What Can I Do to Make up for Missing My Best Friend’s Wedding?


AAPW: I really love her, but have to put my needs first.

by Stephanie Kaloi, Content Manager

two women dancing together

Q: My best friend is getting married in Mexico… in seven weeks. This decision for her to get hitched in Mexico certainly hinged on my (maid of honor) ability to go. Of course I agreed. Sand, sun, booze, food, count me in!

Then I got pregnant.

But totally fine right? I had to get a bigger dress size and bigger bathing suits, but there will still be lots of sand, sun, and food (minus the booze). Except, now there’s a virus transmitted by mosquitos called Zika that’s currently making its way through Mexico. This particular virus is extremely bad for pregnant women and may be causing fetal deformities.

I can wear all the bug spray I want, but if a mosquito wants my delicious blood, there’s nothing I can do to stop him. Doctors are advising pregnant women avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico until more information arises. So that begs my question: How do I break it to my girl that I can’t be there for her wedding? She’ll immediately hit heart-broken status.

—Ashley

A: Dear Ashley,

I totally mean this in the nicest way possible but girl: I do not envy the position you’re in. On one hand, your BFF basically planned the timing and location of her wedding around whether you can make it… and on the other, you’re pregnant and Zika is no joke.

I think, though, that your only viable option is pretty clear. You’re going to have to bail on the wedding. If your BFF is as close to you as it sounds, she should totally understand. After all, it’s not like you’re bouncing out because you don’t like the color of your dress and the weather in Mexico. You have a legitimate health concern and obligation to both yourself and your fetus, and stuff like that takes precedence. I think the real question isn’t about whether or not you go to the wedding, but what you should be thinking about doing when your friend gets home.

Without further ado, I present to you my quick and easy guide to making up it up to your BFF when you miss her destination wedding (and it’s not your fault):

Skype in the day of the wedding

Something that’s great about living in 2016 is that technology is awesome. Even if you can’t be at the wedding physically, between all the apps and programs out there, you can totally be there virtually. Have another friend set up their computer with Skype or a similar program, set an alarm for the time difference, and get ready to plug in and watch your BFF get married in Mexico. Sure, you won’t have the sun on your face, and you won’t be standing right there, but you also won’t be getting eating by possibly Zika transmitting mosquitoes.

when she gets back, make it all about her

Once your friend is back from the trip, give her a few days to recuperate and then head over to her place. If you guys are super tight, it’s likely you’ll have already picked a date and time while she was still in Mexico (or even before she left). Bring over a snack she loves and start with the questions: How was the wedding? Was the weather okay? Did everyone have a great time? Were there any standout moments, emotional happenings, or funny kid moments? What did she love the most? Was there anything she didn’t like? And so on. Let her talk, talk, talk. Spend some time gushing over the hashtagged photos on Instagram, ooh and aah over the sneak peeks her photographer might have posted, and enjoy.

You’ll have already apologized half a dozen times for missing the wedding in the first place, so there’s no reason to make it about you or how sorry you still are. Just enjoy her happiness and everything that happened.

plan a post wedding party

Okay, so, this one obviously is dependent on your energy levels (early pregnancy can be a bitch), but if you’re feeling up to it, plan a post-wedding party for when the couple returns. Since you missed out on all the day-of celebrating, it might be fun to meet up with a few friends on the couple’s one-month anniversary. Everyone can dance and sing and celebrate them all over again—and this time, you’ll get to be there. If you’re close friends with the bride, you’re probably also close friends with many of the other guests, so it’ll be fun to hang out with everyone.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Stephanie Kaloi

Stephanie is a photographer, writer, and Ravenclaw living in California with her family. She is super into reading, road trips, and adopting animals on a whim. Forewarning: all correspondence will probably include a lot of punctuation and emoji (!!! 😊 🎉 🎉).

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  • Amy March

    I would just add one item to Stephanie’s excellent list: let her be heartbroken. Give her a pass on her initial reaction. Maybe she’ll immediately get it and be awesome, maybe she’ll need a little time to shift her focus, and possibly she’ll say something regretable in the moment. Give her the gift of not holding that against her.

    • AMcCRead

      Great advice…but definitely don’t tell her that you not holding her reaction against her is part of the gift. There is definitely a chance that she won’t recognize what a gift that is for a little while. Just let it go unsaid.

    • another lady

      If she has seen the news at all in the last few months, I think bride friend may already assume that the prego friend might decide to skip the wedding in a potential Zika area. The letter says that Zika is working it’s way through the country, and if the wedding is not in the next couple of weeks, it could be in that area by the time the wedding happens. If bride friend knows this, she is probably assuming that prego friend may not make the wedding. I personally would skip it, and am even afraid of trying to get prego again in a few years in case this is still an issue in my part of the world. Yes, bride friend may be upset for a while, but if she is really a good friend, she should understand and not add a guilt trip to the matter. If Bride friend cares about prego friend, she should also care about her potential child and the huge health risks she would be taking to attend the wedding. I know someone who had to do this (cancel going to a destination wedding because of a pregnancy and risk of Zika). But, what are your options, really?!? Attend the wedding and risk the health of your child?! When you are pregnant, you are already not eating sushi or drinking or 100 other things because something ‘might’ happen to the baby, and now you are going to take a huge risk or exposing your child to a unknown disease?!? Doubtful! Also, I doubt that the doctors will tell her to go on the trip because, CYA – they are not going tell her to take that risk, either!

      • Amy March

        Woah this seems way over the top to me. Bride friend can both “care about” prego friend and “be a good friend” and still have a hurt initial reaction! I’m not saying green light to a life long guilt trip, just if she stumbles or is upset or comes back with questions, maybe let that one go. Prego friend has had the luxury of considering this and working through her feelings and getting herself together before having this convo. Bride friend hasn’t. Just cut her a little slack is all I’m saying.

  • yvanehtnioj

    Name the baby after her.

    • Bethany

      This made me LOL. Love it.

    • Christina McPants

      Middle names!

  • Alexandra

    My best friend missed my wedding. She lives thousands of miles away, had a small child at the time, and was having big time mental health problems. I would have had her as my maid of honor–she’s been my best friend since eighth grade–but she just couldn’t make it.

    I didn’t (and don’t) hold it against her one bit, although the wedding would have been more fun if she had been there. My other best friend (from college) was due to have her first son about three days before my wedding, so she didn’t make it, either. My husband’s two best friends also were having babies right at the date of our wedding. It was a baby/mental health issue perfect storm.

    Well, what are you gonna do? We needed to get married at that date, in that place. It was an insurmountable problem for some, and others that we didn’t expect to be able to come wound up coming. I honestly think the wedding itself would have been more fun if all those super close friends had been able to make it, but we have other really close friends who did come. The thing is–my wedding wasn’t the pinnacle of my life. It was a big deal to me, but I think all the blogs and Pinterest and wedding magazines built it up in my mind as something that HAD TO BE PERFECT, and then it was fine, but not perfect.

    And…that was really ok. I’m still friends with everybody who couldn’t make it. I wasn’t mad at all when they told me they couldn’t come, and I’m still not mad.

    • joanna b.n.

      My wedding was over six years ago, and while at the time I was aware of the important people who couldn’t make it, memory had totally blurred that for me until reading this thread. What you remember is how you felt. Period.

  • Eenie

    For the actual day…can you convince someone attending the wedding to deliver a basket of goodies to her from you? Inside jokes, a cutout picture of you, a heartfelt letter, favorite snack, etc. That doesn’t help with the initial sting and hurt but probably nothing will except time.

    • Kara

      Oh man, I love the idea of turning yourself into a “Flat Stanley”! It might even help your friend relax and laugh a little. (I mean this with love, too, but you would make a good prop :)).

      • Eenie

        Yes! That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’ve had friends do that for me when I had to miss out on certain events due to distance and my absence was noticeable. Even to the point of holding it up in photos and such to pretend like I’m there.

        • Kara

          That sounds awesome! You have great friends!

      • Flat Stanley with your face on it. Seems like the most solid recommendation here. Do it!

    • My best friend did this for me when she couldn’t come to my wedding. (There was a death in her immediate family.) We also talked on the phone that day while a friend was straightening my hair. I cried and I missed her deeply and I hurt and grieved and wished I could be there for her. It was hard. And I was happy and sad and filled with tons of emotions. But it was okay, and we were there for each other as best we could be.

  • honeycomehome

    Some other ideas: Write her a loving, sweet letter and enlist the groom or another bridesmaid to give it to her the night before or morning of the wedding. Offer to drive her to the airport so you can be the last to hug her before she gets on the plane. Alternatively/both, pick her up, so you can squeal and smile and give her some of that in-person excitement.

    I say this as gently as possible, but it’ll be helpful to keep in mind that you’ve now played a really big “I can’t, I’m pregnant” card. Friendships get strained when pregnancy/babies enter the picture and suddenly someone has way less time and energy for the friendship. So, in the future, if you need to/want to play the “I can’t, I’m pregnant” card with her, you have to remember that it’s going to hurt her feelings just a little bit more than might be reasonable or expected with others.

    • nikki

      I disagree with the second portion of this post. You’re not playing any pregnancy card here. Zika virus is no joke. A good, informed friend will understand.

      • Amy March

        I don’t think that’s the point. No one is suggesting it is a joke. You’re missing something big and important to her because of pregnancy, for good reason. All I read this suggestion as is- next time go the extra mile! If there comes a time when you’re trying to decide if you are or aren’t going to do something with or for friend, and it could go either way, let the fact that you already missed out on something big weigh in favor of a little more effort to connect.

  • Sarah

    She may have already thought of this and done this, but I’d encourage her to speak with her doctor and research the exact location of the wedding. Are zika-carrying mosquitoes in ALL areas of Mexico? Are they where she is in particular? Depending on climate and population and infrastructure and stuff, perhaps the specific location she is going to isn’t as high risk. Or maybe it is. Or maybe it’s not worth the risk. So I’m not saying she shouldn’t worry about it. I’m just saying, I’d make sure I knew what the risks were exactly before biting the bullet. Plus it’ll help soften the blow to the bride. instead of saying “I’m scared of zika” she can say “my doctor said I shouldn’t go, and I know there has been an outbreak in that particular state.”

    • Eenie

      It has to do with elevation (6500ft above sea level or higher is considered safe). Based off the letter, the wedding isn’t in the mountains but at the beach, so there is a risk. Still worth talking to your doctor, but the CDC has advised against it, and with it being so new of a disease there is an unknown risk factor.

    • Danielle

      Have you seen pictures of babies with microcephaly (a possible cause of the Zika virus)? If I was pregnant or planning to become pregnant, I wouldn’t want even a 1% risk of my baby having that birth defect.

      I appreciate your appeal to reason, but this is one virus I wouldn’t f*** with even a little bit.

      • Sarah

        I wouldn’t either. I’m just saying, she should make sure there is a risk where she is specifically going. If there is, then I wouldn’t go. I didn’t say “eh, risk it.” I said get more info.

        • Danielle

          I see what you’re saying. But since the virus is spreading, it may be in different locations in a week or month from where it is now. So her doctor’s advice today may not be relevant when it’s time to actually travel.

          NB: I am a generally anxious lady who is trying to get pregnant, and people in my company have been traveling to Brazil for work lately. My colleague went there while pregnant (before the outbreak was known) and had to get a million additional tests for her and her fetus over the past several months, and had some extra complications that may or not be related. I’m really sensitive to and scared of the virus!

      • Amy March

        This seems very dismissive to me. Yes, obviously, we all know Zika is bad. That doesn’t make mass panic and avoiding an entire continent because you saw a deformed baby an obviously correct decision. Asking for medical advice, and then evaluating the risk, isn’t really a bad plan.

        • Danielle

          Sure, everyone can make the decisions that seem best for them and their baby. I personally wouldn’t want to take the risk, because the virus has spread and continues to do so.

          • Violet

            Sarah’s point was to find out the risk, if she hasn’t yet, from a trusted medical professional (whom she’s probably seeing regularly at this point, anyway). Why such a strong reaction to, “Hey, probably won’t change your risk assessment, but run it by your doctor so you are informed in your decision and your friend knows you really care”?

          • Danielle

            See my comment below. Someone I work with closely traveled to a place affected by the Zika virus while pregnant and had some complications that may or may not have been related. I am scared of the disease and its possible affects.

            Sure, assess your medical risk with a doctor if you want. I feel too scared to even consider it, but of course it is a decision each individual will make based upon their situation.

          • Violet

            I totally read your comment. I stand by my point. Things like “my coworker…” and “I’m scared…” are exactly what do lead to the kinds of mass panic Amy March is referring to. Is the panic founded in this case? Probably. But you can’t know until you literally find out the actual information. Saying I’m scared or I know a guy is not science. And when it comes to medicine, I trust the professionals.
            You don’t have to. But it was jarring to read a comment basically say that since you’re too scared to even consider it, Sarah’s original suggestion of just gathering information is a bad idea.

          • Danielle

            I’m stating my experience. I am scared, in part because I literally sit next to someone who traveled to a Zika-affected area and suffered some consequences from that.

            Is the comment section strictly reserved for rational responses? Or are we also allowed to share emotions that, while they might not be shared by all, are valid to us?

            I’m not asking anyone to feel the way I do. You have your own experiences. I am sharing mine.

          • Violet

            It’s fine, we just have different philosophies, that’s all.

          • Amy March

            Right but “have you seen pictures of babies” is what seems dismissive to me. It’s entirely possible to be both well informed and still think asking a doctor for advice is not unwise.

      • Violet

        Just a nitpicky point: no one is hypothesizing that microcephaly is a cause of the Zika virus. They’re saying the other way around- the virus may cause that condition. It’s really important to stay informed, even if you still conclude at the end: Omg, keep me as far away as possible.

        • Danielle

          You’re right. I will correct my statement.

          • Violet

            Cool, thanks!

      • zero

        I completely understand not wanting to take any risk, but the risk is likely nowhere near 1%. The latter was cited above as an estimate for the baby having microcephaly if a pregnant woman is indeed infected with Zika. The chances of getting infected are very low, too, and the two probabilities would have to be multiplied. That’s why we’re looking at tiny risk overall. I still probably would not take the trip.

        • Danielle

          I just threw 1% out there as a hyperbole to represent my general feeling: even with a very low risk, because the potential affects could be so detrimental to my baby, I would not go.

          I don’t know the actual numbers here.

    • Vilmos Kovacs

      Disclaimer: I am currently pregnant and I canceled a trip to see my family in Florida based on Zika warnings in the counties where they live. Honestly, there is so much to be anxious about during pregnancy (about mom’s health and baby’s health). So many things are risky. So many things hurt. Even if the risk level is low, the anxiety generated by mitigating that risk is high. If this poor woman got one mosquito bite during the trip, it would be ruined. She would worry for the rest of the trip (and likely for a few weeks after). If she is uncomfortable, she is uncomfortable. That is enough of a reason to go (with or without a doctor’s note). And it doesn’t sound like her friend would be mad at her for sending her regrets (upset, sure, but not angry). If my friend was angry, that would honestly make me feel better about the decision to skip the wedding because it is such an unkind and selfish response.

      • Sarah

        Yeah, I don’t need to be told that it’s risky and scary. I’m currently pregnant and have suffered from anxiety from childhood, and my anxiety is triggered by health-related things. Travel and pregnancy are very, very anxiety provoking for me because of all the added risks (like, what can you even eat when you’re pregnant and traveling? ugh, what a fucking nightmare trying to figure that shit out…). So I get it. I’m just pointing out that a little research might help put things in perspective. It still might mean there is no way she can or should go. I just wouldn’t want to cancel OR go on a trip without knowing exactly what my risks were. Some people might go if there were a small risk. Some people might not. I probably would NOT. But I’d want to know what I was getting into either way.

        • Amy March

          I agree. And I think generally that making decisions based on anxiety isn’t particularly wise, and that you owe it to your friend to make sure that you are making this decision on the basis of reality. If reality is there is a 1% chance of Zika and that is way too high, definitely don’t go. But I don’t think you should just stop at omg Zika I obviously can’t. I don’t think that Worried Bridesmaid has necessarily done this, but I think the advice to double check with a doctor is pretty solid and I’m surprised to see people taking issue with it.

          • Violet

            Here here. At most, I try to keep the influence of anxious feelings to prompt me to gather more information. Giving them more weight than that can be a slippery slope, particularly when I feel anxious in general, even about things that cause no true threat of harm.

          • Sarah

            I think people are reading my comment as “eh, zika isn’t a problem, just go,” which is totally not at all what I’m saying. I really feel for the letter writer. I’d be beside myself with anxiety about this. Honestly, the anxiety would be stronger than any guilt I felt for having to disappoint my friend. So I’d do my research to make sure I knew I was making the best decision, either way. Probably the research would lead to a confirmation that I indeed couldn’t/shouldn’t go. But at least I’d know why I made the decision I did.

          • Vilmos Kovacs

            It is less about the Zika risk and more about the respect for other women’s choices. I would be hurt if someone said to me, “Are you sure you can’t take this trip? Have you checked with your doctor?” The LW states that she has concluded that it is best for her and her baby not to go & she does not plan to go. I’m not sure if you’ve experienced this, but I’ve been second guessed so much throughout my pregnancy. I just think when a pregnant woman/any woman makes a declarative statement about her choice, asking if she has really thought about it is condescending.

          • Just to clarify, I think the 1% chance is the best estimate for that a woman who had/has Zika during/shortly before pregnancy will have a baby with encephaly. I’ve seen other studies saying the risk of complications is as high as 33%, but those studies weren’t controlled carefully. The chance of *getting* Zika depends on the region.

      • Stephanie

        For what it’s worth, i’m a South Florida resident, all cases in Florida were acquired abroad and/or sexually transmitted by a partner who recently visited affected areas outside of the US. There have been no cases acquired here in Florida. My husband and I are trying to conceive and my doctor laid out all the facts and figures, we’re still charging ahead :)

        • Vilmos Kovacs

          Best of luck.

    • Sally

      Sarah, Thank you so much for giving a reasonable response. I can’t believe people are getting upset about your ever so reasonable response to do further research before making a decision. Zika virus has been all over the news lately and I understand that it would be very anxiety-provoking, but I’m a scientist and I think that a lot of the news in the US about Zika virus has been particularly flashy. Take into consideration how rare cases of Zika virus are in Mexico (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-zika-mexico-idUSKCN0V42MQ, the CDC currently rates Mexico not as a place to avoid travel to but as a place to practice enhanced precautions, ie wear mosquito spray), how a causal affect has not yet been established between Zika and microcephaly, and what is known about potential risks of long term damage based on what part of your pregnancy you are in. I have a lot of family and friends in Mexico and none of them are changing their baby-making plans because of the Zika virus. I understand how anxiety provoking this trip might be, and believe that canceling the trip might be in the writer’s best interest just because all of the extra stress might be damaging to the fetus, but getting more information from reputable sources is always in one’s best interest. Also, let’s not pretend that the chance of getting Zika is even 1% by going for a few days to most areas of Mexico; it’s likely much less dangerous to future-baby than riding in a car to the airport.

    • TeaforTwo

      We also cancelled a trip to Mexico planned for this winter, although under different circumstances (no wedding, just a Tulum babymoon).

      The problem with Zika is that it’s pretty new and nobody knows enough to say what is safe. And that’s on top of the fact that the medical establishment has never been great at offering rational risk assessments about pregnancy in the first place. The last time listeria was found in deli meat was over a decade ago, but every pregnant woman is told to avoid all deli meat all the same. Etc. etc. etc. “Why risk it?” is the watchword offered to all pregnant women.

      So when the CDC is saying to avoid all non-essential travel…almost no doctor is going to go out on the “it will probably be fine” limb. And even though I’m sure we would have likely been OK to go on our trip as planned, it’s really hard to knowingly flout those recommendations.

  • Hopefully if you guys are bffs, she will eventually understand the need to make this hard decision. That’s what friends do for each other!

  • nikki

    I wonder how your friend feels about the situation? Zika and pregnancy has been all over the news, so she’s likely had her own concerns about you attending the wedding. If she’s not familiar with this, then it would be a good opportunity for you to update her on the most recent news. Opening up this dialogue and asking her about her own concerns while sharing yours might make this conversation (and ultimately you tell her you are not able to attend) easier between the two of you.

  • Mrrpaderp

    These are great suggestions, but I recommend making the one month anniversary type get-together either just with the couple or just with other people who couldn’t attend the wedding. I’m not really one to get annoyed by an invitation; it’s not a subpoena and all that jazz. But if I were a guest who gave up 2-4 weekends, vacation time, and $$ to attend someone’s engagement party, shower, bachelorette, and destination wedding (and gift for all these events), I’d be pretty annoyed to be invited to a one month anniversary party. Note: that’s distinct from a reception following a destination wedding. If you’re going to feed me and get me tipsy, my weekend is yours; but I’m not going to pay my own way for party #5 celebrating your marriage.

    It would be a lovely gesture for OP to take the couple out to dinner. If OP knows other guests who aren’t able to make it to the destination wedding, maybe OP and coordinate with those guests to see if they want to jointly host a dinner for the happy couple. But for the love of all that is holy, enough with the proliferation of wedding events.

  • Nell

    Am I the only one who feels like none of these very creative ideas are useful unless you ASK HER what will make it up to her?

    I could see skyping in as being really distracting if what she wants is a moonlit beach wedding with absolutely no technology around. I could see a post-wedding party as being totally stressful on someone who JUST got finished being the center of attention for a week straight.

    A very dear friend couldn’t make it to my wedding – and he just promised to make it up to me. You know how he did that? He got one of my favorite celebrities to tell me congrats on my wedding via video message. It’s a present no one else would have been able to give me, and it spoke to his extreme thoughtfulness that he pulled so many strings to make it happen.

    7 weeks is actually a really long time to come up with some way for you to stay involved. Maybe you can still “give a speech” via video recording, or by asking someone else to read something you wrote. Maybe you can offer to lend her a piece of jewelry to wear down the aisle. But you gotta ask her if she wants to do those things. She may have a sister or another friend who is chomping at the bit to take over, or she may want to leave that space blank to honor you.

    • Amy March

      I think they’re all good to think about though. Much better to say “hey can I Skype in/take you out to dinner/throw you a party” than putting the ball in bride’s court to come up with a way to make it up to her.

      • honeycomehome

        Yes, exactly. I tend to think suggesting anything is better than nothing, even if it’s not the exact right thing. It just shows you’re willing to put in effort to make it a little better/easier/ok. Definitely know your audience, though!

        Also, all of these suggestions might be helpful for others reading who might need ideas if they are in similar, if not this exact, situation.

      • Nell

        Oh good point. I think this is totally a case of “you know your friend best!”

    • Anon

      My cousin had his best man speech shown through video… His younger brother is in the military and had no way of being there, but he pre-recorded an awesome toast.

      • Chloe

        Our best man did this too- he sent a recording which we played and then at the last minute my SIL worked out sorting facetime so he could listen to it being played and hear everyone’s reactions (he’s an actor and it was very funny speech!). Was definitely better not to rely on technology to give the actual speech but having him on facetime that we could see made it feel like he was there too. Plus now we have a recording of his brilliant speech and we wish we’d thought to record all of them!

  • TeaforTwo

    This sounds so difficult. I think my advice would be to be as present as possible, without being physically present.

    Meaning: show up extra hard for the shower/bachelorette/planning and prep. Go to her place and gossip while she packs to leave. Send a surprise basket of goodies/inside jokes with someone to give her while she’s getting ready. Skype in to the morning of getting ready. Skype into the ceremony. Give a toast via Skype, so you’re a participant, not just an observer. Pore over the photos with her afterward, all 800 of them. etc. etc. etc.

    • joanna b.n.

      I mean, do some or many of these things. Do not feel obligated to do ALL of them. You’re pregnant, after all! Job # 1 is developing another human inside your body.

  • Nicole

    There are so many good comments here. I just wanted to add my two cents as someone who’d been the bride in that situation.

    Two of my best friends left for the peace corps a month before I got married (they are married and went as a couple). They did an amazing job of making it feel like they were there, and making it clear how loved they were, even though skyping was not even remotely an option. First, they helped with things bridesmaids would help with before they left and did lots of just fun, being excited things. Then they took photos of themselves dolled up in Africa and sent them on the day saying they were thinking of us and had gotten dressed up as if they were here. Finally, they sent a gift with her mom that was a piece of art on the back of which they had written the “toasts” they would have given if they’d been here. Holy shit it was awesome. They knew I loved them but that it wasn’t going to make me wait to get married until they got back. I knew that they loved me but couldn’t change the timing as much as they’d have liked to.

    There are ways to be there, and how to do it will just depend on your relationship and what you can do. Also – I’d echo a lot of the things that people said about needing time to get over it. I had a long time to come to terms with the fact that they’d be missing since it was about 6 months from when they found out until they left.

    • joanna b.n.

      My brother in law who we’d hoped to be able to come to our wedding but couldn’t for work reasons (and who I’m super close to) called me the day of the wedding, when he knew i’d be running around getting ready. Hearing his voice and his excitement/caring for me was HUGE.

  • Carolyn S

    I would also add that even without Zika if you felt that you didn’t want to travel somewhere with a less developed medical system while pregnant, that should be acceptable too. I agree it will be disappointing and a friend deserves a chance to mourn that (and as someone later on the life milestones spectrum, it’s a bummer when babies start overwhelming non-baby milestones and accomplishments) but being annoyed or sad doesn’t make those with the babies wrong.

  • Sosuli

    The original letter doesn’t specify how close to the bride she actually lives… so just want to put out there that it could be extra hard if the wedding was going to be a rare chance of seeing said bestie. A lot of similar things apply, like Skype and sending along thoughtful gifts or video recording a toast. But if travel is required anyway then maybe arranging a short trip for the two of you to see each other and just hang out whether before or after the wedding could help.

    • joanna b.n.

      Similarly, one of the great things that maids of honor do is help the bride prep for the wedding. If you can go to her place the week before she leaves for the wedding (or thereabouts) and pitch in with some wedding planning/prep tasks, which of course come with the obligatory excitement/anxiety-filled chatfest, that might be an awesome second best to having you there the day of (along with whatever other items y’all come up with so you can be as virtually present with her there as possible).

      One of my best friends became an honorary bridesmaid when we found out the timing of an essential, expensive, once a year professional training lined up perfectly (ha!) with my wedding date. We were both heartbroken, but then we got over it, she came and livened up my bachelorette party, and I made her an honorary bridesmaid (name in the program and all that). It was fine, we’re still good, and I of course understood that neither life event takes precedence – we both did what we needed to do. Similarly, a bestie from college was due to have her baby the week of our wedding and couldn’t fly. Things happen. It’s cool.

  • tr

    Call me crazy, but to me, this sounds like one of those times where buying forgiveness may your best bet!
    I mean, do as Stephanie suggested (her ideas were really good), but also, go all out on your gift. Use that money you’ll be saving on travel and hotel to buy her that Kitchenaid mixer or set of pewter Tiffany picture frames she’s been swooning over. Maybe it’s just because my parents always bought my forgiveness growing up, but I literally don’t know how to be mad at someone who comes bearing goodies from Barney’s.

  • Al

    The people at the CDC who are making the recommendations for pregnant women not to travel in Zika-endemic areas? Those are my coworkers. (I work in a different infectious disease.) It’s really, really not worth it. I see lots of speculation about Zika in the comments, so I just want to add in my two cents. You are making the right decision. The complications are too severe. Besides, mosquitoes are an impossible vector to avoid, especially since Zika is transmitted by day biters. (I once contracted malaria from a single mosquito bite that I got during the walk from the plane into the airport upon my arrival in a West African country.)

  • Eh

    One of my closest friends had a destination wedding on short notice. I think she told us in March and they were married in June. The problem was that I already had all my vacation planned. I was taking three weeks off to travel in May and then going home for my step-brother’s wedding the weekend before her wedding (which was on a Tuesday). When I realized where and when the wedding was I felt horrible that I wouldn’t be able to go and told her right away. I made sure she knew that I was thinking about her my texting and emailing her. She had a reception at home (I live 8 hours from where we grew up) and I went to that. I bought her a nice gift. After the wedding I found out that only her parents, his parents and one of his friends went. None of their siblings went. This was a bit of a touchy subject, even at the reception. There were some comments about how my friend’s sister did not go. It was because she was in treatment for cancer and could not take more time off work. But since few people knew that she had cancer they were surprised that she didn’t go. They were also surprised that I did not go, but apparently more easily accepted that it was short notice and I already had my vacation planned.

    My family lives far away from me (all over Canada) and a lot of my family was unable to come to our wedding. I knew that having my wedding in the fall would mean that my cousins with school aged kids probably would be unable to come but it still made me sad. One of my favourite moments from my wedding was when my sister and I got to the ceremony site to get ready and my phone rang. It was one of my cousins and her daughter calling me to wish me luck and tell me they were thinking of me. Then when I got off the phone with them another cousin called me to say she was thinking of me too.

  • BDubs

    My MOH was 8 months pregnant at the time of our wedding and wasn’t well enough to attend. She lives in another city. It sucked but what could anyone do?
    If you both are willing, try to attend with Skype.
    But let it go. You’re doing your best, and she knows that.
    Don’t be over-apologetic.
    The next time you see each other, give her a little extra TLC.
    Hugs

  • SBostonR

    Hi! So this actually happened to me – we got married recently and my MoH couldn’t make it bc of Zika. And my wedding was going to be my first time seeing her in over a year (we live abroad), so I was crushed to not get to see her. Thought I would add my two cents from the other side:

    1 – She sent a video recording of her speech, it was amazing
    2 – Let the bride be heartbroken for a few days, but you need to be present. Even if you are super sad that you can make it, please still reach out and help her be excited. For me it made all the difference.
    3 – I decided not to go with Skype because, honestly, I wanted to be present in the day and appreciate all the many people who had traveled (this cancellation was one of a series of terrible health/family/life situations that lead to more than 15 people not making it to our wedding). That is not about you, it may be what she needs to do for herself.
    4 – Don’t try to make up with gifts. Small thoughtful things are nice, but throwing money at the situation would have just made me feel super awkward and uncomfortable, when “presence” was the “present” wanted.
    5 – My college friends have a tradition of bringing print outs of the missing members of our group to weddings and taking photos with them, it’s awesome, I totally recommend it!

    You’re doing what you have to do, and she will (hopefully, and almost certainly, but possibly after a few days of being sad) understand. Both of you are probably super sad about this, and that is fine, but friendship is about more than one day. As I told my MoH “I’m playing a long game with you. We will get through this because it’s important to me that we do.” And we did :)

  • rachelm

    I had to miss my absolute best friend in the whole wide world (thelma and louise style)’s wedding for a similar reason. I was going to be 37 weeks pregnant, needed to fly, and my cervix started to dilate at 34 weeks. It was especially tough because as most of you guys know, a cervix can dilate early and then you still go postdates! At the end of the day though, I just couldn’t risk a premature delivery en route. Sooooooo….what I did is the following: I bought her a beautiful set of sapphire and diamond earrings to match a sapphire ring of her grandmothers. I overnighted them to my mother (you could use a mutual friend), as well as a letter from my unborn daughter apologizing for the inconvenience she was causing and then telling her all the reasons her mommy loved her and what an amazing influence she had been on her life. I then had my mom give it to her on the morning of the wedding. It didn’t make it totally okay, but it was beautiful and she felt loved and she can keep the earrings forever to give to her own little girl. It ended up being a really special moment in our friendship. Good luck!