My sister Beth is engaged to a lovely guy named Tom. Beth, like all of our family, was born and raised around Los Angeles. She went on holidays to the east coast and met Tom through a mutual friend. They hit it off and after a year of long distance dating Tom moved to LA and they got engaged.
They decided to elope to Hawaii and announced they would invite fifteen close friends only to witness their nuptials. Both mothers were upset at this news so Beth and Tom changed their plans so the guest list would include the fifteen close friends, parents, siblings and partners of siblings.
To enable the rest of their friends to join their celebrations they are holding two receptions upon their return (yes, they are calling them receptions). One reception will be held in Los Angeles and the other will be in Tom’s hometown. Each reception will have 150-200 invited guests.
Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I will be unable to attend the ceremony in Hawaii. Indeed, Beth only informed me of the official, now confirmed, date only a few weeks ago. My mother is taking my non-attendance as a personal insult which is another story entirely. Beth told me that she hasn’t yet gotten around to organizing save the date notices for the Hawaii ceremony but said that I am to expect one. The ceremony is just four months away.
Imagine my surprise when I received a save the date notice yesterday for the LA reception and the east coast reception. I queried this with Beth and she told me that she and Tom would love for the immediate family to attend the ceremony in Hawaii, the ceremony in LA and then go to the east coast reception as well to meet the rest of Tom’s family and friends. Tom’s immediate family are also expected to fly to the LA reception.
I am wrong to be a bit taken aback by this? I feel that expecting some people to attend three functions, two of which involve travel, is a bit much. 0106-13
First, the initial intention to “elope” with just 15 of their closest friends invited is a slap in the face, punch to the gut and knee to the groin of both families. Elopement has traditionally been viewed as a spur of the moment decision that might include a friend or two to be witnesses. The first plan sounds a lot more organized than an elopement. To not invite parents or even siblings, assuming both families are not toxic messes, is imprudent in that it creates confusion (“Why? Have we offended them somehow?”) and hurt feelings that can take a Herculean effort to overcome. Not the best way to start off a new marriage with the groom’s and bride’s families nursing offenses against them.
I suppose if both families are wealthy jet setters who can traipse around the globe on a whim then the couple’s rather selfish expectation that their nuclear families should attend 3 different wedding related events thousands of miles and weeks apart is feasible. But I doubt this is the situation. Your sister Beth has morphed into a Bridezilla and Tom a Groomonster because they believe the world should revolve around their wedding and that family, to show their devotion and loyalty to them, must jump through the hoop of Beth and Tom’s “desire” that they be in attendance at all wedding events, regardless of the location or how that affects family travel and vacation plans, family budgets, work schedules, etc. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that had they carried through with their initial plan to “elope” with 15 of their friends and no family to Hawaii, that neither family would have witnessed the ceremony nor met each other.
But then, maybe Beth and Tom do realize that and this demand is nothing more than an artificial barrier, or even punishment, to put the families through. It’s a complete 180 degree turn from the original elopement plan, i.e. no family invited at all to the Hawaii elopement to a total reversal that all the family must attend all wedding events. Beth and Tom can “love” for their families to travel to all three events but reality is going to disappoint them.
Your mother probably knows intuitively that she and the family are being manipulated by Beth and rather than further rock the boat between her and Beth, you have become the boogieman that she takes her angst out on. I would just ignore it and it will pass. Weddings make people temporarily cuckoo.
While it is traditional for the groom’s family to contact the bride’s family to make the introductions, I would not hold to tradition but rather encourage your mother and father to make contact with Tom’s parents. If you are technologically savvy, offer to arrange a Skype session for them. While Beth and Tom appear willing to create hurdles for their families, don’t you be one. That means be gracious in getting to know Tom’s family because someday you might share a niece or nephew with Tom’s siblings. That does not mean you must attend every wedding function. RSVP to the Los Angeles reception and be the perfect guest. Introduce yourself to any of Tom’s family to chooses to attend from the East Coast.