Q: Dear Amy,
I have a childhood friend who I’ve only seen twice (and texted a handful of times) in the last decade. I got engaged this spring, and a week later I get a message from this friend inviting herself to come visit. She came, stayed for a day, and it was nice to see her. But before she left, she kept saying that she wanted to plan my bachelorette party.
I don’t plan on having a bachelorette party. But more importantly, I don’t plan on inviting this woman to my wedding. We’re having a small wedding and both have big families. The wedding isn’t until next fall.
At the time I was caught off guard and just repeatedly changed the subject, but she’s not known for picking up on social cues if they’re not what she wants to hear. Do I just let next summer come and go and see if/when I get a text asking where her invitation is? It feels like slow-motion ghosting, but the alternative seems worse.
Let’s work through this logically. The rule is that you inform people of what they are invited to and you do not affirmatively tell them “no you are not invited” to things. This rule makes a lot of sense generally! If you don’t receive an invitation to something, you know you aren’t invited! It can be incredibly hurtful to have someone reach out and say “just FYI, you aren’t invited to this.” It tells them that you thought of them, that you thought they might mind, and that you still do not want them there. It also implies you think they are either so rude, so fragile, or so much more into you than you are into them that they need a special nopenopenope message.
However, all rules have exceptions. It’s literally why we have the entire legal profession. Here, you have someone who has concluded that she is obviously invited to your wedding. Charitably, I get that! She’s a childhood friend, and for some people weddings are a great chance to reconnect with people who used to be important to you. I’ve had really lovely emotional times at childhood friends’ weddings. But you aren’t inviting her, and that’s completely fine.
I think you need to stop saying nothing and changing the subject immediately. Do not get into a situation where you are months in and she’s bought plane tickets, or planned you a bachelorette party. Thank her for the kind offer to plan a party for you, and politely decline. Figure out a way, however clumsy, to work into conversation “it’s just going to be a very small wedding.” This is a traditional polite way to convey “and you will not be invited.” If she still does not seem to get it, bite the bullet and follow up with “it’s been so lovely reconnecting, but I just want to make sure you understand that the wedding is going to be so small and mostly family, and we just don’t have space to invite childhood friends.” Yup. This might end your friendship. But real talk? You don’t consider her a friend so much as an old sentimental acquaintance. Telling her straight up might hurt her feelings, but its still a better option than just never speaking to her again or having her throw money down to travel to this wedding.
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