A reader writes:
I’ve been reading your blog for months now with varying degrees of delight and sympathetic chagrin, but I never thought I’d have a question for you myself. I just moved from a staff position in one library in my university to a faculty position at its sister library. I’m also getting married in the fall. That’s where the problem comes in…
I worked at the first library for several years and am very close to many of my coworkers. We often spend time together outside of work and I couldn’t imagine getting married without them in attendance. It’s a very relaxed, supportive kind of work environment. The sister library, however, is much more rigid and structured, I haven’t been there very long, and, most importantly, the director is abrasive and difficult to get along with. She can be a fun person when she wants to be but I’ve also seen her make people cry in meetings (more than once). I don’t want her at my wedding both because I couldn’t relax around her and because some of my coworkers from the first library would likely NOT come if she was on the guest list. The director, however, is quite excited about the wedding and clearly expects an invitation.
I don’t want to offend anyone, but I don’t want to have to cave in to pressure on my wedding day by having some one who makes me feel on-edge and uncomfortable there. I also don’t want to leave out people who I care about a great deal (my former coworkers). This is a hugely sticky situation and I’m not sure how to tactfully proceed. Any advice would be welcomed!
Ugh. Ideally, the first time you noticed that the director seemed to be expecting an invitation, you would have mentioned that you were having a small wedding … or having a small wedding and not inviting many people from work … or that you’d already finalized the guest count before changing jobs and can’t get any more in the venue, blah blah blah.
Is it too late to do that now? Have you implied that she’ll be getting an invitation, or could you use one of the explanations above?
Or might you be able to have plausible deniability if you just didn’t invite her and didn’t address it unless she asks you directly? (Probably not, but without knowing more about exactly what’s been said, it’s worth throwing out there.)
But if you’ve said or done anything that has encouraged her to think that she’ll be invited … well, then I think you probably should suck it up and invite her. Yes, I know it’s your wedding, but when you let someone think they’re getting an invitation to something, you do create a social obligation, and that would be true whether she was your boss or not.
The other alternative would be not to invite anyone from work, because then you could issue a blanket “we had to trim our guest list and couldn’t invite coworkers” … but you want to invite your other coworkers, and it seems silly to not invite people who you want there just in order to avoid inviting someone who you don’t want. (And if they won’t come because she’s there, well, that’s a crappy reason not to go to someone’s wedding.)
And for whatever it’s worth, just because she’s abrasive and difficult to get along with at work doesn’t mean that she’s going to be awful at your wedding. Plenty of people are quite different outside work, and if she’s this excited about the prospect of attending, she’s probably happy for you and won’t go around making people cry while you’re on the dance floor or interrupt toasts to criticize that work you turned in last week. (Unless you think she is truly a vindictive sadist, in which case you can revert to one of the excuses above.)
I don’t know, I’m of the school of thought that says life is messy and weddings with more than two guests are messy and any attempts to make them otherwise are fated to result in failure, and we might as well embrace the messiness and cede some control and we’ll be happier for it.
What do others think?