Q: I recently got engaged to my fiancé, who I’ve been with for five and a half years, and we’re so excited to get married. My sister, although only twenty, has developed a penchant for travel, and she has already traveled all over the U.S., Europe, and Australia/New Zealand. She is currently attending a university in Europe and will be studying abroad in Australia this spring. The only time of the year she normally comes back home to our state is in August or Christmas time, as she also travels a bit after the school year ends in the summer.
I recently told her that we want to get married in April 2019 for many reasons—better weather, a more significant date for us, it’s just plain sooner—and it’s also several thousands of dollars cheaper than having it in August at our chosen venue (we haven’t secured the date yet).
She wants me to move my date to August when she’ll already be home anyway so that she doesn’t have to take a flight just for the wedding in April. She told me that the reason she doesn’t want to do this is because of her carbon footprint; she explained that she already travels so much, she hates the idea of flying any more than she does already because of the environmental impact of flying. She said it would be such a waste to fly home for one week and then fly right back, again because of the carbon footprint. She wants me to just ask our mom to pay the extra thousands of dollars it would cost to have it in August instead of April, but my fiancé and I wanted to avoid this because we were pretty determined to pay for the wedding ourselves, since my family tends to see money as a way of making sure you do what they want.
My sister and I have had a very strained relationship in the last four years or so, and only recently we have started slowly reconnecting. However, her statement has really hurt me, and it feels disingenuous, honestly: If she’s so worried about the environment, why doesn’t she start limiting her other personal travel? I know that a wedding isn’t nearly as important to anyone other than the engaged couple, but I feel like it’s not too much to ask for her to not travel as much for one year so that she can ethically go to my wedding.
My parents would be furious with me if I planned my wedding knowing that my sister would refuse to go in April (I haven’t told them about this particular dilemma yet). My mom really cares about appearances and would be embarrassed to present a less than whole family unit to all the other wedding guests. So I feel stuck and like I have to compromise my wedding plans and their importance to me so that my family doesn’t have to compromise any of their values even slightly.
Am I supposed to just suck it up yet again and let my family have it their way, even when it comes to my wedding? I know that weddings are generally compromises for family, but it just sucks feeling like I have no control over a major aspect of it.
—Complex Family Ecologies
A: Dear CFE,
Don’t you dare move that wedding.
It’s awfully convenient that your sister only cares about the carbon footprint of flying when it comes to your wedding, and not for all the other stuff she’s doing. Sure! It’d probably be way easier for her if you had the wedding in August when she’s already around. But blaming environmental concerns is a copout.
If you start wedding planning by giving in to unreasonable demands, it’s going to be an even longer and harder road than it needs to be. (Trust me, your sister’s is just the first of many unsolicited and unhelpful opinions.) Save your compromises for the rest of it, and assume your sister will figure out how to get there. Seems like she’s managed okay till now.