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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.

  • m July 31, 2014, 7:20 am

    Seriously, all of this for a few hundred km? Was your niece in the right with the FB STD and the not sending the invitations? Hell no! But I wouldn’t miss my niece’s wedding for anything in the world.

    I would hate myself infinitely if I were sitting in my backyard, sipping tea all the while knowing that a dear family member of mine was taking such a huge step without me being there to witness it. Knowing that I’m entitled to it, etiquette-wise wouldn’t do anything for me. But hey, whatever works for you.

    I may be in the minority here, but I think the rules of etiquette are more like guideliness when it comes to family, and we all must learn to bend a little if we want to keep these relationships to continue.

    • yokozbornak July 31, 2014, 7:33 am

      That’s all well and good, but if the niece wanted them there she would have made sure they were invited. She didn’t bother so why should they? It doesn’t sound like there that close and the OP and her husband have been the ones making all the effort. Sometimes enough is enough.

    • The Elf July 31, 2014, 7:36 am

      I’m willing to overlook some etiquette issues for good friends and family, especially when I know the intent was good, but this isn’t *really* about etiquette. It’s about consideration for the trouble it takes for OP to get to family, especially at the last minute.

      Whether I would drop everything and go to the wedding anyway depends on how close I am with that particular family member. And if they were THAT close, I bet OP would have heard about the wedding through casual conversation long before. So I’m going to go with “they’re not very close”. I wouldn’t bust my buns getting there either, assuming that. It isn’t the wedding per se, it’s the long established habit of assuming that OP is just going to drop everything and travel just because it’s family. They’re more likely to get the message with a wedding than with a more casual event. Enjoy the iced tea, OP!

      Also, great bean-dipping! I love that technique and have used it often.

      • JO July 31, 2014, 11:18 am

        This. This, this, THIS!!!!

    • Rieslingbamko July 31, 2014, 8:05 am

      A few hundred miles is a huge deal unless you are single with disposable income and no children or pets. That’s time consuming and/or expensive. It’s inconsiderate to not give people who live that far away advance notice. There are lots of people who have to save money for a trip like that or ask off from work way in advance. You must live pretty close to family to not understand that

      • catwoman2965 July 31, 2014, 9:18 am

        And actually, even for those of us are are single, with disposable income, and no pets, its not that easy. I know, since that’s me. I’ve got two jobs, one which requires requesting time off in advance, the other, just making sure no one else is off at the same time. So really, for anyone, regardless of their situation, its asking a lot of someone to drop everything at a moment’s notice. Sure, I might have a tad more flexibility than someone with a family, but not always.

    • PM July 31, 2014, 8:36 am

      But that’s YOU. Your priorities. Your family. Your boundaries. Some families aren’t that close. And treating relatives like they’re afterthoughts doesn’t exactly foster closeness and warm feelings. If they wanted faraway relatives at the wedding, they should have let them know the event details months ahead of time. Failing to give the OP this information until the last minute, they wordlessly stating, “Nothing you have going on in your life is as important as what is going on in my life.” and then for the father of the bride to call and demand, “What do you have going on that’s more important than your niece’s wedding?” is a complete manipulation and an inappropriate attempt to turn the blame around on people who have not failed in terms of etiquette.

      This post isn’t about etiquette. It’s about boundaries. We teach people how to treat us. And if these relatives want the OP to attend their functions, they need to learn to give them enough time to plan and travel.

    • ValB July 31, 2014, 8:43 am

      What i read wasn’t a few hundred km, which could be done in 2-4 hours, but a few hundred MILES which turn into a full day on the road with children in tow. That “dear” family member couldn’t even be bothered to send a real invitation or make sure to communicate the date of her wedding (not being on Facebook shouldn’t turn one into a social pariah). How many hoops should they have jumped through for someone who can’t be bothered to lick a stamp and address an envelope?

      • CJ July 31, 2014, 9:48 am

        The OP didn’t say several hundred KILOMETERS, she said several hundred MILES. I assume she means 400-500 miles.

        My family did a road trip last weekend that was 475 miles each way. Without stops, that would take 7 hours to drive out and another 7 to drive back. Add in a 9 year old, and we made three stops each way, resulting in 8.5 hours each way. Just to spend the weekend, I had to take 2 extra days off to drive there and back.

        I’m not going to go through all of that at the last minute for someone who didn’t even bother to invite me to their wedding.

      • Calli Arcale July 31, 2014, 12:36 pm

        And it depends on where you are. If you live in South Dakota, driving a couple hundred miles is a lot quicker than if you live in, say, Maryland, where the population is much denser, the speed limits are lower, and the geography is much more wiggly. Plus, not everybody finds long-distance driving easy.

        To not actually formally invite someone to a wedding and still expect them to travel several hundred miles? Ridiculous.

        My in-laws live 260 miles away. It takes about 4.5 hours to get there if we don’t stop along the way. Now that we have kids, stopping along the way is obligatory as their bladders don’t have that much stamina yet; we usually time that to a meal so that we stop at a McDonalds with a playland so they can burn off some energy, and that stretches it to 5 hours. It’s far enough we’re not gonna do it on a whim. We have to be able to plan it. And it costs money; gas is getting more expensive all the time. For a wedding, it will cost even more — those are typically on Saturdays, so for an event 6+ hours away, you’re gonna want to travel the previous day, which means either spending paid leave hours or even forgoing pay for the day. And that’s assuming you can get the time off. On short notice, most employers won’t allow that, since it’ll be tough to get your post covered for the day, and that means that now you must consider leaving at some ungodly hour, like midnight, on whatever sleep you can grab after completing your shift.

        No, it’s just not practical, and I commend OP on the polite spine. 😉 “No” is a perfectly legitimate answer to any invitation.

      • Heather A July 31, 2014, 3:44 pm

        Yes, exactly! We actually skipped “save the dates” and sent our wedding invitations out 6 months ahead of time for precisely this reason. His family is across the country, mine live several hours away, and we had friends from the UK to invite who would need at least that much notice (though those 3 were personally telephoned and told the date nearly a year in advance to give them time to save money). Long travel takes a toll and needs to be planned for; it is inconsiderate in the extreme to not factor such things into your timing. Not to mention that for those with pets, pet sitters/kennels need to be scheduled and paid for, hotel rooms booked and paid for if you need them — which clearly the OP’s brother thinks he did since he called to mention the block of rooms — all of this on short notice starts to add up. Is this wedding in a tourist-laden location? Then double or triple the cost of that hotel room if you can find one in the summer.

        I think the OP and husband did the right thing here in declining due to lack of notice. If they can’t do it, they can’t do it, and it’s really that simple. If the family cared so much about having them there they would have been notified directly, not let them find out second-hand.

    • Wild Irish Rose July 31, 2014, 9:28 am

      I respectfully disagree. OP and her family have uprooted themselves and disrupted their lives–including changing already existing plans to accommodate family members–and they finally had enough of the rudeness of family members expecting them to jump through the hoops at the last minute. I would hope I wouldn’t miss my niece’s wedding, either, but if she and her parents can’t be bothered to make sure I know in plenty of time to make plans, then shame on them and I’ll send a card and a gift. At some point, OP’s relatives need to get a clue that OP lives a day’s drive away, and be considerate enough to give her and her family plenty of time to make plans to join in whatever the family wants to do. This one is on Niece and her parents. Again, shame on them.

    • Rattus July 31, 2014, 10:33 am

      It’s a few hundred miles, not kilometres. There is a significant difference.

    • A different Tracy July 31, 2014, 10:56 am

      A few hundred MILES, not km. As a point of reference, it takes us 7 hours to drive about 400 miles. And that’s not through heavily populated areas. And as others pointed out, it’s not really an etiquette issue.

    • Brenda July 31, 2014, 11:55 am

      If the niece couldn’t be bothered to send an invitation, then she shouldn’t expect people to attend. Invitations are to be sent out far enough ahead for guests to RSVP and make arrangements to attend, especially if travel is involved. The complete lack of courtesy on the niece’s part makes clear that the OP and husband are not worthy of her time or attention. Therefore, the niece is not worthy of their time or attention. To be frank, I wouldn’t even send a gift.

    • Anonymouse July 31, 2014, 12:36 pm

      Even without kids, a few hundred km can be a big deal. My husband and I just did a weekend trip about 300 km for a cousin’s wedding. Between gas, hotel for the night, meals out of town, and the day off work (seriously, who gets married on a Monday?) we spent about $500. That’s not to mention trying to find a reliable vehicle, arranging petsitting for our two cats, coordinating with his family (we ended up taking our nephew with us at the last minute). I don’t have kids yet, but I imagine costs, and stress, would go up with every kid you have.

      Knowing about it ahead of time let us save and plan, but if we’d only found out about the wedding three weeks before, we’d have skipped too.

    • essie July 31, 2014, 12:41 pm

      (1) The LW said it’s an all-day trip. With small children. She and her busband both work. That sounds more like working all day Friday, going home, doing laundry and packing everything for the trip while still keeping the family’s evening routine of eating/bathing/bedtime for the kids, getting up early to drive (what I suspect is closer to 1km than just “a few hundred”) to the wedding (what time is the ceremony?), balancing the kids’ needs for bathroom and “fidget”breaks with the drive time, attending the ceremony/reception, catching up with the family, getting the overexcited/underexercised kids to bed, catching a few hours sleep before getting up early Sunday morning to drive back home, catching up on the necessary weekend chores, and getting a good night’s rest before going to work again on Monday.

      (2) Their families are in the habit of springing these occassions on them at the last minute, expecting them to just drop everything and “jump to” when called.

      (3) Niece told them about the engagement months ago and that was the last they heard of it. SHE didn’t send them a STD card, SHE didn’t send them an invitation, SHE didn’t contact them in any way, shape, or form, so it’s obvious that SHE’s not the one who’s upset by their absence. It’s the OTHER relatives who are getting bent out of shape by the LWs’ decision not to exhaust themselves.

      (4) Re-reading the letter, it appears that Mr. & Mrs. LW were, in fact, never invited; it was just assumed that they’d be there. “Are you coming?” is not an invitation; “I’ve reserved rooms at___Hotel” is not an invitation; “What’s more important?” isn’t just NOT an invitation, it’s a breach of boundaries or even an invasion of privacy (depending on how much everyone is into each other’s business).

      Since it appears that the family has no idea what it’s like to travel that far with small children, I’d suggest the LW make plans to have the kids spend a few days with the relatives next summer – and have the family come get them AND bring them back.

    • kingsrings July 31, 2014, 1:36 pm

      I completely disagree. First of all, if it was so important for the OP and family to be there, their niece would have communicated the invitation far better than she did. She handled the invites in a very flaky manner that didn’t allow for good planning for her guests. As that old saying goes, “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”, and that saying goes for EVERYBODY, family or not. Consideration doesn’t stop just because it concerns family members.

      I have also been the victim of last-minute or poorly-planned wedding invites and made the same decision as the OP concerning a friend’s wedding a year ago. They were so flaky about the invites and so when I finally received mine at the last minute because they had “thought they’d already invited me” I declined because I already had plans for that day and didn’t think that their poor planning trumped that.

      Soon-to-be-married couples need to get it completely together when it comes to invites and not expect that everyone is just going to cater to their whims.

    • David July 31, 2014, 2:13 pm

      Up until the brother called them when the wedding was maybe two weeks away the OP and family had not been invited to the wedding and even then he didn’t invite them to the wedding, he just told them which hotel he expected them to stay at.

    • Twik August 1, 2014, 7:26 am

      What, exactly, would happen if your dear family member got married without you there to witness it? Are you expecting to give final approval on the groom?

      Seriously, if the dear family member cannot be bothered to send me an invitation, I would not be that inclined to think the relationship is that close.

    • NostalgicGal August 3, 2014, 9:39 pm

      800 miles, about 1350 km. Not a trip around the park.

  • Shoegal July 31, 2014, 7:25 am

    As I read the story, I thought how could someone possibly get a last minute phone call about a wedding? I’m with admin – where was the wedding invitation – posted on Facebook?

    • Athena July 31, 2014, 9:34 am

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they thought the “save the date” was the invitation.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith July 31, 2014, 7:29 am

    “What do you have going that’s more important than Niece’s wedding? She’d really like you to be there.” really says it all. Not “WOW! I can’t believe we didn’t get your invitation out!” or “SO sorry to be running late with this- can you possibly still make it?” but “What do you mean you won’t be there? Obviously, your attendance is expected and you’re not sick or working so what’s the deal?” That level of entitlement won’t be easy to cure. Just keep your sense of humor- you’re going to need it.

    • Politrix July 31, 2014, 11:41 am

      That’s a very good point. I was a little iffy about the OP’s ultimate decision at first, but like you perceptively mentioned, Uncle didn’t apologize for not sending an invitation, nor did anyone try to help find a way to make it easier for OP and family to get to the wedding, since apparently someone dropped the ball on communication. No one even expressed regrets that because of their mistake, you won’t be able to attend your niece’s wedding. Just: “Niece wants you there, so you should come.”
      OP, enjoy your weekend relaxing and sipping iced tea, send a nice card and gift, and admire the polish on your shiny steel spine!

  • NostalgicGal July 31, 2014, 7:32 am

    Bravo, OP.

    Facebook is not the way to spread the news about a wedding, I’m sorry. OP didn’t get enough ahead notice, that drive is no longer worth it. I agree with the Admin here. Send a card, send a gift, and enjoy staying home.

    I have family that used to think that oh, work all day then hop in car for a 3-4 hour drive should be no problem, THEN drive home the same night. To THEIR location. NOT to ours, we have to make the trip. Um. No. Right now I am two days away from my last parent. I don’t care what I do, it would take two days if I fly, bus, or drive; as I can’t afford a walkon ticket, I will have to buy it with a day advance warning. For bus or train it may take three days as I have limited windows of being able to get on and make the connections, plane is two. Driving is two solid days. No has become an option here too.

    • mark July 31, 2014, 10:12 am

      I think facebook is a good way to spread stuff like this, but it shouldn’t be the only way. For a wedding you still need formal invitations.

      • NostalgicGal July 31, 2014, 11:42 pm

        Yes, emphasize the ‘Facebook is not the ONLY way to spread things’.

  • Alli July 31, 2014, 7:34 am

    Not to mention, how did they expect you to attend a wedding when no one actually invited you?

    • Lizajane July 31, 2014, 12:47 pm


    • Moralia July 31, 2014, 1:17 pm

      So much THIS. I did not attend two family weddings because no one bothered to invite me. But I’m the one who was wrong because I didn’t show up.
      Apparently, despite the fact that I hadn’t lived with my parents for years their invite was meant to “cover me” as well. Furthermore, I found out about one a week in advance and the other the day of the wedding because my parents just assumed both times that I’d be coming along when they came through the town where I was living and we’d ride with them.
      But I needed to know about these things well in advance to arrange time off work, but no one else seemed to see it that way.
      I also have the feeling that if someone can’t be bothered to issue an invitation to you, they won’t miss you at their gathering.

      • Anna July 31, 2014, 8:35 pm

        “I also have the feeling that if someone can’t be bothered to issue an invitation to you, they won’t miss you at their gathering.”

        ..or your gift. In this situation, I would not send one, since I was never invited to the event.

      • NostalgicGal July 31, 2014, 11:48 pm

        Agreeing here too. I left my parents’ house, I am no longer going to be in the loop with what goes through their place. And double agree about ‘just hop in and ride along when the parents pass through’. Um, no. It still takes planning and arranging things.

  • Lo July 31, 2014, 7:45 am

    I think you did exactly the right thing.

    If it was important that you be at the wedding they would have bothered to send you an invitation. Since they didn’t you can assume that all the guilt-tripping is just a reflection of their attitude that they are the center of the world and you owe them.

    If niece really cared why isn’t she the one calling you up and explaining what happened? Why isn’t she apologizing to you for not bothering to have a proper invitation sent out?

    These are the actions of self-centered people. I wouldn’t go to anyone’s wedding if I were offered a half-assed invite at the last minute. I don’t care how close they are. You cannot treat people as though their lives and plans don’t matter.

  • Rubies July 31, 2014, 7:46 am

    Could you not have set these new boundaries with the family AFTER the niece’s wedding? Why put your foot down now? I’m sure the niece and her dad are very hurt that you are missing her wedding.

    I think you are burned out on these frequent trips. And I don’t blame you for that. In fact, boundaries should have been set long ago with advance notice to your families that going there on short notice was a hardship for you. This wedding is the wrong time to do that.

    I say that as someone who lives 5 hours from my family and 2.5 hours from my husband’s. We also have two kids and full – time jobs. We happen to live in a heavily congested part of the east coast and traffic to my husband’s family, although geographically closer, involves tolls in addition to gas. We’ve lived here since our teenage children were babies. Both families know that we can’t attend everything and that we can’t afford to visit all that often anymore since gas prices and tolls skyrocketed. We get invitations and go to what we can. And they come visit us.

    My point is that boundaries are great but you are choosing a terrible time to start setting them.

    • Ashley July 31, 2014, 9:26 am

      But WHY shouldn’t they have put their foot down? All of the information about the wedding that they had was all second hand – they hadn’t actually received a STD or an invitation! If the niece really wanted them there that badly, SHE would have invited them herself – or at least called them with the details if it was all on Facebook. She called them to let them know she was engaged, so it’s not like she didn’t know how to get in touch with them.
      I agree exactly with what the OP said: “…no longer going to allow failure to plan and communicate on someone else’s part to result in panic and stress on our part”.
      The whole situation really does suck. But The OP shouldn’t have to scramble around due to someone else’s forgetfulness or oversight.

    • Mary July 31, 2014, 9:29 am

      If they wanted her there, they should have sent an invitation!

    • Wild Irish Rose July 31, 2014, 9:30 am

      “I think you are burned out on these frequent trips. And I don’t blame you for that. In fact, boundaries should have been set long ago with advance notice to your families that going there on short notice was a hardship for you. This wedding is the wrong time to do that.”

      Why? OP and her family DIDN’T EVEN GET AN INVITATION!!! So why is this the wrong time to say enough is enough? Maybe not attending an important event was just what OP needed to do to get the message across. Sorry, Niece, but if you can’t even be bothered to send an actual invitation, or at least call me in plenty of time, then clearly you don’t want me there that badly.

    • Vermin8 July 31, 2014, 10:00 am

      I think this event is a better time to set the boundaries than later events.
      For everyone event someone can say “but why not! This is IMPORTANT!” They are all important events – but all of OP’s time is important, too, and that is not being respected by the relatives.
      The sooner you let someone know a boundary, the better. One can argue that OP should have drawn the line years ago, however, they didn’t – they chose to do exactly what you are recommending and saying “this is too important to worry about the major inconvenience.”

      Good for you, OP. And if you feel guilty, think about the fact that your niece didn’t think it was worth the effort to send you a Save the Date card or an invitation.

    • Dana July 31, 2014, 10:07 am

      Your situation may be different. I live only 3 hours away from family and I have no children, but due to other commitments and my job, there is a very good chance I would also have to pass on a wedding with only three weeks’ notice if it required me to take any time off work. Generally, if we don’t get a heads up of 6-8 weeks, then it’s unlikely that we could go.

      The OP was never actually invited to the wedding… This is the perfect time to put their foot down.

      The niece and dad may be very hurt? If the niece and dad wanted the OP to attend, they would have sent an invitation.

    • Bri July 31, 2014, 11:16 am

      The OP says this would be an all-day drive, which says to me at least 8 hours in the car with children, on short notice, for a visit of less than 24 hours, to go to a formal event they weren’t sent an invitation to, that they weren’t given a date for until someone mentioned it in passing, held for someone they don’t seem to be close to.

      There’s no respect for the OP and her family shown in this post, none, along with no consideration. There isn’t a bad time to set boundaries with someone who feels you’re at their beck and call, especially since the OP has noted that if they had gone they would have resented doing so.

      OP, good on you and your shiny new spine.

    • Spuck July 31, 2014, 1:17 pm

      If the niece and her father were really so conceded about having the OP and her family there on her wedding day they should have sent an invite. Any hurt feelings they have is a direct result of their own negligence in getting the wedding information to the OP in a proper time. Missing the wedding is as good as time as any to start erecting boundaries. It isn’t the OP and family’s fault that they are missing the wedding. It is the hosts.

    • Rap July 31, 2014, 1:40 pm

      “I’m sure the niece and her dad are very hurt that you are missing her wedding. ”

      Well, if they are hurt, then perhaps they should have actually invited the OP to begin with. .

      Sorry, my family does this kind of thing as well, complete with the passive aggressive guilt trips after when I don’t show up to something I wasn’t invited to or given extremely short notice about. If my prescence was that important, invite me.

    • Jays July 31, 2014, 3:29 pm

      But they never even received an invitation! When would you draw the line?

  • Girlie July 31, 2014, 7:48 am

    Sooo… My heart wants to disagree with this because it is your niece.. and yes, the whole invitation thing of it, etc is totally WRONG, BUT, this is a wedding. If it was a birthday party or something like that, then I would totally go down the route that you did, but it’s a wedding. Now, this all also depends on how close everyone is—if it’s one of those families where everyone only talks when there’s a major event, then I can see their point; but if everyone is really close, I would bite the bullet and go. But really.. where is the invitation?? The whole situation just sucks because it is a pretty close-related relative, not like a distant cousin, so it’s sad. If only people could be right in their ways of communicating.. but family is family…

    • Wild Irish Rose July 31, 2014, 9:31 am

      Family is family. And some family members are selfish, entitled, boorish, rude, and childish. Are we other family members supposed to just kowtow to them because they’re family?

    • PM July 31, 2014, 9:42 am

      If it’s a high priority event, the hosts should put the effort into getting the information to the guests so they can make plans to attend. You can’t be a lackadaisical host and then expect guests to go above and beyond to attend.

    • hakayama July 31, 2014, 12:29 pm

      And then there were the Borgias… 😉

      • Wild Irish Rose July 31, 2014, 4:44 pm


    • Steve July 31, 2014, 7:27 pm

      O dear Lord. It’s faaaaaamily? Seriously?

      • bloo August 1, 2014, 8:23 am

        I know, right, Steve? Wild Irish Rose hit the nail on the head. I’ve got friends I would leap through flaming hoops for and family that wouldn’t register a blip on my radar.

        • Michelle M. August 1, 2014, 5:16 pm

          “I’ve got friends I would leap through flaming hoops for and family that wouldn’t register a blip on my radar.”

          @bloo–THIS! 🙂

  • babs July 31, 2014, 7:52 am

    Who issues “save the date” without actual invitations? OP, could you please weigh in on this? Did she send invites through Facebook as well? I wonder if you were accidentally left off the guest list. Sounds like maybe Daddy-O got word that you didn’t get the invite and was doing a little damage control.

    • Goldie July 31, 2014, 1:25 pm

      I agree. It’s a bit of a coincidence that Daddy-O jumped into action just a few days after OP and her husband found out about the wedding from another relative.

  • Huh July 31, 2014, 7:53 am

    Did you ever receive an invitation? Because if not then technically you weren’t even invited! Your brother calling you up less than a month away to tell you about where to stay isn’t exactly an invitation, which I’d be quick to point out. Also, I don’t lead a wildly exciting life, and yet there have been times where I have had weekend commitments almost every weekend a month out. So calling me with last minute plans for a family members wedding, sorry, you should have told me a month ago, now I can’t.

  • Tracy W July 31, 2014, 8:07 am

    Well done! Though I do agree with admin about sending a gift and nice card.

  • Jewel July 31, 2014, 8:08 am

    To be fair, you didn’t specify to your niece how many weeks/months in advance you needed to have the date in order to be at the wedding. It’s probable that she thought the 2-4 weeks to mail invites in advance of the wedding would be sufficient. And, it wasn’t as though you forgot about the wedding, since you wondered “off and on” about it for months, so you could have reached out to family at any point to ask for the date. Now, you’ve assisted in creating a rift with family that could have been avoided if you had taught them your boundaries in a productive manner.

    Repairing these relationships will take a bit of doing. People don’t often easily “get over” family skipping their important events.

    • Dee July 31, 2014, 9:40 am

      How would a person approach someone about getting an invitation well in advance? Isn’t that the same as trolling for an invite? And didn’t the niece acknowledge, by making her Facebook save-the-date, that she knew it was necessary to give an early heads-up? She just didn’t bother to make sure everyone was notified properly and that’s her problem. I’m just so confused as to why the OP even considered attending a wedding she wasn’t invited to. First step is when the invitation arrives; then a decision is made, not the other way around. Too many assumptions being made by everyone in this scenario and not enough straight talk.

    • Lo July 31, 2014, 10:19 am

      It’s not polite to go fishing around for an invitation. It’s not fair to expect the OP have to work to pull an invite for a wedding from the niece. That would be a breach of etiquette.

      She hasn’t created the rift, the immediately family of the niece has. And the niece should be ashamed of herself for not inviting the OP and family within a reasonable amount of time. It’s the fault of her and/or whoever planned this wedding that there is a rift in the family IF they chose to hold it against OP that the timing was terrible and they didn’t get advance notice.

    • hakayama July 31, 2014, 12:35 pm

      What about being snubbed by a non-invite? Last minute “marching orders” just do not count.
      And I cannot help wondering why it is the “victim” that is getting the blame here. As if it were her duty to “teaching boundaries” not just to the next generation but to her peers as well. Nasty parallels sneak in: “She asked for it. Her dress was short. Her top too tight. She was out at night.”…

    • essie July 31, 2014, 1:00 pm

      “It’s probable that she thought the 2-4 weeks to mail invites in advance of the wedding would be sufficient. ” That’s all well and good…but the bride DIDN’T send an invitation.

      “…you could have reached out to family at any point to ask for the date.” True; by that same token, I could call my SIL every day (or hour!) to ask if she’s had that baby yet, but I don’t because I know she’ll let me know at the appropriate time, just as the LW expected to be informed at the appropriate time.

    • Miss Raven July 31, 2014, 1:41 pm

      Traditionally, wedding invitations are sent out 2 months in advance specifically so that people who will have to travel can make arrangements. A bride doesn’t need every guest weighing in on how much time they will need to plan. There are standards for such a thing. I’ve also heard of out-of-town guests getting their invitations up to 3 months early, just in case they do need the extra time. That is basic consideration for people that you would like to be with you on your special day.

      If I got a wedding invitation “2 – 4 weeks” in advance, I would assume either the wedding was hastily thrown-together and last-minute, or that I was on the C-List for invitations. This is not something that should happen regularly. Again, cultural standards exist. Hence, etiquette.

      I agree the OP could have asked about the wedding at any point, but it is not the responsibility of a guest to hound the hosts for information in order to ensure they can attend. It is the responsibility of the host to provide their guests with enough information and in a timely enough manner that they can attend. Again. Etiquette. This is why it exists.

      It sounds to me like this “rift” was going to happen whenever the OP put her foot down about being treated like an afterthought, despite always having to travel (with children!) for family events. Because her husband’s family is just inconsiderate, and inconsiderate people typically don’t react well to being called out.

      • BellyJean August 1, 2014, 8:57 am

        +1000. Thank you!

      • Kendra August 1, 2014, 1:36 pm

        Excellent points Miss Raven. I especially liked this: “I agree the OP could have asked about the wedding at any point, but it is not the responsibility of a guest to hound the hosts for information in order to ensure they can attend.”

        Also, to add to your point, since the OP and family hadn’t actually been invited, wouldn’t calling the bride to ask about the wedding date have been the same as fishing or asking for an invitation? As has been discussed many times on this forum, asking for an invitation can put the host in a very awkward position and is therefore a no-no. So I don’t think the OP could have asked about the wedding date in an etiquette approved manner. She had to wait for the hosts to contact her which they chose not to do.

    • ehellion July 31, 2014, 2:00 pm

      Jewel: 2-4 weeks? Where are you from that that’s the norm? 6-8 weeks should be the absolute minimum for folks to make arrangements.

    • Kimstu July 31, 2014, 2:56 pm

      “Two to four weeks” advance notice for a wedding invitation?!? Maybe in some very close-knit and traditional communities, but the standard in modern US etiquette is more like six to eight weeks.

      This is not a case of the OP failing to specify some idiosyncratic personal requirements that her niece couldn’t have been expected to know. This is a case of a bridal couple screwing up the fundamental etiquette of invitation communication, and then expecting close family members to inconvenience and exhaust themselves to cope with the results. Without so much as an apology, as far as I could tell from the OP.

      Also, any bridal couple or family who are such entitled special snowflakes that they’d start an actual “rift” or family feud over wedding attendance need a whack upside the head with a clue-by-four. Declining an invitation to a family member’s wedding is NEVER an adequate reason for sulks or feuding (unless it’s clearly intended as a boycott to express disapproval of the marriage itself).

      Decent people, when they get a “regrets” on one of their invitations, just say “Oh, what a pity the X’s can’t be there” and move on, rather than going into a snit that they refuse to “get over” and expecting the X’s to fuss over them to “repair their relationship”. ESPECIALLY when it was their own carelessness and thoughtlessness about failing to properly invite the X’s that caused the problem in the first place!

    • Alexis July 31, 2014, 3:25 pm

      6 weeks is the established standard for weddings or an event that is planned that far out (as opposed to say a funeral, obviously), and where there is an expectation that many attendees will be traveling to get there (as opposed to a shower, which most people don’t travel for).

      Basically if your event is important enough that somebody should drop everything to be there (as FOTB seems to think) then you need to give them sufficient notice to do that.

      My wedding only had one set of travellers (of 25 guests) so I didn’t send save-the-dates but instead reached out to them well before invitations went out. 6 weeks is enough notice of you’re driving an hour or two, but more is preferred for anyone who is flying.

    • Steve July 31, 2014, 7:37 pm

      I think you really had to twist logic to a breaking point so that you could enjoy the opportunity to judge a woman harshly. This seems to be some people’s favorite sport.

      Since the OP did not specifically identify the niece as a paste-eating moron, we can assume she had the brains to find out all on her own that two weeks’ notice is too short for a wedding invitation.

  • Fluffy July 31, 2014, 8:11 am

    “We’d love to, but we weren’t invited.”

    Puts the problem on niece and family, and is completely true.

  • Dominic July 31, 2014, 8:30 am

    I am dealing with somewhat the same issue currently, except my family is much farther away. We received an invitation giving us about 5 weeks’ notice, after groom’s father, my brother, called to get our address. If we lived within 200–300 miles, we would definitely drive up for the wedding, and I feel terrible that circumstances and the distance/expense just won’t permit us to be there for my nephew and his bride-to-be. We will be in the area about a month later for a scheduled trip planned almost a year before, and will be seeing them then (and of course we’ll be sending a gift for their wedding).

    It sounds like OP received no formal invitation. How is it that formal invitations had not been sent and it was only three weeks to the wedding? That seems to be the biggest etiquette issue here, but apart from that, this instance would not be the occasion I would pick to fight the battle over last-minute invitations. If making a point with the family and getting a day to relax in your backyard sipping tea are really the reasons for not going, I would say OP is making a mistake.

  • lnelson1218 July 31, 2014, 8:39 am

    I have mixed feelings about the OP’s decision.

    I certainly understand that there does come a time when the travel gets to be a pain, especially when it is constantly done on short notice. And depending on area of ANY state/country, time of year, weather, road construction, etc “only 200 miles” can easily become a 6-7 hour drive. (voice of experience). Include kids and having to change plans, unexpected expense of the trip, etc. And by constantly giving in in the past, OP has shown that they will drop everything and go.

    But it is the niece’s wedding and it sounds like OP has a relationship with this niece, instead of some random relation for who you rack your brains on how you are related to this person. If the niece truly wanted this aunt there, then she might have been more pro-active in making sure the OP knew about the wedding details.

    Admittedly, I did fall into the notification via Facebook trap. The mother of a friend passed away and the friend announced it on Facebook (not sure what other notifications went out). My mother got annoyed with me for not passing on the information and less impressed when I said that it has been announced on Facebook. My mother does use FB often.

  • Margaret July 31, 2014, 8:40 am

    I agree with Admin and shoe gal, where was the wedding invitation? Three weeks is no notice at all for a day long trip.

    I agree it’s a harsh way to take a stand but that is really a very poorly planned wedding.

  • cattlekid July 31, 2014, 8:53 am

    Brava to the OP! All I could think of as I was reading this post was “where was the bride’s father during all of this planning?” I think it is very interesting that the post mentioned the bride and the bride’s mother sending out STD’s via Facebook. Nowhere is it mentioned that the bride’s FATHER took the time to contact anyone regarding upcoming wedding, especially his own brother.

    I’m not trying to throw the father under the bus because IMHO sending the STD’s via Facebook is poor form to begin with. If you really want someone to attend your event, I would think that Facebook wouldn’t be your primary means of communication. There is really no way on Facebook to ensure that someone reads your postings, especially with Facebook’s unique ideas of how it prioritizes your News Feed.

    I do agree with Admin’s suggestion to send a gift and a card, just as if you would have received an invitation in an appropriate amount of time but were unable to attend.

  • Tee July 31, 2014, 8:55 am

    Consider that kilometres are only 0.62 miles, and the event was several hundred *miles* away. That’s a lot of driving.

  • Library Diva July 31, 2014, 9:00 am

    While it seems a bit extreme given the fact that this is a fairly momentous occasion, I can understand why the OP and her husband felt the need to make a stand. My father’s side of the family is exactly like that. He’s the only one that moved a substantial distance away. Everyone else lives within an hour’s drive of each other. They’re not the best at planning or the most organized, and have often called on a Monday to say “Everyone’s getting together on Saturday and we’d love to have you!” Two of his sisters got very upset one year when they just refused to make the trip. But it had been two or three years in a row of this (in winter, nonetheless, when the roads in this area are iffy). It was always right after Christmas while my parents were preparing to go away for the winter while winding down from the holidays, and they just said no that year.

    Over the years, my mother tried everything, including hosting the gathering themselves. But for some reason, the cross-state driving experience never really registered with everyone, even after they’d had it themselves. I think they’re just last-minute people, all of them, and don’t think that others might object to living this way.

  • Devil's Advocate July 31, 2014, 9:06 am

    @ m–you and I are in agreement!

    There is a place and time for everything, even polite spines. This was not the place and time. Unlike many of the things you will (or won’t) do with you husband, a wedding is a once in a lifetime event. Regardless of how the niece handled the invitations– Facebook sheesh!–I wouldn’t have not used this time to miss a family event.

    Instead by using your “polite spine” at this time you have really set yourself up. You will always be seen as the ones who didn’t come to the wedding regardless of the amount of notice you had (and honestly a location within a day’s drive and a month’s notice is enough time). This is big event, a big celebration.

    If you a chosen a better event–dinner out, etc.—then you reaction would have been understood and actually may have caused some change within your family.

    To me, regardless of etiquette, you handled this one incorrectly.

    • Lerah99 July 31, 2014, 5:45 pm

      “honestly a location within a day’s drive and a month’s notice is enough time”

      Enough time for whom?

      I live on a very tight budget.

      If I need to drive 8 hours, book a place to stay overnight, buy a dress, buy a gift, and then drive 8 hours back – I need more time than a month just to ensure I have saved enough money to make the trip.

      Now people who know me, have no idea about my financial situation. I work a very nice corporate job. I save my pennies to make sure that I dress well and always look well put together. But I’ve been supporting myself and my mother’s households for the past 4 years.

      Which means I have about $30 of discretionary income in a month. That’s not going to buy me the gas to drive all day and back.

    • OP July 31, 2014, 5:55 pm

      “and honestly a location within a day’s drive and a month’s notice is enough time”

      What an interesting assumption.

    • Steve July 31, 2014, 7:52 pm

      You’re minimizing.

      The OP lives 800 miles away. Even if she hits 60 mph at the end of the driveway and maintains that speed until screeching up to the church door, that’s still 14 hours in the car. Now adjust that number for reality. How is that within a day’s drive? That’s a day and part of a night!

      She also said she heard about the wedding less than a month away. Less than a month is not a month. For a Saturday afternoon wedding, she’d either have to take a day off from work ( impossible for most people on only a few weeks’ notice) or drive all night.

      That’s “enough time?”

    • Rayner August 1, 2014, 1:09 am

      I think it’s rather unfair that you’re suggesting that because it is a wedding that the OP chose the wrong time to put their foot down. On the contrary, it seems to me to be a perfect time as there is plenty of etiquette on what to do if you can’t attend a wedding (especially on three weeks notice and it would take most of a weekend to drive down, attend the event, and drive back, with children).

      A wedding is a special event, but the niece didn’t exactly give special treatment (or even reasonable treatment) to her aunt and uncle and unfortunately, it’s life that people can’t always jump to like the OP has done before. If it was that important to her that her family be there, the niece should have been more proactive about inviting them before less than a month to the ceremony. It doesn’t sound a very helpful arrangement either; Facebook invitations (that weren’t even issued to individual guests, apparently), very short notice, and it’s all part of a long history of the family refusing to take responsibility and initiative when it comes to demanding the OP make long journeys.

      To me, this would be the last straw and while not a perfect solution, perfectly adequate.

      • Devil's Advocate August 1, 2014, 8:44 am

        It’s actually in the post that it’s a days drive–until the OP responded much after my comment I took that to mean to 400-500 miles, not 800 miles and a straight 12 hour drive. With that being the case then I would retract my earlier statement.

        • Rayner August 1, 2014, 4:16 pm

          I still don’t think 500 miles there and back in one day is good on short notice for anything less than a dying relative. It’s not like the wedding was a surprise – OP is still is in the right, and would be even if it was in the next down over or the next state over.

    • Kendra August 1, 2014, 1:48 pm

      Except that this is an etiquette site, therefore you can’t say “regardless of etiquette, you are wrong” especially if the OP is actually correct according to etiquette.

  • DGS July 31, 2014, 9:06 am

    What Admin said. Set a boundary, set a precedent, exercise polite spine (where the heck was the wedding invitation? On FB? Really? Who does that), and also, communicate your love and good will through a warm congratulatory card and a gift.

  • Devil's Advocate July 31, 2014, 9:07 am

    * edited to change to will (or won’t) do with your husband’s family

  • Coralreef July 31, 2014, 9:08 am

    The behaviour of expecting the OP and her family to jump through hoops to attend events must be stopped at one point.

    It’s true that the lack of planning (Facebook invites only? Really?) is not an emergency on the OP’s part. The family will have to learn to plan and communicate better if they want far away relatives to be there in the future. They will have to realize that the OP cannot be at their beck and call.

    My personnal experience with distance happened when my mother still lived in my hometown and I had moved away. She could just not understand that I was not able to attend any functions. Driving there took 13 hours (summer time, two pit stops, one meal stop) one way. She expected us to drive during the night to be there for the day and leave the next day. Hummmm, not happening. There was much disappointment and attempted guilt-tripping but she survived.

    Only one brother and his sons live there now. I’m kept updated on events, but they never expect me to show up and I don’t expect them to drop everything on short notice either. They did come to my daughter’s wedding but they knew about the date months in advance.

    • Coralreef July 31, 2014, 9:18 am

      Just adding that the only event I consider dropping everything for is a funeral. Those are generally not planned months in advance. Weddings and anniversaries dates are known months (if not years) before they happen. No excuse for last minute invites.

      • The Elf August 1, 2014, 7:35 am

        Completely agree – funerals break all the rules on planning because few people are able to schedule their death. Because of this, employers and the like are much more understanding of last minute leave for a funeral than any other kind of event.

  • MMM July 31, 2014, 9:09 am

    I’m with M on this. No way would I be happy sitting in my back yard on the day of nieces wedding knowing that all my family is together and celebrating. But then, I’m close to my family and wouldn’t miss a big event like a wedding.

    I guess it’s all relative to your limits and priorities. In my family an older aunt passed away. Even though it was an elderly relative that we didn’t know well, we wanted to attend the funeral mass in order to support the deceased brother (my father in law). One of my husbands siblings cancelled a weekend mini trip in order to attend. He and his wife instead, loaded up their van with their 5 children, dog and overnight gear and made the trip “home” in order to attend. They found a local babysitter to watch the children during the non-kid friendly events and were there to be with family and honor the passing of a family member. This seemed normal to all of us and sibling was happy to be in attendance. Even his children who were very excited for the mini trip cheered up when they knew they would be seeing cousins and having a sleep over.

    Another sibling drove the same distance to attend the funeral mass and then immediately drove the 100 miles back in order to be able to take his 4 year old kid to a birthday party. He opted to skip the socializing and extended family parties. His wife declared it “not worth it” to get two kids ready for the day and on the road before 9:00 am and she did not attend at all. Maybe they have a “spine” and stood their ground but it sure left a bad feeling to know that bringing a kid to a party was more important to Sibling Two than family time. And also to know that his wife really didn’t care much at all to even come up with a nice “excuse” for not attending.

    Obviously this is a bit different from the original posters situation. And family dynamics are so varied. But it does show the lengths some will go to be with family during important events and how others will prioritize their own plans and feelings, even to the point of being hurtful.

    • Steve July 31, 2014, 7:57 pm

      You sound like you’re trying to prove that you and your family are better than the OP’s. I’m not sure that’s what you’ve proven at all.

      And are you comparing a 100 mile drive to an 800 mile one?

    • pdolly August 1, 2014, 5:29 am

      If you find it hurtful that people won’t drop everything and haul small kids a hundred miles to go to the funeral of someone they barely knew that is your problem. I’m sure they weren’t doing it to hurt you and just honestly had no idea you had such high expectations.

      He showed up, gave support (which is what you wanted) then went home to his family. Immediate family trumps extended family. He clearly didn’t want the lives of his small children to be disrupted but still wanted to show up. I have no idea how that can’t be good enough for you but that is down to you. You don’t get to decide how much he should have to do to prove his love of the family.Good on him.

    • k2 August 1, 2014, 7:39 am

      As another poster pointed out above, there’s a rather large difference between a funeral and a wedding. Funerals are often ‘out of the blue’ events as even if someone is elderly, it can be hard to know when they will pass and for a lot of people, the chance to say goodbye to a family member, close or not, will be enough for them to drop everything, even on short notice. A wedding on the other hand is often being planned well in advance (unless there’s extenuating circumstances that mean the bride and groom are pulling it together in a few weeks) so there’s no reason why people shouldn’t be given sufficient notice, so as to plan to be able to attend the wedding. And also unlike a funeral, you can still see the newlyweds after the wedding. Yes you might not be sharing in their special day but you can still visit them (unlike after a burial).

      Not quite sure what you were getting at with your example considering it has no bearing or relation to the OP’s situation. And for another thing, your last line “But it does show the lengths some will go to be with family during important events and how others will prioritize their own plans and feelings, even to the point of being hurtful” seems rather uncalled for.

    • A different Tracy August 1, 2014, 9:38 am

      This is pretty harsh. He attended the funeral but you’re castigating him for skipping the “socializing and extended family parties” because he had actual commitments with his own family? If you’re considering that post-funeral time “socializing and parties,” and not that anyone needed him for emotional support, why is it so horrible for him to attend to his own family’s “socializing and parties?” So terrible, in fact, that his wife should have come up with an “excuse” to cover her lack of attendance? “Sorry, I have two young kids and one of them is looking forward to a party” isn’t enough of an “excuse” to skip the post-funeral “socializing and parties” for an elderly relative who she probably didn’t know well either?

    • BellyJean August 1, 2014, 11:31 am

      I have to say – a funeral (where there’s little time to plan) is vastly different to an obviously planned wedding, one done months in advance. Apples to Kumquats.

  • MMM July 31, 2014, 9:16 am

    Whoops, I mean the deceased brother OF my father in law. Not the death of my father in law.

  • edydedd July 31, 2014, 10:12 am

    Considering that you had every intention to make the drive / spend the $ to be there, and that you have no other plans (other than sitting in your back yard), it seems incredibly petty to miss your niece’s wedding. Like other said, this is not a shower, birthday party, family dinner, etc…this is a wedding. Put your foot down for the next birthday party.

  • Yarnspinner July 31, 2014, 10:13 am

    Argh. I posted a similar story: my beloved young cousin was getting married but left the sending of save the dates and invitations to her fiance’s grandmother. Lists from both sides were given to grammie…and let’s just say it was a mess. My brother and his wife didn’t receive a save the date OR an invite, while my father (who lives with them) did and I did. They contacted the bride who never returned calls and her father who said “Oh, *****, of course you are invited, but that idiot screwed up the lists.”

    It didn’t wash with my brother whose feelings were hurt and although he and my SIL sent a gift, they did not attend.

    It turned out they weren’t the only ones. While all of the bride’s uncles and aunts showed up, one of them informed me that “I don’t know if we are gate crashing because we just called [bride’s father] to say we would be here, but we never actually received an invitation.”

    The groom was not immune from gramma’s ditziness, either. She sent save the dates and invitations to the *girlfriends* of his friends, but not to his friends. Some of her *own* children didn’t receive invitations.

    It was a lovely wedding, but niece’s reputation in my mind has changed quite a bit. Who lets someone else handle their guest list like that?

  • nannerdoman July 31, 2014, 10:14 am

    Being told “Oh, this event is happening and we’d love to have you” is not an invitation to something as significant as a wedding. If you don’t take the trouble to actually invite someone, then you shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t plan to attend. I know that some people think that family members should just assume that they’re invited, but courtesy is even more important when dealing with those you love the most.

    • MM August 1, 2014, 6:15 am

      this! We should be more considerate with our family and close friends, not less so!!

  • Reaver July 31, 2014, 10:23 am

    I don’t get the posters going “But it’s your Nieces /WEDDING/!”


    They didn’t receive an invite, they were just supposed to hop to it…sounds like the PERFECT time to set their foot down.

    Do send a card, and maybe a nice gift, but I for one am glad you didn’t buckle because FAMILEEEEY

    Inconsideration is inconsideration,and they didn’t even invite you, just EXPECTED you to show up.

  • Abby July 31, 2014, 10:23 am

    I don’t think this is about traveling on short notice- you weren’t actually invited to the wedding. That’s what I would have told uncle.

    That said, 200-300 miles isn’t really that difficult, unless you’re talking extreme back road two way highways. Even at 60 mile per hour speed limits, that’s what- 5 hours? I mean, sure, you could refuse to go out of principle, but I just can’t imagine it being that difficult to attend if you really wanted to. I work full time and have kids, and I’ve done a road trip on the spur of the moment, much to husband’s chagrin (he hates to travel under best of circumstances).

    If you were to refuse to come, I would go on the grounds that I wasn’t invited, not that I couldn’t manage a trip of several hundred miles with only a few weeks’ notice. But that’s just me.

    • David July 31, 2014, 6:35 pm


      Everyone who talks about “you should go, she’s family” is forgetting that they have not been invited.

      • admin August 1, 2014, 4:47 am

        The OP updated that they did receive an invitation in the mail the day after the father of the bride (OP’s brother-in-law) called them. It was sent 2-3 weeks before the wedding.

        • David August 1, 2014, 12:16 pm

          Sorry, I posted this before the update.

    • Alice August 1, 2014, 2:25 am

      Haha, I don’t know where you live but from my experience it’s laughable to assume you can cover 60 miles an hour for a whole 5 hour trip! 60k an hour is more like the average travelling speed you have to allow in New Zealand, and in the UK you just don’t know – the traffic might be flowing freely or you might get caught in a snarl up and be virtually stationary for several hours.

    • lnelson1218 August 1, 2014, 7:42 am

      I too have to disagree with Abby on 200-300 miles isn’t have difficult. At one point I had an aunt living about 220 miles away whom I did visit often over a three day weekend. However, I am single so it was easy just to hop in the car and go.

      Now without traffic and with an early start (before 6am) I could often make the distance in 4-5 hours. But there were plenty of times that the trip was close to 6-7 due to road construction, holiday traffic, accident on the road which would close down 95. And, sorry New Jersey, but New Jersey traffic is a crap-shoot.

      OP is factoring in kids. Plus what time did the wedding start? That can effect departure time, which can play into traffic, etc. If one’s tolerance is at the end, I completely understand.

  • Dyan July 31, 2014, 10:26 am

    No invite NO GO…

  • Lisa July 31, 2014, 10:27 am

    It would be nice to hear from the OP if she indeed received an invitation and if so, when. That would make a whole lot of difference to this post.

  • Ashley July 31, 2014, 10:37 am

    Good for you!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  • Meegs July 31, 2014, 10:45 am

    I’m confused. Did they send out actual invitations, of any sort, to anyone, or just save-the-date notices?

  • Tyler July 31, 2014, 10:53 am

    My philosophy on invitations is that when it comes to formal events such as weddings, a formal invitation is in order, and if I do not receive a formal invitation, then my presence is most likely not a priority for the hosts. Furthermore, there is quite a substantial difference between receiving a last minute phone call from a friend inviting you to the neighborhood cookout and a last minute phone call inviting a guest to a wedding several hundred miles away that has been in the planning stages for months. One simply cannot expect potential guests to drop whatever they are doing to show up for an event with little to no prior notice, regardless of the momentousness of the event.

  • A different Tracy July 31, 2014, 10:54 am

    I feel your pain, OP. I have ILs who live several hours away and they couldn’t understand why we all didn’t show up for a FRIDAY wedding, during the school year, with a month’s notice. I think this is as good a time as any to take a stand, given the circumstances – i.e., no actual invitation!

  • Emma July 31, 2014, 10:56 am

    I completely agree with the OP. I feel like most people are thinking she’s only traveling 200/300 miles, but what if she’s not? I am 650 miles from my in-laws and almost 800 from my own parents. Two to three weeks is not enough notice for me to go to a wedding. These are almost 12 and 14 hour drives, which would be the only option because that short of notice would be completely undoable for the purchase of a plane ticket. Sorry, niece, but you should have made an effort to include everyone you wanted there, not just the ones on Facebook.

  • Yet Another Laura July 31, 2014, 11:08 am

    Good for you on politely declining.

    A few observations:
    Wedding invitations are not like summonses to appear in court. You have the right to decline to attend.
    You didn’t get an invitation. A verbal “Didn’t you see on Facebook blah blah….” from someone other than the bride or groom is not an invitation.
    Never let other people dictate when it’s acceptable for you to start having boundaries. In the case of those whose boundaries are frequently crossed, that time is usually never. When you decide to use your polite spine and set that boundary, start right away. Looks like you did great here.

    Enjoy your iced tea.

  • Harley Granny July 31, 2014, 11:12 am

    Good for the OP…and while I’m sorry it took a niece’s wedding to have this spine appear, I too would have done the same thing.

    I live many states away from half of my side of the family. Big events are given at the very least 6 months notice. This is a courtesy extended to everyone.

    Now my husband’s side is a whole different ball game. They all live within 10 miles of us. I don’t know how many times we’d get a call on Friday evening inviting us to a BBQ on Saturday afternoon and could I please bring my potato salad and baked beans. As by that point our weekend plans had usually been made we finally started saying no instead of changing everything around.

    Now the kicker…they get together anyway….they stopped inviting us….and now make snide remarks about how we don’t like to hang out with them. Or that we don’t have time for them.

    My suggestion of giving us at least a week’s notice falls on deaf ears.

    • cattlekid July 31, 2014, 6:24 pm

      I completely understand where you are coming from. DH’s family is the last-minute planning type and don’t have any interests outside of family. That is a bad combination in my case because I do come from a planning family that sets up events well ahead of time and I also have other non-family events that compete for my time. Plus both DH and I need our downtime as well.

      We’ve learned to prioritize. If it’s just FIL wanting to barbecue, we don’t need to be there every time. More important events get a little more consideration, but I never fail to remind MIL/SIL (who are the usual planners) that it’s much more likely that we will be at an event if we know about it at least a week ahead of time so schedules can be arranged.

  • Serena July 31, 2014, 11:27 am

    It would seem to me that someone in the crowd has done some major miscommunication. Did you ever receive an invitation? If not it’s on them. But is it possible you were supposed to, but didn’t? In which case did you mention that to your brother-in-law? Maybe he thinks you just didn’t RSVP and that why he called. However, one thing is for sure, the bride should have called you–not her father. Especially if she is the one who want you there. There is definitely a missing link in this story, and I think its going to cause some major anger between you and your family.

  • JD July 31, 2014, 11:39 am

    I have to disagree with posters who say that the wedding triumphs trying to make a point about short notice. That IS a point in itself — the wedding is something to perhaps make the others sit up and take notice that hey, maybe we should not call these folks last minute! With no invitation being mentioned, I can’t say niece will be crushed if they don’t attend. She didn’t think to invite them, after all, so how much does she want them there? Why is OP bound to some sacred bond of family at all costs if the bride isn’t?
    Nowhere did the OP say this was a five hour drive or a few hours’ drive — she said it was all day. As someone who lived an all day drive from my relatives — 12 solid hours if no stops were made, no stops being, of course, impossible– I can tell you, that’s rough, especially with kids. And before you leave, there is the dealing with any garden needs, mail, garbage pick up, previous commitments for that weekend, rushing around to get clothes packed, pets dropped off — do you take off Monday to recuperate from that long, long drive and exhausting weekend? Can you even get Monday off? Do you need Friday off as well, to get ready? Once you get back, the laundry will need to be done, pets retrieved, mail picked up… the trip isn’t over when you get home.
    I’m totally with OP on this one and I think they handled it well. Send a present with lots of love in the card, and relax.

  • lakey July 31, 2014, 11:50 am

    I’m not sure if I would actually skip the wedding, but I understand your doing it. The lack of consideration is pretty blatant. I do think that some of these issues could be settled with a serious sit down conversation. If you are non-confrontational like myself it is a difficult thing to do. However, it sounds to me that these people are thoughtless, and it hasn’t occurred to them what is involved with your making the trip to their town.
    You may have had conversations where you mentioned the difficulties in passing, but having one conversation where you really lay it on the line, explaining all the details about the time, work, expenses, job issues that are involved in just one trip, might help it to sink in.

    Also, why the heck were you not sent an invitation?

  • lakey July 31, 2014, 11:57 am

    By the way, I know that a lot of people use Facebook, but a lot of people don’t. To assume that you can spread important news and information that way is pretty oblivious. Personally I hate Facebook. For me, there is just too much junk on the page, and people clog it up with a large amount of trivial comments, photos, and so on. I don’t have the patience to wade through all the STUFF.
    It’s fine for people who like that type of thing, but, again, to assume that everyone you know is going to go there and dig through all of the notifications every day is pretty unrealistic.

    • Angeldrac August 1, 2014, 3:29 pm

      Just having a giggle at “people clog it up with a large amount of trivial comments, photos, and so on”. Isn’t that what FB is for?

  • Cathy July 31, 2014, 12:21 pm

    We just had something similar happen the other day. A relative is getting married and when we last saw her, she said something about the invitations, but we never got one, so we assumed we weren’t invited (which was fine because we knew the guest list was limited due to budget). So we get a call Monday from relative’s grandma asking if we’re attending the wedding in two weeks. We say, No, because we didn’t get invited. (While DH is on the phone with the grandma I’m wondering if they invited everyone on Facebook or something.) As it turns out, they put the wrong address on the invitation, so now apparently they’re sending another one.

    I was invited to the bridal shower via Facebook, so I wondered if they were trying to save $$ by inviting people to the actual wedding that way. I don’t like it when people do this, but it seems to be getting more common.

    We were also thinking maybe we were on the “B” list and they were calling people to come after finding out people on the “A” list weren’t coming. Who knows?

    • Angeldrac August 1, 2014, 3:33 pm

      You’re accusing them if lying and conspiring simply because they tell you that they’ve send the invitation to the wrong address? You have something of a suspicious mind

  • Goldie July 31, 2014, 1:21 pm

    I don’t know whether to even call this making a stand. Unless I am missing something in OP’s letter, they were not invited. Hearing about the wedding through the grapevine when it’s three weeks away still does not count as being invited.

    Even if, for whatever reason (scared of sending out invite cards after watching that Seinfeld episode or something), Niece was dead set against sending OP and her husband a card, why didn’t she follow up with a phone call a few months before the wedding when she saw that OP never replied to her FB invite, and so maybe never got it? It’s not a last-minute backyard potluck, it is her wedding. If she wanted them there as badly as she says, wouldn’t she have followed up to see if they got her invite at all? Either way, for all intents and purposes, OP and her husband were not invited.

    Second Admin and everyone else who suggests to send a gift and a card, as a token of good will. But I don’t see the reason why they should change their plans and attend.

  • gb July 31, 2014, 1:27 pm

    Your niece should have made sure everyone got an invite, a formal one. I don’t know how old your niece is, but she obviously relied on her parents to invite you and may not realize why you did not come. I would be devastated if my aunt and uncle did not acknowledge my wedding, so please send them a card / gift and call her after her honeymoon to tell her you simply didn’t get an invite, but you want to see pictures and hear all about it.
    That way niece gets the chance to learn her lesson on invitations and rsvps, as her parents haven’t taught her that.

  • Susan July 31, 2014, 2:16 pm

    The Short: I’m on Team OP and Admin.

    The Long: I suppose in days of yore a wedding was a big deal. But in said days of yore, people actually maintained personal correspondences and kept in touch with handwritten letters, not to mention mailing paper invitations for big events. Even if Niece or those helping her with the wedding didn’t feel like they needed to include postage in the wedding budget or take time to write out invitation cards, long distance calls in the US are essentially free these days with most mobile phone services. So apparently OP didn’t even merit a timely 5 minute phone call- or, heck, even a 20-second message left on the home answering machine on a weekday morning when everyone knows OP and spouse were at work (I admit that’s how I’ll sometimes communicate when I don’t have time for a long chat at the moment). The fact she even knew about the wedding appears to have been by chance.

    And before any “OMG, how could you miss such an important occasion?!” people start going on about how much time wedding planning takes and how hard it is to track down all the potential guests, bear in mind:

    1) If you can’t make sure that every one of the people you plan to invite is contacted in a timely manner, your wedding is TOO DARN BIG.
    2) If you are so involved with picking out the ice sculpture and color-coordinating the flowers to the dresses and all that other hooey, maybe it’s time to reconsider what is really important (hopefully it’s not putting on some overblown extravaganza to impress everyone and then get payment in the form of $200 gift certificates to Crate and Barrel. But if it is, then don’t get mad when certain people refuse to come, unless they don’t pony up some tribute of course!).
    3) If you can’t understand why someone might not be thrilled pack up a family and drive hundreds of miles at the last moment, maybe your empathy skills have not yet developed sufficiently to warrant getting married.

    The takeaway: OP, just send a nice wedding gift. Perhaps you’ll catch Niece’s 2nd wedding in a few years, assuming she’s learned not to take you for granted.

  • SweetPea July 31, 2014, 2:30 pm

    While I in general agree with the OP, in this instance, I would make an exception. You ate choosing to sit in your yard and relax (admittedly nice), rather than attend the wedding of your brother-in-law’s child.


    Presumably, if the BIL is old enough to have a daughter getting married, then it’s probably taken a REALLY long time for you to build up the polite spine to put an dnd to the last minute requests. But let’s be sure to give that new spine some bend. When it comes to family and once-in-a-lifetime events, it is good not to have a spine made of iron. Even the best of us mess up, and it sounds like you’ve known for quite a whole that they are far from the best, planning wise.

    • Rayner August 1, 2014, 1:18 am

      Because asking them to travel several hundred miles, with kid (or find a babysitter) when both parents work and have other responsibilities to a wedding they were explicitly not invited to and were not aware of until someone other than the bride and groom phoned them up is fair? There’s messing up with organising and there’s just expecting people to listen when you say jump to.

      I mean, it’s a wedding but plenty of people don’t attend weddings. There’s etiquette to deal with it (send a gift and a note of congrats), and to be honest, I would rather sit in my garden and be domestic than deal with all that driving and effort for someone who couldn’t be bothered to tell me when her wedding was.

      • Politrix August 1, 2014, 10:32 am

        Hear, hear!

  • SweetPea July 31, 2014, 2:32 pm

    Put an end**
    Quite a while**

    I am sorry for the typos!

  • PWH July 31, 2014, 2:39 pm

    OP, I completely sympathize with you. My husband’s family is notorious for last minute invitations, with no thought for people’s busy schedules or travel time. They also distribute via text or email, but don’t bother to take into account those whose contact information they don’t have. They expect that the invitation will be passed along. These events are usually pretty casual though like birthday parties. It is disapointing that this happened, of all events, with your nieces wedding. As other’s have mentioned, I am wondering what happened to your invitation? If you hadn’t received one, I would have definitely brought that up with BIL when he called. You can’t really make plans if you haven’t been invited. Even if you had the date, you don’t have the location or timing. Hopefully we will get a follow up from you OP.