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Originally published Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 5:32 AM

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Wedding steals birthday boy’s thunder

Carolyn Hax suggests that a couple may be overreacting to a friend’s decision to get married on his best friend’s 40th birthday.

Syndicated columnist

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"Birthday Boy" at 40? 40????? I'm sorry, but if you're over 12 you need to... MORE
When we picked our wedding date, I realized it was one of my best friends 50th... MORE
Wow, what a bunch of selfish people. So the guy turned 40. Couldn't that birthday... MORE

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Dear Carolyn

DEAR CAROLYN: Last spring we attended the wedding of my husband’s best friend. When we visited the couple the year before, they threw out a couple of dates they were considering. When the fiancee mentioned the date of my husband’s birthday, my husband, the groom-to-be and I all said, “Oh, that’s Jason’s 40th.” My husband and I don’t know the bride very well.

So, months later I was surprised to receive a wedding invitation for ... the birthday date. I feel they should’ve tried to secure a different date knowing the groom’s best friend of 25 years was turning 40 that day. My husband has a congenital illness, so the fact that he even reached 40 was a huge deal.

Days before the wedding the groom asked my husband to give a toast. Jason gave a heartfelt, lovely toast but there was no acknowledgment, or a thank-you, or even something like, “by the way, it’s his 40th! Happy birthday!” Actually, the groom did thank him, but the bride never said thank you or happy birthday.

I’m still bitter about this whole thing, but my husband really can’t let it go. I just need an outside voice to tell me, “Yes, that was rude. And she was rude.”

– Stacey

DEAR STACEY: What if the outside voice tells you the bride may have been preoccupied, understandably and forgivably so, on her wedding day? Or that not everyone considers an adult birthday to be as big a deal as you and your husband do?

I get that his illness gives his birthdays tremendous significance for you both. That, too, is understandable. It’s also possible the bride is rude, possessive, self-absorbed.

In cases when you have reasonably strong feelings, though — or even unreasonably strong ones — it’s best to say that outright: “Jason’s 40th is a huge deal to us, so I hope you’ll be able to choose a different date.” Then you’d have had grounds to be all kinds of perturbed — not if the couple chose that date, but only if they didn’t explain or apologize for it. Wedding dates, after all, are too often hostage to the availability of venue, vendors, parents, siblings, Grandpa, vacation times, favorable honeymoon fares and weather, and any number of priorities that aren’t for us to deem legitimate.

And if you had seen this (theoretical) lack of apology or explanation as a grudge-worthy offense, then you and your husband would have owed it to his friendship to say something to the friend, before the event, to give him a chance to make it up to your husband somehow — or just know where the raw spots were.

It appears you’re both upset about this couple’s failure to show respect for feelings you never told them you had. And that’s too bad, because this grudge appears already to have stomped on any budding affection you felt for the bride, which no doubt will weaken this quarter-century best-friendship, if it hasn’t already.

It’s hard to imagine bringing a best friendship to an abrupt and silent end over the failure to say, “Happy birthday.” Air it or drop it — whatever the true grievance is.

DEAR CAROLYN: My boyfriend asked me to travel with him to visit his family. He has NEVER brought a girl home before. The trip falls near my 30th birthday. I had been planning a blowout vacation for my birthday. Is it selfish of me to take a pass on the family trip?

— Selfish?

DEAR SELFISH?: Your time, your money, your call. Just know that choosing the “blowout vacation” might tell your boyfriend you’re not as invested in him as he is in you. Nothing wrong with that, of course, if it’s true — and you’re kind about it. Selfishness applies when you don’t care who gets hurt as long as you get what you want.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living.

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