Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Guest List

**Disclaimer: if you are a NO reading this, it's not my intention to upset you but I need to vent**

What if you threw a wedding and no one came?

A wise, recently-married friend told me “your wedding guests will surprise you.” She related how friends she counted on in her daily life and was sure would make the trip to her wedding surprised and disappointed her by blowing it off. Likewise, acquaintances she wasn’t too bothered about went out of their way to get there. “Either way, you’ll be surprised.”

I took her experience to heart. My invites are out and as they trickle back in I’m duly surprised. When we planned a destination wedding, we knew turnout would be low and we were OK with that. We figured the ones who really counted would find a way to make it. Plus we compiled a weeks’ worth of entertainment and activities so those who make the trip will be able to make a unique vacation out of it. We figured the beauty of the place would be a good enticement to those on the fence. With the falling Euro and the travel discounts we’d wrangled, the enticement seemed complete.

But it’s not that simple. It’s still a crappy economy. People are stuck with their circumstances. People have their reasons to be sure. But their response is simply NO.

What bothers me is that their responses are just that: reasons and circumstances. I get the money reason but really? When I lived in New York I made twenty thousand dollars a year. Not enough to live on especially by that city’s standards. Yet when a good friend got married I somehow managed to not only buy the bridesmaid dress and fly to California for the wedding but also to fly to France for the second wedding (she married a Parisian) and shoot and compile a beautiful wedding album for them. So when it comes right down to it, I don’t buy the money reason. I know from what I made happen that where there’s a will there’s a way. So then that means it’s a choice. I’m hurt that people I thought would be there for me are choosing not to come.

I’m hurt that the very first response I got back was literally the day after I’d sent them out and was a NO. It stung all the more as it was from a family member. Clearly they hadn’t bothered to visit the beautiful and informative website my fiancé spent ages building. Clearly they didn’t mull it over or see if they could make it work for their budget. I wish they’d at least done me the courtesy of holding on to the RSVP card for a few days to make it seem like it merited their consideration.

The NOs have become such a foregone-conclusion part of the day I’m no longer thrilled when I see the little cream envelopes in the mailbox. I sit them in a stack and open them when I’m feeling lighthearted and iron-stomached. In order to protect myself from the daily smack in the face, I have to be done hoping that anyone will say yes.

So what if I threw a wedding and no one came? Well, at this point nothing would surprise me. I’m the queen of throwing parties no one comes to, so really should my wedding be so different? I had hoped that my wedding would matter to friends and family as much as it does to me but clearly that’s not human nature. People’s circumstances matter to them. And being hurt over that is absurd and unfair to them. I get it. The resentment I feel seems self-indulgent and childish.

But it all still hurts.

The wedding’s destination is where much of my fiance’s family live so his side of the aisle is covered. “You just want to be a wedding fairy tale princess,” he chides me as I mope.

“Yes,” I glibly reply. But that’s not really true. I’d be happy with a casual pot-luck. In truth the whole thing will be quite rustic and simple. No tiaras here. I just want it to matter to people that matter to me that this huge thing is happening in my life. If the turn-out at such milestones is any indication of what you’ve accomplished and who you’ve been for people in life, let’s hope I get a bigger crowd at my funeral.

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