Dealing with family’s frustration over wedding in Hawaii

  • Wednesday, April 24, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

Dear Carolyn:

My fiance and I are planning a Hawaii wedding. We’re from the East Coast. We would love for all of our family to make the wedding, but we understand some of our family and friends won’t be able to make it.

I have an aunt who is notorious for influencing others to make family vacation plans within driving distance because she has a fear of flying. That fear is now interfering with our wedding. She is not willing to come to Hawaii due to that fear, and now her parents and her siblings are frustrated with us for planning a wedding that is not within driving distance.

Are we crazy to think this day should be about us and should be where we want it? Or should we fold and have the wedding somewhere she can drive to it? Am I being an ungracious bride?

My family can’t seem to understand there will be an irreparable rift between my aunt and me if she ruins yet another family event.

— T.


Please, stop. “There will be [a] rift”? Only if you decide to create one, so stop hiding behind the passive voice.

Also stop hiding behind “this day should be about us” rationales for doing whatever you want. Weddings don’t suspend the laws of autonomy and consequences. You choose the wedding you want, yes — and accept the consequences of your choices.

So, destination? Sure. Just take responsibility for whatever comes with that. It’s not just about having fewer guests, either. Another consequence is that people will feel annoyed at having to choose between shelling out or missing out.

Another is that your aunt will feel excluded, whether you like her or not, and maybe so will others who have similar obstacles to a pricey, 12-hour-ish flight. Certainly no one relative is entitled to control everyone’s event planning — I’m with you there, Auntie sounds overdue to be a good sport about missing some things — but requesting outsize helpings of others’ money and time for a wedding, even if you graciously take “no” for an answer, doesn’t sit well with some folks. Right or wrong; what’s real must be reckoned with.

Another consequence is that some relatives who love you will still side with your aunt. Which is their prerogative and therefore not her fault. If your people lived all over the world, then even a wedding in your own backyard would mean travel. But as backdrop-shoppers, you’ll be lucky if only one aunt is unthrilled.

Again — utterly your decision, your prerogative, your life. And your consequences to manage.

For which an “irreparable rift” is surely not the best you’ve got?

I say go to Hawaii … or fold. Whatever. Just own it.

Meaning, don’t blame Auntie. In fact, draw her in. Tell her you’re touched your wedding is so important to her, and sorry you didn’t fully appreciate how much being there would matter to everyone. Because people do want to be included, and inclusion is a mutual gift.

And … if the island wedding is on, then promise a local reception afterward, if you’re willing. I’m guessing the only people that won’t appease at least somewhat are the ones just itching to judge.

— Washington Post Writers Group

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