Monday, March 7, 2011

Plus One is a Jerk-Baby-Man

Hello ESB,

First off, I am a gigantic fan. Being a relatively newly engaged person, I find your insights and posts to be even more fun to read. So thank you for being awesome.

Secondly, and mostly why I am writing, I have a situation brewing that I could really use your/your reader's thoughts and opinions about....

My man and I have finally decided on a small wedding in the summer this year. We got engaged last July and after much hashing over, we decided we would do a small 4-day wedding gathering with immediate family (i.e. parents, step-parents, siblings, step-siblings) plus their significant others. Beyond this, we would each get to invite 5 other important people to us (plus ones). Here's where that gets tricky...

Our close friend, M, has a boyfriend who we just do not get along with. After months of a lot of drama with our friend, discussing both "sides" of the disdain, and fighting a lot, we (my fiance and I) have come to peace with the understanding that he thinks we are weird, or as he puts it "invasive", people and doesn't want to put in any effort getting to know us or spend time with us. We are hurt by this but our energy is better spend living our lives and enjoying each other/what we do have. 

She has been my fiance's long-time friend. They dated forever ago (10 plus years ago but which stands to be a part of the reason he does not like us/want to spend time with us, he has major trust/jealously issues) and now both of us find ourselves in a very strange place. We definitely want her to present at our celebration. She is a person who means a lot to me, to us, and who I want to share this super exciting time with. But, I don't want him there. He makes me uncomfortable and I really want this gathering to consist of the people who support me and my fiance the most. People who will want to be there, too.

So, I wonder what your thoughts are? Do I have a direct conversation with her here and risk offending her completely? She understands we all don't get along but I don't want to make it worse... We haven't even begun to send invitations, etc. but I really wanted to get some fresh, outsider perspective from someone who knows what the hell she's talking about!


Yeah, I think you tell M upfront -- before you send the invitations -- "We really want to have you there, but Mr. Baby-Man isn't invited."

Keep in mind, there's a chance she'll skip the wedding out of loyalty to her boyfriend. So before you say anything, you'd better be sure that not having him there is more important to you than having her.

Images by Irina Werning (you have to check out the rest of her BACK TO THE FUTURE series) via VIVA VENA CAVA

p.s. We need an update from the bride who didn't want Mr. Conspicuous-Pot-Smoker at her wedding. Any chance you're still reading, lady?


  1. I'm a big believer that if you do plus ones, you can't pick and choose who the plus one is, but this is different. Since you're having such a small wedding over an extended weekend you will have to interact with this person A LOT. Just explain how you're having a very intimate wedding, mainly family but with a few exceptions for friends who are basically family anyway and why he's not invited. I agree with ESB though, good chance she won't show. It's four days without her wonderful bf! (ok, sarcasm over now)

  2. ha! i dont remember the pot smoking one.

    and the original picture here looks so much like ben as a kid.

    to the matter at hand, i dont know if i see this conversation going over well. you have already discussed with her your issues with him? is that correct? and she clearly does not see the same issues (other wise why is she with him)? if it were me, and my boyfriend were not invited i would probably not go. because (whether or not she is in denial) if SHE does not see the problem as him, then she will see the problem as you- and your request as being jerk-baby-man....

  3. Yeah, she probably wont go if you tell her that her boyfriend isn't invited. I was actually in the girlfriends place before...I was invited to a wedding weekend for a pretty good friend but not given a +1, and I didn't go. It would have been too hard for me to be around a lot of couples the whole weekend and be there by myself.

    This is a really tough situation. It is your wedding and if you don't want him there you totally have the right to make that request. I wouldn't want people that didn't like me at my wedding. But like ESB said, you better be sure that not having him there is more important to you than having her there. And I do think explicitly excluding him might escalate the conflict.

  4. I had a jerk baby man at my wedding, a guy who, i discovered two days before our wedding, had been emotionally abusing a good friend of mine for over a year and essentially been a total creepy stalker jerk from hell. Had it not been two days before the wedding, i would have disinvited his ass, but by that time it was too late. I'm telling you this because on the day, I really didn't care. Our wedding wasn't big - about 55 people - and was really intimate, and yet i still don't remember anything but talking to him once, then just carrying on and having a great time for the rest of the day.

    Your friend is important to you, and her boyfriend is important to her. I would invite him, and wouldn't worry that he'll create negative energy on the day - you really won't give a shit.

  5. unrelated note: kind of obsessed with that photo series <3

  6. The other approach you could take is to only invite +1s that aren't really plus ones. Invite couples if you're friends with both halves, but just invite the friend if you don't know/like their SO. Your friend may not agree that her bf is a jerk, but you don't have to tell her. It should be obvious to her at the very least that you too are not close to her bf. I'm married and I'd understand if I got invited to a wedding where there were a sum total of 10 guests (immediate family don't really count as guests in my book). That said, regardless I might not be inclined to leave the hubs out for 4 days to go party with my friends without him.

  7. Based on what you say, it sounds like even if you do invite Baby-Jerk-Man he would refuse to come and probably try to get the lady to stay as well. Could you possibly let the situation play out and let HIM look like the asshole?

  8. I would talk openly with your friend - be honest and tell her that it means the world to both of you that she is there, but that you don't really get along with the BF, so you don't know how to approach the situation since it is such an intimate setting.

    Perhaps she will tell you he won't come anyways (which it sounds like might be the case)...

    If you don't invite him you force her to choose between her boyfriend and her friends...

    Regardless, I think your best bet is to just talk to her openly and honestly.

    Screw +1 etiquette. I'm not inviting +1s for some because I can't afford it, so it was either invite this person solo, or no invite at all.
    This guy is a jerk, you don't like him, don't invite people you don't like to your wedding! End of story. It's YOUR wedding. You should have people that you like there.

  10. i assume your friend is aware of your strained relationship with her lame boyfriend. i would talk to her upfront, but i have a feeling she won't want to bring him anyway. i was in a similar situation with the guy my sister (and moh) was dating at the time of our wedding. i told her that in no way, shape or form was he welcome to ANY of our wedding festivities. i don't think she was looking for any uncomfortable moments, so she was totally on board.

    then again, i tend to be an upfront asshole when it comes to the people i love, so...

  11. good call esb.

    and i ROOTED for mr. conspicuous pot smoker. he seemed fun

  12. DON'T INVITE HIM! Ugh, he sounds awful.

    I vote that you tell her you are limiting +1s, because it is such a small affair you are only inviting people you are really close to. This doesn't hide the fact that you do not consider yourself close to her lame-o BF, but it doesn't drag everyone into another uncomfortable conversation that, for her would probably be really painful.

  13. This might be an unpopular suggestion, but why not invite him, welcome him into your important, intimate day.
    He'll see how much you and your man love each other (obv) and that might kill his jealousy/weirdness demons.
    Also, if your friend is so important to you, don't give her any reason not to be part of your day. We had a similar situation last year and it caused me concern until the day itself, when NOTHING upset me and I actually loved everyone. Sickening but true.

  14. I agree with the ESB.

    Also, if everyone knows that there's tension I think its easier to have the conversation. Who knows, she may rather some solo anyway so there's no awkwardness.

  15. Wow, well, I might be in the minority here, but I think this is really likely to piss off your friend.

    But there are a couple of relevant questions here. 1) Are your friend and her boyfriend cohabiting? Have they been dating for years? If yes to either of these, excluding the other generally goes against all etiquette rules. Just sayin'. If no, then you're basically off the hook. 2) Are the rest of the ten people you're inviting couples? That is, is this friend the *only* person who will be there without a significant other? Are other friends who've been dating for about the same length of time/same level of seriousness going to be there together? Cause again, this singles out the friend and makes things weird. 3) Is she going to have to travel to come to this thing? Cause if she needs to spend the night in a hotel and pony up for plane tickets and watch other folks dance while she sits there awkwardly and tries to figure out what to do with the rest of her weekend alone in this town because you don't like her boyfriend then she might understandably resent that.

    Now, with such an intimate ceremony, you do have some wiggle room, but you're giving this dude a lot of power if you think he can wreck your wedding. If these folks were married, you really couldn't invite only one. So anyway, do what you want, but realize you might reallly hurt this friend's feelings by not inviting her boyfriend. I mean, before you were engaged how would you have felt to get an invitation to a wedding that said, oh by the way, you have to come solo because we don't like your boyfriend? So if you really don't want this dude there, you need to talk to the friend and stress just how small and intimate this thing is and that you'd prefer to have only people you're super close to there, which doesn't include her boyfriend. She might understand, and she might even prefer to come alone as a favor to you. But even so, she might be offended, and she wouldn't be totally wrong. So consider that and consider how important it is to have her there. Also, you're not allowed to be offended if she doesn't invite you to her wedding if she ever gets married.

  16. I'd agree with Anon right above me, if not for one thing: this dude is the one who wrote YOU off, not the other way around. It sounds like you have done everything you can to try and welcome him into your circle of friends and get to know him, and he is just a jerk and not interested in your friendship.

    But I'd say the best thing to do is to, once again, be the bigger person. Let him come as her plus one if he chooses to. I agree with the others who have said that on your wedding day you will probably be oblivious to anything other than your complete and utter happiness. You probs won't even remember he was there, if he comes at all, and you will avoid an awk situation with your good friend, and you come out the other side still being the kind, open, forgiving person it sounds like you are.

  17. couldn't agree more with Tonia.
    i know he's a big eejit but if you invite him, you are showing your friend that you support her.
    you wont notice him on the day, that's a certain - and then you are the good guy.
    it might help in the long run anyway?

  18. Hey! Thank you all, I really appreciate your thoughts an input.

    I am beginning to see the bigger picture many of you have pointed out to me: overall, this celebration will be joyful, amazing, wonderful no matter what so why not step up and be the bigger person and invite him... plus I really do want my friend M to be there and be happy and enjoy herself!

    To clarify a bit more about them: they've been dating for about 2 years, 1 year of that spent apart/only together for a week or less because he is a musician who tours with his band. They moved up to Portland in May, we moved up after them, we had a few akward hangouts but then a couple of huge blowups/fights. There was a lot of back and forth between us and M and M and her boyfriend. Bringing us (my fiance and I) to a place of trying to move on and be the bigger people.

    They sort of broke up three days ago so at this point I don't know what the future holds for them. He may be a part of her life come the wedding, or not.

    To clarify about the ceremony/invitation list:
    We are inviting mostly couples or people we know are attached, however, there are a few sprinkled in who we know are singles. I don't want to be controlling of the plus ones but there is a real thorn in my side about baby-man being M's plus one. He has proven time and again that he just doesn't like us/trust us/care to get to know us.

    Also, we're getting married in Portland and she is one of the few who actually won't have to travel for the weekend. She lives a few blocks away from us and a bike ride away from where we're holding the ceremony.

    Anyway, thank you all, I sincerely appreciate the input. I think you all are right: don't offend my friend by directly dissing her bf, this would ultimately hurt her and us more than if he were there during a time when my fiance and I will be experiencing so much greatness we may not even notice him. I think I'll broach the idea of keeping plus ones super limited, see how she feels but not be too direct about it. Just feel it out!

  19. I'm late to the party, so I'll just say this: better invite her before she gets back together with jerk-baby-man. Then if she asks to bring him as a plus one at a later date, she looks like the rude one and you have a good reason to say no!

  20. Hah! This is an EASY one for me. Invite her, and let him know personally that he isn't invited. I told my own father he wasn't invited to my wedding. My older brother didn't attend because of that fact, and we have (had) a pretty good relationship up to that point.

    I could care less what other people thought of me, as I had no desire for my father to be there. Did I get a lot of confused stares and questions? Absolutely! Did some people (more than my brother) not come because my dad wasn't invited? Yep. But I held strong to my decision, and my wedding was FANTASTIC. The day couldn't have been any more awesome.