Hi, Carolyn: My best friend is getting married, and I don't love the guy. She seems to be happy and he has some good qualities, but he spends a great deal of time criticizing or taking unnecessary little digs at her. When I gently asked her about it, she laughed it off and said it's just his sense of humor.
I'm trying to take her at her word, but it happens so frequently that it is very disturbing. Any suggestions on how to handle this?
— Best Friend Blues
Best Friend Blues: First, honor her choice. She seems happy, and you said your piece.
Second, honor your feelings. Whenever a barb disturbs you, say so. No speechifying — just a light “Ouch” or raised eyebrow. Or, to your friend or other targets, “You’re okay with this?” Stick up for decency and be consistent: Help people hear it when the sheer volume of digs starts to speak for itself.
Stay as close as she allows, too; she might need that.
Hello, Carolyn: A friend of my daughter invited my husband and me to his wedding in rural France. We were thrilled, as he is a favorite of ours. We loved hosting him here, and we have never been to a wedding in another country, so we were excited to see new customs.
However, we are invited only to the ceremony and not the dinner celebration after — that is just for close friends and family.
While I understand you have to draw the line on guests somewhere as far as costs go, we are not sure if the expense and effort are worth it for a 30-minute ceremony.
Would it be unacceptable for us, as foreign visitors, to ask to attend the dinner if we pay our own way? I would happily do that so we can experience their full wedding customs and spend time with them. It is possible it's not the expense and there is not enough space . . . please advise. I do not want to be a boor.
Invited: Being American and trying to buy your way into something to which you weren’t invited might be the definition of boorishness for the entirety of Western Europe.
I’m sorry. You obviously mean well, and I’d feel the same way about the mismatch of effort to event. In fact, it’s odd enough to be worth checking with your daughter; certainly the groom’s old friend can confirm with him that you’re on the ceremony-only list, for her own planning purposes.
If confirmed, then accepting or declining the invitation as extended is your only play.
Plus, your treating this as a money or space issue is just guessing; there are many possible reasons. Maybe they see an intimate gathering as more meaningful. Maybe one of the principal players doesn’t do well in crowds. Maybe they intended it as a symbolic, we-don’t-expect-you-to-actually-show-up gesture.
If you still don’t want to decline: Plan a trip to France (and beyond?) that you’d be excited for even if there weren’t a wedding, and just make the ceremony one stop on your larger itinerary. Maybe your daughter can even join you for part of the trip.
A brief event may not be sufficient reason to travel so far, but if you have the means and interest, then it does make a lovely excuse.