I felt really good knowing I was invited to something cool like that. Let me say that he is not a native English speaker, and neither am I, so I wonder if something in the invitation was lost in translation because a few months later it turned out that I wasn’t invited, but he and his work colleagues were. Did he mean “we have been invited” as him and his colleagues? I don’t know, but tt put me in a bad mood and made me question whether I was important to him or not.

I have been in previous relationships where I am always Mr. Goody Two Shoes and people take me for granted, go out without me, even go on holidays without me, and I’m there, the unusually loyal gay who people treat as a doormat. So, the wedding is next week, and secretly I keep hoping my boyfriend will turn around and ask me to come, but I doubt it will happen. It makes me feel bad because when we met, he wanted to take me everywhere and I always feel like if we had just met a month ago, there wouldn’t be a question about taking me. He just would.

Do you think this goes beyond a silly invitation or do you think he has had enough? FYI, this is one of the reasons I never want to associate with “the gay community” because they are all a bunch of selfish, sex-depraved people who want to hop from one relationship into the next, never realizing that there are people out there who get their hearts broken. I have been quite depressed over it, but maybe it is down to me. He reassures me with actions and words that he loves me, but past experiences have made me the terribly insecure person I am today. What advice can you give me? Thank you. — Uninvited

Whoa, whoa, whoa – your characterizing of the gay community is wrong and problematic and speaks to deeper issues that can’t be addressed in a short advice column. Gay people are like any people; there are loving, committed friends and partners, and people who aren’t as kind. One’s sexuality has nothing to do with who they are as people and how they treat others. You’ve obviously been hurt in the past, but straight people hurt their partners, too. Your characterization of all gays being selfish and having no thought about breaking hearts sounds like the women who have a bad boyfriend or two and then declare all men trash. Maybe you’ve just been making some poor choices. Maybe, with your passive-aggressiveness, you’ve attracted men who take advantage of you. You can stop the cycle; it starts with speaking up.

What if, instead of guessing or assuming why your invitation was seemingly rescinded and then getting mad at your boyfriend, you actually ask him for clarification? Like: “Hey, a few months ago you told me that “we” were invited to this wedding after-party, but now you’re going with your colleagues and not me. Did I misunderstand you? Was there a change of plans?” It’s ok to ask for clarification!

Maybe it’s not a misunderstanding and you went from being invited to not being invited because your boyfriend simply no longer wants to take you. Does this seem consistent with the way he’s been treating you and behaving lately? If so, sounds like it’s time to move on. If this is not consistent though and he is otherwise attentive and loving, quit taking out past hurts on him.

In general, you sound like a great candidate for therapy. You’ve got the past heartbreaks to process and potentially some self-loathing to unpack if what you say about gay people is truly representative of your feelings. You are deserving of a loving and fulfilling relationship, but it sounds like you’re getting in your own way of that. A good therapist can help you over the hurdles towards a mutually-satisfying partnership.

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


  1. LisforLeslie says:

    LW #1 – You understand that South America, where you live, is like gigantic right? Like Columbia and Chile are like reaallly far apart. Your friend being in South America could mean the friend is over 1000 miles away. And your friend from Belgium – traveling with a child is hard. Traveling to another country, on what is at least a 12 hour flight is very hard. Traveling with a child on a 12 hour flight is holy shit hard. Traveling with the possibility that your child picks up a disease that will ruin their lungs… come on. Don’t assume your friends don’t love you. Assume they love you and are happy for you, but don’t have the money or time, or feel the risk is more they can take.

    LW2 – Sounds like a simple miscommunication. In English saying “You” could be you the individual, you the couple, you the team. We could be the couple or the team. If your boyfriend came back and said that partners were invited but not gay partners – then you can be mad. Doesn’t sound like that’s the case. Are you normally this insecure?

    1. LisforLeslie says:

      *Colombia – damnit.

    2. Thank you for your reply. I live in Canada. I am from South America, Brazil. My friend from Singapore and her husband are in Brazil since Christmas travelling.

      I met all my friends last Spring as we were all travelling in Brazil to visit family. There is no disease where I am from.
      Fortunately, money is not an issue for them. I do believe is the inconvenience of travelling to Canada where they are not to keen on. If it was in Brazil, maybe it would be more appealing.
      Nothing to do with disease. Maybe that would be your worries as we go there every year haha.

      1. LisforLeslie says:

        I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that COVID has disappeared from Latin America. And I know COVID is still present in North America including Canada. So disease is still very much a concern for people.

      2. Anonymousse says:

        You have no idea if money is an issue for them if you met last spring. You barely know them.

      3. Anonymousse says:

        She meant the possibility of lung damage from Covid to which is prevalent. I’m glad you have decided that it’s not the money, it’s not the baby/kid’s health and the ongoing pandemic, if it’s not any of those things, then it’s honestly probably because you’ve known them less than a year and almost no one I know besides utter crazy people travel internationally for a persons wedding that they’ve known for less than a year, but it’s probably becaus emoney is an object for almost every single person I know, even the epwealthy ones would raise their eyes at this request.

        You sure went from not doing a thing to becoming very about your wedding being a barometer of your friendships.

      4. Alright, as someone who grew up moving around and has had to travel to most weddings I’ve attended (mostly within the U.S., but internationally a few times as well), you cannot assume anything about what other people can afford. I make decent money, but I haven’t been able to make it to every wedding I’ve been invited to. People do not have unlimited time off work. The cost of airfare, hotel, wedding gift, rental car, meals out while traveling, attire, etc. all add up fast. And everything (travel-related and otherwise) is pricey right now.

        It’s okay if you are disappointed that certain people cannot make it, but you shouldn’t assume anything about what is comfortably in someone else’s budget.

  2. Anonymousse says:

    Congratulations on getting married!

    I think you need to:

    1) stop the narrative that you are having a wedding “for your friends.” This is not for your friends, please stop telling yourself that right now. You’re having a wedding because you’re getting married and decided to have a wedding. Maybe they gave you the idea but they didn’t force you to do a thing. You and your future wife make your own decisions.

    2) your friend is traveling, and is currently in SA so does that mean you sent this invitation out recently? Wait a hot minute before you get upset about this stuff.

    3) don’t not assume or even necessarily believe that everyone is as wealthy as they tell you they are or even try to show you they are. So many people fake it or have issues or bills you have no idea about. I bet you’d think I was rich. I had $65,000 in medical bills abpfter insurance in the last two years. I haven’t taken a billboard out for it, if you get my point. People are embarrassed and ashamed about money. Some people still won’t get on a plane. Like, yeah, a few people can’t make it but most of your people will be there, right? Be grateful for what you have instead of sad at what you don’t.

    4) this wedding hasn’t happened yet, right? So there is still the chance of a miracle or two, but even if that does not happen, you need to readjust your “I did this for them and they need to do this for me!” attitude. All that will do is make you resentful and lose friends.

    1. Hello.
      When I meant my friend is in South America, she is travelling with her husband since Christmas. They live in Singapore. I did sent the invitation via digital.

      1. Anonymousse says:

        An email invitation is really weird and cold for a best friend, no? Did she know you were engaged? You just met less than a year ago? Why don’t you call your friends and invite them with your own voice instead of an impersonal email? Especially if you want the go travel internationally??

      2. Anonymousse says:

        *them to travel

        Email invites are just no longer a thing for me, except at work or for school fundraisers.

    2. I agree with your statement. My partner sister wont be coming and life goes on. When I wrote I was very emotional and didn’t know how to deal with the emotion, which is quite normal. The more time pass, the more we adjust and move on.
      Thank you for your input.

  3. Where I live most people do design invited and send them digitally. It is better for the environment and each person do their won thing.
    As per my two friends of concern, the one from Singapore replied and she is coming and staying at my place with me.
    When I said travel is not a problem for my friend is because they travel A LOT once the restrictions were lifted.
    I work in healthcare and if I was scared of Covid, I would have quit during the pandemic and so do all my friends as we are all in the healthcare business.
    I have been engaged for over a year and I know my partner for over 3 years. Everyone knows and I did send a save the date.
    I did a lots of research about paper invite and digital invite and it boils down the preference of the couple, really.
    By the way before I sent an invite, we did talk over the phone but obviously no one can pressure people to accept on the spot.
    My wedding invite is beautiful and digital. I am so proud that all the money I didn’t spend printing and posting, about $600 I donated to the food bank. I feel great about it.

  4. SamuelGallagher says:

    I can understand that it’s disappointing when friends are unable to attend your wedding, especially when you’ve gone out of your way to support them in the past. It’s important to remember that everyone has their own reasons and circumstances that might prevent them from attending.

    My advice would be to focus on the people who will be there and celebrate your love with them. You can also consider having a separate celebration with your friends who couldn’t attend at a later time, either in person or virtually. You could also consider sharing the wedding day through live streaming or other virtual means, so that those who can’t be there physically can still be a part of your special day.

    Ultimately, the most important thing is that you and your partner are marrying each other, and that you’re surrounded by people who love and support you. Try to focus on the positive and enjoy your wedding day, knowing that your absent friends are still there in spirit.

  5. LW2: Another thing to consider is that your boyfriend might have thought he was allowed to bring a date to the wedding, but he either misunderstood or it was changed. Weddings are expensive and many people have to limit how many people they invite. Sometimes that means not allowing guests who aren’t super close to the couple (such as coworkers) to bring a +1, particularly if they will have other coworkers to socialize with while there.

    But this only reinforces what Wendy said. Instead of speculating about this and letting yourself get more and more anxious or angry, just ASK.

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