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Wedding Wednesday – RSVPed Yes and Then Didn’t Go….Sometimes There Are Good Reasons

My fiance and I were invited to his cousin’s wedding. I’ve never met this cousin, but my fiance assured me they were close as children. We fully intended to go and RSVPed Yes.

However, the day of the wedding came, and we were both unable to go. My fiance had been injured in a car crash and I had slipped and fallen on some black ice. Both of us were medically advised to stay at home and rest, so we couldn’t make the two-hour drive to the wedding.

We called my fiance’s mother, who is the MOB’s sister, to ask her for the MOB’s contact information or to pass on the message and our apologies that we wouldn’t be there. (We found out later that fiance’s mother told not only the wedding party, but everyone who talked to her, that we hadn’t shown up because my fiance was in a car accident and then she hadn’t heard from us at all.)

I tracked down the bride on Facebook a few days after the wedding, because fiance’s mother refused to give us contact information for anyone. I sent the bride well wishes and an apology we couldn’t make it, and exchanged a few friendly messages with her. I got the impression that all was well with her, and I thought that’s all that mattered.

However, my fiance’s mother has been on our case for a while because she believes we should apologize to MOB for missing the wedding. I’ve heard that you only need to apologize in this scenario if the bride’s parents paid for the wedding, and I don’t know if that was the case here. I don’t believe there’s an appropriate way to ask, either.

My fiance dislikes his aunt, MOB, for a variety of reasons that don’t really need to be disclosed. Do we need to suck it up and apologize to her anyways? Or do the feelings of the bride matter more than her mother, and as long as the newlyweds are happy, is our obligation complete?  0422-17

You’ve done your duty to apologize to the bride.   Ignore your fiance’s mother since she is being a busybody.


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  • tessa April 25, 2018, 5:26 am

    You had a valid reason for missing the wedding and you contacted the bride to apologize. I agree….that’s sufficient. I trust that you sent a gift. As for fiance’s mother saying that “she hadn’t heard from you at all”…..wow, way to twist the facts. She’ll someday be your mother-in-law so be forewarned.

  • clairedelune April 25, 2018, 6:34 am

    The person who hosted the wedding is the person to whom you should apologize (in addition to the bride and/or groom, but it sounds like you already did that), and under ordinary circumstances you should be able to tell who is hosting the wedding by how the invitation is worded (e.g., Mr. and Mrs. John Smith invite you to celebrate the marriage of their daughter, Lucille…” etc.). Though wedding invitations are kind of becoming crowded with names of extra people these days, so sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s who.

  • lkb April 25, 2018, 6:43 am

    Hope the OP and spouse are OK.

    Just hopping on to say I’m glad the fiance’s mother refused to give contact information. There are people who use any means necessary to track down members of a bridal party because they know those households will likely be empty the day of the festivities and thus available for burglary.

    The OP handled it correctly but perhaps the whole thing is a result of mixed up messages that could be smoothed over by directly talking to the MOB and the fiance’s mother. “We’ve heard that your upset with us about not being at the wedding. We had some accidents the day of and it wasn’t possible. We tried to reach anyone in the wedding party but apparently the message didn’t get through. ”

    The fiance’s mother may be a “busybody” per se, or not. It could be she is sincerely operating off of old rules and wants things smoothed over with her sister and own son.

    • Girlie April 25, 2018, 3:55 pm

      In this case, I’m not sure the concern in your first paragraph is warranted. If I called my mom and asked for my aunt’s phone number so that I could apologize for something, it would never cross my mind that my own mother should be worried that I’d be trying to ROB someone! Especially if MY OWN MOTHER (or in this case, my future husband’s mother) knew that we were both injured and under doctor’s orders to stay home.

    • Anonymous April 25, 2018, 4:56 pm

      It wasn’t just anyone who was asking for the contact information. It was her own son wanting to be able to contact his cousin/aunt.

    • Jane April 25, 2018, 10:20 pm

      A good point in many cases, but if the MIL can’t trust her own son with his aunt’s contact information for fear of a robbery I would say there are much bigger problems at play here! Sounds more like MIL is just being difficult for the sake of being difficult.

    • Melissa April 26, 2018, 7:59 am

      What? An invited guest, who is also a first cousin, should not be given contact information because they might break into their home and steal from them?? If a stranger contacted an aunt of the bride, then yes, that would be improper to give the stranger contact information (even though it would likely only be a phone number or email address, not a physical address anyway), but I think it’s pretty odd not to pass along a phone number or email to your own son. Or, alternatively, offer to contact the bride and give OP and Fiance’s contact info, if she felt uneasy about giving the bride’s info out.

      Honestly, the most odd part is being invited to a wedding and not having any way of contacting the Bride or Groom. They weren’t even connected on Facebook until OP tracked the bride down after future MIL told everyone a half truth.

    • shoegal April 26, 2018, 11:22 am

      I actually didn’t understand the fiance’s mother not giving out contact information. This isn’t top secret information – this is his own aunt. I have to wonder why he didn’t know her number, why his mother didn’t want it to give it out? How is that helpful? She wants a phone call made to her sister but doesn’t want to give out her phone number???? Why also would this same mother lie and say she hasn’t heard from her son & fiance? Since the fiance’s mother told everybody about the car accident why was it necessary to follow up with a phone call. It was a valid excuse.

  • Yuchin Robb April 25, 2018, 7:12 am

    I am about to feel that all young women in the world are the same now. Are you form Taiwan or Asia?
    In this part of the world, women tend to take everything on their own, not a good habit.
    I know that you are engaged but not exactly married and this is HIS cousin we are talking about. My suggestion is for you to filter the irrelevant noises and let him handle his side of the family. You are right, the newly weds are happy and I agree with you that’s enough.
    As for your future MIL and the aunt of your fiance, leave them to him. No need to meddle. Wish you both speedy recoveries.

  • JB April 25, 2018, 8:11 am

    I agree that your fiance’s mother is being a busybody. But I also feel that going ahead and apologizing to the bride’s mother isn’t a problem worth all this. Only rarely can an apology–even a redundant one–cause problems, and it doesn’t really cost you anything to make one. Why not smooth the waters, even if you don’t like the bride’s mother, and make her and your fiance’s mother feel better and yourself look better?

  • Bea April 25, 2018, 8:23 am

    He already doesn’t like his aunt and the relationship with his cousin is the most important thing to worry about here.

    I’m sorry your future MIL is a pain. All the had to do was give you the number for the MOB and this would have all been fine. Instead she used it as a way to talk poorly of injured family members and gossip at a wedding, ick. Drama at weddings is grotesque.

  • Dawn April 25, 2018, 8:29 am

    Off tooic, but I’m just giving you a warning! Sounds like your future MIL is a gatekeeper. How does an adult refuse to give another adult contact information? She and MOB appear to be cut from the same cloth. So decide how you want your married life to be and make sure it happens that way. Start as you mean to go on.


    • Vicki April 25, 2018, 6:14 pm

      An adult doesn’t pass on a third party’s contact information if she thinks they might not want to be contacted. It’s not that weird: anything from different ideas of privacy, to people with specific reasons they don’t want their contact information public (including someone I know who did their best not to tell their friends their birth name, and asked to be left out of group photos, both to reduce the chance of being found by abusive parents).

      The usual thing in my social circles is that if Alice says “Vicki, can you give me Bob’s phone number” (or postal or email address, or Twitter handle, or…) I’ll say something like “I’ll let him know you want to talk to him. Should I just give him alice@example.org or do you want me to include a phone number too?” And then I send Bob a note saying “Hi, Alice wants you to call/write to her, here’s her contact info.” I’ll happily include a message like “Alice said she wants to apologize for missing the wedding” or “she said it’s about some money she owes you.”

      Most of the time, Bob says thank you, and then decides whether to actually call Alice. But this way I don’t wind up fielding a call from Bob saying that he’s told Alice never to contact him again, or even “Vicki, Alice called me seven times last weekend. Please don’t give my phone number to anyone else, ever.”

      I’m not saying it’s wrong to tell your friends “Vicki’s email address is vicki007@example.com,” if I haven’t asked you not to share that–only that there are basically normal people who default to treating everyone’s contact information like an unlisted phone number.

      • Dawn April 26, 2018, 10:59 pm

        Bull. This was her fiance’s aunt and they had been formally invited to his cousin’s wedding. Future MIL is a gatekeeper.


      • Barbara Foster April 27, 2018, 9:20 am

        The thing is, you can’t say “You must apologize to Aunt Lisa!” and then say “But I’m not going to give you Aunt Lisa’s contact information.” How on earth does Fiance’s mother think they will accomplish this task? Take a newspaper ad out? Skywrite it?

        If the two of you think that apologizing to Aunt Lisa is worth the effort, since you have the bride’s information now, I suppose you could ask her. But I

  • NostalgicGal April 25, 2018, 8:31 am

    You had true legitimate unforeseen reasons why you couldn’t go. You apologized to the bride. The rest can mind their own beeswax. Period.

  • ladyv21454 April 25, 2018, 9:13 am

    Fiance’s mother is a first-class drama queen. I can, to some extent, understand her not providing the MOB’s contact information on the day of the wedding – she probably assumed the MOB would be too busy to answer the phone. However, it was inexcusable for her to lie to the people at the wedding and then play victim by saying she hadn’t heard from OP and fiance since the accident. And it was the height of drama for her to not provide any contact information AFTER the wedding. It sounds to me as though there might be some issues between OP and the fiance’s mom, at least on mom’s side – judging by the fact that she never told anyone that OP was ALSO hurt. Admin is 100% right – you reached out to the bride and offered your apologies – there’s no reason to apologize to the MOB as well.

  • staceyizme April 25, 2018, 9:40 am

    The whole key to this happenstance lies in the timing of “my fiance had been injured in a car crash and I had slipped and fallen on some black ice”, specifically- the distance between these two happenings and your passing this information along to the bride. How can you not have had contact information adequate to the need to make your regrets and apologies known before the day of the wedding? If you received an invitation, then that address or contact information should have given you a way to contact the hosts of the event. The fact that your husband dislikes the mob and that your own mil believes that you owe an apology does not speak well of you. Why would you only apologize to the MOB if they paid? I grant that you cannot be certain that an apology is truly owed, but why would it have been difficult to provide one without being prompted. The whole language of your anecdote basically reads as “I’m excused from the expectation to account for my absence because of a medical condition…”. But we still have the question of the timing of your notification/ lack of notification, the question of your disinclination to apologize to anyone else involved unless it can be proved to you that it is truly due and the question of how this amounts to anything other than a minor issue that you are helping to turn into a larger issue by your somewhat scant notice and possibly insincere regrets. (I only say this because you appeal to the question of who paid when prompted to apologize and because of your mention of your spouse’s prior dislike of the MOB, none of which is pertinent to whether her feathers might have been rightfully ruffled by your absence and possibly tardy regrets).

    • ladyv21454 April 25, 2018, 3:37 pm

      You’re being pretty hard on the OP. As far as having contact information from the invitation – normally the only information given is an address to send an RSVP. In this case, that certainly wouldn’t be enough to notify either the bride or the MOB that you would not be attending the wedding. In regards to your first point – that there must have been some “distance” between the two accidents and the day of the wedding – that’s completely irrelevant. It’s possible that the OP and her fiance hoped they would be in sufficiently good shape to attend the wedding, and didn’t realize until the day of that this would not be possible. Next – the reason the OP made the comment about the parents of the bride paying is that proper etiquette says that you apologize to the HOSTS of the wedding for an absence from the wedding, or for any mishaps that might occur during the wedding or the reception. Finally, your comment that “the whole language of your anecdote basically reads as “I’m excused from the expectation to account for my absence because of a medical condition…” is ludicrous. If OP felt this way, why would she have attempted to get contact information from her future MIL, both before and after the wedding – and why would she have gone to the trouble of tracking down the bride on Facebook to apologize?

    • MichelleP May 5, 2018, 7:21 pm

      That’s absolutely preposterous. The fact that the fiance doesn’t like the mob and the mil thinks she should apologize “doesn’t look well on you”? Ridiculous. The OP has no control over that. As for the nonsense that she didn’t give “advance notice”, the OP clearly states that she and her fiance were in accidents. That’s completely unforeseeable.

      The reason that the OP is questioning whether or not she should apologize to anyone other than the person to whom she has already apologized to is a matter of whether or not the other party was inconvenienced by their absence. That’s only applicable if the parents of the bride paid for the wedding. Obviously, they would not have had any issues with the OP and fiance being absent and therefore, are not owed an apology. Your entire comment is rather uppity and judgemental.

  • PJ April 25, 2018, 10:27 am

    In the past you would have apologized to the parents of the bride as they were the hosts of the reception (since they used to pay for it) and the bride/groom were technically honored guests. I don’t know if that’s the norm anymore, with more couples getting married after they have the means to pay their own way. You may be able to tell who’s hosting from the wording on the invitation.

    Since you don’t know, it is safest to assume that the new couple needs your apologies. After all, it was their wedding that you missed. It sounds like they were gracious and understood that this was just an unfortunate circumstance.

    If you were on good terms with your aunt, then it would be good to apologize to her out of respect for the relationship you have. With this aunt, you don’t have that situation and contacting her sounds like it may only bring up more bad vibes than good.

    I agree that you ignore the advice from your fiancé’s mother. It sounds like she’s a pot-stirrer and this could be feeding into that.

  • Kimberly April 25, 2018, 11:03 am

    Didn’t you already apologize, when you sent the message that you were both injured and unable to attend? I’m guessing that the Aunt is unhappy you all didn’t notify her personally the day of the wedding, but sent a message via you fiance’s Mom.

    I know in my family, that is how the we have done it. Rather than trying to get hold of the bride/groom or their parents on a high-stress day with lots of appointments and a strict timeline, you contact the person closest to you also going to the event. Then after the ceremony, that person tells the hosts X is ok, but thing happened, and they are so sorry they can’t be here. If you can’t say X is ok or there has been a death – they had an emergency and can’t be here. Either way, a day or so later the HOST checks on the guest to make sure they are ok. (If the bride/groom were the hosts and on their honeymoon – then either their parents, siblings or MOH/Best Man follow up and check on the guests.)

    • ladyv21454 April 25, 2018, 3:40 pm

      Remember, Fiance’s Mom doesn’t appear to have passed on the apologies – only that her son was in a car accident. She never mentioned that DIL-to-be was also injured, and lied about not having heard from them.

  • mm April 25, 2018, 12:00 pm

    Agree with Admin, there’s not much more you can do after apologizing to the bride.

  • pennywit April 25, 2018, 1:37 pm

    I know this is an etiquette blog, but I think proper apology targeting is not the real issue here. This really stood out to me:

    We called my fiance’s mother, who is the MOB’s sister, to ask her for the MOB’s contact information or to pass on the message and our apologies that we wouldn’t be there. (We found out later that fiance’s mother told not only the wedding party, but everyone who talked to her, that we hadn’t shown up because my fiance was in a car accident and then she hadn’t heard from us at all.)

    And then there’s this:

    fiance’s mother refused to give us contact information for anyone

    And this:

    my fiance’s mother has been on our case for a while because she believes we should apologize to MOB for missing the wedding.

    It sounds like your fiance’s mother lied and manipulated this situation to paint you in the worst possible light, and now demands that you issue an apology to her specifications. I’ve dealt with this sort of person before. I don’t think you’ll ever satisfy her demands. First, she wants you to apologize to the MOB, rather than the bride. Once you apologize, she’ll sniff that it was a verbal apology, only. Send an apology by email, she’ll complain you didn’t go to the effort of writing it out on paper. Write one out, and she’ll sniff about the fact you didn’t hire a calligrapher so you could apologize properly.

    And so forth.

    At the very least, she is (as Admin says) a “busybody.” More likely, I think, she’s used to keeping people in submission with her demands, and she bridles at people who don’t defer to her — and she’s used to hectoring them into submission. I think there’s also a good chance (based on her lies to the wedding party and guests) that she has it out for you personally.

    I would say no further apology here, and perhaps a frank conversation between her and your fiance on the topic of respect and boundaries. And maybe no invitation for her to your wedding. Otherwise she will no doubt have many words about the fact that you used eschewed the “real care and work” of hand-carved napkin rings in favor of the manufactured items.

    • ladyv21454 April 25, 2018, 3:41 pm

      pennywit, your sense of snark makes my sarcastic little heart sing!

    • Lady Catford April 25, 2018, 3:53 pm

      Well said. No more apologies are needed

  • Devin April 25, 2018, 9:55 pm

    Sounds like this is family drama your fiancé needs to sort out. He has an issue with his aunt, which is being passed onto you, probably to continue to stir up whatever the old grievance was. Since your soon to be MIL told everyone about the car accident, I think most adults would understand you both missing the wedding (him due to injuries and you as the dutiful fiancé, if it wasn’t mentioned you were also injured). Since she fabricated a story about not having heard from you, that just adds to my feeling that there is a big back story that points towards this being something dear fiancé needs to sort out, not you.
    I find it odd that you had to dig up the cousin on Facebook to apologize. Did your fiancé have zero contact information for his cousin, or did he leave you to deal with is family and provide you with no guidance on the mine field you were stepping into? You did your do diligence apopgizing to the host of the event, now step away from the drama llamas!!

  • InTheEther April 26, 2018, 12:16 am

    I think its time to start blowing off your future MIL or have a serious conversation with her where you call her on her BS. Cause the big question is: How are you supposed to apologize to the MOB if she has refused to give you any contact information?

    You handled everything well. There was a legitimate reason you couldn’t get to the wedding and you contacted someone to explain your absence. Immediate family was likely too busy on the day of to call and speak to anyway, so getting your future MIL to pass the word was a good option. SHE handled that poorly, but you can’t control her actions. And you contacted the bride later to apologize to her. Facebook isn’t the best option there, but it was the best you could do.

    I wouldn’t worry about the MOB. You’re cool with the bride and presumably the groom, and that’s the most important. It is time to get in with some other reasonable members of your fiancé’s family though. Your future MIL obviously isn’t reliable and needs to be given as little drama ammunition as possible. Now you know to bypass her when dealing with the rest of the family. Above all else, refuse to jump through unnecessary hoops. If you start it’ll become expected.

  • Maggie April 26, 2018, 1:29 am

    With a future mother-in-law like that are you going to have trouble when it comes to your own wedding. Gatekeeping, triangulation… and don’t think you’ll have the final say on the guest list – or the wording of the invitations.

  • Angela April 27, 2018, 2:49 pm

    I’ve had a number of drama queens in my family so I suspect the people who heard future MIL speak negatively of you know that her information is suspect.