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Wedding Wednesday – Don’t Read Evil Into Every Word Said


Recently I was informed that one of my younger cousins was getting married. I automatically asked when etc and was told, “Oh, you won’t be invited. Only immediate family is going.”

My reply was, “I wasn’t expecting an invitation, I am not close to Cousin X. I just wanted to know when to send a card.” I have now been labeled as rude in the family. Was I? 0806-18

No, you were not rude. If you asked, “Where is the wedding?”, that could look like you were scheming to crash it but responding to news of an engagement with the question, “When?” , shouldn’t be construed to mean you are angling for an invitation. Sometimes give-and-take banter is just normal conversation.

P.S. It’s appropriate to send a congratulatory card upon hearing of the engagement. No need to wait until the wedding date is imminent.

{ 44 comments }
{ 44 comments… add one }
  • Marie January 30, 2019, 8:00 am

    OP wasn’t rude, the other person was rude. If he/she felt the need to manage expectations, he/she could have said:

    “It’ll be a June wedding. I believe their plans are to keep it really small and intimate with only immediate family.”

    That’s still pretty direct and gets the point across, without explicitely excluding the person asking.

    • LKB January 30, 2019, 10:13 am

      I agree. The first words out of the other person’s mouth was “Oh you won’t be invited.”
      Ouch.
      Obviously we readers weren’t there and tone is everything in this case. But just reading it gave me the impression of “Nyah, Nyah, Nyah, Cousin’s getting married and you can’t come!”

  • ALM January 30, 2019, 8:11 am

    Honestly, it does sound kind of rude and pushy to me, and I think Admin has it backwards. Asking ‘where’ expresses interest in the wedding. Asking ‘when’ implies you are saving the date.

    Of course tone is everything, (not to mention history of pushy or non-pushy behavior), so I have to wonder what the other side of this story is. Bridezilla or Uninvited Guestzilla?

    • Michelle January 30, 2019, 9:04 am

      If people don’t want to answer polite questions, then they should not make announcements. Asking when the wedding in response to someone saying Jane is getting married is quite common and does not automatically mean you are asking to be invited or that you are “saving” the date.

      A coworker announced she was getting married and many of us asked when but did not expect an invitation.

      • ALM January 30, 2019, 3:08 pm

        I can see how the OP meant it as polite conversation, but as a first question out of the gate, it sounds like fishing for an invite. “When is it?” very often means “when is it, so I can clear my calendar.”

        Small talk:

        “Do I know the groom/bride?” “When did you decide/how was the proposal done?” “Your parents must be so thrilled” “Congratulations!” “Do you have pictures?”

        Small talk with the appearance of an agenda:

        “When is the wedding (so I can be invited)”
        “Who is in your wedding party (is it me?)”
        “When is the shower (so I can be invited)”

        • Michelel January 30, 2019, 3:59 pm

          I disagree. I’m sure there are those who ask those questions that are fishing for an invite, but for most people, it really is just polite small talk.

          • PJ January 30, 2019, 5:40 pm

            I agree with Michelle– it’s simple small talk, and a very common question in response to “cousin Pat is getting married.” The person who acted on the assumption that the OP was fishing for an invite was in the wrong. Even if OP was looking for an invitation (which he/she assures us they weren’t), it is not on this other relative to make a declaration about who is not invited! And rude, IMO, to assume the worst of OP’s intentions.

        • Girlie January 30, 2019, 4:37 pm

          I’m trying to understand if this has commonly been your experience or your practice.

          There’s an old saying in my family that “You expect of other people how you’d behave yourself”, so maybe that’s what you do when asking “when.” Please allow me to assure you that for many people, including myself, it would simply be a question of polite interest, not an assumption of invitation.

          Also, I’m inclined to believe that the original person in the conversation was the rather rude one. I would give them a pass on their original response (though it was far from perfect), but to then label the OP as being “rude” (and apparently report their incorrect belief to other family members) is a far greater sin.

        • Rinme January 30, 2019, 7:17 pm

          Unless the person actually said something about being invited – there’s absolutely no reason to imagine that intent. She’s just showing her interest.

      • AM January 30, 2019, 4:14 pm

        Do we know that the person who told OP about the wedding is the same person OP asked about the date, though? Would it change your opinion if it wasn’t?

        • Girlie January 30, 2019, 9:27 pm

          No, it wouldn’t.

          Regardless, OP says s/he “automatically” replied with the follow-up question, which heavily implies – if it doesn’t outright say – that it was the same person. At the very least, it was the same conversation, whether with one person or ten.

          • AM January 31, 2019, 12:38 pm

            My question was in response to Michelle’s statement “If people don’t want to answer polite questions, then they should not make announcements.” And it seems OP has chimed in downthread to clarify that the person who brought up the wedding was not the same person who said OP wasn’t invited and is now calling OP rude. So while the latter person still comes across as a jerk (given additional details OP provides in the follow-up), I don’t think she can be faulted specifically for bringing up a topic she didn’t want to discuss.

  • Melissa January 30, 2019, 8:54 am

    There are ways this could have went into rude territory, but unless there’s an odd history there, I see nothing wrong with asking a generic, normal follow up question. Asking cousin directly may have caused some awkwardness, but no matter who was asked, Marie’s answer above was much nicer than the response OP got, and still gets the same message across. Now, if OP would have pushed to find out why it’s only immediate family, or complained about it, or fished for an invitation, that would be rude. Unless OP has a history of inserting themselves into other people’s business, there’s no reason to believe they planned on secretly finding out when and where the wedding is so that they could crash. I suppose you could have just said “Oh that’s great, Best Wishes/Congratulations to Cousin” and not asked any questions, but IMO follow up questions are a way to show interest in that person and their life event, it doesn’t mean you expect to be involved in any of it. If my friend is pregnant and I ask when she’s due, I don’t expect to be in the delivery room, it’s just a question! (who am I kidding, we all know we don’t have to ask anyone’s due date anymore because it’s always part of the pregnancy announcement these days lol)

  • Ask Kim January 30, 2019, 9:12 am

    I doubt anyone labeled you rude OP. You probably just felt affronted when you were told you weren’t invited.

    • Cheryl AC January 31, 2019, 3:59 am

      OP explicitly says the family has labeled her as rude. Rather presumptuous of you to tell OP how they felt.

  • Devin January 30, 2019, 9:56 am

    Asking when or where someone is getting married after hearing of the engagement falls under normal conversation with family. Are they hopping off to the court house tomorrow because their madly in love and don’t want the fuss of a wedding or are they pushing back the wedding for another year because they want to get married on a specific date that’s important to them? Heck, a lot of times the response immediately after an engagement is ‘we haven’t decided yet’. None of these questions are pushy, or prying, or rude unless you get pushy for specific answers, start prying for details, or act rude when answers aren’t immediately forthcoming. Just like asking a friend or family member if they’ve decided on a baby name.

  • at work January 30, 2019, 10:10 am

    My first response to hearing about a wedding is something like “That’s wonderful! When?” It’s a natural thing to say, no plea for an invitation implied. IMO the OP was not rude at all.

  • staceyizme January 30, 2019, 10:38 am

    Why do weddings seem to bring out the worst in people? The person who mentioned the wedding really hadn’t any standing to determine who was being invited unless they were hosting the event. Maybe the HC is mulling their options? Perhaps they don’t think that there will be room for all the cousins or some acquaintances, but that may change is there are timely cancellations and there is enough time to decently send out a supplemental set of invitations. In any case, someone who would label you as “rude” for asking about a family event is on rather thin ice. Add to that the “you aren’t invited” and they’ve clearly fallen through. Also, what’s the whole “angling for invitations” dilemma? If you mention an event to someone that you don’t plan to include, you might be creating an awkward situation. Most polite people don’t go around babbling endlessly about these events to those who have no reason to be interested. If you’re waxing poetic over the glories of your engagement ring and the venue you’ve selected, you should be discriminating as to the audience you’ve selected, lest you create the appearance of intending to include them in the event itself. This is equally true if you have that one friend or acquaintance who has the perfect talent with graphic design for your invitations, the perfect touch for designing your cookie table or candy bar or the perfect other talent you want them to perform. Letting someone donate labor or product towards your event but failing to invite them is sufficiently unkind as to be boorish. Basically- share the details of your special event with those in your circle who may be interested and that you plan to include, and share rather sparingly and in more general terms with others.

  • Shoegal January 30, 2019, 11:13 am

    It certainly wasn’t rude just normal conversation. There are those weddings that everyone and their mother are invited to. This cousin certainly could be invited if it were one of those weddings. My sister-in-law invited everybody. My sister gave her the wedding planning book that she had listed all of their guests and addresses with naturally certain people unknown to the new couple crossed out. My sister in law wanted to know who those people were. She does nails for a living and invited her entire client roster. When you are some little known person to the couple you really don’t want to be invited.

  • Catherine St Clair January 30, 2019, 11:26 am

    I see nothing rude with asking when as I would wait until the wedding is close at hand before sending a card in case the engagement is broken off. Some people are just totally clueless about what is rude and what is socially acceptable. My favorite example is when I found my birth family. I met one half-sister and saw another, but heard nothing more for two years. I received an email from a niece I had seen once. She wrote, ” You are probably wondering why you have never met any of your sisters. They have all agreed there is no reason for them ever to see you. They are getting all of the ‘news’ about you from a ‘third party’ and they are happy just talking about you among themselves.” I had no idea that my life was that fascinating. I have no interest in the lives of people I have never met.

    • staceyizme January 31, 2019, 6:26 am

      Now THAT was unquestionably a rude note! It seems like some in your birth family failed to inherit any charm or goodwill. I’m sorry that they are needlessly difficult.

      • Catherine St Clair January 31, 2019, 8:04 pm

        Thank you. I was surprised they just didn’t say they did not wish to know me. The niece’s mother was the woman I saw once, but she refused to speak to me or even to look at me. I thought no more of her until she sent me a Christmas card two years later in which she had written, ” Since you are my “sister”, I am willing to see you.” I thought it over and came to the conclusion that, if a friend had sent me a card which read, ” Since you are my “friend”, I am willing to see you.” I would feel that I had lost that friendship. We want to see our friends and enjoy being with them. If a friend said, “I’d love to see you” or ” Let’s get together and…”, I’d have agreed immediately. To be “willing” sounds like you are about to jump on a hand grenade to save your comrades. I wondered if she had volunteered to be the “third party” her daughter had told me about. I wrote her back, thanked her for her sweet card as there is no way to thank anyone for a nasty card, and said I was very sorry our relationship had not worked out.

        • LizaJane February 1, 2019, 1:34 pm

          Maybe you dodged a bullet by being chosen by a different family than that one.

  • JD January 30, 2019, 11:41 am

    Good grief, one can no longer ask a simple, “Oh? When’s the wedding?” without getting slammed with a “You aren’t invited?” That reply to OP was rude. Family members should be able to ask a simple question about big events like a wedding. It’s much better to say, “They don’t know yet,” or “In May, sometime, but they are keeping it really small,” instead of “You’re not invited.” OP did just fine and is not the rude one here.

  • kingsrings January 30, 2019, 3:05 pm

    Why is it rude to ask where the wedding is? I often do that simply because I’m curious and interested to know where people get married at, or I’m looking for new places to visit someday. I don’t see why or how that can be construed as looking to crash the wedding! That seems like a case of someone making extreme assumptions. Actually, the same can be said about asking when the wedding is. Why assume the worst about someone.

  • AM January 30, 2019, 3:48 pm

    This is all so vague and passive voice. OP “was informed” of the wedding, “was told” s/he wasn’t invited, and now “ha[s] been labeled rude,” but by whom? When? How? Compare:

    Scenario 1:
    Cousin X’s mother mentions the engagement in the family Christmas newsletter. OP, who hasn’t spoken to Cousin X or her parents in years, calls up out of the blue and immediately, without preamble or acknowledgement of the semi-estrangement, asks for the wedding date. Cousin X’s mother becomes nervous that OP expects an invitation, knowing that Cousin X doesn’t plan to invite OP, and stammers out an imperfect response in an attempt to shut that down before OP puts Cousin X in an awkward position. OP becomes indignant and angrily tells off Cousin X’s mother that she wasn’t planning on going anyway, and by the way this is why we never talk, CLICK! OP later vents to another family member about Cousin X’s mother’s rudeness, and this family member, either having heard the other side of the story or just knowing how OP is, tells OP that OP was the rude one here. OP then seeks validation here.

    Scenario 2:
    OP and Cousin Y are chatting; Cousin Y tells OP that Cousin X is getting married. OP, making conversation, says, “wonderful! When?” Intending to follow up with some pleasantry like “that’s a lovely time of year; the whatevers will be in bloom!” But Cousin Y doesn’t want to talk about how lovely Cousin X will look with a bouquet of whatevers; Cousin Y has already been told the wedding will be immediate family only, and it stung to hear that. Cousin Y also lacks the maturity and grace God gave day-old pigeon hatchlings, so Cousin Y copes with these hurt feelings by trying to get OP to say what Cousin Y wants to say but realizes will make him/her look petty: “How dare Cousin X? You don’t just not invite your cousins to your wedding! And after all we’ve done for Cousin X!” When OP does not deliver the hoped-for outrage and instead unintentionally, implicitly shames Cousin Y for expecting an invitation, Cousin Y resorts to projection and decides to tell everyone who will listen how very rude OP was in expecting an invitation.

    Scenario 3:
    Everyone in this family is thirsty for drama. The end.

    I don’t have enough info to rule any of these out, and I’m sure there are plenty more possibilities I’m overlooking.

    • Anonymous January 30, 2019, 10:08 pm

      I think Scenario #3 would be most likely, and in that case, the OP probably wouldn’t have had much fun at the wedding anyway. Cousin Y, or some other buttinsky family member, would find fault with something the OP did, or said, or wore to the wedding (for example, “how DARE OP wear a red dress?!?!? My bridesmaids were in burgundy; so she must have been trying to insinuate herself into the bridal party!!!”) Either that, or the wedding itself would have been fine, but there’d be an ugly aftermath afterwards, over all kinds of imagined slights.

      Anyway, I have my own variation on this story, from the OP’s point of view. I was in grade twelve, and one girl who was in my social circle, but not a close friend (because she was kind of a pill), messaged me to say that she was having a birthday party the following Saturday. I wished her a happy birthday, but didn’t press the issue. She went on to say, “It’s by invitation only, and only for grade elevens” (I was friends with people in all different grades). I didn’t get upset about that, because I didn’t want to go anyway, but it bothered me that this girl automatically assumed that I’d do something rude, when I wasn’t a rude person in general.

  • OP January 30, 2019, 5:39 pm

    OP here.
    To clarify, I am much older than my cousin and have little to do with her.
    My cousin had been engaged for several years and had publicly said that she and partner were happy to remain engaged for the rest of their lives.
    I was informed by a shared grandmother about the upcoming wedding (several of us were sitting at the table having coffee and a chat) and my aunt was the one to tell me I was not invited and then rude for not expecting to be.
    I did send a card with a gift card through my grandmother.

    • admin January 30, 2019, 6:01 pm

      Did you mistype that one sentence? That you were considered rude for NOT expecting to be invited to the wedding?

      • OP January 30, 2019, 6:36 pm

        You read it correctly.

        • admin January 31, 2019, 7:26 am

          Well,that certainly puts it in a different light. Your aunt is silly and making a mountain from a molehill.

    • Calli Arcale January 30, 2019, 7:02 pm

      Now that’s an interesting clarification! So what your aunt found to be rude was not the question but that you didn’t feel close enough to expect an invitation?

      I wonder if she took it as you not really wanting to go to the wedding at all, so thought you were rude to ask for even the simplest of details. Either that, or maybe there’s an underlying grudge she’s got about the small guestlist, and she was hoping to recruit an ally in arguing for a bigger reception. Is she the mother of the cousin in question, perchance?

      • InTheEther January 30, 2019, 11:19 pm

        See, I am reading this as the classic all options are wrong scenario. Aunt wanted the OP to have assumed that she was invited or to be upset that she isn’t, so the aunt could be the etiquette maven and act superior with the whole “you’re not invited “thing. When OP responded in a reasonable manner it took the wind out of her sails. Hence now being labeled rude. Drama divas hate it when you kneecap their attempts to stir things up.

      • AM January 31, 2019, 12:43 pm

        Indeed, this is an interesting development. Seems likely the aunt was upset either that she herself wasn’t invited, or if she’s Cousin X’s mother, that Cousin X didn’t want a big wedding with the extended family, and was counting on OP to throw her hissy fit for her so she could save face.

      • EchoGirl February 3, 2019, 8:43 pm

        I suspect it was along the lines that OP was somehow insulting the wedding (i.e. “what’s wrong with the wedding that you don’t want to go?”) or not being “excited enough” about the prospect of the cousin getting married. It’s total baloney, but I’ve known people who think that way.

    • Lynne January 31, 2019, 6:26 am

      That was the way that I originally read your story. I think your “transgression” was in acknowledging the truth that you are not close to your cousin, which your aunt may have received as a statement that you do not care for your cousin, and likewise conflated your lack of expectation in being invited with a lack of desire to attend.

      Obviously, you were meant to WISH you could attend, and be utterly dismayed that its being such a small, intimate wedding excluded you.

      • Anonymous January 31, 2019, 2:12 pm

        >>Obviously, you were meant to WISH you could attend, and be utterly dismayed that its being such a small, intimate wedding excluded you.<<

        No, that would have been wrong too, in Cousin Y's eyes. She probably would have interpreted that response as "throwing a tantrum," and then labelled the OP as "rude" for that. I responded much the same way when that girl messaged me specifically to tell me that I wasn't invited to her birthday party (which sounds like something little kids would say on the playground, even though I was 17 and she was turning 16 then). I didn't say I didn't want to go, or that I didn't really like her that much; I said that I had a previous engagement that day, which was true–I'd volunteered to play at a charity walk with a small group of people from our high school band. That took the wind out of her sails, much like OP took the wind out of Cousin Y's sails. But, I agree with InTheEther–Cousin Y was trying to set up a situation where all options were wrong.

    • Melissa January 31, 2019, 2:23 pm

      Thank you for the clarification, OP! I love when submitters come back to add details or answer questions, but in this case it was especially informative. I think you were in a no-win situation. It sort of sounds like this aunt would have found a way to take offense no matter what comment, question, or lack thereof came out of your mouth. Anyway, you have the reassurance of strangers on the internet that you were not, in fact, rude so I hope that’s something 😉

  • mm January 30, 2019, 6:58 pm

    I don’t think it’s rude to ask when a wedding is…….

  • Linda January 30, 2019, 7:12 pm

    I see several comments about asking when the wedding in can be assumed to I’m expecting to be invited. If someone told me a relative or friend was getting married my first response would be when not meaning I was expecting an invite but just as an impromptu answer.

  • Lanes January 31, 2019, 6:44 pm

    I made a similar mistake in my own wedding plans.

    A distant friend I hadn’t seen in a while (and who was not invited) suddenly wanted to see me about 2-3 months before my wedding. I thought they were angling for an invite and avoided the catch-up.

    Turned out, they weren’t angling for an invite and actually wanted my advice on something as I’d been through it myself. I still feel guilty.

    Assumptions really do make asses…

    • AM February 1, 2019, 12:45 pm

      Thanks for this perspective. OP has provided some additional details that have convinced me that in her situation, the person she was talking to was really on about some deeper grudge. But I think we’re all a little vulnerable to nervousness when someone asks a question with an air of fishing for an invite to it, even if the asker didn’t intend it.

  • Emmy February 2, 2019, 9:32 pm

    Besides say “asking ‘when’ seems like making conversation rather than asking for an invite”. Your family sounds like you should just avoid talking to them as they take a normal comment and let their imagination put bad intent to it. If you didn’t ask any questions, she probably would have construed your lack of interest as rude. Better to talk to people as little as possible if they are the type to misconstrue your words. Your aunt sound like a pill, feel bad for whoever gets her as a mother-in-law.

  • Kitty February 7, 2019, 6:12 pm

    This is why I dread the ‘polite talk’. If I’m not close to the relative, I really don’t care what they do with their life or if they are getting married, but I feel compelled that it’s polite to say *something* about it. And “Oh, when will the wedding be?” sounds like a decent enough, vague question to hear more information, but not too much. So, I try to avoid opening with questions and just say, “How wonderful.” But if that turns out to be ‘rude’…

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