Excluding one wedding guest to please another can backfire
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Our wedding is falling apart. My fiance and I were set up by our friend Julia. Julia can be a bit of a firecracker and holds a grudge worse than anyone I know, but she's a loyal, wonderful friend.
My fiance and I are also close friends with a woman named Sara who is also a great person, but Sara and Julia have had a feud since the early days of college, years before I knew either of them. Like I said, Julia holds a grudge and Sara won't talk about Julia at all.
Several months ago, Julia asked that Sara not be invited to our wedding. It wasn't an easy choice, but we agreed to it because I guess we still feel we owe her for setting us up. We also figured since it's our wedding we could invite whoever we chose.
A huge number of our friends are now refusing to come because of our exclusion of Sara. They've said this explicitly. We're obviously rethinking our choice because on the one hand, they're right, Sara is one of our close friends. On the other hand, inviting Sara would be a friendship-ending move to Julia.
Sara is so much more understanding than Julia and doesn't hold our not inviting her against us. She has nothing to do with the "boycott" and has told the friends refusing to attend that it isn't necessary. What do you think we should do?
Time travel back to when you thought excluding one guest to please another was a good idea, and undo it?
I know, I know. But I think the ridiculous is worth saying because situations like this are so common. They tend to involve feuding exes more than feuding friends, but the upshot is the same: Indulging someone's insistence on a boycott is tantamount to giving a toddler what she wants to end her tantrum. It causes bigger and longer-term problems than the one you were hoping the indulgence would make go away.
Unless there is abuse or otherwise clear and cruel mistreatment, you invite both feuding parties and let them sort it out. It's fair and it works.
The unraveling of your guest list makes this point for me: You chose Julia over Sara and yet Sara is the only one among you acting like a true friend -- and I include you and your fiance in that, and Julia, and Sara's well-meaning but misguided allies. You could all use Friendship Summer School.
There's always a new chance to do the right thing, so, yes: Tell Julia that Sara's friends' boycott has problems of its own, but it awakened you to how poor a choice you made in excluding Sara.
Say that you agreed to it because you remain grateful for her friendship and for setting you two up, but that excluding someone is not the way you want to get this part of your life started.
Say you're extending an invitation and an apology to Sara, and tell Julia she's a "wonderful friend" (your words, not mine) and you hope she will still consider coming.
It's going to be messy, but a mess due to courage, inclusion and the retraction of a mistake is better than a mess from caving.
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