Marriage or Mexico

It was the night before my wedding. My bridesmaids and I were celebrating at a little wine bar on the main drag of my sleepy hometown, and car shuffling had settled out such that I pulled up to the curb beside my high school best friend, T. Well, as she’d probably correct, technically we had met even before high school at a predictably awkward summertime “Welcome Pool Party” for incoming freshmen. Our relationship bounced around through typical teenaged cliquey-ness for four years, swapping clothes and boyfriends, and somehow managed to make it out the other side intact. Some of my most treasured college memories are set on the Amtrak Surfliner from Los Angeles to San Diego, skimming the coast for spontaneous weekends of late-night taquitos, “editing” (err, writing) T’s gender studies papers—I went to a women’s college, after all—and, relishing in the rare chance, in a new place, to be known.

T. basically planned my wedding. And that’s probably an understatement. Lucky for me, her job at the time of my engagement involved an extra PC monitor whose content quickly switched from Netflix reruns to all things wedding the moment I got engaged. As my work and family life spiraled into crazyland for the duration of my engagement, T. was my rock. She came dress shopping, scoured sales to find the shoes I wore, and regularly sent text messages at totally random times to say things like: “WEDDING CAKE?” (Oh yeah, I should probably order that.)

So there we were, parking outside the wine bar on April 22, 2011. I turned the ignition off and both my Civic and I let out matching little sighs.

“It’s not too late, you know,” T. slowly said. “Like, you don’t have to do this.”

I frowned and let her continue.

“We could just go straight to Mexico right now. I’m not even kidding. If you wanted to, I could just drive us straight down to Mexico right this second. I mean it. Do you want to? It’s not too late.”

I grinned, still surprised, and got a little teary in the pregnant pause that followed.

“No, I’m good. I’m sure. Thank you.”

We clinked glasses of Riesling and went to bed early and woke up the next morning to the beeps of my dad making his famous farm-animal-shaped waffles. We got fancied up and posed for photos and said vows encircled by family and friends. We ate food truck tacos and danced around the backyard and even remembered to cut the cake. And thanks to T., I knew that I didn’t have to—I wanted this, and it was good, and I was sure.

Something shifted for me that night in that Civic. Despite the common narrative of a significant other replacing friends (or a spouse being the best friend), my conversation with T. leveled our relationship such that she and my husband sat on separate, but level, planes. Her commitment was to supporting me, whether that meant shoe shopping or skipping town, and she didn’t allow the presence of my then-fiancé to scare her out of being the best possible friend to me.

There’s this weird line between supporting a person and supporting a relationship that a person is in. Both matter, and sometimes doing one means doing the other, and vice versa, on and on in cyclical fashion. What seems too rare, though, is an ability to gently step into our friends’ relationships in order to share observations or extend a helping hand. What might be even more rare is a capacity to gracefully accept those offers from friends with the courage to make them. The unspoken narrative is that romantic relationships are privately off-limits. But how can I call myself a good friend without assuming at least a bit of ownership over such an enormous part of my friends’ lives?

I was a bridesmaid last month. The morning of the wedding, after swiping on her eyeshadow in a hotel suite, I asked the almost-bride: “Are you sure you want to do this? It’s not too late, you know. It would be easier to back out now than later. If you need to bail, right now, I will absolutely go with you.” I meant it. After just over two years in my own marriage, I have come to appreciate T.’s offer more than I ever could have understood at the time; probably I’ve only scratched the surface of that comprehension. I’ve decided to make that question standard for my marrying friends, and I will be sincerely prepared for tacos and tequila every time I ask it.

Had there been a knot in my stomach that night in that car—a deep gut knowledge that I was making a mistake—T. could have, in a way, saved my life. In that sense, perhaps our friendships are just as important as our marriages. Though the ideal goal for most entering marriage is to create a life-long monogamous partnership, the reality is that those terms are all very complicated and so are the people that we choose to marry. And in the midst of such a complicated mess with such unique propensity for both healing and damage, beauty and pain… maybe what we need more than anything is a real friend. Thank you, T., for being mine.

Photo of Emily and T. by Leah and Mark (you can see Emily’s wedding right here)

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  • I’m curious to know whether your decision to make this a standard question extends to those friends and persons who suffer from anxiety or constant rumination about whether they are marrying the “right guy”; who mistaken their “gut” for their anxiety; and for whom such questions would only send them into a spiral thinking they are doing the wrong thing when in fact they suffer from anxiety. I would’ve spiraled if you’d asked me that question yet I married my wonderful husband despite my anxiety. Are you taking these sorts of people into account?

    • Yessssss. I feel like I would have been completely freaked out and insulted, like “Wait, do you think I should be going to Mexico? Why, after seeing this entire relationship and how happy I am, would you even suggest that?”

      But I do love the distinction between “supporting a relationship” and “supporting a friend in a relationship,” because they are so close but so different.

      • Maddie

        I think the important distinction to make in this conversation is intent. I don’t think it’s about suggesting that you run off to Mexico, but more about making it known that if that’s what you wanted, someone would be there to support you in your decision.

        I think as we get deeper into wedding planning and things start piling up, it’s important to be reminded that what we’re doing isn’t inevitable. It’s a choice we’re entering into freely.

        Some of the commenters have said further down in the comments section really hit it on the head for me. I think what makes this so beautiful is that it’s not about raising doubts about your partnership. It’s about letting you know that you are supported no matter what. And it’s kind of impossible to know that “no matter what” is a reality without the “no matter what” being given a name. So whether it’s Mexico, or calling off the wedding for city hall, or just giving you the confidence to say, “No, this is what I want,” I think putting a name to it matters.

        But I think we’re getting caught up in semantics a bit here too. This feels less about, “Are you sure you want to do this?” And more about, “You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.”

    • Emilie

      I have a lot of issues with anxiety in life and in preparing for marriage. Which is exactly why I need somebody to ask this question. For me, who is always doubting and wondering if I am doing the right thing, this would be a good reminder that we are choosing love. Not just falling in it.

    • Copper

      As one of those people too, I think I might just take it as, “this is your last chance. Time to stop overthinking and really own this decision, one way or the other.” But I take your point, one universal approach rarely actually works for everyone.

    • Yes, my first thought was of my very best friend, who has pretty intense anxiety and has to work really hard not to seek out approval from other people, especially regarding romantic relationships. This would send her into a total tailspin.

      At the same time, I actually wish I did find a way to ask this kind of question to my other best friend, who would have been able to accept it in the spirit in which it was intended, and maybe needed permission to get out.

      So I think this is a valuable conversation to have with your bffs who are getting married, but not one that would be helpful for everyone and also the timing is something to consider.

    • Kristen

      I’m going to give the OP the benefit of the doubt that she knows the bride(s) well enough as a friend to know whether she can ask this question and have it taken the right way.

    • jashshea

      I suppose it depends on both individuals. My “mexico” friend was the one who sent me the warmest, mushiest, most tear-inducing email ever* after I emailed her about our engagement (I was out of the country), so I knew I had full relationship support from her.

      The beau and I had been together for 5 years by the time we got engaged and had had all the talks and fights and mini-breaks, so I had limited anxiety about the him/us part of it all.

      If I had any doubts about her support for the relationship and she’d made the mexico comment? We might have had some words.

      *I still read that email at least once a month

      • meg

        Though, you know, I think as a friend I DO have a responsibility to ask this of friends where I don’t support the relationship. (And boy has that happened in my life.) Marriage is serious business, and as a friend, I need to be able to stand up and give you an out when you need it, even if it’s not what you want to hear. Even, really, if you decide to end the friendship over it. As long as it’s coming from a place of love and care.

        • Class of 1980

          I did have a friendship end over telling someone the truth. Barely into our twenties, a friend got engaged. During the engagement, her fiance broke up with her in a very cruel way.

          This told me a lot about who he was.

          Later on they got engaged again and she asked me to be a bridesmaid. I told her I could not support the wedding, so I wouldn’t be there at all. It ended our friendship.

          From stories I heard years later, after they’d had two children, it sounded like the marriage was even worse than I thought it would be. She had grown afraid of him.

          I don’t regret telling the truth.

          However, I wouldn’t wait until the wedding day. Actually, I wouldn’t ever ask someone if they wanted to go through with it unless I genuinely thought there was a problem. And I think that’s why this question can feel hurtful – because we figure the person wouldn’t be asking if they didn’t have real doubts.

          • Lena

            I think I am in the midst of losing a friendship over a boyfriend (a boyfriend!!) who I thought wasn’t great and as I was telling her he wasn’t great was putting her in a potentially harmful situation. I don’t regret stating my opinion but man, now I know – I would never say anything again unless I truly had doubts and was okay losing a friend over it.

          • Emily

            I see what you’re saying. Perhaps tone and context and timing are the most important things here. My friend wasn’t suggesting or advising that I leave. If she had concerns that huge, I’d hope that I would have heard about them long before that night.

            It helps me to imagine roles reversed. If I was in an abusive or otherwise terrible situation, would I want my friends to stick their necks out there to help me rather than sit silently in fear? Yes, I’d want that. Right away.

            But in a healthy, happy, all-around-great relationship, I still think this offer is appropriate, if it’s gentle and supportive and kind. It’s saying, “As far as I know, this is awesome. But if there’s something I DON’T know, I’m on your side no matter what.”

    • Smitty

      I was thinking something similar; I wasn’t at all anxious about my wedding before the event, but if someone had asked me if I wanted to ditch everything I would have become very upset. I’d also be very upset if I knew one of my husband’s friends had asked him if he wanted to back out. I’d be thinking “does this person not value our relationship and trust our commitment?” not relief that they had given me an out. I didn’t want an out, don’t want an out, and don’t want friends to try to raise doubts that don’t exist.

      • Anon

        Smitty, that actually happened to my sister.

        On the very day of her second wedding, her future father-in-law asked her groom if he was sure he wanted to go through with it … right in front of her! Of course she was shocked and hurt, and it took her a long time to have any positive feelings towards her FIL after that.

        • Um, yikes! What an odd thing for your sister’s FIL to do. Not only was it pretty tactless, but it seems to kind of miss the intent of the question as Emily laid it out. If a bride or groom is having misgivings and hasn’t felt comfortable enough to voice them before, it’s unlikely s/he will feel any more free to do so on the day of the wedding right in front of their soon-to-be-spouse. I’m glad your sister’s relationship with her FIL has improved since then – hopefully his intentions were as positive as Emily’s and T’s, however clumsy the execution!

    • catherine

      And for my second comment – I am an anxious bride to be and would not like anyone to ask me such questions! Of course, I’m assuming she knows her friend well…

      That question makes me cringe especially since my mother, who doesn’t approve or understand me marrying a woman, has said things similar to this to me throughout my entire relationship. I might punch her in the face if she says something like this to me on my wedding day. totally different scenarios I know! It just pulled a nerve. Because coming from my mother, it’s so insulting and disrespectful.

    • I also have anxiety, and I appreciated knowing that I had friends who would help me walk away if that’s what I decided I needed to do (it wasn’t). Part of my anxiety shows up as a need to be a big people-pleaser, so it actually helped me to know that, no, I did not have to go through with this if I didn’t want to and it would be okay and people would still love me. Having the knowledge of that support actually made it feel more like it was my choice (which, of course it was, but also… anxiety!) and thus feel more comfortable and confident in it.

      • marbella

        I was extremely nervous on our wedding day, not of ‘getting married’ to my husband, but of walking down the aisle, standing in front of everyone, being ‘on display’. My dad could see that and said to me right before we walked down the aisle “You don’t have to do this, you know.” I immediately thought he thought I was having second thoughts about getting married, and told him I was not worried about that, just about the whole debacle. My initial reaction was surprise, as FH and I had been together 10 yrs already and my dad was nothing but supportive of our relationship. Because of that I quickly processed that all he was doing was offering his unconditional support for me, and it was probably one of the nicest things he has ever said. Despite knowing that my husband is an amazing man, we were very happy together, and he would make a wonderful husband, my dad still went out of his way to show me that my happiness was paramount to him, even if it meant him going into the church where everyone was waiting and telling everyone it was off.
        My husband agreed that it was a very kind thing to say and not meant in any malice toward him.

    • Emily

      Hey Isla! Emily here. None of my closest friends suffer from severe anxiety, but I’m sure that if they did I would be familiar enough with their situation that I would be quite careful with situations like this. If I really thought that ANY friend was marrying a bad guy, that is not a concern I’d mention the morning of the wedding – that would come much, much earlier. This context was one that totally supported the relationship and upcoming marriage, but offered an out just in case – on the off-chance there was something wrong that she didn’t know about. As someone who does not suffer from any anxiety issues, that wasn’t a problem at all for me. Obviously each person and friendship is different and should be treated as such.

      • I love it…a unique way that T was able to show she was there for you know matter what, always without judgement. I often keep things from even my closest friends afraid they may judge me. Once I get the courage up to say something, they always show unwavering support. That’s what good friends do. I agree, the approach may not be for everybody but I think it’s cute :)

  • dawn

    Thanks for this interesting piece. I see where the above commenters are coming from, but I think the main idea of “Marriage or Mexico” is more about supporting your marrying friend to the extent of supporting what would be a scary and probably unpopular move, and less about “everyone needs to be asked whether they want to flee for Mexico right before getting married.” Presumably bridesmaids know “their” brides and can show this kind of support in ways that are sensitive to the individuals involved.

    • Class of 1980

      Hmmm. This piece threw me.

      I do see where Emily is coming from. The main focus is that friendship involves supporting your friends through difficult decisions. Still, Emily is clear that she plans to ask all her friends if they want to ditch their weddings..

      To be honest, if it were me and a friend asked me that on the day of my wedding, it would cast a dark shadow over a very happy day. I would think she was hinting that I was making a mistake and it would be difficult to put it aside and enjoy the day. I’d probably feel defensive and I would be offended at the timing. Not a way you want to feel on that day.

      It seems like for this question to be a positive thing, it should be stated at the beginning of wedding planning. You could tell the bride-to-be that if it ever comes down to her needing to walk away, you’ll be there for her.

      So, I think the basic idea is a good one, but the timing needs tweaking.

      • rowany

        I disagree. I think it’s understandably hard to convey the tone of the conversation in writing, but I think it’s possible to gently remind your friend that just because the wedding is that day or the next doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. That she can choose one or the other, without any urgency or pressure either way. Suggesting that she do this before the beginning of wedding planning underestimates the amount of pressure, time and money that heavily weighs the momentum of choice toward going through with the wedding, making it really helpful having a friend say, “all that? That doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are choosing the person, and not the fear of skipping out on the big wedding and losing your deposits ”

        I also think that as several posts have suggested previously, even as a super close friend you might not know everything that goes on in the relationship. Particularly since most of my friends are in different states, it’s entirely possible that even if we’re happy whenever my friends see us, that there’s something seriously wrong in the relationship. Knowing that someone is on your side no matter what they see is an incredibly powerful testament to the friendship.

        • Yes. A thousand times over. The closer you get to the wedding day, the more “in it” or committed to the wedding you feel, whether or not you feel that committed to the marriage. I would love to have a friend gently remind me in some way that the dress and the caterer and the centerpieces and the music doesn’t really matter– it doesn’t matter if we ditch the wedding, but on a less dramatic note, I think it serves as a good reminder that it doesn’t matter if something goes wrong either. The things are just things.

        • Class of 1980

          I’m only saying how I would react to have it sprung on me. I suspect I’m not the only one. Obviously your mileage may vary.

          Now, if my friend had already mentioned it at the beginning of wedding planning, it would not be so jarring on the wedding day if she reminded me again … preferably with a smile on her face.

        • I agree. I think the phrasing and tone matter. To ask seriously but in a neutral voice whether your friend ready for this big choice, to remind her (or him!) that regardless of plans, there’s always a choice. If I were the bride, my response- my confident Yes- would be the start of a transformative wedding experience. That no matter what has transpired in the past, I am making this decision, in this moment.

          Whether that’s “We can go to Mexico right now if you want” or “Remember, you still have a choice” or a simple “Are you ready for this?” I think it’s okay. Again, every friendship is different, Emily is just telling about how her friendship works.

      • Not necessarily. I’m sure that everyone’s mileage would vary about when the time is right (or even IF the time is ever right) to question an important decision a friend is making.

        The question Emily may ask her future friends (and we cannot know what her friends are like, so I absolutely disagree with judging whether or not she should be asking) isn’t meant to be perfectly integrated into every bridesmaids’ pre-wedding task list, but it is meant to illustrate that supporting a friend doesn’t always mean 100% agreement with every step they take in life.

        • meg

          I think more to the point, it’s also about the fact that in friendship, we need to find ways to put our friends, as individuals, first, even when their in partnership. We need to see them as people, with complicated needs, not just as Meg-of-Meg-and-David. I need that every single day from my people, not just on the night before my wedding.

          It’s not saying “Hey, you should ditch David,” but instead saying, “I see you, I validate you as a person, I’m here for you even when it feels to you like your emotional needs are not socially acceptable.” (Sometimes that’s as simple as letting your friend cry over something their partner said, while knowing that they still love them very much.)

          For me, friendship is about some serious, hard core, deep down loyalty, even when that’s involves something hard. Knowing that my friends, who love my partner to the moon and back, would pack it up and drive me to Mexico? That’s what keeps my marriage strong.

      • Copper

        you know the first time I read this, the idea of asking this question earlier seemed really out of place, to not carry the weight it would day-before or day-of. But turning it over in my mind, I could see someone saying to a friend at an earlier point in wedding planning, like say maybe when you put down a big deposit or something, “you know, I’m here for you through this. But, if you ever feel like you need out and you don’t know how to do it, call me and we’ll run off to Mexico instead. I know the deeper into planning you get the less that’ll seem like an option, but it is always an option and if you need it I’m here for you.” And then the bride would go through the whole process always knowing you had her back, instead of only knowing at the end.

      • Emily

        Just to clarify – my intention isn’t to use a particular script for every friend at the same moment of every wedding day! This is just a general principle, that I want to be available to my marrying friends no matter what they need or what they’re going through. Wording, timing, and specifics should of course be suited to each particular circumstance.

        • Class of 1980

          It occurs to me that it’s too bad you weren’t friends with Kim Kardashian. ;)

  • Emilie

    Love this piece.


    This is the subject of a Talk my dad gives each of us kids before we get married. He was engaged to another lady before meeting my mom, and it wasn’t right. He tells each of us the story of how his mom reminded him that just because you’ve made the arrangements doesn’t mean you are already locked in. He knew, somewhere deep, that a marriage to that woman wasn’t right for him. Her Talk gave him the kick in the pants he needed to end it, so just in case, he makes sure that we all know (there are four married kids in my family and one engaged) that he and my mom will support anything we do, including walking away.

    I’m so grateful that my parents do this, but I think the source of this kind of talk is extremely important. I could see how receiving this from the wrong person would make it insulting. It’s a talk I’ll make sure I have with my sister (who knows me well enough to know this is about me supporting her, not me judging her relationship with her fiance and finding it wanting). But it’s not a talk I’ll have with every bride.

    • meg

      I love this. The Talk, indeed.

  • “There’s this weird line between supporting a person and supporting a relationship that a person is in.”


    One of my most darling best friends in this WORLD is engaged to someone who I truly do not think treats her very well. I mentioned this to her, and our friendship has suffered (another story for another time), which makes me sad. What I did emphasize over everything though, was that no matter what, I would support her 100% in her life and decisions because she is an amazing woman and I love her to pieces. I hope that someday, she understands where I was coming from… not a place of hurt, but a place of love.

    On another note, my mom told me that at her first wedding, she was standing at the back of the church going, “I don’t want to do this!” but she did it anyway. Perhaps if she had had a friend like T. or you, she would have bolted to Mexico and gotten out of the mess that was her first marriage…

    Thanks for writing such a lovely piece. <3

    • Anon

      Both my Dad and step mom said the exact same thing that they knew on the day of their first marriages that they shouldn’t be doing it. I guess for that reason – it can be important to say these things. I just know if someone had said that to me on the day of my marriage – I would have been hurt and a little bit scared that they didnt support me or think I was doing the right thing. Im not saying that that is the right way to think or the most healthy way, but for me its the way I think.

      Maybe it also has to do with my struggle with friendships. My husband is definitely my strongest and most important relationship. I dont know if I am close enough with any friends at this point to have a talk like that. I think I would be able to have a talk like that with my parents and actually I have and it was not fun. Because of my parents experiences with divorce I think they see a good relationship in only one way. My dad actually told my brother he didnt think he was marrying the right person (that they seemed more like good friends) and my brother got married anyway. 10 years and grandkids later, things have healed but who knows if you can ever fully heal from that. With me – I think my parents didnt understand the seriousness of my relationship because I played it down because I didnt want it to look like I was moving to another country only for him. Once I spit it out that yeah I would make sacrifices for him because I loved him, my dad accepted it easily (I think he likes to see passion) though my step mom still seemed to think I was giving up a little too much for him.

      I had a friend recently who told me that you can NEVER be sure of marriage and she never knew what would happen the next day. I really took that to heart and told myself I need to change and think more that way. A year later she was divorced.

      • Copper

        I wonder about all this “I knew it that day” stuff. I suspect it might be 20/20 hindsight—everyone has some jitters, some doubts (especially if you’re an analytical person, see the first string of posts up top!). And if later on the marriage is good you look back and laugh and call it “cold feet” or “jitters.” If later on the marriage breaks up, you look back and say, “I knew.”

        • Starry-eyed

          I am now married, but have been engaged once before. I broke my first engagement off three months before the wedding. I loved the man, but I just had a deep-seated sense of wrongness about marrying him. When I tried to visualize our wedding day, I had a hard time picturing myself actually walking down the aisle.
          I am not a huge party person and I don’t enjoy planning. I also don’t like traditional weddings. The wedding I planned when I married my husband was crazy stressful. I cried the night before the wedding because I was so overwhelmed. I didn’t have the happy floaty feelings the day of our wedding that many people describe. However, even though I never reached the zen-like state I sought on our wedding day, I didn’t doubt the decision I was making.
          Maybe I would have worried more about how stressed I was about our wedding if I hadn’t already experienced how it feels to be engaged to the wrong person?
          In response to earlier comments, I would not have been remotely offended if any of my closest friends had asked me if I was sure. Some family members judged my husband for his religious beliefs, and I would have been offended if THEY asked. But my friends who I know have my back? I would have taken it as support. The best thing I heard when I ended it with my ex was that my people would be there for me no matter what, and that they would help me to be strong if I needed it. I think that’s the message the author is trying to convey.

  • Kristen

    Emily, like many of the other friendship month pieces, I struggled with feelings of sadness that I don’t feel I have ever had this kind of relationship with someone. But I was also filled with happiness on your behalf and gratitude that there are people who support those they love no matter what. You sound like you’re very lucky to have T and it sounds like you know it. Thanks for sharing such a great piece on friendship.

    On another note regarding the debate on whether or not posing the Mexico question to brides is appropriate, I’d say this: As an extremely anxious person who definitely did not feel 100% sure on my wedding day, I was sure enough to have withstood the Mexico question. And a part of me thinks if you aren’t strong enough to withstand the Mexico question – if such a question would truly send you running for the hills, maybe you shouldn’t get married that day. Because I think for some of us it takes a LOT of bravery to get married and you’re gonna need that bravery to stay married and to create the marriage you want most in your life. If you don’t have enough gas to get you down the aisle, maybe you’re not ready to be walking it in the first place. That’s just ONE way to look at this situation, but it feels kind of legit to me.

    • Anon

      I think its not that I wouldnt be sure in the marriage to my husband – its that I wouldn’t have that happy feeling of everyone around me supporting me. (I dont think this is how the OP said it.) I am just imagining the morning of my wedding where I woke up to Facebook to see my husbands friends who were able to make it to the wedding from a foreign country and had arrived the night before (and I had given them bottle of Jack Daniels as a wedding party gift) totally drunk (enjoying themselves) on facebook. I chose to not worry about it when I said it. THen the hair and makeup woman arrived and no one was ready so I thought I would have to go first and I totally lost it. (By myself and in the bathroom – no one ever knew). I happened to feel very alone on the wedding morning and I dont think it was anyones fault – its just my personality and processing of feelings. So I definitely would not have liked it if someone had said that to me.

      I just remembered – my dad said that to me at the airport when I moved to my husbands country for the first time. And I didnt feel bad -I just felt loved and I still think about it from time to time…

      • Another Anon

        “I think its not that I wouldn’t be sure in the marriage to my husband – its that I wouldn’t have that happy feeling of everyone around me supporting me. (I don’t think this is how the OP said it.)”

        Me too. It’s not that I’m not sure; it’s that I would not feel supported. It’s also not a memory I’d want to have of our day.

        • Emily

          For me, the memory was 100% positive. I went into my wedding day knowing that I had friends who completely had my back. Our other best friends circled around us for a prayer as part of our ceremony, and I knew without a doubt that those people were going to support my marriage no matter what. It made for a really, really good celebration.

          • That’s awesome. I think, if I were in T’s shoes (or your shoes for future weddings), part of the motivation for asking that question would have been an unspoken, “I’m about to stand up and publicly throw my unconditional support behind this union you’re about to enter. Let me know that I can do that with my whole heart, without worrying that you might actually prefer a different kind of support from me.”

          • Maddie

            OHHHH Liz. You hit the nail on the head for me.

    • meg

      As someone who has an anxiety disorder, I’m with you. But mostly, this is a question coming from a place of love and support. “I love you, I support your relationship, I’m happy for you. But even with ALL OF THAT, if you wanna go to Mexico tonight, sister, I’ve got the keys.”

      THAT is my kind of lady.

      • Emily

        Yep. If she’d been a hater, or simply someone who didn’t know me/us well, or hadn’t been extraordinarily supportive for years and years – that would have been a whole different story. This was a gentle, loving offer that I know she didn’t expect me to take her up on. But she would have gone if I had.

      • Kristen

        I think if we can’t see that T’s question was SO coming from a place of love and support, then we’ve missed the point of the piece.

        It’s probably also a good idea to remind ourselves that the people who love us, aren’t usually trying to hurt us intentionally when they do hurt our feelings. If one received a similar question from their best friend and were actually hurt by it, maybe remembering that no one always knows how to say things in the right way, but believing in the support and love of our loved ones helps a lot. My husbands sister, who is like my sister too, said a lot of things during wedding planning that I could have taken offense at and been very hurt by. But I knew what she meant, I knew how much she loved me and I knew like me, she wasn’t perfect. So maybe this is a good time to remind ourselves that being able to look at the sentiment beneath the badly worded statements, goes a long way in not having hurt feelings unnecessarily.

      • Cali

        Yeah. I think I would have really appreciated something that conveyed this sentiment in this way. I do think if it had been presented to me as, “Are you sure you want to do this? We can go to Mexico tonight, it’s not too late,” I would have felt like the asker had some serious doubts about my relationship and upcoming marriage, and that would have been distressing rather than empowering. But if it was presented more as an “I have your back no matter what” and less as “Are you sure you aren’t making a mistake?” then it would be awesome. As with everything in life, I suppose it’s just all about knowing the other person and adjusting the sentiment to fit.

        • meg

          Right. But what you’re talking about is the whole point of the piece. Don’t let yourself get so caught up in the semantics of how exactly you’d like this support shown to you in your life that you miss the whole point here.

  • Shiri

    “Something shifted for me that night in that Civic. Despite the common narrative of a significant other replacing friends (or a spouse being the best friend), my conversation with T. leveled our relationship such that she and my husband sat on separate, but level, planes. Her commitment was to supporting me, whether that meant shoe shopping or skipping town, and she didn’t allow the presence of my then-fiancé to scare her out of being the best possible friend to me.”

    This is the part that really struck me. The idea of the “separate, but level, planes” puts words to something I’ve been trying to explain to myself about my friendships post-wedding. About wanting this, really – to not feel like my friends’ husbands have in some way replaced me or that I’ve started using him to fill roles they used to fill (whether because of my own needs or because of theirs).

  • I absolutely loved this. Thank you.

  • I only wish that I had a friend like T who would have asked me this same question the day before my first wedding. Because I ended up standing behind those doors leading to the proverbial aisle, wondering if I should just say “no”. But I didn’t say no, and then getting out was much more difficult years later.

  • Moe

    “Her commitment was to supporting me, whether that meant shoe shopping or skipping town, and she didn’t allow the presence of my then-fiancé to scare her out of being the best possible friend to me.”

    I love this. The form of friendship that is ready and willing to go with you to dark places, scary places, to be a form of support in uncertainty and offernig a ride to Mexico if needed.

    I have a good friend who refers to me as her Bucket of Water friend. She said “One day my daughter or neighbor will call you and tell you that I need you. Just come. You’ll find me laying in bed, after giving up on life. Your job is pour a bucket of water on me and kick my ass until I get up out of bed and go on with life.”

    Without hesitation I know I’d do this for her if needed and likewise. Our “Mexico” is a bucket of water.

  • Becca

    I’m on the fence about the Mexico question myself. I do have severe anxiety and freak out over even little things – however, I feel sure enough in my upcoming marriage that if a close friend were to ask me that, I would definitely answer, “no, I’m getting married tomorrow”. It wouldn’t send me into a spiral as far as my marriage is concerned. But it would effect me in a negative way. I would spend days, or probably months, wondering why my friend even thought to ask such a question. Does she see my marriage as being bad for me? Is it going to be awkward between her and my husband from here on out? I’m just giving the honest reaction of someone who obsesses over things like this in real life, though my logical brain does understand why a friend would want to ask this question.

  • Lan

    I got married 3 weeks ago and my MOH asked me exactly this. Though it wasn’t necessary, it was her way of saying I’ve got your back no matter what. Very much appreciated though not applicable to all people.

  • TeaforTwo

    I loved this piece.

    A few years ago (before my fiance was even in the picture) I remember my dad telling me about a friend of his who knew on her wedding day that she was making a mistake, but was too scared to tell her father, who had already paid for so much of the wedding. Their marriage was short and awful, and after he told me what she’d said about knowing it was a mistake, he put down his knife and fork, stared straight at me and said slowly, “No father would ever want his daughter to go through with a mistake like that, and no amount of money in the world should matter if the marriage isn’t a good idea.”

    I was single at the time, but I remember being moved by how pointed he was about it. And especially since I wasn’t dating anyone, there was no risk I would take it as a slight to my relationship. But now, in the throes of planning a wedding, even though I am 100% certain that I want to marry my fiance, I’m so grateful that my dad already has his cards on the table that I am not married until I’m married, and that he is in my corner all the way.

    • This is beautiful. Tearing up at my desk.

    • Cleo

      My dad did the same thing for my sister and I. He never gave any context for the talk, but was equally adamant about it.

      I figured out years later that it started when my uncle was in an emotionally abusive marriage and his then-wife was trying very hard to isolate him from family. (He has since divorced and married an amazing woman (my favorite aunt…and I have a LOT)).

      But that talk is something I keep in my mind in any stage of a relationship — it’s not done until it’s done.

    • meg

      Goosebumps and tears.

    • alyssa

      My dad did the same thing for me. When I was first engaged, I surprised myself by being totally happy and totally scared at the same time! The first thing my dad told me when I expressed this fear was that he would be worried if I wasn’t a tiny bit nervous – that if I wasn’t considering all angles, then I wasn’t putting the right amount of energy or discernment into the level of commitment that marriage demands.
      He also made sure that I knew right up until the end that he’d drive the car to “Mexico” if I needed it.
      All this made me feel so loved and supported. And he cried happy tears at our wedding, is good buddies with my husband, and is 100% supportive of our marriage. It was amazing to know I had someone in my corner, and it felt amazing to know that even with “Mexico” being an option, I still knew that I really, truly wanted to be married to my husband.
      Emily’s post was beautiful! I hope all brides are blessed with the friend who supports, loves, and honors them the way T. did her.

  • I loved this. I think tone is hard to convey in writing, and I don’t think anyone actually says “You wanna just go to Mexico instead?” without any context, but the idea of having a friend who is committed to your relationship in that way is important, and something a lot of people don’t have. I have at least 2 friends who would say that and mean it, and consider myself really lucky.

    My mom’s best friend asked my mom if she really wanted to go through with it before her first wedding. She told me years later that she knew her friend would seriously take her away, but that she felt so committed that she had to go through with it. I think to any bride, knowing that a Civic, or, in this case, some variety of Arkansas pickup, is ready and willing to take you away from the situation, is an amazing feeling, whether you go or not.

  • Ann

    So I didn’t have anyone say that to me *before* the wedding, but I did get something similar afterwards. At least a couple of my friends said, half jokingly, have serious, that if I didn’t want to go through with it, I could just not mail in the license! I didn’t much think about it at the time…

    (I definitely had jitters on the morning of the wedding, but I had no worries about putting the piece of paper in the mail. That makes me think that for a fair number of people, being nervous about the wedding =/= being nervous about getting married.)

  • H


    One of my friends (T.) told me the story of when she got engaged and then never married the person, and how she had told her good friend this same sort of thing “Do you want to go to Mexico instead?” when she got married. That good friend told T later that she wished she had taken her up on it. So it’s now T’s policy to ask every single one of her friends whether she wants to go to Mexico or not, and let them know that the offer stands.

    With me she asked a few months after we got engaged. I remembered the story on my wedding day interestingly enough. I was back in the back waiting to walk into the sanctuary (by myself actually – because my bridesmaids had already gone down, and my dad was waiting for me near the door.) And my thought was, you know, I could just walk out the door, but I really don’t want to. And reminding yourself that you have that choice is SO important. Because as I stepped into the church itself, I knew I was making and had made that choice, without any regrets.

    • Emily

      That’s what it drove home for me: this is optional, I’m not stuck, it’s not too late, and I still want to do this. Not because she was challenging those feelings, but because she was gently prompting me to consider them. No regrets!

  • Barbara Harris

    THIS. The distinction is that one’s family and friends are not DISplaced but especially not REplaced by a spouse. A spouse becomes an integral part of everyday life and more intertwined when children (bio or adopted) are involved.

    My father was my rock during my wedding planning. Did it all with a steadiness that I needed. He asked me several times if I was sure this is what I wanted. No judgements, no speculation, just his reminder to me to take a moment and make my choice over and over again. I chose to marry my husband and everyday I chose to love him, like him and put up with him.

    I’ll always treasure that my Dad knew how to bolster the confidence I already had within me.

  • SJ

    My parents ask me if I really wanted to get married right before they walked me down the aisle.
    I’ve never stopped thinking about it.

  • Mezzanine

    I know someone who got married despite knowing she shouldn’t, because everyone was expecting her to and it was too hard to stop and say “Wait – I don’t want to do this anymore.” One miserable marriage later, she’s now divorced and wishing someone had taken a moment to check whether she really wanted to go through with it.

    So, last time I was a bridesmaid, I let my friend know that, while I fully supported her getting married, if she decided NOT to at the last minute, I’d totally be there with a train ticket home.

  • Rachel

    This is fantastically lovely, and is making me think so fondly of my really close friends.

  • adrienne

    All of this.

    Thank you for sharing. I’ve sent this post along to several friends who I would trust to be my Mexico friends. I think, whether you support the relationship or not, showing your friends that you’re there for them no matter what and as long as they’re in, you’re in and as long as they’re happy, you’re happy is the best thing you can do.