It’s Wedding Week on Dear Wendy! This week will be chock-full of wedding columns, gift guides, dollar dances and an open bar. If you love wedding content, this is your lucky week. If you hate wedding content, this is your lucky week because–-open bar! But just kidding about the open bar.
I’m currently nine months pregnant, and I have a three-year-old. My sister planned the wedding for early September, so my son will be about 3.5 years old then, and the baby will be just over three months old. Additionally, my husband and I are both professors and our semesters begin the week before her wedding. Missing classes during the first week is hard and frowned upon at both our institutions. We don’t have vacation time because we have the summers off, and we have several weeks off during the winter as well. When my sister announced her plans, I begged her to postpone the wedding to a later date when my husband and I would have time off, but she didn’t want to.
Complicating all this is that my sister has been very unsupportive of me during my pregnancy. She rarely ever visits us even though we live in the same city, and she hasn’t offered to help us at a time when we could really use the help. She’s my only family member in this city, and it’s been challenging to have a toddler, be very pregnant, and work full time.
So my question is this: Should I go to her wedding? I would feel awful missing it, but at the same time, she’s not making it easy for us to attend. And she’s not been very generous or accommodating when it comes to helping us out. — Thinking About Skipping Sister’s Wedding
If your sister really cared about your being at her wedding, she could have planned it at a more convenient time for you, even just a couple weeks earlier. Or, she could have planned her wedding in her own city, where you live, and where it would be much easier for you to attend with your young children. (I think it’s pretty common for people planning weddings to run potential dates by close family and friends to rule out conflicts). Or, she could have planned even a reception or second/smaller wedding in your city for you and anyone else unable to make the long journey across the world for her nuptials. But she didn’t, so you have to assume your presence at her wedding isn’t a top priority for her. But that doesn’t mean that YOU don’t care to be there, of course, and it doesn’t mean that there won’t potentially be serious and long-term repercussions to your skipping your sister’s wedding. You have to consider that possibility, weigh it against the the cons/challenging logistics of attending the wedding, and decide for yourself whether the risk of hurting your sister’s feelings and damaging your relationship with her is worth skipping it.
One thing I will caution against though is factoring your sister’s lack of support during your pregnancy into your decision to attend her wedding or not. Honestly, that just seems really petty, especially considering the relationship drama it sounds like she’s been contending with (on top of all the other life stuff any adult has to deal with). Just because she doesn’t have children or isn’t pregnant herself doesn’t mean she isn’t incredibly busy, tired, overwhelmed, etc. (I mean, she’s planning a wedding in another country!). Believe me, I understand the demands and fatigue of raising a 3-year-old while being pregnant (I really, really get it, I do). It would be wonderful to have help, sure. But what is it you wanted or expected your sister to do (what do you mean by “very generous and accommodating when it comes to helping us out”)? Beyond some occasional babysitting and maybe a meal or two, I myself would feel sort of awkward accepting any additional help from people (people I’m not paying to help me, anyway) — even close family members — simply because I have a kid and I’m pregnant and I work. Unless you (or your husband or 3-year-old) have been crazy sick or in the hospital or something (which I hope is not the case!), I guess I fail to see why you really need or would expect help just living your regular day-to-day life over the course of your pregnancy.
I do understand your feelings being hurt that your sister doesn’t even come visit you and your family despite living in the same city, but, again, I think it’s unfair to expect HER to maintain your relationship (as opposed to, you know, going to visit her sometimes) just because you think she has more free time or fewer responsibilities or whatever, and I definitely think it’s unfair to factor this seeming lack of support into your decision to attend her wedding or not.
All that said, if I were in your shoes, I’d skip dragging the whole family across the world to the wedding. Traveling long distances like that with a 3-year-old is a nightmare on its own. Throw in a newborn baby, and the logistical challenge of taking off from work just days after a new semester has begun, and it seems borderline absurd to attempt. I might think about going alone with just the baby and leaving my husband and 3-year-old at home. You’d save a buttload of money buying just one ticket (if you’re comfortable holding the baby on your lap) as opposed to two additional ones, and at least your husband wouldn’t have to miss work, too. But then you’d be in a foreign country with a newborn and no help (unless you have extended family who will be there that you can depend on), which isn’t ideal either.
Anyway, if you decide to stay home, which is probably what I would do, you could certainly offer to organize/host a small local reception for your sister and her new husband upon their return from their wedding (or honeymoon). It wouldn’t need to be elaborate, but you could take some of the money you would have spent on airfare and put it toward a party for 15-20 people or so where your sister could share photos of her wedding and you could feel at least somewhat part of the celebration. Alternatively, you could also offer to host a bridal shower or a bachelorette party to show your support.