A reader writes:
I will begin a new job on June 20 and I am getting married August 6. The position is working with college freshmen who, conveniently, arrive on campus the exact day that I am to be married. When I received the call that I was being referred for hire (sometime in mid-May), I addressed this issue but also noted that my fiancé and I had agreed to rearrange our wedding if need be. The Dean responded with something to the effect of “ordinarily, we do require all staff to be on campus to welcome the freshman and help them get situated. But given your situation, I think we can do without you for a day so that you can get married.” So with that, we have proceeded with our planning and have sent out the invitations; thus, there is no turning back now.
There are several events scheduled for the days leading up to the arrival of freshman, including a staff retreat. I do not want to come across as unprofessional or seem as though I am not taking the responsibilities of my position seriously, but I also need time off to prepare for the wedding. I am getting married in my home state, so it is not as simple as taking one day. I need to leave no less than 2 days beforehand and I of course would need a day to travel back. So I am looking at no less than 4 days off and I would prefer to have another day if at all possible.
Do you think it looks unprofessional to ask off during with such important things going on? Also how and when should I approach the issue about the length of time I need or would like to take?
Ouch. Here’s the problem: It sounds like the dean told you that you could have “one day” — the day of your wedding — off. You might figure that anyone who’s attended a modern-day wedding knows that you’d need more than that one day off — but he said “one day” and you didn’t push back.
Ideally, you would have thought this through before finalizing the date and realized that even with the wedding day itself off, you’d still need more time before to prepare and also to travel back afterwards. You then could have rescheduled for a date that worked better with your new job, while it was still an option. Or you could have said up-front that you’d need a full week.
I’d be a little annoyed if I were your boss and you came to me now to say that rather than needing one day off at what sounds like your job’s most critical time of year, you now need four and you’d prefer five. I’d be wondering how you didn’t realize this earlier.
However, assuming you can’t change the date now, you might not have any other options at this point. Call up your boss-to-be (your direct manager, whether that’s the dean or someone else), and say, “I’m in a sticky situation and wanted to talk to you about how best to proceed. When I was first hired, I raised the issue of my wedding happening on August 6 and was told it wouldn’t be a problem to take that day off. However, because the wedding is out of town, I’m realizing it’s going to be really hard to do this without a couple of days there right before, and one day afterward for traveling back. I realize that this is our busiest time of year, and I really don’t want to put you in a bind, so I wanted to talk to you about what the options might be.”
You might find out that it’s not a huge problem to let you have those additional days off, or you might find out that it is. But you won’t know until you raise the issue. Be straightforward, candid, and apologetic. Mortified wouldn’t hurt either. Good luck!