Post # 1
Hi bees, first time posting here but have been following the boards for a few months now since I got engaged. I’m really hoping for some suggestions of what to do as a guest to a wedding happening in two and a bit week’s time.
The bride is a girl I grew up with and was very very close to through elementary school. I spent a lot of time with her family and considered them to be part of my own. We really didn’t keep up through high school or after (it’s been 7 years since high school grad), but she reached out when she got engaged to invite me and my now-fiance – I was really honoured as I know she’s having a smaller wedding and I’ve been excited to go celebrate with her.
However, my fiancés mother has just planned a weekend away to a festival out of town for the whole family for his dad’s birthday. Generally we would just say we need to reschedule, but because it’s all wrapped around this festival his dad is so excited about, that’s not an option. I would hate to cancel the RSVP since it’s such a crappy thing to do, but FI’s mom has a personality disorder that makes her impossible to talk to rationally when she’s upset. She holds grudges like no other, and unfortunately Fiance and I missed a previous birthday event that will no doubt contribute to some serious anger if we say we can’t go.
My question is this: is there a way we can very politely and sincerely cancel our RSVP, send a beautiful card and gift, and still be okay? The other option would be for Fiance to go to the birthday weekend and I go to the wedding alone – I would really strongly prefer not to do this as I only know the family, we no longer share any friends unfortunately. The invite was addressed specifically to Fiance and I, I think the bride would prefer I didn’t substitute a plus one, but I can always ask if necessary.
Thank you you all in advance!
Post # 2
Are you still before the RSVP deadline? If so, there’s nothing wrong with calling and explaining the situation and saying you’re sorry you can’t make it. I would also send a gift and a card.
Post # 3
Can you not slip out to go to the wedding on the ONE evening in a whole weekend of birthday festivities? Unless it’s quite far I’d try to do both.
However, calling her up and saying that unfortunately you are not able to go, but appreciate the invite and would love to see her after everything has settled down, etc, is not rude. Whatever you do – decide before the RSVP deadline so she can adjust her numbers.
eta – It would also be rude of your Mother-In-Law to hold a grudge, considering you accepted this RSVP before they’d made any plans. So she is being very rude!
Post # 4
Having been through wedding planning, if the RSVP date has passed, rescinding an RSVP is a pretty crappy thing to do and will actually cost your friend money.
If the date hasn’t passed, immediately call her and apologize.
Post # 5
I’m going to guess if the wedding is in two weeks the RSVP deadline has long passed and you responded that you and your Fiance would be attending. Your friend may have already provided her numbers to the caterer and worked out seating. I understand the conflict but “canceling” your RSVP at this point would indeed be rude.
You and your Fiance may have to divide and conquer on this one, or as a PP suggested, skip out of the weekend festival for a few hours to attend the wedding if it’s nearby.
Post # 6
bummblingbee : how far apart are the two events? If it’s reasonable distance I’d try to take Fiance and slip away for the wedding. You’d still be there for all of FFIL’s birthday festivities but you won’t have to take back your RSVP either. If it’s this close, I’m assuming you’ve missed the RSVP deadline which means she’s planned for you…if you do choose not to attend the wedding, I would call her ASAP and still send a gift and card.
If it were me, I would make Fiance be the messenger since he has a better (eh, longer) history of communicating with his mother. I would have him tell her that you two already had plans prior to her reservations at this festival, and that you’ll be joining them for the entire weekend save for the evening of the wedding.
Who knows it will probably be good for him and you both to stand up to her, and hold your ground as a unit…if you’re in for a lifetime of dealing with this lady better start now!
Post # 7
Go to the wedding- its once in a lifetime. Birthdays are every year.
Post # 8
bummblingbee : I would say since you RSVPd before your Future Mother-In-Law made her plans and the deadline is likely passed you should go to the wedding. That said, I recognise that your Future Mother-In-Law might be too difficult to deal with and breaking etiquette with a long-ago friend is small beans compared to pissing Future Mother-In-Law off. So…. if you HAVE TO go to the birthday thing I think you should tell the bride right away and give a deep apology. Likely the final numbers haven’t been submitted to the caterer yet, so she shouldn’t be too put out. Still- send a really nice gift or a check at least large enough to cover both your plates in case she is out the money.
Post # 9
Thanks everyone for the comments! Unfortunately the festival is two ferries away from the wedding and not something we could slip away from.
We usually are quite good at staying independent from Future Mother-In-Law because she can make her family’s lives a living hell. We have distance and are on good terms, but this is something she will fight tooth and nail over, and I feel terrible for my Fiance who will bear the brunt of her anger, since she likes to run with comments like “you’re abandoning the family” and “well we just won’t celebrate birthdays anymore” (and does actually follow through on this! She wouldn’t let anyone do anything birthday related around her for 2 years after this incident!).
Anyways, yes Future Mother-In-Law can be a giant pain, but in general we understand her issues and cope pretty well. This is just one of those things I know it’s not worth the fight – looks like we may be splitting up for the weekend! Everyone’s comments have been really helpful in providing perspective. I’m getting married next year so I don’t have personal experience (yet), but I’m sure it would be just awful for someone to cancel two weeks before the event for what sounds like such a silly reason.
Post # 10
Stop walking on eggshells, it’s a workbook.
Post # 11
You can’t let your MIL’s personality disorder dictate your life. You simply tell her you already committed to this wedding. Sorry.
Post # 12
bummblingbee : even if the RSVP date has passed, I think if you call the bride asap there’s a 50% chance their final head counts aren’t due yet (some caterers it’s 4 weeks, others 2 weeks). So if your going to cancel, call like TONIGHT. Explain the situation, and while she’ll be bummed, I’m sure she’ll understand. Also, yes, send a nice card and a gift. I think as long as you’ve sent a gift, even if they will had to pay for you, couples are much more understanding and forgiving
Post # 13
bummblingbee : Is the birthday a major milestone?
If it’s not a major milestone, it’s no contest. Attend the wedding. I think making a big deal of adult birthdays (except major milestones) is silly. I also agree with PPs that if you do drop out of the wedding and attend, you’re setting yourselves up to being at FMIL’s beck and call for every family birthday.
If it is a major milestone birthday it’s a bit trickier. It is true that cancelling 2+ weeks before isn’t the end of the world – numbers can usually be adjusted – though it is hard for a small wedding. I’d still attend the wedding, but at least if it’s a milestone birthday I can see that it’s a dilemma. If it’s any old birthday, it’s no dilemma, the wedding wins hands down.
Extra thought: if it’s an all weekend birthday, and presumably a Saturday wedding, you could arrive after the wedding on Saturday night or Sunday morning. Future Mother-In-Law won’t be 100% happy with that but at least you’ll have made an appeaance.
Post # 14
Your Mother-In-Law behaves this way because it works. She pitches a fit and gets what she wants. It’s incredibly rude to plan an entire birthday weekend for a group of adults on short notice and then get angry if someone can’t participate. The fact that you are considering rescinding an rsvp for that reason will ensure her behaviour continues throughout your life. I would tell her that unfortunately you have other commitments, had she provided more notice, it might have worked. Make this her fault, not yours!
And if she holds a grudge and refuses to participate in future events, fine by me! She doesn’t sound like much fun anyway. Stand your ground now Bee, this will get worse and cause you resentment later in life.
Post # 15
WillowBee33 : “It’s incredibly rude to plan an entire birthday weekend for a group of adults on short notice and then get angry if someone can’t participate.” <—- This, times 100.
“I would tell her that unfortunately you have other commitments, had she provided more notice, it might have worked. Make this her fault, not yours!” <— This also. (Though I’d still throw her a bone by attending after the wedding).