Q: I made the mistake of sending someone a guilt-induced save the date for our wedding. This person assumed she would be invited to our wedding, and I figured I liked her well enough (and let’s face it: I’m a people pleaser), so I sent it out. Then we barely talked for months, and when we did it was usually her asking me to explain my political beliefs to her, or her telling me those beliefs are wrong. Surprise, surprise, I realized we don’t really have much of a relationship, and this is how it’s been the entire six or seven years we’ve known each other. She seems to only want to take from me—advice, attention, validation, or whatever it is.
I talked this over with my fiancé and we agreed that we should just not send her a wedding invitation at all… but now I feel incredibly guilty. I feel like I’m actively excluding her, like I’m being overly mean, and like she’ll assume I un-invited her because of our political differences. It’s one of those situations where I truly don’t know how she feels about me and the situation (or if she’d even care), so my brain is spiraling in worry circles about it.
I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I also don’t want to spend any part of our wedding day worrying about whether drama is happening between her and the other guests, or thinking about the uncomfortable conversations we’ve had recently. We sent all of our invitations out yesterday, but the wedding is still more than two months away… so there’s time to send her one.
I’m curious, was the mistake sending the save the date in the first place, or withholding the invitation? Is it ever okay to send a save the date without following up with an actual invite?
A:Before I get into the ethics of wedding etiquette (if you will), let’s jump in with the more esoteric question, because honey, this political question is timely.
In my dream wedding world scenario, people only invite the friends and family that they love and who love them back, and everyone is happy and gets along and there’s no drama and you exit into rainbows and sunshine and fairy whispers. Of course, life doesn’t always work like our imaginary dream worlds. Furthermore, when it comes to political disagreements with friends, it’s worth thinking about it like this: if the person is annoying but is ultimately on your team (maybe she likes Bernie and you like Hillary and you’re frustrated, or maybe you’re an Independent and she’s a Republican, but you generally agree on life things…), then, you know, deal. Presidential campaign years are a bitch like that. However, if she’s unapologetically supporting a candidate that is openly racist, misogynistic, and overwhelmingly horrible and you’re not into that (you know, not to name names…), maybe consider un-inviting her from your life.
Where is the line, and how do you know when to draw it? It probably differs for everyone, but for me, I do like to have friends who have different views, but don’t want to surround myself with racists ever. But while it might be tempting to un-invite a friend from my wedding who has political differences, it wouldn’t be as easy to un-invite my many, many family members who have those same differences. So if she’s just annoying but mostly harmless, then you have to just deal.
So with the politics taken care of, let’s talk etiquette. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that quite a few people have sent out save the dates and then decided somewhere along the line that actually having some of those people at the wedding isn’t such a great idea. And to that point, I do think that you potentially made a big mistake. To me, the mistake isn’t not sending the wedding invite; it’s that you sent the save the date in the first place. Save the dates are such a funny thing in the wedding world these days, because they can mean different things to different people.
I think the original idea of a save the date is what the name says: a little notice that says, “Oh hey, we’re getting married on this day! Formal invite to follow, but mark it on your calendars.” Unless, of course, you didn’t include “formal invite to follow” (which is something I see lacking from save the dates all the time). Because you know what? If you didn’t note that people will receive a separate invitation, the save the date becomes the invitation. And you know what else? Even if you did make that note, some of your guests might still consider the save the date the actual invite… which means she might be coming anyway, and you don’t even know about it.
So perhaps the best thing to do is to figure out if she’s planning to come to the wedding at all. First and foremost, you said that you guys have mutual friends (or at least, people you both know). Do any of them hang with her regularly enough that they could inquire? If not, has she reached out at all since you’ve sent the save the date? If still no, then your best plan might be to neglect to send an invite, and hope she doesn’t show. If she does, be prepared to be gracious, but ultimately busy yourself with the fact that, you know, it’s your wedding day and you don’t have to be too worried about her if you don’t want to.
Wedding etiquette in 2016 is a fluid beast: the rules are changing constantly. Miss Manners holds little leverage these days, and you can never be totally sure that a save the date means the same thing that it has before. It’s worth keeping in mind that you’ll probably be in total whirlwind mode on your wedding day anyway, and I doubt you’ll even notice half the people who come.
So, Frenemy (and others in the same boat), take note. In the future, don’t send save the dates or invites to any event at all unless you’re sure you actually want the person to be there. The best-case scenario is that she never responds or acknowledges the date at all. The worst case is two-fold: she’ll show up and be dramatic, or she won’t show up but will passive aggressively comment on every single wedding photo you upload to Facebook (or hey: she’ll ignore it completely). Good luck.
And as for your relatives supporting Trump… well. I just wish there was an easy way to change minds and hearts.
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