#1146: “I panicked about the hurricane and my friend, the bride who was getting married, is done with me.”

Dear Captain Awkward:

My friend’s wedding was the weekend of Hurricane Florence. I considered her one of my closest friends until she got engaged and like a bad cliche stopped communicating with her only single friend.

I didn’t take the hurricane seriously at first but everyone I spoke to freaked out when I said I was still attending the wedding. I agonized over it and talked it out over and over with my family this week. I had been on the road for work for 3 weeks and was not at 100%. I learned that the friend I was meant to travel with to the destination was canceling due to the weather. I panicked and canceled my flights and hotel that night too. I couldn’t sleep as I was distraught at having to call her to cancel in the morning only to find in the news that the situation was nowhere near as bad in her area as I had thought. When I rushed to try to get another ticket, the fares were astronomical and I couldn’t afford it. I waited until a decent hour and then called the bride to tell her I couldn’t come and apologize. She hung up on me. Within seconds I was getting angry texts. She told me not to bother her again unless it was to say I was coming. She said a lot more but essentially she was done and finished with me.

I’ve been crying randomly all day. Those texts are like a sore tooth I can’t stop messing with. I keep going over in my head, wanting to not mess it up this time or imagining how I could apologize if she’d just give me a chance or rip into her so she’d be hurt too. I have problems with anxiety, self-harm and was already in a bit of depressive funk from being so isolated with work. I just don’t know what to do and am worried that if I tell anyone what happened that they’ll think badly of me too. Before those texts, I thought I would send flowers or a letter to her but I’m guessing those would go in the trash now. What do I do to fix this?

Hi there,

I read the texts you attached (and will not publish them. I don’t publish screenshots people send me as a rule – I would want the consent of everyone in the conversation before I did that). For the people reading along at home, the wedding was in Richmond, Virginia. Here are my thoughts:

  • Before the weekend, people didn’t know that Richmond would be okay and planning travel there did not seem like the greatest idea on earth. The stories from further south & east are horrifying, there seems to be a rash of tornadoes, and elected officials also erred on the side of caution. There’s always a risk that you’ll take precautions and not really need them, but we do the best we can with imperfect information, especially if the alternative is getting stranded/trapped/putting yourself and other people in danger. “Do I want to maybe risk my life to go to this party?” is a reasonable question and “Nope!” is a reasonable decision.
  • I think the couple planning the wedding owed all their out of town guests some kind of weather update & a general cutting of slack if people couldn’t make it or chose not to come given the storm. Like, fuck the seating chart at this point, party with the people who can make it, live to tell the tale.
  • You checked in with your family & friends and the friend who was due to travel with you before you made your decision to cancel, but it doesn’t sound like you checked in directly with the bride. I think you owed her a text or a phone call before you canceled. You may have made the same decision in the end anyway, but you mention being really worn out from work and also not feeling very close to her since her engagement in your email to me. You’re over-justifying. It happens and your other stressors are real! But they can’t be part of your apology/quest to make peace.
  • Maybe it’s not about you & your friendship specifically. Depending on how big this wedding was, I want you to imagine your text conversation with the bride as one of probably 50 or even 100 that she was having that same day at that same time, like, EVERYONE is contacting her on the wedding day to tell her they won’t be there or will be late or have some logistical question (probably her partner’s family & friends, too, and vendors, because everyone assumes the bride has all the answers). It’s easy to be like “god, what a bridezilla for getting mad that people don’t want to come to your maybe-drowning, maybe-evacuation party” but also imagine that a similar amount of panic you felt was also going through her, like, her whole beautiful plan that absorbed months of her life is now FUCKED, her friend that she couldn’t wait to see won’t be there, and maybe she didn’t have the bandwidth to be maximally sympathetic to you or reassure you right at that moment. I didn’t have a natural disaster to deal with two years ago, we had inexpensive comfort food catered by our local grocery store, so it’s not like every person who cancelled meant losing some huge catering fee, but I can still remember feeling exhausted when the week before the wedding and literally on the day of the wedding people we thought would be there sent me & Mr. Awkward these lonnnnnnnnnnggggggggggg emails & texts about why they couldn’t come. Some of them had really good reasons (a sudden health scare & surgery, life happens!) and some of them clearly just flaked out and some could not be bothered to click RSVP on our website but could be bothered to send us essays about why they couldn’t make it. In the end it didn’t matter, we were happy to celebrate with the people who were there, and I honestly don’t hold it against anyone or even remember who wasn’t able to make it – I know their exhortations were sincere expressions of love & regret and it’s just one party in a whole life! That week/that day, however, the barrage of their apologies taken all together was exhausting and annoying. Like, I hope I replied to them with something sufficiently gracious, but I know I yelled “DO I NEED TO RENT YOU A FUCKING CHAIR OR NOT, THAT IS LITERALLY ALL I CARE ABOUT RIGHT NOW” at my various communication devices a time or seven. By which I mean to say, “don’t bother me again unless it’s to say that you’re coming” might be more of a statement about that day & the suckitude of wedding planning & anger at the storm situation than about you specifically/the rest of your lives/your entire friendship. Also, as you are a very close friend, it may have felt safe for her to unload some of her stress on you (vs. her future spouse’s Great Great Granny or the cake vendor).

So, two friends were Not Awesome during a stressful moment and nobody has a time machine. What do do now?

  • Please, aggressively take care of your depressive funk, exhaustion, cutting impulses, burnout. Consult your mental health support team (or put one in place), be nice to yourself, do all the self-caring & self-soothing things you know how to do, reach out and interact with people who love you and make you feel good and who aren’t currently pissed off at you. Also: Delete the texts. Stop reading them obsessively.
  • Forgive yourself. You missed your friend’s wedding, which understandably hurt her feelings, and you also made a reasonable decision not to fly into an oncoming hurricane. If there’s a villain here, it’s the weather.
  • Give it time & space. Let your friend go on her honeymoon and just be for a bit. She’s probably not thinking about you all that much right now (and that’s good, or at least better than her thinking about you a lot and still being mad). The more you push to try to fix it fix it fix it right now, the worse her response will be. We avoid people we’ve offended when we feel guilty. If she feels embarrassed about sending you mean texts, a little space & time will let her save face. It’s a gift for everyone.
  • Wait a month or so and then mail her a gift and a card with an apology. An apology doesn’t explain or try to justify or ask for anything, like “Dear [Friend], I’m so very sorry that I couldn’t celebrate with you, and sorrier still that I didn’t check in with you before I cancelled the trip and that I added to your stress on such an important day. I want you to know how happy I am for you & [spouse], and I’m sending you all my love & congratulations.”  
  • Then, leave it alone. Hopefully she’ll respond and apologize too, for not being more understanding &  for snapping at you in a stressful moment, and you’ll start to repair things with a little time & grace. Sometimes you just gotta declare “bygones” and decide that even if people made mistakes the relationship is important enough to put that behind you and forgive yourselves and each other. If she really is done and doesn’t want to resume the friendship, or if she doubles down on her earlier behavior, you can know that you did the right thing by making a sincere apology for your part in this and that you did your best to repair things.

Commenters, can we be really gentle with everybody in this story?

231 thoughts on “#1146: “I panicked about the hurricane and my friend, the bride who was getting married, is done with me.”

  1. Oh wow, I have so much sympathy for both of you because I can so clearly see both sides. I got married about two years ago, and I was a stressed-out, anxious wreck. I had no weather issues, so I can’t imagine having to deal with the stress of a hurricane impacting all my plans. I also feel for you, LW, in that I live in the DC area and had canceled weekend plans and all kinds of other stuff early in the week because it looked like we might get hit hard, only to have to remake some of those plans later in the week when we didn’t actually get walloped. I think this is one of those situations where you might have to just give it time and distance for both of you to calm down and breathe, and yes, I would send a note and gift like the Captain said. I’ll be thinking about both of you. ❤

    1. I’m in DC as well, and my mother cancelled her trip here to shop for wedding dresses the Monday before the storm hit. Instead, I FaceTimed her in from the bridal shop this past weekend and had the digital pleasure of seeing her horrified expression at seeing me in the too-small sample of the dress I had fallen in love with. They will make it to measure, Ma, really! I then had to field frantic phone calls and emails/texts of alternatives for the next 5 days. “What about this one, it has ~*more coverage*~?” “Have you tried or thought about a dress that does XYZ instead of PLUNGING TO YOUR NAVEL [a gross exaggeration]?”

      I completely understand why she cancelled, but at the end of the day both DC and where she lives were completely missed by the storm. She’s coming in 2 weeks to see it in person, and this would have been a fraught process regardless, but I blame Florence for dragging this ordeal out any longer than it needs to be. Ahem.

      Jedi Hugs to you and your friend, LW. Hurricanes + wedding stuff = A BIG NO FROM ME

    2. Yes! I see and FEEL both sides.

      As a guest I would totally cancel because worst case, hurricane danger. But also the risk of flights cancelled and being stranded for days in a random city and having to possibly miss more work or shell out for a hotel.

      But the poor bride! Several people cancelled on our wedding las minute. And people feel the need to send you their entire life story and how it led to them canceling on your wedding and making it all about themselves. And then they expect sympathy and comforting words and reassurance from YOU. And if you take time to stew and ignore their text, they follow up with more lengthy justifications. Obviously I sent them all gracious responses when I was ready, but when I first hit their walls of text, I was like “Nope, not today.”

    3. I feel for the brlde, who was probably having A WEEK! But also, my friend’s becoming-a-citizen Official Thing got cancelled that week for the storm, which then totally missed our area. It was really not ridiculous to give the whole state a pass! Good luck

    4. I canceled weekend plans too due to Florence… and it was actually gorgeous! Ah well… BUT … i also had weather trying to impact my wedding 30+ years ago. Some serious snow got dumped in our area, and areas that people were traveling from, including wedding party people! Honestly, it never occurred to me to be upset if they had to cancel…. I was actually trying to reorganize the whole wedding party if certain travelers couldn’t show. I mean, it’s a wedding, not a command performance by the queen. Anyway, it turned out ok as even the one who was most snowed in was able to get out safely. I think the bride is wrong in this one… and I won’t get into the similar tiff I got in with a “friend” because I apparently wasn’t a good enough friend… this sounds a lot like that. I wrote her off. I don’t need that kind of negativity….

  2. Mainly what I have here is “Owie” and a lot of Jedi Hugs if you want them. Weddings are so fraught.
    This isn’t anybody’s fault, and it’s probably recoverable. Give yourself, and her, some time. Be gentle with yourself.

  3. I agree with Captain here. You panicked, she was stressed, nobody handled anything well. It happens.

    Let things cool off, send your gift/note, and see how she responds. That will tell you what you need to know.

  4. Oh gosh. I, as a bride, was totally chill until a few days before my wedding when I was a COMPLETE DISASTER and almost called the whole thing off for reasons that, looking back, basically came down to “needing a good night’s sleep”. I definitely reacted in ways that didn’t reflect either my rational thoughts or my true feelings.

    It sounds like you were having a really tough time just as your friend was having a tough time just as there was a GIANT DEADLY HURRICANE and who could expect anyone to be at their best?? Take care of yourself for now, let the bride’s spouse take care of her, revisit this when hurricane season is over. Sending love to you all.

    1. One of my coworkers called off her wedding just a couple of weeks before it was scheduled to happen, lost all her deposits etc, didn’t care, got married at the courthouse, and had an impromptu barbecue in a friend’s back yard on the day instead. They’ve been married for going on 25 years. She has never regretted it.

      1. My MIL and her intended lived together already, so they just invited everyone they cared about over for a barbecue one nice weekend and once everyone arrived, “Surprise, we’re getting married today! You’re our invited guests, so have a seat, we’ll say some vows, and then let’s party!” They cut right to the good part. When my husband and I got married, we did basically the same – waited for a day when both sets of parents would be in town, grabbed a close friend who is a minister, and said our vows among the people who mattered to us most. I get that having all the fancy trimmings is really important for some, but it can be a massive headache and stress inducer too. I don’t blame people at all for wanting to just skip all that. Weddings ought to fall under the same psychological heading as Death or Birth in the family, Health Crisis/scare, Career change, Move to another city, or even Divorce. It is a Major Life Change that I think we can understandably cut some people slack for when they aren’t their best selves. Gentle comfort and kind words to everyone involved here.

        1. My sister did this too! Our other sister and I were like “oh thank god!” Because we had both been DREADING her wedding (she’s A Difficult Person) and the drill sergeant run circus of negativity we were sure it would be. Our mother was quite put out that she didn’t get to a mother of bride or something, but she was literally the only one who was upset. Literally everyone else LOVED it and it was a lovely ceremony and the pictures are hilarious (lots of topless dudes in cutoffs holding Labatts in the background while they said their vows.)

  5. My best friend got married in April. It was also the weekend of one of the worst ice storms that the city had seen in years. There were road closures, accidents everywhere, power outages, and almost the entire region was shut down. At least 30 people cancelled, because they did not feel safe driving on the highway in those conditions.

    A lot of people called either the bride or the groom only on the night before the wedding. I was with her the night before, it was a barrage of emails and heartfelt phone calls and texts saying “sorry, can’t make it, don’t want to die”. My friend, the sweetest and most patient person I have ever known, was starting to crack with the sheer number of people that cancelled, along with all of the other pressures of family and weddings and stuff.

    I am sorry you had to cancel on your friend, and that your friend took it so harshly. The Captain is right; if your friend is not known to be the dramatic Our Friendship Means More Than A Stupid Hurricane type, then it may just be all the emotions of dealing with the wedding, family, and a natural disaster at once that caused the perfect storm of reactions. Please take time for yourself, forgive yourself (you did what you thought was safest and best), and once time has passed, see if it is possible to mend your relationship with your friend.

    1. I’m under the impression that contacting the bride or groom directly isn’t the greatest idea if you can’t make it, unless you’re super close with one of them. Who is the best person to contact? And should wedding websites have this sort of information, like “if you have to cancel, please email this person” or “please send a message via this form” so the couple isn’t barraged with these calls at the last minute?

        1. It is a good idea, maybe ask & designate a relative or member of the wedding party to be the contact person for travel/weather/logistics questions and make it clear who that is.

          1. I’ve been thinking for a while now that Bride’s Hand should totally be a thing. Got a problem? Talk to the Hand. Can’t come? Talk to the Hand. Got weird logistical questions? Talk to the Hand.

            Extra points for issuing the Hand an actual pin.

          2. My BF and I recently same-day cancelled on a wedding due to our sewer lateral line exploding. We texted one of the bridesmaids. I think that’s what bridesmaids/groomsmen are for. 🙂

            She was totally understanding when I talked to her a week later, after the stress had died down and she’d returned from her honeymoon.

          3. This is actually A Thing for hospitalisations in the Netherlands – someone close to the family is asked to take on the role of “social secretary” (essentially, although they don’t call it that).

            It saves a LOT of wear and tear on the patient and also the closest family, who otherwise had to jockey with various friends trying to “perform” friendship by making visits sometimes at awkward or inappropriate times.

            Weddings would also be a great place to “install” such a person. Or would that already be someone like the best man/maid-matron of honour?

        2. Do this for EVERYTHING, not just canceling. Make up a list of every wedding thing people might have questions about, flowers, seating chart, guest list, who is capable of kicking out uncle fergis if he gets drunk and punchy, everything you can think of and assign each thing to someone in the wedding party/ family member. Then print out the list and hand it out at the rehearsal dinner/ as many people directly related to the wedding as you can. It is astonishing what people will bring to the bride to deal with on her wedding day (strangely not one person went to my husband for anything that day). Like that white dress is just a big sign that says “Problem solver”.

          For an example, if I had given my MOH a copy of the seating chart and authority to make a quick fix if needed, my one poor friend wouldn’t have had to sit alone at a table because every single person who no called no showed to the wedding all sat at that table.

          I couldn’t have printed it on a list, but six different people came up to tell me my alcoholic mother was drinking at my reception. I have no idea what they expected me to do about it – like throw down and have an intervention right there? I had zero fucks to give about it that day.

          1. Here where I live (central Europe) that’s the groomsman and maid of honour job. They take care of guests concerns, answering questions, navigating people on their way to wedding, flowers, gifts and everything they can do to unweight happy couple. Sometimes it’s working so well that bride is unaware something happened and acknowledge it long after wedding.

        3. A word of advice from someone who just got married, don’t expect people to actually read your whole wedding website. People used ours for the registry link and that was about it. The *homepage* of our website had details about the wedding itself, like directions on how to get there, approximate dinner time, and dress code guidelines and people were *still* contacting me asking what I wanted them to wear and other questions that had answers on the website. For some reason it didn’t occur to many people that they could find that information themselves. So:
          a) Put all of the info you want people to see on your website ASAP, before you give people the website link if possible. People aren’t going to check back regularly to see if you made any updates.
          b) Be aware that for most guests, if they have to cancel they are just going to contact you, the person they know. They most likely will not think “hmm, better check the wedding website for the cancellation procedure!”

          It’s still a good idea! But manage your expectations accordingly.

          1. Luckily for me (heh) most of our invites went to my fiancé’s family, so he’ll have to field those.

            (This is what happens when your budget dictates a 50 person wedding and your fiancé’s mum whines if every racist fucking druncle isn’t invited.)

          2. “A word of advice from someone who  just got married  [writes websites professionally], don’t expect people to actually read [any of] your  whole wedding  website.” IME, you’re doing well if they parse and remember the title of the page. Just sayin’.

      1. Absent instructions on a website, maid of honor or best man, whoever you think would be the one herding cats on the day of. My next choice, if I knew the relationships were positive, would be mother of the bride, to play the odds on who would be doing organizing-type stuff that day.

        1. Reasonable. ..unless you know that the mother of the bride I hrself not reasonable.

          At the risk of speaking I’ll of the dead, my mother would have freaked and come to me anyway!

      2. While there are exceptions (like extreme weather, or true emergencies), in general, there shouldn’t have to be a “last minute cancellation procedure” because cancelling to attend someone’s wedding last-minute is pretty rude. Announcing what to do in that type of situation just would normalize it and give people an easier out. If you DO have to cancel last minute, definitely talk to the bride or groom directly – because that is a huge deal and should not be just casually mentioned to someone else, who may forget to deliver the message.

        1. Well… I think it depends. Looking back to my wedding day, I would rather have learnt of any last-minute cancellations once the ceremony was over. I can’t see that it would have made any difference up to that point – as long as the groom, bridesmaid (my sister) and parents were there, the rest of the congregation were really just a crowd of familiar faces as I walked up the aisle. I certainly wouldn’t have been craning my neck to check whether Cousin Beryl was definitely there or not. If someone – anyone – had just let me know after the ceremony “Beryl sends her huge apologies, a hurricane has got in her way”, that would have sufficed and I could just have sent her a slab of cake later. There were plenty of other people to see. (I say this not to criticise the bride in the letter – though, admittedly, I struggle to sympathise – but to add to the discussion of what’s best to do in that situation.

          1. Oh I guess if Cousin Beryl wasn’t in touch with any of the other guests, I would have accepted a nice text message on the day. Might not have seen it immediately, but could have checked my phone once her absence became apparent.

        2. @ Pop Maybe there should be something like “For any last minute questions or issues contact blah person.” So that could be for stuff like “does the venue have parking?” or “What’s the plan if Outdoor Venue gets rained out?” or “Oopsy-daisy, I forgot to put my food restrictions on my RSVP” in addition to unforeseen last minute cancellations. That way you don’t worry that you are implying that last minute canceling is OK, but someone other than the bride or groom gets to deal with that kind of thing.

          1. Yep, I love that! Others have said something similar in comments above. I was maybe a little too harsh in my comment.

      3. If I ever do have a wedding, I envision the wedding party less as bridesmaids and groomsmen and much more as The Guard. Designated roles to be filled: Family Wrangler(s), Difficult People Wrangler(s), Logistics Leads (Vendors, Guests, Ceremony Participants), Health Emergency Lead, and most important, Designated Communicator for Bride & Groom. All inquiries, comments, rants, etc, go to the DC to screen and summarize, starting a few days before the wedding.

      4. Yeah, I would think that manners suggest that if you are cancelling, then telling someone else is ideal, whether a designated messenger, wedding party member, etc. In this case, it was a combination of the all the parents being wholly unhelpful in that regard (the mother of the bride kept trying to make Big Deals out of nothing, up to and including the day of), and the bride and groom are always the planners and doers of the group. I truly don’t think it occurred to most people that they could, should, and better call another person in the wedding party.

        1. I think the bride handled it very badly & the LW made the right decision. The LW can decide “Ok, you’re done? Well, def. glad I didn’t risk drowning then, bye!”

          I also think that if this interaction is not in character, if this is generally a good friendship and worth preserving, the LW not need beat themselves up so much or feel like they have to work extra hard to fix the friendship or the situation. Maybe the harsh words and bad grace are a total friendship ender. Maybe the bride will get in touch soon and say “I was a total jerk to you on the phone, please forgive me.” I think more Feelingstexts from the LW right now will only make a bad thing worse, there was a lot of stressful shit around the situation that was not personal, and it’s 100% time to stop obsessing or working on the friendship (esp. to the point of self-harm). If repairing a relationship is the goal, there is a dance between “do I want to be right/feel justified more or do I want to mend it more.” A real apology, mailed, is the way to attempt keeping the door open. The LW can decide to shut the door any old time.

          1. I cringed when you asked everyone to be gentle to both parties, only to use a gendered slur on the bride.

          2. I’m mostly a lurker, Captain, but I love you and I need to let you know this use of “cunt” is bothering me.

          3. Context matters. Yes, we should be careful about our choice of language, but there’s a big difference between, say, a male colleague using that word to describe a coworker and a feminist advice columnist using it in made-up dialogue between two female friends.

            I could blather on some more about the philosophy of what makes offensive language offensive, but I fear I’m already contributing to a derail. Cap: I sincerely apologize if this is a derail.

          4. I usually don’t comment, but I do read all the letters/answers you post, and the use of cunt here bothers me, too.

            @cinderkeys – It’s really not cool to lecture people who are uncomfortable with a gendered slur about context and the philosophy of language. I think that literally every woman ever understands that there’s a difference between the two scenarios you outlined; it doesn’t follow that anyone should be patronized or dismissed for have an issue with both.

          5. Fair enough. I apologize for coming across as patronizing. It wasn’t my intent, but intent isn’t magic, and rereading what I wrote, I do see what you mean.

            My main motivation, as somebody who was okay with the language, was to lend a little support. Which CA may or may not want anyway.

            I’ll make this comment my last in the thread.

          6. Do not EVER use the word “cunt” with me. Period. I don’t care who you are. It has far too much gender baggage and is completely unnecessary–you could just as easily have called her a “jerk” and it wouldn’t have had anything to do with gender.

          7. I apologize – I intended it as self-deprecating dialogue, not as me calling her that, but I can see how it came across. It’s been edited.

      5. In an ideal world, the wedding party (Best Man, Maid of Honour, Groomsmen, Bridesmaids) would be a good source for said contact person, since that is part of the point of having a wedding party – but also I think a lot of people are happy to help out. I was honoured to be involved in my friends’ wedding logistics. Adding it to the wedding website is a great idea!

        1. I was the known “bride gopher”, “bridesmaids wrangler” and “my side of the family communication” for my sister’s wedding. I herded the bridesmaids. Made sure my sister had what she needed and wasn’t running late. I would communicate things to my mom so she could pass them on to the rest of the family “call tree”. I just assumed this was my role as Maid of Honor. Basically I was there to make the day as easy and fun as possible for my sister.

          I might have had a stress reaction at the reception after my role was over and I could relax. (Crying. Just… all of the crying and some soothing from my mom was needed).

      6. My wedding is coming up fast – we do have a designated contact (my amazing extremely organized kickbutt Maid of Honor), but we have already seen that people who don’t *already* know her (so basically just mutual friends) contact me anyways. I fully intend to hand my phone off to her the day of. I trust her not to mess up anything on it or go snooping, and to handle whoever decides to call or text me.

    2. “My friend, the sweetest and most patient person I have ever known, was starting to crack with the sheer number of people that cancelled, along with all of the other pressures of family and weddings and stuff.”

      This line somehow made me remember: little kids on playdates can be sweet and well-behaved, right up until Mommy shows up. Then they melt down.

      That’s because they feel SAFE. So it’s possible the bride lashed out at the one person she felt safe being badly behaved in front of.

      (I know my siblings are that “safe space” for me–I missed them SO much when I first moved out of the house to a new city, because I had to mind my manners very closely with all the new people I was meeting. With my siblings, I could be crabby, or snap at them, because our history was so long, and would BE so long, that I knew they’d forgive it, as I did for them.)

  6. Could we make it a thing where in similar situations, we could be like “Bygones?” and the other person could be like “Bygones!” and then we high five? Because I feel like there is a lot of pressure and anxiety around saying the exact right thing…and that sometimes there is no exact right thing…and the perfectionist impulse to formulate the *exact right words* with the added pressure of feeling like If You Fail, Everything Will Be Bad Due To Your Failure can be damaging (Hi, that’s how I’m living like…80% of my life rn.)

    If we could distill this type of interaction down to two words and a high five…I feel like that would be wonderful progress for all people, present and future, to enjoy.

    1. On the one hand, I totally love this, but on the other, I feel like it’s kindof the xkcd “People are _hard_” thing. Maybe with the first “Bygones?” as a true question –if the other person feels like that’s all they need, they can respond “Bygones!” and have the high-five. But otherwise, having it be totally cool to say “I need more time” or “I want a more direct apology” or what-have-you would be important.

      1. Agreed. My friend and I got into an argument recently, and I reached out to her once things had cooled off to basically say, “I had some time to think, and you were right about a, b, and c, here’s what I’m going to change going forward, and I apologize. I am still upset about x, y, and, z, and here’s why they were hurtful.” My friend responded with, “Thanks for reaching out, I understand why you’re hurt, here’s what I’ll do differently in the future.” And then we agreed not to talk about it anymore.

        For me, the hardest thing is figuring out whether or not talking about a conflict is actually helping. Because sometimes it does help! But sometimes it really, really doesn’t. It helps to ask myself these questions: Am I trying to force an apology? Am I trying to make the other party feel bad? Do have anything new to add to this discussion, or am I just repeating the same points over and over? If the answers are anything but no, no, and yes, respectively, it’s time to step away.

    2. I highly relate to the “too much pressure, therefore I say nothing for a long time, which is actually worse than just saying something”.

    3. Me and one of my best friends have done this about twice. Usually over things we both really overreacted about in the moment in a silly way and we’d both just like to get back to being friends without having to do some awkward dance or ritually unpack why we were both jerks/morons/chronically sleep deprived/bad at managing our feelings.

  7. I think this is entirely right–you’re going to have to give it time. I sympathize with both you, LW, and your friend, as someone who has had to miss weddings for travel and logistic reasons and also someone who is planning a wedding and ALSO has half a dozen friends and coworkers and STB in-laws who got married within the last two years or are getting married soon. I have seen some shit, LW, but everyone gets over it in time (or doesn’t), and whatever you do in the moment, driven by regret or frustration or defensiveness or whatever, is unlikely to help. Do your best to be cool about it and it’s at least even odds that it will all blow over and you’ll laugh about it some day. 🙂

  8. Captain, I do appreciate your empathy for the bride. While her reaction was not great, it’s totally understandable that after months of planning, touring, tasting, researching, negotiating, compromising, and answering loads of questions from people who were just super interested in how things were coming along, the day is finally approaching and a big storm is looking to fork your shirt up, you’re not your best self and not all of your communications are as diplomatic as they should be. Chances are, once the wedding is over and she’s had some time to rest and reflect while on the honeymoon, she won’t be as angry about it and will probably forgive most if not all the people who couldn’t make it.

    Letter writer, I also don’t blame you one bit for canceling at the last minute. Huge, dangerous storms are scary for me, and I’m absolutely the Chicken Who Stays Home when the weather might be really bad. You didn’t flake because you suddenly didn’t feel like going, you had a perfectly good reason

  9. ‘I keep going over in my head, wanting to not mess it up this time or imagining how I could apologize if she’d just give me a chance or rip into her so she’d be hurt too. I have problems with anxiety, self-harm and was already in a bit of depressive funk from being so isolated with work. I just don’t know what to do and am worried that if I tell anyone what happened that they’ll think badly of me too.’

    Captain Awkward has a beautifully accurate description for the way that depression produces this horribly negative self-talk and downward spiral of self-blame; the brainweasels. Those negative thoughts come from an illness, and it can actually be really helpful to picture them as (metaphorically) coming from evil nasty creatures that are trying to lie to you and mess with you. Because that is what depression does.

    Reading the above makes me believe your particular brainweasels are having a field day with this one. I suspect your brainweasels might be trying to convince you, for example, that only a terrible person would have handled it the way you did and that everyone else is going to agree with the brainweasels that this makes you a terrible person. Any of that ringing a bell?

    I just wanted to bring this up because it is an example of the sort of LIES that depression brainweasels will tell you to try to mess with your brain. If your particular brainweasels are saying anything like that, know that this is NOT some sort of fundamental truth about the situation or yourself or the universe; it is the brainweasels trying to mess with your brain.

    What actually happened here is that you made the best decision you could with the facts you had available at the time about a very sucky situation. I’m so sorry your friend has acted the way she has about it, but that’s on here, not on you. Just don’t let the brainweasels kid you about this one.

    1. Thank you for bringing up brainweasels. I’m sure I’ve read the Captain’s description of them before but it just didn’t click until I read your comment. It helps me to name a thing . My depression is “the Black Dog”. And brainweasels describes my anxiety perfectly. I’m picturing the weasels from Roger Rabbit, lol! Anxiety and depression are just big, nebulous terms. Brainweasels and Black Dog are concrete entities that my mind can grasp, picture and more readily deal with. Brainweasels! Thank you for that.

      1. Ha! Yes, I picture Roger Rabbit too.

        I had read a suggestion that just naming the Unwanted Thoughts would help. At first I thought, oh bs. But it did help, … saying “these are unwanted thoughts” … & it seems that just taking the 2 seconds to recognize & form the words in my mind is then enough to stop the stream of negative things. Like a distracted baby, I look away & forget what the problem was. So good luck to you also, naming the problems!

        1. I also have been calling them brainweasels for many years, and envision them Roger Rabbit-style.

          On the plus side, it means that I get to offer (to my friends who also suffer from depression) my Giant Rubber Mallet of Weasel-Thonking.

          I’m glad that this has made quite a few people laugh, when they were in a rough spot, and going through the visualization exercise of chasing weasels down with a cartoonishly huge mallet can help lift my mood a little, too!

          1. We have the Dachsunds to chase away the brain weasels and the brain geese. Our Emoji Person on Discord even put in a dachshund emoji for us.

    2. I agree that the weasels are making a tough situation worse.

      Like, your friend yelled at you when stressed out, which is not great. If your brain was all balanced and zen- feeling, you probably would have been like “Oh, ouch, well she’s probably having a really tough wedding, I will talk to her later.”

      But it’s hard to stay balanced when weasels are running all around your feet, and something like this would knock me down hard, too.

  10. Good advice here. Weddings are difficult and stressful. Take time to get yourself sorted, and let her do the same. Time does help smooth out these friendship disruptions. Be gentle with yourself, and focus on the friend you want to be moving forward.

  11. I’m looking at this both as someone who got married and someone who’s recently had to miss a wedding for Medical Reasons that actually might have been work-around-able, but it was impossible to know for sure until a just a couple days in advance.

    When I got married, some people never RSVPed. Annoyingly, they were not people I personally knew and people my sweetie hardly knew; we were assured they wouldn’t come but couldn’t really reach out to them ourselves. (I know, then why did we invite them?? Felt like we had no choice because faaaamily, of course). Stressful!

    On the flip side, sweetie and I are missing a wedding this weekend that we RSVPed to for Medical Reasons. As it turns out, he might have been able to go after all, but we just learned that a day ago (and it’s not 10000% sure) and already cancelled our tickets a week ago and let the bride’s parents, who are coordinating everything, know. A heartfelt card is on its way. I am really disappointed and feel bad about the situation even though it’s outside my control. Stressful!

    All this is to say… Getting married is a ball of stress. Waffling about whether to go a wedding you’ve been looking forward to is a ball of stress. The Captain’s imagining of what that day was like for the bride rings very true for me. For me, my frustrations with wedding planning weren’t really personal to any one person who did any one thing; it was at the whole process! So while it feels very personal to you (and understandably so–I would probably cry if I got a text like that from a friend), for her I imagine it was one of many stressors poking and zapping her.

    I love this advice because it extends compassion to everyone. No one was at their best in the face of a literal hurricane, but if everyone wants to move forward with the friendship, this approach of time + acknowledgement provides a lot of room for grace. Hoping for kindness and healing all around! (I also loooove the suggestion to delete the texts. I also am a sore-tooth-prodder and would not be able to leave well enough alone. If you can bring yourself to delete them, DO. They do you no good at all, daring you to wound yourself on them over and over).

      2) When I got married last April, my mom was in charge of the RSVPs, and yet it still became my job to personally contact everyone who hadn’t RSVPed to see if they were coming/ to to get my mom to stop freaking out at me. While I was at a work conference.
      3) LW, be kind to yourself and, if possible, be kind to your friend in your head. She was probably under so much stress (wedding planning is so much more stressful/ hideous than I thought it would be!) and not acting as she would under other circumstances. I hope y’all are able to patch things up!

      1. (eeeeeee!! every so often I re-read “Sunshine” and get mildly obsessed again, and it is delightful, and now I need to go on a baking spree)

        Everything about this RSVP set-up sounds awful! While at a work conference, yikes, my stomach hurts just thinking about that enormous ball of stress. On the one hand I really did enjoy some of the creativity of wedding planning but ALSO I would never do it again, not even if I actually got married again. Dunno what would happen then, but not planning a wedding!

  12. I think CA’s advice is spot on, but I just wanted to say – LW, I would have cancelled too. I don’t think you made the wrong choice cancelling your trip. Maybe you could have made different choices in the execution, but you did your best in a really stressful moment. Be kind to yourself and know that you’re not the only one who would have made that choice given the information you were working with.

    1. Yep, we had a pair of family weddings scheduled for the weekend that a major hurricane hit the Northeast a few years ago and people were cancelling in droves. It’s definitely A Thing That Happens, especially if the wedding is in a region somewhere along the East Coast in September. Both of the couples getting married were pretty good about taking things in stride, though I’ve no doubt it was stressful for them.

      Then again, my spouse had a family member who absolutely blew a fuse because people couldn’t make it to her wedding several states away a few days after 9/11, when all of the planes were still grounded.

      Sometimes you just can’t win, and you do the best you can with the resources you have at that time.

      1. I was thinking about post 9/11 weddings too. I knew someone who got married a couple weeks later – the planes were back on schedule but people were edgey about flying. Her sister cancelled because she didn’t want to fly.

        My SIL still laughs about getting married the weekend of a major midwestern snowstorm. I think once the emotions die down it can become just another part of “the story of the wedding”

    2. Yeah I think OP has to remind themselves that there was a not-inconsiderable chance that the hurricane *would* have caused massive problems (at the very least, flight delays/cancellations even if the bulk of the impact was not in Richmond). It’s easy to look back with 20/20 hindsight and say you made a stupid call you should not have made. In another universe unfolding directly parallel to this one, it was the correct call. That’s why you have to give yourself a mulligan.

    3. LW, when I was a kid, my family got stuck in a natural disaster that was _really really bad_, so I’m never going to blame anyone for an overabundance of caution. You didn’t know how the hurricane was going to turn out, and no party is worth putting yourself in danger. Jedi hugs to you!

      (I also used to be a field worker, doing moderately extreme outdoor physical activities for my day job, and I’ve seen too many situations go horribly wrong when a less-powerful person says “this isn’t safe for me, I’m out” but the more-powerful person says “no you’re not, you must do the dangerous thing at all costs”. Your safety and the safety of those entrusted to you ALWAYS comes first.)

  13. Hi, OP! I’m getting married next Saturday and I think the Captain hit this right on the head. Planning a wedding is unbelievably stressful, and I would bet money your friend’s response was only partly to do with you.

    I fell out of touch with many of my friends (single and not single) once planning started. All of the sudden there just wasn’t time. It exacerbated all kinds of FriendsDrama that had been under the surface for years, which went on top of FamilyDrama that dates to before I was born, which has left me feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack all week because the stress is so intense. (Not an exaggeration: my chest literally hurts.) I want to gently challenge you to consider that your friend falling out of touch, while certainly frustrating, may have had more to do with her busy-ness than with your single-ness.

    Additionally, a wedding is one of the only times someone can put an exact dollar amount on what it costs when a friend flakes out or has an emergency. It’s not fair to do it, especially when inclement weather is involved, but I’ve noticed myself getting way, way angrier at flaky friends than I ever would for another event: it’s not so much because it’s My Wedding and I’m a “bridezilla” (grrr, I hate that term) as that wedding stress is quantifiable in a way that normal stress isn’t. Yet another way capitalism and the toxic expectations we put on weddings get my goat.

    I’m very happy to be throwing a wedding and not eloping; in the end, the tough parts of the wedding are going to be worth getting to see far-flung family and friends all in one place. But the stress and exhaustion and FEELINGS really are over the top. I’m so, so sympathetic *and* empathetic to both you and your friend in this letter. I’ve definitely stress-quit plans at the last minute and then beat myself up when I realized I overreacted. I also completely relate to why your friend snapped. I can’t imagine all my hard work getting upturned because of a hurricane. My heart really hurts for your friend, who was probably extremely excited to see everyone (including you, obviously!) and got let down in a big way.

    If I were you, I’d put this out of your mind as much as humanly possible for awhile. Once the situation cools down, I think you should do what the Captain suggests (card and gift). Once enough time has passed, I also think you should have a bigger conversation with your friend about how you can maintain the friendship now that she’s married. I think the key is to frame the conversation from a place of “your friendship is important to me and I acknowledge that it’s changing, how can we handle that?” It sounds a little bit like you feel like your friend has abandoned you, but I would guess that she’s feeling just as weird and hurt about the new distance between you as you are. I hope that your friendship eventually heals and grows; of course, it’s also possible that you and this friend will drift naturally apart, which is painful but also an A-okay outcome, in the end.

    Sending you and your friend tons of Jedi hugs and well wishes! ❤

    1. Just wanted to tell you that you are not alone. I had to have my fiancé tell my his mother last December to stop emailing me about wedding stuff after a week in which her emails (about stupid shit! that we hadn’t decided yet!) gave me nightly neck spasms which became panic attacks from the pain of the neck spasms.

      We’re getting married at the end of THIS December. She was pushing every button I possess over a wedding that wasn’t happening for A YEAR.

      She has, thank the gods, respected my no email rule but this almost certainly means I’m going to have to kiss her ass at some future point. Life is a series of trade-offs, I guess.

    2. Well said, and good luck!

      I wanted to second your point that weddings are just ridiculously stressful, and that kind of pressure can widen the cracks that may already have formed in relationships. I also developed some psychosomatic pains in the lead-up to my wedding, and while I didn’t lash out at anyone the way LW’s friend did, I did end a couple of friendships that probably could have been salvaged if I’d used my words to explain why my behavior changed so suddenly.

      And yes to your point on weddings putting a quantifiable dollar amount on actions you could otherwise brush off. There are very few events in life that require you to sort every person you know based on how much you’re willing to pay for their presence and whether you’re willing to include person A when that means your budget won’t have enough room left for person B.

      1. A friend of mine did a beautiful thing with her wedding: a “reserve” list of people she wanted to see (but who were down the priority list when keeping it within budget) who were within impulsive travel distance, who wouldn’t be offended if contacted at the last minute. Some relatives got sick (very sad) but my brother, brother-in-law, and I were able to take those seats. It was very short notice but I was so glad to be able to be there for her.

    3. I wonder if the wedding couple live in Richmond or have family who do? On top of the wedding stress (ugh, so real!), they might have been worried about the hurricane hitting their or their relatives’ homes.

    4. Oh man, when I was getting married, one of my bridesmaids called me and berated me about how I wasn’t “making her feel special” with respect to my wedding planning. I cried in the middle of Trader Joe’s.

      Weddings can bring out the best and the worst in people.

      1. Oof, Ring Theory should definitely apply to wedding planning. It sucks that on top of all the pressure to Do Everything Amazing But Also Totally Not Care, you also end up managing the very complicated feelings of your guests that weddings seem to bring up (that likely don’t even have that much to do with the couple!). My maid of honor spent the whole night complaining and pouting because we had a co-ed night out with our (very small) wedding party. She felt my fiance was “crashing my bachelorette party” and basically treated the night like a huge disappointment to HER. Hey, I don’t know, maybe you could have planned a bachelorette party instead of shitting on what I came up with?

      2. I would have fired that bridesmaid and not looked back. What a horrible thing to do to someone who is honouring you by having you in their wedding party.

  14. (Everyone in my post is fine and safe)

    As someone who was in the path of the eye! Not in the path of the eye! In the path of the eye! Suddenly not! No weather at all! WAIT, ACTUALLY SUDDENLY FLOODED IN AND COULDN’T DRIVE OUT! Now it’s an hour later and everything’s fine and birds are singing! OH WAIT THE RIVERS ARE COMING UP. over the last two weeks – look, LW, I think you made the right choice not to travel into the potential path. I would have done the same thing. This Weather Is Not For Fucking Around With.

    At the same time, as someone who was all of the above over the course of nine days – plus petrified with fear for relatives closer to landfall – we are all seized with hurricane madness right now and are still EXTREMELY CRANKY, as a group of people. We are stressed the eff out.

    Layer that on top of someone’s wedding being pretty actively ruined by the storm and, just – I personally am very risk averse and I think your friend behaved badly, but I also think that the Captain is right and the best course is to accept that your friend was having a bad time even if she wasn’t directly stormed on, and wait longer for that bad time to be over before making some gentle, congratulatory contact.

    I am of two minds about whether you need to apologize for not checking in before cancelling. On the one hand, as someone who was/was not/was again in the path of the damn eyewall, it was really frustrating to have so many people just sort of condemn a tri-state area and insist that NONE OF IT was PASSABLE (especially since the storm ended up in Pennsylvania. Storms are weird!). So I can hear some potential frustration for the bride in people just cancelling because she’s in a state the storm might go near.

    On the other hand, like: you had to make a call about your own safety and you have a right to make that call really conservatively. And without the benefit of seeing all the information that the Captain has – it might have been just as stressful for the bride to have to act as the National Hurricane Center for all of her guests when the situation was so rapidly emergent.

    1. Hi neighbor blurfts!

      OP, on Monday the 17th we got tornadoes between the NC/VA border and Richmond. They were likely anytime after landfall on Friday, anywhere on the NE side of the storm (ie, Wilmington to Raleigh to Richmond and anything east). I tracked this bcs I live in that area (all good here).

      YOU MADE THE RIGHT CALL. If for no other reason than we needed your hotel room. THANK YOU for not coming. Seriously, THANK YOU.

      Yeah, it sucks that your friend had such a bad wedding weekend, but that is not your fault. It’s Florence. She made a whole lot of suck. Be patient and kind with yourself and your friend. Disasters cause a lot of stress, and hurricanes are very wide-spread, slow disasters. Cap’s advice is good, focus on the ‘take care of yourself’ part first. Your friend is still busy and stressed, give her time to unwind.

      1. Right? I’m not trying to hurricane shame people who went on with their lives – like I said, I had relatives who didn’t evacuate for reasons that are way too personal for me to use them as internet fodder. But I’m also not sorry that literally anyone stayed off roads and out of hotel rooms that evacuees might need with a few hours’ warning.

    2. Personally, I don’t think that OP has to apologize. Maybe this is less sympathetic than I ought to be, but: the bride’s reaction, while understandable for someone who was disappointed and angry and under a lot of stress, was still really shitty. And if you tell someone you’re ending your friendship with them because they can’t make your wedding (which, WHAT.), it’s on you to make the first overture should you decide later that maybe that was a bit of an overreaction.

  15. All I can say is that ‘weddings change people’. I don’t know else to say it except that I’ve experienced it first hand, secondhand from others, and thirdhand from stories (online and otherwise). Sometimes they and others can get past whatever kind of damage was done and sometimes it’s not possible. I think the Cap’s advice is spot on: wait a while until feelings have cooled, reach out with a goodwill gesture, and then let it go. I was very close with a woman who I literally could not think a good thought about until 5 years after her wedding, and I’m still trying to let negative thoughts go. It’s hard, it’s unfortunate, but it is most definitely how it is.

  16. We get to decide what the right decision is, for us, at the moment, even if others don’t agree. They don’t have to live with yourself, you do.

    Story: The week before a planned February trip to Florida to visit a friend, my bi-polar daughter was (nearly) admitted to hospital in a manic episode. The pharmacist had given her the wrong medication (fast-acting lithium instead of slow-release), her new husband was at a loss on what to do, and I made the decision to cancel my trip and go to my daughter. I cancelled the tickets then called my friend.

    She has a son with similar problems, she’s been through the mill with him, I thought she’d understand and support me. Instead, she started yelling and then screaming. (I could hear her husband in the background saying “S, you can’t say that. S, you need to calm down.”) I eventually passed the phone to my husband and went upstairs to cry.

    When they returned to Canada in the spring, I invited she and her husband for dinner. The first words out of her mouth were, “Are you still mad at me?” I was never mad at her, I was devastated by the behaviour of what I thought to be a close friend, an only friend really. I said, that no, of course not, I had never been mad at her. But couldn’t really bring myself to say that I had been and was still deeply hurt.

    She didn’t ask about our daughter.

    Ordinarily, dinner invites were reciprocal, and they had a new place that they’d been excited about showing us. But I haven’t heard from her since.

    Three years later, I’m still not sure if I lost a friend that night, or lost the illusion of a friend.

    But I am confident that I would not still have a daughter, or a beautiful 10 month old granddaughter, if I hadn’t dropped everything and gone to her that day.

    1. Catherine from Canada, I think you made such really important points.

      LW, we make the best decisions that we can, with the information and skills that we have AT THAT MOMENT.

      We may find out later that we made a choice that didn’t have the effect we intended, or that wasn’t in line with our values, or that the circumstances changed/weren’t what we thought they were.

      We cannot – please don’t – judge our past actions using our current information/skills/stability.

      You’re allowed to make a decision and then not like it. You’re allowed to do that without shame.

      Second, Catherine, your friend seemed like she thought “I acted so badly, I’m so ashamed, Catherine must be furious with me” and acted as if that were true, but was too ashamed to bring up things that she thought you’d be furious with her about (‘how dare you ask about my daughter NOW, you weren’t at all concerned about her then!) and didn’t have the courage to do it. And then she doesn’t know you were devastated instead of angry, and cried at this rejection (instead of support probably desperately needed) from a friend at a time where your daughter’s life was at stake, and what you want from her now.

      Not saying this is what happened – but it’s making me think about assumptions we all make.

      I wonder how often that happens. Probably a lot.

      1. Lizards80, you know, I’ve never thought of it that way. Maybe she was (and still is) just embarrassed about how she behaved, and as more and more time goes by, it gets harder and harder to reach out.
        Maybe I’ll do the reaching out. Just once, just to see.

        1. The great thing is, you can try it and then see what happens and how you feel. And it doesn’t commit you to anything.

          What a heart-breaking experience to have a friend treat you like that, and not to get the support you needed at that time. Sometimes people are dumb and cruel by accident rather than intent, but it doesn’t make much difference to how you felt then. I’m glad things sound like they’ve been getting better for your daughter.

  17. Healthy, positive relationships can recover from bad decisions, snappishness, and hurt feelings. If this is a good one, and if you follow the Captain’s steps to fix your end, you two will come out of this okay.

  18. This statement jumped out at me:

    I considered her one of my closest friends until she got engaged and like a bad cliche stopped communicating with her only single friend.

    It sounds to me that there may have been some underlying problems in your relationship with your friend even before the wedding weekend. From that single sentence, I get the sense that
    1) You felt like your friend put some distance between you upon getting engaged, and
    2) Your own singleness is a sore spot for you.

    I like the Captain’s advice for making an apology for not being able to to go the wedding. However, I think there are a lot of feelings about this friend, yourself, and relationships in general that you should unpack if you hope to resume your previous closeness.

    1. This stood out to me too, and I totally get where the OP is coming from because I’ve felt that with SO many friends (36 yr old single woman here, so it happens). Sometimes it does feel like as everyone gets married and starts having children, the single people get left out of all the coupley/children things. And I feel like maybe this is putting some extra sting in those text messages. Like they were confirmation of a friendship ending. But it does not have to be. Sometimes people go MIA during wedding planning because there is just so much to do. One of my closest friends (I was actually in her wedding) did not want to impose upon anyone by asking for help, so she did everything herself which meant we basically didn’t hang out for months on end. So I agree that it’s worth reflecting on your relationship. Was this the only time there seemed to be distance between you? Or were there problems before, and the distance brought them to light? I’m not giving the bride a free pass here. I probably would have cancelled too, and I’m feeling a little more harsh about her reaction than the Captain. But when a friendship is worth salvaging, it does mean cutting your friend some slack and recognizing that sometimes we’re hardest on the people we know will still love us.

      1. Yeah, it’s no fun being the only one left who hasn’t hit a particular milestone—like marriage or kids—if you’re as eager as anyone else to get there. It also occurred to me that the LW’s friend might have eased up on contact because of wedding planning. She may have known that relationships were a sore spot for the LW and didn’t want to seem like she was rubbing it in.

        However, while I’m sympathetic to the bride’s upset at having the day she had been planning for ages ruined by circumstances beyond anyone’s control, I do also feel the need to repeat my mantra about weddings: The wedding day is a really special and important day for the people getting married and their families (sometimes; I’ve also seen parents of the marrying couple be pretty blasé). It is not an important day for anyone else—at best, it is a really nice party they went to. With that in mind, it is both predictable and reasonable that a bunch of people were not wiling to risk travelling into hurricane weather in order to attend.

  19. As someone who went through Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Isaac while living in New Orleans, I completely understand and fully support your cancelling because HURRICANE. Hurricanes are scary, and fairly unpredictable in exactly where they’ll land until the last minute. I was watching Florence’s path closely last week, and it looked like it was going to be much worse than it ended up being (thankfully!). So I think you made the right choice with the information you had available to you. I can only imagine how stressed the bride must have been, too, with probably lots of people cancelling at the same time she’s worried about her own and her family’s safety. I hope you two are able to talk it out and patch things up. All the best to you!

    1. The reasons Florence wasn’t worse (and looking at Wilmington, I’m still not sure how bad it’s going to get – the water’s contaminated) are:
      1) Wilmington is 1/10th the size of NO,
      2) Katrina scared us so much that most people left Wilmington, going to places like Richmond
      3) Our governor supported the local mayors and evacuations – the state and city had busses taking people from Wilmington to Raleigh / Durham
      4) We worked hard to clear out flood prone areas after Fran, Floyd and Matthew. HUD under Obama bought out a lot of homes and turned them into parks.

      You have my deepest sympathy.

  20. Truly, the only villain was the weather. It just sucks that a potentially life-threatening storm collided with an event that one can’t simply reschedule on a whim. This is nobody’s fault – not yours and not the brides. I agree – give this a bit of time. Let her settle into newlyweddedness. And please reach out to your healthcare providers or a trusty friend to help you work out what’s going on in your headspace. If your friendship is solid, you’ll both find your way back to each other in time.

  21. Oh my gosh I so so so agree with the Captain. I would NOT try to fix it right now, even though I would be DYING TO. I would give it some time. I would send the apology and present.

    Also, it sounds like things went bad with you guys when she started wedding-planning. I have been the wedding-planner and I have been the friend of many wedding-planners, and what I like to do is just sort of mentally erase those periods of time from the histories of the friendships. Almost no one acts normally while planning a wedding—but then afterward, things go back to normal. If you were great friends before then, and then while planning a wedding she was out of touch (perhaps because of being distracted/busy, perhaps deliberately trying not to rub your face in it, perhaps getting super-obsessed with acquaintances who ALSO wanted to talk wedding-wedding-wedding all the time), my guess is that when this wedding was over you two would have gone back to being just as close. If possible, I’d separate out the “she seemed to drop me while planning a wedding” (which I think of as a temporary lapse of reality that makes a lot of people act strangely) from the specific fight you guys just had (with you canceling and her being pissy about it), instead of feeling as if the latter is the final straw of the former.

    1. I do sympathize with OP that for an anxious person, “do nothing for a month (or three months, or whatever)” is really hard to hear. The uncertainty and sense that things are unresolved can almost feel worse than a bad outcome.

      1. Agreed. I’d be climbing the walls (I’m an anxious FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT person.)

        This doesn’t mean it isn’t good advice, and I honestly have broken some things that might have been mendable, with trying to FIX IT NOW.

        But I sympathize with the LW’s feelings on the subject, and how hard it is to let these things rest for a while, when you’re dealing with anxiety and distress about the situation.

  22. Mostly just echoing a thread Captain tugged out already, but it seems like you are taking everything about this too personally, LW. And not just her reaction to you canceling (I really appreciate the visual of 100 people doing the same thing to her at that moment! It’s likely to be so very true and paints a good picture of her stress) but also the very opening of your letter re: her dropping contact with her “only single friend.” It’s very likely she just became buried under wedding stress, but you took it as her 1. only dropping contact with you and 2. dropping it specifically because you’re single. And I say this with a lot of sympathy, but frankly, I think those ideas came exclusively from your anxiety. It’s often helpful to imagine that other people are likely to be as stressed/busy/etc as you, if not more taking into account how big Wedding Stuff is, and then respond accordingly.

    1. To be fair, we don’t know how personal bride’s angry texts got. I tend to see the statement about the lack of communication between bride and LW during wedding planning as being one of the reasons that the angry texts were so unexpected. I see it kind of like “Bride doesn’t talk to me anymore, so I guess I’m not that important to her to anymore” and then finding out “Holy shit, I had no idea she would be so pissed off that I cancelled because of a hurricane!” I appreciate how stressful it all must have been for the bride, but bride’s stress does not outweigh the LW’s experience of having a friend go MIA then coming back out of the blue with angry and hurtful texts. LW’s experience was a very personal experience, and while it is kind for the LW (and us) to have empathy for bride, LW is not obligated to “not take this personally”, especially when LW’s cancellation due to HURRICANE was obviously taken way too personally by bride.

      1. This. Dropping off the radar a bit while planning a huge complicated event is pretty normal, but I’m not terribly sympathetic to the idea that the stress of wedding planning gives people a free pass to ignore people one minute and then freak out on them the next. ‘I didn’t talk to you for months and now I’m going to lose my shit at you for cancelling on me’ isn’t acceptable behavior in any other context, so I don’t see why it should be here. LW didn’t handle this perfectly, but IMO her friend is the one who really screwed up here.

  23. This was a jaw dropping respond. I understand you tried to point out that both sides were wrong and tried to show the brides perspective. But wow way to blame the lw so much. And you were jumping to conclusions and making a lot of assumptions, and some very lame excuses (so many excuses) for the bride. Who exploded at her friend for not wanting to risk her life for a wedding. Like wow. This was very poorly handled.

    Generally you are so good at showing sympathy for the people writing in, even in situations where most people will struggle to find sympathy. I don’t know what got into you with this response Jennifer but this is very unlike you. I get the point you were trying to make but you were unnecessarily harsh on the lw and overly apologetic towards the bride.

    1. I think you are entirely wrong. There was a lot of compassion for everyone involved in this response, but also if you’ve planned your own wedding (I assume it’s less stressful for actual professional wedding planners, or why would they be doing it for a living), it’s pretty goddamn stressful not to mention expensive as hell, which adds its own layer of stress frosting to the stress cake. I think that cutting the bride a break is pretty much essential.

      1. I have planned my own wedding, not to mention been very involved in the wedding planning of close friends and I’m pretty much in agreement with Ruler of cats here. Planning a big stressful expensive party does not give you free rein to be a jerk to your friends, and I honestly don’t think that LW should feel like she has to be the one to reach out if her friend told her that she was ‘done with her’.

    2. I disagree – I think this is one of the best CA responses ever! It made me view the situation from both perspectives and did not just confirm “your friend is a jerk, you are 100% absolved” but showed both people were humans who behaved in human manners, and it was all forgivable. I don’t see at all how she blamed the lw at all, instead I think she did exactly what you said – showed sympathy where people would struggle to find it, in this case to both people. I was kinda mad at the bride and expecting the response to basically confirm that only, but instead it showed me a different side from what I was thinking (as someone who has never planned a wedding.)

      1. Ditto. Some compassion for the bride’s hypothetical stress is okay, but I don’t think it’s good for the LW to bend over backwards rationalizing and justifying her friend’s mean outburst. LW did not deserve to be treated like that, full stop.

        1. I don’t see where the response suggested that LW bend over backwards. It laid out some possibilities that might keep LW from feeling like the reaction was 100% her fault for long enough to make one last-ditch effort at dealing with the situation. If the bride remains unreasonably offended, then okay; hopefully by then, LW will have dealt with some of the other issues that are making this feel extra-painful enough to take it in stride and move on.

          1. I get what you and so many other commenters are saying, and at the same time… My abuse-ometer pegged out when I read this letter, and maybe that is just projecting, but I trust it. Captain’s response feels a bit to me like, “Okay, that was not good, but your spouse was stressed because of this extra, super-duper event. So maybe just hang in for awhile and see if they hit you again. If they do, then it will be time to get divorced.”

            Can anyone help me understand why this is not the case? Or why it is a good idea, even if it is what LW asked for?

          2. Enigma- maybe because hitting and a non-physical outburst aren’t very easily comparible? (Yes, I know the bride was on the phone but I would hope you’re not saying ‘oh but she would have hit LW if they’d been talking in person.)

            If you’re going to compare this to a marriage for some reason then why not say emotional abuse in a marriage? Maybe because most healthy, non-abusive marriages will at some point have someone get stressed about an exceptional situation and lash out, saying things they regret, and the couple still work things out, so it doesn’t work so well as a comparison? I’m not saying what the bride did was ok or that she doesn’t owe the LW an apology and your reasons for having your abuse-ometer set off are no doubt very valid and personal, I don’t want to step on your toes, but I don’t think comparing this to violent domestic abuse in a marriage is at all fair.

          3. Well, the captain can see the content of those texts and we can’t, so maybe they didn’t read as abusive? All we know is that the bride is “done” and doesn’t want to be contacted right now, and wasn’t polite about it. There’s a fair bit of space between regrettably-rude and verbal abuse.

            Also, this was an isolated event, not part of a pattern.

    3. I think the Capt. did an amazing job. When I was reading the letter I was thinking about the bride and what a nightmare her wedding had probably become and how many other people had probably canceled and I was really glad when I read the response and the compassion she had for everyone in the situation.

      I think our society does women a huge disservice by putting so much pressure on them to produce a picture perfect wedding that will be THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF YOUR LIFE and THE HAPPIEST YOU WILL EVER BE and YOU WILL BE A BEAUTIFUL PRINCESS. But then also turns around with stories of evil bridezillas that torment their friends and despite the massive amount of pressure on you, if you do not behave calmly and rationally and give give give to everyone your time and attention and changes to your wedding then you might risk being labeled as one of those awful bridezillas and you will live in infamy on the internet as THAT BRIDE.

      Which isn’t to say that anyone should get a pass to act horribly, or have crazy expectations, but just to point out that as a society we put a LOT of pressure on brides and then condemn them with a vengeance when they crack from it. And ya ya, it is just a day and you should relax and enjoy it, and if something goes wrong you will still be married, which can be easy to say but really hard to really convince yourself of in real life and overwrite all the paranoia that society has programmed into us since we were handed our first perfect wedding barbie when we were five.

    4. I disagree. I thought the compassion for the bride was an excellent and even helpful point to make. LW seems to be struggling with a lot of self-blame in this situation. I thought the reminder that the bride’s disproportionate reaction may not actually be about the LW so much as the stress of All The Wedding Stuff was pretty helpful, since it gives more room to say, “I didn’t do anything wrong. This was just a weird day, and I can forgive her if she can forgive me.” It opens the door for reconciliation much more than favoring one side would have done.

      1. “LW seems to be struggling with a lot of self-blame in this situation. I thought the reminder that the bride’s disproportionate reaction may not actually be about the LW so much as the stress of All The Wedding Stuff was pretty helpful, since it gives more room to say, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

        I particularly like that you raised this point. I’m wondering if the reason why OP was so hurt is because zie felt like CA was saying that LW deserved the bride’s outburst. I like how you pointed out that by talking about what was really on the bride’s mind, that not only enables LW to feel compassion for the bride but also enables LW to not blame zirself so much.

        1. THANK YOU. I don’t think the LW deserved the bride’s outburst, at all. I do think the LW is taking the fight really, really hard, is in the midst of a lot of other stress & anxiety, and I want them to stop blaming themselves or thinking there is something deeply personal and targeted to them, specifically, going on here. If the LW wants to never contact this person again and decide “You’re done? Well, I’m done, too, because that was unacceptable!” fine. But if 50 people ditch your wedding at the same time, even if it’s for a really good reason, maybe the 49th texter isn’t getting a bunch of reassuring ‘it’s no big deal!’ noises right at that *exact* moment.

          Maybe this one shitty day doesn’t have to be the whole story here, and they have love for each other that makes it worth giving it a little time and cutting some slack. The LW also asked me “how do I fix this?” and not “how do I tell her to fuck off.” You maybe fix it by giving it some time and apologizing for the things that she said upset her, and seeing if she will be similarly self-aware and forgiving and apologetic in turn. You don’t chase her down or ask her for more reassurances or self-justify your choices (even if they were right) or escalate the conflict.

          1. For what it’s worth, I think your answer to this letter is one of, if not the, wisest, most compassionate you’ve ever written.
            It behooves us to remember that everyone has their own story, and a sincere apology can be a good thing because then you know you did what you could, regardless of the ultimate outcome.

            You rock, Captain!

    5. And you were jumping to conclusions and making a lot of assumptions

      I just want to point out that the post explicitly says there was supplemental reading (the text log) which the Captain had access to and which we do not, because both parties didn’t consent to the posting of that material.

    6. As someone who thinks OP was 100% right to cancel, and did all the right things, I also think CA gave a good response to the question that OP asked: “How do I fix this”. Not, ‘How do I convince my friend I was right’, because that’s not going to fix the friendship.

      OP’s self care and patience may give the friendship room to revive, and CA pointed out ways to help OP reframe and have more patience.

  24. My husband’s cousin got met and married his wife in a fairly whirlwind kind of way. They decided to get married on New Years Eve – which was a Wednesday that year – and the night came with a pretty bad snow storm. We lived about an hour away and could only get there by highway driving. This ticked three of my anxiety boxes: traveling by car during a storm, long distance on a busy highway at night, on a night filled known for impaired drivers. I opted to stay home. My husband went to the wedding but he knew that I was a anxiety riddled mess at home so he didn’t stay as long as he would have. His cousin was upset with me for a while but eventually forgave me. It took some time but I totally understood where he was coming from. I well remembered my own wedding and how the littlest thing set me off that last week. To this day thinking about seating charts and my grandmother makes my blood start to boil. I agree with the comments that lean toward if your friendship was solid this can be repaired.

  25. Thank you as always, Captain, for your compassionate responses. As I was reading the letter I was getting all worked up on behalf of the LW–but reading your response reminded me of all the hidden factors in this equation, like the fact that the bride has probably had to have this conversation with dozens of other people already! Nobody was at their best here, but hopefully it can be mended.

    1. Wow, didn’t see the response above me until after I posted, but yikes. I couldn’t disagree more with Ruler of cats.

  26. I would just give her a wide berth, honestly. Send her an apology and a gift from her registry and then don’t wait for her response, if that.

    Is she the type of person to throw out bombastic sentences and then apologize later? Is she also someone who apologizes by pretending stuff didn’t happen? Then your gift registry thank you note she cranks out might be her apology [“Thank you for the platter. The hubby and I enjoy the cheese we put on it.”], but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that since those take a while to receive (because there are so many of those).

    Think of it as a long pause on your friendship, if that. I don’t blame you AT ALL for declining to fly into Hurricane Florence. Every goddamn airline save for one Allegiant flight flew around that weather system. I had a mixer this weekend with a lot of people flying in from out of town and I thought many people wouldn’t come b/c of the storm path. As it was 15 people out of 150 did not show up.

    Just be glad both of you are safe (there was flooding and tornadoes in Richmond as a result of the hurricane.)


    I’ve been to quite a few horribly expensive complicated weddings where most guests have to fly to AND done hurricane preparations AND traveled through life threatening floods a couple of time. (Not all at once)

  27. 45 miles from Richmond here and former Florida resident during the year of Charlie, Frances and Jean which directly hit us in a space of 6 weeks. Even with all our scientific weather stuff hurricanes are hard to predict. I remember one in Florida – I think it was Frances – where everyone on the west coast of Florida evacuated to the east coast and the hurricane switched at the last moment and hit on the east. I also do outside art festivals and have backed out of a couple due to a possible hurricane. I backed out of one last year where I had to cancel the hotel for the following weekend by Tuesday or else I would be paying for the whole hotel stay ($1000). I decided to back out, the hurricane turned out to sea away from the show. Oops. I remember calling the director to cancel out and she was very abrupt; basically fine, thanks, we’ll miss you, you do realize you won’t be getting a refund on the booth, click. I can see both sides now. I was stressed, she was stressed, people don’t act well when they’re stressed. I love the Captain’s explanation and plan.

    For what it is worth, depending on when you where planning on leaving Richmond, I think you made the right call. We got hit on Monday and Tuesday, certainly not has bad as NC, but we had several tornados, washed out roads, and two deaths.

    1. Ten. I went all reference-librarian and looked it up. Ten tornadoes in the Richmond area.
      Anyone second-guessing the chance to travel towards a hurricane might want to scroll through these… especially look for “Funnel cloud over the Richmond skyline.” And imagine driving in a city you don’t know with THAT in your field of vision.

      I feel sorry for the bride — but I lost 10% of my wedding guests when the flu hit our region early, and we said “I understand”. (One of my friends has 3 kids and “only” one of them was sick — and she felt like she had to apologize for thinking maybe she shouldn’t come. WHAT? Take care of your little girl, you do NOT have to leave her to come to my wedding. Even if gramma’s willing to babysit, a feverish 5yo just wants mommy&daddy.)

      Change table count? Check. Throw seating arrangements out the window? Check!
      The only one that annoyed me? My husband’s work “friend” who was reminded by the site staff that smoking is restricted to the porch (covered, screened, and a 70° day) and left in a huff before the meal!

  28. With regards to apologies, I concur with the Capt on not detailing everything that stressed you out and caused the bad communication, etc.

    When making an apology, remember, apologies are more like gifts to the person you’re apologizing to, NOT a method of self-flagellation in an effort to absolve yourself of guilt.

  29. Hypothetically, would the bride have reacted with the same anger and temper as she did had LW changed plans several days in advance? I handed my phone to someone for the day, I was in no position to answer questions or do much of anything that required that, so I do believe the overreaction was the bride thinking about the cost per plate, time she spent curating the guest list, and general stress of the day. It is very possible that after she cools down and gets well out of wedding mode, she will realize it’s one day out of the rest of both of your lives and that one day shouldn’t sully every day on either side of it.

    1. I did the same phone handoff (or, to be fair, I asked my bridesmaids “is it okay if I let this go now?” while quietly, desperately leaking tears in the hair salon chair, and they took it away from me in an act of mercy).

      I don’t know if this is generally applicable, but at least in my lived/observed experience, a wedding day is *raw*. All the feelings are up there, on your skin: the vulnerabilities, the want, the anxieties. Everything about the landscape of my emotions was magnified by about a thousand — and I can’t even imagine how much that’s exacerbated by a hurricane coming in.

      Which, well, tl;dr I agree with most everybody. LW, I don’t think this is unforgivable or she hates you. It’s just a hard situation on an already hard day, and with good faith on both sides, probably quite plausible to eventually mend.

  30. Look, I get that we’re not supposed to be judgey here, but I really feel the need to reaffirm that no amount of wedding-related stress, or any other stress, makes it okay to send a series of angry texts in response to someone’s reasonable attempts to communicate and apologize. If you have time to write an angry text storm, you have time to take a deep breath and think “maybe I should just leave this alone right now.” Since there are a number of people in the comments who are familiar with wedding stress, I’m throwing this out as someone who has recent experience with being someone’s stress ball (in this case for my boss), because I said something they didn’t want to hear while they were super stressed out. It’s not cool.

    I get the hanging up the phone thing, though. While hanging up without saying “can’t talk right now” or “I can’t deal with this now, sorry” is generally considered aggressive in our culture, I am a firm believer that if you can’t deal to the point where literally anything that comes out of your mouth is going to be clouded with anger, then walk away. Just hang up and deal later.

    I’m just saying, LW, maybe you should have said something earlier, and maybe people make mistakes when they’re in a maddening situation like your friend was, but that doesn’t mean your friend’s behaviour is your fault or that you deserved it (in case you’re tempted to think that).

    For the record, I agree with other commenters who think that this might (hopefully) fall under the category of bygones later.

    1. ~If you have time to write an angry text storm, you have time to take a deep breath and think “maybe I should just leave this alone right now.”~

      This. Unrelated situation, but I briefly lost cell service last week, when a family member was trying to reach me. They were calling/texting regarding an important (though not urgent) matter, and I would have felt bad for not being aware and able to respond immediately, were it not for the fact that when my service came back, I got the entire avalanche of angry texts and voicemails at once.

      This family member has subjected me to screaming/swearing/physically-intimidating temper fits many times in the past, to the point that I hold very little affectionate regard for them anymore. But the little shred of ‘Well, in person, *mayyyybe* they get so overwhelmed and frustrated that they lash out without thinking’ benefit of the doubt I ever tried to hold on to has pretty much vanished in The Age Of Text. (Not the first incident like this.)

      I stared at those messages this time and thought, wow. You repeatedly turned your ANGRYCAPITALIZATION on and off, you fought your autocorrect that doesn’t supply those particular words for you, you waited patiently for the voicemail beep to start screaming (several times), you sure did put a lot of effort into making me feel maximally horrible.

      Due to this person’s presence in my life, I admittedly have a lower tolerance threshold for displays of temper than is probably normal, but in LW’s shoes, I would not feel guilty for declining to make the first post-wedding apology overtures – and if the bride makes them herself, to take my time in balancing the value her friendship adds to my life against the awareness that she’s capable of being this cruel.

      (Disclaimer, of course, that I’m quite probably projecting here, especially without knowing more about the contents of the texts and the bride’s general personality and past treatment of people – it’s the LW who has the knowledge of these things, and they deserve to trust their judgment in whatever way they decide to move forward.)

    2. I have to disagree to a point. No, it’s not okay. However, given the situation I probably wouldn’t have had enough processing cycles (regardless of whether I was LW or the Bride) to be able to take a deep breath and step back. Time isn’t the only factor when a meltdown occurs.

      LW, this is another one of those places where I think it’s safe to tell your brain weasels they can jump right off a bridge with the narrative they’re trying to put around the whole Friend Getting Married situation. You can narrate your own actions, but you’re a first person narrator (third person limited at best).

      1. Sigh. Premature comment submission.

        You only have your perspective. Follow the Captain’s advice, give both of you space, and let what happens from there happen.

    3. For me, this would be a case of Everyone Gets One, which is my somewhat hyperbolic way of looking at things like forgiveness. Basically, to me, if Friend was normally a reasonable person and didn’t fly off the handle, I’d forgive one instance of this type of behaviour, brought on by really extreme circumstances. Most people have said/done regrettable things, especially in the heat of the moment, and often relating that behaviour later sounds completely out of proportion…but at the time, with everything leading up to it, it doesn’t feel that way. However. If this behaviour was part of a pattern, if she’s cut off LW before for perceived offenses, if she hasn’t but this feels like the icing on a cake leading up to it, I’d be much less likely to say bygones. If somebody acts in a way that I see as wildly out of character, I’m not going to take the advice I see some places and take it as “who they truly are”. I’ll figure they *something* else is going on. I don’t think anyone is only who they are in their worst moments.

      But if it’s more like “oh, this doesn’t surprise me, it was going to happen”? I’d probably back off.

  31. As someone who also got married in inclement weather with a lot of relatives who love to turn RSVPs into cliffhangers, I feel for the bride! As someone with a tendency to obsess when my friends seem upset with me, I feel for the LW! This sounds like an all-around painful situation.

    Something that I’ve been trying to internalize is the fact that when you’re communicating with people via text, you don’t always have a great idea of how many other people are doing the same thing at the same time. From your perspective, LW, you tried to explain a difficult decision to your friend and she froze you out. But from her perspective, it’s possible that yours was the 50th call she had to field that day, on top of dealing with all the other stressful stuff that comes with planning a wedding (seriously, it’s SO stressful! Even someone determined to be a Chill Bride™ will probably have a few private meltdowns!), and she has probably spent the entirety of her emotional energy processing her emotions, her fiance’s emotions, her family’s emotions, her friends who cancelled earlier’s emotions, etc. etc. etc.

    I don’t know if this relationship can be salvaged. It seemed like the two of you were maybe already drifting apart before all this happened? But I think it might help slow the brain weasels down a little if you stop telling yourself “I screwed up so badly that my friend has good cause to hate me forever” and started changing that narrative to “I was inadvertently an additional source of stress during a stressful time, and my friend’s reaction took me by surprise, so we both need to take a time out from each other now.”

  32. I think I read this situation differently than the Captain does. Your friend hasn’t been communicating with you since she’s been engaged which is what, a few months? A year? A few years? You might not be that close anymore. And I agree that weddings and natural disasters are stressful, but for me, the people I want in my life are people who treat me with respect even when they’re stressed. I think if you do manage to salvage the friendship with her, that’s how it’s going to continue to be. She’ll treat you badly when she’s stressed. And stressful things happen sometimes, so it’s going to come up.

    And on top of that, she said she’s done with you. She doesn’t want to be your friend anymore. Her words match her actions here. I don’t see any reason to doubt her. My best advice is to let her go. As painful as it is, friendships end sometimes. Work on managing your feelings about. Work on learning to handle emotional pain without injuring yourself. Put your effort into that instead of into trying to fix the friendship.

    1. I agree with this. When I react badly under stress to someone I profess to love I apologize as soon as possible for my bad behavior. I expect the same consideration from the people I consider friends, and those who cannot do that are allowed to drift away.

    2. I, too, feel much less compassion for the bride than I do for LW. It seems to me that an awful lot of bad behavior is being overlooked because of weddddddding! (And yes, I’ve been there and done that.) The engaged couple have invited people to attend their event, they are hosts, not celebrities for a day. Hosts have at least a minimal obligation to feel concern for their guests’ safety and comfort. Last minute cancels are the bane of hosting, but if you can’t deal, don’t host.

      If I were in LW’s position, invited to attend as a guest and not a member of the wedding party, and had not had communication from the bride for a long period prior to the wedding, the last thing I would think of is to contact the bride before cancelling. I would be thinking bride is stressed and has too many balls in the air to want to hear about my travel worries, it’s my decision to make. Also, LW lost her travelling companion, so was facing any possible travel disasters alone. That would have done me in, right there.

      Also, I feel there are some things you just don’t say to someone unless they are absolutely true, namely “I’m done and don’t want to hear from you again.” Clearly, only LW knows how valuable bride’s friendship is to her and must make her own decision about whether to try and reconcile. If she wants to, then Captain’s scenario is an excellent suggestion. But for me, I would feel a line had been crossed. Not everything deserves to be forgiven, especially when bride seems to feel no need to apologize.

      1. These are some good points. Especially throwing in a hurricane. Sure, no doubt the bride was extremely stressed, but LW can’t have been the only person to withdraw due to the hurricane possibilities. LW didn’t summon the hurricane deliberately with weird arcane weather-magic. I feel like the bride lost sight of the fact that the worst-case scenario here wasn’t “my friends are bailing on me and it will probably mean my wedding becomes expensive and disappointing”, it was literal loss of life.

      2. We have a family friend who used to work for a popular wedding venue, known for its lovely gardens, here in Houston. She never ran out of stories about people who tried to save money by renting the gardens but not the building (IMO this should not even have been an option, but whatever) . . . and then it rained, because that happens a lot on the Gulf Coast in the summer. June 1 through November 1 is hurricane season and it’s understood that any outdoor events should have bad weather plans.

        Storms kill. If it looked like a hurricane was going to hit my wedding, I’d be calling people and telling them not to come so they wouldn’t be stranded on the road somewhere or drowning in underpasses (it happens). If somebody ghosted me once she got engaged (engaged does not necessarily equal “busy with wedding plans”) and then berated me for not wanting do drown, yeah, I think I’d be done with that.

  33. This has happened to me twice. Not the missed a wedding because of a hurricane part. The super close friend stopped communicating with me part. But we’d been best friends, and I was invited to the wedding. I got treated like a disagreeable relative, a duty invite, when all indications considering how close we’d been should have been towards my being in the wedding party. I played my part, behaved admirably, made no demands, sent a gift, figured whatever misunderstanding we’d had would be cleared up in time because we’d been like sisters. During the time preceding the wedding and for some years after, I tried: giving her space, keeping in touch regularly so she’d know I’d always be there for her, being mildly assertive that I’d like return contact, forgiving her immediately for her angry outbursts directed towards me, forgiving her immediately for her angry outbursts against my other close friends, giving more space, apologizing for whatever I’d done that might have led to the estrangement, more forgiving her, and finally, groveling. I’m not sorry I did any of that (maybe the groveling a little). For all I knew at the time it could have turned out differently. But in hindsight and with what I know now, I can see that nothing was going to fix it. I’m glad I tried.

    Do follow the Captain’s advice. Don’t kick yourself too hard if it doesn’t work out the way you hope. This is someone who had stopped communicating with you BEFORE the hurricane.

  34. Hi, I’ll note that a lot of times people who live in hurricane/tropical storm prone areas are used to them and prepared to ride them out and deal with them. To someone who isn’t used to hurricanes it can seem really scary and severe, while your friend, like a lot of people in the south east, might have suspected the whole time that the storm would downgrade and not be as severe as people were expecting. This storm has caused debilitating flooding in the Carolinas and parts of Virginia were under voluntary evacuation orders from my understanding, so I can see why you decided against going.

    1. I don’t know how it played out in all the storm-affected areas (a few hours away from Richmond here), but my region flipped out: respectable media outlets were saying “Remember that terrible flood years ago? This will bring THREE TIMES the amount of rain! Spread the word!” and I had a customer-service person tell me in all seriousness “We’ll schedule your delivery for [date], assuming any homes are standing by then.”

      Sure, I thought it was probably overwrought (and it really, really was), but who wants their last words to be “I didn’t beliiiiieeeeve!”? So I bought some bottled water and nonperishable food and said encouraging things to my cat.

      All this to say that even parts of the southeast were panicking unreasonably, including the newscasters responsible for informing us. I don’t blame LW for staying away.

      1. Hi! This will be a personal derail so I understand if it needs to get modsmacked.

        I’m glad you’re okay. The first landfall of the storm on the coast took the roof off a relative’s house and then it got rained into for 5 days, so if she hadn’t evacuated she would have been without shelter. On Monday large sections of my urban, inland, uphill region were cut off by flash flooding for hours, including my house on 3 of 4 sides. River flooding is still continuing across the border of the Carolinas and major highways are still closed. Part of my family works in a coastal area and couldn’t evacuate for medical reasons and the national guard just opened a road up to them with food and supplies in the last 30 hours. As a state we’ve lost a lot of crops and a lot of chickens and about 20 human beings. We are in an unfolding natural disaster still.

        This was not an unreasonable freakout just because it mostly missed the cities it was initially aiming for. Please and thank you.

        1. Thanks for this. I get aggravated by all the “it wasn’t as bad as it could have been in [specific location], therefore it was overhyped!” It wasn’t overhyped for the three dozen people who’ve died so far, it wasn’t overhyped for the people experiencing *tens of billions* of dollars in accumulative damages so close on the tail of $15B Matthew, or for the environmental catastrophe that will keep on giving for years to come. And I say that as someone in an area which was predicted to get 26″ of Matthew rain and got a whopping… 4. I’d so much rather be informed of the probability of two freaking feet of water falling from the sky and be relieved to get 1/6th that than be told maybe, maybe not, maybe, maybe not the way we were with Florence or “nope, gonna miss us!” the way we were living down in FL all the way ’til two hours before Charley plowed its way up Port Charlotte instead of drifting towards Tampa.

          We were well informed of the damage potential and the potential area in which that could occur, and most people who could made plans accordingly. Thank goodness for that because I’d hate to know what would have happened if the media had underhyped it.

      2. Yes — someone close to me is in the military at Norfolk, had been planning to ride out the storm in Richmond, found out that Richmond would get hit harder, and wound up sheltering in place.

        It turned out not to be a big deal in Norfolk, but the *US MILITARY* thought it was serious enough to mandatory-evacuate servicemembers in areas predicted to flood.

        I was very worried, from halfway across the country, and I do not blame the LW for not feeling safe flying into the area.

        1. Some friends of mine live in Norfolk and one of them just had a baby a few weeks ago. She evacuated to stay with family in the Upper Mid-West, while her sister planned to hunker down back home in Norfolk. It was funny to watch these two sisters’ experience on social media play out as the storm thankfully mostly passed Norfolk by. The friend with the baby posted basically “WELP we feel a little silly for fleeing halfway across the country, but we have a tiny human to think about now! No regrets”

        2. I was talking about something similar with someone recently. Can’t remember how it came up, exactly, but we were discussing dorm life and its annoyances. I mentioned the time in grad school when someone in my dorm thought it was funny to pull the fire alarm four times in five hours one night, but that each time the alarm went off I got up, grabbed my meds and other vital stuff, and left the dorm. Not everyone was leaving by alarm number three, but I took it seriously. My viewpoint came from the fact that a dear friend’s house had burned down the winter before and she barely made it out alive. By alarm number three I was pretty sure these were all fakes, but I still went outside- just in case.
          I lived in DC for a number of years and there was one winter when the government shut down at least one day a month for the whole season, and frequently it turned out to be a false alarm. But then in January we had a huge storm that shut down the city. So, you never know what’s going to happen, and erring on the safe side is not the worst of ideas.

        3. YES- the Navy took the fleet out to Florida! And Washington DC was prepared to put up the temporary levee wall that shuts major roadways. The tropical storm portion alone is problematic.

          For those of us who think in terms of music…these two have been kicking around in my head since Florence barrelled in…
          Bill Staines “Louisiana Storm” (If I ever live to be a hundred,/Oh, you know that I’ll remember well, /That one time in my life, well I’d seen enough water/To put out all of the fires in hell.”)

          Johnny Cash “Five Feet High and Rising” (“Well, the rails are washed out north of town/We gotta head for higher ground/We can’t come back till the water comes down, /Five feet high and risin’)

          And of course ““When the Levee Breaks”…. most famous due to Led Zepellin’s version…but I went & googled the original. Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy. (Oh cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do no good /When the levee breaks, mama, you got to lose.)

  35. It’s sad, but you have to consider the possibility that you may not be able to reconcile with her, or that your relationship with her might not be the same, or take a very long time to mend. The friendship was already on the down side, and the mean texts show a hostility – your post too, from the second sentence. She might simply decide that she is done with you, as she said, howewer unfair or out of proportion it may seem. You have to accept and respect her choice, you can’t help it. She might recall you as someone who didn’t come to her wedding out of fear of the weather. Sorry, but such cut off exist, and are even common, especially when people are in a turning point in their life. I say it because I experienced twice with friends, or even family. But do offer her a gift (better than flowers, a real gift in her register) and an apology. That is the right thing to do anyway. And let’s hope she will accept it.

  36. I think CA’s advice is more or less good here, but I do want to add some stuff that might help you understand where your friend is coming from a little better since, frankly, I live somewhere that’s been hit by a hurricane in the past two years.

    She was probably as worried as you were, and possibly panicking for a while herself, both because of the wedding and not knowing for sure where the hurricane was going to hit, or how hard it was going to hit if it did. Hurricanes are unpredictable by nature, and even the best models are constantly changing. It’s stressful – and I say that as someone who lives in an area that fairly regularly deals with that. I can only imagine it was that much worse for someone who lives in an area that doesn’t.

    So between that, and the fact that she’s got the wedding planning stress (and probably at least some holdover from ‘Omg, do I have to cancel or try to postpone these plans? Will I even be able to do that?”) It’s not unreasonable to assume that she was already super stressed when she got your stuff saying that you wouldn’t be able to make it…and you know she had at least one other person cancelling on her ~the same time, probably several.

    I also agree, that, honestly you probably should have called her prior to cancelling, if for no other reason than to find out what the actual situation was re: weather. Would it have changed what you did, or what happened? Maybe, maybe not – but it would have at least given her a heads up to what might be coming her way, and you a chance to see what was actually going on from multiple people…and a chance to make that decision when you weren’t panicking or (I’m guessing since you mention having been away from home for close to a month) a little less short on sleep.

    To be clear, I’m not saying this in a “You did a horrible thing! How dare you have done this!” – it’s a sticky situation. While you didn’t handle it as well as you might have been able to, frankly neither did she. What I am trying to saying is that the “I’m done with this friendship” stuff is something that may very well have resulted from her being in a very, very high stress situation from multiple sources, so maybe seeing if she still feels that way after leaving her alone for a while is definetly the best route, imo, since she might be less inclined to feel that way once those stressers are removed.

  37. I think if you value the friendship with the bride, the captain’s advice might help start the process of resolving it.

    My wedding was very revealing of my friendships. From the guest list I learned who I considered essential at my wedding and who was toxic based on who I wanted there. I learned who was great at communicating logistics and who was not. I learned who were ACTUALLY my close friends and who I just thought were.

    I had people who moved their entire schedules around to be there, I had people who wrote really, really kind RSVP-Nos and I had people who enthusiastically said they’d be there and never showed.

    I don’t think you should shame spiral about not going, that’s not the issue. I’ll bet anything the issue is how it was handled on top of the fact that a freakin’ HURRICANE was happening the weekend of her wedding. Time to come through as a friend or decide the friendship isn’t worth saving.

  38. Ohhh this sticks in my craw. Let me tell you why.

    My wedding was outdoors on a 100+ degree day. Many people showed up in shorts and T-shirts—didn’t blame them. Some didn’t come at all (would’ve liked a quick email but meh whatever). I myself got heatstroke halfway through the speeches and had to go heave into a toilet for 90 minutes while my husband made my excuses and my friend from daycare days lovingly pressed cold compresses against my temples. I didn’t fault a single person who didn’t show (aside from not telling us) and I certainly didn’t begrudge those who opted for beach ware instead of wedding wear. (One dear friend emailed to ask if I would be terribly upset if he wore short sleeves? I laughed and was like are you kidding me come in a bathing suit, man!).

    Did it end up being everything I had imagined? Not really—I hadn’t factored on missing my speech and all the first dances due to my having my head down a toilet while in a cold sweat, for one thing, nor for having to miss greeting several guests. But at the end of the day, it was what it was and we had a lovely time and I saw old friends for the first time in years since I moved overseas.

    All of this isn’t even close to natural disaster weather.

    LW, you did NOTHING wrong and I would seriously be reconsidering this friendship. I really would. Your friend is just plain rude.

  39. Oh, so many hugs. Inviting people to a wedding can make you very vulnerable: emotionally, financially, logistically, socially. My own wedding was specifically planned to avoid as much of this vulnerability as possible because my now-husband and I knew we just were not up for it. HUGE hugs (if wanted) to people, including the friend in the letter, who make themselves vulnerable like this.

  40. Cap’s advice is spot on and is far more forgiving of the bride’s behavior than I would have been, had I been the advice giver. Letter-writer, please be extra kind to yourself. You did the best you could.

  41. LW, CA’s advice is spot on. I live in RVA and was flying home from the west coast a few days before Florence hit. It was touch-and-go for a bit whether I’d have to stay out there to avoid being stranded in an airport. While it was ultimately not too bad here (apart from the Monday tornado outbreak), a little jog north at the last minute would have been bad for us- 15-30″ of rain would have paralyzed the region for days. Would you really want to be stuck in a flooded city with a shut down airport for who knows how long? It’s not like you were coming from across town. Maybe send her a nice gift in a bit (if you haven’t already) with a nice, non-excuse apology if you feel like it & still want to try to salvage the relationship by then. Or send it as an African Violet of Parting on your terms- you’ll know you closed it out how you would have liked and if she doesn’t want to keep things going, that’s on her.

    And *everyone* has last minute cancellations for their weddings. I did, all of my friends have. It sucks, but it’s part of throwing a wedding. It would have been nice to know ahead of time, but in the end doesn’t matter too much. Hopefully she’ll realize it once her wedding stress dies down. So don’t feel too bad. You did what you thought appropriate based on the information you had at the time. Jedi Hugs!

  42. Had to comment! Richmond is my hometown! My husband and I are down south in Hampton Roads and things were VERY back and forth down here for the entire week and my husband was very anxious about it. We had a hotel reservation out west, then we canceled, then we had another one, then sandbags, then no sandbags, etc. It was nerve-wracking. I think CA’s advice is spot on, and I hope things go well for both you and the bride in the end.

  43. I evacuated and it didn’t even hit us, although three days before we were sure we were going to be hit dead-on. Florence was the weirdest hurricane I’ve experienced in a lifetime of living in hurricane country.

    You did your best. She was super stressed with wedding plus hurricane. Give it time. It sounds like your friendship was on the waning side anyway, based on your first paragraph, so a nice registry gift (affordable, don’t break the budget on this) and card like CA suggested might be the best way to smooth things over.

    I’m not going to tell you not to worry about it, but when you can – try to forgive yourself.

    1. SAME. I evacuated on Wednesday morning (was in Zone A in Virginia Beach, so it was mandatory at the time) and then stayed with my mother in PA while I watched the storm completely miss us. While I was irritated at evacuating for nothing, I had NOTHING at stake and I still panicked.

      Be gentle with yourself, LW, and I think the Captain’s advice will help if the friendship can be salvaged.

  44. LW, I am soooo sorry this all fell out the way it did. Some have already suggested a couple of things you could have done differently, but I am not jumping on that bandwagon. The brainweasles you’ve got over this are bad enough already, and you made a very sensible decision with the info you had under extraordinary circumstances. Please, do not beat yourself up with “should have” and “could have”.

    Enduring relationships need patience and forgiveness. After some time (maybe a few months?), you can try reaching out to your friend, if you want to. I suggest an old fashioned, heart-felt letter on paper. Tell your side of the story, that it was a really awful decision process, and apologize for not being there. I also suggest mentioning that her angry texts really hurt, but don’t make a big deal of it — offer some kindness and understanding, maybe say that it must have been a really rough time for her. If you want to move on from all this and continue the friendship, say so. Basically, don’t focus on blame — you can let her save face, and you don’t have to grovel. Instead, express your caring for your friend and the desire to be a part of each other’s lives again.

    After that, let go of expectations of her response. Maybe she will want to resume the friendship, or maybe she really is done. If she is done, then grieve as you need to, but also know that she did not offer you, her friend, the kindness, patience, and forgiveness that you offered her — that in the end, she chose not to be your friend. You did not do anything that a true friend could not forgive you for.

    I’ve been in your shoes, LW, and although never a bride, I’ve also been in your friend’s place, during some very stressfull times where I have acted very badly toward people who did not deserve it. I don’t believe any of those people owe me an apology or even understanding. I am grateful if they show me the kindness of understanding my situation and if they accept my apology for my behaviour. We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we treat other people, and choose to own up to it when we are mean and ugly.

    Personal anecdote: I sent an angry email to a friend during one of these bad times, and I later regretted it. I was too embarrassed and ashamed of the hurtful things I said to write to her again and apologize. How could she ever forgive me for being so awful?! It’s possible that your friend may also feel the same way about the texts she sent you, so reaching out to her with kindness — after some time to cool off and reflect — is a huge gift. My friendship ended with my angry email; I hope yours can be revived and be better than before.

  45. In my opinion, it sounds like the bride way overreacted. It was disappointing for her, I’m sure, but safety trumps wedding, every time. Any reasonable person should understand that, and any mature adult (especially one mature enough to be getting married) should be able to handle their disappointment in an appropriate way. LW, you made the best decision you could make with the information you had at the time. I repeat: you made the best decision you could make with the information you had at the time. That is all anyone can ask of a human being.

  46. Regarding this:

    ~I think you owed her a text or a phone call before you canceled. You *may have* made the same decision in the end anyway[…]~

    (Emphasis mine.) The issue I have here is that it feels kind of like saying LW owed the bride the opportunity to argue her out of canceling.

    Obviously, this hinges on their previous history and interactions. But it’s possible that LW was concerned that if she contacted bride beforehand, it would have felt like asking for permission, and possibly opened the door to being browbeaten for not disregarding her personal safety in order to come.

    If this is the case, hopefully LW can let go of the self-recriminations for handling things the way they did (and it’s worth considering that if a friend makes you feel that you need to protect yourself from them in this way, they’re probably not much of a friend).

    Equally possible that bride is typically more reasonable and could have either provided more up-to-date weather info or just said ‘that sucks and we’ll miss you’, but given the way she eventually did react, I don’t know that I’d have wagered my physical or mental well-being on 8-ish-hours’ extra notice making her kinder or more tolerant.

    1. I agree with this. I’m not sure how giving the bride veto power (or the illusion of veto power) would have improved the situation. If I were in that situation, I would think “oh, the bride is already stressed enough with all that’s going on. She doesn’t need a play-by-play update on my decisionmaking here. That’s just one more piece of emotional labor she doesn’t need right now. I’m just going to decide and then give her the info she needs — that I can’t make it.”

      One of the things that stressed me the most during wedding planning was people calling me up or emailing me, asking me to help them make up their minds about things. Things that were their own business, not mine! Things that didn’t even affect me, things I didn’t have to do anything about one way or the other! Things I frankly didn’t care about at that point!

      It was so unbelievably frustrating. I had enough decisions to make about my own stuff, and they had the entire back story of their own lives, budgets, health considerations, and so forth to make decisions with. I didn’t and couldn’t, and I didn’t have umpteen extra hours to spend on the phone listening to them waffle or becoming their personal secretary/therapist. Do, or do not, and give me a freaking break.

      Whenever the LW was considering cancelling — earlier or later — the bride would already be stressed over weather news and other guests cancelling also. I have a hard time imagining that someone who declares herself done with a longtime friend just because she’s stressed is going to be any more reasonable or considerate when she’s 15% less stressed. What would the LW have done if the bride had said, “No. You show up, or we’re not friends anymore”?

      Would it be any better than what she’s going through now? Would the relationship be any better?

      1. All very valid! To clarify, I didn’t publish the texts, but “if you were so worried about this why didn’t you ask me ahead of time/why are you just dropping this on me now when I can’t do anything about it?” was something the bride was specifically frustrated about, so if at some point in the future there is a strategic apology, “I’m sorry I didn’t reach out to you first” would be a good thing to include, even if it wouldn’t have actually helped anything.

  47. Oh, this is sad. I’m sorry that you are dealing with so much hard stuff, LW.

    Personal story — I got married in the early spring, and it unexpectedly snowed heavily throughout the ceremony and reception. No one did cancel for weather, but an older relative of mine slipped on the ice and cut herself, and ended up contracting an infection that caused her death. She was in her seventies but still very healthy until then, and she was beloved by everyone (for one thing, she was incredibly funny; two of my friends who’d never met her have these adorable stories of being trolled by her at the wedding itself). It broke my heart and my husband’s–that someone who wasn’t even a close relative (she was, I think, something like a first cousin twice removed) had been nice enough to come to our wedding in horrible weather, and had died because of it.

    I guess I just want to say that bad things DO happen, even at weddings, because the weather truly doesn’t care that people are in love and getting married. The fact that everyone who went to your friend’s wedding ended up being OK is a huge blessing! And I am glad that you took care of yourself when it came to this hurricane. I wish my wonderful relative had done what you did (though the fact that she’s the kind of woman who, at seventy-something, would bum a smoke off a thirty-year-old stranger and stand outside in a blizzard to enjoy her cig and not tell anyone that she’d taken a spill, is one of the many things we loved about her; personally I’m more like you and get nervous about bad weather!). And I hope you will be able to find the care you need for your depression and anxiety as well.

    1. I’m very sorry to hear about your cousin – she sounds like a vibrant lady who you were priveleged to have in your life. Internet strangers can (and I absolutely do) tell you that what happened wasn’t your fault despite the sequence of events, but in your shoes I’d probably never be able to shake the ‘because of’ either.

      But someone who lives to stretch limits and take risks, who knows her own life and makes her own choices, is someone I’d give the credit for knowing whether the risk that day seemed too much, even if it did end up so sadly.

      Hugs if you’d like them.

      1. Thank you, those are such lovely words! She was indeed a privilege to know. I hope this story helps in the process of the LW making peace with their own choices as well, in some small way.

  48. CA is right; you both could have done better, but extenuating circumstances and stress happened. Sometimes two people are not at their best at the same time and in ways that exacerbate the not-bestness they’re experiencing.

    This happens to my best friend and I sometimes – we’ll both be tired or stressed or whatever else and manage to scrape against each other like two boats that didn’t turn away fast enough, and then we both start taking on water while upset that our friend isn’t helping us with the buckets (because they are busy with their own buckets).

    In an ideal world, one of us would always be rested/calm/etc enough to recognize the pressure of extenuating circumstances, give the other person necessary slack, and we could more easily smooth it over. But sometimes both people in a situation are in need of slack, understanding, and gentleness, and at the same time be totally unable to give it to each other.

    It sounds like that’s what happened with you and your friend. Give it some time. Send a gift and heartfelt note. Whatever her response, you’ll have done your part towards making peace, and can sleep a little better at night.

  49. I so feel for you! I was in that position once. A close friend was getting married and lived across the country from me. About 9 months before her wedding (maybe closer to 10), I had moved to a super high cost of living area, was a student, and had a crappy minimum wage job. I was struggling to pay for my bills and school and I realized there was no way I could afford to go to her wedding. It was going to cost me close to 2 grand and I just didn’t have it and my bills were eating up any savings I could get. So I gave her a very heartfelt apology, but said I just couldn’t take on that huge debt to be with her. She never talked to me again. I totally got her perspective, don’t get me wrong. But I knew deep down, I wouldn’t have treated her that way. Not even close.
    So I say give your friend some space and yourself some love. If you guys end up mending back together and seeing the other’s point of view, that’s amazing. If not, then maybe that friendship just wasn’t meant to be. It happens.

  50. I planned my own wedding, long-distance, while trying to deal with my mom’s constant anxiety-induced hamsterwheeling about how the birdseed toss was going to cause us to be attacked by Hitchcock death fowl and die of avian flu, that the guests would all die of West Nile virus because the reception was in a pavillion, etc etc.

    One of my bridesmaids didn’t show up because a hurricane was predicted to hit her city the week she was due to fly out. It did not hit there after all. Guess what? I didn’t rage at her. I was happy she was safe.

    My wedding was not ruined by her absence. But it would have been if my bridesmaid was dead. Or in danger. Or with me, and unable to assist her family when they needed her. Or trapped and unable to return to work when she needed to. Or if I unloaded stress and anger on my dear friend who was already sad about missing out.

    Because then my lovely happy day would have been a source of pain and a burden to someone I loved (besides my mom, which there’s no helping that situation). That would’ve ruined my wedding, for sure.

    I hope the bride can take a deep breath and get some perspective, and doesn’t carry this kind of behavior along with her in life. If you stay married long enough, the stress of your wedding day is miniscule in comparison to the stresses you have to face together with another fallible human being. So I hope she doesn’t keep taking her stress out in such hurtful ways on the people who care about her, because that’s going to seriously damage her relationships. More of them.

    And I hope the LW surrounds herself with people who treat her better than she was treated here.

    1. This is possibly the most perfect comment. I’m glad I’m not the only one that sees that the bride is a little bit —unreasonable. Ok, there I said it. She’s being unreasonable all things considered.

      The hurricane was predicted to hit in that location. Moreover the weather people kept changing how strong it was, predicting at one point that it would make landfall as a cat 5…hello…cat 5? Do not go into the storm area. In fact, GTFO of there!

      LW was completely understandably concerned. People were telling her it was dangerous. If it had hit in that location…well we see the pictures of what it’s like where it did hit. LW tried to re-book when she found out things were in fact safe but the cost was prohibitive. That’s life. We don’t all have unlimited funds to pay for last minute tickets in the middle of a natural disaster when everyone else in the country is trying to do likewise.

      I really hope LW understands that she did nothing wrong and that her actions were completely reasonable given the information that she had to work with and that her friend the bride is not handling things well.

      I get it. It was the bride’s special fairy tale day and the hurricane cast a pall on things. That is not LW’s fault at all. I would think that someone who was an actual friend would be more concerned with the people they claim as friends, the people they say they love/care about, the ones who matter enough to them to invite to their special fairy tale day are safe wherever they are.

      It sucks that Bride had last minute cancellations, and it’s likely LW wasn’t the only one. So…uneaten meals, less people in the audience at the reception, the feeling of money wasted on people who weren’t there, but it’s not like they RSVP’d “yes” and then just decided “nah” at the last minute because they wanted to stay home watching Netflix instead.

      Dear LW stop feeling bad about this. You did nothing wrong. You acted in good faith and made the best decisions you could given the information you had and the circumstances at hand. Do not harm yourself over the words of someone who can’t seem to see beyond her own desires, someone who can’t understand that life happens and we can’t control everything just because we want to. Delete the texts. Just get rid of them so they aren’t a constant reminder of her ill-behavior.

      If it were me, I’d be giving serious consideration to whether I really wanted to keep someone like your friend the bride as a friend considering her lack of understanding and compassion, but maybe that’s just me. At the very least going forward I wouldn’t be contacting her at all, in any way, phone, text, social media, email, nada. If she wanted to fix stuff, after apologizing —her apologizing … not me, she would be coming to me. Again, YMMV.

      1. I agree this would be the best case scenario – but I’m also not going to blame the bride because she didn’t respond this perfectly in a stressful moment as she saw her dream wedding (and all the money she’d spent on it) disappearing right before her eyes. I would give them both a mulligan on this one.

  51. This is one of those things that really needs time as a key ingredient in fixing it.

    Your friend had her wedding crashed by a hurricane. That was probably hugely stressful–I’m sure you weren’t the only person cancelling last-minute, between people deciding it was too dangerous and the weather disrupting travel. I wouldn’t be surprised if she felt like her wedding–a big event that she’s probably put a ton of time/energy/money into–was being ruined. She didn’t handle your cancellation well, but under the circumstances, maybe that’s forgivable.

    You flaked on your friend’s wedding. It was for a good reason–you were afraid for your safety traveling into the hurricane, which is entirely reasonable given the severity of the storm. By the time it was clear that the weather was going to be OK, it was too late to un-cancel your cancellations. You didn’t handle it ideally–ideally, you would have talked to her instead of jumping straight to cancelling all your reservations–but the news was scary, you were hearing from other invitees (your travel buddy, for example) that they didn’t think it was safe to attend, it’s understandable that you panicked.

    She needs some time to process her wedding–the good, the bad, the part where she’s now married, she’s got enough on her mind for the moment. You need some time to process her reaction to your cancellation–you’re in tears and can’t stop picking at these texts, you need to process those emotions and let your own mind settle out a bit before you’ll be in a place to talk about this and apologize in calm and sensible way.

    I say you wait until you feel calmer, then write that letter, then wait another couple days and reread it to see if it hits the right tone (no accidental I’M THE WORST WHY DO YOU EVEN LIKE ME guilt trips, no ‘sorry you’re upset but why were you so mean to me about it’ fauxpology, etc.–those are unfortunately easy to do when we’re emotional). If it does, then send it with your wedding gift. Then let it lie–she’ll either reach out or she won’t, and pestering her won’t help.

    I hope it all works out.

  52. Maybe this is a dumb question, but how do you put together a “mental health support team”? Who should be on the team? When do you assemble them and how do they support you? I have PTSD symptoms that have been mostly under control for the past few years, and a good therapist I see about every other week. But I don’t feel 100% comfortable opening up all the way to my BF or most of my friends.


    1. There’s no one configuration and it’ snot like people are issued a mental health support team. To my mind it might include any or all of:

      -Psychiatrist or primary care doc if meds need prescribed or re-configured
      -Student counseling or health center if you’re at a college or university
      -Employee Assistance Program if one is available though your employer
      -Online community or app or other support tool
      -Trusted friends or family who can let you vent and won’t catastrophize with you or overwhelm you with advice (in this case, anyone NOT THE BRIDE)wn
      -A journal or other space to just vomit out feelings
      -Whatever people cobble together if they have known MH issues

      The LW is cycling and thinking about self-harm, so it’s time to pull out whatever stops there are to treat that before it gets worse! Often mental health stuff is cyclical/chronic – you get it under control for a while but then the season changes or you have a fight with someone close to you or your meds need adjusted – so people hopefully get used to revisiting care when stuff flares up.

  53. Hi LW, I live in the Richmond metro area and this last weekend was a giant cluster for all involved! A number of Major Events I was supposed to be involved with were cancelled, which really pissed off a lot of people. But you know what? I would rather be safe and bored. I think you made the right decision and I’m sorry that your friend was a jerk about it.

    Two days before my own wedding last year, a sibling told me out of the blue they might not attend. By that point I got so mad at them that I stopped caring whether they came or not. The day of, I had an issue with my bank and threatened to close accounts I’d had for more than half my life. My point is that sometimes people getting married, under great stress, do stupid and mean things. It’s not fair to anyone. I’m still sorry for what I said to the poor CSRs at my bank.

    I hope you find peace and have people to talk to about this. I also hope you make it to Richmond someday when it’s not hurricaning, because it’s a pretty neat place!

  54. tw: self harm (ways to deal with)

    I’d like to make a recommendation for an app that helps with self-harm. It’s called Calm Harm, available on android and I think on iphones. I’d seen lists of strategies like draw on yourself with a red pen, hold an ice cube, and they never worked for me. Partly because self-harm isn’t just cutting, partly because I don’t know. But Calm Harm talks about things to do for distractions, saying that the urge to harm is great at first and diminishes, so if you can “ride the wave” you might be able to avoid harming. I like it because it has a lot of different activities in different categories and you can choose from ones that will take shorter or longer amounts of time.

    Sending love to LW!

  55. So I am in the land of predicted but not really actual Florence fallout as well. And I didn’t miss a wedding, but I did have to cancel a trip to see my fiancé who is also struggling with a flare up of depression. It sucks. Trying to predict the weather and figure out what will or won’t be a safe course of action days or even hours ahead of nature is an exercise in futility.
    All of which to say, you faced a tough decision on information that it’d be generous to call imperfect, and you did what you could, just like I did. Yes, talking to her before the tickets were canceled probably would have been better, but in the panic of “aaaah hurricane”, things fall through the cracks. Please forgive yourself for trying imperfectly.
    I agree with Cap’s advice; at least part of the response was likely her snapping from the feedback loop of “aaaah wedding”, “aaaah hurricane”, and the double whammy of trying to deal with both at once. Give her time to cool down and to regain the emotional bandwidth to deal with things without that feedback loop and its aftermath.

  56. A word about wedding planners and caterers. It is in their best self interest not to cancel. They’re all local. They’re all set to go. They can watch the weather reports and decide at the last minute, maybe 8-12 hours before a hurricane actually hits to let their employees go home to board up their houses. If the hurricane doesn’t hit and they say let’s go on with the show, and if half the guests don’t show up, or if only a few don’t show up, the caterer has no reason to mind. They get to say they did their job, delivered their part of the bargain, and get paid anyway– even keep the unserved meals. Meanwhile, the guests who were coming from a few hours away are the ones who are caught in the worst indecision. This is my way of saying what the Captain said. The weather was to blame– but also the caterer, photographer, florist, etc. They could have said 2 days ahead of the time it looked like the hurricane might hit that they were willing to cancel, reschedule, and work out a deal that would be fair to everyone. If they’d done that, the wedding couple could have notified the guests of the change of plans, and this would all be a funny story some day.

    1. I agree, I was thinking the real bad guy in the story is the fact that travel plans are non-transferable and that vendors usually demand payment even if the wedding is delayed due to weather. That means both girls were under terrible financial stress as they tried to navigate the weather situation, which doesn’t bring out the best in anybody 😦

  57. LW, I like your idea to mark the occasion. Perhaps after some time you could send your friend + their new spouse a nice “congratulations” card and the flowers (maybe at a “three month anniversary” or something?). Good luck.

  58. Decades ago my mother missed the wedding of her best friend’s son; Mom and “Grace” had been friends for 35 years (their moms had been besties, too). On the morning of the wedding, Mom lost a top front crown when she bit into her toast and was unable to speak without revealing that glaring gap. Grace was very disappointed but forgave Mom for missing the big day. Five years later, Grace’s younger son was to be married. Unbelievably, Mom lost the same crown AGAIN and had to miss that wedding, too. Understandably, Grace doubted Mom’s story and it took many months to heal the relationship.

  59. Ok I guess I feel for the bride but thete us a giant (cat 4 right?) storm headed fiorthe location LW was traveling to…no one knew how it was going to play out exactly because hurticane.

    LW cancelled plans to travel to Storm Central. When it didn’t hit, because airlines are always ever so compassionate trring to get a new ticket was not happening money-wise.

    LW was only a guest right? Bride is mad that she didn’t put herself in mortal danger or upon learning she would be safe break her budget for the next X amount of time? Then called her out?

    Sorry that’s entitled, selfish, lacking compassion for another human being, and seemingly unable to comprehend some pretty simple concepts.

  60. A couple things:

    I live somewhere that doesn’t really have hurricanes. Except for a few years ago when a hurricane that was expected to hit a certain place veered off course and hit us instead. It was AWFUL. It also was a good reminder that enormous storm cells do whatever the heck they want, and aren’t entirely predictable. It’s really reasonable OP thought “ZOMG! Cat 5 heading toward Virginia – not going there!” And then didn’t go there. It’s not her fault or the bride’s fault Princess Florence took her sweet time and then decided she had Carolina on her mind instead.

    Also, “I want my wedding ruined by a hurricane” is a phrase said by No Bride Ever. Yes, maybe it was able to happen, but probably lots of people cancelled and it wasn’t what the couple envisioned as their nice day. I’m sad that OP is the one (probably one of the ones) to bear the brunt of the bride’s unhappiness. I also think the suggestion to let it cool, send a gift with a very heartfelt note, and see what happens is the way to go.

    Side note – I’m acquainted with someone whose son was supposed to get married in Charleston, SC that weekend. She got halfway there and came back. People gave her guff for missing her son’s wedding, which made her feel terrible. But she didn’t want to, you know, drown, and she did what she felt was right, given the situation.

    1. It must have been awful for her to miss her sons wedding! But far better that she’s safe. It’s easy enough to celebrate a new marriage in a different way on a different day, but there is no replacing a lost loved one.

  61. I think LW did the right thing. I lived for many years in a hurricane-prone region, and those things zig when they were supposed to zag; they fizzle when they were supposed to strengthen; and they can also turn into The storm of the century when just yesterday they were a little tropical depression. In short, very unpredictable and nothing to mess with. I’d have cancelled, too.

    I’m sure the bride was just stressed and disappointed. LW, the captain is right. Give it some time, then reach out to her. I’ve been married over 20 years, and I could not tell you today who cancelled on us.

  62. Last year my cousin’s wedding was experiencing the same situation. We had all planned on going but it looked like it was going to hit her location dead on. We live in a very hurricane-active area – meaning if isn’t at least a high Category 2, life goes on as usual. We still erred on the safe side and didn’t attend the wedding. Driving through 55+ mph gusts is NO FUN. Florence was a major hurricane. Everything would have been shut down here and everyone would have been home getting the Hurricane Party started waiting for the electricity to go out. You made the right decision, even though it missed the area. It might not have. Had it not – you would have been stuck in a hotel with no power, flooded streets, and rampant destruction blocking your means of getting back home. And that’s best case scenario. As everyone else said, the bride is justifiably upset that the hurricane ruined her big day and hasn’t reacted so well. Just take a break, give everyone a chance to emotionally detach from the event, then reach out with your very heartfelt apology. Who knows – maybe someone can throw them an After-Hurricane Wedding Party!

  63. No no no no no no no! The LW did NOT “owe” the bride a heads-up she wasn’t consign before she cancelled. The LW did what was right for her. Yes, it’s disappointing for the bride that her friend couldn’t come. But things happen, and the LW’s safety—both mental and physical—is her #1 priority. The bride not being understanding is a whole separate issue.

    1. To expand: I recently dropped out of a weekend away with friends because of health reasons, and because I didn’t trust these friends to have my back should I need to rest or go to the hospital. I made my decision and then informed them. I did feel guilty, but I’m the only one who can decide my acceptable level of risk, not anyone else. Again, the LW didn’t need a vote on what they should do. They made their decision based on what was right for them, as it should be.

    2. Totes agree. LW made the best decision for them. I still find it shocking that the bride would end a friendship because her friend chose to stay safe rather than risk a hurricane.

      It’s easy for people to say they would stick to a plan in the face of hurricanes, erupting volcanoes, tsunamis, and other forces of nature; only when one is facing loss, injury, or death in the face of disaster does one really know what decision they would make.

    3. ‘No no no no no no no! The LW did NOT “owe” the bride a heads-up she wasn’t consign before she cancelled. The LW did what was right for her. Yes, it’s disappointing for the bride that her friend couldn’t come. But things happen, and the LW’s safety—both mental and physical—is her #1 priority. The bride not being understanding is a whole separate issue.’

      100% hard agree. I was gobsmacked at the Captain’s response, as well as at all the responses excusing the bride because “weddings are stressful.” No, a FKING HURRICANE THAT MIGHT WIPE OUT EVERYTHING YOU KNOW AND LOVE AND POSSIBLY KILL PEOPLE is stressful. (And Florence DID kill people and cause mass destruction, people. We weren’t overreacting by evacuating large chunks of civilization over here on the East Coast before it hit.) The average mere wedding is *not* a matter of safety, life, and death. One absolutely does *not* have the right to turn on people just because they’re stressed out over their supposed “happiest day of their life.” And I’m pretty appalled so many people are acting like you just have to expect betrayal from someone in the wedding party “because that’s normal with wedding stuff.” It’s toxic and abusive social culture, is what it *actually* is.

      And speaking as someone who grew up on the Gulf Coast and both weathered and evacuated from many hurricanes–including evacuating from Katrina–*and* was actually in Florence’s original path before it went south of where I live now (not too far from LW), the Captain is entirely, totally, and completely wrong that LW “should” have notified the bride before changing LW’s plans. You’re not *supposed* to be tying up phone lines and airwaves with trivial matters in an emergency preparation situation (and a wedding is 10,000% trivial in the face of a natural disaster). You’re SUPPOSED to leave lines open for emergency services, get your emergency plan ready, put it into action, and get yourself safe and accounted for *first.* Once you’ve got your own metaphorical oxygen mask secured, only then do you start letting people know you can’t make the lunch date or whatever. I’m not making this up; it’s what we’re taught from childhood for emergency preparedness. LW did EXACTLY what LW is supposed to do in a potential natural emergency situation.

      I feel like a not insignificant number of the dismissive responses, including the Captain’s, are coming from people who’ve never had to regularly deal with natural disasters like hurricanes, and don’t get just how freaking *serious* they really are. (Even sadder are any responses from people who *have* dealt with natural disasters, and somehow *still* think the bride was more entitled to LW’s very limited pre-disaster time than LW was.) I mean, we had MANDATORY evacuations in Virginia. It wasn’t, “Hey, you can leave if you want, but no big if you stay.” It was, “GET OUT NOW, THAT’S AN ORDER FROM THE GOVERNOR. YOU ARE HIGHLY LIKELY TO BE IN EXTREME DANGER IF YOU STAY.”

      Normally I am 200% behind the Captain’s responses and the commenters, so I’m really surprised at how badly the ball was dropped this time, by so many people. But NOT the LW. LW did *nothing* wrong. NOTHING. NO. THING.

      I’m sad to say it, LW, but you’ve got a Potential Bad Friend Problem. You don’t owe an apology or a gift, and I’d recommend against either UNLESS the bride reaches out to make amends with you first and you agree. And even then, you don’t owe an apology, but an explanation for why you had to take care of yourself first could be offered, if you wish. If you reach out first and the bride really is a toxic person, you’ll just be telling her that she can treat you like garbage and you’ll still come crawling back begging for her favor. The ball is in *her* court, not yours. Until then, please go be with people who love you and treat you well, and treat *yourself!* The world is a big place with billions of people for you to know and love; you don’t need to tear yourself apart over one (possibly awful) person.

      1. That oxygen mask thing sounds like it would make sense for people evacuating, but that’s not LW. LW was already in a safe place, cancelling plans to fly *into* the danger zone. I don’t see how the timing of her “I’m cancelling” message would be any more potential bother to emergency services if it happened a little earlier.

        1. On the other hand, checking in with the bride before cancelling sounds like a nice idea for someone with good boundaries, but if that’s not LW, I could see the stressed out bride talking her into coming against her better judgement. :/ So with my wonderful hindsight, I think LW might have been better off just sleeping on it (unless there was a reason cancellation had to happen that night).

      2. BTW: somewhere between reading the letter and the comments, I got the bride/LW locations muddled up (THANKS, FLU BRAIN, I am so done with you this week) and just figured this out as I was getting ready for bed now. But it doesn’t really change up my view. If anything, it makes me even MORE annoyed with the bride, for being so selfish as to get mad that people didn’t want to travel to a freaking *hurricane zone* to stroke her ego. The LW still did everything right re: what you’re supposed to do in a possible impending emergency sitch by taking care of herself first. It’s the bride who screwed up here; as a host of the event, not only should she not have treated LW so poorly for canceling for a legitimate reason, she should have been consulting with guests about the emergency herself, or appointing representatives to handle it for her if she really just was THAT busy that she couldn’t tell people she supposedly cares about, “There’s some nasty weather on the way, and it may not be safe for you to attend.” (I’m also including the person the bride was marrying as “should be taking responsibility” but that’s not who the letter was about.) The LW doesn'[t mention that there was any communication from the wedding party at all about the weather, not until LW called to cancel and the bride went bridezilla. So my earlier rants about blame and my advice still stand–just shuffle the location stuff in your head as needed.

          1. Yes. I especially loved the calling out of the “toxic and abusive social culture”. Apparently “x is stressful” gets you a pass. Good to know. All those verbally abusive family members, bosses etc. are just dealing with a lot of stress dontcha know? And perhaps if they are really, really stressed, they get to then be physically abusive? Wait a while and then apologize to THEM. Or perhaps, wedding stress is so unique, so unlike all the other stresses that other mortals (including those that can’t afford to have their desired wedding) face that it is the ne plus ultra of life stress.

            I understand and agree that weddings are often very stressful. I am just not convinced that is a sufficient excuse for unleashing a tirade on someone who, facing their own stresses, handled an objectively recognized crisis with the best information they had at the time and then, somehow, expecting the person receiving that tirade to proffer the olive branch.

          2. @ Phir Bi Dil, same. Weddings are stressful. Chronic mental illness is stressful. Grad school is stressful. Jobs are stressful. Parenting is stressful. Loads of things in life are stressful, but being stressed isn’t a free pass to treat the people around you badly.

        1. I hear you – I don’t think ‘my wedding planning got disrupted’ is on the same level as ‘I would potentially have risked my life by going into a hurricane zone when others are preparing to evacuate’ – one is a want (however strong), the other a need.

          At the same time, it’s probably healthier for the LW to have a narrative of ‘[Friend] was very stressed and snapped at me for no fault of my own, I’m sorry I contributed to the stress, I hope things settle down’ rather than ‘[Friend] is a jerk’ or ‘of course [Friend] hates me, I ruined her wedding’.

          Even if all of those are true to some degree, the stressed bride narrative allows the best way forward. If she continues to be a jerk, that’s another thing. If she’s ashamed she hulked out, that’s another.

    4. In this case, I think it’s less ‘LW owed the bride this’ and more ‘this whole situation could have gone more smoothly if LW had tried it’. LW’s whole panic moment was rooted in fears of the hurricane…and it also sounds like it was pretty clear that the wedding’s area wasn’t likely to be impacted too badly (though LW didn’t know that at the time). Since the bride is likely to be one of the most up-to-date people on that kind of thing, if LW had talked to her prior to canceling over, she could have cleared that up and LW might have been able to go to the wedding (which it sounds like they wish they could’ve!!).

      If it were a situation where LW was 100% sure they couldn’t make it, then yeah, they wouldn’t owe the bride advance notice pre-canceling flights/hotel/etc. And either way, LW’s friend’s reaction is harsh. But in an ambiguous situation like this, if you’re close to the bride or groom, I think it does make sense to check in with them–they might be able to address your concerns after all.

    5. LW might not have owed the bride a head’s up, but it would have been courteous and might have helped. An earlier cancellation might have saved the bride money had she been able to cancel a meal, and it would certainly have meant she weren’t having to deal with the practical and emotional elements of a cancellation (probably one of many) very close to the wedding. If the LW finds herself in a similar situation again, then the advice to give the news earlier may help the situation in that case.

      I think that LW was 100% in her rights to do what she did, but that doesn’t mean that she can’t also think “if I were doing this again, what might help get a different outcome.”

  64. I don’t understand why the LW canceled her flight and hotel in the first place — if the storm had been as bad as expected, the airlines would have canceled her flight. And if it wasn’t as bad as expected, she would still have had the option to go. And in my experience, hotels don’t refund you if you cancel within 24 or 48 hours of the day, anyway, so either way she would have been out the money. Why not just let the reservations stand, and then see how things play out the morning? Can’t help but wonder if she canceled because she was relieved to have an out.

    1. Depending on exactly when she was traveling, one possibility would have been that her flight to the wedding took off as scheduled, but her flight home was canceled. That sort of weather-related cancellation can take days to rebook, plus the expense of covering extra days in a hotel room.

      Or, the flight gets you there and then you’re stuck at the airport. I had a ticket on what turned out to be the last Amtrak train south from Boston to New York and Washington before Hurricane Sandy. The train was leaving late, and I decided not to go while I was already in line to board the train. The train did get to New York–after the subway system shut down and I probably couldn’t have gotten a cab home. (My aunt liives a mile from Penn Station and wouldn’t have turned me away, but the best case there would probably have been a day or so in a blacked-out apartment before I could make my way home.)

      Hotel cancellation policies vary enormously, from “we’ll charge you for a night if you cancel less than a week in advance” to “it’s cool as long as you call to cancel by 6 p.m. the day you were scheduled to arrive.”

      1. This is exactly what I would have said, flying in on the eve of a storm may be possible, but post-storm getting OUT may have been impossible. The above comment sounds like someone who has never been stuck somewhere due to the weather. Being stuck in O’hare for 3 hours longer than I’m supposed to be stresses me out, I would have done the same thing as the LW in a heartbeat.

    2. Yes, the airline might have canceled her flight if the weather was bad enough. Or she might have gotten to where the wedding was, and then not been able to get home for a week because that flight was canceled (best case there is paying for an unpredictable number of extra nights at the hotel, coffee shop food, etc. Or gotten there and had to evacuate to an emergency shelter. Or been stuck at the airport, depending on how fast the storm moved and whether her airline was more cautious than the state authorities, this time. Any of these possibilities would have been after three weeks of work travel, so LW was already worn out and, as she said, stressed).

      Six years ago, I was visiting my girlfriend in Boston when Hurricane Sandy was approaching the East Coast. I had a ticket home, on what turned out to be the last Amtrak train to New York and Washington for several days. I was in line to board the already-late train when I decided to stay in Boston. I was very glad of that decision within a few hours: the train did get to New York, but by then the subway was closed and the buses weren’t running (which Does Not Happen). From there, the best-case scenario has me walking a bit over a mile and taking refuge with my aunt, in the part of Manhattan that lost power after a transformer exploded.

      Twenty-four hours before that, almost all the forecasts had that storm heading out to sea, not making landfall in New Jersey. Hurricane forecasting is a lot better than it used to be, which is why fewer people die–but it’s far from perfect, and you still have to pay attention to the warnings.

      Also, there are still some hotels that let you cancel without charge until 6 p.m. on the day you’re scheduled to arrive (I have such a reservation for next month.)

      (I thought I had replied yesterday, but it’s either in the spam filter or I forgot to click “post”.)

      1. It also does literally nothing to solve the current problem, where, the LW wants to maybe try to salvage the friendship.

  65. My parents’ wedding was crashed by a giant snow storm. I know my mother. She is an anxious woman who is particularly anxious about all things weather-related. She lives where Florence was never supposed to hit directly and still spent all of the week leading up to the storm in a state of semi-panic. There is no way she was calm or measured about the snow storm at the time. I am sure there were people who couldn’t make it that she and my father were disappointed about. But, when they talk about their wedding day now, the storm has become a lovely part of it. It sounds like a movie–a few dramatic arrivals, a gorgeous backdrop, etc. They are not mad at anyone who had to stay home.

    All of that is to say: The Captain is right. Time will heal this wound if it really is just about hurricane/wedding panic. If you guys have deeper issues, it may be more complicated, but don’t beat yourself up and give your friend some of that same compassion. If you stay friends, this will probably make a great story someday.

  66. Oh LW, please forgive yourself. You made a decision based on fairly sound reasoning. Travelling in extreme weather is dangerous and your travel companion had already cancelled. I wonder if said travel companion is feeling as crappy as you or is just taking it on the chin? I think that perhaps if you weren’t under a black cloud right now, your (sensible!) choice wouldn’t be so overwhelming and you’d have the mental breathing space to appreciate your friend’s upset about you not being able to attend her nuptial shindig and be cool with your decision that the weather was too extreme for you to risk it.

    When I was getting married, two years ago now, I had extreme heat! A heatwave struck and my husband’s granny got sick on the day from overheating in her wedding attire and a few other invitees bunked off my wedding to enjoy the rare heat. In the moment it was a bit annoying but it didn’t overshadow my day. The most important people were there – me and my dude got married and the registrar was there to make it a one and done ceremony. It didn’t matter how many or how few guests were there to watch in the end.

    I think, given time, your friend will be able to look back on her wedding and see the good parts. That’s usually how these things go. Or the bad parts become lsources of legendary entertaining tales for subsequent generations.

    Give her and yourself time and space to calm yourselves. A card and a gift in the post will help clear the air given time.

  67. Some observations, my dear letter writer, as someone prone to making decisions other people hate and feeling catastrophically distressed about them.

    It sucks feeling like you’ve let someone you care about down, and it extra sucks feeling hurt by that person if you were doing your very best not to hurt them in the first place. When you’re already in a precarious place physically/mentally, I know a series of angry texts can leave you feeling like you’re the worst person in the world (currently on that rollercoaster my friend, feeling dizzy, and about to throw up).

    You mentioned that you’re afraid to talk to anyone about these events. Speaking from experience, talking to someone––literally anyone–– is one way to start feeling like something other than the worst person in the world. It starts to break you out of that shame cocoon.

    I’ve found the suicide hotline to be a useful resource when I’m feeling especially hard on myself (note: workers have a 5-10 minute time limit per non-emergency call because they really do want to accommodate everyone, and sometimes there’s a long wait). They’re trained to listen non-judgmentally and to react compassionately to any kind of emotional crisis. You can remain anonymous and just practice saying the words out loud to another human being. I don’t always feel better right away, but talking about my clawing, throat-closing distress over someone’s anger at me, or just crying on the phone to a stranger for a moment, makes it ever-so-slightly more bearable sometimes.

    At the very least, please know, if you’re human being with some regrets, you’re definitely not alone.

  68. LW, your heart is so clearly in the right place with this event. Just a thought – even if you hadn’t cancelled your flight plans, your flight might have been cancelled or diverted to another airport. Nothing like being stranded in a strange city and no way to get to your destination, to add to the stress of missing the event!

    Weather forecasting seems to veer between scaremongering to court ratings and over-forecasting to try to move people to stay safe. It’s not our fault that it’s difficult to find the truth in all these messages. When the “storm-chaser” reporter is bent over from a wind not felt by people walking behind him, that’s one of the few clues we got! All bets were off with this storm, with first responders coming in from outside the area to help. I’d of stayed home, too. Chances are good your friend will see things differently in a few month’s time.

  69. LW you did what was right for you and though I understand why your friend may be upset, surely she’s rather have had you not potentially come to harm than get to her place needing medical treatment? I think perhaps, the cooling relationship between you both has more to do with this than the incident. Please forgive yourself for doing right by you and hopefully when your friend has calmed down, some bridge building can be done.

  70. This has to be the most balanced feedback I’ve ever read, it takes consideration of the letter writer and her feelings/worries on the matter, and also pinpoints what the bride was likely going through. Great! Best of luck 🙂

  71. Just want to chime in to say that I live in Richmond and I was freaking out a few days before the hurricane. I work at a college and they cancelled classes that Thursday and Friday and some events I was planning to go to that weekend were also cancelled. And then…it was just a rainy weekend (until the freakin’ tornadoes on Monday!!). But tons of people had their emergency kits prepared, were taping windows, bought tons of extra water, etc. You made the right call and no one could blame you for it. Don’t beat yourself up. Hopefully, once things die down, your friend will forgive you. And if she hangs on to her anger forever, then she wasn’t much of a friend to begin with.

  72. Aw, boo. This sucks, because it feels like you lost a friend due to a single bad decision – the choice not to attend her wedding – instead of during the lead-up to the wedding, when things were admittedly not great between you. It can be tempting to see this single decision as the point that you’d backtrack to to “make things right,” and if you had gone, things would have been fine/okay/great/better at least. I think the reality is that the bride probably saw you as a convenient spot to put her badfeels during a stressful time, and that even if you had gone, there might have been another incident down the road where she’d be “done with you.”

    Do you want to be her friend? Does she generally treat you well? Do you have fun together, do you look forward to spending time with her, are her victories your victories and vice versa? Then yes, let the time pass, and when you feel strong and at peace with all possible outcomes (including her standing by her decision to cut you out), consider reaching out to make amends for your cancellation. But if this continues to cause you stress and worry, then maybe consider evolving your understanding of this person to one where you know she’s a trigger for your lousy feelings, and decide if it’s worth repairing the relationship, or instead putting that energy into loving yourself and your own self-compassion.

  73. You did nothing wrong in cancelling. Maybe the delivery needed more finesse, but please be assured that your safety is more important than your best friend’s wedding.

    I had weather issues and advisories that made friends and family miss my wedding. There were tears and anger and, thankfully, neither of those were in the text record. But there was definitely a moment when I wanted to scream, “IF ONE MORE PERSON GIVES ME BAD NEWS, I’M GOING TO PITCH A FIT.” I lost three bridesmaids during the months leading up to the wedding, so the weather during wedding week was a disaster to top an already heart-wrenching wedding where so many people I loved would be missing. I was so close to your friend’s headspace. I get it.

    Captain is spot on. Give her time to enjoy her husband, heal from the heartache of people having to miss her big day, and to feel a bit of shame for her reaction. Give yourself the care you need to be well, truly well. And then try to mend bridges. It all hurts. Missing the wedding, having the wedding be missed. It’s terrible. Take the time to let it hurt less.

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