The Case of the Blown-Off Wedding
When it comes to etiquette questions, I always feel like you have the best answers, so I’m sending you one.
We have six weddings to go to this summer. I’m not loving the fact that my only free weekend in July and August is my daughter’s birthday weekend (so, therefore, not actually “free” per se) but I think weddings are important. We RSVP’d to all of them. Unfortunately, the other day we noticed that the wedding for this Saturday was actually a June date, not a July date. Oops. My thought is, oh crap, that sucks, we will get them a gift and have them over for dinner and apologize for being confused. My husband, on the other hand, is freaking the crap out over it. The groom is a close friend of his, and has phoned/mentioned a few times that he wants us at his wedding. Additionally, the wedding was clearly fancy-pants, in a fancy park and four-star restaurant, clearly not a lot of people, etc, so our absence would have been obvious. My husband really feels bad that they paid for an expensive meal that we didn’t eat, and wants to somehow “make up for it” elaborately. The thing is, we have a teeny tiny budget for all these weddings because we are le poor. And there are 5 other weddings to buy gifts for/get a babysitter for/travel around for. Can you either tell me that yeah, we should blow our budget cause that’s a sucky thing to do to someone, or give me a bit of backup? I’ll take either.
Thanks a lot.
Ay. YI YI. This is an anxiety dream BROUGHT TO LIFE, right here.
One time Jason and I forgot about some dinner plans with one of his friends and realized at like, 11:00 pm at night that we’d hardcore flaked on them, and oh my God, we were both up and awake and wringing our hands about it for HOURS.
So on the one hand, I thoroughly sympathize with your husband’s reaction, because it’s probably similar to what I’d do: freak out, run around in circles, beat myself up about it, but then be completely paralyzed about how to make the situation right.
On the other hand, I think your solution is pretty much the best and only thing to be done. Get them the gift you were going to give them, plus a nice dinner. Maybe compromise and treat them to dinner out at a restaurant instead of at home, and make awkward jokes about putting “steak or chicken” on RSVP cards and such. Completely blowing your budget on an extravagant gift doesn’t quite strike me as the way to go, because this “snub” or oversight or whatever you want to call it wasn’t really about the money. It was about your missed presence at an important event, and there’s unfortunately no way to give that back to them. Sure, you could give them a Blu-Ray player instead, but I don’t know. It blares “WE FEEL SO GUILTY QUICK HERE LOOK AT SOMETHING SHINY!” And I wouldn’t want good friends of mine to spend money they don’t have on me out of guilt.
But that’s just me. Maybe an uber-nice gift would help smooth over any hurt feelings, or maybe a thoughtful-yet-budget-conscious would work as well. My main advice, probably, would be to NOT LET YOUR DISAGREEMENT OVER WHAT TO DO PREVENT YOU FROM DOING SOMETHING — ANYTHING — FOR ANOTHER MINUTE. It seems infinitely worse to allow your mistake to go on unaddressed and un-apologized for, you know? Instead of arguing about how to make it up to the couple, somebody needs to pick up the damn phone and start explaining, apologizing, and asking THEM how you can possibly make this up to them, if you haven’t already. If they’re still on their honeymoon, make sure there’s an email or note of apology waiting for them when they get back.
The other big thing to keep in mind here — and this probably goes more to your husband, and people like me — is that your focus should not be on YOURSELVES and soothing your own guilty consciences. Spending a ton of money that you don’t have might make him feel better (and that “DO SOMETHING DOOOO SOMETHING!” panic reflex he’s probably feeling, because I know it well), but that doesn’t mean it’s going to make them feel better. Throwing money at problems never really fixes things, as a general rule. Apologies and expressions of genuine remorse for missing the wedding, asking to see photos and hear stories and solemn promises to buy extra calendars and upgrade from Post-It Notes on the fridge might go just as far as an expensive gift will.Published July 23, 2010. Last updated July 22, 2017.