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This Spine Doesn’t Travel On Short Notice

Just wanted to write and thank you. I’ve been an Etiquette Hell reader for several years and have enjoyed your stories – especially those about developing a polite spine. I recently had an opportunity to put some of your excellent advice into practice.

We live several hundred miles away from where the rest of our family lives. We can make the drive in one day, but it’s a very long, tiring day. My husband’s family, in particular, tends to not take our location into consideration when communicating about family events, such as weddings, reunions, etc. As a result, we’ve had the unpleasant experience of receiving a call telling us that something is planned for a day or weekend in the near future and they would “love for us to be there.”   This throws us into panic mode trying to change existing plans and make new, last minute plans for a fairly long trip in order not to miss whatever is going on back home (a not inconsiderable effort, we have two kids and both work full time outside the home). I know, don’t say it. We’re wimpy, wimpy doormats!

So, a few months ago, my husband’s Niece calls to tell us she’s engaged and plans to be married soon. We say congratulations and be sure to let us know when you settle on a date so we can be there for you. Months go by and no word about the wedding. We did wonder off and on, but figured they had decided on a longer engagement.

A week or so ago another family member happened to be in our area and asked to meet for dinner. Talk turned, as it will, to other family members, and she asked if we were planning on attending Niece’s wedding. We stated that we hadn’t heard a thing about it. Apparently, Niece and Niece’s Mother had sent out the Save the Date announcement via Facebook. Not sure what their plan was for people not on Facebook or not friends with Niece or if they even had a plan for those people. Whatever happened, we fell through the cracks and didn’t hear about the wedding until it was less than a month away.

My husband and I discussed the situation and decided that enough was enough and we were no longer going to allow failure to plan and communicate on someone else’s part to result in panic and stress on our part. Niece’s Dad (husband’s brother), called us last night to let us know which hotel they had rooms reserved for out-of-town guests. We very politely told him that we were so sorry but, due to the short notice we had received regarding the date of the wedding, we would be unable to attend.

“What do you have going that’s more important than Niece’s wedding? She’d really like you to be there.”

“We’d really love to be there, but it’s such a long way to go on such short notice. By the way, how did that salmon fishing trip of yours go? Did you catch anything?”   (Bean dipping! Thanks, E Hell!!)

He tried to pin us down a couple more times and we just kept going back to we’d love to be there, but sorry, short notice, then bean dip to something else. Eventually, he gave up. We sent our love to everyone and hung up.

We don’t have any illusions that things are going to magically change and his family will start taking the realities of distance and geography into consideration when communicating plans, but it sure feels good to know that on the day of the wedding we’ll be sitting in our backyard drinking ice tea instead of sitting at the wedding feeling exhausted from a long, unplanned trip; dreading the equally long, and doubly exhausting trip home the next day; and silently seething because we had, once again, allowed someone else to turn our lives upside down. Thanks!!  0730-14


It’s not just that the Save the Dates were issued via a Facebook status but that apparently you did not receive an actual wedding invitation in a timely fashion either.   I think I would have husband call his brother and explain further that it was only by accident that you knew of the wedding at all and that with three weeks notice, that just wasn’t enough time to arrange work and other obligations to travel several hundred miles. Reiterate that you would have loved to have been there but having not received any information on the wedding, you are not prepared to travel 200-300 miles on short notice.   And by all means send a lovely card congratulating them on their wedding and give a gift if you would have had you attended.    Polite spines are great but family weddings can be a tricky minefield to navigate and sending a card and gift will go a long way in communicating that you still love them even as your spine stiffens.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • TeraBat July 31, 2014, 2:53 pm

    Ugh, I have family which does almost exactly the same thing. It’s extremely annoying to not get notice about things that are happening ~600 miles away until basically a few days before. And then the family complains that they never get to see me, even though I’ve made it as clear as I possibly can that I’m busy and can’t drop everything to make last-minute road trips.

    Also, my family does weddings in roughly the same way. They’re religious (I’m not), so most families have a lot of kids who marry young, which equals out to ‘Not a whole lot to spend on weddings.’ The ceremony is in the church and the reception is usually either also in the church’s rec room or someone’s home, catered either cheaply or via potluck. So guest lists, cost per head, etc., are never really a concern and the weddings are pretty much open to whomever wishes to attend. It’s possible OP’s family might be from a similar culture.

  • Cami July 31, 2014, 3:02 pm

    OP, I understand your dilemma as we live 1500 miles away (a good 2 day ride) from the nearest relative and none of them could grasp that getting 24 hours notice means that we can’t attend your event since we’d arrive 24 hours late. Or that having to add on an extra 4 days of vacation for driving alone to attend an event just might not be possible due to work issues or frankly, wanting to take our limited vacation time for an actual vacation rather than attending a family event (especially since none of them would visit us to attend one of our family events because “it’s too much time and money”.)

    My dh was very susceptible to the guilt tripping of his family. Until we too got last minute notice of a niece’s wedding. We declined immediately, which resulted in a flood of calls from multiple family members (including niece) saying, “But niece will be sooooo upset!” My dh gave in, marital drama ensued because we ended up spending $1500 on airfare (since we had to take as little time as possible due to lack of vacation time), and guess what? The niece never even acknowledged our presence, thanked us for coming, or sent us a thank you note for our gift. All of that time and money spent so we could be ignored by the niece who was supposedly so upset at our potential absence. No more.

  • CH July 31, 2014, 3:55 pm

    It isn’t just one day of driving–it is one long day there and one long day back, with I assume one day of wedding in between. I live about a 12 hour drive from my family (when traffic is good) and sometimes we have to do it in one day. It is exhausting. And if your job doesn’t allow you to schedule a week’s vacation at such short notice, you are doing it over a 3-day weekend and not really getting to enjoy visiting with family while you are there. It would not be worth it to me for someone who didn’t even remember to invite me to the wedding.

  • OP July 31, 2014, 4:11 pm

    Hi, OP here. Just to clarify a couple of things.

    1. The distance we have to travel – 1 way – is a little less than 800 miles. For us, that’s a long day in the car. Your mileage (so to speak) may vary.

    2. We did receive an invitation to the wedding the day AFTER the bride’s brother called to tell us about the hotel.

    3. Yes, we could have called and asked about the date of the wedding, but we didn’t. We’re busy people with our own lives. The fact that we didn’t hear about it when talking to other members of the family over the last few months kind of makes me think that the planning and organization for the event has not been the best.

    4. Some people commenting seem to feel that my husband and I have made a rash decision in not attending an important event for a close relative. I can assure you a great deal of thought went into it. Our decision is based not only on years of precisely this sort of thing happening (we once received an invitation to a family reunion a week before it was to be held – we didn’t attend that event, either), but also considerations of asking for time off work on short notice and financial concerns because we haven’t had time to budget for this expense. Setting boundaries in your life is important. Not always easy, especially when it involves people you care about, but important.

    5. A card with our customary gift is already in the mail along with our wishes for years of wedded bliss for the happy couple. We fully expect there to be fallout because we didn’t attend the wedding. We have already discussed it and our response will be, “We would have loved to be there for Niece, but it’s impossible for us to travel that far without enough notice. Hey, we haven’t seen you in ages. Why don’t you hop in your car tomorrow and run up here for dinner?” (I’m joking about the last two sentences. Sort of.)

    • Wild Irish Rose July 31, 2014, 4:53 pm

      I’d totally say it, OP. Sometimes people need to be faced with their own lack of manners before they “get it.”

      One of my favorite stories with regard to a niece’s wedding was in a letter to an advice columnist. This was the niece’s third (or fourth, I can’t recall) wedding, and the aunt and uncle received a STD card. Aunt was not inclined to attend because really, third or fourth wedding? So the advice columnist said to send a card and a gift with their regrets, and gave her permission to say something like, “We really wish we could be there as we always enjoy your weddings.”

      • RC July 31, 2014, 6:50 pm

        BAHAHAHA I love that line! Bazinga!

      • Susan July 31, 2014, 7:16 pm

        800 miles?! I’m in awe of your stamina (or lead foot), OP, if you’ve made that trip without stopping overnight. But seriously, you did great. Extending invitation to visit, even if it’s made for a couple months out for a weekend stay might also “drive” the point home.

        I loved that story, Wild Irish Rose. Luckily for me, I’ve only been hit with attending 2nd weddings, which can often more enjoyable anyway . 🙂

      • Jennifer August 24, 2014, 4:48 pm

        I read this last night, and I know this was posted a while ago, but it’s been eating at me since. How is this polite? Giving someone who invited you to their wedding- no matter what number- a biting insult is horrible. The correct answer is “no, I cannot attend.” Period. Nothing more or less.

    • wren July 31, 2014, 5:07 pm

      I am in your corner all the way, OP. You took this decision very seriously and are prepared for the reactions of the astonished. Good job.

    • babs July 31, 2014, 5:07 pm

      OP, thank you for clarifying. Seems the invitation arriving immediately after the phone call from the bride’s Dad indicates that you and your husband may have slipped through the cracks and they were scrambling to make it right. 800 miles is a LONG way to pull off a slapped-together trip. That’s not a weekend venture. It’s a 12 hour ride in the car, IF you’re driving at about 70 miles per hour NON STOP! We would never make that trip in one day unless there was a dire emergency that we were rushing to.

      I know that mistakes happen, but it’s hard to fathom that someone would put out a “Save the Date” and disregard out-of-towners – those who need to make travel arrangements and benefit the most from the STD info. It could have been a mistake, or just poor planning/disorganization on their part. I think you and your husband handled the situation very politely.

    • Schnickelfritz July 31, 2014, 5:37 pm

      Thank you for responding OP!

      You will potentially be planning a couple of weddings one day. Hope the fallout from this clan doesn’t carry over.

      I would assume I was invited, as they are brothers. I would first think the invite was lost in the mail. The niece called you about her engagement. If I first thought we would attend, after talking to the niece, and knowing a date was posted, I would have followed up, asked about a shower, etc.

      • Cami August 1, 2014, 9:24 am

        It is not the guest’s responsibility to do all that work to find out if they are invited to an event.

        • Brit August 1, 2014, 5:19 pm

          Well said!

      • The Elf August 1, 2014, 10:56 am

        Well, if the fallout does carry over one day to OP’s own children’s weddings, then that is both a petty response and a long-held grudge, both of which make me likely to think *whew* rather than *oh, no, they won’t be there*. Besides, it’s not the end of the world. What’s wrong with having a smaller wedding? There’s no reason the whole fam damly has to be there. The only people that have to be there are the bride, the groom, and the officiant. (And in some states, the witness). Everyone else is, well, the icing on the wedding cake.

    • RC July 31, 2014, 6:52 pm

      Thanks for clarifying details OP, I think you handled the situation graciously, and I would have made the same decision as you and DH came to. Good luck with the fallout, and I would totally use the ‘hop in the car and come to dinner!’ line at some point, if you can do it in good humor

    • David July 31, 2014, 6:57 pm

      According to calculator, 800 miles is 13 hours and 20 minutes at 60 mph.

      So over 24 hours of driving total. If you left right after work on Friday evening, you wouldn’t make it there until 6:50 am on Saturday.

      OP, enjoy your iced tea.

      • NostalgicGal August 1, 2014, 11:59 pm

        I agree.

        Enjoy the tea.

        My dad was known for marathons where he wouldn’t stop unless he needed gasoline. Bathroom needs did NOT constitute stopping! (me plus 225 miles and needing #2 once plus nearly new car upholstery I dare NOT, I do not jest, during a 1 day 900 mile marathon drive) My DH was famous for 11 day 2-3 thousand mile trips with 15 stops to see and visit friends and relatives (his) and drag a car on trailer through a major metro during rush hour, road construction, and a rainstorm… and I would be driving. One of us had to make the miles. All I ‘d remember is the next place to crash, good. Pass out, get up, get in car, drive some more. He’d have major knyptions if we didn’t stop to see all these people either. And he wouldn’t tell me until we were at the stop to pick up the car that we were renting the trailer and bringing the car back; wiping out the money to we barely had enough for gas to get home (aka within $5 of walking). Fourth time, he started planning trip, I handed him the atlas, the gascard and the keys and said enjoy yourself have a nice time. WHAT????? I’m not going, the last TWO times were more than enough, I’m still thanking above we made it through that third one, and I do not remember most of the trip through that urban it was that bad. Anything over 300 miles, stopping more than two places (aka see people) or involving something towed on a trailer, is not a jaunt to be dismissed lightly. Anything over 500 miles should be broken into two days definitely! Yes, OP, enjoy the tea. It’s about time someone gave you proper warning with proper time so you can be safe and sane getting there and back.

    • Steve July 31, 2014, 8:10 pm

      I wouldn’t joke about it. I’d do it. Start inviting people with inadequate notice. It’s the only way they’ll get the picture.

      If you do get flak, I’d wait for a family event and do this: hand them a sheet of paper and have them show you how you travel for 15 or more hours with a required one month notice to get time off starting three weeks before the wedding. Insist they show you.

    • Rebecca August 1, 2014, 12:06 am

      800 miles, are you serious? That is FAR for a drive on short notice. In fact, I’d consider that flying distance, not driving distance, and for me to arrange a flight somewhere would require significant budgeting and planning.

    • Huh August 1, 2014, 7:45 am

      A little less than 800 miles ONE WAY? So a 11-hour car ride if you don’t ever EVER make stops? Yeah, I 100 percent don’t blame you for not wanting to go for whatever reason, OP, but especially after getting less than a month’s notice. I have a friend that lives about that distance from me and I see her maybe once a year or so when she and hubby take a week or more off work to drive up and visit family. They’ve never came to the area for a weekend. And I know they’ve missed family events because they just cannot afford the expense of the drive/time off work.

    • Goldie August 1, 2014, 9:13 am

      800 miles?! That’s a LOT! My frame of reference is, I recently got myself into a new long-distance relationship and the distance is just a bit over 100 miles. Turns out, that’s almost two hours, all freeway, with no traffic. (I thought I could get it down to an hour and 40 minutes, but got a speeding ticket on my second try.) And that’s just me traveling, without a family or kids or having to pack for being at a wedding! I’m honestly stumped that your relatives think you and your family can make that trip on last-minute notice. Have they ever gotten a last-minute invite from you? and if so, did they attend? I bet not! And I am even more stumped by all the commenters on here who blame you for saying no and “creating a rift”.

    • A different Tracy August 1, 2014, 9:41 am

      I would absolutely go with those last two sentences. Invite them to dinner one week from now. I have the same issue with my ILs who live a little more than 800 miles away (a 14 hour drive for us). They were surprised and disappointed that we couldn’t all attend a family wedding held on a Friday, during the school year. Coming from a group of people who have visited us twice in 15 years, it was more than a little irksome.

    • Brit August 1, 2014, 5:24 pm

      *800 miles*???

      I could drive to 16 different countries within 800 miles. I don’t blame you, you did the right thing. That is a LONG drive, I know!

      • jen d. August 2, 2014, 7:41 am

        Whoa! OP, you did a great job! 800 miles? I’m so glad you stood up to yourself. And you know what? Your response just now shows that you do indeed have a lovely, polite spine:)

  • Kimstu July 31, 2014, 4:22 pm

    And by the way, this also illustrates how it is both DUMB and RUDE to issue any kind of personal invitation or “pre-invitation”, such as a Save the Date notice, via any kind of general posting rather than by individual communication.

    If you want to notify somebody to Save the Date for your event because you intend to formally invite them to it, you NEED TO CONTACT THEM PERSONALLY BY SOME RELIABLE MEANS OF DIRECT COMMUNICATION. You may NOT assume that any kind of broadcast announcement, whether by social media, church bulletin board, ad in the newspaper, or anything else is an adequate substitute.

    In fact, here’s a little verselet on the subject that family and friends of bridal couples might want to deploy when appropriate:

    So you’re getting married! Well, isn’t that great!
    The first thing you’ll do is to say “Save the Date”
    To all of the people you want to be there!
    Now, how do you tell them? You need to take care
    That each of your “pre-invitations” will go
    DIRECTLY to each of the “pre-guests” you know!
    So, how should you do that? You might send a letter
    Or postcard, but many these days think it better
    To email, or chat, or to call, or to text
    (Whatever will this modern world think up next?!),
    Which is fine! Or perhaps, if you’re feeling quite retro,
    You’ll go to your friend’s house by bike, bus or Metro
    And tell them IN PERSON (! but make sure you look
    To see that they’ve noted it in their datebook)!
    By Pony Express or by carrier pigeon,
    By telegram, note, or a shout from the kitchen,
    As long as the info’s transmitted DIRECTLY
    To ALL of your guests, then you’ve done it perFECTly!

    But be careful you don’t get it into your head
    That you can just make some ANNOUNCEMENT instead.
    If you post it on Facebook or Tumblr, or tweet it,
    Or hire a crier by the hour to repeat it,
    Or get it skywritten in smoky white vapor
    Or take out an ad in the local newspaper,
    Or print it on billboards proclaiming “FREE BOOZE”—
    There will still be SOME PEOPLE WHO WON’T GET THE NEWS.
    They will blithely make plans for a trip out of state,
    Or a hospital stay, or a double shift late,

    And then some of the guests that you’d like to have had
    Won’t be at your wedding.

    And that will be sad.

    • Jade July 31, 2014, 5:37 pm

      I think I want to sent that out AS my save the dates if I ever get married! That is tremendous!

      • Kimstu August 1, 2014, 1:40 pm

        Thanks Jade! Use it however you like! 🙂

    • Anonymous August 2, 2014, 9:10 pm

      Kimstu, did you write that? It’s really good. 🙂

      • Kimstu August 3, 2014, 10:53 pm

        Yes I did, thanks!

    • AthenaC August 11, 2014, 7:16 pm

      This is great!

      I would like to use this in a blog post if you don’t mind. Is there a particular way you would like me to credit the source aside from “Kimstu at (link to this page)”?

  • OP July 31, 2014, 4:24 pm

    Whoops! Sorry, on #2 in my comments that should ready the bride’s father, not brother. I do my best proof reading after I’ve hit submit.

  • Lady Anne July 31, 2014, 5:34 pm

    I totally agree with OP – and I’m willing to bet the family involved lives in the South. The Squire and I are both retired, and our girls are grown and flown, but it is still a Big Deal to drive from north of Baltimore to the general area of Dollywood. Boarding the dog, finding someone to come in and feed the cats, take over various volunteer duties we’ve assumed, money for gas, meals, and a motel room – and the trip is always, Always, ALWAYS from here to there. It is “too far” for them to come to visit us. I cannot tell you how many weddings and funerals we’ve attended, and not one soul even sent me a card when my dad died. (Sorry – on a roll here. Ahem. Where was I? Oh, yes.)

    The Squire’s niece is expecting her first child, and I received a phone call exactly one week before the baby shower, asking me if I’d like to attend! I went on-line and had a few things delivered to the shower-thrower’s home, but I have yet to receive a thank you card or a phone call.

    I firmly believe that sex is the best idea God ever had, but sometimes I wish we divided like amoeba and didn’t have any relatives!

    • Huh August 1, 2014, 7:47 am

      Lady Anne, I will volunteer as tribute to go to the general area of Dollywood for you. 🙂

    • Vermin8 August 1, 2014, 1:00 pm

      Lady Anne, I’m in Prince William County Virginia. The trip you are talking about would take about 10 hours if traffic is OK. And since you would be traveling on I95 through one of its heaviest corridors that’s a BAD assumption.

    • Susan August 4, 2014, 9:55 am

      I think it is a ridiculous thing to assume that a rude and self-centered family must be from the South. I have lived all over the world, including north and south of the Mason Dixon line in the U.S.and have found Southerners to be among the most polite and considerate of people.

  • Shoebox July 31, 2014, 5:47 pm

    Good on you, OP. And on anyone else who realises that “Family” is not actually short for “I can totally take you for granted and not give two hoots about how I treat you, because Family!”

  • Michele July 31, 2014, 6:24 pm

    This reminds me of how my cousin handled her wedding. Apparently she had been planning this for some time, though several members of the extended family was not aware of it. My cousin lives in Big City several hours away from anyone in the family.

    Two weeks before the wedding, I get a formal invitation by mail. There was no way I could go. I had just gotten back from a week of vacation and I could not take the additional time off. If I had received the notice at the 6 to 8 week mark, I would have canceled my vacation plans and rescheduled it around the wedding destination.

    My aunt called the day after I got the invite to see if I was coming. Due to the short notice, she was gathering RSVPs so they could get a count for the wedding caterer. I said I could not. My aunt was okay with it and told me that many others had to decline as well. She was more upset that her daughter had waited so long to send out the invites. (She had had the invites in hand for at least 8 weeks before she sent them out).

    Besides declining the invite through my aunt, I sent a formal RSVP decline as well as a card and gift off the registry.

  • Inkcap July 31, 2014, 6:49 pm

    It would be awful to drop everything and go to a far-away wedding only to find out that not only had I not been on an invitation list (considering the possibility that there was one which was sent off in a timely manner and somehow my name had been overlooked or taken for granted or stuck on at the last moment), but that I had also been forgotten when it came to a seat at the venue or a plate at the dinner.

  • Whodunit July 31, 2014, 7:17 pm

    If you truly couldn’t go, then there’s no problem here. But if you could have but chose to “teach someone a lesson”, that doesn’t fly with me. Etiquette is about doing the right thing, even when others don’t. It’s about being gracious and nurturing relationships and friendships. Yea, sometimes that means being inconvenienced, but a gracious person is calm and collected and comforting. If my niece was important to me, I would have done whatever I needed to get to her — and later told the entire family to please give me more notice for future events.

    • Brit August 1, 2014, 9:01 am

      “Etiquette is about doing the right thing, even when others don’t.”

      How is it wrong for the OP – after YEARS of being treated poorly like this – to make it plain to her family that this is not acceptable and that they will no longer put up with it?

      They have been gracious over and over but they have had enough. Etiquette is not about being a doormat. Etiquette is right behind putting one’s foot down and ‘teaching someone a lesson’ if need be.

    • Skaramouche August 1, 2014, 2:05 pm

      Whodunit, I’d say that “could have” can be very relative. No matter how important the niece is to the OP, there is a significant effort involved. There has to be something to offset that effort and it seems that in this case, there isn’t. If the relatives don’t understand that an 800 mile drive is not something to be undertaken lightly despite being reminded many times, how important is the OP to them? One-sided relationships are not sustainable.

      Also, I think you have it backwards. Etiquette is about doing the right thing, not about bending over backwards to accommodate those who cannot be bothered to do the same for you. Etiquette-wise, the OP did everything that was required. They declined in time (as soon as they were “invited”, in fact) and sent wishes and a gift. The *only* thing I might have done differently is the bean-dipping while on the phone. It may have been better to give a forthright explanation about why they wouldn’t be able to attend. Then again, maybe these explanations have been tried and have failed in the past. OP might have felt that her only recourse was bean-dipping.

      Also, since when does a gracious person have to be comforting? :P. Polite, yes. Calm, yes. To some extent, kind, yes. But comforting? 😛

  • Princess Buttercup July 31, 2014, 7:17 pm

    Amusingly I kind of had the oppisite on my wedding.
    Where hubby and I live, most of our immediate family is within a couple hours drive. However, he has a sibling and grandparents in three different states, anywhere from a long days drive to two-three days drive. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nearly everyone is half way across the country or all the way across the country. As such I sent out our invites to our wedding about 6 weeks before the wedding. Figuring that the farthest out would get them with 5 weeks notice and have time to look at finances, time off, etc.
    My mother in-law (who loves to find fault in her son and even more so loves to find fault in his wife) made a comment about how some of her friends (yes general, no details) were saying that was sooo much notice. They’d have to look at things when it got closer. I smiled and said “whatever they feel they need to do, I just made sure they have time to consider their options since I know of some jobs that require four weeks notice for days off”. I didn’t comment on that I’d never heard of anyone complaining about having ample notice!

    • A different Tracy August 1, 2014, 9:26 am

      I suspect “too much notice” really means “I might have a better offer come along, and I don’t want to commit to your invitation just yet.” 🙁

    • Mary August 1, 2014, 12:15 pm

      Six weeks is the appropriate amount of time to send invitations. You did the right thing.

  • Marian Perera August 1, 2014, 5:59 am

    Knowing my family, if I’d accommodated them not inviting me until the last moment and then asked them to please give me more notice in the future, they would nod their heads – and then do the same thing the next time. Why not? My actions (letting myself be inconvenienced to suit them) would speak much louder than my words. They wouldn’t understand that the matter was serious to me unless I actually did something about it.

    • NostalgicGal August 2, 2014, 12:15 am

      Heck, my folks did this to me as a tween. They’d have plans to go to relatives on weekend, not say a word to me; then get up early and get ready and get me up with about 5 min to them heading to the car. No time to use bathroom, wash, eat, etc. If I did go to bathroom and get held up there for a few they’d be fuming mad by the time I did make the car. I protested majorly with them (not a whine or a fit) and they’d promise… and do it again. About one in ten times it would be they would actually get me up with 30 min notice. (otherwise who wants to get up at 5:30 to 6 am on a Saturday JUST IN CASE we were going somewhere?) I hit teens and started high school, and they made me ‘responsible for myself’. Fine, they did this, I waved bye, and went back to bed. Major cork pop; they were going to grandparents. 3.5 hour drive. Fine, I’ll go but I’m going to take my time to get ready. 20 min and I almost got grounded. For what? I did start staying home a lot after that though, if they couldn’t see fit to include me and give me time to get ready; I could stay home.

  • Maggie August 1, 2014, 6:52 am

    Those of you who said a wedding is a bad time to “teach a lesson” and OP should wait for the next gathering to put her foot down – that next gathering could be her great-grandmother’s 100th birthday! If that’s not a good time – then wait for the next one, which could also be a one-in-a-lifetime celebration? Where does it end? The point is – there may never be a “good” time for OP to put her foot down, so she may as well do it now.

    OP – do you ever host your own gatherings and invite these people? How do they respond? If you haven’t, try it and see what happens.

  • Jared Bascomb August 1, 2014, 12:51 pm

    Good on the OP, thanks for the clarification of the actual distance from your home to the event.

    On which subject . . . when posting about travel, could we please not use vague measurements such as “several states away”, “several hours away”, or “several hundred miles away”? Such usage caused confusion regarding the sacrifice OP was expected make, and IMHO has also caused similar confusion in other posts. What’s wrong with saying “We live in [state or city] and our family lives in [state or city]”? Or “We live 500 miles [or a 5-hour drive] from DH’s family”? It will give readers a better idea of the distances involved.

    • Marga August 1, 2014, 5:42 pm

      The OP said in her post “We can make the drive in one day, but it’s a very long, tiring day.”, which I read as a full day of travel. I think the time used is of more consequence than the distance.

      • Jared Bascomb August 1, 2014, 10:33 pm

        Yes, she did, but exactly how long is a “very long, tiring day?” For me, that would be 8 hours or more than 400 miles. For others, that day may be longer or shorter. In OP’s case, the drive turned out to be 800 miles, which some commenters have noted is 12-13 hours non-stop driving. Other commenters – when apprised of this information – have said that that is too far for one day’s travel.

        All I’m asking for is some level of specificity (ie: a 12-hour drive; 750 miles; we live near DC and our family is in Kansas) when posting about long travel distances.

        • Anonymous August 2, 2014, 11:00 pm

          It doesn’t matter. If it’s a “very long, tiring day” to the OP and her husband, then that’s good enough for me–I mean, everyone has a different level of stamina for everything, and travel is no exception. Some people get motion sickness or headaches after driving or riding in a car for any length of time. Some people have kids, who get bored easily, or have smaller bladders, and therefore, more frequent breaks are needed. Some people don’t even have cars, and have to rely on public transportation, which takes longer. My point is, it doesn’t really matter the geographical distance from the OP and her husband’s house to her relatives’ city where the wedding venue is, because the OP has already told us that it’s a long day of travel for them, and it’s too big a sacrifice for them, after being invited on such short notice.

          • Jared Bascomb August 4, 2014, 8:37 pm

            I agree with you, in this specific case.

            But what I’m suggesting is that posters IN GENERAL be a bit more specific when describing long journeys, and was using the OP as an example because some commenters were interpreting “several hundred miles” to be far less than the actual 800 miles. Consider how much of the commentary / criticism here would have been avoided if the OP had initially stated that it was an 800-mile drive instead of “several hundred miles”.

            All I’m asking is that posters who have distance issues BE A BIT MORE SPECIFIC. (Yes, all caps intended.)

            “My family lives several states away.” Several states away from Maine might put family in Maryland. Several states away from Georgia might put family in Ohio. Several states away from SoCal might put family in Wyoming. Big differences in terms of planning and driving.

            “My family lives a hard day’s drive away.” As you pointed out, a hard day’s drive can vary from person to person. Please give some time and/or miles.

            If posters don’t want to give exact locations for themselves and their families (understandable), then give us:
            approximate miles
            approximate time
            closest cities of origin and destination

            Really — is it too much to ask of posters who are talking about long-distance travel to be a tad more specific about distance/time, so that the rest of us can respond appropriately?

            What think you, Ehell Dame?

  • Angeldrac August 1, 2014, 3:57 pm

    I am put in mind of my own family, growing up. We lived about an hours drive from the rest of the extended family (ONLY an hour) . Throughout the year, invitations for the family to come to us were largely declined as it was “very far”. The rest of the family would frequently have get-togethers, though, to which we were never invited, later being told “we would have invited you but we know it’s SO FAR for you to come with the children”.
    However, EVERY SINGLE YEAR it was expected that our family host Christmas, the biggest, most involved, complicated and pressure-some event of the year. The relatives also expected to spend the night (often two). My saintly mother rarely kicked up a fuss, such was her love of Christmas and her desire to see it celebrated in good spirits without conflict. I should mention she had four children, whereas, amongst the extended family, there was one only child and the rest just adult grandparents/aunts/uncles etc.

    • Anonymous August 2, 2014, 11:20 pm

      That does sound rude, but maybe your family was thinking, “Angeldrac’s family has four kids; maybe it’d be easier on them if we all went to their house for Christmas, than if they had to travel to us.”

  • Angel August 1, 2014, 5:29 pm

    IMO it is extremely unreasonable on your niece’s part to expect you and your hubby (with 2 children to boot!) to make a 1600 mile round trip to attend her wedding with only 3 weeks notice. That side of the family presumably knows that you live a good distance away–if they really want you there they would give a minimum of 3 months notice. I think they simply forgot to mail an invite then tried to save face by guilting you and hubby into attending. To me that is total BS. And if you have a lot of out of town guests, a mailed STD would have been very useful. To put it on FB is just pure laziness on their part.

    IMO you have nothing to feel guilty about. Particularly if it happens routinely. You absolutely made the right decision!

  • Twik August 2, 2014, 8:44 am

    500 miles is not a 5 hour drive unless, as some commentators have pointed out, you leave the driveway at 60 mph. Throw in summer traffic, and it could be 8 hours or more. At which point fatigues driving becomes a serious risk.

    • NostalgicGal August 3, 2014, 1:14 am

      500 miles is more like 8-10 hours, 300 miles with no stops is 5 hours at 60mph. And that is good roads, good weather and good traffic all the way. I got used to driving for many hours; but I stop for rest breaks, food, and gas. I will even announce to the car if they’re not all snoring; about next chance is ‘x miles’ and speak now or I’m pulling through… or I need a stop, be warned. If it’s reasonably possible, I honor all rest stop requests. And I plan on making some stops. Sometimes this driver needs to stretch legs, check a tire, dump used caffeine and get a fresh supply… and I have pulled in at the pump, sprinted for the bathroom THEN pumped the gas. (unless the place is crawling and people have to wait for a pump). For every four hours on road, I add a hour. You arrive a lot saner and safer.

      • wren August 3, 2014, 11:24 am

        277 miles in a fairly straight shot took me about 5 hours in college. It was the distance between my mother’s town and my college town. This was including a bathroom/gas stop, maybe two short stops. So there is no way I could see the OP going 800 miles.

      • lnelson1218 August 4, 2014, 7:50 am

        I am with you on that one. I used to live in northern VA, close to DC. But had family in Boston. I did often make the drive vs. flying as more often than not it would cost roughly the same, by the time you adding getting to the airport, needing a car in Boston, etc.

        The FASTEST I was ever able to make the trip including a few “comfort breaks” was 8.5 hours. This trip included hitting the road on a Sunday morning non-holiday weekend at 4:30am, being a lead foot, and truly trying to keep those breaks to a minimum. More often the trip was 10+ hours, as there almost always was traffic or an accident.

  • Mags August 2, 2014, 5:36 pm

    For all those who say they would do anything to be at the niece’s wedding — just exactly what do you mean by anything? Would you quit your job? Would you kill one of your children? Would you skip a mortgage payment? Because maybe taking those extra days off work to accommodate this trip will mean losing a job. Or packing the trip into a weekend and driving exhausted will mean getting into a fatal collision. Or paying for airfare for a family of 4 on short notice will break the budget.

    • NostalgicGal August 3, 2014, 1:25 am

      Exactly. For me, in the last five years there’s been three funerals that there was no way to move that much to create the miracle to get there. Usually money constraints (all three); time (two); and health (one). I won’t even count the weddings, anniversaries, and graduations I’ve sent declines to. (and they fully understand we don’t have $2-3k to get there and attend-at least most of them were 8-12 weeks advance notice).

      As it is, OP is mentioning 800 miles. At 60 mph, 13.5 hours. That doesn’t take any time for any traffic or weather issues, or the need to stop for gas, bathroom, food. I have driven those marathons and when I get there I’m pretty worthless for about 2-3 days after. If I would have to drive home after 1 day I might not make it back. That is a 2 day trip each way. Period. And OP says they have made the trip more than once so they are well versed in the ordeal; and I don’t blame them for putting an end to it. To attend Saturday, that means being packed and mostly loaded by Wednesday night, leave early Thursday, stop overnight on way, arrive Friday, attend Saturday, drive Sunday, stay overnight, arrive home Monday. 3 days vacation minimum. 5 days for pet care and house watching. I reiterate, enjoy your iced tea, OP.

    • Angel August 3, 2014, 12:44 pm

      I completely agree with you Mags. Something’s got to give here! Unless you live less than 2-3 hours away, and can make the trip with relative ease, there has to be a point where you draw the line somewhere. I adore my niece and we live close by, and probably always will so in my case–of course I know I will be there for her on her wedding day. But in my case we live very close by, see each other regularly, and also she is my one and only niece. In my case there is really no excuse to miss any of her milestones–barring extreme illness of course–but it’s not that way for everyone.

      Distance poses a much greater challenge than some people might think. It is not only expense, it is time, it is comfort, it can also mean compromising your health and well-being. From the OP it would seem as though she and niece have not communicated face to face (or even over the phone) in quite some time, so this whole situation is based on how it would look to the rest of the family if the OP and her family do not turn up. Frankly I think that if most of those people sat down and really gave some thought to the OP’s circumstances, only a clueless dolt would actually hold a grudge about her not attending this wedding.

      The bottom line is that if you really want someone there you make the effort to include them as much as possible and make it as easy as possible for them to attend. I would rather have a small roomful of happy guests than a huge party where half the guests are not happy to be there and still have to make an 800 mile drive home the following day. If you love someone you don’t want to put the through all that!

  • goddessoftheclassroom August 2, 2014, 10:47 pm

    It was such an honor to be given (by hand, not sent) a STD card months in advance, Brides, PLEASE think of your guests and give them plenty of notice, even if that notice is informal. In the OP case, were her children even included in the invitation??? OP, you behaved perfectly.

  • Enna August 10, 2014, 11:14 am

    It is rude and inconsiderate not to give someone enough time to make the required arrangements. I think the OP did the right thing by putting her foot down the way that she did.

  • Ginger0630 August 13, 2014, 8:29 pm

    If your husband’s family still gives you flak about missing the niece’s wedding, you should tell them how upset YOU were about not being invited to the wedding with adequate time. You should tell them that since you didn’t receive the invitation in time, you assumed you weren’t invited to an important family event and were very upset about it. Turn the tables on them!