Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lessons from the Wedding

The day after our wedding, my mother had lunch available for those who might wish to stop by, however briefly, and refuel themselves with sandwiches and the like. Many people had flights to catch, or long drives home, and understandably did not come by; but many folks were able to, which was lovely, since it gave everyone a chance to relax a bit and say a last goodbye before going back to their lives.

My godparents, Dick and Marlene, had driven up from Charleston, South Carolina, and stayed a bit later. I enjoyed their company especially since I hadn't seen them in a number of years. In remembering the events from the wedding, I noted that really, we had no major issues; everything went really very smoothly. We encountered some extremely minor hiccups that, had you not been aware of them, you would not have noticed. The only item that frustrated me a bit more was the response I got from some of the invited guests; Marlene echoed the comment that I had been thinking the past few days in that a wedding really shows you who your real, honest-to-goodness, your-are-really-important-to-me friends are.

Because nearly everyone we invited was geographically scattered, we understood that many might not be able to make it for a variety of reasons. However, as one does, we had to track down a few folks after the RSVP date had passed, in order to get a response.

A wedding is a life-changing event for two people; it may not be as important to the guests, but understand how important it is to your friend or family member. Please, God, I only plan on having one wedding; I don't think it unreasonable for my friends to recognize that this is an important day for me, and to plan ahead and ascertain whether they can make it. I heard from several whom we had invited that they were waiting for the last moment to determine whether they might be able to make it, but there comes to be a certain point where a decision does need to be made. This is not a casual get together; this is something that requires a lot of planning, and a lot of money. Come or don't, but make the decision and recognize that people need to know beyond the reason of wanting your company.

On a related note, we had five no-shows: a family of four (the husband was someone with whom I used to be quite close, and with whom I had reconnected last summer), and another long-time friend. I never did hear from the family man, and the other friend left a vague message on FaceBook noting an issue, but I haven't so much as gotten an e-mail or phone call of explanation or apology.

The few people I had the most trouble with were long-time friends, people I have known for 10 years or more, and from whom I honestly expected better. One friend who hadn't bothered to RSVP until I tracked him down admitted his flakiness. He's 39, and still acts in a manner that's appropriate of someone who is 20 years younger. He and I had a few (non-combative) words. I realized that with this particular person, as well as one of the no-shows, it was I who had been taking the initiative during the past couple of years in keeping the relationship alive; I was rarely asked how the wedding planning was going, or how I was going otherwise. Conversations were almost entirely one-sided; it was I who called, e-mailed, or instant messaged, and it made me wonder if they just had no interest in maintaining the friendship. It's disappointing to think that it's the people whom I'd known the longest had the worst manners.

Lesson #1: If someone purposefully does not reply by the due date, there's a possibility that this person is careless and does not value the importance of the event you're planning.

Lesson #2: It can take a wedding to show which friends can look beyond their own problems temporarily, and want to be there to celebrate your joy and to share in your happiness.

Lesson #3: Sometimes it's necessary to evaluate your friendships. They can change, and one of you might just outgrow the other person. It's sad to leave old friends behind, but it was an eye-opening experience that I wasn't expecting to do at this particular moment.

Caveat: Yes, obviously I know that sometimes there are reasons that people do not reply; invitations and RSVPs can get lost in the mail, which is why one follows up. And terrible things beyond one's control can happen at the last moment; one of our groomsmen, a pilot friend of Ed's, made arrangements with his wife and infant son to come to our wedding, and got screwed by scheduling. These things happen, and one absolutely understands. However, we're not talking about these things happening most of the time. We heard nothing from the no-shows, and no one's RSVP got lost in the mail.

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