Author Topic: Not picking dear friend as witness - should I explain? (Witnesses: see post 3)  (Read 2392 times)

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Last_Dance

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I have an American friend I'll call "Viola", whom I have known for more than 10 years. We "met" online through a common interest and slowly went from talking about said common interest to discussing everything and anything. She helped me and supported me when I went through a very difficult time years ago and I hope I managed to do the same more recently: I consider her one of my dearest and closest friend even though we have yet to meet in person - we do want to, but travelling across the Atlantic is expensive for either of us and life just generally got in the way until this year.

Viola and her DH are coming to visit me in spring - my wedding is in September and while they are invited, we still don't know whether they will be able to come. 

I would have loved to ask her to be my witness, but I feel this would put too much pressure on her: again, travelling is expensive and she might not be able to take time off from work. Besides, I know her: if I did ask her and she couldn't make it, she'd feel terrible about "Letting me down", even though I'd understand.

So, I have asked my best friend and my godmother's son as my witnesses. What do I do now? Should I mention it in an e-mail if the subject of wedding preparations comes up? Should I wait until Viola is here? Should I broach the subject or wait and see if she does?
« Last Edit: February 13, 2014, 08:31:11 AM by Last_Dance »
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kckgirl

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Re: Not picking dear friend as witness - should I explain?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2014, 07:30:44 AM »
Just be matter of fact about it. I think you're probably worrying about nothing.
Maryland

shhh its me

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Re: Not picking dear friend as witness - should I explain?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2014, 07:46:43 AM »
   In America the witnesses can be anyone at the ceremony except the officiant.   Often its the best-man and Maid of honor and takes about 2 minutes but to my knowledge no one makes a deal big or small out of it. I would be surprised if you mentioned it to me at all besides my own wedding I have no clue who witnessed any wedding I've been to.

I don't think you need to tell her unless witnesses are someone celebrated or in some other large way marked out.  if its a matter of only 4 people (the 2 witnesses and HC) go to the registers office; I would just mention/explain the general course of events " 4 people go to the registers office , then these people go to this...  etc ." if she comes.  There is no reason to say "I pick BF to be my witness because ,she is my best friend and I didn't want to pressure you to come." etc. 

Last_Dance

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Re: Not picking dear friend as witness - should I explain?
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2014, 08:30:32 AM »
I forgot to clarify: our witnesses are pretty much like the Best Man and Maid of Honour, with the difference that they also sign the marriage license.
By signing that, they testify that the marriage cerimony was real and valid: you need them whether you get married in church or at the city hall. I don't know if any witnesses were ever called in to actually testify before a court in case the marriage has to be annulled or is contested in some way, but I think it might happen...
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TootsNYC

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In my experience, even in America, the best man and maid of honor *do* sign the marriage license; they almost always *are* the official witnesses; it's one of the roles they play. The times where any other person signs the license is most often when there aren't a best man/maid of honor. (Sure someone might change that, they totally can, but it would be unusual.)
 
I don't know why this friend from another continent would expect to -be- the witness, or a bridesmaid, or any other role remotely similar; sure, you're close now, but I'd think she'd assume that the people you've known longer, and who live close to you, would fulfill that role.

I wouldn't even bring it up. I think it's a total nonissue.

And I *really* wouldn't ever say, "I thought about asking you to do this honor but decided not to." That's kind of a slap in the face. "I almost got you a gift but didn't" kind of thing.

lowspark

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In my experience, even in America, the best man and maid of honor *do* sign the marriage license; they almost always *are* the official witnesses; it's one of the roles they play. The times where any other person signs the license is most often when there aren't a best man/maid of honor. (Sure someone might change that, they totally can, but it would be unusual.)
 
I don't know why this friend from another continent would expect to -be- the witness, or a bridesmaid, or any other role remotely similar; sure, you're close now, but I'd think she'd assume that the people you've known longer, and who live close to you, would fulfill that role.

I wouldn't even bring it up. I think it's a total nonissue.

And I *really* wouldn't ever say, "I thought about asking you to do this honor but decided not to." That's kind of a slap in the face. "I almost got you a gift but didn't" kind of thing.

This. Especially the bolded. Don't bring it up.

Now, if Viola does end up being able to come, it might be nice if you could find another role for her to play that would involve her more than just being guest. But honestly, I wouldn't worry about that unless and until she says, "I'm definitely coming!" Additionally, if I were in her place, I wouldn't expect to be more than a guest and might even find it burdensome to do anything which would entail having my attention drawn away from just enjoying the wedding festivities and drinking in all the cultural differences.

SamiHami

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I am a notary public in the US and have performed several weddings. Witnesses are not necessary at all (at least in my state). Witnesses do not sign the marriage license--only the bridge, groom and officiant do so. Having "witnesses" is a throwback to years gone by when such a thing was a requirement.

In any event, when I married, I did not ask my best friend to be my witness/stand up for me at the ceremony for the same reason OP states; I was unsure she would be able to come to the wedding at all as she lived several states away and had recently gotten married herself and taken time off work.

As it turns out she made it in the night before my wedding and was able to attend but we didn't know until the last minute that she would be here. I asked my brother's wife to stand up for me instead and there were no hurt feelings.

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Aunt4God

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I am a notary public in the US and have performed several weddings. Witnesses are not necessary at all (at least in my state). Witnesses do not sign the marriage license--only the bridge, groom and officiant do so. Having "witnesses" is a throwback to years gone by when such a thing was a requirement.

In any event, when I married, I did not ask my best friend to be my witness/stand up for me at the ceremony for the same reason OP states; I was unsure she would be able to come to the wedding at all as she lived several states away and had recently gotten married herself and taken time off work.

As it turns out she made it in the night before my wedding and was able to attend but we didn't know until the last minute that she would be here. I asked my brother's wife to stand up for me instead and there were no hurt feelings.

Witnesses are required in my state.  I think it's a state-by-state thing.

As to the OP, don't bring it up, don't worry about it, just ask the other people you want to ask and move on and enjoy your wedding.  If she asks who you're having as witnesses, just matter-of-factly tell her w/o mentioning wanting to ask her.  If she doesn't even know she was in the running, her feelings shouldn't be hurt.

TootsNYC

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I am a notary public in the US and have performed several weddings. Witnesses are not necessary at all (at least in my state). Witnesses do not sign the marriage license--only the bridge, groom and officiant do so. Having "witnesses" is a throwback to years gone by when such a thing was a requirement.

This is not at all true in the state I married, so be careful what you state as a fact.

I worked at a wedding magazine and once did a round-up of what was required. It varies a lot.

In fact, in many states, you would not be allowed to officiate at a wedding simply on the strength of your standing as a notary public.

My marriage license has the signatures of us, the officiant, and two witnesses (not one). (My immature BIL drew a cartoon figure next to his signature on the first document and was about to do it again before I realized what he intended to do, which ticked me off, and I said, "Hey, that's my marriage license--it's an official document I'll have for the rest of my life, not some greeting card.")


purple

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You're overthinking this.

Just ask the people you choose to be witnesses to be witnesses.
Don't mention it to the people who you don't choose.

Last_Dance

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Re: Not picking dear friend as witness - should I explain?
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2014, 02:39:11 AM »
I think you're probably worrying about nothing.

That's me in a nutshell  ;) I am trying to get better, though.

I just want to thank everyone who replied: I do feel better now and I will follow your advice
We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

SamiHami

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I am a notary public in the US and have performed several weddings. Witnesses are not necessary at all (at least in my state). Witnesses do not sign the marriage license--only the bridge, groom and officiant do so. Having "witnesses" is a throwback to years gone by when such a thing was a requirement.

This is not at all true in the state I married, so be careful what you state as a fact.

I worked at a wedding magazine and once did a round-up of what was required. It varies a lot.

In fact, in many states, you would not be allowed to officiate at a wedding simply on the strength of your standing as a notary public.

My marriage license has the signatures of us, the officiant, and two witnesses (not one). (My immature BIL drew a cartoon figure next to his signature on the first document and was about to do it again before I realized what he intended to do, which ticked me off, and I said, "Hey, that's my marriage license--it's an official document I'll have for the rest of my life, not some greeting card.")

Please note that I did not state it as a fact for all states-I very clearly said "at least in my state." And notaries can legally perform weddings in eight states; mine is one of them.

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

Lynn2000

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If she still doesn't know if she can attend the wedding (which granted is months away) then I would advise not giving her a "task" at the wedding, since as you say that is likely to pressure her to attend despite hardship or decline while feeling guilty. That includes witness, singing, doing a reading, lighting candles, bridesmaid, etc.. If at some point over the summer she's able to definitely say yes, she'll be there, great! Maybe you can find a special way for her to participate then, if you want--not being a witness, but something else meaningful.

My friend Amy wanted me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, but I wasn't interested in doing the bridesmaid thing for anyone. So she asked me to do a couple of readings instead. Turned out I was the only person doing them, and it was actually one of the most visible roles in the wedding--I think the only person who got up in front of people and said more stuff was the minister! I don't know what other roles might be available in your situation, but they definitely don't have to be "lesser" in sentiment--just "lesser" in legal necessity.

If it comes up in general wedding conversation, I would go ahead and mention who you've chosen (like if it would be weird to NOT say), but not tell her about the dilemma you faced over her.
~Lynn2000

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I have two wedding certificates. The one required by UK law to be registered with the Registry
Office has the usual signatures: DH, mine, our 2 witnesses, and the Registering officer for our Meeting House.  The second is the one that matters to us most and is part of Quaker tradition -  a large parchment done in beautiful calligraphy, showing our vows and signed by every single person at our wedding. All 126 of them...
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katycoo

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WHat eactly is your concern?  That she will feel excluded if she attends and does not have a special role? Is it that you want to include her if you can, but not pressure her?

Wintesses, people doing readings etc I don't think need to be planned very far ahead.  You can always deay appointing ayone until you know for sure if she can come.