Tuesday, December 10, 2013

oh shit it's a WEDDING ETIQUETTE GRENADE


Dear ESB,

I've just today had a wedding reception etiquette grenade thrown at me and I don't know what to do. I'm looking to you for your grand wisdom!

The situation: An old friend of mine and his girlfriend split up around the time that I was asking for addresses to send Save the Dates (about 9 months ago). I asked if he was certain he didn't want a plus one in case things changed between them and he said no, he definitely, definitely did not. They've been on and off for years so at that point I pretty much disregarded what he said and assumed they'd be back together. Months later I sent him his invite proper. When he didn't get back to me long after the RSVP date I got in touch to chase him and again asked if the situation had changed and if he needed a plus one. He said no, it was unlikely it would change as it had been 6 months. So I made the decision to pass his notional plus one to another guest...

You can see where this is going right? Fast forward to today and he sent an email to me and our wide circle of friends to announce that not only are he and his ex back together, but that they are also engaged. Whilst I'm happy for him, I'm also kicking myself for not keeping his space free. I feel like a small voice is singing 'told you so' inside my head. 

He hasn't said anything about my own wedding yet, but at some point we'll have to acknowledge that she hasn't been invited. And we're going to have to have a very awkward conversation. I wish I could make room (I'm used to organising dinners and receptions for work, so I'm used to jiggling around seating plans and dealing with invitee crises!) but we simply have no room left to add another person.

Really don't know how to address this with him because his fiancée is so lovely and I don't want her to feel slighted. Or even to be reminded that for a while she didn't figure in the plans for not particularly nice reasons. 

Thoughts on how I can manage this pretty awkward situation would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Not-so-good-with-confrontation Bride.

*****

All you can do is be upfront. (You're British, aren't you. So this will be a new experience.)

Call your friend and say “I’m so so happy for you guys. And I’m kicking myself for not saving you a plus one.”

That's it. End of dilemma. Grenade defused.


Edie Campbell by David Sims for Vogue Paris December 2013 via visual optimism 

28 comments:

  1. Errr...not to play devil's advocate here, but really- there isn't enough space for one more person? I think that, despite your repeated attempts to save space for this person and his repeated denials that they were going to get back together, the guy will be hurt if his (now) fiancee is not invited. Honestly I think you have to find a space. Someone is likely to get sick or not be able to come at the last minute. I would try and work it out, or likely they both won't come.

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    1. This is my thought ... though I never planned a wedding (we eloped), so I know nothing of this stuff.

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  2. there will very likely be a last minute drop-out, so i suggest saying "congrats, i wish i saved a seat for her, but we're full up - and i hope you wouldn't mind if i gave you last minute notice so that she can come if anyone cant make it"
    we invited 2 couples to our wedding last minute, seriously, two days before, and both totally understood why they werent on the original list, and were happy to come celebrate even with the last minute ask.

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  3. Mishcam - that's great that they were 'happy' to be last second replacements, but I'd be offended. Also, none of our 102 guests dropped out last minute, so I don't think you can bank on that.

    OP - you addressed his invitation to him with what info you had at that time. As long as you didn't send invites out 3+ months in advance, then I think you're in the clear. If you truly truly cannot shoehorn in one more person, then you just congratulate him on his engagement and regret that at this time, you cannot accommodate even one more person.

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    1. I agree, I'd be offended as a 2nd round invite

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    2. I've been on the receiving end of those last minute invitations, and yeah, it's offensive.

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    3. Dang people are way too touchy--I have been a last minute invite (co-workers) and was not at all offended. I understand they have history with people and that wedding's are crazy to plan... I was just excited to go and celebrate. I think this is a 'know your people' situation. If there is at all a way to pull up an extra chair/invite her, you should. If not, say what ESB said & plan to go to a separate special dinner or drinks with them in the future to celebrate your wedding & their upcoming wedding.

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    4. I was a last minute invite of new acquaintances and had a great time at their wedding (boo to the losers who dropped out). No offended at all.

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  4. This isn't your dilemma...This is his dilemma! He's the one who will have to explain to his fiance why he declined your offer to give him a plus one TWICE. You did your best, he will surely remember you offering him a plus one and not be offended by the fact that he now doesn't get one. And the lovely fiance will just have to understand that this is one of the side-effects of having a publicly tumultuous relationship! It's not your fault they broke up and then got engaged. Follow ESB's advice and rest easy.

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    1. Yeah, I'm not even sure there is a dilemma at all, given that he hasn't said anything. She may not be particularly upset about missing the wedding if you don't have a close friendship with her.

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  5. Yup. This is his problem — I'd congratulate them on their engagement, but don't say anything about your wedding. If he brings it up (which, it sounds like he might not, since he's well aware he turned down your offer TWICE), simply say you feel awful but after he declined for the 2nd time to take you up on a plus one, you ended up giving it away. End of story... don't feel guilty!

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  6. Anyone else a little disturbed this dude was not interested in a plus one for his chick seemingly weeks ago and now he's marrying her? I wouldn't bet on them still being engaged by the time the wedding came around. And since you didn't like her enough to invite her without him, I don't understand why you even care if she is not at your wedding.

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  7. Not a grenade, not even really confrontational. If he asks, you answer.

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  8. You could also just offer him an out: "I'm sorry that we won't have an additional seat, and if that means you can't attend we totally understand." Let him be the asshat.

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  9. When did wedding invitations stop automatically including a date?

    I wish people would skimp a bit on the floral arrangements or whatever and allow plus-ones. Of course, I say this as someone who doesn't even like weddings normally, but would find one completely intolerable if forced to go alone.

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    1. If I had been throwing a huge, lavish wedding, I would have given all of my guests plus-ones. But I wasn't. So yeah, I was not about to skimp even more than I already did so that I could spend a ton of money for some strangers to come to my wedding. That said, I wouldn't have minded at all if one of the single people I invited opted not to come because they would have found my wedding too intolerable without a date. I don't think that anyone should feel obligated to attend a wedding if they don't want to.

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    2. I agree as another unmarried guest... not being given a +1 makes me less likely to go unless its a really close friend BUT having helped people plan weddings esp on a budget, "skimping" on floral arrangements to add even 3 people's food/drinks would have meant no bridal party flowers at all.

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    3. people who make comments like this have clearly never planned a wedding - giving everyone automatic +1s can easily double your budget! And this isn't offset by 'skimping on floral arrangements or whatever'.

      people aren't forced to go to weddings, alone or not. it's a choice and people (usually) go to support the couple getting married.

      Remove head from arse. thanks.

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    4. I have planned a wedding and I 100% agree with you. No one wants to go to a wedding alone (at least I know if the situation was flipped I wouldn't want to), it's horrible. I extended plus 1's to everyone & just invited less people. And no one really brought anyone weird or unexpected... except 1 friend brought his mom and come on, that is WAY too cute to get me annoyed.

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    5. LOL @ this. Take it from someone who really really really wanted to be able to offer +1s to everyone. I couldn't do it because I found I had to start eliminating many close cousins and others from the guest list to keep within our budget. So yes, if you're budget is unlimited you can extend that nice offering to everyone. In the end I just couldn't justify NOT inviting certain cousins and friends so everyone can bring a potentially random person. For us it was a sliding scale of are you engaged or living together or have been dating for 10 years? Then you get a +1.

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  10. defused?

    but yeah, agree that this is not a grenade, and no need to stress.

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    1. um, yesthankyou.

      the dumb part is that i even checked the spelling without bothering to read the definition

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  11. Not-so-good-with-confrontation BrideDecember 11, 2013 at 2:19 AM

    OP here! Thanks all for your thoughts. We're having a really small intimate wedding, so the whole point was that everyone there would be our nearest and dearest and that we wouldn't look back in 10 years time and think "who was that person" or "we never see them anymore". Not skimping on the +1s but we are already over capacity and that's just about okay. After the initial stress, and with ESBs comments in mind, I've decided it actually is HIS problem and he should be the one squirming over this. I'm going to leave it to him to ask me and then I can be clear with him. Yes ESB, as a stereotypical Brit this will be a new one for me :)

    I went to their impromptu engagement drinks a few days ago, and the whole event was so awkward (NONE of her friends even turned up) I'm not even sure this will be an issue when my own wedding comes around.

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  12. You're British, aren't you. So this will be a new experience.

    As someone who is very American in her straightforwardness, with a Very British boss, this made my day.

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