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A friend is getting married in the middle of nowhere. How can I get out of going - gracefully?

  • Author: Wayne and Wanda
  • Updated: February 9
  • Published February 9

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I have a question about wedding etiquette. So one of my gal pals is getting married this summer. She actually just got engaged, so it’s come together really fast. The wedding itself is planned for a small, remote town in eastern Oregon. It’s a place that’s very special to her, and a piece of land that has been in the family a long time. It is also miles from civilization – at least an hour from the closest airport. There are hardly any hotels, much less VRBOs or Airbnbs. I’ve crunched the numbers, roughly; it will cost me well over $1,000 to attend.

If money and time were not obstacles, I would be there in a heartbeat. If she were my very best friend, same story. But the facts are, money is an obstacle, and while she’s a special friend, she isn’t my bestie.

Yet I’m afraid if I don’t go, she will hold it against me. This is her wedding, after all. I feel like there is an expectation to make it work and sacrifice to be there. Is that true? Do I have to go? Can I get out of it? I feel stuck.

Wanda says:

Destination weddings – they’re the best, and the worst! We all love a tropical getaway and the romantic fairy-tail setting of an exotic locale, yet the stress and financial mess of getting there can trump the warm fuzzies. Look, the bride should understand the second she picked a spot more than 40 miles outside the home radius, she’s likely to lose a large number of her invitees, especially if she’s picked some sentimental but rather bland small town in the middle of nowhere – because let’s be real, if I’m going to throw down $1K, Aruba sounds way cooler than Sheep and Cow Town, Oregon.

All of our lives and our moments of free time and exploration are a collection of resources and how we choose to allot them. Bare truth: time you spend at her wedding in this tiny town someplace far-flung is time you can’t spend doing something you’d rather do. Is it worth it? Ask yourself some thought-provoking and exploratory questions. Would this friend make the same journey for you? Would it matter to you if she didn’t?

Weddings are a funny thing. Intense, personal and sometimes wildly inconvenient, we may feel a compulsory urge to attend, and feel driven by a sickening undercurrent of fear that our failure to show will anger and sadden the bride and groom. But when the host couple plan for a wedding at an out-of-town spot, they should understand that the time and money needed to go just makes it unreasonable for many guests.

Wayne says:

That’s funny, Wanda – I thought about mooooving to Sheep and Cow Town once … Baaaaaad idea.

If we all lived by strict wedding etiquette, we’d spend every summer and holiday weekend of our mid-20s to mid-30s dressed up all nice, far away from home, and with no money. You can’t make all the weddings and you can’t make everyone happy, so commit to those that are important to you or very important to them. This one clearly isn’t either, and in addition it’s also super-inconvenient; that seals it.

So how about this: Let the special people in their lives attend their special ceremony in their special place. You can’t be her only friend who isn’t excited about sacrificing an Alaska summer weekend, a thousand or so bucks, and some serious comfort to attend their nuptials in nowhere. So, get those on-the-fence friends together and plan a fun Alaska-based party for when the newlyweds return.

Get a keg, buy a cake, find an affordable caterer, make a totally cute Evite. They’ll have that just-married glow all over again, while you all will have a chance to show them that you do care. Everyone saves money, time and face.

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