More Ways to Be Selfish When Hosting Weddings

If there’s one thing we know about weddings, it’s that they’re your day.

No, wait, maybe they’re a day for you and your partner to publicly affirm your committment to each other.

No, hang on, weddings are for parents to celebrate their children’s transition into a new phase of life.

Maybe weddings are a chance to throw a big party with friends who have known you and your partner for years. Or they’re a way for two families to get to know each other, all the way down to the cousins and grandchildren. Or, as Slate’s David Plotz once wrote, they’re a way to say goodbye to a bunch of people who have been part of your past but probably won’t be included in your future.

What better way to end a friendship than with joy? What better than to have your final memory of each other be of your best, happiest wedding selves?

With so many different definitions of what a wedding is and who a wedding is for, your wedding is bound to raise the ire of at least one of your wedding guests, who will no doubt consider you selfish for not hosting a wedding that matches their personal vision of what a wedding should be. We’ve previously looked at the selfishness of child-free weddings; now we have two more wedding guests who are so angry at the invitations they’ve received that they wrote in to Carolyn Hax to complain.

Complainant #1 believes it is selfish to insist guests attend weddings that require (multiple!) planes:

My friend is having a destination wedding — by which I mean many, many, many hours in the air. We have small children, which would make the travel very difficult, and we have nobody to leave them with at home for the trip. And while we could technically afford it, it would set us back more than we are comfortable with — it’s our “if something bad happens, we need this” pot.

We do not question our decision to send our regrets. The problem is that our friend is taking this personally, and the guilt trips, while relatively mild, are persistent. I really think if you have a wedding that requires (multiple!) planes, you need to recognize your guest list may shrink and not blame guests who are unable to make the trip.

I’m not sure if The Billfold has an official stance on whether people should spend emergency funds on destination weddings, but I support this letter writer’s decision to not attend this wedding. So does Carolyn Hax:

Next time Friend cranks out the guilt: “Multiple planes + small kids (equal sign) non-starter. You seem to be taking this personally; am I hearing you correctly?”

Part of me really hopes Letter Writer and Friend have this conversation, complete with the equals sign. Just drop it in a text, add a few emoji (listening ear, frowny face, smiling poop), and send. What could go wrong?

Complainant #2 thinks it is selfish to have a small, family-only wedding followed by a larger reception for friends:

If this were my friend’s actual wedding, I would go no matter what. But for a party, I don’t want to take on the hassle involved in finding a way there. I’ve often used your wedding advice as a guide, but I don’t know what you would think about a pseudo-wedding.

This time, Hax lays the smack down:

Scoff much? This isn’t a “re-enactment” or “pseudo-wedding,” it’s a reception, apparently announced as such. […] I often advise an after-the-fact reception as a reasonable solution to many problems that plague weddings — including but not limited to high costs, planning hassles, problematic family members, loved ones who live far from a wedding site, and a desire for an intimate wedding but an inclusive celebration.

Also, some bonus advice from me: if you are thinking of your friend’s wedding reception as a hassle, it is okay not to go! You’re probably not thinking of that friend as someone you’re particularly close to, or someone you hope to spend a lot of time with in the future, so follow David Plotz’s advice and let this wedding be your last significant interaction as friends. Skip the reception, send a lovely card and something inexpensive off the registry, and ghost out of each other’s lives as your best selves.

This story is part of our Wedding Season series.

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