Last spring I was supposed to stand up in my cousin (we’ll call her Carol) Carol’s wedding. I live out of state, but have been seeing my partner, Matt, for over 4 years. My family – including said cousin – has met him and they all know that he’s more than a boyfriend, that we’re partners who live together and have a life together. We personally don’t want to get married and are happy with our arrangement. My family has told me many times how much they like Matt and how happy they are for us.
Anyway, fast forward: As the date for the wedding approached I received my invitation. I was first struck that the invite was only addressed to me; no “and Guest”. I hid the envelope from Matt, fearful that it might hurt him, but not quite believing that my cousin wouldn’t invite him. When I did open the invitation, however, there was no more indication of a guest being allowed – no line to write your guest’s name on, no dinner choices, etc. I thought, perhaps too naively, that this was just an unusual invite and that no line to write in your guest’s name was (maybe) now in vogue – or perhaps that it was, how shall I put it(?), less costly. So, I marked off that I would be attending and sent the card in… assuming that of course my partner would be invited..that he was somehow tallied in the count. Looking back, this may have been wishful thinking – or just pure disbelief.
About a week before the wedding I sent Carol an email asking where I needed to be when, etc. I still did not know where or when the rehearsal dinner was to be held or many other particulars, but figured that perhaps because I lived out of town it was a case of out of sight out of mind. In this email I happened to mention that Matt could not make it to the wedding, due to a last minute work situation, but in his place I would be bringing our childhood friend, Sarah. The response I received was along the lines of, “Oh… I suppose that would be ok. I didn’t know you were bringing anyone.” Other references to having to “cart” me around that weekend, etc., were also contained in the email.
Matt and I discussed this after I had read the email, and I came to the conclusion that he was never invited. And that I had simply allowed myself to believe he was…because who would do something like that? When my belief was brought up to Carol (several months after the wedding – which I did not attend, I begged off by saying I was ill, rather than create a stir right before her “big day” and forever be blamed for ruining her wedding) she insisted that Matt was invited, stating that’s just the way invitations are these days. She also said it was my fault for never writing the name of my guest on the return card, and that she most definitely put his name on the envelope.
Later, I received an email from Carol’s mother telling me that I had ruined Carol’s big day and the day of the guy I was supposed to stand up with and that there must have been some kind of mix-up with the invite… that they didn’t think badly of us for not being married. (She had also earlier emailed me to tell me that another wedding party member was in the hospital with the flu that week and still made it to the wedding.) I never mentioned that I told Carol how I felt to anyone in our family, so I was shocked to receive an email from my aunt – especially the one she sent me. My family all believed me to be sick at the time of the wedding… and I never told anyone that I wasn’t, not even Carol after confronting her about not inviting Matt.
Personally, I feel that Carol and her husband to be were trying to save money and therefore weren’t inviting significant others if they weren’t married significant others. Perhaps to save for the honeymoon to Hawaii that they took. After the 80 person wedding shower that Carol had, and the lack of income from either bride or groom, I feel that I might be correct. I never took it as a personal affront to Matt, just a selfish one. That was until I received my aunt’s email. However, I’ll never know why Carol (or my aunt?) did what she did with the invite. She still insists that Matt was invited and it’s my fault for not putting his name on the reply card. I’ve talked this over with a few married friends and they all agree that this situation sounds…off. 1126-12
Oh, there’s something “off” about this whole situation alright. Let’s start chronologically….
You agreed to “stand up” for your cousin which I take to mean you agreed to be, at minimum, a witness, or most likely a bridesmaid. You had a duty, an obligation, to honor the commitments you make and barring some emergency or severe illness you should have been there. But you faked an illness to weasel out of attending the wedding because your significant other was not invited to the wedding. That’s very “off” to my way of thinking.
Matt’s name was not on the wedding invitation. Did Carol and her mom just assume guests have psychic abilities to grok from the invitation that unnamed guests and significant others were also invited? Carol could have simply made a mistake which you could have ascertained merely by calling her to ask if the invitation was only extended to you alone. You instead made several assumptions about the invitation….you didn’t indicate on the RSVP that Matt was coming so how were Carol and her mom supposed to know he would be attending? How was Carol going to know whether to count Matt into the total number for the caterer? Perhaps everyone in this family has this erroneous belief that others can read their thoughts and intentions via paper simply by touching it. Epic communication fail on so many levels.
And then you made a spectacular assumption by extending a LAST MINUTE invitation to a friend who, if Carol had wanted her there, would have invited her. You had no indication from the invitation that you were free to invite a guest of your choice so you just assumed you could and didn’t inform the bride of new added guest until just before the wedding. On this blog, you would be the guest from EHell every one of us dreads.
I don’t think you realize that your email exchange with the bride a week before the wedding makes it look like you got “sick” to get out of the wedding for dubious reasons. The fact that your aunt felt compelled to email you months later to assure you that their intent was that Matt be invited means, to me, that you have made this an epic issue which undoubtedly furthers bolsters their belief that you backed out of the wedding at the last minute out of spite. A whole lot of drama that could have been avoided if you simply called to question if your longtime partner was also invited.
You owe Carol an apology for dumping a last minute guest on her and most importantly, backing out of your obligation to stay true to your word and stand up for her in her wedding. You need to own up to your communication failures if this family rift is to be repaired.