DEAR AMY: How can our family move forward from the mess of an overplanned, underattended wedding in Europe? The groom (in his mid-30s) has planned everything and excluded me, mother of the bride, from any of the plans. The bride's siblings can't afford (or can't get vacation days from work) to attend.
Yesterday, the groom called our son and offered to fly him to Europe for the wedding but made no such offer for the bride's sisters. Of 200 invited guests, only 40 are expected to attend — no aunts, uncles or cousins. As the bride's parents, we gave a fixed sum of money for the wedding but now, due to the small gathering expected, the couple will be making money on the deal.
Yesterday, the groom announced that the one family friend who can attend is not invited to the rehearsal dinner, after traveling 6,000 miles. A destination wedding sounds, at first, like a good idea, but when the day nears, it feels exclusionary, hollow and pretentious. As the mother of the bride, I am filled with sadness.
The couple has been engaged for two years, and we feel so burdened by the build-up, the bad decisions, the exclusions, waste and self-centeredness of this event. How do families recover from this? I can't see these relationships ever going back to normal.
I love my daughter very much, but I believe the consequences of this wedding will be the unraveling of our family. Is there any hope?
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: You aptly describe the challenges when couples pour all of their attention into trying to create a fantasy day while causing real-world problems. Often these couples return home after their fantasy weddings seriously let down by the reality of marriage and family.
You and your husband should meet with the couple. Do not pile on and accuse them of creating a hollow and pretentious event, but do ask that they commit some of the money you contributed to helping family members attend the wedding.
Otherwise you should accept that this is not what you would have planned and not what you want (and perhaps not what the couple wants at this point, either). If your daughter is completely dominated by a "groomzilla" who is demanding and disrespectful, she is going to need your support moving forward. You may also have to accept that you and she have very different values.
Though this event might rend the fabric of your family, don't make the mistake of assuming it will unravel.
DEAR AMY: I have a friend who just had a baby. I want to be in contact with her every day to see how things are going. She tells me she can't keep in touch with me every day because of the baby. She says she doesn't have time.
I understand the baby takes up her whole day. I just get sad that she says she has no time for her friends. She can't even seem to send me a simple text message, keeping up our relationship. Am I wrong to feel this way?
— Frustrated Friend
DEAR FRIEND: You should ask your friend when she last showered, slept, checked her email or had a full conversation with anyone. Actually, don't check with her. I'll tell you. It's been a while.
Your friend has her hands full of baby right now. It would be best for her if you offered support and understanding instead of being demanding and disappointed. Her life will settle down in a couple of months, but she may never return to the everyday friend she once was, and you'll have to accept it.
DEAR AMY: I was so disappointed in your response to "Shocked," who said she was "horrified" when two women (neither was the bride) wore white to a wedding. I thought your response to her was rude. Everybody knows you are not supposed to wear white to a wedding. She was right to be shocked!
— Upset Reader
DEAR UPSET: I was responding to the rude and unkind tone of "Shocked's" letter. The biggest breach of etiquette was hers.
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.