Am I ‘selfish’ for skipping my friend’s 40-person pandemic wedding?

·7-min read

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Hi, Group Chat, 

My friend is having a wedding next month and she’d like me to attend. While I am honored she is requesting my presence, her wedding will be a big event with close to 40 people.

Given the pandemic, I don’t feel safe going, as she’s mentioned people may be flying in from other parts of the country. I told the bride that I need to think about attending and she accused me of being selfish. I haven’t even declined yet but she’s gone so far as to claim that I don’t care about her at all. I’m unsure what to say to her, please advise! 


Stressed Guest

Credit: ITK
Credit: ITK

Dear Stressed Guest,

Jenny Kline, who respects wedding traditions but not as much as she respects Dr. Fauci, says… An RSVP card doesn’t include an essay portion. It’s not a written exam. You simply check “yes” or “no.” I feel like this year in particular people have forgotten that a wedding invitation is not a court summons!

People say no to weddings all the time for all sorts of reasons: “I have a conflict.” “I can’t afford a flight.” “I don’t want to risk getting infected with a deadly disease.” “I’m in love with the groom, he’s my best friend, he’s marrying Cameron Diaz so I have to wreak havoc on the Chicago metro area until he calls off the wedding.” These are all good reasons to stay home!

Here are two things that really need to happen, and hopefully the after-effects of the pandemic will encourage these shifts. One, brides and grooms across the board need to get better at managing their expectations. Some people are going to RSVP no. Some people you’ll wish had RSVP’d no, because they got drunk and hit on the groom’s dad. If you need every element of the day to be perfect, you should just skip your own wedding! Two, the rest of us need to stop being wishy-washy and just give couples a headcount so they can pay the caterer. Flakiness is not a virtue! Ever heard the phrase “rip off the Band-Aid”? It’s not literally about Band-Aids!

My friends, the pandemic will eventually be under control, but the need in life to sometimes say “no” is forever. So it’s time to get used to making choices, defending those choices and being okay with the consequences of how other people respond.

Matt Mataxas, who loves the Cupid Shuffle, but not as much as he loves good health, says… There are a few things you can ask before saying an outright “no,” like, “Will people be socially distanced?” “Is it outdoors?” “Will everyone be wearing a mask?” — just to get some background information to help inform your decision. But for me personally, there are several reasons to decline this specific invite.

First of all, my favorite things to do at weddings are dancing and drinking, and if I can’t safely be dancing or drinking, I’m not going. Second, there’s the little issue of the bride calling you selfish. Now you have the green light to be savage because she was rude, and if she’s going to start it, someone’s going to end it. I’m pretty sure that’s Newton’s Second Law. You skipping this wedding is basic physics. I would definitely not go and wouldn’t even send a gift.

Gibson Johns, who wouldn’t be caught dead at a wedding during the pandemic, says… I definitely see why you’re conflicted: You want to be there to support your friend, especially for such a big occasion in her life. I get it. In a world where we weren’t still in the depths of an international pandemic, very little would excuse you not being there. But that’s not the reality, and it’s time that your friend recognized that.

I’d argue that you’re not the one being selfish — she is. Having a 40-person wedding right now is a self-centered move. She’s asking all 40 of her guests to quarantine for two weeks, get tested and then quarantine for two weeks afterward, just to be there for her because she doesn’t want to delay her wedding until there’s a widely-available vaccine? That’s a lot to ask from the closest people in your life — and if she refuses to realize that not everyone will feel comfortable with it, then that’s on her, not you. 

You aren’t being selfish — you’re being selfless. In addition to protecting your own health by considering not going to this wedding, you’re also protecting those around you and who you’re allowing yourself to interact with these days. This is the absolute correct thing to do, and if making the responsible decision in this situation creates an irreparable fracture in your friendship with the bride, then, in my opinion, so be it. One thing you realize during adulthood is that not all friendships last forever, and while it’s a sad thought, if your so-called good friend can’t understand your decision to forgo her wedding during a pandemic, then perhaps this friendship isn’t a forever one. You deserve better. Bye Felicia!

Pamela Reynoso, the mother of a child born during the height of the pandemic in NYC, says… As someone who has had to be very blunt to people who have asked to meet a small baby during the pandemic, I’m here to tell you that any form of etiquette went out the window as soon as public health became the priority. So don’t feel bad about having to decline her invitation.

The great thing about weddings is coming together to drink, eat, dance and sit at a table full of people you probably do not know (and in your case, some of these people are FLYING IN from around the country!!). All of these activities are high-risk at the moment, so it makes complete sense as to why you’d want to decline. It’s sad that the bride is calling you selfish when she’s the one asking 40 people to disregard all the public safety protocols experts are trying to get people to follow and join her in her wedding instead. Let’s hope that she’s saying these things as a result of the stress she’s feeling from planning a wedding during these unprecedented times.

But think of it this way: You are giving her the gift of health and risk reduction by politely declining … and maybe even still sending her a nice gift to be the bigger person. I wouldn’t even address her comments or take it personally right now. Just say that you don’t feel it’s safe to attend considering that cases are going up everywhere around the world and some countries have even gone into lockdown as a result. I’m kinda shocked that she’s planning to have this wedding right now, to be honest. But it is what it is. Wishing you the best and sending you lots of courage so you can set your boundaries without feeling “selfish” (you are not). 

TL;DR… A lukewarm Italian buffet and the chance to make out with a handsome groomsman is not worth literal death. Sit this one out.

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