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Can I bail on an old friend's wedding? Add to ...

The question

My college roommate got engaged this summer. She’s having a small wedding at a rustic resort here in Alberta. I think I’m one of the only people invited who isn’t family. I’m not really close to her any more, we don’t have the same friends or see each other that often. I’ve met her fiancé less than a dozen times. I don’t want to go to the wedding. It would be awkward and, to be honest, expensive. My better half is unimpressed because the hotel does not have Internet, TV or even phones in the rooms. It’s not pet- friendly and I have no idea how the kids would be entertained for two days. I want to bail with every ounce of my being. How do I handle this? Buck it up or bolt?

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The answer

I believe the expression is either “buck up” or “suck it up,” but yeah, do that one.

I could cite any number of reasons why you ought to go to the wedding, why it’s “the right thing to do.”™

Do it for old times’ sake; to support a friend; to support the institution of marriage.

One of Damage Control’s central tenets is “always go to the funeral.”

It’s not my original thought. Plagiarism’s an ugly term – let’s call it an “homage” to a National Public Radio essay by a woman named Deirdre Sullivan, whose father would say: “You can’t come in without going out, kids. Always go to the funeral.”

Over time, she came to interpret her dad’s dictum more broadly. It came to mean, “that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it. ... I’m talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me, but the world to the other guy. You know, the painfully under-attended birthday party. The hospital visit during happy hour. … In my … life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.”

I think the same principle more or less applies with weddings. Maybe you don’t always “have” to go. But if someone has done you the honour of extending an invitation, you ought to try to make it – barring some more strenuous objection than lack of Internet access (get one of those little sticks), lack of phones (there’s a new invention called the “cellular phone”), the expense, bored kids, or – what was the other thing, again? The “pet-friendliness” of the hotel?

Why, because you want to bring Snuggles the cat to the wedding?

Even if it’s an inconvenience for you, your attendance could well mean the world to her. A wedding is a sacred ceremony, the union of two people and so forth. You’ll be a “witness.”

But apart from everything else, weddings are fun! I don’t know how you like to party out West, but to me it seems like a great opportunity to fill your 10-gallon hat with ribs and one of your boots with champagne and shake your money-maker until the cows need milking.

(Here in the East, we fill our fedoras with sushi and sip Prosecco from our penny loafers and say stuff like, “How did you enjoy the Verdi last night?”)

Here’s another thought: If it’s expensive, and your better half is “unimpressed,” why not go by yourself?

He sounds like a bit of a pain/pill/buzzkill, anyway. I don’t know, maybe it’s just the wording you used but … why does he need to be “impressed” by your old roommate’s wedding? He was invited: He should be grateful.

Maybe you leaving him with the kids and the animals and the dishes and all the rest will be good for him. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and all that.

Either way, this wedding could be good for your relationship – as is so often the case. Say you go together. Weddings tend to have a (gin and) tonic effect on couples – they bring you back, as the getting-married couple exchanges vows, you glance slyly at one another, remember when you were just starting out, and so forth.

And then there’s the reception. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding reception that wasn’t fun. Free food, booze and dancing, what’s not to like?

For these reasons (and others too numerous to mention), weddings are not only hotbeds for single people to hook up, they’re festivals of rekindling for established couples.

And, hmm, how shall I put this? Maybe after the two of you spend the evening drinking, strolling down memory lane and “cutting a rug” together, back in the hotel room Internet access and pet-friendliness might be the last things on your mind, wink, wink. (For God’s sake if you do go together, leave the kids and pets at home.)

So whether you bring Mr. Unimpressed Better Half or not, I say: Yes, suck it up, put on your dancing shoes/drinking boots, hop in the car, get your buns to the church or whatever, and party like it's 1999.

David Eddie is an author of Damage Control , the book.

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