Dear Capt. and Company,
This is a post-party wedding question, at least on the surface. The outline: asked friend M to be a bridesmaid in late 2013, wedding was this June. Friend M withdrew as bridesmaid January 2015, as funds were tight and she is 16 hours away. I offered to cover her dress and half the estimated ticket, but she declined. I was really, really sad, but didnt say anything. She texted me 4 weeks ago, wanting to know how the wedding went. That was the only thing I heard from her since ~March. She didnt respond to bachelorette invite or formal wedding invite, and didnt text, call, send a card, a Facebook message—radio silence until “hey love you miss you can’t wait to hear about the wedding” text. 2 months after the wedding. And I am just speechless. My sister (also v good friends with M) says M would never intend to hurt me, and weddings are “not the only thing people have to think about.” Which leads to the submerged bits of my question…
I really wanted to be a laid back, no stress bride, & probably failed to indicate how important some of the wedding stuff was to me. I’m fat, and not pretty, and non-traditional, and thought I had accepted myself as I am, Achievement Unlocked. But bride stuff fucked with my head–I really wanted to feel pretty and special and celebrated, and lots of stuff combined to make the whole planning process painful. No one offered to throw a shower. I didnt want one! But I am crying now, writing this, because no one wanted to. My mom didn’t have any opinions, didn’t want to go dress shopping with me….didn’t really care about much. I know this is a problem lots of people would like to have. But without writing a novel, wedding planning felt really lonely for me, and Friend M going AWOL still twists my guts in knots.
The actual wedding was very nice, and I did feel like I had semblance of community show up to celebrate. And yes, I did get to marry the partner I love, which everyone says is the definition of a successful wedding. But I am sad and hurting.
If you have insights, advice, etc., I really could use some ideas.
From reading the Offbeat Empire off and on, I can tell you that the post-wedding blues and unexpected post-wedding feels, including loneliness, are A Thing. Forgive me for the John Updikeness of this, it’s an apt description of that “meh” feeling after you do something that was much anticipated:
“Back from vacation”, the barber announces,
or the postman, or the girl at the drugstore, now tan.
They are amazed to find the workaday world
still in place, their absence having slipped no cogs,
their customers having hardly missed them, and
there being so sparse an audience to tell of the wonders,
the pyramids they have seen, the silken warm seas,
the nighttimes of marimbas, the purchases achieved
in foreign languages, the beggars, the flies,
the hotel luxury, the grandeur of marble cities.
But at Customs the humdrum pressed its claims.
Gray days clicked shut around them; the yoke still fit,
warm as if never shucked. The world is still so small,
the evidence says, though their hearts cry, “Not so!”
Your sister has forgotten that “intentions are not magic.” M. would never intentionally hurt you, but hurt you she did. My read on M’s behavior is that she felt guilty about dropping out as bridesmaid and subsequently detached, whether due to guilt or being overwhelmed with life stuff. I think it was crappy of her not to RSVP to anything, or at least call or text you and say “Can you stop sending me pretty invitations for right now, I already told you I can’t afford to come and it bums me out to get them when I know I can’t be there and I hate disappointing you.” It must have been very hurtful and anxiety-making for you to keep sending overtures and hear nothing from her. If you love her, clear the air with her, and say what’s on your mind, “I’m so happy to be back in touch with you. Not being able to talk to you these last few months was really sad and lonely for me. Can you tell me ‘why the radio silence’? Are you ok?”
My read on the general post-wedding slump is that you can’t go back and re-do it, and people (like your mom) won’t really get it if you bring awkward things up now. It’s unfair, because there is so much pressure for this one event to be healing and performative and perfect and meaningful, and then so many mixed messages, like, “Which is it, Zeitgeist? Is my wedding day the most important and special day of my life where I must be a perfect pretty pretty princess or am I a complete self-absorbed trivial asshole for caring so much about something so petty (and girly)?” Having looked at a Pinterest board or seventeen, I am fascinated with the current aesthetic in a certain kind of wedding right now, which mixes “EVERY DETAIL IS HANDCRAFTED THOUGHTFUL PERFECTION AND ORIGINAL” and “Oh, this old thing? You don’t think we put actual effort into that, do you? We just wanted to throw a good party and focus on what’s really important, like love. It just happens that our kind of love means handcrafting the paper for our special favors out of recycled driftwood over a period of three years using an antique stamp from my spouse’s ancestral crest and (shrug) and ink made from things we found in dumpsters.”? You were caught in the Cool Girl (also known as Chill Girl) paradox, where you are supposed to both be perfect while doing something stressful and act like you are not trying at all. Who wouldn’t be drained after walking that tightrope of decision fatigue and cultural pressure?
Your project now is to:
a) Forgive yourself for caring a lot about certain parts of your wedding and forgive yourself for having uncomfortable feelings even though the result was happy. Some feelings demand to be talked over and some are just vague uncomfortable longings that can’t necessarily be solved. If you have to ritually expiate those feelings by dressing in blue glitter and singing Let It Go three times in a row at karaoke one night, I will not judge.
b) Figure out what kind of relationships and people you want in your life now and going forward, and how to build and nurture them. How can you keep old friends like M. in your life, but hold them a little more loosely during an off-cycle? How can you meet new people, and invite the warm, funny, caring ones in? What weekly or monthly rituals can you put in place to find that community you crave? What do you have in common with your mom that might form the backbone of an adult relationship? In my opinion almost everybody needs a social space and friendships that don’t center a romantic partner, so make sure you cultivate and hold onto yours.
c) You planned the giant party and survived. You did it! What other projects do you want to do that aren’t giant parties but maybe involve a lot of anticipation and cooperation? Do you need to go on a trip every year with your best friends and maybe your sister? Do you need to learn something new? Do you need to make a movie or a giant collaborative art project? What dreams and projects of yours sat dormant while you planned your wedding? Pull them out. It’s time.
d) How’s work/school? How is your sleep? How are you eating? When was the last time you got a physical/got your eyes checked/went to the dentist? Have you told your doctor about feeling run down or blue? When was the last time you got a few hours alone in your house to just do as you please? Institute self-care protocols, please.
Much love and congratulations to you upon the occasion of your marriage. These particular blues will pass. You’re not weird for having them.
223 thoughts on “#751: The post-wedding blues”
As disappointing as it feels now, I would leave conclusions about M’s absence aside until you talk with her. It’s entirely possible she was going through something substantial and didn’t want to cast a shadow on your wedding plans. If she has been a good friend, it would be worth an honest discussion.
I was thinking along the same lines. For someone to remove themselves that way, something had to be going down and they didn’t want to make it public, or at least, they didn’t want the LW to know because of the wedding.
Money, health and work problems are quite delicate and it’s common for people to try and be discrete because they think they will either be judged or pitied (the offer to pay for some of M’s expenses might have come of as this).
I just wanted to add that having to back out like that for financial reasons – for lots of people that can connect to things that are embarrassing. A promotion that didn’t go through, bills and/or other health care expenses that came up and having to bleed savings, simply not taking the time to realize the exact cost of attending an out of state wedding and what that means budget wise – for many of us, those aren’t exactly easy topics to talk about.
The first out of state wedding I attended, it was for a close friend who I had always assumed I would definitely go to her wedding – no questions. I was in my early/mid 20’s, had a job, figured – this is the stuff people do! Post wedding attendance, the final cost of everything (and there was no wedding party) was staggering. There was another out of state wedding I was invited to from a long time childhood friend who I wasn’t super close with, and the idea of shouldering both expenses in the same year – it immediately became obvious that was 100% not possible. And that had nothing to do with whether or not I wanted to take a personal vacation or take my car in for some much needed repairs. But I was at an age and place where it didn’t seem like it shouldn’t be possible. And it was embarrassing to admit that.
So yeah, give a friend the time to talk. Super ghosting may not have been the best choice, but there may be other reasons.
I’ve done the “poor and sick and I don’t want to rain on your happy feelings” fade away before. I’ve done it in person and online. I’ve vowed “I’m sick of bringing people down, so I won’t post an entry/send an email/text a friend until I have some good news”. After months of no-good I then feel ashamed and guilty for disappearing, and don’t know how to approach and say “Sorry I’m not around, it’s just…”, so I keep schtum.
So here’s my take for the LW (and I may be projecting, because I’m a human with a really appropriate recent past, present, a possible future of isolation):
If I’ve explicitly said “Sorry, I just cannot afford that, I’m sorry” and was already feeling like shit because I’d abandoned my friend on her big day, and yet the invitations, reminders, save the date cards etc. still kept piling up? I’d double down on the self-hatred, I’d retreat further into myself, and it would take me a long time to feel worthy of contacting my friend. It would (and still does) take a lot of nerve. I can literally lie awake fretting over whether it’s been too much time between contact, or not enough time. I’m sure OP’s friend has agonised over this.
Sorry for wall of text, so many feels!
I sent an invitation to a friend I knew would be unable to attend my wedding. I did so because I thought it was important to let her know she was wanted and appreciated. That might have been the LW’s intention in still sending invites to M. I know I’m speculating, it’s just very similar to what I did. However, I did tell my friend directly “I’m sending you this because I love you and there are no expectations attached”. If wires got crossed and what was meant as a kind, inclusive gesture felt like shaming or was anxiety-inducing, LW clearing the air about her intentions could help.
Shame just doesn’t respond to logic. Sometimes getting the message “You’re really important to me and I miss you” gets warped into “See – she loves you, so now you definitely should keep your fat, selfish mouth shut because if you tell her what’s really going on? That will hurt her, especially when she realises it’s been going on for ages”.
When that’s compounded with money issues? Nightmare. I keep deleting my example because it would seem so wildly improbable to people that 1) things were so dire and 2) that any friend could be so ignorant. Having no money can be so shameful, likewise for health (physical or mental) problems. It colours everything, and when people who profess to love you start acting like you’ve killed their puppy, just because you had to go dark for a while, then that only compounds the self-loathing.
Second this, plus also consider that M is actively reaching out to you. Whatever happened, she clearly wants to be more active in your life now, and she is inviting you to talk about your wedding (which says to me that she really did want to be there and is enough over any potential shame spiral to hear the details.)
It seems to me there’s a horrible double whammy involved in the modern wedding: not only is there a requirement (in the zeitgeist rather than in every single individual case, of course) for a punishing level of perfection, but there’s also built-in disappointment. Going by much of what’s written about wedding planning, you’re supposed to put in a vast amount of effort to make every facet express something original and unique about you as a couple, and the implication is that your guests will be as passionately invested as you are. However, this sets people up to fail: no matter how much care and attention you put into every detail to make it the perfect day, the fact remains that nobody cares about your wedding as much as you do. It’s clear that you expected your friends and family to come together, support you and be deeply involved in your wedding: it’s an understandable wish, and I’m sure it must come true sometimes, but I don’t think it’s surprising when it doesn’t. Like your sister says, it’s not the top of other people’s priority list the way it is for you. I’m sorry things didn’t come together the way you hoped they would and that it affected the way you feel about your wedding. It might ease things if if you were able to reframe it not as an emotional abandonment but as people simply prioritising their own lives, not out of any lack of care for you but because that’s what people naturally and reasonably do.
This speaks to me. I put so much time and energy into planning my wedding. A lot of it was a lot of “what do I actually want it to be” and things. But I think about how much time I spent looking at flowers, wedding invitations, hair styles, and it seems pretty pointless! It was a great day, but these things seem so unimportant now! But I learned quite a lot about myself in the process, so I don’t entirely regret it. Weirdly the thing I spent very little time on (my dress) I do wish I had spent more time on. Ah hindsight.
In some ways it’s nice to think that other people aren’t as invested in it as you are, because it doesn’t matter so much if some things aren’t perfect. I worried that every little shortcoming would reflect on me, but on the day my attitude was “If I don’t know there’s a problem, there isn’t a problem” and if there were any problems I didn’t hear about them.
I love the Captain’s advice about where to go from here to build fulfilling relationships. Good luck LW, I hope these feelings pass and you can look back at your wedding with predominantly happy memories.
I’m with you. I spent a ton of time on planning my wedding, and have no regrets, because I truly loved the experience, stressful as it was. We definitely spent the most time on the look of the thing, and I’m really proud of how everything turned out (no paper folding/driftwood collecting but definitely book page boutonnieres and all tables named after the houses of Westeros). I thought/hoped our guests would be like “Ah! These two, so clever!” But you know what people said they loved the most about our wedding? Our ceremony. Which took us 10 minutes to write. Seriously, it’s been almost a year and nobody mentions the plastic chess pieces I spray-painted gold for 3 weeks straight. But they are still gushing about our ceremony! Turns out that was what folks showed up for. Not the decorations, not the food, not the photobooth. They showed up to celebrate US. Whoda thunk?
This was my experience as well. I loved the planning and execution of the thing (but I plan events professionally too, so it’s logical that I would) and I loved how our details worked out. It looked just like what we wanted – but at the end of the day the things people talked about the most were how much they loved our ceremony and how it was the best wedding they’d been to because of the *feeling* of the day. We did spend a good amount of time on our vows, and the ceremony, but it goes back to what you said – they showed up to celebrate us. Not to look at pretty centerpieces that took forever to put together.
I have to disagree with this comment – I got a lot of reminders during the wedding planning process that “no one cares about your wedding.” Those reminders were hurtful. Think about it like some other life event like having a child or graduating college – it’s appropriate to expect the people closest to you to get that those things are a big deal! Weddings count as big life events, and having them discounted hurts.
There’s a difference between caring about BECAUSE someone closest to you cares about it, and just straight-up caring about something. Expressing interest, brainstorming, cheerleading, being excited for you, helping in rough patches, those are reasonable expectations and I’m so, so sorry Ruth that your people didn’t come through for you. Expecting people to be passionate on the exact same level as you about your thing isn’t realistic though, because it’s YOUR thing and they can relate to but never fully understand the depth and breadth of meaning an event has for you. And it’s okay, because we’re human, not Betazoid.
Yeah, I remember being told by one parent that “Chinese people don’t care about high school graduations” around the time I finished high school, and while they got their shit together later on, it’s something I still remember to this day, and not fondly.
I could maybe see LW’s sister trying to be helpful, but her comment would sting like hell.
What a stupid thing to say (leaving aside the potential for hurt).
Someone who thinks it’s something about being Chinese that means finishing high school is no big thing needs to get out and see the rest of the English-speaking world, where we don’t much make a deal about it either. It’s an American cultural thing (and possibly other countries), not an ethnic thing. I mean, sure, there are congratulations and all that, maybe a dinner, for finishing, but it’s more about marks in external exams at that stage.
If I had kids and lived in the US, I’d be a bit WTF about the whole palaver myself, but you know, if it’s a local ritual, you participate as best you can. Whiter-than-snow Brits and Australasians would probably be just as “bad” as those “foreign” Chinese when it comes to US high school graduations.
(Not lecturing YOU, by the way, just marvelling at how ignorant some people can be about the wider world.)
…I think that was the point of what my parent was trying to say, since we are Chinese/Taiwanese: that it was an American thing about graduations, not an ethnic thing. I don’t remember implying in my comment that it was an ethnic thing, and while I’m sure you meant well, that was not what my parent meant, either, and I’m quite hurt by your comment.
I got told by a family member that she would not attend my wedding because she felt weddings weren’t very important- and then went on to say that I ought to feel the same way, that all I was doing was buying a dress and throwing a party (um… she does realize there’s a ceremony in which I marry the person I love, too, right?), and I was being a Bridezilla for getting upset. I don’t expect anyone to be as invested in my wedding as I am, but to be told directly that it’s not important? It hurt. It hurt like hell, especially coming from someone I thought of as a close relative prior to this.
I once signed a guestbook where the person before me had written, “I still don’t believe in marriage and weddings are bullshit, but congratulations anyway”.
I too have philosophical reservations about marriage, but somehow I refrained from making someone else’s celebration into my own soapbox. I was especially boggled because this was the wedding of two men. Same-sex marriage is legal in Canada, but it’s not exactly ancient history (funnily enough, one of the grooms was my prom date the same year the federal mandate happened). Currently the couple is living in a country where their marriage is not formally recognized and it’s a worry at times. Grousing about matrimony in someone’s wedding guestbook seems especially tone-deaf under those circumstances.
Holy shit, that guestbook comment is way messed up! What is it about weddings that turn some people into the most horrible versions of themselves?!
Wow. Why did they even show up then- just for the food? The point of attending a wedding is (well, should be) to celebrate someone’s happiness, whether or not you think marriage itself is a great thing or the best way to go about it!
Good grief. Who raised that person??
Before we tear this anonymous guestbook-writer to shreds, it is possible that it was a joke that was okay in the relationship between writer and couple. If I (very queer) got married and one of my friends wrote that in my guestbook, I would think it was hilarious and extremely supportive. I’ve been at weddings where stuff like that was said *in the best man and maid of honor speeches* and the couple was laughing the loudest.
Or maybe that person was a total asshole. I don’t know them, and I don’t know the couple.
Just wanting to point out the “it could have been a totally acceptable joke” angle, because not every Gay Marriage (TM) has to be a teary, we’ve-been-together-40-years, social-justice-porn-for-straight-people soft-focus photo.
This feels true to my experience. And to what someone else mentioned–there is not a lot of space, culturally, to care about the feelings of wedding/marriage stuff without the ever looming Bridezilla specter.
Just wanted to flag that what LW spoke about wasn’t just people not caring about something she was trying to get done (e.g., her mother not being involved with the dress), but people not expressing caring in other ways that are a traditional part of a wedding (nobody bothering with a shower).
There’s a difference between “people didn’t enthuse over the pretty centerpieces I worked on” and “people didn’t bother to acknowledge that this was important to me”.
As someone who’s still a little confused by western wedding traditions, if I was asked to be a bridesmaid and the bride never mentioned a shower, I would have assumed she didn’t want one or that planning duties fell to the family, the maid of honor, or the bride herself. There are a lot of ways for those wires to get crossed without maliciousness on anyone’s part. I understand why LW felt hurt, and those are legitimate feelings for her to feel, but I also understand how a loving and supportive community could skip over planning that shower.
I get that, but assuming LW’s family and friends are at least mostly from the same traditional background that she is, *somebody* should have brought it up at some point. This isn’t generally a thing where it all falls to one person and if they don’t bring it up nobody else will – if the maid of honor doesn’t plan one, a family member or coworker or friend will (and sometimes all three), and even if they don’t all take the initiative to plan it themselves they’ll at least bring it up at some point. For *nobody* in LW’s family or friend circle to even offer to throw a shower does sound like something that is understandably hurtful. Again, assuming that they all come from the same wedding culture/traditions, which it sounds like they do.
The etiquette of showers makes that tricky – it’s a party where the nominal point is gift giving, so you’re not supposed to host one yourself or ask for one. I can see why that would be confusing to someone who grew up without that tradition!
Thank you, I didn’t know that! My assumption was 100% wrong (I thought that if the bride didn’t ask for one, that meant she didn’t want one).
I’m made some wedding blunders in the past but I’m working on it. So much of the etiquette is 1) unspoken and 2) about things that are already fraught, like money.
I grew up in the US but I didn’t know that– maybe if I was actually ever engaged, someone in my family would have mentioned this in all the planning. And I’ve never been asked to be in a wedding party. (I guess thankfully!!!!)
Also, apparently it’s A Rule that the bride’s family cannot throw her a shower. So, while it is traditionally a Maid of Honor thing, both of my bridesmaids were my sisters, and thus barred from shower duty. One of my mom’s friends wanted to throw me one (I didn’t really care one way or the other, but it was actually pretty fun), as did my husband’s mom’s side of the family (but they live nowhere near us…and we had no time to go there…so that didn’t happen).
That said, Wedding Rules are often really weird and outdated.
I think the problem with saying “someone” should bring it up is that all the someones may not really understand that none of the other “someones” were bringing it up.
Oh, also, I notice there was a bachelorette party – when I was a bridesmaid we threw a bachelorette party and it never even really occurred to me to also do a shower. I kind of thought it was a either/or thing? Maybe other people have that same impression.
Lilah, that’s my impression too. Most of my friends (“low key” brides) have bachelorette parties, but not showers. There seems to be this idea in my generation (late 20’s/early 30’s) that bridal showers are “tacky”, because of the economic squeeze weddings already put on folks. So a bachelorette party is cool, because it’s folks getting together for one last hurrah, but a shower gives off the impression you want more gifts, when you’re already getting gifts for the wedding itself. Honestly, unless a close friend explicitly told me she wanted both a shower AND a bachelorette party, I’d never realize.
It’s interesting how these things vary by social circle. For most of the weddings I’ve been to (also late 20s/early 30s and fairly low-key), the shower was held by the parents and intended mainly for family and family friends, and the bachelorette party (or joint bachelor/bachelorette party) was held by the maid of honor/bridesmaids and intended for friends.
First, LW, I am sorry that you are not feeling so great about some of the outcomes of your wedding experience. It seems to me that Big Life Events (weddings, babies, funerals) are often fraught with confusion, surprises, unexpected behaviors, and hurt feelings. I hope that time will provide comfort, and reveal what is going on with M. I think many commenters are right in suggesting that there’s more to the picture than what appears.
Re: this comment thread, it’s interesting, the different takes on shower v. bachelorette. It’s been quite a while since I participated in a wedding (forty-ish here), and I stood up in eight of them when I was in my twenties, and the prevailing thoughts then seemed to be…
– Cash for the wedding, whatever you could afford, but definitely at least enough to cover your meal(s).
– The bridal shower is (scratch that — was!) a must — that was the job of the maid of honor/and bridesmaids, but if a beloved aunt or cousin wanted to co-throw, that was good too. Moms and grandmas didn’t normally hostess, because of the close connection. The shower to me seems like the event where all the “ladies” in the bride’s community get together, get to know each other, break bread together… and it’s multi-generational. However, and I thought this especially nice, I have been to showers where the groom-to-be shows up for the last forty minutes or so, and greets all the women individually, maybe even helps to open some gifts, but *definitely* and graciously makes a point of thanking everyone, in person, for all the presents. I also loved the shower where the bride’s male relatives served the ladies. There were some humorous moments and some teasing, which were great, but more importantly, it allowed the guys to participate in their sister’s celebration, which was excellent. Granddad was there too — so that was a very special and inclusive shower.
– I always thought the bachelorette party was optional, and for the younger women among the bride’s friend’s, and definitely not the “mom” generation. Chill or hard partying, the only rule is that the bride doesn’t pay for herself.
Also, I always thought it was the height of rudeness not to attend the ceremony, but as the years went by, it seemed like it was more acceptable for people to skip the ceremony and show up later for the party. I’m not comfortable with that, but it works for a lot of people.
I don’t subscribe to Emily Post or anything, but I do find these rituals interesting.
Oh good point Laura, my friends do have “wedding showers” with family and maybe a few close friends. That shower is usually after the wedding, and used to open the wedding gifts or maybe get a few presents from the family. I’ve never run across a maid of honor organizing the bridal shower.
I don’t want to derail the thread too much with wedding etiquette questions, but is there a trustworthy “How to Attend a Wedding For Dummies”-type guide out there someone? I am vaguely acquainted with traditions via pop culture, but this thread has taught me that I still have a lot to learn.
@Manders, off the top of my head I can think of A Practical Wedding, which is a super-useful wedding blog. I can’t remember a specific post about general wedding etiquette/how to attend a wedding, but I’m sure there’s one somewhere in the archives.
Seconding this. I was trying to think of something, but all I could come up with was my Miss Manners and how to cope with sudden disaster at a wedding (which has very selective advice).
If you’re attending, behave like it’s an important occasion. If you’re in the wedding party (given a role with a name), Googling “what are the responsibilities of X” is a great place to start. Will see if I can find a couple of other resources.
@Manders — I strongly recommend Miss Manners. Her “Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior” has some things that might be useful, and I’ve never read her “Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding.” I suspect the latter is written for those having, rather than attending, the wedding, but might still work. If you’re in the US, a lot of public libraries have her books.
The tricky part here is that if LW really was the “chill girl” about the wedding, it may not have been entirely clear to people that it WAS important to her.
I am not good at big social event/obligations like weddings and showers and retirement and funerals, so I will look for excuses not to participate. and one excellent excuse is when the person in charge explicitly says “I completely understand if you aren’t able to make it” … even when what they really mean is “I will be very hurt if you don’t come, but I am not comfortable expressing that, so I am saying this thing that is untrue.”
Not saying LW necessarily did this, but if LW is an out-of-town friend that I rarely have to see in person, I would likely take that kind of polite excuse as a REAL excuse.
Which I understand, but it was everyone who didn’t do anything about a shower, not just one out-of-town friend who want wasn’t I the wedding party.
I’m so worried about this. I’m a mother of the bride. I make $10/ hr. I have energy issues from a five-year-long illness that took all my savings, including my IRA. I’m overextended, credit-wise, and I have no local friends or family. Every. Single. Spare. Cent. I have is going into my daughter’s wedding this October. I don’t have at-home Internet and I’ve turned off my hot water. I don’t use heat or air conditioning. I’ve sold my rare book collection and every saleable stich of clothing, as well as all the furniture I can spare, to finance what I can of her wedding (I am also paying for her car and her insurance and covering her shifts at work).. All my spoons, every single demitasse, go either to my job or this wedding. I CAN’T reliably throw, or afford, a shower, let alone the one she wants. None of her bridesmaids will do so, and they have such hard schedules to coordinate, it’s unlikely that they would even be able to come, and her other relatives are scattered across the country.. And you can just tell that it’s very much part of her vision, that she feels so terribly alone and unloved because I can’t throw her this party that she saw her stepmother get, and knew her stepmother’s mother and sisters loved her SO much…and a quiet luncheon/ slumber party won’t cut it.
She knows all of the above, and she hugs me and tells me she understands, but I can tell it’s just fucking killing her to be a good sport about this.
Sorry for the self-pity party, but it feels good to say this somewhere.
Anyone have any ideas/ scripts? I know I’m coming off as one of those “martyr moms,” but I’m literally crying. I feel like the thing that will make my daughter feel loved, special, and important to me is not something I can do, and I feel like I’m just being the worst mom ever, starting her off on married life feeling lonely and like people know what she wants, but just don’t give a shit about what that is…
If it helps, I don’t think you are doing a single thing wrong. Paying for any part of the wedding is a gift. Supporting her, if she needs financial support and you can provide it, is a gift. If your daughter is sad that her friends, etc. can’t or won’t throw a shower (according to Miss Manners, it’s not family’s job to throw a shower) it’s okay to be sad and it’s okay to wish. I think hugging you and being a good sport is the right thing to do. I also think that scaling her “vision” way way back to what can reasonably be afforded is the right thing to do, though that’s between all y’all. Your heart is breaking that she can’t have everything exactly as she wants it. My heart is breaking for your books and your comfort and your well-being. I hug you in the Jedi Fashion.
You sound like a fantastic mum. It’s not your fault you can’t do it all by yourself, you’re already doing everything you possibly could!
Oh my god, that’s awful.
I am not a good script-giver, but I have two suggestions:
(1) Oh my god, please, slow down or stop. I believe you love your daughter, I do, but this life is yours, not gets, and it does not need to be a bookless cold-water life. (I am not saying no-one can do this, but you sound so wrung-out by it.)
(2) Can you ask the family of the groom to help? Help organize, have it at their place, etc? Her stepmother?
Thanks, all. I really needed to hear that. (Especially Sarah’s understanding of her mother, below.)
The thing is, thelittlepakeha, I WASN’T a great mum. When she was a young child, I had severe (undiagnosed) ADD and depression, as well as undiagnosed thyroid problems, and as if the undermothering resulting from that weren’t enough, her dad and grandmother and brainweasels kept telling her that I left because I didn’t love her enough to be responsible. (I left because her father dislocated my jaw, but was kind and loving toward her, and because the thought of her emulating this marriage terrified the shit out of me— but I didn’t tell her that until she was in her early twenties, for Reasons.) I know that trying to fill the void from being unmothered from outside is never going to work in isolation, but it does seem that having me around and in her corner is helpful. I’ll never make her childhood up to her, but I can make her life easier easier now. Fortunately, I think we’ve struck a balance that avoids smothering. I hope.
I don’t mind the less-dusting and glowing skin that comes from a pared-down lifestyle (even if I did, “man [sic] can endure any how for a great why.”). I do mind being lectured that I’m just spending too much on lattes. Seriously, luxury in my life is “ooh, extra paycheck this month. I’ll _buy detergent from the store_! Hahahaha wheee!” No, scratch that— my luxury is knowing my daughter is doing something she feels proud and happy about. I’m wealthy enough to make Solomon blush. It just hurts so much, to know EXACTLY what is stretching the Kid’s heart out of shape, the thing she really, really wants not to want,the thing that real mothers make happen for their girls, and not being able to do it.
Stepmom is a six-hour drive away and just adopted two children, one of them an infant. Groom’s mother has terrible untreated mental health issues of the sort that force her into violent rages, and is the reason we have a security guard instead of floral centerpieces. I feel bad for saying this, but it’s partly for her own protection— she can’t afford any more legal trouble, and we worry her demons will push her into, once again, severely injuring herself or another person, or causing another $100k or so in property damage.
But your idea, Aphotic Ink, gives me an idea— maybe I can organize a video hangout or something? Hm…
I feel like a wire mother, a poor substitute for the real thing. But, like the doll in _A Little Princess_, I do my sawdust best. I just know that intent doesn’t matter, actions do.
Responding to The Awe Ritual, but ran out of nesting:
I do mind being lectured that I’m just spending too much on lattes. Seriously, luxury in my life is “ooh, extra paycheck this month. I’ll _buy detergent from the store_! Hahahaha wheee!”
I just wanted to highlight how much I love this. How truthful it is, compared to a lot of cultural messages that get spread around about the “wasteful poor” or whatever. The frequent lectures about lattes are so useless–I can’t cut out lattes if I need extra money. I don’t buy lattes.
@ Cactus – that makes me think of the Terry Pratchett quote:
“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”
Amen. There is much truth in Vimes’ understanding of economics and wealth.
For me, knowing that my mom was invested in my wedding and marriage, emotionally, would be absolutely what I wanted as a bride (my mom DID care, she was just really confused by me being not much like her idea of a bride). I would also really, really, really not want my mom to torture herself about details. I would want her to take care of herself.
Someone mentioned down-thread that I was missing general enthusiasm from my community, and that is exactly right. You are providing that in heaps and barrels to your daughter. So please don’t let this letter feed the brain weasels. And take care of yourself.
one additional thing , I really wanted people to be able to relax and enjoy my wedding and not stress about stuff.
Please take care of yourself. I bet that is what is ultimately important to your daughter.
You are a fantastic and generous mom and I really think your daughter realizes that. It’s natural for her to feel disappointed at the wedding-related experiences she’s not able to have, but I hope you’ll accept “It’s fine and I love you” for an answer.
And I very much hope that when the wedding is over, you’ll return to a sense of normalcy in the relationship and maybe allow your daughter and her new spouse to do some things for you without feeling bad that you couldn’t do more.
ALL the Jedi hugs for you and your daughter. You’re doing great!
I seriously needed that Let it Go karaoke link today, so THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY FROZEN HEART
Srsly. When Cap says “I won’t judge” my response is “I sure will — I judge that it’s awesome!”
“I may cry.” “Go ahead: I won’t judge.”
As so often, the good Captain nails it. The wedding is Your Day, the Most Important Day of Your Life, and must be as Unique and Individual as You Are! But if you show stress over it, or show that certain details are important to you, you are the dreaded Bridezilla.
I say that having had a thousand-dollar, at-home wedding. So chill, right? Except I still 10 years later see something and think, Oh, I wish we had done THAT.
Actually it was great, and I wouldn’t re-do it even if I could. I know Big Planning is not my thing. But the fact that a thing will still tug me shows what a huge emphasis we place on weddings to be Perfect Expressions of Our Love.
The MARRIAGE is the expression of your love, and fuck perfect entirely.
The poem speaks to me on a spiritual level, and I need to have it with me at all times in case it may ever console someone as well as I hope it consoles you, LW (among with the amazing advice by the captain as per usual). I made an anki deck and shared it, for fellow poetry nerds and anki users, https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/1991381241.
I was really, really sad, but didnt say anything.
That was the only thing I heard from her since ~March. She didnt respond to bachelorette invite or formal wedding invite, and didnt text, call, send a card, a Facebook message—radio silence until “hey love you miss you can’t wait to hear about the wedding” text.
Ouch. The Captain’s advice here is right on, and I hope the letter can also serve as kind of a cautionary tale about what can happen when two very close friends don’t openly communicate their sadness and discomfort/embarrassment with each other.
One thing about this experience, LW, is that you have now been shown information about people in your life that you didn’t know before. I had a similar eye opener with my own wedding. People I thought were dear friends/family suddenly dropped out of contact, didn’t respond to invites, seemed reluctant to participate at all. I married a good 10 years later than most of my siblings & friends and it hurt that their attitude was “meh, been there, done that” when it was finally my turn.
On the flip side, people I didn’t think really liked me, or people in both our circles that I barely knew were some of the first ones to offer their time or talent or just made a special effort to get to know me or give a thoughtful gift or encouraging word.
So take your newfound information and run with as you enter this new journey. Marriage is an opportunity to shed things (i.e. People ) from your single life that have proven themselves unworthy of joining you in the next phase of life. I certainly don’t miss the “friends” that couldn’t be bothered to share my joy and I’ve been having a blast being welcomed into new circles.
Yes, this. Isn’t it weird how Big Life Events – whether joyful (wedding!) or tragic (sudden hospitalization!) – end up being culling points?
People who can’t muster themselves, can’t deal, who ghost, or who talk nice words but never show up, or who make it about them and not about you, they revel themselves in the least expected places when Big Life Events come calling.
I was with a man who had a heart attack. He was young and had a straight up, go to the hospital, do not collect $200, walk in the ER and they bring you back immediately heart attack. No foul play, no untoward circumstances. Genetics and life.
Do you know who came to the hospital in the next 3-5 days? None of his friends. Not one. And one of mine. That’s it. Not from lack of calling people. Not from lack of disseminating address, hospital room phone number, and floor of the hospital. People had the data. I even called some of his friends I didn’t personally care for but whom he loved, because it wasn’t about me, it was about supporting him. And everyone to the very last person simply no showed.
I was shocked. I was still young enough to be shocked. Before that I thought we had such a supergreat! community of Artists and Friends. Nope. Oh boy did it cull the list of people. They put themselves quickly into the buckets they chose for themselves.
Our community got very small very quickly, because those same people continued to no show over the next year, while making nicey nice sounds about missing us at events, and why didn’t we come out, and get well soon. Arghhhh!
I had a wedding to plan at one time too. The wedding didn’t end up taking place, but it was planned. And again, people showed who they were. Either they cared not at all and made it clear they weren’t coming because Personal Opinions. Or they had such strong Personal Opinions about what date and time I should hold my wedding, that they dictated to me when I should have it because otherwise they couldn’t come.
He and I finally settled on midnight at New Year’s Eve. I thought that was super cool and really special. And even the people who were telling me they couldn’t get vacation could come on New Year’s Eve, surely?
Oh boy, that was the worst date and time of all the dates and times I’d proposed, and I never heard the end of it. It’s been almost 20 years now since the wedding that didn’t take place, and I still hear “jokes” from a few family members about how I wanted to get married at the most unreasonable time on the most unreasonable date.
So yeah. People sorting. Some people either don’t care and can’t show up, physically or emotionally. Or they make it about themselves. Which is the same thing in the end. Either way, you get to find out who they really are, which is a backhandeded blessing.
It’s like the Harry Potter Sorting Hat. Some people you thought were the most loyal and cuddly of the Hufflepuffs turn out to be slippery Slitherin. And Slitherin can have their advantages. They’re not automatically Awful People. It’s just that now you know what to count on from them, and now what not to. And until the sorting occurs, you just don’t know.
PS: I have little patience for understanding M. Yes reach out to her and try to ask what happened, in a reasonable manner. But evaluate the response in light of the behavior. People are what they do, not what they say. But that’s probably just me.
Wow. I would *never* intrude on someone in the hospital who’d had a heart attack. They need that time to rest quietly; I’d never interrupt that just to satisfy my own curiosity.
Uhm, I don’t think anyone suggested that they show up to satisfy their own curiousity. I think it was more of a “maybe they could have bothered to show up to say ‘hey, I’m glad you’re not dead’.”?
Yep. Besides, Weddings and Hospitals said that they called around to friends and let them know all the hospital info…I’m assuming that these calls came with the message of “please visit, we would love to see some friends right now.”
But if their significant other is actively reaching out to you and asking you to visit, would you not take that as a sign that your friend is up to having visitors? I’ve always loved having visitors when I’m in the hospital, even if I can mostly smile blearily at them — hospital rooms get so lonely and isolating, and it’s nice just to have another human presence.
This has been my experience, too. I’ve “lost” people because of my wedding, but on reflection, I’m glad it’s happened. It hurts, but eventually it becomes relief that I’m no longer devoting my own heart and energy to them. On the flip side, the groom and my bridesmaids have been incredible- planning the wedding has affirmed for me that the *marriage* is definitely the right choice and has given me a new sense of gratitude to my friends. I’m actually the first in my circle to get married and I really hope life gives me the chance to give them the same support and kindness if and when it becomes their turns.
LW – I suspect I am very much like your friend. If I feel like I have hurt or disappointed someone I love, I disengage and avoid them like they are full of evil bees. It is a TERRIBLE habit that I am working very hard to break. It has ruined many friendships. I agree with the cap’s advice on how to approach M and I hope you can heal from this hurt (also remember that just because she didn’t have bad intentions doesn’t mean you don’t get to feel bad, what she did was hurtful to you regardless of why she did it).
I’m really sorry, there is no shame in wanting to feel loved and part of a community. And there is no shame in wanting a day that celebrates the beauty that is you and your loved one. And there is no shame in feeling slightly (or majorly) let down that you don’t feel quite as great you hoped you would about this event.
I’m like this too and it takes time to get better at it. Sometimes you’re not doing well so you let something slide and it might be a big thing like a wedding invite. So then you feel like you can’t contact your friend at all bc of the spectre of the undealt with wedding invite, but it would be awk if you brought up the wedding invite way after the fact or sent an email about it apologizing and explaining your side (bc that might be feelingsmail right) so you wait a while and try to put out some feelers again by acting normal. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be hurt or anything, LW, but it’s possible that something happened on M’s side that made responding hard for a while, so the captain’s suggestion to kind of gently air out what your thoughts and feelings were and what her thoughts and feelings were is a good one. Maybe M will be thankful for the opportunity too and you can return to normal after understanding each other.
Also, I think people who haven’t been married before, or who did the thing I did with a courthouse wedding and backyard party, don’t always realize how all-consuming wedding planning can be, especially if they live far away. So they kind of figure, well, it’s a party that I’m not going to be able to make it to, what can I really offer?
Communication is the key, here, is what I’m saying. Regardless of why your friend did what she did, you were hurt. How she responds to your hurt is information about your friendship that’s good to have.
Oh LW…I too have many complicated feels post wedding. My maid of honor thinks wedding showers are stupid. I knew that when I asked her to be my maid of honor, so I didn’t expect her to throw me one. I did NOT expect that she would be openly upset with me when some other friends hosted a shower in my honor.
What I’m saying is, I get it. It’s so painful to hear people call things you value stupid. During the wedding planning process so many people told me not to worry about the details, but they were important to me! The invitation suggests the tone of the event – I struggled to find one that was sufficiently formal yet not stuffy, because that’s the kind of wedding I wanted to have. Flowers are important to me because flowers signal “something special and joyous is happening here today.” I agonized about the program because that went along with the ceremony – I wanted it to reflect the simultaneous solemnity and joy of the words we were exchanging.
So I get it. Things that don’t matter to other people, that other people say are pointless, can actually matter to you very deeply as you plan your wedding without that making you a “bridezilla” (ugh what a terrible word! As far as I can tell, it means a woman who is getting married and has opinions!)
And because those “trivial” things actually do matter, it hurts a lot when people let you down about them. So it’s ok to be hurt and let down about these things. I completely understand.
I am sort of flailing about this because you’re so right- weddings are something we share, and it’s not cool when someone we care about doesn’t appreciate our own value for the experience. On the other hand, I think, well, some of these things that people aren’t necessarily going to invest in Oh I dunno. I guess there are some things where the value for you, the bride-person, has to come from the process itself? Because there is no guarantee that other people will invest in the outcome. Even if other people don’t really consciously notice the tone of the cards, they probably do notice subconsciously. And the invitation sender goes through a process that puts *them* in the mindset of appreciating the tone they are setting.
But that doesn’t really deal with something about the tone of the LW’s letter, you know? It feels to me like a lot of the disappointment was that other people didn’t treat the occasion of her wedding as an opportunity to be close, and to show care and interest in her own self.
Hm. If that’s a case of “the people in LW’s life are usually not that engaged with her and were behaving as they always do” that sucks a lot. And a wedding isn’t going to heal that or reform the habits of people in her life. Maybe as another commenter said, it’s an opportunity to develop other relationships that might give LW that interaction.
I also read some real attempts on LW’s part to basically not be a pain in the neck to other people? But there are ways to ask for engagement from others that aren’t going to be a pain in the neck? Or there should be? I can’t tell from the letter if LW said directly to Mom that they cared about finding the wedding dress and wanted to have it be An Activity. Weddings are so personal, no one should assume she cares about anything in particular until she says so, you know?
And yeah- LW I feel for you and for your friend who had to bow out of the wedding. Some people would feel really included at the invitations and such arriving even when they can’t come, because they say “I care about you and want to include you, even if you can’t be there.” But some people would read those and feel bad because they feel they failed at an expectation. Again, how can you know, if you don’t ask?
❤ ❤ LW
Congratulations on your wedding!
I am here in solidarity because planning my wedding totally messed with my head, too, even though I was certain it never ever would. What was that?! But it happened. Not because of ~traditional ~stuff because I was actively trying to make everything be non-societal-pressury, yet a lot of it was still somehow there anyway… frustrating! So I get it, and I think a natural let-down is normal, and the captain’s suggestions are all really good, and I am another person totally rooting for you that you’ll get through this.
The other aspect, that was touched on, is that you probably were putting a HUUUUUGE amount of time and effort into deciding how to make your wedding really awesome, making a zillion decisions and coordinating a ton of things to happen — and now that it’s over and there’s not another big project taking its place, it’s normal to feel like there’s an odd empty space and time. And that’s okay! You can fill it with whatever your next cool thing may be, as the captain suggests, and you can also *embrace* the lack of must-do-ten-thousand-things and go do something small and quiet you maybe didn’t take the time for before, like sitting around for a whole day in your pajamas reading a great book. I think whichever route you take – or both – the helpful thing is to try to embrace it for what it is.
*love to you*
Maybe this is more on me than on the letter, but I actually think the LW is *really* right to be hurt about the wedding stuff? People know weddings are a big deal, getting asked to be a bridesmaid is a big deal, declining / withdrawing for financial (or whatever) reasons is totally fine but not responding at all to invites etc. is astonishingly rude and “well, who knows what was up for her” doesn’t cover the exposed ground well. I also think the sister’s line about “people have things other than weddings to think about” is just mean and dismissive. Of course they do? Always? In all cases? Whether they are being enthusiastic and thoughtful about those weddings or blowing them off, people always have other things to think about in their lives than somebody else’s wedding. Combined with the fact that this friend is friends with your sister, I would say — actually these two connected people are in fact being actively mean to you in a connected way, and of course that hurts. Now, it may well be that they have their reasons. But I don’t think this is a situation where it is like, oh, ho ho, you are being wedding-induced oversensitive and gosh, it was all just a big misunderstanding. Maybe, LW, you know their reasons and you didn’t include them in this letter, in which case, maybe they are mad at you about something you didn’t take seriously and if you want them in your lives you have to take that thing or things seriously and do repair work. Maybe, on the other hand, you are confronting a realization that they are not the good and thoughtful presences in your life that you wish they were — and so there is some cutting of losses and mourning ahead of you but also, more excitingly, some new and nicer friends ahead also that you will find in future!
If the reason for withdrawing as bridesmaid was “funds were tight, I live 16 hours away and don’t want to ‘accept charity'” (wrongheaded or not, this is a point of concern for people), why would attending as not-bridesmaid suddenly be doable? Especially if there was serious shit going down that caused the financial difficulty? At best I would be thinking “well, I already told her I can’t make it, it’s not like the situation has improved”.
LW has the right to be hurt about it, but that doesn’t mean sister and friend were being “mean”.
>“funds were tight, I live 16 hours away and don’t want to ‘accept charity’”
Agreed, there was a reason listed in the letter, and this was the reason, and it doesn’t mean the friend is mean.
uh edited to add that the LW can still feel hurt, and that is 100% valid, and I would be too in their situation! Just that being broke and not communicating well is not necessarily the same as a friend being fundamentally bad and thoughtless.
I agree that the friend wasn’t necessarily being mean, but turning down the LW’s offer to help with the costs was effectively saying to her, “My pride is more important than being with you to celebrate your special day.” Which is…not mean per se, but not particularly good friend behavior either. (There could be more to the story, like maybe the friend couldn’t get the time off from work, or couldn’t have afforded it even with help from the LW, so I want to give her some benefit of the doubt. But she didn’t send a card or even a Facebook message congratulating the LW, which I think goes pretty far beyond “not communicating well” and into “being a dick” territory.)
Not necessarily – sometimes costs can be high enough that even with help it’s still too much money.
@santaevita Yeah, I mentioned that possibility in my comment (“There could be more to the story, like maybe the friend couldn’t get the time off from work, or couldn’t have afforded it even with help from the LW, so I want to give her some benefit of the doubt.”) but I probably should have put it first.
You are wrong.
Half the cost of a plane ticket does not even START to cover the costs of attending an out-of-state wedding. If she was in bad shape financially, half the cost of a plane ticket wouldn’t pay for her time off from work, the other half of the plane ticket, transportation from the airport to the wedding venue, wedding gift, lodging while at the wedding, transportation back to the airport.
I disagree. I’ve been the broke friend, and taking charity–especially for something you don’t desperately need, especially if it’s a lot of money, especially if it happens a lot–can be a horrible feeling. I don’t think LW is wrong to be upset, but characterizing that mess of shame and clinging to scraps of dignity that can go along with being poor as ‘it’s just pride, get over it, your friend’s wedding is more important’, is…well, it’s not that simple for a lot of people.
Sometimes people who love you just fine can’t go to your wedding, and sometimes finances/logistics/a whole crop of etceteras means you can’t invite someone to your wedding that you’d like to. I would strongly encourage people to not use “did not even invite me/did not even come to wedding” as a decisive barometer of friendship.
However, I am seeing a strange trend in this thread. If you are the (poor)(overwhelmed)(ill) friend (I’ve been that friend), and you ghost on your friends around their important life events and don’t tell them anything about what’s going on with you, well, being overwhelmed and not giving a fuck can look exactly the same from the outside. You may deserve a lot of compassion and benefit of the doubt for your situation, but your friends may still be hurt or annoyed by your silence and your absence and they may disengage and let the friendship drift or fade over time if things feel unbalanced. If it’s a strong friendship that you value, use your words to the extent that you can and hopefully love will win the day. I don’t think it’s realistic to avoid someone, whatever your reasons or your burdens, and then expect the other person to a) have read your mind for why you are avoiding them b) have brainstormed the most flattering/compassionate reason for why that might be c) abdicate any hurt feelings they might have. “I’m sorry, I was overwhelmed with my own life stuff at the time and I couldn’t be there for you the way I wanted to” has a key element of “I’m sorry”. “How dare you pressure/guilt/shame people into caring about your life thing that is less important than my hard life thing” is a different animal, and I’m smelling some of that animal’s funk in this thread.
I am wondering if there’s any tendency to see a woman complaining about how something went with her wedding as a Bridezilla, and perhaps a slightly harsher take than usual showing up in some comments as a result.
Yes, the friend had a good reason ($$) not to come. No, the friend did not have a good reason to not RSVP, not say “Congratulations!” on Facebook, not pick up the phone and say, “Good luck! I miss and love you!”, not respond in any way. It’s called being an adult–just because (generic) you may have terrible problems and horrible brainweasels (as I have had in the past), you are not excused from doing the barest amount of socializing possible, which is replying “No, I can’t come, but I love you!”, calling to say, “No, I can’t come, but I will think of you and be happy that day for YOU,” or Facebooking, “Congratulations on your special day!” It’s like when my husband died–there were a surprising number of people who DID NOT MENTION his death, or say, “Sorry to hear he’s dead and all,” or otherwise react in any possible way. And these were people we’d known for years! Yes, sure, maybe they felt funny about it, or “dead” made them all sad for themselves, or they had a phobia about dead people, but come on! Etiquette is there for a reason–to smooth over the rough parts of life. “Sorry I can’t make it to your wedding, but I love you!” does not equal, “PHOBIA! SHAME SPIRAL! AWKWARD FEE FEES.”
THANK YOU, CAPTAIN.
Thank you Captain, indeed.
Agreed. Mean is malicious, and I see mess here instead. To me, the LW’s sister’s response is a signal that there is something else serious going on with friend M that caused the shortness of funds and deprioritization of basic social niceties. The sister sounds like she’s trying to hint at something without betraying confidences. Maybe friend M had a psychological breakdown or the death of a pet or a breakup that she hasn’t wanted to share yet, and that’s caused her life to be in such disarray that she couldn’t handle getting her shit together to send a gift and look at the pictures on Facebook.
The LW is totally entitled to her feelings of hurt and I don’t think she’s overreacting at all. Friend M could have definitely done better – sent a card, Facebook message, whatever, she should have marked the occasion sooner and better – but while it’s hurtful, it’s not mean. Friend M should apologize, and if she does that I hope the LW will forgive her. Barring some kind of cruelty when the LW confronts friend M, I don’t see cause to cut out old friends and family.
this was exactly my reading too. Financial difficulties can be traumatic – and that’s only one thing that could have been going on in M’s life. I know LW had a wedding to organise but it seems odd to me that LW didn’t reach out to someone that she wanted to have as a bridesmaid, especially what with her sister possibly hinting at other things going on. I hate saying this kind of thing, but sounds like there might have been a lot happening on both sides.
I have been so broke I owned only 2 bras and had to staple a dress together because I could not afford thread. I had to RSVP “No” on a couple of wedding invitations at the time. I managed to write a letter to one to congratulate her on her marriage, and the other I called up to do the same. This was when I was only slightly on the road to recovery from a complete nervous breakdown. The effort involved in writing a letter and calling on the phone–and I had a severe phobic reaction to talking on the phone at all at that time–was what I owed my good friends. If I’d just ignored their weddings/marriages, I’d have never spoken to me again.
Yeah, I kind of headtilted at the assumption on the LW’s part that if the friend couldn’t be a bridesmaid because she lived too far away and couldn’t afford to travel to where LW lives, she could, potentially, attend the wedding or the bachelorette party nevertheless. Not responding to the invites is kind of rude, but if it’s embarrassing to have to decline an invitation due to lack of money (which for many people it is), maybe Friend doesn’t want to reiterate “nope, still poor!” three times over and just assumed that having explained it once was enough.
That’s not an excuse for the total radio silence and I’m not saying LW is wrong to be hurt, especially since this came at such a stressful and emotional time, but it seemed weird to me in the first place that the LW didn’t seem to get that the reasons that precluded Friend being a bridesmaid would also prevent her from personally participating in the wedding in any other way, and then the comment you responded to just interpreted Friend’s actions with the worst possible faith.
I’ve gotten wedding invites from far away friends who knew I couldn’t actually attend before – I’ve always assumed it’s a sort of symbolic “if you could have…” gesture rather than a serious invitation that needs RSVPing. (though agree that Friend quite likely was feeling some guilt, and even if she knew the invitations were meant in that way they still might have hit her in a sore spot. feelings, ugh!)
That’s true and it’s a reasonable thing to do, but as you say, “it’s a sort of symbolic “if you could have…” gesture rather than a serious invitation that needs RSVPing.” LW seemed to expect several more RSVPs after the friend had already explained why she couldn’t be there, and was hurt that RSVPs were not had. Everyone’s entitled to their feelings, and I don’t think the friend’s total lack of contact was very nice, but if you’re sending symbolic invites to someone you already know can’t come, I think you have to be prepared to not get a response.
You know, when I get a wedding invitation that it’s obvious I can’t attend because Reasons, I summon up my good manners, and I sent a note or email or call that says, “I’m so sorry I can’t attend your wedding! I hope it is a wonderful time for you.” It would never occur to me not to answer an invitation just because I think the invitation is symbolic.
I invited people to my wedding that I knew couldn’t/wouldn’t come, because I thought they would be hurt if I didn’t, since they knew we were getting married, when the wedding was, other family members would be attending, etc. This is getting a little into “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” territory, isn’t it?
I kind of feel like it’s the same situation the letter-writer was in with the shower. Not necessarily wanting one (or being able to attend), but it hurts so much if no-one thinks you’re worth making the offer to.
(I invited a family member to the wedding who I knew wasn’t going to be able to make it because they were going to be dead before it happened. They appreciated it.)
I feel like if you invite someone and say something like “I know you probably can’t make it, I just want you to know that if things change I’d really love to see you”, you’ve done well and used your words?
Correct. It would certainly be cool if everyone remembered that invitations are not commands! They communicate “I would like you to be there!” and one possible answer is “sorry, can’t!”
I don’t think I worded my comment very well–sending symbolic invitations is all very well and good, it’s more that if someone has already told you that they can’t come and explained why, being hurt that they didn’t explain the same thing to you two more times is a little odd, I feel.
Well, as a bridesmaid there’s a lot of additional expenses – the dress that has to match, hair and nails, accessories, shoes even (all that has to match and usually isn’t stuff you already own/can grab cheap). And then you have to be available for more stuff – even if you can skip showers, bachelorettes, etc, you still have to be there early for the rehearsal at the very least and that’s more time off work and possibly more time at a hotel.
As a regular guest, you wear whatever you can – dress you already own, shoes, do your own hair nails whatever, and you stay for possibly just 1 night.
Yes, I’m aware that that’s the case. However, it seemed to me that the sheer distance and cost of plane tickets were a major reason, if not the main reason, that the friend couldn’t come, which is a thing that wouldn’t change regardless of the friend’s level of involvement. I may be wrong.
Totally agree here. In my mind there is really very little that the “friend” could have been going through that would excuse her from not even sending a card with her best wishes.
We don’t know anything about what M was going through. For all we know she could have been in an institution, homeless, or some other variety of Completely Incapacitated. And those are just extreme examples! Many people completely withdraw when depressed, or even when they have to mind their finances to much they literally cannot think of anything else.
LW has every right to be hurt and upset – I would be too – but can I ask for a little bit of forethought from the commenters before painting this woman as a terrible friend not to be bothered with?
Well, but we could say this about a lot of behaviour that flags “I don’t give a shit” and it’s important to get out of that habit, right? “oh, the person in whom I am interested did not return my calls and texts, maybe they are in an institution, homeless, or completely incapacitated. I’ll just keep texting them and being cool about whatever level of interest they show so they’ll see how understanding I am!” I think a lot of behaviours in fact mean what they mean, and it’s important *not* to proliferate plausible alternative explanations on somebody else’s behalf. That way continued unhappiness lies. The friend has not said, “I am sorry I went AWOL, I was broke / sick / whatever”. She just turned up saying “yo, how was the wedding I ignored totally?” How would we treat that interactional style coming from a Darth?
Since the LW didn’t describe a bunch of past Darthiness on friend M’s part, I prefer to assume good faith. I don’t think it’s at all out of the range of possibility that missing the wedding was such an upsetting component of whatever M was going through that she just couldn’t get it together to acknowledge it when it happened. Then she thought “oh no it’s been a week and I haven’t said anything”, which compounded the shame so that it spiraled out much longer than necessary. I’ve definitely felt that kind of anticipatory anxiety about resuming communications that I have neglected. Especially when I can sense that the friend in question is mad/sad and just trying not to mention it.
And M didn’t totally ignore it. Totally ignoring it would be just never saying anything about it, not admitting that she is broke and can’t make it to the wedding, not showing up to be in the bridal party with no word, and just letting the friendship go forever out of shame. That’s not what she didAnd from the letter, I don’t see that the LW was reaching out to her at all, even after the text, so it’s not like she’s just totally ignored the LW’s attempts at contact. I see the text as an olive branch – she’s reaching out to see if the LW is super super mad at her, but she doesn’t want to FEELINGSMAIL her about how awful M’s life has been. And since it’s been four weeks since M’s text and she hasn’t gotten a reply, she may figure that the LW is mad at her forever and the friendship is over.
The LW has every right to be upset! But I hope that an apology is forthcoming from friend M, and I hope the LW is generous enough to accept it.
You’re comparing this situation to others that it really isn’t comparable to (texting someone you like? Abusive partners??). You can feel free to react to a situation like this in whatever way you like; as everyone has said, it’s hurtful, regardless of intent. But LW seems less interested in finding out how to enact a scorched earth policy with this friend and more confused about why their friend behaved in such an apparently thoughtless way, so people are offering alternatives. Nobody is saying that you need to consider every eventuality about another person’s life before deciding how to feel about their behavior towards you.
I agree with RMJ that it feels like an olive branch. Friend is showing an interest. Not all of us communicate/emote the same way.
But really it feels to me like the bigger picture is that LW would be best to move forward. Her hurt feelings are completely valid, but they don’t accomplish anything. Either forgive and move on or don’t forgive and move on. To me, not explicitly expressing or choosing to let go of this hurt is where actual continued unhappiness lies.
Possibly, but I feel like writing in and explicitly asking for assistance with being sad and hurt is choosing to let go of the hurt (whether it’s expressed or not). It’s a process, and it’s not necessarily an easy one.
(Yes, I get that there might be some people for whom choosing to forget a hurt so deep that it brings you to tears three months after it happened is a quick and easy process. I`m honestly glad for them. I`m not seeing a reason to assume that someone who writes in asking for help and advice is one of them.)
Also, LW does not say that she continued contact with “calls and texts” during that time, other than sending two more invitations… It sounds like poor communication *could* be a two-way street here, although of course we don’t have all the details…
Yeah, this is how I feel about it, too. As we often say around here, “people who like you will act like they like you.” LW’s friend definitely has not been acting like she likes the LW. If I were the LW, I’d consider our friendship pretty ruined by this point, and M would have to have a fucking good excuse for nearly 6 months of radio silence during one of the most important personal milestones of my life. And if she didn’t, she’d have to work fucking hard to regain my friendship, because at this point it would be hanging by a thread.
I see no Darthiness here. I tend to do this (not replying, etc), and I am quite sure I am no Darth. A bad friend, maybe, but nowhere near evil or scheming enough to be a Darth. My guess is that M is just having some problem of her own, that has absolutely nothing to do with LW, and she just didn’t have the energy to attend a wedding. Which, apart from the money issue, is also emotionally taxing, at least for some people (me).
As for not apologizing, that’s what I usually do, too. Because you never know whether people were actually angry about things like “not responding to letters”, and it is better not do draw attention to a faux pas … at least that’s my reasoning.
Give M a chance? After all, she did write, and “How was YOUR wedding” seems actually pretty thoughtful, as opposed to “Let me tell you how horrible MY life is”.
Honestly, I find that either they’ve noticed your faux pas, or they haven’t.
If they’ve noticed, an apology shows that you were thinking about them and want to not have a bad effect on them. No apology means that, for whatever reason, you haven’t been able to bother about them.
If they haven’t, an apology shows that you were thinking about them and want to not have a bad effect on them. No apology means nothing.
Yeah, but someone you were dating who couldn’t be bothered to return your calls or show an interest in important life events might not be a Darth either, in the sense of someone with whom you will have an intense abusive relationship. They’d just be a bad boyfriend/girlfriend. They’d be someone you shouldn’t strain yourself coming up with excuses for. It’s entirely possible that M WAS going through something, but if she’s over it enough to get in touch all casual-like “oh hey yeah so how was that wedding thing”, yet unable to take enough of an interest in LW’s feelings to say “look, sorry I vanished,” it doesn’t speak very highly of what kind of a friend she is.
Well, she’d sent a first text. It’s quite possible she wanted to see if the lines of communication were still open before getting into a more intense conversation. I don’t usually open with the most emotionally fraught thing that’s on my mind either.
I have social anxiety that wobbles between “people are fine and most things are ok” to “literally i am hyperventilating at the idea at checking facebook.”
It is better to reach out to people, IMO.
Sure you can. However, if she was institutionalized, and the LW’s sister knew, maybe the sister could have mentioned that. RSVPs nowadays come with stamps for returning an answer. Maybe M was so very poor she had to steam the stamp off so she could send out one last desperate plea for help to escape the institution.
Wow. This comment is really nasty and hostile, and I don’t see the reason for it.
M should have RSVP-ed, absolutely. Whatever her intentions, she behaved poorly and hurt the LW’s feelings, and that’s a problem. However, there are reasons why people don’t send back RSVPs that do not fall under “I had to steam the stamp off to escape from the institution.” When I’ve been really stressed out, things have slipped my mind and fallen down the priority list because I had other more pressing things to think about. That’s not to say that M’s radio silence didn’t hurt the LW and doesn’t need to be addressed, because it did and it does, but your sarcasm is really unnecessary and actually kind of offensive.
I actually disagree with this. One of my lifelong friends got married relatively recently. I was pretty fresh out of an abusive relationship. I was really happy for my friend and HOLY COW it was hard to see all the happy coupledom things happening. I ended up having to leave the reception and cry on the shoulder of a really close friend who thank goodness was also at the wedding. Other things that could be going on: M has a strained relationship with her family, or perhaps they are abusive. Big happy emotional family events could be really hard. Maybe M was going through a breakup and couldn’t face being around somebody getting married and since the somebody getting married was her good friend, she didn’t want to make the friend feel guilty for being happy. Maybe M really wants to have kids and can’t because of financial instability or maybe M is having financial instability because of fertility treatments. Who knows. There are so many things that could make being part of a big happy family party really hard and I know I would not want to make my friend getting married worried about *me* on her wedding day. Obviously it would have been nice if M could have given LW more of a heads up about whatever she was thinking but sometimes there are things you can’t even talk about with your therapist and if they coincide with a wedding….that’s hard. M is reaching out now. I’m not saying she didn’t act in a hurtful manner but maybe talk to her and be open to what she has to say and then draw conclusions?
Which is why there’s etiquette. You don’t have to say all that. All you have to say is, “I can’t come, thanks for inviting me, and congratulations TO YOU on YOUR happy day.” You don’t have to say, “Your happiness is killing me, I’m sad and I had a terrible breakup, my family sucks and I can’t have a baby and I have no money and I’m homeless and institutionalized and Dr. Who kidnapped me for a while and a vampire ate me.” Just a couple of lines: I can’t come. Congratulations.
Which is what M did….
Thanks for this. Esp for helping me realize my sister’s dismissal also hurt.
And because I’ve seen several mentions, I will clarify: she received the invitation, and an invitation to the bachelorette. We specifically discussed why I asked she be sent the bachelorette invite, and she said she was touched. I sent her the formal invitation because I wanted to show she was worth the the invite to me, and because she’s a book artist (and therefore one of the people I thought might appreciate stationary). I wasn’t miffed because she didn’t RSVP, I was heartbroken because she said nothing. I thought she was one of my closest friends.
Just sayin’, Sarah, I totally understand where you’re coming from. It hurt like a hellbitch when, the weekend after I buried my husband, one of the people who didn’t mention ANYTHING AT ALL about his death saw me and asked, “So…when are you gonna start dating again?” Well…maybe that was her way of saying she cared, I don’t know, but unless all 10 of M’s fingers were broken, she really has no excuse for not picking up the phone for a limited call or mentioning something, anything, on Facebook, etc.
Wow. I mean, I know people grieve differently and there’s no set timetable for getting back out in the world, but I think anyone with a heart would understand that ONE WEEK is not really enough time to get over the loss of a spouse.
I hope your response included bursting into tears and either stunned silence or heartfelt profanity. Yes, perhaps that person was trying to lighten the mood, but some moods shouldn’t be lightened except by the person actually affected.
I am very sorry about the loss of your husband.
Oh, thank you. It was some years ago. I’ve just never forgotten how that question felt–like being hit by a boulder. I stared in a stunned manner and the person repeated the question, as though I hadn’t heard it. I walked away. Later I heard that she was calling me oversensitive.
Holy shit, I am so sorry someone said that to you. Honestly, I’d be unlikely to bring up something like a partner’s death unless it seemed like a friend wanted to talk about it because if my partner died I actually do not think I could deal with having it brought up every time I see someone for the first time (my partner is a lot older than me and has renal issues that do not seem to be progressing yet but it terrifies me). However, at the most generous that was the worst attempt to be supportive ever.
First, best wishes, LW!
Second, I’m 15 years away from my wedding so it’s kind of a blur now, but I remember that loneliness and that post-wedding exhaustion. I also remember it because it was the last time I saw several of my friends.
I wrote my thank you notes, they emailed, and then times between emails became longer and longer and then suddenly, we hadn’t seen each other for most of a decade. Speaking to other married couples, I’ve heard this is not that uncommon. They even did a How I Met Your Mother Episode about it.
I’m not sure why, my wedding seemed to torque relationships in weird ways that brought out strange and elided issues. Among other things, I discovered that some of my friendships at the time were built non-durable foundations. I also learned my mom’s grasp on reality is poor, that my ex was nursing a threesome fantasy, and my husband learned that his beloved stepbrother was a selfish asshat. Again, I’ve heard this is pretty usual.
I also met and became friends with my BFF/my daughter’s godmother during my engagement — she’s my family of choice and one of the rocks I’ve built my life on. So… good stuff, too!
I suspect, LW, that your wedding uncovered something that you and your friend didn’t know about — either in your relationship or in her. I could be as simple as “She gets all avoid-y when she’s worried she’s upset you,” or it could be as complicated as M thinking “I always thought you’d be single like me and we could be old ladies with cats together and now I’m sad that you’ve got someone and I’ll be alone forever.” (Did I mention that my wedding uncovered some weirdness in my friendships?)
It’s exhausting to have to deal with all the emotional work that happens during the wedding, and then the post-wedding blues… You’ve been doing a ton of heavy lifting lately. I’m sorry that you have to do this, too. I hope M is all like “This has prompted some startling epiphanies and I want to work harder at our awesome friendship and we will grow and be strong TOGETHER!”
Ninja hugs if you want them.
Long time lurker, first time poster here. Love Cap’s list of self-care and community-building ideas!
I think many many humans struggle with blue feelings post-wedding. You’re not alone! I was married a few months ago and sometimes catch myself thinking “but did people have fun?” “did they think it was too casual?” “surely they just came because they felt they had to?” “they probably hated all the food we made!”. These are dangerous thoughts and I try to banish them immediately. Probably very few people feel totally satisfied with how their weddings went. It’s great that you are expressing your feelings, and I hope the sad ones fade over time.
I hope you can patch things up with your friend. I would guess she doesn’t realize how her radio silence has hurt you. As you say, friends might not have realized how important wedding stuff was to you, since you are so cool and laid back. If you are in a certain age group (20s-30s), there are A LOT of wedding events/baby events/birthdays etc every year, on top of all the other day-to-day life stuff. All of my oldest friends are on the other side of the world, so I miss the majority of their special events. Sometimes I forget to call/send a card/get in touch because of LIFE and then months go by and I feel terrible. Over the course of your friendship, you have probably missed something that was special to her (or you will in the future). Friends let each other down, it happens! Keep talking (maybe a bit more openly) and it’ll all come good.
Congratulations on your marriage!
Just commenting to second this.
“people have other things to think about than weddings” – yes, obviously, in all cases. Including the bride and groom, for that matter.
But weddings are still a big deal, and having someone treat your wedding like ‘enh, I didn’t make it to the potluck on saturday, whatever’ still sucks. And you’re allowed to be hurt. You’re also allowed to forgive, but I’d personally want to know why they basically flaked on it, because I’d assume those people are also going to flake when you need help, when you have issues with your spouse, if you get pregnant, whatever.
Spoiler alert: the friend who acted like everything about getting married was *so tacky and passé* when I was getting married is also the ‘friend’ who said ‘why would you DO that’ when I announced I was pregnant. You wanna see what a scorched bridge looks like? That relationship is what a scorched bridge looks like after I said my piece and told her to get out of my house.
Scorched bridge: Birth mom, who left when I was 3yo and then reappeared when I was 14, wanted to be invited to the wedding as Mother of the Bride. Big ball of nope. Then, two weeks after the wedding, we were talking, and she said, “After your first divorce, you’ll understand.” I was a newlywed, two weeks into what ended up being a 20-year marriage. Then next time she called, I asked if everything was alright with my sister and nephew. Everything’s good? Good, then you have no reason to call me. That was the last time I talked to her. Scorched that bridge–burned that shit down.
Yuuup. This is exactly how I feel about it. LW, I don’t think you’re just allowed to be hurt, I think you’re allowed to be PISSED OFF. I’m imagining how I’d feel if the person I’d want as my bridesmaid told me she couldn’t make it (I’d understand; she too lives far away)–but then subsequently ended all communication for half a year then re-kindled contact not with something meaningful (email, letter, etc.) explaining her absence, but with an off-the cuff text. I’d be FURIOUS. And yeah, I’d seriously reconsider whether putting further effort into that relationship was a good use of my energy (it probably wouldn’t be).
I’d suggest maybe dipping a toe in–“How you doin’? What’s goin’ on?” and see what M responds. If she continues to ignore the entire wedding/marriage thing, there’s the answer. If she says, “I was just thinking about your wedding, gosh I hope it was nice, how’s married life,” then Sarah can decide to go from there into a gentle re-exploration of this friendship.
It sounds like M’s communication with Sarah since the wedding has consisted of a text saying she misses Sarah and can’t wait to hear about her wedding. I can absolutely understand why Sarah is hurt, but “continues to ignore” doesn’t seem like a fair characterization to me.
Oh, LW, I’m so sorry. It hurts when something huge is happening for you and people don’t seem to recognize it.
It’s totally okay to be sad about this. I wish saying that could fix the being sad and feeling lonely. I hope you get through this; I think there were good suggestions on that, and the Captain has a ton of useful self-care advice, too.
Also: Congratulations! I’m really happy for you, and I wish you the best going forward.
Jedi hugs, if wanted.
Oh man – the post-wedding blues! I know myself, so when I planned my wedding I knew that I was going to be very susceptible to letting my anticipation get so out of control that the day itself would be anticlimactic. So what did I do? Planned my wedding in 6 weeks. With one week to go my MIL decides we need a reception (and she’ll pay for it) so we booked a small ballroom at a local hotel. Turns out that December isn’t exactly peak wedding season, so it wasn’t too TOO much trouble to pull it off.
I thought that with only 6 weeks, there would be a limit to how much anticipation could build up, and I was right about that, but unfortunately I neglected to nail down the one thing I really wanted: good photography. My husband’s aunt took our pictures and they were absolute crap. We spent all this money (not THAT much truth be told but with a one-income family and 3 children there are always ALWAYS better things to do with our money) and I don’t even have photographic evidence of my husband gazing lovingly into my eyes while I look amazing. This bothered me so SO much (still does if I’m really honest) that I have to remind myself to just remember how awesome I felt and how much fun we all had and how gorgeous I FELT. Because that day itself was awesome, I have to just put myself back into all those warm fuzzy feelings and let go of the fact that I never got my pictures.
So while my strategy worked as far as avoiding the post-wedding blues, I missed the mark on one of the mission-critical elements for a wedding that I wanted. So i don’t know what the answer is! And it’s not as if I can take what I learned and do better the next time around. Well, I CAN but I HOPE I don’t have to. 🙂
*if* you can afford it — get some professional photos done now. It can be a few hundred bucks, so not universally accessible at all for a lot of households, but do it without shame. I am a single mom and while I was accumulating scads of wonderful pics of my daughter the only photos I had of me and my daughter together were “whatever gets randomly snapped by whoever” (me with hathead, check, me with sweatpants, check, me with eyes half closed, check, me looking like a sleep deprivation experiment, check, etc. etc.). I decided fuck it, I am vain about this. I want a set of photos of us together in which I look purty (my daughter always does in that magical little kid way). I think I will do it every other year for the forseeable future (kind of too expensive for every year). The photos are posed, airbrushed, magicked, whatever — but they make me so happy. I don’t care if that’s shallow! Do it with your spouse and your 3 kids and mix it up — you and hubby gazing lovingly, everybody and kids being jolly, whatevs. Booking 30 minutes with a professional photographer can be more relaxed than amateur photography, where you hope to get some good shots but it would be ridiculous to try too hard / be too conceited about it. In a photo studio it’s like “let’s not kid around, tell me how to angle my head”.
That’s what my husband thinks we should do, and the only thing stopping me is that I wanted wedding photos, full stop. Our marriage was a big day and a very significant milestone and I wanted to mark it with a celebration that says “Our story matters” and photos that bring back all those happy memories. We could recreate wedding photos but I would have to get the dress back out and get my hair done and all of that time and trouble that I only wanted to do ONCE.
I may settle for just regular non-wedding professional photos at some point just to have SOMETHING but I am afraid that if I spend the money and it’s not exactly what I want, I will feel like I wasted money and effort, and I hate that feeling more than anything.
You can totally see the pictures as the photographer is taking them, if you look for someone flexible like that! In the digital age, it’s easy to make sure you’re happy with the results.
They are never going to be exactly what you want, they are never going to be as good as you think they should be – they still will be absolutely worth it. Do it.
Yeah, go for it. My wedding pictures, although I can not stand to look at them any longer, were really great. I had worked with the pro we hired before (on some more casual photos for a portfolio) and pros know so much more about lighting, face shapes and how best to work with them, etc., that it really makes a big difference in how you perceive yourself afterwards.
I’m in planning mode for an April wedding and can relate to a lot of what is being said here. Not caring, but caring. Not picky, but still consumed with details. Wanting other people to care, and then explicitly telling them not to worry about things that you deep-down want them to worry about. Our inner selves are in turmoil for a lot of reasons.
I’m halfway through a book called The Conscious Bride: Women Unveil Their True Feelings about Getting Hitched by Sheryl Nissinen. It’s not perfect, but it does talk a lot about the surprise grief and lonliness brides go through. It might be worth your time, LW, even after the fact, to dig into why some of these things really hurt more than you expected them to.
One of the things that sucks about weddings is that (ideally) you only get one go at it, and it’s easy to be fine with something in the moment and realize later “crap, I’ve missed my only chance at x”. I had a similar situation–due to distance there were things that just didn’t happen the way we normally expect, and while I was okay with most of it at the time later on things like “I’ll never get to have a bridal shower ” hit me and just writing this is making me realize how much it bugs me. Yes the wedding was a success but a wedding isn’t just a ceremony, it’s a celebration and some of the ways you’d like to have celebrated are now lost. And they’re not material things, but social ones, which are harder to let go.
So basically you have my permission to grieve those losses.
I just wanted to say thank you for bringing up the concept of “Post-Wedding Blues” as A Thing that many people experience. I really thought I was weird for not being satisfied with my admittedly awesome wedding. I’ve felt awkward and kind of guilty for not looking back on it with unfettered enthusiasm at all times. Minus the friend dropping out (which sounds pretty crappy, LW), so much of this spoke to me, even a year later. Thank you!
Yes, many people in my circle have had post wedding blues for many and varied reasons. Probably after such a long build up, it’s often anticlimactic, but also it’s the “punishing level of perfection” expected as mentioned earlier.
One friend was riding in the limo to her wedding with her three bridesmaids. Unfortunately they had dyed their shoes blue to match their dresses and as it was raining out. the blue dye ran onto the back of her wedding dress. Her Dad managed to arrange the folds of the gown and pin it closed so the big blue spot didn’t show as she walked down the aisle.
Another friend had a blizzard on the night of her wedding/reception that snowed in many guests and no hotel rooms were to be had anywhere in the city. So she ended up with 5 guests sleeping on the living room floor of their 1 bedroom apartment on their wedding night. Their flight out had been cancelled due to the blizzard, no trains or buses were running either. Bummer wedding night, but the party was fun.
But LW, if the relationship is good, if your new family is going to work out, the wedding perfectionism beast will fade in time.
Mazel Tov to you LW! May you have a lovely life with your good spouse.
LW, Captain is right in pointing out the amazing things you have done; you survived your wedding!! That’s a huge accomplishment, and I know that all the small things add up and take away from that, but it really, really is a Big Deal that your wedding proceeded as planned and you enjoyed your day.
I sympathize with being caught in that feeling of not really wanting something, but feeling very hurt that nobody even offered it. And you can’t even reasonably say that it hurts because it seems unreasonable! I mean this is the type of situation that is made fun of on horrible sitcoms and everyone laughs off. But I still think it is a very legitimate feeling, and that the hurt you experienced from it is 100% valid. It was your special day, and none of your family seemed to understand that although it’s not special to them, it is special for /you/, and they care about /you/, so they should maybe put in that little bit of extra effort. For /you/. It feels like a huge let-down for them to brush it off, and then you feel guilty for feeling let-down, and it just tailspins from there. It’s a terrible feeling that eats away at you, and I’m so sorry you’re feeling it right now.
I’ve no advice that’s better than the Captain’s, I just want to validate your feeling and offer jedi hugs. At the end of the day, you accomplished something great and you’re with the partner you love. Maybe you can plan an indulgent party for an anniversary. Best wishes, LW.
Dear LW, first off I am so sorry that there’s so much sadness around the wedding planning and how much other people were (not) involved with it. There’s so much expectation that this is going to be an exciting process and a happy event, and the reality can be so disappointing, even over small things, because the hopes were so high.
I just wanted to mention a few things that stood out for me. One is the piece around the wedding shower. You said that nobody offered to throw one, and concluded that means nobody WANTED to throw one. I think that’s faulty logic. There could have been people who wanted to throw one but didn’t feel it was their place to mention it, or who were trying to respect your “laid-back bride” vibe, and just didn’t know you wanted a shower or that it was important to you. Also, I managed to get to the age of 42 (and was married myself!) before I realised that Wedding Shower Planning is actually a maid of honour’s job. Some people actually really truly just don’t know this stuff. And although I TOTALLY get that the lack of a shower was hurtful to you, it also seems from your letter that you hadn’t actually told anyone you would have liked one…?
Another thing is what might have been going on for Friend M. A lot of people have already touched on these things, but let’s start with the money and travel. It was generous of you to offer to pay for her dress and part of her ticket, but for some people, half a ticket is still an awful lot of money. Did she have enough vacation time, does she even get paid for time off, would she have to kennel pets or otherwise arrange care for them, would the cab to the airport or parking her car there be prohibitive? People try hard to hide how broke we are because it’s embarrassing and we feel ashamed. So the money thing might have been a bigger deal than you know. Also, if Friend M has any kind of anxiety / depression / chronic pain / other health problems, a recent heartbreak, a terminally ill family member, a workplace grievance, any big and stressful thing going on in her life, that could seriously eat into the amount of time / money / energy / ability she would have to commit to an out-of-state celebratory (optional) event.
Another thing to consider is how people feel about marriage and weddings in general. I was asked recently to be a friend’s maid/matron of honour and we had to have a seriously awkward conversation in which I told her that I am super happy for her but I cannot be part of a wedding party (especially, but not exclusively, not in a church) because of my personal feelings about the institution of marriage. I would gladly attend and celebrate with her, but am not comfortable being an official part of the proceedings.
There’s also the question of who you’re marrying in particular. They might be a great person who treats you fabulously, but that does not mean all your friends love and approve of them. Personally, I’d have a hard time being in the wedding party of a friend who was making what I felt was a mistake.
Now, LW, of COURSE this stuff isn’t all going to be applicable to your situation. Or even ANY of it! But the reason I’m bringing up all these different things is it seems from your letter that your pre-wedding contact with Friend M. seems kind of scant, and not just on her end. You mention sending her more invitations and such, but not regular contact. You don’t say anything about what kind of circumstances she was in at the time. Now, maybe you just didn’t include that because you didn’t want to write a novel here. 🙂 But you mention that you were sad but didn’t say anything when she withdrew from the wedding party. You also say you “probably failed to indicate” that certain things were important to you, and were trying to project a laid-back image.
I totally get that you are hurt and sad. Absolutely. When it feels like your friends and family aren’t taking your needs and wants seriously, it is awful and it feels really fundamentally bad. But at the same time, there IS a way to maybe prevent some of this in the future, and that is by using your Real Words to talk to people. “Friend M., I really wish you could do this. How can we make this happen? And what’s going on with you that’s making it hard?” and “Friends and family, I’d really like a bridal shower and it should have purple balloons and pink champagne!” ( And the same would apply to Friend M., of course, in terms of telling you why she was withdrawing from the wedding party.)
And again, maybe this doesn’t apply to you. Maybe you’re already one of those fortunate people who can express their wants and needs in a straightforward way. But your letter makes me suspect otherwise, and I think it would be a super useful skill for you! (Not that I am perfect at this, but interpersonal stuff is getting easier as I develop this skill!)
I’m super glad for you that the actual wedding went well, that you married someone you love, and that you had some of your community around you for that. This is the part you get to hold onto in your heart!
Ah I just looked over what I wrote and it seems kind of blame-y and shame-y. LW, I guess my tl;dr is that it sucks that Friend M. and your mom and other didn’t rise to the occasion the way you deserve and would have liked. I think I am a “Friend M. type” in some ways so I went kind of overboard trying to explain the reasons why someone might do a shitty slow-fade. But that wasn’t your question. So yes, sad and hurting makes sense and I’m sorry your special day was affected by this stuff.
IIRC, there’s a word limit when it comes to writing CA (400 or so), so LW could only include so much.
I kind of have to disagree, though, being similar to the LW–in her shoes, I would already feel bad enough as is, so speculating on the issues you’ve raised (that she may have no way of knowing about) would just make me feel that much worse for having these feelings.
That makes a lot of sense—that these speculations would just make things worse. And I sure don’t want to contribute to that. On the other hand, If speculating makes her feel sad, maybe she could… I don’t know… just ask her friend directly what’s up? I know that’s not always easy, and I certainly know the sadness and loneliness of “why don’t these people I love care as much about X as I do?” But it seems to me that more Real Words could have been used in this situation? Because it’s not true that she may have no way of knowing about these things: She could ask. (Again, maybe she did and that’s not in the letter… but it seems as if she has no idea why Friend M. was behaving that way.)
It just seems that so much of this could have been avoided (and could now be addressed and maybe even repaired) by people actually expressing their wants and needs and feelings and expectations, and trying to understand the expressed (not guessed) wants and needs and feelings and expectations of others. Some commenters have weighed in with the opinion that the only possible explanation for Friend M,’s behaviour is jerkness, and I think that’s really unfair, considering how little we know about both LW and M… Hence part of my ramble above.
I agree that both sides could have communicated better here (although I think the bulk of the burden falls on M), but I think it’s really unfair for LW to figure out explanations for M’s absence with information she would have no way of/wouldn’t think of knowing. That’s my sticking point. With the information we have, it seems like money was the issue; why would/should she known to ask about anything like whether or not M got along with the groom, for example? Even if she’d used her words, there’s no guarantee M would tell her, although she says she has downthread and got a FEELINGSDUMP, so I suppose that’s moot.
I think it’s a large and unfair burden for LW to try and figure out every single possibility, and what I meant by “making things worse” was that: I have received advice like yours, and as someone similar to the LW, with insecurity about her feelings, figuring out every single possibility would only make me feel much more unreasonable for having them, as iii mentioned downthread. I’m not the LW, but that sort of shame would make me much less likely to use my words and ask, because I’d figure as an already unreasonable party, it wouldn’t be worth the trouble, and as a result, things would just fester.
I think we might actually be agreeing here. I’m totally NOT saying the burden is on LW to figure out in her own imagination what might be wrong with M, and I completely can see how that would lead to even more more sadness or shame or bad feelings. What I AM saying (my “sticking point,” I guess) is that since there are so many possibilities (some of which I admittedly listed in great detail), it is up to LW to actually express her feelings to M (which she says she did not do) and to ASK M what is going on. Really, I’m not saying LW has to spend time and energy trying to imagine what is going on with M. I’m saying if she really wants to know, she should ask, and also own her side of the communication.
I absolutely agree that it is unproductive to try to imagine all these possibilities in isolation. It’s just that from the letter, it seem LW is feeling awful because she thinks this is actually about her and her friendship with M. I’m suggesting that it’s probably a lot more about M and her own life, and the ONLY way to find out is to actually talk about it. Does that make sense? LW has some really awful and sad feelings, and she is trying to deal with them, and they are completely understandable. I am not trying to make her feel worse, and I am NOT advising AT ALL that she obsess about what might be going on. I am advising that she use her real words to find out. I’m sorry this didn’t come across in what I wrote above. It seems you got the impression that I feel it is LW’s responsibility to consider what possible things might be going with M, when what I am trying to convey is that if she really wants to know, she has to actually ask.
Yes, I suspect we are agreeing, although you’re coming at it from M’s side while I’m coming from LW’s. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s what I’m getting from this thread.
To me, your listing of those many (detailed) possibilities is what struck a nerve for me, and that’s probably what jumped out more than “LW needed to ask M directly what was wrong.” It would have been a good idea for LW to ask M, “hey, what’s going on?” and even if M didn’t answer outright, well, at least LW tried to keep communication open.
My first reading of your original comment, even with the disclaimer that none of these possibilities might even apply to LW, felt like too much of a burden for her to think about when she was already quite raw and hurting. Or, at least, that’s what I got from her letter–that the pain was quite fresh, and I think your advice is quite sound, but it also felt blaming and shaming, as you did mention above, because the writing of those detailed possibilities took over the message of “LW should have asked directly.” Therefore, I got “LW should consider all these possibilities that M might hate her fiance, have issues with weddings, etc.” which, as we now both agree, is unproductive, so I apologize for misunderstanding. We do agree, although we’re coming at it from different viewpoints.
Replying to codenameminali’s comment of about 75 minutes ago, but: nesting.
Glad we “talked this through.” It’s yet another reminder for me to get to the point a bit more quickly sometimes. I can see how the listing of possibilities could be too heavy for someone in LW’s position who is still raw with hurt. I appreciate you taking the time to explain that.
My pleasure. Likewise, thank you for being patient and clarifying your position. That was very helpful.
But it’s not anyone’s job or business to proclaim that weddings are a terrible institution and that the spouse is unapproved. Saying, “I can’t, but thank you for the honor of asking me; I really appreciate that. What other ways can I help?” is about as far as anyone should go. A friend’s wedding isn’t a referendum on Philosophical Discourses about the Patriarchy, or however one may disapprove of weddings and marriage, and it isn’t asking anyone to say, “Oh, your intended? Sucks.” Really. Just…be kind to the bride. Why is that so hard, to think of the other person’s feelings instead of one’s own, regarding an Event in their lives?
LW you have all my sympathy. I also had some less-than-stellar support.
My maid of honor did not attend (local thing that is important but hard to explain), did not plan a bachelorette party (though she expressed huge enthusiasm for doing so), almost didn’t even attend the bachelorette party and then left early (because she was going to go visit other people). She forgot her money and my mom had to pay for her hair on the wedding day. She was… very enthusiastic with no followthrough.
My mom chose my wedding to express/vent her feelings about my older brother’s wedding a few years prior. She also offered to pay for things and then complained bitterly about “having” to pay for those things. She resented running the shower (that she offered to run and was excited about) and told me that I was a terrible friend or else my friends would have run it. She also seemed to be waiting until I was really happy and enjoying myself on the day, and then chose those times to come over and give me unnecessary advice about how to Wedding Properly.
In the end I had a great wedding. (if crappy bachelorette and shower). I will never count on MofH again for anything except empty enthusiasm. I already knew I shouldn’t count on mom for anything but was caught up in the supposed magic of wedding planning. If I catch myself thinking about the crap I think something like “and that’s why I won’t ask her to plan anything anymore” and then try to think of the happier things from that day. Or just think of non-wedding things altogether.
LW, I just want to sympathize with the weird feeling of being hurt about missing things you didn’t even want. When I got married, there was no bachelorette party because my maid of honor lived out of town and was just going to be there for the wedding. And really I didn’t even want one – I mean, I don’t drink and I’m a bit of a prude and a traditional bachelorette party would just have been super uncomfortable for me – but it still sort of hurt that no one planned one for me. Same thing happened when I had my first child. No one threw me a baby shower and I was sort of hurt by it even though I didn’t really want one.
I think the issue is that we have marked some of these things out culturally as ways that people are supposed to express their love for you, so when they don’t, even if you don’t have any personal interest in that mode of expression, it still feels like people don’t love you. I’m sorry you are feeling that way, LW, and it’s perfectly reasonable to feel hurt. I think the Captain’s advice, especially about self-care is great. All the best, and congrats on your wedding!
This. E.g., birthday cards serve no purpose that that-horrible-dude-from-way-back-in-the-archives-who-thought-clean-floors-were-a-pointless-social-construct would recognize as practical, and if I hadn’t learned they were a thing I would be okay with never getting one.
But they are a thing, so not getting one would feel sad and lonely, and getting one still means someone stopped to think about me and put time into expressing something nice, and that is cool and makes me feel valued.
(On the flip side, calling cards have gone out of the current cultural language, so I am totally not fussed about never getting those.)
Customs vary so much, though. For example, I can’t recall ever getting a birthday card in my adult life. I got them as kids, but I can’t recall getting one as an adult.
Weddings are kind of like that, too. One person’s ‘this is what you do, I’m confused, why didn’t someone do it?’ is someone else’s ‘oh, interesting, is that a thing for some people?’
LOL, now I’m suddenly second-guessing and wondering if actually everyone I know does give each other birthday cards and they just don’t like me. Hmph.
Nooooooooo definitely they don’t, and they still like you!
See?! That’s totally ridiculous, and they probably like you just fine, but once the idea or expectation of a pattern is there, it not being followed through on invokes the wibblies.
Society, man. >sigh<
I learned *recently* (as in, the last couple of years) that my dad REALLY thinks birthday/anniversary/holiday cards are important and was getting increasingly hurt that I wasn’t giving him cards on his birthday/Father’s Day/etc. even when I was making the effort to be with him. I tend to be more like my mom, who can take or leave the cards and thinks being together or at least getting in touch is way more important. But it explained why my parents sent or brought cards even for minor life events (seriously, getting a Valentine’s Day card from my parents used to weird me out big time) . . . and why they always seemed to be in my dad’s handwriting.
So you can’t always predict who will feel what way about cards (or anything else), and sometimes you just have to come out and *ask*.
Oh gosh, I’m not the only one! Not about the cards, I mean, but our family always used to swap gifts on Valentine’s Day. I have at least two stuffed toys from February 14th when I was a kid.
(I get that it’s weird, but it was presented as early so normal I think they kind of did an end run around weirding me out.)
Yes, even within the country this can vary so much by region and age and all kinds of other variables. I haven’t sent a card in almost a decade. I only receive them from elderly relatives who were raised when snail mail was the norm.
Yep. I explicitly enjoy sending mail, and they’re a nice gesture to friends that I can’t see in person. (This, in turn, means I appreciate them when I do get them, which may also influence people to keep it in mind as an option if they’re looking to express something nice to me.) I understand that not everyone sends them, not even everyone I know, but they`re still lovely for me to get. 🙂
I’ve gotten some only from friends who really enjoy making cards themselves. I’ve not really had a storebought card in my adulthood except from older relatives. (And when I get cards sometimes they’re not even for anything, they’re just because a friend felt like making cards.)
I have no idea what wedding customs abound in my friend group. I attended an engagement party shortly after I moved here but no weddings so far. Suspect if I was going to be in a wedding party I’d probably write an email early on being like “LOL SO what wedding-related stuff are you wanting to happen???” but I’d feel awkward enough to over-use the LOLs to play it off as nbd. 😛
I once sat down and wrote a long rambling piece about the cultural significance of flowers as gifts. I ended up not typing it out because I was bored with it once I got the ideas down on the page, but it was the first time I’d really stopped to think about why something with such limited functionality has gained such a massive toehold in our consciousness. Short form: at least in part because they die and you can eventually throw them away without feeling bad.
…that’s a very astute observation.
I’m getting married next month. I’m not interested in having a bridal shower. Even so, there are a few times it really hit me and it hurt that no one was going to throw a shower for me. Even though the reasons are big and understandable (all of my bridesmaids are from out of state, I absolutely think it wouldn’t be worth the financial burden it might place on any of them), I’ve had a few times that I’ve cried over it. I don’t resent any of my maids for it (in fact, they’ve all been fantastic and wonderful to me), it’s just this feeling that something is missing- the mythic, hypothetical “everyone else” could have it, what’s wrong with me and my life that I couldn’t?
Partly because showers are, quite specifically, a time when you sit there and do nothing and are the centre of attention and everyone else provides you with things to make you comfortable and happy. Like, that is one loaded event–women are so culturally conditioned to be selfish and not to take up the spotlight, and the bridal shower is so very counter to those cultural expectations, that I don’t think it’s any wonder that missing it is a much bigger blow than missing some other ritual.
Also, at least in my family, bridal showers are a “whether you want one or not” event. If you don’t have a shower, the aunts will throw one for you and give you stuff you probably don’t need and you will be gracious and take it. Those are The Rules. So for someone to get married and not have a shower would be a deliberate snub, since there’s this feeling that if people just loved you enough, they’d give you one anyway.
Nina, I never had a baby shower, either, and we were dirt poor. No one from my family (mother was dead) came to see me in the hospital. Husband did not even pick us up to take us home. He sent his aunt that I didn’t even know and she complained about it.
Four decades later I still get depressed over no one wanting to throw me a shower. Some hurts go deep.
Oh, Been there, done that, that’s awful! That takes not celebrating a major life event to a whole new level! Also, wtf your husband didn’t even come to pick you up?!? I’m so sorry!
I’m going to focus on the friend thing, not the general post wedding blues, which seem pretty well covered.
Not to say that your friend did nothing wrong or suboptimal in handling this situation, but it seems like there were communication lapses on both sides, and probably hurt feelings on both sides. For the moment, let’s put aside her lapses, which do exist (the total radio silence was a bad idea, and you are rjustified in being hurt by it, for example).
By your own admission, after your offer to help was refused, you felt sad but did not say anything. Imagine how much of a relief it would have been to your friend had you said, “I am very sad that you won’t be able to be there, but I accept that you have made the best decision that you can.” When you declined to share your hurt, it might have seemed to her that it wasn’t all that important to you that she attend.
You also seem to assume that the fact that you offered to pay for part of her expenses means that when she turned it down, it was because accepting money was too embarrassing, when it might have been that “part of the expenses” wasn’t enough to make it possible, and she wasn’t willing to say, “If you can’t pay for it 100% then I can’t come.” Or “If I take the time off work to come, I will lose my job.” Or whatever the full explanation was. It doesn’t have to have been “my pride is more important than attending your wedding.”
Sending invitations for things you knew in advance she couldn’t accept might have seemed to you like a way to include her even though she couldn’t come, but it might have seemed to her like rubbing salt in the wound of having had to bow out of a good friend’s wedding. She may have felt hurt at your insensitivity at the same time as you were feeling hurt that she never acknowledged those invitations. I once had to decline to attend the wedding of a very close family member, and she continued to send me invites to associated events. Every single one came with a personal note attached saying something like “I know you can’t attend, and while I am sad about that, I understand. I am sending you this invitation because I want to feel I am including you and I want you to know that I am thinking of you, even though you can’t join us.” Those notes turned what would have been uncomfortable invitations into something warmer and more inclusive.
You didn’t mean to hurt her feelings by sending the invites, but maybe you did. You didn’t mean to back her into a corner when you offered to pay part, but maybe you did. You didn’t mean to make her feel unimportant when you decided not to share your sadness but instead treated her having to not come as no big deal, but maybe you did.
Her choices did hurt your feelings, and for the friendship to move forward, you have to be able to say that. I hope you will also say how sad you were that she wasn’t able to come and that you missed her. And I hope younwill be able to listen to her talk about how it felt on her side with as much attention and openness as you hope she will listen to you tell her how her disappearance hurt you.
For some reason our culture has taken the message “it’s not about you” and made it a universal. Adults I know hate birthdays because they thinks it’s narcissistic to have a day about you. You never get to complain, or have differing opinions, because others’ are superior to yours. It’s not about you, because everyone else wants it all about them.
Well, let me liberate. LW, it *is* about you. You had a wedding and you are sad because you wanted a lovely thing all about you, because nothing else in life is, so you finally have your moment, and your best friend is AWOL and your experiences are subpar and you feel ugly and sad and everything sucks. And that is an unfortunate place to be, and *it’s okay that you’re there.*
Don’t let anyone tell you these feelings are selfish. They’re natural and okay to have. Emotions are *okay.* Bad situations happen. It’s okay to have feelings about them, and it’s okay to be hurt. Gather Team You and self-care as much as you need to.
Also, if you ask me, your friend is either being an asshole or is having a major problem and didn’t want to rain on your parade and feels guilty about not showing up to Your Day. Almost certainly the latter if there have been no other real issues. Inquire gently and see what’s up; don’t scare her, but at the same time, let your concerns be known.
As for the showers…nobody throws parties for anyone anymore at least in my experience. It’s sad. I love birthday parties and surprise parties. I believe in *doing* as the most profound expression of caring, but many people don’t, and it’s falling out of favor. Take some solace in the idea that others are probably having the same results as you, if that’s your thing. Otherwise, you *can* ask your friends for things like that. You’re allowed to say “man I thought throwing showers was a thing, why didn’t you guys do anything? I feel like I missed out.” Women especially are taught that this is demanding and bitchy, but if you don’t ask, you will never know, and you will never get what you want. Your friends can handle your feelings for one conversation. If not, they are not your friends.
Something similar happened to me while wedding planning – I asked my oldest friend to be my maid of honor and she said yes! Long story short, my maid of honor soon after stopped responding to me. No emails, phone calls, texts facebook messages, NOTHING got returned. She never RSVP’d to give me her meal choice for the wedding and laughed at me when I finally did get a hold of her long enough to ask. I never got an answer on why she disappeared on me. Sometimes I wish I had told her off and told her not to come to the wedding, but at the time I couldn’t muster the emotional strength to go through with it. She ended up standing up at the wedding, trying to steal the spotlight, didn’t give a toast, left early, and I haven’t spoken to her since. Looking back now, if she had reached out (even months afterwards) to check in with me, I hope I would have given her the chance to explain, like the Captain suggests. It sounds like your friend might be looking for the ok to open up to you again and (perhaps cowardly) is doing it over text instead of a grand gesture (do those actually ever happen?). Maybe you owe it to her to give her that chance, maybe you owe it to yourself, I don’t know. Maybe you’ll give her the chance and she won’t acknowledge what happened and then from there you get to decide whether you want to continue the relationship or not. But, just based on my experience, I would guess that it’s a good sign that she did get in contact with you.
I’m seeing a lot of people justifying and rationalizing everyone else’s behavior on this, so I want to say:
LW, your erstwhile bridesmaid should have sent a damn card. Yeah, sure, maybe she had all kinds of crap heaping up on her at home, but expecting her to a) acknowledge invitations and b) acknowledge your wedding day is not too much to ask. That’s ordinary politeness, not some superhuman, supercostly effort achievable only by the few. That she didn’t is, in fact, a good enough reason for you to be upset with her. And as she hasn’t offered any explanation, it is not incumbent on you to create out of whole cloth an explanation that vindicates her and makes you look unreasonable by comparison. You are not being unreasonable.
Someone should have asked if you wanted a shower. Someone should have made it your decision not to have one. I am sorry that no one stepped up.
As for your mother, I am sorry she didn’t provide the emotional and practical support you would have liked. I can’t tell if it’s because she’s just generally ill-suited to the stereotypical MoB role, or if this was her letting you down specifically. Not that I have any advice for either situation, but it might be useful for you to parse out which it is.
And, like folks have been saying, weddings have this magical effect of separating the sheep from the goats. I was in one friend’s wedding where it turned out that three of the bridesmaids (that the bride thought of as ‘friends’) thought of the bride as ‘support staff.’ They did not cope gracefully with their backup singer being the star of the show. So much passive-aggression, so many bizarre dominance displays. Those friendships got very attenuated after the reception, and one seems to have broken entirely.
I hope you and your erstwhile bridesmaid can work out something that’s satisfactory to you.
Congratulations on your wedding. I wish you much joy in your married life.
“And as she hasn’t offered any explanation, it is not incumbent on you to create out of whole cloth an explanation that vindicates her and makes you look unreasonable by comparison. You are not being unreasonable.”
THANK YOU! I don’t see how constructive it is for LW to consider explanations that she has no way of knowing. She has every right to be upset, and I feel like some of the comments are minimizing that. If she wants to hear M out, that’s totally fine, but if she wants to cut her losses, she shouldn’t feel at all guilty about it.
Thankyou, cosigned. Also, LW’s sister’s use of trite and dismissive platitudes is also not helpful (oh and ‘you got married at the end so everything is ok’ counts as a t&d platitude as well).
Totally agree here, too. Even if M was incarcerated, the prison system still allows mail to be received and sent.
Jedi hugs to all of you with the bridal blues who want them – my sister got married in July and we have had a few very tearful phone calls recently now that life is returning to normal.
Just last night I pointed out to her that since May she has been going top speed on a roller coaster with crazy dips and heights between all the planning, all the events, the groom’s father’s serious illness that prevented him from coming to the wedding and ended his life a few weeks after it, groom’s torn ACL and just the regular everyday chaos our lives consist of. All that and then … GRIND TO A HALT!!! Any wonder my sister and so many other brides feel like they have been in wreck?
Getting married is a big deal, and sometimes when its not you getting married its easy to not really appreciate the enormity of what is happening – even if you’ve done it yourself. But when its your turn? Different story – you are deciding what your name will be after the wedding, you are taking vows in front of your nearest and dearest, you are making a lifetime commitment, you are getting a whole bunch of inlaws. I dated my ex husband for 10 years before we married and we lived together for 5 of those, but getting married was still a big deal even though from the outside our life looked unchanged. With FOREVER on your mind, its easy for the everyday annoyances and stupid things to feel more enormous and weighty than they should. That crappy eyeroll he shot you when you snapped at him all the sudden can turn into “are we always going to snipe at each other – is this the rest of my life?!?!? does he even respect me? Does he care? Did I make a huge mistake?!?!” when the same thing would have gotten an annoyed eyeroll in return just a few months earlier.
I know my sister was painfully disappointed by friends she had gone all out for when they were getting married – it never occurred to her that even though she was involved and enthusiastic about their weddings, they might not be the same way about hers. It’s hard not to take it personally sometimes. I see it happen all the time. When my cousin got married it was a really hot day and out of her 8 bridesmaids (…) my sister and I were the only ones that didn’t go to the party bus to sit in the AC and get drunk while they were taking pictures in the 98 degree bright sun. This same cousin was in my sister’s bridal party – she was just as absent as the rest when it was time to get the bride dressed or go chase down something the bride needed.
At least she had me – I never missed a phone call, all texts were returned within a minute and I would happily obsess over the detail du jour. I did some behind the scenes wrangling of thoughtless bridesmaids, demanding relatives and the joint queens of the land of Passive Aggresiva our mother and her MiL! 🙂 I remembered that let down from my own wedding and tried to round the corners and soften the blows, but noone can be someone’s everything. I wish I could have cushioned all the letdowns, but she is stuck with a mere human for a sister!
The advice I gave my sister was to practice excellent self care (good sleep, healthy eating, scheduled me-time, and taking her medication correctly), to be easy on herself and to try to reconnect with the friends that drifted while she was planning. To plan some things to look forward to so all the excitement isn’t in the past. She is amazingly intuitive, kind, thoughtful and generous and I told her to be her own best friend for a while and do for herself what she would do for someone feeling the way she is. I hope all of you blue brides will do the same ❤
You sound like such a wonderful, caring, supportive person. Your sister is so lucky to have you! 🙂
This is reminding me of my mom, who gets like this when she’s not feeling loved and appreciated enough. I get the feeling that LW has a lot of that going on regarding her wedding (no shower offer, etc), and M is just one of the various things on the pile of Nobody Loves Me, Everybody Hates Me, Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms. Hence why it’s a sore spot. LW really wanted to be loved, appreciated, and celebrated, and people let her down, unfortunately.
Hm. By my read, it sounds like the loneliness/sadness began DURING the wedding planning process because everyone close to you, LW, went AWOL it seems. I’m just not reading this as a “post-wedding blues” situation. I don’t really know anything about post-wedding blues and I’ve never been married so take this with a grain of salt. What I’m getting from your letter, LW, is that you feel like the people that you (reasonably!) expected to be there for you to celebrate and support you during the planning process of a momentous occasion in your life failed to show up, literally & figuratively. Yeah they all (sans M) showed up for the end result but it sounds like up to that point, they seemed disinterested and you felt alone and like no one cared. That sounds painful and it makes me angry and sad on your behalf. I think what M did was shitty. I know many of you want to give M the benefit of the doubt with all the coulda’s and might have’s but I feel like all of that is irrelevant. Just looking at the behavior, I feel like M was being a dick. M had a year and a half advance notice to make this happen. M gave the LW a 6 month notice that she wouldn’t make it due to limited funds. OK understandable. LW generously offers to help with the costs and M still doesn’t budge. What? Because of pride? Then it seems like there was communication until a couple months before the wedding and then nothing until the wedding was over and 2 months had passed. And then M sends a flippant text. Are you f’ing kidding me? M’s friend gets married and M basically acts like it’s just another Tuesday. She couldn’t call the LW on the day of the wedding or the night before to wish her well? LW, I’m assuming that M is a close friend here. I’m also assuming that if there were other mitigating circumstances you would’ve noted that.
Based on a lot of the comments here I’m wondering — is it really out of the question to ask our friends to perhaps [*gasp*] inconvenience themselves a bit to just show up for us already, esp. for the big moments/transitions of life? I feel like a lot of what we do in life is inconvenient or most of the time there’s going to be something else we’d rather be doing. A world where we say ‘don’t have any expectations of people because maybe this and maybe that’ sounds like a sad and lonely world. I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all for LW to seriously reconsider or at the very least de-prioritize this friendship at this point. And now M has put the ball in LW’s court – to add insult to injury. Now LW is put in a position of having to initiate the awkward confrontation months later and coming off as the dreaded bridezilla after the fact or just sweeping this mess under the rug. As for the sister’s comment, *serious side-eye*.
LW I think the Captain has given you great advice on taking care of yourself and re-focusing your energies. I think you’ve learned a lot about the people close to you and I’m not advocating wallowing in resentment or bitterness here; I just wanted to validate your feelings and call bullshit on M’s behavior.
I’m amazed how you twisted The Wedding to be simultaneously the most important day evah and as simple to show up to as you put it “just another Tuesday.” M said she couldn’t afford it-a cross country trip is not cheap by any means. Should she have put her job/housing at risk?
I just can’t even. And just for some perspective, I’m in M’s position right now: invited to a cross-country wedding of a good friend and probably not going to be able to afford to go. I eat one meal a day and sometimes none, my clothes are falling apart, and my car is going to break down any day now. There’s nowhere to scrimp. I keep trying to find a way, because my friend does mean a lot to me, and I feel like dirt already. But-Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I’ve been homeless before-I’m doing good to keep a roof over my head, and that keeps me perpetually exhausted.
LW, you have every right to feel hurt. Allow yourself to feel that hurt, guilt-free, practice some self-care, then reach out to your friend. You both feel bad about this-but don’t let societal expectations and unchangeable circumstances kill your friendship. You both care about each other for a reason.
It’s not about the fact that M couldn’t attend. Lots of people can’t attend weddings for lots of reasons; I don’t think it would be fair to point the finger because M couldn’t attend. It’s the follow-up that makes me go “Um, this behavior isn’t okay.” It’s that M apparently went radio silent for months, and then months after the wedding *sends a text* (not even a proper email or letter!) to the tune of “Oh by the way, how was your wedding?” with no offered explanation for all the time of radio silence. That is incredibly flippant and rude.
I think most of your comment was on point, but I suspect Brittany-Ann is reacting to “LW generously offers to help with the costs and M still doesn’t budge. What? Because of pride?”
That would be a relevant point if LW had offered to help with ALL the costs. But half a plane ticket is a very small fraction of the costs, so it’s highly unlikely that it would solve all the financial issues. (Not to sound like it was a miserly offer on LW’s part or anything – it’s totally generous, especially since she was also paying for the wedding itself, it’s just that the costs of attending from a long distance are pretty huge.) If she could afford everything except half the plane ticket and the dress, I suspect her initial “I can’t afford it” would have been a little softer, eg mentioning that she’s trying to find the money rather than that it’s flat out impossible.
thelittlepakeha, that’s a huge chunk of it. The offer was generous-and though it wasn’t an offer to completely cover the cost, speaking from experience-there’s this…brain weasel? Social expectation? That a partial solution is good as a complete solution, or enough of one that the remainder is solvable by anyone, no matter the actual size of the barrier and the resources of the problem-haver. It evokes a brain weasel on both sides that shouts that the problem haver is A Failure and A Terrible Person if they still can’t do it. (Whatever it is.) Its a pretty bootstrappy idea that’s seeped deep into our social consciousness.
The other part is-though yes, Weddings are Important-the idea that a failure to perform to expectations (whatever they are) is a plenty good reason to cut off a long-time friendship. Obviously, I don’t agree. (attend this event, or I will cut you out of my life forever!) I’m…flabbergasted that that’s seen as a healthy and acceptable thing to do to someone you love. It seems very hateful. And all of this is unspoken.
Ah, okay, I missed that bit. I agree–I think it’s perfectly okay to not attend an event like a wedding (or anything) because you can’t afford to go (or… for any reason, really. You don’t have to go!). What’s getting me about M’s behavior is her months-long absence, then failure to acknowledge that absence when she did reconnect. That’s what I think that is almost unforgivably rude.
An e-mail or a…letter? I’m sorry, but I’m finding this a really strange thing to get hung up on. I haven’t written a letter since early in my college days, when my mother sent me letters to my dorm for fun so I would get some mail. E-mail I use only for work-I communicate through Facebook, calls, but primarily…text. There’s been several commenters pointing out that it doesn’t look like LW reached out much herself. Communication is a two-way street. I’m trying really hard not to get too bitter here-but it seems like expectations ’round coupledom and weddings just don’t mix with us single-n-poors. Perhaps M thought she was being considerate by not dumping her issues during LW’s Happiest Time of Her Life. I don’t know. My Facebook feed has been flooded for a couple of years now with announcements and photos of engagement and weddings, first babies and first home buying-it’s shocking and overwhelming. You’re supposed to be happy and celebrate with your friends at these, and I am happy for them-but almost to a couple these friends and peers have dropped off the radar-they seem interested in only their partners and spending time with other couples. Perhaps as enlightened and progressive as we (think we?) are-we’re still falling into the same trap of segregating ourselves into tribes by life stage and income level as our parents did.
I’m not invalidating LW’s feelings by any means-keeping up with friendships over these tribal lines is hard, and harder still because of the distance. And I see below that LW has reached out and gotten a response-that other commenters are now castigating M for. (Feelingsdump? Makes sense as to why M held that back during wedding planning.) Good on LW for reaching out, and good on M for opening up. I’d give M a call, LW. Sounds like ya’ll need to have a chat that has the potential for a lot of misunderstandings over written communication. Take care of yourself.
I think that’s more several commentors pointing out that the LW who wrote in, asking for help about feeling abandoned and overlooked, didn’t mention whether she reached out much or not.
I’m honestly kind of surprised by a lot of the tone of the comments (congratulating M for not having her FEELINGSDUMP on LW at the most inconvenient time possible instead of wincing that she had it), and am honestly starting to feel like if LW had had a different life event going on (e.g., a graduation which came with the cultural expectation of someone organizing a party, and people treating it like a huge event), she wouldn’t be getting so much #notallbridesmaids.
Brittany-Ann: Personally? Yeah, I would expect an email if a friend that I considered close enough to ask to be in my wedding party disappeared on me for several months over said wedding. But, that’s also the kind of communication my friends and I have established–so for my circle, that would be totally normal. If you and your group communicate primarily via text, I totally see how that would be a normal thing. When you pointed that out, I reconsidered and I can better articulate that what I find most damning about M’s actions is the tone and framing of the message she sent to LW after the fact. That message apparently just said “hey love you miss you can’t wait to hear about the wedding.” (TWO WHOLE MONTHS after the wedding finished!) After months and months of silence, over a major personal event that she had been invited to participate in, I feel like a much better message would have read something like, “Hey, I realize we haven’t spoken in a while and I’d like to reconnect. Can we talk at some point?” The important part, to me, is *acknowledgement of the absence*. M disappeared! Maybe she had good reasons for it! The fact that she disappeared still needs to be acknowledged! People can leave your life if they wish, on solely their terms. But they don’t get to just waltz back in when they wish on solely their terms, because relationships aren’t books to be picked up and put down whenever one feels like it.
For the sake of mentioning, it, I personally would consider receiving wedding invitations as communication/effort at inclusion. (For example, we recently got a wedding invitation for a friend’s wedding… in Australia. We will not be able to attend–far away! REALLY EXPENSIVE–but she made it clear that the invitation was a way of showing that she’s thinking of us, understands why we won’t come, and wants us to feel metaphorically included anyway [which we do]. Honestly, I thought it was very sweet.) Based on this thread, I get that other people don’t feel the same way, so that’s a good data point to have. I admit I don’t entirely understand why other people feel differently, but if I had to guess I’d say it’s connected to the way people (especially women) are often shamed for saying no.
Aphotic Ink: yeah, um, we talk all the time on CA about how FEELINGSDUMP is pretty much never acceptable. It’s not on someone else to manage your feelings! If M had problems with LW’s behavior in the past, then it was on her to bring that up then! Not wait until she’s behaved badly and then use LW’s past behavior to retroactively justify her bullshit! And #notallbridesmaids is PERFECT.
Text: “I’m sorry. I can’t come. I love and miss you! Congratulations!” So yes, that works. I’ve been single and poor, too. But I can write and email and text and use a phone. M has no excuse for not doing a single damn thing, not communicating even, “No and FUCK YOU, Sarah, for asking me! What impertinence! How dare you ask me to attend celebrations! Why, I never heard of such a thing! Only some cruel and malevolent selfish fiend from the lowest depths of hell would send me invitations to do something! You’ll be lucky to even get an email or a text from me that totally ignores a huge life-changing event that happened to you! You big jerk! How dare you not read my mind and know that I need all my travel and expenses subsidized, as well as an offer to personally deal with my boss about leave!” Hyperbole because oh, come ON.
But Brittany-Ann, (and I have been there–raggedy clothes, scraping together the rent, selling off furniture and everything else I could, etc.) you can tell your friend, “No, I’m sorry, I love you, but I can’t come. I’ll think warm good thoughts of you on your day,” right? You can do that. You wouldn’t just…disappear completely and then poof, “Oh, hai, what’s new?” That’s all that M had to do–just a couple of sentences. “I can’t come. I miss you! Congratulations!”
Thank you so much for this comment, it is so on point.
I sent M an email after I wrote the Capt, thinking “use your words.” And got back FEELINGSMAIL about how I was not a good friend. Like, Friend Failing since 2010, that’s me. It’s accurate, at least in some ways, too…but I had no idea M felt that way. In June 2014, I told M my worst fear was that no one would care enough to come. And she said she would come. The conclusion I am tempted to draw is that she *did* intend to hurt me.
From her response, it sounds like she had discussed this with my sister (as I said before, they are also good friends) but never mentioned my failings to me. I just…that’s a lot of hurt and anger to conceal.
As to those noting multiple invites as a potential problem, I told her it was specifically to include her, not to be added guilt. That might have been a mistake on my part.
But the radio silence was about more than the money.
Thanks to everyone, Capt. esp. Talking about it does help.
Oh LW, I’m so sorry, that’s so, so shitty. M sounds like a jerk, to be honest. It’s okay for M to have to bail on a wedding because she can’t afford to go. It’s even potentially okay for her to have to retreat into herself for awhile if needed (I had a major medical crisis a couple of years ago, and absolutely needed to drop everything and deal with that). But it is NOT okay to for her to do the combination of disappearing from your life entirely over a major event like your wedding, reappearing with a shitty text months later, and then after you rightfully contact her with a “What the heck?” response, FEELINGSDUMP every unflattering thought she’s ever had about you onto you.
If I had to guess, I’d bet that M, over the course of the last few months, has felt really shitty and guilty and shameful about the money and the wedding and the silence, but is too immature to handle it like a grownup, and instead has projected all those feelings onto you. If she already had some annoyances with you, or if there were things you’d said/done that bothered here, then a period like this is a GREAT time to start the justification dance for her own behavior. After all, if you’re a shitty friend like she claims, then she doesn’t have to feel badly about treating you badly, does she? She can just be like, “Well, LW751 is bad in ALL THESE WAYS so it’s TOTALLY OKAY THAT I ABANDONED HER WHEN SHE NEEDED ME, RIGHT?”
If M had issues with you before all this, it was on her to bring them up and talk to you about them like an adult. To use HER words. You did absolutely the right thing when you used your words with her to tell her honestly how you felt, and she threw it back in your face. I can kind of see where she might be coming from. There could well be a chorus of “*I* suffered your bad behavior IN MARTYR-LIKE SILENCE for ALL THIS TIME, how DARE you not put up with mine in similar silence!” But you know what? By never bringing her hurt to you in the past, she never gave you a chance to do better. You gave her a chance to do better, and it seems like she spectacularly failed.
I sincerely hope that you can take the void left by M and fill it with people who DO love and cherish you, who would inconvenience themselves a bit for your sake from time to time, and who would have the grace and maturity to use their words with you should they ever have a problem with you. You deserve friends you can trust–not just to be there for you over major life events, but to be honest with you, too.
Seriously. Not using your words does not create a magical compact where the other person isn’t allowed to use their words either.
Oh Sarah, that is really sad that she chose to lash out. See my later (bits of which are now irrelevant) comment for context, but I can also see how, post-wedding, Radio Silence was a hard thing to readjust to for both of you. If the friendship is worth salvaging, do not to any more second-handing through your sister, or emailing. Phone calls/skype in the spirit of reconciliation. But if she’s going to be nasty, then there’s no future there.
Hugs. In very different life circumstances I fell for that tactic for years “Yes, my behavior was bad, but it was caused by your (grain of truth) behaviour. Perhaps you should be apologising to me!.”. It’s rubbish. It truly is.
I’m sorry the wedding planning was stressful – my daughter phoned me last night, and mentioned a change she was thinking of making to her day..I have determined to be chill no matter what, but I felt desolate afterwards. It was so stupid, but just to say I really understand – somehow even an offhand remark can trigger every insecurity you have about your importance to the other person. .(Wedding planning is rubbish too.)
Bright-siding it: my mum had the worst wedding ever. It started with her sister relentlessly crying every time the wedding was even mentioned, included a family feud dividing the reception like the Red Sea, and she ended up on honeymoon in the pouring rain with my dad having to break it to her that sex is a thing. Who knew?
They had a very long and happy marriage. I hope you do too. (And should you ever have children, who in turn plan a wedding, you may be great at it. My mum and dad were brilliant co-conspirators. Turns out to be beneficial to start with the idea that weddings are a trial to be endured to get to the good bit where you’re married and surprisingly sex is a thing,.)
Ugh that is pretty awful. 😦 Five years is a LONG time to be holding stuff back like that. Even if some of it is accurate, not ever bringing it up definitely puts a pile of blame on her.
UGGH that is awful, I am so sorry!
Yeah, on that update–M’s a jerk, and so is your sister. For cryin’ out loud, could your sister have been any more unhelpful when you mentioned your concern about M to her? Sarah, all my sympathies. Do you abnegate your own needs a lot?
Ah crap, I’m sorry to hear that. I guess you probably had a gut sense something wasn’t right because you know your friend here. 😦
Honestly I think there’s a lot of weird cultural conflicts going on in the comments with people reading stuff into it that I didn’t think was given at all but in the end it turned out M was indeed being a massive jerk (your sister was always being a jerk, at the least in that one comment). You didn’t deserve that, no one deserves that. Saving up resentment for 5 years is so incredibly not cool.
I’m sorry you didn’t feel loved and supported around your wedding; reiterating that that is a completely reasonable thing to feel. I really do not want to get married but have experienced some weird feelings around wanting my partner to be willing to marry me in theory so I really understand strange painful feelings like that!
I’m glad that your marriage is going well though and I hope you can find some new people who really support you, because you deserve better.
My comment is displaying lower, but I am LW751. And I needed to he, koffee82r this.
Normally I would read through comments before posting, but I’m traveling now so I just did a quick skim. If anyone pointed this out, I missed it… LW, if all your communications with Friend have been invitations to wedding events which you already knew she wouldn’t be able to attend, Friend might not see herself as having ghosted. She may have seen those invitations as fairly impersonal mass mailings to which she had already replied. Sure, it would have been nice if she responded to wish you the best at each step… but I’d be inclined to offer the benefit of the doubt on this front. It can hurt to repeat, “still can’t afford it,” at each step.
But if you’re close enough to be invited to be a bridesmaid, then it’s not an impersonal event anymore. Even being unable to attend, it still would have been nice for the ex-bridesmaid to show an interest in how things were progressing. Maybe she had great reasons why she couldn’t, but without an explanation for the LW, it’s not surprising the LW feels sad.
The event isn’t impersonal, no, but the mailing is. If you’re used to actually chatting or texting or emailing, being relegated to a name on a list doesn’t really count as social interaction, to me…
You’re not “a name on a list”. You’re “a person for whom effort was made to customize a physical object and obtain stamps from a business and have said object delivered to your personal dwelling by employed intermediaries”.
That someone else made a list as part of their efforts to make sure they wouldn’t somehow miss going to the effort for you, because they felt you were important enough to go to the effort, is a different thing.
This is very sad, LW, particularly a combination of things all together. Your friend may have had good reasons for the silence, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t quite hurtful and sad.
Now is a good time to take yourself out on “friend dates”. Look up nice things to go and then organise to go and see them, either with yourself (I have come to quite enjoy pottering about interesting places by myself) or perhaps with your husband (your new husband! how nice!). As someone who, like you, does feel sad when people don’t tell me how much they care about me or take time to do things I cared about with me (this is not a weird thing to want!!), I did actually feel better about my life when I deliberately did Cool Things Off With My Cool Self without feeling like I was begging other people for scraps of affection. I also amped up my low-key-social-situations activities (meetup groups, hobbies, some online forums) which are low-stakes but do improve my social happiness levels. And I’m trying to make some new friends as well but that is a longer-term project.
You might also find it good to do some other social ritual things, like hosting dinner or organising picnics or sending out cards or emailed links or liking facebook posts and writing your own little upbeat ones – little regular things. Putting yourself out there in frequent small doses is, I think, actually quite key to getting more interaction. I don’t know. It’s hard. Good luck.
I wonder if being disappointed with your wedding, or at least aspects of your wedding, is actually more the norm than the exception at this point due to the insane amount of expectation we’ve built up around it in our culture. Maybe if instead of “your wedding will be the most perfect day of your life and you’ll look back on it forever with nothing but joy and happiness”, we instead told people “weddings are fun but also disappointing and stressful and you’ll probably have better moments in your life”, we wouldn’t have such a problem?
Frankly, this is kinda my reasoning. A wedding is a party, and by no means is that an insult, parties are awesome! They unite people, you get to have a great time and make memories. But parties pass. Everything passes in life, but parties pass a bit quicker.
It’s okay to plan an event, it’s okay to want a day or an occasion for yourself, it’s okay to ask help and to want people to be involved. Buuuuuut…. Well, the way we imagine certain situations, never are exactly that way in real life, no matter how much effort we put into them.
There’s a nice bit in a Miss Manners book, in which one of the cardboard example characters had always expected her wedding to be the happiest day of her life. And it was, and each day after was a bit less happy than the one before, and now she’s divorced.)
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t want your wedding day to be a very good day; more that I don’t think I could identify “the happiest day of my life” and it feels like the wrong question.
So true! I think it’d be very hard to find someone who wouldn’t want to go back and change something from their wedding.
I also think those feelings can be exacerbated by the fact that that although there are new and great ways to hold non-traditional and unique weddings (a positive thing!), our culture’s idea of a “bride and groom” in a heterosexual wedding….still pretty much matches those wedding cake toppers, i.e. they’re between a certain age range,they look a certain way, they behave a certain way about wedding-related celebrations. Any glance through most wedding-related media will tell you what a happy engaged couple is supposed to be like – especially in the case of a bride. If you don’t feel like you belong to that club, it can certainly add to feelings of alienation and loneliness, as the LW notes.
“Forgive yourself for caring a lot about certain parts of your wedding and forgive yourself for having uncomfortable feelings even though the result was happy.”
In my opinion there’s really nothing to forgive. It wasn’t weird or wrong of the LW to have needs surrounding their wedding, and it’s not weird or wrong of them to feel disappointed or hurt now. It sounds like they realize that it would be wrong to now blame the other people involved for not meeting needs the LW didn’t clearly articulate at the time, which is a super smart thing to have understood. Good job, LW! But taking responsibility for your feelings and owning them doesn’t mean that they go away, and I think it’s totally reasonable that you’re still wishing for closure about this.
So how do you get that pretty-and-special feeling you wanted? You’ve already had a wedding. But is there something else you could do to celebrate yourself and feel pretty and special? Is there a reason you can think of to throw yourself a celebration of some kind, like changing jobs, getting a new tattoo, changing your name, meeting some kind of personal goal you’ve been working toward, or having a birthday? Even if there’s no occasion, you can still have a fancy night out with some friends where you get all dolled up and treat yourselves to something expensive, like a pricey dinner, a short cruise, or a night at the opera or the ballet. Karaoke is definitely a thing which meets this need for some people; other people get a lot out of social dancing.
You can also do things for yourself which will help you feel pretty and special: make or buy yourself some really gorgeous new outfits. If you have a hobby, treat yourself to a tool which will help you do it better/more efficiently/more comfortably, or to lessons to learn how to do it even better. Get the tattoo you’ve always wanted. Dye your hair a really fun colour. Take a gazillion selfies and post them all over the internet to show everyone how pretty and special you are.
Or think of a thing you’ve seen people do which you really admire and think is super pretty and special, but which you don’t know how to do yet, like playing the harp or writing short stories or going scuba diving or singing or painting with oil paints or dancing the bachata or doing synchronized swimming. Find a way to start learning that thing, and give yourself lots of praise and encouragement as you level up with it and get even prettier and more special in your own eyes. (Learning something fun and challenging is also a great way to distract yourself from leftover feelings about things that can’t be fixed now.)
It isn’t clear from the letter if the LW communicated with her friend either in those months in any way other than wedding-related mass-mailings. If they were previously close enough friends that she was invited to be part of the wedding party, maybe from her point of view it felt like SHE was being cut off or ghosted? Or even made to feel guilty about not being able to attend an event she couldn’t? Maybe she thought the LW was mad at her?
It kind of sounds like neither of them communicated too well, really. Doesn’t make either of them bad, friendship is just hard sometimes.
This does not really help LW now, but I agree that expectation is the larger issue. There is one day, and culturally everything has to be for and about that day.
We got married last year, and due to chronic illness did not want to have too much loaded up on that day. We made the decision that every year, on or around our anniversary, we would do one of the big ” things” that you are supposed to have at the wedding. This year is our paper anniversary- so we will be sending proper detailed thank-yous and letters to everyone that came ( Yeah, its a bit late, but better than never!) We have planned for the future, among others- An over the top cake. A ride in a horse and carriage. A big professional photography extravaganza. This has taken the pressure off having it needing to be perfect all on one day, and has given us lots of fun things to plan and look forward to (and save up for!)
That is an awesome idea. I’ve been happily single for over ten years, but if by some freak chance I ever meet someone I decide to marry I should remember this. (Similar issues with chronic illness.)
(I’m sorry to bring this up here) can anyone from the CA forums help me? I’ve been trying and trying to join but i never recieve activation emails and can’t contact any moderators because you need to be signed in to contact them 😦 i don’t know what to do..
Dear LW – I’m so sorry you’re feeling low about this. You’re clearly a kind and supportive (ex) Bride, but can I offer my experience – a perspective from M’s point of view?
A schoolfriend was getting married and having reconnected as adults, she invited me. I was pleased to be asked, but was going through a terrible time with my phd, illness and depression, and had very little money. So I said yes to the wedding, but felt ashamed to admit I couldn’t afford the spa-day hen-do. Unlike you she was a perfectionist with money to spend and family prepared to give her everything she wanted, so I concentrated on stretching my money trying to buy a dress that she wouldn’t hate in photographs, and all this made me feel even less able to communicate. Meanwhile, she filled Facebook with all of the beautiful, elaborate plans for the day, but eventually became really passive aggressive on Facebook about people ‘not caring enough about her wedding’, and bridesmaids and guests ‘hurting’ her. Honestly, I had wanted to keep the burden of worrying about me to a minimum (and possibly to shield my fragile ego a little). Eventually she went nuclear and asked a mutual friend whether I was coming at all. So I sent her an apology-and-explanation message – and she reacted spectacularly badly. She told me I was ‘selfish’ and that she knew my stress and depression wasn’t that bad because her fiance was a medical student (!) and that I should have put her special day(s) first. I did still go to the wedding because I had committed to it, but she would barely acknowledge me. It was a day of very high emotion – she lost her dad really young, while we were still close friends, one of the reasons I felt I should go – and she looked stressed and worn-out; I longed to give her the comfort and compassion that she might have offered me. But we’re English, so it’s never been resolved, and I lost a friend.
This is all just to say that I’m so pleased you’re married, and that you had a special and wonderful day. M may not have wanted to bring you down, because we’re programmed to prioritise weddings as a culture – I was single, broke, depressed, and I know that culturally no-one will ever celebrate or validate me in quite the same way if I don’t make the choice to marry. So, my friend’s wedding brought up complicated feelings which were not her responsibility to worry about, but which did affect me. Likewise, my best friend in the world had a baby, and she was really sorry to find out that I didn’t want to send her ‘cry for help’ emails when I knew she was devoting her whole energy to a newborn. I feel like I made the right choice for our long-term friendship there, and it hasn’t made us any less close because we don’t resent each other.
From the very fact you’re worrying about M I can tell that you know in your heart that the relationships are the best products of a happy marriage. I get the feeling that Team You feels a little shaky? I hear from my married friends that the first few months are hard (with the added Ballet Shoes feeling of ‘nothing nice will ever happen again’.) I’m sorry you feel that your Mum ‘didn’t care’, it might be worth talking to her about it – it’s amazing how much a difference of a single generation makes in terms of expectations and level of interest.
If your wedding day wasn’t the best of your life – maybe that’s a Good Thing? I hope you have a long and happy marriage, in which there are higher points and sweeter moments, when you don’t worry what people think of you, or that the one day sums up Who You Are As A Person. You are loved and worthwhile, and none of that is contingent on looks or rituals, or dresses or table settings (and the same applies to M).
(PS for what it’s worth, I bet you were a stunner of a bride. Apart from the above example, every bride I’ve ever seen has had that ‘swallowed a lightbulb’ glow)
Oof, I really feel like I’ve been on both LW and M’s side in the past. I have been the person who’s felt let down by a friend–and I’ve had it be really painful when it feels like everyone around me tells me “it’s not their fault, they have Issue X and Y” or “they *might* have Issue X and Y, be sympathetic!” when I’m not ‘unsympathetic’–I’m just hurt. As has been pointed out above, not giving a shit and having serious life issues going on can look exactly the same way from the outside, and i think it can really be part of a self-flagellating/blaming thing to always say, “Oh, I can’t be mad at her, she might have trauma I don’t know about” (kind of like “he’s not creepy, he might just be socially awkward!”). Sure you can be mad. If it turns out there was trauma/mitigating circumstances, then yes that would affect how you treat her, but it’s not like it waves a magic wand over your feelings. “Ok heart, you’re not allowed to feel this way anymore, turns out she was just low on spoons and introverted so couldn’t help bailing on my birthday” doesn’t actually do anything other than make you feel *also* bad for feeling hurt…
I’ve also been the person who has messed up (or thinks she’s messed up) and then just gets ‘stuck’–can’t send an email, and it gets more and more awkward the longer I leave it. I have a hard time caring about weddings for their own sake, but I do care about my friends being happy. Still, this has been not enough for some people. Nobody I know has had a shower, so unless I was specifically told I needed to organize one, it wouldn’t have occurred to me. I wonder if, in LW’s circle, nearly everybody did have a shower? Or is LW the first person in their group to get married? The mixed messages around weddings are really hard for everyone; both for people who do care a lot and for those who don’t. (ie as someone who isn’t into weddings I’ve had people convinced that I really am, just pretending not to be to be cool…)
Sorry I don’t have much more substantial to say, just sympathy for everyone and this really struck a chord with me…
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