weddings

'I told my friend I couldn't attend her wedding. She hasn't spoken to me since.'

Weddings. A beautiful time to celebrate two people finding each other in this world and celebrating the love that will encapsulate their lives until death parts them. A time where two worlds collide; the friends and family of both parties come together through their mutual bond of either the bride or groom.

The invitees are specially handpicked, thoughtfully placed on a guest list and it’s assumed that they’ll be present at the ‘I do’’

It is an honour to be invited to a wedding. To think that your name has been thought of out of all the acquaintances, the work colleagues, the people they met on Contiki, that they could invite – you, my friend, are one of the chosen ones and deemed worthy enough for a seat and a chicken or beef main meal.

It’s special, to say the least.

wedding-disappointment
'It is an honour to be invited to a wedding.' Image: Getty.

That is, of course, until you can’t go to their wedding. And then? And then you’re pretty much the worst person in the world and you better buy a friggin' expensive blender from the gift registry if you ever want to redeem yourself.

This happened to me recently. Two weddings clashed and were booked on the same day. I mean, talk about first world problems but this was genuinely keeping me up at night - whose wedding do I go to? Should I flip a coin? Can’t my mum just make my decision for me?

I did pros and cons. I weighed up what each friendship meant to me. I talked it out with my nearest and dearest. I went full mathematician and figured out what percentage of the year I had been involved with each friendship.

I have to tell you - it was tempting to turn both of them down and make up an elaborate work trip to Hawaii that I would be on. Seemed like a bit of a cop out, though. And also extremely unbelievable. But how, HOW could I tell one of them that I deemed ANOTHER person’s wedding more significant than theirs?

So the time came to bite the bullet and commit to one of them. I went for the mathematical approach - I had A LOT more to do with one friend than the other.

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More emotional investment + more dinner catch ups + more time spent together equalled me attending their wedding over the friend I hadn’t really seen much of in two years. Simple? Not quite.

Side note... you can listen to our wedding podcast, Hitched. Here, we talk about what comes after you become engaged. Post continues after audio.

I drafted the message to send my friend declining her wedding invite. I redrafted. I sent it to my sister to make sure it sounded okay and made me look like not-much-of-a-jerk. I felt upset at the thought of disappointing someone. Should I have called? Yes, maybe I should have but my inner need to avoid conflict at all costs screamed at me to just send a damn text, you coward.

And just like that. The message was sent. And there I sat eagerly hoping it would be met with understanding. And maybe she didn’t even mind because it was one less person to feed and supply with an adequate amount of booze.

But amongst all my naivety, it was not met with the reassurance that I was desperately craving. She was hurt and lashed out. She told me she didn’t ‘understand’ my decision. Her message back was riddled in passive aggression and I was basically ‘uninvited’ anyway.

The days followed and I was a mixture of sad that I had upset someone and confused - why is it even so important that I’m there? Will she really even notice? Isn’t the most important guest the person you love and want to spend the rest of your life with? As long as they’re there then the rest is just a blur of champagne clinks and bodies on a dancefloor.

I’m not married and I’ve never planned a wedding so I can’t fully conceptualise the emotional labour that goes into such an event. Emotions become heightened and the day becomes the centre of your world. I could imagine, anyway.

I’ve heard worse stories of brides demoting a maid of honour, brides making their bridesmaids cover their tattoos or sign contracts to not gain any weight. Brides ‘univiting’ those that can’t attend the hens day. It’s absurd but, again, I haven’t been there - I can’t make a judgement.

It has been four months since that message exchange. I do understand the hurt my friend feels. I understand the sense of rejection she must have felt when she received my message; maybe it’s almost like the worry you felt when you were nine years old and having a birthday party and just before your friends arrived you thought ‘what if no one comes?’.

I’m sorry to my friend that I can’t go to her wedding but it won’t be me she’ll be thinking of when the day eventually rolls around. It’ll be the glassy eyes that watch her walk down the aisle, her nearly-husband squeezing her hand at the altar, and the pure joy that wells up inside of her at every moment of her wedding day. She won’t be thinking of anyone’s absence, because the one that matters is there.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. The feature image used is a stock photo.

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