A friend of mine recently asked me to serve as an usher at his upcoming wedding, and I, being the loyal friend that I am, of course said I’d be honored. Seconds after pledging my total commitment, he then informed me that his wife-to-be is from San Diego, 505 miles south of here, and that’s where the wedding will be held. If you listen closely, you can actually hear the bonds of friendship being sorely tested.
Which leads me to today’s beef: wassup with people whose special gatherings require you to travel great distances and spend lots of money?
To me, getting an invitation to out-of-town soirées like weddings, anniversaries or family reunions is like receiving a bill; you’re being charged to attend this event. In my case, after airfare, a three-day, two-night hotel stay, tux, meals, drinks, taxis and various other add-ons, it’s a bill for a little over a grand. Oh, and let’s not forget the obligatory gift.
Which is another source of irritation: after forking out a hefty sum to attend the event, you’re also supposed to bring a gift. Haven’t I spent enough? As my Mom used to say, I’m not made of money. In my opinion the only gift I should be required to bring is the pleasure of my presence, especially since I have a well-earned reputation for contributing greatly to the spectacle of the pageantry.
I know this makes me seem ungrateful (not to mention really, really cheap), but personally I would have a big problem asking family and friends to shell out a lot of money and effort just to watch me get hitched (or to watch me do anything, for that matter), especially in this economy.
But people only seem to think about how special it will be to hold a special moment in a special place, even if that place is halfway around the world. “Let’s get married in Fiji.” “We should hold the family reunion in Disneyland!” They never think of the special inconvenience and cost this bill, er, invitation, incurs on the invitees.
After all this griping one might rightfully ask: if its such a pain in the ass, why did you accept? Well, that’s a good question, one that I really don’t have an answer for. I guess it seemed like a cool idea at the time, and I’m always up for a good road trip. The prospect of meeting up with mates from my advertising agency days also intrigued me.
But that’s was before the financial debacle that was Tax Day; before money got a little tight and breakfast, lunch and dinner became Top Ramen noodles. But since I’ve already responded in the affirmative, I guess I’m committed (which is what I should have been when I thought this might be a good idea). I’m a man of my word, and it would be rude of me to back out now, two weeks before the event.
Besides, after racking my brain I’ve concluded there is no excuse believable enough that doesn’t scream, “I rue the day I accepted an invitation to your stupid wedding!” I know I would be insulted if someone did that to me (especially if they’ve already chosen chicken over the fish), and the bad feelings that will inevitably develop just wouldn’t be worth it.
So on June 1 it’s off to San Diego I go. After all this griping, though, I’ll probably wind up having a blast, and after a few glasses of what better be very excellent red wine flecked with specks of gold, the cost of the weekend will soon become a distant memory, as will, eventually, my hotel keycard, cell phone and underwear, if history serves me well.
The lesson learned here is don’t commit to something if you’re not 100% into it. I have a history of doing that, and the results are always the same: massive regret and the wanton spending of money.
So if any of you in the global blogosphere are thinking of inviting me to your event (if only for the rollicking entertainment I supply), please think twice. I’ll be glad to send a card and heartfelt declarations of congratulations, but don’t expect me to attend, even if you are serving very excellent red wine flecked with specks of gold.
A lot of people really don’t understand how much of a financial/logistical nightmare their weddings can be for others. I had a similar experience to yours many years ago. A friend of mine asked me to be a bridesmaid (which is enough of an honor/chore. But then after that she told me that the wedding would not be local, but would, in fact, be 4 hours away. So I had the pleasure of wearing an insanely ugly dress (which I had to pay for), chipping in for the bridal shower + gift, bachelorette party, and wedding gift, plus schlepping to and from the wedding locale. Regrettably, I didn’t get nearly wasted enough during the reception.
Hi Madame Weebles … thanks for reading and for chiming in. Well put. At least we guys don’t have to pony up for a hideous dress we’ll never, ever wear again. and not getting nearly wasted enough at the reception is the ultimate indignity! thanks for the war story!
You shouldn’t feel bad at all. I had 3 weddings in 4 weeks last summer. I’m still paying for it. I love my friends, but geez….
Hi Andrew, and thanks for checking it out. Wow, you got me beat, mate. I know … kinda stretches the level of your patience, doesn’t it? Cheers!
You will probably have a blast and feel bad that you ever complained…..except the part of driving Hwy 5, if you’re driving that wasteland. You are a good friend!
yes, angeline, i AM a good friend. oh no, no, no … I’m flying there. I’ve heard too many Hwy 5 horror stories … Thanks for checking it out and taking time to comment! ‘ppreciate it!
Oh I so hear ya. This has happened so many times to me that now when I go to one of these distant birthdays/weddings I just front up and say that I couldn’t afford to get them a gift on top of the airfares/travel costs, and no one ever looks shocked or offended. If they’re good friends, or close family, then they’re just happy that you were able to make the effort to get there. Either that or my family/friends are really good liars and they’re holding the lack of presents against me!
hahaha! hi astrid (luv your name, btw), and thanks for stopping by. I have a feeling my friend are excellent liars, and any lack of present will be silently used against me for the rest of my days!
You’ll find out if they lied when you throw a party and no one brings you a gift 🙂 Or, remove your birthdate from your facebook account just prior to a birthday ending in a 0 and see how many friends/family wish you happy birthday without the auto-reminder… those that did are the ones I’d travel long distance for!
Not even if it’s in paradise and we’re all staying together in a villa on the beach?
ummm … can i get back to you on that one?
don’t leave it too long!
That was an excellent post. Very nice writing style. Thanks so much for sharing. I really enjoyed it very much
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Dude, the weird thing is I’ll be flying from Singapore to Australia in June, to attend a friend’s wedding! How coincidental is that? And yes, it is a bit of an expensive trip, compounded by the fact that my recent career switch has reduced my income to cinders.
Ah well, guess we’ll just have to make the best of it!
hey drew … yes, a strange coincidence at that!
at least you’re going someplace cool, mate. i don’t know who you fly from singapore to australia, but i know from experience that qantas is charging a pretty penny these days, at least here in the states.
It ain’t cheap, that’s for sure. Qantas wasn’t a first choice, but we’ll be hitting up both Melbourne and Sydney, and the multi-city option was a Qantas-only deal.
Isn’t it nice in San Diego though? Wifey has been there and she loves it!
i’ve never been, but i’ve heard good things. lots of sd transplants living here in sf, and they’re always touting the city’s virtues. might not be there long enough to appreciate it, though, but i aim to give it a go!
I know what you mean, especially regarding weddings. For women, we have to buy these horrible bridesmaid dresses that we will never wear again. Unless you want to travel to the place anyway, I can understand turning down the invite!! Although, we always get honored to be asked, and get all caught up in that, don’t we?
However, I was thinking of throwing a party in your honor in Nizwa, Oman!! Won’t you fly here? At least since you’re the guest of honor, you’ll be the one GETTING the gifts!! 🙂
oh ok … since you asked so nice, and there are gifts involved, i’ll make this one exception!
we do get caught up in all that, don’t we? or should I say, guilt gets us caught up in all dat…
You’re so right. My way of answering to these requests is to go IF there is either a place I really want to visit, or people who I really want to spend time with in that place. The problem with going to a friend’s wedding is that you will rarely see the friend because he/she will always be caught up in his/her own festivities and will have no time for you!!
Have driven between San Diego and San Francisco – a hellish drive and we took the cost road of course and came into a milk package of fog. I know people travel around the world to get married, that’s okay so long they don’t expect me to turn up with checkbook or not. *smile Totally agree with on all points, but you could say it much better than me. In my days wedding are very much on the short list – it’s more funerals those days and they are often nearby.
hey viveka … thanks for the comment. i’m flying there, actually. i get enough fog here at home; I don’t need more of it as I try to drive that god-awful Hwy 5. at least I can drink on the flight!
Oh, I know what you mean. With extended families in India, that is our biggest expense!
hey, madhu … thanks for stopping by again. dang … a large family really ratches up the travel possibilities, doesn’t it?