choosing work over a wedding, writing samples, and more

It’s tiny answer Tuesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. An important work trip might conflict with my best friend’s wedding

One of my best friends is getting married out of state next year. She asked me to be in her wedding and I gratefully accepted.

I recently found out that I may be selected to win an award at work that would be a trip out of the country, during the same time as her wedding. It’s a high honor award and something I’ve been working towards for years. After this year, my opportunity to win again will be minimal. It’s a trip, but more importantly an opportunity that could elevate and create future career opportunities for me. Not going would cause my leaders to question my committment to my job because people do NOT miss this opportunity. I mentioned this to my friend, early in advance (8 months before the wedding) and let her know that I would give her an update in a few months, but there is a chance I will have to go to the work trip. She is really upset that I would choose a work trip over her wedding. I tried to explain that it’s not just a trip and would impact my career, and she didn’t seem to understand. What is the right thing to do in this situation?

I can’t answer that for you. It depends on how close you are to this friend, as well as on how much the trip could really help in your future career. Personally, I’d argue that if it really would have an impact on your career in the future, a good friend wouldn’t ask you to give that up — and would know that there are other ways to celebrate her marriage with her, even if you can’t be at the wedding. (But then I’m someone who wants as few people at my wedding as possible, so others may feel differently.)

2. Why did my interviewer tell me how many applications they had received?

I recently had a phone interview, and the hiring manager mentioned that they had “over 100 applications for this role, so congratulations!” What does that mean? I mean, what’s the purpose of telling me how many applications they’ve gotten? Should I feel grateful that I got through initial screening? I don’t understand why an interviewer would tell the candidate how many applications they’ve had if there wasn’t a reason (for the record — I applied on Tuesday, heard bnack on Thursday, phone interview Friday, so it’s not like it took them ages to get back to me). Part of me knows that the interviewer was sincere, but I also wonder if there is some subtext there I’m not getting? I have a face-to-face interview tomorrow, and I don’t know if it will come up again.

You’re over-thinking it. All it means is “we had a lot of applicants, and you were only of only a small number we’re talking to, so you should feel good about your competitiveness.” It’s a compliment. Nothing more than that.

3. Should I tell spa clients the reason when we need to cancel their appointment?

I manage in the spa industry, and if a therapist doesn’t show up to work, their guests are directly affected. I sometimes struggle with how to word an apology to a guest. If there was a death in the family, is it tacky to mention it instead of just apologizing for the inconvenience caused to the guest? In certain situations, guests actually insist on more information, and it can be hard to revert their attention to how I’m going to fix it instead of what went wrong.

I would  err on the side of telling them the reason rather than not, unless the reason is something you’d reasonably assume the therapist doesn’t want disclosed (gynecological problems, for instance). If you give a reason, people tend to be much more understanding (“oh, she’s sick, of course she shouldn’t come in”), whereas if you don’t, it’s easier to wonder if it’s just a cavalier attitude toward being there.

4. What writing sample should I use for this job?

I’m applying to a grant-making position at a local foundation. The application requires a “one-page writing sample in third-person on any subject.”

I currently work in university development, and have several years of experience with fundraising communications. However, I don’t feel comfortable using anything I’ve written. Everything is edited by at least two different people, and, when applicable, edited further by the signer. The end result is often substantially different from the original writing. I don’t want to misrepresent myself.

I’m also in business school, and have done a decent amount of writing there. Would it be ok to submit an academic writing sample? Am I being overly cautious about using a writing sample from work? Should I come up with something entirely new? And if so, where would I even start?

You’re right that you shouldn’t use something that doesn’t represent your own writing. Academic writing samples aren’t always great either, though, since academic writing is so often dense and different than what the rest of the world considers good writing (which is generally a lot more concise). If you don’t have anything that perfectly fits, I’d consider writing something that you think is similar to what you’d be writing in this job (particularly since it’s only one page — that’s not a significant time investment). There’s more advice on this here.

5. Should a resume summary be in narrative form or bullet points?

Should the summary section of a resume be in narrative form with grammatically correct sentences or is a paragraph of statements and sentences alright? In the examples I have seen online, the summary is in paragraph form with statements and sentences mixed together.

Bullet points are best, and not in complete sentences. The idea is to make it short and easy to skim. It should not be a narrative paragraph of text. (And it definitely shouldn’t be a mix of fragments and sentences — it should be consistent in its format.)

6. Employer rejected me for one job but said there might be another one opening soon

Interviewed for a job, made it to the final stage, but was rejected via email. The message contained the following sentence: “However, they might be having another [redacted-but the job title] open on their team in the next few weeks and they would like to consider you for that opening as well. I will let you know once the position comes available, in hopes you’re still on the market.”

Why would the HR person say this unless they were 100% confident there would be an opening? Does this mean that if/when they have an opening, I would be offered the job? It would seem a little unprofessional to say all of this unless there was a legit interest in hiring me shortly down the road. I don’t really know what to make of this.

It doesn’t mean anything more than “there might be an opening coming up soon that you could be a candidate for, and I’ll let you know if that happens.” It doesn’t mean you’d be offered the job at that point without interviewing for it; it only means that they’d consider you part of the candidate pool for it. Why do you object to them telling you that?

7. Are my manager’s instructions for dealing with a male coworker discrimination?

My female boss insists that I apologize to a male coworker who sent me an insulting email. She insists that I go to his office, shut the door and — direct quote — “stroke his ego” and “tell him how much you appreciate him” and when I do this, he will “puff out his chest and strut around” and “all will be forgiven.”

Not a word about how he owes me an apology. Not a word about counseling or reprimanding him for his attitude. Is this gender discrimination?

In the legal sense? I don’t know — can you point to a larger pattern of your boss treating men and women differently, in severe or pervasive ways that impact their career progression or working conditions? If not, then this is just your boss being ridiculous.

{ 364 comments… read them below }

  1. CoffeeLover*

    1. I’m going to throw my $0.02 in about weddings and a very similar personal experience I had.

    Weddings: I find the whole bridezilla and “the bride gets her way on her day” mentality is becoming more and more pervasive in our culture and I don’t like it. While it may be a very special day to you, it’s really not so for most of the people you invite and it’s certainly not a free pass to treat everyone around you like crap. This is coming from someone who’s ideal wedding involves a trip to Vegas and an Elvis impersonator.

    My Similar Experience: I had a similar “once in a lifetime opportunity” and informed my friend before she even scheduled the wedding day that I would be going to this. I was actually the maid of honor. My best friend of many years ended up scheduling the wedding during that time because it worked best for her. When I told her I couldn’t be there I could tell she was upset, but she got over it. I think the fact that I was 100% sure I was going made it easier for her to accept.

    My Advice: Go on the trip. As AAM said, if she really is as good of a friend as you say she is then she’ll forgive you for this. If she isn’t, well then best to find a better friend. Besides, could you forgive her if she “makes” you pass up this opportunity?

    1. LondonI*

      Is it really Bridezilla behaviour to be upset when someone who has agreed to be in your wedding party (your ‘best friend’ no less) then says they ‘may’ have to pull out because of a work event? There are some so-called Bridezillas around but this does not seem to be particularly unreasonable behaviour to me.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        For the record, I don’t think my friend was a Bridezilla for being upset I couldn’t make it. I can understand that reaction being her good friend. Bridezilla behaviour IMO would be if she still demanded I go and held our friendship on the line if I didn’t.

      2. Natalie*

        I think so much of this depends on how each person acted that it’s really impossible for any of us to say. Is this trip a truly once in a lifetime opportunity? Did the OP break the news in a cavalier way? How, exactly, was the bride really upset – was she just exceptionally disappointed at the circumstances or did she get mad at the OP?

    2. MJ*

      I’m going to throw in my two cents on this comment: the “bridezilla” terminology is offensive and borderline sexist.

      You know that thing about how a man is assertive, a woman is a b*tch? “Bridezilla” is just another way to demean and put down women who — shock, horror! — have opinions about their own wedding. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are horrifically overbearing women out there who pitch a complete fit if the tablecloths are the wrong shade of eggshell or if one groomsman is half an inch to the left in a photo and it looks unbalanced. I’m not denying that. But being upset because a close friend who has committed to being in your bridal party is actually a pretty legitimate way to feel.

      Am I saying the OP should give up the work trip? No way, it’s not for any of us to judge — she has to weigh the pros and cons of doing the work trip vs being at the wedding, and that’s a decision only she can make. But I think you’re seriously downplaying the fact that the OP has made a commitment to her friend that she may now have to renege on.

      1. LadyTL*

        The OP also made a commitment to her career. Should her career suffer because her friend chooses to act like a child over her friend not being there for her wedding?

        1. Rana*

          But is she acting like a child here? All we know is that she’s disappointed and doesn’t understand why the OP would do this.

        2. EngineerGirl*

          Since when is making a commitment to a career higher in priority than making good on your promises?

          How is “being really upset” acting like a child?

          The OP said yes and now is trying to back out of a prior commitment. She’s stringing her friend along because something better **might** come along. Id say that is childish behavior, not the bride.

          1. LadyTL*

            She is being a child because she is upset that something the OP has worked for for years, well before her wedding started being planned, is interfering with her “special” day. A real friend would understand that this opportunity is only really going to happen once and not ask their friend to choose between their career and their friendship over a single event.

            It’s not like getting married means a woman can never talk to their friends ever again unless they were at the wedding or that if you don’t go to someone’s wedding you aren’t a real friend. The friend of the OP will still have plenty of life events and time to spend with each other besides the wedding.

            1. EngineerGirl*

              This is silly. You make it sound like the OP has been training for years to be in the Olympics, or has now been given an opportunity to travel for the Nobel prize. I seriously doubt that. More likely it is a “best sales person for 2013 in the Mid-west” or something like that.

              It is also silly to thing that this type of opportunity will only happen once. That rarely is the case, if ever. Hard work, great results, those create plenty of opportunities for careers. I’ve yet to see people’s careers hinge on a single opportunity event. If one doesn’t happen, another comes along.

              1. LadyTL*

                Something doesn’t have to be the Olympics or the Nobel prize to be important. After all the wedding is important to the OP’s friend and it isn’t the Olympics or a Nobel prize. This award though, as in the letter, is not likely to come to her again. The events are equally important. Why would a friend ask their friend to give up something good for them because they want them to come to a party? Why ask your friend to make their life harder because you feel your life is more important?

                1. Jazzy Red*

                  “Why ask your friend to make their life harder because you feel your life is more important?”

                  You could turn that question around just as easily, and it would still be just as valid.

                  And doesn’t EVERYONE think THEIR life is more important than everyone else’s??

                  The OP could get laid off from her job tomorrow. Good bye to all her big career plans. Who do you think she would call for consolation?

              2. AdAgencyChick*

                +1. I think we need more information.

                If the friend, mistakenly or not, believes “OP might blow off my wedding for some run-of-the-mill work trip,” I don’t blame her for being upset. Not because she is a bridezilla, but because, if it’s true that this trip is not really that important, OP is showing she values her friend so little that she’d choose a minor work-related event over a major friend-related event.

                If this truly is a once-in-a-lifetime event — and only OP can say whether it is — and OP’s friend understands that, then I have no sympathy for the friend, because the friend is now demanding that her life event be more important to OP than the OP’s own, just because it’s a wedding.

                1. Cat*

                  Yeah I’d be curious to know more about the trip. Is it your field’s equivalent of the Nobel prize or the Olympics? Or is it oh hey, our top people for the year get a trip to a Caribbean report for parties and networking. If the latter, it may turn out to be important to you’re career but kind of in the way any number of things could turn out to be important to your career. Anyone I’ve worked for would get missing it to be in a best friend’s wedding – which is of course a prior commitment. If the former, that’s different and your friend should understand once she gets the context. That said it’s easy to assume the latter is the former when it’s really not. It might be worth talking with some trusted senior colleagues who aren’t your direct supervisor of you’re in doubt.

                2. jennie*

                  I think we have all the information we need. The OP thinks refusing the work trip could jeopardize her job and career but taking it could jeopardize her friendship.

                  Personally I feel a big career award is more important than a wedding (even if I’m the person getting married), but it’s up to the OP to decide which is more important to her.

              3. Anonymous*

                “It is also silly to thing that this type of opportunity will only happen once. ”
                You don’t know that.

              4. Parfait*

                It’s pretty silly to assume that any given person will only get married once, too, if you’re going down that road.

            2. Alyssa*

              I think the thing that would really decide “bridezilla” or not would be how the OP expressed this news to her friend. If it was more “Oh by the way I might miss your wedding because of a really important work trip that popped up but I’m not sure yet” I can understand why the bride might be upset. Because she doesn’t understand how important this would be to her friend.

              She may also just need a little time. We all get a little stressed right after some bad news and often express that to the people closest to us. In addition I think a definitive answer would keep this from being dragged out. Now it seems open to persuasion.

          2. Rana*

            Yeah, it’s the stringing along that’s most problematic for me. Either commit to the wedding, or bow out of the wedding party entirely, and have done with it. Otherwise it comes across as the wedding being the back-up plan or the consolation prize in the event that the work award doesn’t come through. If the award is that important, giving up the honor of being in the wedding party seems to be a reasonable sacrifice, plus then the bride isn’t stuck wondering for months whether her friend will be there for her or not.

            1. Stevie*

              Not to mention the planning and logistics of the actual wedding. I think the bride is more frustrated by the waffling than the trip. It’s hard enough to plan a wedding when you have a firm “yes” or “no” from people. It’s fine to bow out of the party and attend as a guest if the work trip falls through.

              1. Mary*

                I agree with Rana and others. If I wasn’t sure that I could be in the wedding, I would tell the bride not to include me in the wedding party. Then there is no inconvenience and stress on the bride if the OP can’t be in the wedding.

                As a working mother, after I missed a few minor activities for my daughter when she was in pre-school. I felt bad about it and still do. I didn’t ask for the time off and once you get laid off or something else you think to yourself, I gave up a chance to see my daughter on a special day for this? After that, I made sure to attend every activity that involved parents attending.

              2. Nichole*

                Yes, this. I had a bridesmaid bow out of my wedding because she was going to be closing on her house the week of my wedding and wasn’t sure what her schedule was going to be like. I was disappointed, but she gave me ample time to replace her and attended the wedding as a guest, which showed how important my day was to her. The friendship, the marriage, and the new house all lasted. My husband had a groomsman drop out two days before the wedding via text message (and to this day, I’m not sure why he dropped out). It was a nightmare getting him replaced. That friendship has since fizzled out. Being considerate of a friend’s life event is much more important than being physically present.

            2. KellyK*

              Absolutely. Don’t leave her hanging. If you’re going to attend the work trip, then bow out as her maid of honor.

            3. Carrie*

              +1 The uncertaintly is worse than the ultimate decision. OP should consider removing herself from the wedding party so that the bride can have a dependable wedding party and the piece of mind she needs.

              Also, is there any way the OP could attend BOTH? Skip the rehearsal dinner and just make a quick trip in for the wedding?

              Why is this work trip on a weekend, anyway? Seems odd.

            4. jennie*

              My best friend and maid of honour became unexpectedly pregnant 6 months after agreeing to be in my wedding. Her due date was the day after my wedding. I was happy for her and said I’d be fine whether she wanted to drop out entirely or play it by ear. She decided to try to be there and it worked out that she was. She didn’t party with us all night but otherwise fully participated and we were both really happy about it. Then she had her son a few days later.

              I know pregnancy isn’t the same as a job, but it’s nice to be flexible and open to the unexpected, even in wedding planning.

              1. Al Lo*

                One of my bridesmaids also became pregnant after agreeing to be in my wedding, and her due date was several days before the wedding. (Actually, her doctors kept changing the due date — they originally told her it was about 3 weeks before the wedding, and then kept moving it up until it was 5 days before the wedding.)

                When she told me, I left it up to her to make the choice to stay in or drop out, but told her that either way, she’d be in the program as a bridesmaid and I wasn’t going to replace her — if she wasn’t in the wedding, we’d just have an uneven number of bridesmaids and groomsmen. I think that gave her freedom to not make a commitment either way right away, since she knew that either way, I wasn’t going to be scrambling. We left it that she’d see how she felt by the wedding day — and she was in the wedding, 5-day-old baby in tow.

                It was great — we made some accommodations for her in terms of flexibility throughout the day for rest times to lie down; she planned my shower a few weeks before the wedding, but didn’t participate in the wedding-week festivities; and while she was tired at the end of the wedding day, it was a great experience for both of us, and I was so glad she was there.

            5. Jessa*

              This. If you have an inkling you might not make it say “no,” let the bride get upset and also let her have a longer amount of time to explain to number 2 choice why they were not number one and are now in the wedding party.

              The appropriate thing to do is say “I can’t commit to being in the wedding party because of possible x, but if x falls through I would love to be a guest at your special day. I want to give you the most notice possible so as not to string you on and let you make appropriate choices.”

              It is also at that point if the bride has incurred an expense to have you in the party (down payment on a dress for you or something that cannot be transferred to the new person,) you offer to reimburse her for it.

          3. Anonymous*

            “She’s stringing her friend along because something better **might** come along.” From the description provided, this is a one in a lifetime career opportunity – not “something better that came along.”

            Etiquette has always allowed for commitments to be broken under extenuating circumstances. IMO, this is one of them.

      2. CoffeeLover*

        Guys have their own term: “groomzilla”. :)

        IMO, I do think demanding someone give up a once in a life time opportunity that they’ve been working towards so they can spend a few hours celebrating your wedding is “bridezilla” behaviour. I could never imagine asking that of someone. It’s downright cruel to give some kind of ultimatum of “our friendship” vs. “your career/dreams/whatever”. I will reiterate though that I don’t personally hold significant value for weddings, so I definitely don’t have the same sentimental feelings towards them as some others do.

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          Yeah, but Groomzilla is rarely used by comparison, and is often seen as insulting because of it’s association with Bridezilla- like i.e. “crazy woman” behavior. “Bridezilla” is totally sexist.

          1. CoffeeLover*

            I don’t really understand. Bridezilla isn’t a word used to describe all brides. It’s used to describe brides who act crazy. The same way that Groomzilla is used to describe a crazy groom. Both Groomzilla and Bridezilla are insults not because of their association with each other, but because your calling the person crazy. The only reason Bridezilla is more prominent in our vernacular is because women are traditionally the ones who plan the wedding. Men are getting more involved now hence the rise of Groomzilla. The only way its sexist is if you actively choose to view it that way, which I don’t. Men and women are equally crazy.

      3. Laura*

        Oh, bridezilla behavior is definitely on the rise, or at the very least, we’re hearing much more about it than we used to. Some infamous emails have made the rounds on the web from demanding brides, with workout schedules for their bridesmaids – or even more appallingly, one particular bridesmaid. Or requirements for spending time at a tanning salon before the big day, or directives for the bridesmaids to stay out of the sun so that wedding pictures will be free of tan lines. Others have a year-long list of events and activities that each require a significant outlay of cash (engagement party in Vail, bachelorette party in Vegas, and so on), culimating with a destination wedding that costs even more. Last week I read a text exchange between a wedding guest and the 2 brides, who bereated the guest and his girlfriend for not spending enough on their wedding gift because, according to them, they were “out” at least $200 for what they spent on their meals at the reception. Then they said that the purpose of having a wedding was, basically to make money, not to celebrate your love and commitment to one another with friends and family. Classy.

        Is that what the OP’s friend is doing here? Doesn’t sound like it from the information she provided, but who knows?

        That being said, of course the bride has quite a bit of planning to do, and having a big question mark around one of the members of the wedding party is not ideal and creates some logistical issues.

        In the OP’s position I would make a decision about whether or not I would go on the trip now. If the answer is yes, then I would tell my friend now to replace me in the wedding party so she can continue with planning her wedding. If the trip did not happen, then I would still attend the wedding as a guest. If it did, then I would go and not feel guilty about it, and maybe do something for my friend before the wedding, like get her a certificate for a spa day or something. I sure could have used one of those when I was in the midst of planning my wedding!

        1. CoffeeLover*

          Ya, OP’s friend seems a lot more reasonable than this. When I brought up Bridezillas it was more of a general commentary on the world rather than this particular bride. In terms of planning though, I agree OP needs to gracefully bow out of the wedding party. Stringing the bride along will make it worse because you’ll hold up the planning.

          As another caveat: it’s ironic because I’ve heard so many stories of long time friendships falling apart because of something someone did/said at a wedding. Weddings: bringing people together, but tearing even more apart. :P

          1. Laura*

            It is stressful not knowing if someone will be in your wedding party or not. My sister’s stepdaughter really wanted to be in my wedding, so I made her a bridesmaid. Then she backed out because she was worried about losing time to study for her finals. Then she wanted back in when she realized finals would be over by the weekend of the wedding. Back and forth. When she backed out I asked another friend. When she wanted back in I would have felt bad for kicking my other friend out of the wedding party after she’d agreed to do me a favor at the last minute, so we re-arranged things.

            I can say with confidence that I was a pretty low-maintenance bride (the only thing I put my foot down about and refused to budge on was no idiotic games at my wedding shower) but the business with my (step)niece really stressed me out.

          2. Y*

            “Ya, OP’s friend seems a lot more reasonable than this. When I brought up Bridezillas it was more of a general commentary on the world rather than this particular bride.”

            Huh? How does that align with your comment: “IMO, I do think demanding someone give up a once in a life time opportunity that they’ve been working towards so they can spend a few hours celebrating your wedding is “bridezilla” behaviour.”

            1. CoffeeLover*

              I don’t think bridezilla behaviour is being reasonably upset your friend can’t make it. I do think it’s bridezilla behaviour if the bride is demanding she go and threatening to end their friendship if she doesn’t. There’s a difference between “I’m sad you can’t come” and “You have to come or I’m never speaking to you again.” It’s hard to tell which one case OP is describing.

          3. Ruffingit*

            I’ve always maintained that weddings and funerals bring out every family/friend issue and place a spotlight on it on the dance floor.

            Having been in a couple of weddings myself and having been married, I can say with certainty that more people need to concentrate on the marriage and not the wedding. The wedding is one day, the marriage a lifetime (hopefully).

        2. nyxalinth*

          What you describe IS a Bridezilla. There’s no defending this behavior, and arguing the old “men are assertive, women are bitcesh” idea someone else made above doesn’t apply here. Whether a man or woman acted in these ways, there is a word I would use for both: A-hole.

          Being understandably upset, especially if the friend seems to be waffling, is not Bridezilla.

      4. Sarah B.*

        I really don’t see how the term “bridezilla” is sexist. It refers to the women who pass the point of just being opionated and end up in dictator territory. As a woman who got married about a year ago, there were times when I just became unreasonable. Plus, haven’t you ever heard the term “groomzilla”? I have heard that used many times to describe grooms who pass the point of reasonable behavior.

        1. Emily K*

          My friends who were recently married had bridezilla and groomzilla pinatas that they killed at the reception following the ceremony. Adorable pinatas of godzilla-type dinosaurs dressed up in wedding formal.

          1. Natalie*

            That is adorable. If I ever get married I will totally smash those after my 5 minute JP ceremony.

      5. Lily in NYC*

        There are many cases when the term is apt. My crazy cousin tried to make my sister and I dye our hair blonde (we are Spaniards and would have looked ridiculous) or else we couldn’t be in her wedding. We chose to decline the dubious honor. Or the ones that insist that they have three showers, a destination bachelorette, an entire weekend of events for the wedding and then get furious if you can’t attend one part of the extravaganza. They are perfect bridezilla expamples and I don’t see what is remotely sexist about saying so. The bride-to-be in this situation has the right to be upset. Angry and unforgiving? I hope not, but people get pretty crazy about weddings.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I read a story recently from a woman who had delivered her first child prematurely. The child spent a couple of months in NICU, but is fine now. Fast forward a couple of years and the woman is again pregnant. Her sister is getting married and actually said to the woman “I hope you have the baby early again so you can be in the wedding party…”

          Now that is a bridezilla and also reason for completely disowning the sister.

      6. kristinyc*


        As a recent bride – yes, the term “Bridezilla” has GOT to go. If you have an opinion about ANYTHING related to your own wedding (gasp! the horror!) you’re a bridezilla, and if you try to be easygoing, people view you as an inadequate bride who needs to have stronger opinions, because it’s YOUR day. You can’t win.

        (FWIW, I erred on the side of “inadequate” bride, and I’m just as married as the “bridezillas,” thankyouverymuch).

        For the OP #1- Your friend will understand. There will be other people who can’t attend her wedding, and it will sting a little. BUT – there will be plenty of people who are there, and she will be too busy to notice those who aren’t. If you can’t make it to her wedding, take her and her husband out to dinner a few weeks after the wedding/honeymoon and celebrate on your own. It’ll really be okay.

        1. Ruffingit*

          +1. This is my feeling as well. Send a wonderful wedding gift and then take the couple out to dinner later. If this is a strong friendship, it will survive the OP not being at the wedding so long as the OP makes an effort to celebrate the event in some way (nice gift, etc) because it is important to her friend.

          If the OP can’t make it, it might be nice to write a heartfelt card to the couple about the wonderful friendship she’s enjoyed with the bride and her happy hopes for the couple’s future together. Just something that shows she cares and understands this is a big thing for her friend.

        2. kristinyc*

          Oh, also – a very awesome yearly conference for my field was the Tuesday – Thursday after MY wedding. In the city I was getting married in, no less!

          I chose to have a honeymoon instead. The conference happens every year. A honeymoon won’t (well, it will in my case – we’re going back for our first anniversary).

        3. TheSnarkyB*

          Re: “your friend will understand.”
          There’s not enough info in this letter and it’s starting to get frustrating bc everyone’s opinions here are valid.
          1) what does “one of my best friends” mean? 1 of 7? If it were me, that would be one of 2. I.e. the 2 people that I would have cleared a date with Before planning bc I would move my wedding to make sure these 2 people could be there- of all other people in the world. If this is the case, this friend sucks and needs to figure out a plan. If the bride is not in the situation of “Crap, if I’d known 1 week ago, I could/would have moved everything because BFF is non-negotiable.”, then this is a totally diff. situation.
          2) Hard to tell how important this work thing actually is. Is the trip like an award given once you’ve already been selected for the honor? Or is it at that trip that the recipient is decided? Etc.
          3) Does the bride understand how OP feels about work? If my friend did this and she had been complaining about that career path for years or if it was just something she did to pay the bills, was considering a career change, workplace sucked, etc., I’d have a really hard time being understanding vs. I’ve been hearing about this goal for years and this career is where she wants to be, etc…
          Just some thoughts on context.

        4. Seattle Writer Girl*


          Yes, I agree that “Bridezilla” has become WAY overused. My mom was the absolute worst while planning my wedding, even going so far as forcing me to buy a new dress because she “hated” the old one (and yes, I use to word “force” to its full definition).

          I would tell her, politely but firmly, stuff like “No, Mom. I do not want to spend $200+ on a cake. We will just go to Costco and get sheet cakes,” thinking I was being totally reasonable. Then I find out later she has called up all my aunts to complain to them what a Bridezilla I am BECAUSE I DON’T WANT A FANCY CAKE!!!!!!

          1. kelly*

            Having worked in retail in an area that handled registries, I found that the brides were easier to deal with than their mothers and other female relatives and friends on both sides. I could write about a couple momzillas of the bride/groom. Some of the grandmas were equally bad. I don’t think that many of the older guests who are invited realize how much the cost of a wedding has exploded from when they were married 30 plus years ago. They also don’t realize that couples getting married today have different needs for starting a new home than what they did. I think most couples today would prefer cash, gift cards, or some selected large ticket item than more of the smaller items.

            1. Dulcibella*

              Do you really think that someone married 30 years ago doesn’t understand how crazy expensive wedding extravaganzas have become? Like those of us who have had to help our children pay for weddings? We are well aware of how much it costs but feel that you should have the wedding you can afford and don’t expect your guests to finance it with “quid pro quo” gifts. Also curious why couples today have different needs for starting a home?

              1. Natalie*

                As far as your last question, I think there are a couple of trends at work here (in the US):

                – Age of first marriage has been rising since the mid-60s, thus the bridge and groom have spent more time accumulating typical household stuff
                – Living together before marriage is more common, which in my experience also leads to accumulating more stuff, specifically bedding
                – Americans in general have *way* more stuff today than in previous years. For a number of factors, consumer goods are often insanely cheap here compared to other Western countries, so a lot of us just have more.

          2. lizzieladie*

            Just anecdotally, one massive source of conflict that I’ve seen is between brides who want a dress that varies in some way from white ball gown and other people who don’t think a wedding is a wedding without a giant white dress. Unless the bride wants to enslave puppies to get the dress made to her specifications or to bankrupt whoever is funding the wedding to pay for the dress, I’m pretty much in favor of letting her show up in whatever she wants.

    3. Kat*

      I agree that #1 should be available to go on the work trip, with the caveat that she needs to *not* be in the wedding party if she might be a late notice no-show. That’s kind of unfair to the bride/other bridesmaids otherwise.

      *Note: I eloped, so I possibly have a more cavalier attitude to weddings than many.

    4. Brandy*

      Sounds to me like your lack of commitment opened the door for the bride to be upset. You didn’t say, “I’m so sorry, I just found out I have a work trip I can’t get out of during your Wedding weekend. It means I can’t be there to support you in person; I feel awful and never would have agreed to be in the bridal party if I knew about this. Tell me how I can help before the big day- I’m so excited for you.” You said, “I am choosing to go on this trip instead of your wedding.”

      Sometimes, it’s all in the delivery.

      1. B*

        This!! There would not be a problem if you just backed out of the wedding because you did not want to create issues for her. But instead you are and are making the whole wedding your back-up choice. Bow-out of the wedding nicely.

    5. Y*

      Weddings: I find the whole bridezilla and “the bride gets her way on her day” mentality is becoming more and more pervasive in our culture and I don’t like it.

      Interesting, I actually get the complete opposite impression from a lot of what I read – that as soon as a bride is not happy or, God forbid, upset about something they are a “bridezilla” creating “drama” and that the wedding is just a party and the couple really shouldn’t care all that much about it.

      1. VintageLydia*

        Yeah the people who criticize brides for being upset because the florist got the flowers wrong and DJ came with the wrong playlist and people aren’t living up to their promises forget that weddings are expensive and I’d be hella pissed if people I paid to do certain things screwed up or friends backed out last minute from doing something they promised to do which cost me more time or money to make up for. Should weddings be this logistical nightmare? Ideally not, but if you want anything even vaguely resembling a traditional wedding, the industry made it pretty darn difficult not to be.

        So OP, either commit to traveling to receive this award and go as a guest if you don’t get it, or commit to being in the wedding. If I were the bride, the lack of commitment in either direction is what would irritate me.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Pissed, yes. Of course you would be. What people are sick of is the regimented demands a true bridezilla (and this is what the term really refers to) places on her family, friends, wedding party, vendors, etc., and the whole “It’s my day” bullcrap that engenders.

          Being upset if you pay for a pricey service that the vendor completely borks is completely reasonable.

          1. VintageLydia*

            Right, but often women are labelled “Bridezilla” even when they have valid reasons to be upset.

            And I’ll be honest, when you’re told from BIRTH that your wedding day will be the most special day in your life and that it will all about you, and the industry does everything in its power to reinforce those beliefs, I can forgive some (SOME) “Bridezilla” behavior.

            1. Elaine*

              Huh. I never gave a wedding a second thought (or having a husband) until my crazy boyfriend proposed. Then I was all like, “huh…now I guess we’ll need to get married.”

              1. Kara*

                Yeah, not everyone buys nto the whole “most important day” thing. People who go to the JoP are just as married as those who have gala events. I’m not one such person who has had her hypothetical wedding planned out since childhood.

                1. VintageLydia*

                  It doesn’t surprise me that the women here run toward the more practical end of the spectrum, but it doesn’t change that general culture around marriage.

                2. Jessica*

                  Yeah, I was someone who was happy thinking I wouldn’t get married. Then I found a guy I liked and then loved, so I decided to marry him. But neither of us are big wedding people, so we had a tiny wedding with just immediate family and friends who were involved somehow. My best friend since 8th grade was my officiate even, but we didn’t have any bridal party people at all — I didn’t want to make anyone buy a dress or rent a tux. It had exactly what the two of us wanted (example, I didn’t want to deal with a bouquet, but my husband wanted me to carry a few of my favorite flowers, so I was willing to do that), nothing more.

                  To me, the wedding was not the important part at all (a lot of family and friends didn’t understand that at all), so we spent the “wedding planning time” working toward getting the marriage part down. We lived two states away from each other, so we knew there would be some adjustments to make and we wanted to focus on making sure those went smoothly.

    6. AP*

      #1 – Every person is different and every life event is different, but just my experience – I skipped an important work trip for my very good longtime friend’s bridal shower (I was a bridesmaid, I felt like I couldn’t back out, the couple had a history of being bride-and-groomzillas whenever people couldn’t schedule around them, etc.)

      I sincerely regret not taking the trip. It was a huge missed opportunity and took me almost a year to make up for it at work. And the party was a drag.

      1. AJ-in-Memphis*

        #1 – Never ever put others priorities in front of yours. At the end it all, if she’s a good friend – “bridezilla” or not – she will understand. If not, oh well!
        You’ll regret it if you don’t go on that trip and you might also resent your friend for making you feel like her life plans are more important than yours. Go on the trip and buy them a great gift as well as celebrate with them later.

  2. AdjunctForNow*

    #5 isn’t clear on whether she means “academic writing” or “writing used in a class.” If the OP is in business school, and her professors are any good, the class assignments she is turning in should be in a business format, i.e. using lots of bullet points, not overly formal, headings/summaries as appropriate, etc. If that’s the case, it’s perfectly acceptable to use something that you originally prepared for a class.

    1. OP #4*

      My business school writing is mostly analyses of case studies and interpretations of financial reports. It’s not dense academic writing with footnotes and field-specific terminology, but there aren’t bullet points.

      1. Angry Writer*

        OP #4, why don’t you just submit your original versions of these highly edited communications, provided you have them? I don’t see the need to point out they were your first version, either, unless asked, which I really don’t think you would be.

    2. Anonymous*

      I work in grantmaking and IMHO, the most helpful writing sample would be one that pertained to non-profit management or showed analysis of a non-profit, non-profit program or financial statement. Mush of our work in grantmaking is in analyzing the strngth of nonprofits or of a program proposed by a nonprofit so writing that demonstrates an understanding of those concepts would put a candidate in a string light.

      1. Anonymous*

        I just re-read what I wrote this morning and obviously won’t be sending in any writing samples with all of the typos I didn’t catch!

  3. PEBCAK*

    #1) Most people I know look back on their wedding albums ten years later and consider only a fraction of the people there still among their close friends. Take the work trip, if it’s awarded to you, and if the friendship suffers, know that really could have happened anyway (and perhaps was even likely if you have such a difference in values).

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Exactly what I was going to say. Granted, my wedding was 15 years ago, but we are no longer friends with anyone from our wedding party. My maid of honor and I stayed friends for about 7 yrs, long enough for me to be her matron of honor. I was 8 months pregnant at the time, so after her wedding I had another child to keep me busy and she moved 30 miles away (not so far we should have stopped being friends, but not swing by for coffee distance, either) and we really fell out of touch.

      I doubt the work thing is quite as career-determining as the OP says, though. Early in my current job, I was asked to go with my manager to a conference in NYC that started the day I was to come home from a trip to FL with my family. I left the FL trip separately and went to NYC. My career still sucks, and the trip really didn’t matter as much as I thought it did then. : )

      1. Judy*

        Hmm. Of the 4 women that were in my wedding party, one was my sister, one was his sister, one was my college roommate and one was a childhood close friend. 15 years later, I see our sisters a lot, I see my college roommate maybe once a year but talk more, and I would give anything to see Sarah, but she died of breast cancer two years ago.

        Of the guys in the wedding party, we happened to move to a town that is close to two of them, so we see them and their families at least twice a month. The other two live much further away, but we see them when we spend Christmas holidays in my husband’s home town.

        1. Jean*

          Enjoy your friendships, and do what you can to honor the memory of your friend Sarah (stay in touch w/ her family? donate to a cause she supported? just plain think about her frequently?). I’m glad you had such a good friendship and sorry that it ended way too soon.

          1. Judy*

            Her daughter comes to visit Grammy here in town, and we always meet up with them, whether it’s spring break or a week over the summer or of course our Race for the Cure. My son is 2 months younger than her daughter. So we have the same relationship with her daughter we did when she was alive.

    2. Liz in a Library*

      Not true of everyone though…I’m still close with everyone who was in our wedding party. Granted, the groomsmen were all my husband’s brothers and an uncle. But the friends on my side are still close friends who we see regularly and who remain a large part of our life. I’m heading out the door to one’s house right now, oddly enough.

      1. LMW*

        Yep. 40 years later my mom and dad are still best buddies with their maid of honor and best man…even with kids, multiple cross-country moves, career changes, etc.


    #2 I had a face to face and during the interview the interviewer pointed to a pile on his desk telling me they were resumes that he still needed to review.

    I had another face to face where the interviewer told me prior to our phone chat he had 400+ resumes and at time of interview he had 600+. Then he was texting with his daughter while interviewing me. Should have walked out.

    1. Esra*

      I’ve never had a good experience with people making those kinds of comments either. The last one I was at said they got hundreds of resumes and had 30+ interviews scheduled to fill “One, or maybe two. Like, maybe two junior or one really good senior…” position[s].

    2. Anonymous*

      Wow.. That’s kind of ridiculous.

      I just interviewed for a position where they pulled the ad down after receiving only five applications (I have a friend on the “inside”)! The Hiring Manger liked what he saw so he decided he didn’t need any more resumes to review … I don’t think they even interviewed all five.

  5. Sara*

    #1. Take the work trip.

    Are you invited as a guest or as part of the wedding party? (bridesmaid/MOH etc?)…..If she’s really a good friend she’ll understand. If she doesn’t understand……well I’d take the work trip!

    1. JessA*

      On my resume it looks like…

      – BFA in Chocolate Teapot Construction from Tea Leaf University
      – 3 years chocolate making experience
      – 2 years tea leaf analysis

      1. WWWONKA*

        Wouldn’t education go at the end? By doing bullet points lengthens the resume and AAM says to keep it at one page which is impossible for me.

        1. JessA*

          On my resume, my education info with my degree, internships, fellowships, scholarship info, etc. is at the end but I make a brief mention of my BFA in the summary.

        2. Rob Aught*

          The problem with NOT doing bullet point summaries is that a lot of managers will skim resumes. If they don’t get a good feel for you as someone they want to interview, your resume will likely end up in the round file.

          The 1 page rule is a rule of thumb. Depending on your length of experience and jobs held, it is common to see resumes greater than one page. However, you absolutely should condense to whatever the smallest form is that still gives a good impression of your experience.

          For example, I should never ever ever ever receive a 12 page or 18 page resume. Yet it has happened. 3 page resume from a recent college graduate? C’mon!

          Keeping in mind, I try really hard to read every resume I receive comprehensively, but I have been in an interview and noticed a detail that I missed on the first read. The denser packed the information, the more likely that is to happen.

          Bullet points are easy for the people reviewing the resume. Believe me, you want to make it easy for them. There is no telling how many resumes they are reviewing. Also, keep in mind that the same people reviewing resumes, doing phone screens, and conducting interviews have day jobs as well. ANYTHING you can do to make it easier for them to evaluate you is doing yourself a favor.

        3. Tina Career Counselor*

          Most summaries I’ve seen are bulleted. Depending on the person’s length of experience, not all resumes have to be just one page any more.

          From employers I’ve talked to, summaries are a mixed bag anyway. Some employers love them, others hate them. Some like them for experienced candidates, but not for recent grads. Some like bullets, some like paragraph.

          There are very few things on a resume that are absolute.

          1. WWWONKA*

            My job accomplishments and some job duties are in bullet form under each job title. My summary is in paragraph form.

        4. Emily*

          One page cover letter. Resume can be two if you have enough experience that it needs two pages to list it.

      2. SJ*

        I hope that this is actually what is on your resume because those are some pretty awesome qualifications :)

  6. EngineerGirl*

    I couldn’t imagine choosing work over my best friend’s wedding. My best friend has been there for me during some of the worst times of my life. Work has not. I hope to be retiring soon. My best friend will be there. Work will not.

    I see a lot of problems:
    * You already said yes. You made a promise. What is your word worth?
    * You MAY be selected to win an award. You haven’t already.

    Have you even made an attempt to talk to your leaders about this? Because any leader that doesn’t understand that you had previously accepted an invitation to be in your BEST friends wedding has got to be a little dysfunctional. Can the trip be moved, or is it a group thing? It may not be either one or the other. It all may be negotiable. Which you should try to do.

    In the mean time you are being a jerk to your friend. It is 8 months to the wedding, which means she really need to know now so she can order dresses etc. And you are going to wait until – what – 6 months before the wedding to let her know? That is holding her hostage and placing your own needs above your friends. Not very “bestie” behavior in my book.

    1. Anonymous*

      it’s her best friend – not a family member- so to me it’s not that big of a transgression. I’m sure the OP has made it clear in the past that she wishes to advance her career so if her so called “best friend” should understand her desire to not pass this opportunity up. i think weddings are boring so my opinions might be biased.

      It seems silly to me to bring this issue to her management team. She doesn’t need her manager to hold her hand and help her make this personal decision. Also, I think you’re a bit out of line by calling her a jerk. She was upfront witht her friend about this possible trip. And let’s be real, this probably won’t be her best friend’s last wedding.

      1. Stevie*

        “And let’s be real, this probably won’t be her best friend’s last wedding.”
        That comment seemed unnecessarily harsh. I know you can cite statistics and whatnot, but that’s only useful in helping people not rush into marriage. She’s already decided to go through with it, so what’s the point of tearing it all down?
        But waffling on the bride *is* a jerk move. Think of it as a career move instead. You’ve offered an employee a promotion to start next year. You want a firm commitment or you will need to start interviewing outside candidates. He doesn’t want to commit because there *might* be an interview for a company he applied to earlier, so he continues to string you along until you get a firm answer about something better. You will be rightly frustrated and upset, and not think well of this employee.
        It’s not that the OP can’t or shouldn’t take the work trip. It’s that the bride just needs a firm answer ASAP.

        1. Y*

          That comment seemed unnecessarily harsh. I know you can cite statistics and whatnot

          Even in the US, the country with the highest divorce rates, the rate of people a) getting divorced, b) getting remarried is something like 20-30%. High? Yes. But it’s actually more likely it will be the friend’s only wedding than that she will have another.

          1. EngineerGirl*

            It also ignores that there are 3 data sets:
            * people who get married and stay married
            * people who make a foolish choice the first time because they are young. They get divorced but then stay married to their 2nd spouse.
            * people who get married/divorced/married/divorced/married/divorced. These people screw up the averages and make it look like there are more breakups than there are.

      2. EngineerGirl*

        Also, I think you’re a bit out of line by calling her a jerk. She was upfront witht her friend about this possible trip. And let’s be real, this probably won’t be her best friend’s last wedding.

        Wow. You know what? All of my friends are still married (happily) after 30 years. They are all still well employed after 30 years. The kills of perseverance, commitment, and willingness to talk things through on their marriages were the same skills needed to be successful in their careers. And they’ve all had good careers.

        And it is totally being a jerk to expect that the bride put her planning on hold for several months just to accommodate an award that may never materialize. OP needs to make a choice and stick with it.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          Sorry, but I also think calling the OP a jerk is uncalled for. She’s trying to figure out what to do here, and at this point there is still plenty of time for her to withdraw from the wedding party without creating a logistical nightmare for the bride. She is trying to do the right thing. Jerks rarely care about doing the right thing.

          I’m in your second data set (previous comment). But while the second marriage has worked well for the last 30 years, both my MOH and the best man are no longer part of our lives. Because they both tried (separately) to break us up within the first year we were married!

          Every person, friendship and career is different. Let’s try to be mindful of that and encourage those asking questions here to do the right thing, rather than trying to shame them because they are not exactly like us.

          P.S. I agree with others above who have recommended the OP withdraw from the wedding party now and attend as a guest if the work trip falls through.

      3. Jazzy Red*

        “And let’s be real, this probably won’t be her best friend’s last wedding.”

        And it probably won’t the OP’s last job.

    2. Jamie*

      Those are personal choices, though. If this is a career enhancing opportunity not taking it will cost her money over the course of her career. That’s a big price to ay to be able to attend a wedding.

      I do agree that she should either pull out or commit, but there’s no shame in pulling out of the wedding this far in advance. As a friend I would never ask anyone to forgo a career opportunity for me.

      I’m not disputing that a wedding is a significant event, but in essence it’s a one day party. If that’s a choice you’d make that’s fine, but I wouldn’t sacrifice a career opportunity to attend one of my friends weddings and I’d certainly not want hem to do it for me. It’s not like she pulled out the night before.

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        I’ve noticed this “one day party” mentality floating around in the comments and I just want to say: that’s really easy for people to say when they’re already happily married. If my friend couldn’t go to the reception, fine – but I know on my wedding day I’ll probably be nervous as shit and there are some friends who, just like my mom, will be the ones I look at the second before I walk down the aisle and who know me well enough to say “he’s a good guy. I know this is scary but you’re gonna have an amazing life.” Now, my relationship isn’t ready for marriage, and neither am I, by I’m a nervy doubter, so like I said above, there are some people close to me that I wouldn’t get married without. Cuz I’d puke on my dress and trip on my train.
        Maybe I’m wrong here bc I’ve never been there, but this person’s relationship with their friends and family (mine are equally important) really is germane to the issue.

        1. Elaine*

          Getting married *is* scary, but if you need a friend to tell you what you should do before the ceremony, you’re not ready. I almost fainted, but one of my friends got me a Sprite and I was able to make it down the aisle. It was like an out of body experience for me, for sure.

          The bottom line is, for me: I wasn’t sure I should marry him when he proposed, I wasn’t sure when we got married, and 7 years later, I’m still not sure. What I know is that I love him, we’re pretty happy, and if he doesn’t leave me for a teenager in 50 years and we are still happy, I didn’t make a mistake.

          Does this at all make sense? Maybe some people are sure on their wedding day–I’m not one of those, and no amount of best friend reassurance would have made me so.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Wow, this is very interesting to me, as someone getting married later this year and who has wondered about the role of worries and uncertainties in it all. Would love to hear from others on this. (Frankly, what I really want is an open thread where you all give me tons of marriage advice.)

            1. Zahra*

              Please do! My own advice:
              After getting married, we both freaked out a bit about everything being “forever”. Arguments were more intense for the first year, even though we had been living together for a few years. Eventually, we both mellowed out and realized that material stuff was not forever and could be changed while character flaws/communication styles could be worked on to be more acceptable to both parties.

            2. Rebecca*

              You could always go over to A Practical Wedding where there is tons of wedding and marriage advice/ smart thinking about things (and weekly open threads!). I feel like A Practical Wedding is to wedding blogs what Ask A Manager is to career blogs.

              For me, I wasn’t ever worried about being married- I’m pretty much a “things more or less tend to work out” kind of person. The getting married part, though- stressville.

            3. TheSnarkyB*

              Alison, feel free to tell us about your wedding date in advance.. I wanna let my e-readers accumulate if you’re gonna be offline! :) And congratulations again!!

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It’s early October — but don’t worry; I’m going to pre-program a bunch of posts to publish while I’m away (a mix of re-runs of past favorites or really old ones that hardly anyone will remember and maybe an open thread or two).

            4. MJ*

              Alison, PLEASE do an open marriage thread! (Or… wait, hang on. An open thread about marriage).

              1. Jessa*

                Snerk thank you for making me snork Pepsi up my nose and on my keyboard. Thank you very much.

            5. Jamie*

              I’m going to sound like a cynical old shrew, but at both of my weddings other people being there was for them. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and it was nice….the way any family party is nice ( which is relative and complicated – heh) but the first time I’d have eloped easy if it wouldn’t have set off the fizzy shit blizzard of resentment to end all fizzy shit blizzards. The second time I’d have been fine with just us and the kiddos, so were small, because it wasn’t just a wedding but it was about our new family.

              Just speaking for myself if I’d have needed someone else to be there to calm me and tell me I’d be okay I wouldn’t have been ready.

              The best marriage advice I can give anyone was hard learned. I was in love both times…but the first time (early 20’s) I was sure that all the red flags would go away because of course I could change him through the power of my love. And all my own immaturity would dissipate once I became a married woman.

              Neither of those things happen.

              The second time I took a long hard look at his flaws and this time assumed that not only would they not go away but would probably get worse…could I live with that? I had already learned that all the love in the world won’t change someone’s hardwiring. No deal breakers so I married him.

              Now the best marriage advice I had read, from Miss Manners…give your spouse the gift of not being embarassed on their behalf. Let them own their own behavior otherwise you turn into their monitor and that’s not fun for anyone. It’s really hard sometimes when you’re a fairly quiet person and you HATE how chatty they are and how they need to talk to everyone and how sometimes they talk and laugh too loud and draw attention to themselves and you wish they would just shut the hell up and live in their head a little more because seriously…you don’t need to have a freaking personal relationship with everyone you see…

              But that’s my issue. :)

          2. TheSnarkyB*

            Meh, I appreciate your opinion Elaine but I disagree about “if you need a friend to tell you what to do, you’re not ready.”
            I know I’m not ready for other reasons, but the thing is, this is a friend who has heard about (almost) every amazing thing my dude has done over the past 3+ years. As I said, it’s about me being a doubter, not about the relationship. It’s more of a panic reflex, and I’m not going to let awareness of it stop me from getting married (which I now have to do bc I discovered Pinterest 2 days ago and those ideas have to get implemented somewhere!). It’s just about who I am and how I react to things. I did something similar right before college graduation, and I was definitely ready for that. Boyfriend had to say, “Don’t forget to walk one foot at a time” because I literally would have.
            It’s more about the friend reminding me of what I already know, than about summoning brand new reassurance from somewhere unknown.

            Also, I totally second the wedding open thread idea!

    3. AnotherAlison*

      EngineerGirl, I often agree with your view on things, but I have to disagree here.

      My best friend has been there for me during some of the worst times of my life.

      My 3 “best” friends, including the one who was my maid of honor, have all fallen away over the years. I had a best friend since 1st grade, who I lost touch with during college but reconnected with about 5 years after college, who now ignores my emails/calls and then randomly contacts me like nothing happened. None of these women are a big part of my life now. We don’t know enough about the OP’s friendship to know if they were best friends in the past and now are just sort of in-name-only best friends or if they are like you and your friend.

      1. BritBrit*

        My “best friend” of 12 years, who was the maid of honor at my wedding, unceremoniously dumped me a year after my wedding when she decided I wasn’t paying enough attention to her during a time when my husband had emergency open heart surgery and I had my own health problems that landed me in the hospital for a week. She thought I was being “selfish” with my time and I “wasn’t there for her.” Sorry, between the PT and other doctor’s appointments for the two of us, not to mention needing to work my usual 40+ hours a week, I didn’t have much time for myself, much less anyone else.

        So yeah, “best friend”? YMMV.

        1. Cat*

          Sure, but the fact that friendships can go wrong doesn’t mean you shouldn’t commit to them anymore than the fact that jobs and marriages can go wrong means you shouldn’t commit to them.

          1. JW*

            I don’t get all the weird hostility in the comments today regarding friends. My friends are seriously my family. I have one biological sister, and two sisters I met in college. Sure, there have been periods of distance between myself and any of those three women at different points in our relationships, but I’m the sort of person who considers my close friends my family. I kind of don’t get it when people read a question about someone’s best friend’s wedding and immediately dismiss it as unimportant because apparently all friendships fall apart anyways.

            ahem. /rant. apparently I have the strong feels about friendship.

        2. anon*

          My best friend since high school (we graduated 15 years ago) dumped me because her husband made a pass at me.

      2. EngineerGirl*

        I’m sorry to hear that. Because really, mine have been there through the years. Ever since university.

    4. A teacher*

      Either she’s in or she’s out, how complicated is it? If you think your career is more important go on the trip but quit being a flake about the in or out business. I’m not even married but I’d be annoyed more for the indecision. Just decide one way or the other and let the cards fall where they may.

    5. nyxalinth*

      Yep, this. Besides, what happens if the OP doesn’t go? they would say “Gee OP, you were going to win, but since you aren’t here, it will go to Bob now!”?

      Wait, some companies would do that. But still.

    6. Brett*

      #3 You should try, if possible, to adopt a general workflow of asking therapists what they want said to their clients for the day. Or better yet, tell therapists ahead of time that if they are going to cancel they need to provide a message to give to their clients for that day.
      (That way, if someone calls in and leaves a message, the therapist knows to both tell you the reason and give you a statement to give to the guests.)

      If the statement has been provided directly by the therapist, then you should be completely with providing it to the guest.

    7. Anonicorn*

      OP is in a tough situation (and I feel bad for her friend as well). That doesn’t necessarily mean she’s being a jerk to her friend, especially since we have little detail about her interaction.

      Personally, the whole “you’re choosing x over me” argument is tiring, and I’ve had a few not-so-great-friends who used it and similar reasoning to make me feel I had to prove my friendship in some way, like I was always being tested. That’s not really friendship.

      But I agree OP should give her friend some clarity. Either you’re going to the wedding or you aren’t.

  7. LondonI*

    I think a ‘best friend’ would go to the wedding over a work trip. Surely the boss would understand. Also, why does not being there to collect an award mean so much? You would have still earned the award.

    I would be pretty hurt if my ‘best friend’ couldn’t attend my wedding and I would be the one questioning the strength of the friendship. It would be different if we were talking about a casual acquaintance.

      1. AJ-in-Memphis*

        The trip is probably more like an opportunity to connect with others in the field. Sometimes, it’s not easy to go on such trips (employer-sponsored & career enhancing) and be recognized by so many people in one setting.

  8. myfirstnameismary*

    #1 – In our electronic world, you may not be able to attend the wedding in person, but maybe an appearance by skype/facetime just to be able to send good wishes on the special day. Congrats in advance on your award!

  9. V*

    #1 — Do you have to go on the trip to get the award? If you have to formally accept and give a speech, is there anyway that you can be Skyped in?

  10. Craig*

    #1. Go to the wedding. You’ve already accepted and it’s your best friend.

    Friends and family must always take precedent over work. People today do not understand the meaning of work/life balance.

    Winning the prize is good enough for one’s career. It doesn’t matter if you go on the free trip or not.

    1. Jamie*

      Friends and family must always take precedent over work. People today do not understand the meaning of work/life balance

      That is a very broad statement. Family and friends are important, but its not that black and white. My job allows me to provide for my family, so if I blow an opportunity to advance my career and make more money because I go to a friends wedding I hurt my family.

      Its important to remember that correct work/life balance is different for everyone. They aren’t separate entities in that work is a huge part of life and it supports the non-work portion.

      What personal choices work for one person don’t necessarily work for someone else.

      1. Ophelia*

        One of my best friends from college asked me to be the MOH in her wedding and I accepted. The wedding was to take place two years after the engagement. About a year before the wedding my grandmother called me to talk about the 90th birthday party she was planning for herself. She had decided that since ninty is such a milestone year (plus, Grandma is in excellent health. She is ninth-seven now and just returned from a month long trip to Denmark and Sweden.) she wanted to take her children and grandchildren to Florida for a week. Guess what week it happened to be?
        Now I was left in between a rock and a hard place: best friend vs grandmother who practically raised me. I ended up choosing my grandmother and went to Florida with her. I told my friend about a year before her wedding that I was so incredibly sorry but I wouldn’t be able to be in her wedding. i explained that it was my grandmother’s nintith birthday. I was very apologetic and let her know that it was an increibky difficult desicion. She blew up at me basically saying that I was trying to keep her from marrying her husband, ruin her day, etc. She effectively ended our friendship over this and we have not spoken to this day. I sent a gift to their wedding, and recieved a hateful note from her. Her husband called me to apologize to me when he found out about it. I’ve tried to reconcile with her but she won’t speak with me.
        I can honestly say that I’m glad I went with my grandmother. We had a wonderful time and I will always treasure those memories.
        Op 1: do what you think is best for you. Weddings are not the have all end all. Hopefully your friend will realize that if you explain how important the trip is but she might not. Just do what lets you sleep at night.

        1. Anon*

          Overlooking the atrocious spelling, I don’t understand why you couldn’t attend the wedding for the one day and fly down the next day to celebrate with your grandma the rest of the week. That seems like a better compromise than just skipping the wedding you already promised to be in and losing a friendship. Just my POV.

            1. Anon*

              I never said anything about leaving her in a lurch. I just offered up a simple compromise. The OP gave her friend 8 months notice that she might not be in the wedding. That is plenty of time, but she can’t really compromise if she is out of the country. My point for this particular comment was to compromise for the sake of the friendship.

              1. A teacher*

                But the “might not” is what is flaky. Either decide you’re in the wedding or back out and just be a guest if you don’t have to go on the trip. I completely understand the need to put her career first in this circumstance. I don’t understand why she can’t just politely back out.

          1. Ophelia*

            Sorry about the spelling. I’m dyslexic and spell check doesn’t seem to be working on my computer today.
            The compromise you suggest wouldn’t work because I was a sophomore in college and couldn’t afford a plane ticket. All the money I made at work was going to my university.

          2. Natalie*

            A friend who behaves like Ophelia’s friend did is going to drop you at some point. Maybe she does it this year because of the wedding, or she does it next year because you can’t go to her baby shower or housewarming party or what have you.

            You cannot reason with unreasonable people.

          3. AJ-in-Memphis*

            Still an unreasonable “compromise”. Depending on where you live and how much money you make, buying plane tickets isn’t as easy as buying pants. It’s just not that easy for most people.

        2. Jamie*

          Keeping her from marrying her husband? Wow, the rules of weddings have sure changed since I got married since back in my day the MOH wasn’t omnipotent enough to control the union itself.

          You gave her a years notice…nothing to feel guilty about whatsoever, imo. It’s not like you woke up the morning of the wedding and just didn’t feel like getting dressed so she had to have someone else fill in.

          1. VictoriaHR*

            And it’s pretty ridiculous to ask someone to commit to one day that’s 2 years away. Who the hell knows what’s going to be going on in someone’s life in 2 years? How much time does a person need to plan a wedding? I had 8 months for mine and I was bored and searching for things to do after 3 months of planning and 5 left to go.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I would like to take this opportunity to brag that I am done with all my planning, except for writing the ceremony. Yay to small weddings with few moving pieces!

              1. Rana*

                Oh, congrats! I swear, planning the thing – and ours was relatively small – was the worst part! (Especially since people kept expecting me to be “excited” by things like picking napkin colors and renting chairs.)

                1. Laura L*

                  “(Especially since people kept expecting me to be “excited” by things like picking napkin colors and renting chairs.)”

                  Oh, god. This is what drives me nuts the most about weddings. I’m not and have never been married, but I can’t imagine spending that much time thinking about details like that. Or even larger things like flowers and table settings and what not.

                  It’s not that I don’t want it to look nice, it’s just that I’m not good at interior decorating type stuff and I hate doing it.

                2. Jessica (the celt)*

                  +1 to Rana and Laura L.

                  “Are you getting excited for your wedding?!”

                  “No…I just want it to be over, so I can get everything moved up there and find a job.”

                  “…” ;~)

              2. Jessica (the celt)*

                Yay! We did the same thing (20 people, including us, and no bridesmaids or groomsmen: we just wanted people to come and relax, not have a job to do), and I was shocked how many people wanted it to be more difficult for us. We did a cake & punch reception, and people were ticked that they had “had” to pick out various dinners to appease everyone in their 350-person wedding, had to rent a hall for dinner/dancing, and so on, while I “got a free pass” by not doing those things. Ummmm…I didn’t realize they were required! And I didn’t want all that stress (neither did my husband, as he wanted to plan 50/50 with me), so we kept it simple and easy and light. I was able to talk to everyone at my wedding; I remember every person who was there; and I am still in close contact with every one of them. I love that. :)

                Here’s hoping you have the day you want and, more importantly, the marriage you dream of. :-D

          2. fposte*

            I suppose that’s one way of knowing after the fact that you made the right call.

          3. Ruffingit*

            NO kidding. Keeping her from marrying her husband? Is that woman on some kind of drugs? I hope so because I need some kind of reason for that sort of crazy.

          4. Sydney Bristow*

            I don’t know, I have been a pretty awesome MOH before. If I hadn’t confiscated the bride’s cell the day before the wedding to deal with the ridiculous drama her family was unnecessarily subjecting her too, her head might have exploded and then there couldn’t have been a wedding. Maybe I did have that power. ;-)

        1. Tina Career Counselor*

          That +10 was to Jamie! I put it in the wrong place.

          Though Ophelia, I think someone accusing you of trying to keep her from getting married is rather over the top, I’d have gone with my grandmother in that situation also!

      2. Cat*

        I think there’s another part of that though which is that a lot of jobs – even very good ones – are happy to eat your personal life in a way that is neither sustainable nor ultimately beneficial to your career. It’s very very easy to be the person who always says yes to work despite the personal cost and plenty of jobs will let you do that because its nice to have someone like that around. Plenty of those same jobs won’t really reward you for that. They’ll reward the person who was more strategic about what they did, which frankly often can and should involve a healthy sense of boundaries. And plenty of the yes people – especially women in my anecdotal experience – find themselves burned out early, sometimes debilitatingly so.

        Which isn’t to say there aren’t opportunities worth missing being in your best friend’s wedding for. Just that its a good idea not to see work and personal life as a straight trade off or a zero sum game.

      3. Waerloga*

        My father was a typical Scottish GP. In our house, patients ALWAYS came first. Be it house calls, summoned to the hospital or emerg, didn’t matter, Dad was there for the patients.

        Did’t bother us, we knew the rules and he was a cool dad.

        Take care


    2. The IT Manager*

      Friends and family must always take precedent over work. People today do not understand the meaning of work/life balance.

      Craig, your response sounds like you do not understand work/life balance. It’s a balancing act with compromises, not always deciding in favor of friends and family.

    1. Pussyfooter, aka. OneoftheMichelles*

      #1 You are not a “jerk.”

      This issue is rightly viewed both ways. Your promise and your relationship are worthy of taking precedent over a job issue. And
      a personal dream/goal that you have worked for years to achieve is certainly worthy of taking precedent over a friend’s celebration.

      You are not weakening her marriage by skipping the wedding, but you say that you are in danger of hurting your career by skipping the possible awards trip. Some relationships are worth giving up a career for. Is this the kind of friendship you have with her?

      I do agree that you need to make up your mind and tell her which decision she can plan her wedding around. I wouldn’t have her keep me in the bridal party, with the possibility that I might be opting out. If you don’t win the award, you can still come to the wedding as a guest. (I like the above ideas of using technology to take part in the wedding even if you do go on the trip.)

      * * ***

      #7 I’m ticked off at OP7’s problem, but don’t know enough about her environment to suggest a fix….more info?

      1. Pussyfooter, aka. OneoftheMichelles*

        Sorry for the weirdly placed post. Once I hit the wrong button, I couldn’t figure out how to undo it.

    2. Rob Aught*

      The situation is a little too vague on details. Not sure what this “insulting” email was. It might be something innocuous or it could be borderline sexual harrassment. Who knows?

      The manager’s description of the co-worker “strutting” and whatnot could be unfair to that person as well. He may not be so bad and she thinks poorly of him but just wants to sweep this whole situation under the rug.

      All I really know is that the management doesn’t sound very impressive. Everything else is too abstract to draw many conclusions without a lot of speculation.

    3. Jazzy Red*

      I’ve been in the working world too long to EVER stroke some guy’s ego again. If someone sent me an insulting email and my boss told me to go suck up to him, I’d be down in HR with a copy of that email so fast it would make your head spin.

      The OP needs to decide if it’s worth standing up for herself, or if it would serve HER better in the long run to go along with her boss’ suggestion.

      This kind of thing makes me sick to my stomach.

      1. Lisa*

        It depends, is this guy a boss? a higher up? Does this man have say in how the company is run? her dept? another dept? (may be her dept someday) her career? her reviews? her salary? If its just a co-worker, then don’t stroke anything. But if he is a boss or someone that has influence on careers at that company or even outside in a small industry. You suck it up, and ride the unicorn over the rainbow. I never understood how people ‘change their reactions’ to being treated unfairly, but once I made it into a game of this is how I must treat so-n-so in order to survive working in this company. The trade off is worth it most times, and i have learned to better insulate myself to protect myself from male egos in the workplace. Is it wrong? yes. Does it suck? YES. But I’ve made my choice, and you have to decide if the game is worth it to you. The game doesn’t mean compromising your beliefs, its just a way to survive in a job that you otherwise like and not willing to leave yet. Please be aware that I am only advocating the stroking of egos when its someone that could have a direct impact on your career, salary, promotions, and job security. If its just some co-worker who happens to be male, your manager is a jerk for giving this guy power over the women in the office when he doesn’t have any (at least not yet).

        1. Rob Aught*

          Like I said, there is a lot of assumptions and speculation for #7.

          That said, I think sometimes you DON’T play the game. I had a CEO whose favorite game was “pile-on”. He would pick one of my co-workers, usually a woman, and grill her on information that was not relevant to the meeting. Then he would turn to someone else and ask “What did you think of that answer?”

          When he did that to me, I answered “I think seeing as how she was unprepared for that question she answered it the best she could.” My relationship with the CEO went downhill from there and eventually I was fired.

          No regrets. I’ve made a career out of doing the right thing when everyone else ducks and covers. It hasn’t been without pain. That female employee was one of my peers, someone I had to work with everyday. I am not participating in throwing her under the boss because the boss wants to feel big that day.

            1. Lisa*

              God that is just an awful boss, mine just wants to feel included on every convo with clients, so I make sure I have mini-talks with him so he feels included / like i am asking his advice on something I was going to do anyway.

        2. A teacher*

          No. You don’t just “play the game,” not in most contexts. In my case, the very few times I’ve sen co-workers deal with something like this with my current boss, if you back down and play the game you are now a permanent target because you are perceived as “weak.” We’ve found it is better to do as much as possible via email and document. When given a directive, we email to double check and have in writing. I’m fortunate because they pretty much leave me alone and I do my job but the few coworkers with issues have had to learn to play hardball.

          When I worked in corporate America, my boss wanted the ego constantly stroked. I ended up quitting that job because I’m not enough of a suck up to be that way.

          1. Jazzy Red*

            teacher, you’re absolutely right about being seen as a target if you back down.

            Where I work, there were a couple of bullies who were allowed free rein and did a lot of damage here. They would pick a target, concentrate on making that person’s life a living hell and do everything they could to get that person fired. It worked several times. We lost many good, talented, hard-working people who wouldn’t stay with a company that would allow such behavior and found jobs elsewhere.

        1. Pussyfooter, aka. OneoftheMichelles*

          Oh! Now I read the other site’s info, I’m thinking that if this guy pulled the same stunt with me I’d either ignore his email completely, or “re” him a “thanks for your suggestion!” (whether I put it in a neutral or sarcastic context would depend on more details than we know.)

          It wouldn’t even have occurred to me to bring it to my boss.

          Does Pompous-Man know that your boss knows? Maybe you can just start ignoring him now.

  11. LadyTL*

    With #1, I think the OP really should bow out of the wedding party and just go as a guest if she doesn’t win the award. If she is already getting upset that something you have worked for years to get is interfering with how she wants her wedding to go, I can’t see her getting any less upset if you do win. The fact that she chooses to ignore you have worked for this award before her wedding was going to happen and that you pretty much won’t get another chance at this, she is saying she feels her wedding is more important that your life.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      Really? Isn’t the OP ignoring the years of friendship by backing out of a previous commitment and leaving the bride in a pinch? What about that part? Yes means, yes. Not Yes unless something better comes along. It would be entirely different if the OP hadn’t committed to the bride.

      You seem to be ignoring the fact that the OP already committed to the wedding, and is now stringing the bride along for several more months until she finds out if she won the award. This isn’t about sacrificing years of work for a stupid trip. It is about keeping promises, integrity, and character.

      1. LadyTL*

        Being a friend does not mean your life have to stop every time something important happens to your friends.

        Being a friend does not mean you ask your friends to give up on something that would help them because you need them to stand and smile at a party.

        If this “friend” forces her to come to her wedding knowing that she has lost a prestigious award and will have serious consequences for her at work, she is not a friend at all.

        A real friend would say she understands and not act as if the wedding will be ruined if she is not there, since it won’t be.

        A real friend would extend and invite to the wedding but wouldn’t plan everything around her being there and be glad for her friend success rather than upset by it.

        What about the OP’s friendship? What kind of friend is upset by their friend’s success as if it is hurting them?

        1. Rana*

          A real friend would extend an invite to the wedding but wouldn’t plan everything around her being there

          Unfortunately, that’s sort of what the OP’s expecting her friend to do, by leaving her friend in a kind of limbo for several months while the OP figures out whether she’s getting the award or not. It would be kinder to bow out entirely, so that the cost of the OP’s decision is born only by the OP, not the friend.

          Right now, the OP loses nothing – if she gets the award, yay, she’s gotten the award. If she doesn’t get the award, she gets to be in the wedding. The bride, however, suffers regardless: she can’t adequately plan for things like gowns and seating and so on until she knows what the OP is going to do – she may gamble on her friend being there, only to discover at the last moment that the OP did win the award and won’t show up. And if the OP doesn’t get the award, then the bride has to live with the knowledge that attending her wedding was the OP’s second choice, not her preference. Or the bride might decide that the uncertainty is too much, and cut the OP out herself. In all of these cases, the OP is leaving the responsibility of what her position will be in the wedding only on the bride’s shoulders, and taking on none herself – she’s left in the nice position of having her cake and eating it too, while it’s the bride who has to worry about how many servings to order.

          It would be best, in my opinion, for the OP to bow out now, and take that responsibility onto herself, and off of her friend.

          1. Joey*

            But why does she have to bow out now? Why couldn’t she say “BFF, I can’t commit to your wedding right now as I may be selected for an award. I expect to be able to give you a firm answer on x date. Id really like to go if im available, but I completely understand if you need a committment now and need to find someone else. “

            1. Jamie*

              Because the wedding is 8 months away and the bride can’t ask someone else to be a contingent MOH.

              “Jane, will you be my MOH in case Sally decides she’s going to a work thing and can’t make it?” Being second choice is touchy enough – you can’t ask someone to be an understudy.

              And fittings, showers, all that takes time and it’s only 8 months away. Unless X date is next Tuesday she needs to fish or cut bait on this.

              1. Joey*

                But that’s just an assumption. What if the bride is cool with waiting? The point is you can’t know if the bride would be cool with it, but at least she has the option to be cool with it instead of a flat “no”.

                1. doreen*

                  It doesn’t have to be a flat ” No” . It could be almost how you started out, something like ” I wish I could , but I may be selected for an award so I will have to decline” The bride always has the option of saying ” When will you know for sure? I can wait until then for a final answer? ” if she’s cool with it. But it’s not fair for the OP to put the bride in the position of saying that she can’t wait for a definite answer.

                2. KellyK*

                  I think it’s touchy and it depends on how you phrase it, on the type of relationship you have, and on the sort of wedding she’s planning. I made the same suggestion too, but that’s based more on what I would prefer, which might not be what this bride would prefer. She might very well feel that leaving it up to her makes her the bad guy.

              2. Tekoa*

                I actually had a contingent MOH at my wedding. Reason? My bridesmaid was flying into the country after a year long stint teaching English in Japan. There was a chance that weather/an Act of God could delay the bridesmaid to the point she would miss the wedding. The bridesmaid was my only bridesmaid. I have no sisters or close female cousins. So I approached my makeup artist friend (who was already going to the wedding/her daughter was the flower girl) and asked if she would be okay being Backup Bridesmaid. Just in case the worst happened, she could hold the flowers. Makeup-Artist Friend was touched by my offer. I think this is a rare case where asking someone to be an understudy was an okay thing.

        2. EngineerGirl*

          This isn’t a party (although the reception might be). It is a wedding, where two people pledge a life-long commitment to each other and those who go are committing to supporting that declaration. Calling it a “party” trivializes one of the most significant events in a person’s life. Being a bridesmaid isn’t about smiling. It is about supporting the bride on her big day. If you don’t want to do that then just say no.

          But as Rana said, the OP needs to decide now if she wants to be in the wedding or out of it. Be the adult, make the choice, live with the consequence. But it is horribly wrong to force the bride to put up with all the risk of the OP’s “maybe” trip.

          1. some1*

            “Being a bridesmaid isn’t about smiling. It is about supporting the bride on her big day. If you don’t want to do that then just say no.”

            In the LW’s case, I know she was asked because she’s the best friend, but I have personally been asked to be a bridesmaid once because the bride had no female friends (and I had known her for a month when she asked me), and twice because the bride was marrying one of my brothers and my ex sisters-in-law wanted a certain number of attendants and asked me after closer friends could not do it because of finances and living out of town.

            Another friend of mine was asked to be the maid of honor by a co-worker she had *never* socialized with outside of work, again, bride didn’t seem to have any friends.

          2. Anonymous*

            You may think that about a wedding, but others of us think it’s just a party. IMO, I think a career is much more important. You have said numerous times that this trip “can’t be that important” but you do not know that. We have to trust OP #1 that she knows what is more important for her career than a bunch of strangers on the Internet that have different values and priorities.

          3. LMW*

            I think it depends on what the OP really means by “best friend.” I have a true best friend, someone I have known over a decade, who has been there during some of my hardest times. We’ve actually gone over a year without speaking (time just got away from us and we live in different states) but picked right up where we left off and our friendship is stronger than ever. She’s getting married next year and there’s pretty much nothing that would make me miss her wedding — I want to be there to witness her making that commitment to her future husband. (Also, they are both religious and active members of their church community, so while I know they will have a pretty spectacular reception, the ceremony and the support of the community for this occasion is the most important thing to them. Therefore it’s important to me to be a part of that community on that day.) I even told my engaged sister that she couldn’t pick the same wedding date or I wouldn’t come to the wedding :) (And she totally understood! Because she also loves my friend.)
            I have another “best friend” who actually lives in the same city as me. We hang out all the time, have tons of fun together…but it’s definitely a more superficial type of friendship. I’m not sure how it will handle time or distance or life events. And I know her wedding will be silly and fun and a great party (a wedding people would talk about for years)…but I wouldn’t feel too terrible if I had to miss it. (Although, I think she would be the type of bride to mind terribly, whereas friend #1 would understand.) So, to sum up: We don’t know enough about the friendship, the bride or the wedding to make decisions for the OP.
            But I totally agree that you should bow out of the wedding party, because it is just a pain to get all that stuff set up (What if there is an uneven number of groomsmen and bridesmaids because you bow out to late for a replacement? Calamity!!)

          4. H. Vane*

            But it is a party. It’s to celebrate the couple’s commitment (and the fact that they’ve both signed a vital document) but it is absolutely just a party, and nothing to get worked up about.

            The marraige is the important bit. Too many people seem to forget that.

      2. Meganly*

        I think calling it a “stupid trip” is just as trivializing as calling a wedding a “party,” YMMV.

        Honestly, I would be crushed if my best friend could not come to my wedding if she was going to win a prestigious award, but I would still absolutely push her to go. I already know she supports my relationship; I don’t need more validation.

        I’m going to trust the OP when she says it will help her career tremendously—TBH I would question the selfishness of wanting a friend to sacrifice her career at the altar of my wedding.

        1. LMW*

          I think you have a great point: The bride is allowed to have her own feelings, and she can have more than one feeling at once. She can be disappointed that a close friend is missing her wedding. It doesn’t mean she isn’t supportive of her friend’s career.
          (Not to get political, but it’s kind of like how people can want the war to end, but still be supportive of the people serving in the armed forces. One doesn’t negate the other.)

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I think Lady TL’s suggestion is a reasonable one. That way the OP could still be there for the friend if the trip/award falls through, and the bride can go ahead and adjust her arrangements. But she does need to do it now and not wait.

        Life is full of changes and unexpected upsets and if people can’t be flexible and bend, then they break. And the trip, by the way, is NOT stupid to the OP. I find that unnecessarily harsh.

  12. Laura*

    #7 I could, maybe, possibly see a boss insisting on groveling and making an apology to a higher up at the C-level. People in those positions can make things pretty unpleasant for you if they choose, and so sometimes the prudent thing to do is make nice and do a little ego-stroking, even if it turns your stomach.

    I could also see a boss insisting on this if it was a client relationship, distasteful as it would be. When I was a consultant I worked on a project for a very difficult US government client, and once the client circulated an email that was blatantly directed at the Indian members of the team. It was pretty appalling. The Project Manager, also from India, acknowledged that the email was, basically, thinly veiled racisim, but asked everyone to please just do as the client asked and suck it up. They were complaining about every little thing, and just looking for a reason to delay to launch date, or refuse to sign-off on a project milestone, whatever. So the PM said, “Just do this, don’t say any more about it, and let’s give them one less thing to complain about.”

    But insisting on that with a co-worker/peer? Absolutely not.

  13. rw*


    Just throwing this out there. Assuming you skip the wedding and assuming you win the award, when you look back on winning the award, is your first thought going to be, “I put years of effort into this,” or is it going to be, “I skipped my best friend’s wedding for this”?

    I know it’d be the latter for me. Personally, I agree with EngineerGirl. You committed already so you should go. Then again, I’m of the mind I’d rather be dirt poor and surrounded by people I love than be successful and alone.

  14. Lora*

    Agree w/ Rana that you need to just pick one. Doesn’t matter which really, that’s all you.

    I disagree with folks who are making a big deal about “but it’s a WEDDING!” I admit I am biased though, I eloped and had a cookout in my grandparents’ backyard a few months later. Frankly, I think if you’re ever going to need a gang of lady friends and family supporting you for a lifetime-type occasion, the divorce is where you really need the help, not the wedding. But that’s just me.

    1. Amilie*

      I agree. I’m actually really surprised by the people who are equating the wedding with some sort of friendship test or saying that if the OP chooses the work trip instead then she is a terrible friend whose word means nothing, ever, who has no work/life balance and will die alone(!!). Especially since the initial letter has almost no details about 1) the award, 2) the friendship, 3) the wedding (is it huge? is it out of state? is it really casual? etc.) so people are filling those in based on their own experience instead of what we actually know.

      1. Judy*

        I would say that if you say “Yes, I’ll be in your wedding” and then say “You know how six months ago I said I would be in your wedding? I may not be able to, I’ll let you know a few weeks before if I will”, that’s being flaky. You’ve agreed to do something with and for your friend, and then you’re backing out on something that she’s been planning for.

        I would say to pick which one you are going to do now, and if you choose to go to the award ceremony, tell her you can’t be in the wedding party, you’ll just have to be a guest if you don’t win the award.

        It’s one thing when last minute things happen, my husband ended up being promoted from usher to groomsman when one of my BIL’s friend’s father died on Friday afternoon before the wedding. It’s another when someone is just “waiting for something better to come along”.

    2. SJ*

      I do agree that this “bias” exists… my parents were married in a courthouse, no reception, no white dress, and I feel that this has had a direct impact on how important a large ceremony and reception is to myself or my siblings. Not saying this is the case for everyone, but personally I do think it changes as if I feel about this issue as well.

      1. Jamie*

        I think it does, too – I’m in the ‘would have eloped if I could have gotten away with it, so instead had the smallest weddings possible club.’

        It’s a real club – I’m the founder.

        The bias does exist and I’ve known for years that I don’t place the huge import on weddings that some do.

        I just can’t think of any event of any kind for which I’d ask someone I loved to miss a huge career opportunity just so they could be with me…especially with 8 months notice. But I totally agree with Rana and others that the OP can’t keep the bride dangling…she can’t line up a contingency MOH…so bowing out of the wedding party and then attending as a guest if the trip doesn’t happen seems the most reasonable thing to do.

        1. Julie K*

          +1 to Jamie. I just re-read the letter, and it does seem like the OP is asking her friend to – maybe – find another bridesmaid within a relatively short amount of time (“I mentioned this to my friend, early in advance (8 months before the wedding) and let her know that I would give her an update in a few months”). I still think that many of us are making a lot of assumptions based on information that isn’t in the OP’s letter, but leaving the bride hanging isn’t a nice thing to do.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Are you sure you’re the founder? 28 years ago we submitted to a wedding (instead of an elopement) so the family would be happy, but a 10 minute wedding wasn’t quite enough. :) Although, I guess it wasn’t that small: his large family and my large family and anyone in our tiny church packed that little building tighter than a Christmas service. It cost us under $75 for the preacher and the license, the dress was borrowed, the wildflowers were free, and the cake was a gift.

        3. Lisa*

          Can I be a charter member? We had 22 people, all seated around a long table. The ceremony was held just around the corner of the ‘L’-shaped room. We had a MOH and Best Man and wrote our own ceremony.

          One of our guiding precepts was that we didn’t want anyone there that we didn’t love.

        4. Jessica (the celt)*

          I’m in, too! I begged to elope, but my husband did want our parents, siblings, and a few close friends there. Whenever I told people we were having a tiny wedding, I kept getting, “Oh, he’s got the purse strings already, huh?” and were shocked when I told them that we BOTH wanted something extremely small and simple, and if I could’ve, I would’ve eloped already. Our biggest thing was that we wanted to be able to say that we remembered everyone at our wedding AND to say that we were still in touch with them in the next 50 years. I threw in that I wanted to be able to talk to each of them as a person, not as a bride, and those are some of my last real memories of my grandmother.

          We had 18 people (20 with the two of us) and the officiate was a best friend of mine from 8th grade. We had no wedding party, because I always hated buying dresses for other people’s weddings that I’d never wear again. I told everyone to forgo buying clothes for the wedding and to wear whatever they felt comfortable in. My friend wrote her part of the ceremony based on her relationship with us, and my husband and I wrote our vows. My mom wanted to make a cake (she used to decorate cakes as a side job), so we decided to go ahead and have cake and punch. Bang, boom, bam: we were married, people ate cake, and then we all left. (Well, we didn’t, because our car wouldn’t start, but eventually we were able to leave… ;~) )

      2. Jane Doe*

        Same here. Most of my relatives (the living ones) were married in court houses or people’s back yards and so were my married friends. I guess that while I’m aware that people still do traditional planning-heavy weddings I’m always still surprised (?) when I hear about the importance people place on them because I think of them as kind of old-fashioned (and maybe religious).

        1. Cat*

          Yeah, I agree. I was never one of those little girls that dreamed about what kind of wedding she would have. I always dreamed about traveling and having a really cool job.

          1. AnotherAlison*


            I was “candle lighter” in my cousin’s wedding when I was 8 and completely enamored with the dresses & the whole Wedding-with-a-capital-W thing. Forget Bridezilla, I thought the whole thing was about ME. That was the last big fancy wedding I attended as a child, and my cousin got divorced about 6-7 years later. Even as a preteen/teenager, I saw what a wreck her marriage was (I spent some time staying with them, babysitting her kids) and I didn’t really care about weddings after that. I actually didn’t think I would get married or have kids.

            1. Jamie*

              My sisters both married when I was 9 …one eloped but the other had a beautiful mid-sized wedding and the only thing I remember about it was being furious I couldn’t wear this big flowered hat I had from Easter. I was convinced that being forced into barrettes was going to ruin the entire day…but it turns out it only ruined my day since the event was a little bigger for my sister than what was on my head.

              And 30+ years later she’s still very happily married to my most awesome of all brothers in law so apparently Gramma made a good call on the lucky barrettes!

              1. AnotherAlison*

                Lol. I was totally into Easter hats. My cousin’s wedding was in September, so I didn’t think about that!

                TBH, I am quite sure I cared more about what my hair looked like at that wedding than at my own. My wedding was 110% for my husband and my mom. I just wanted to make it legal, and am sooo not about being the center of attention.

                1. Jamie*

                  Yeah, the center of attention things bothered me, too. Funny, insound all cynical and heartless when I talk aout how little the wedding meant to me, but the marriage meant everything.

                  I was very excited to get married, to be married…I love being married (and not just for the spider killing and jar opening tasks he performs) I just saw the wedding as a means to that end rather than a thing in and of itself – in a way.

      3. Rana*

        I do think that even a small wedding – unless we’re talking four people at the courthouse – can require more planning than one might expect, especially if you’re not the sort of people to throw larger parties in the first place. Ours was deliberately planned to be as unfussy as possible, but the arrangements – reserving the venues, arranging for the food, getting a DJ, hiring a photographer, choosing a cake, sending out invitations, buying a dress, renting chairs, arranging for hotel blocks for our out of town guests (because all but two were out of town), and so on, and so forth – was remarkably stressful for me, my spouse, and our mothers – even though all of agreed on just about everything!

        And I knew going into it that at least half of the people we were inviting wouldn’t be able to come, since my friends and family are spread out all over, and many of them don’t make very much money. So I really appreciated when people could give me clear answers ahead of time as to whether or not I should expect them, and they were “just” guests, not members of the wedding party (which for us was just our brothers and parents, who we could both rely on being there).

        1. VintageLydia*

          Yup, the advantage of a smaller wedding is a lower cost. Most of the planning is just as complicated unless you have a wedding planner.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, I’m not real impressed by other people’s weddings. I’m happy for them, of course, but the only wedding with any real meaning to me would be my own.

  15. Geologist*

    When I got married, I was really surprised at some of the lame excuses I got from folks who didn’t go – including from someone who I had thought was one of my closest friends. At the same time, a bunch of my impoverished grad school friends scrounged up a car and road-tripped more than 500 miles to be there.

    The wedding didn’t change anything fundamental about those relationships, but it made me appreciate the awesome support network I do have. And I realized that my “best friend” had been blowing me off for years and that we just were not as close as I thought we were.

    I agree with the other folks that you do need to make a decision so that your friend can plan her wedding. The reasonable thing would be to decline to be in the wedding party but try to attend as a guest. When you pick a theoretical award over your friend’s wedding, it may have an impact on your relationship. Only you can decide which is more important.

    1. EnnVeeEl*

      I wanted to post, but avoid the “sexist” argument that always pops up in these types of posts (and the same people doing it too). I agree with you Geologist. It may be the waffling back and forth that is causing the tension, and not so much not being able to attend the wedding. The OP knows her friend best. I do understand the job pressure. I think I would commit to the work trip and send my friend an awesome gift. Sit her down over lunch (you buy) and explain the situation. A good friend would understand.

    2. Ali*

      Just had this happen to me on my birthday a couple weeks ago. I planned to go to dinner at a popular, but not fancy, restaurant. All the friends who I have been there for…from sending birthday/Christmas cards, wedding cards in the case of two and listening to them complain when they talked about their problems…all had excuses as to why they couldn’t be there and I ended up having no time with my friends for my birthday. :(. I even tried to feel bad for the one friend with a broken foot, but it was hard to when she was being catered to, picked up to go to movies and getting free cupcakes on her birthday because the waitress at the restaurant felt bad for her. It REALLY hurt to be abandoned like that by my friends on a minor but still important day for me when I wanted them all with me, and now I’ve pretty much given up on asking any of them to hang out.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Have you told them? Sometimes people genuinely don’t realize how they’ve made someone feel, and in this case they probably don’t realize how the multiplier effect made it all much worse. Talk to them!

        (As someone who formerly had a broken foot, let me tell you that free cupcakes would NOT have made up for it, so there’s that at least!)

        1. Jamie*

          I was actually wondering if this was you – because when I think cupcakes and broken feet I think AAM. :)

          And your broken foot came up this morning in my house as my daughter and I were getting ready to leave for work (she’s working with me part time) and I told her no flip flops in the plant even during shut down and her reply was, “I know, I know I can fall off a curb and break my foot.”

          Cracked me up.

      2. Anonymous*

        If they are true friends, you should be able to tell them how you feel. My best friend said she could not attend my birthday dinner because she was on a budget. Fair enough. I know how that is. 3 days later she shows up with a $400 handbag telling me she had to treat herself for Christmas.
        Right then I told her that it really hurt my feelings that she prioritized a handbag over my birthday. She realized what she did, bought me a bottle of wine later with a little cute card of a kitten begging forgiveness. She hasn’t been a jerk since and we’re still best friends.

        1. Ali*

          I haven’t. I’m not assertive enough ever (problem #1), and with everyone else pandering to Broken Foot Friend, I feel like me telling her she hurt my feelings would just make her upset because she’s been down about her injury and said one day it was hard for her to even smile and be happy because she’s stressed about her recovery. I feel like I’d be the jerk if I told her it hurt that she didn’t even send a birthday card when everyone else is like oh let us know if you need anything, we’ll pick you up and take you out, feel better soon! She admitted she’s forgotten “everyone else’s” birthdays too, though (not sure if she has other friends with birthdays around the same time as me or if it’s family), so I guess at least she’s not singling me out?

          My one other friend claims she’s booked until August, but she’s been claiming to be too busy for months to see me (I didn’t even get to take her out for her own birthday b/c she kept coming up with reasons why she couldn’t, but at least she sent a card, right?) and she seems flaky. I’ve tried expressing my disappointment, but she keeps saying how busy she is.

          1. Catherine*

            Something that helps me is thinking of friendships in cycles. Sometimes one friend has more time to focus on the friendship. Sometimes the other does. As long as both people make an effort at some point, then it will continue. Hopefully your friends will have more time for in the future.

  16. plain jane*

    #3 – I would put the level of information a therapist would feel comfortable sharing at a higher level. E.g. a death in the family – some people don’t want that known because work is a safe place where they don’t have to deal with others giving sympathy and reacting “correctly”.

    In our office we have “family emergency” and “personal emergency” for things that are ongoing or relate to an incident/issue with someone close to that person. If it’s a ‘[therapist] is contagious’ issue, then I think that is less problematic to share – though again I wouldn’t get specific at all.

    1. Amy*

      I think basically every situation I can think of can be covered with “family emergency,” “personal emergency,” and “medical emergency.” If for some reason none of those three are applicable, I think I’d stick with, “was not able to come in today.” Giving more information is borderline unethical to me.

      Also, when people have a traumatic life event, they often like that work is the one place they can go to “escape” their personal problems and just see life go on as usual. Why subject them to constant questions and advice on the job as well?

      1. SevenSixOne*

        SO MUCH YES.

        I remember once being FURIOUS at my boss for telling my co-workers (and then being furious at my co-workers for telling my customers) that the reason I wasn’t at work was that a close friend was in critical condition.

        I was already worn the hell out from dealing with that. Having to have the same sad conversation 50 times a day while trying not to cry was often more than I could take, especially as my friend’s condition got worse. “She can’t make it in today” and possibly “We expect her back by [date]/” is all most people need to know. Truly.

    2. Anon*

      I had this issue when a busy coworker was out on maternity leave. On one hand, mom and baby were fine and it wasn’t exactly a secret. On the other hand, it wasn’t really anyone’s business and it wasn’t my place to announce to the general public that Wakeena had her baby. (I should mention that I work in an industry where there is a small but real risk of stalking and other concerning behavior. I know every industry has that risk, but the nature of what we do simultaneously encourages relationship building and leaves some people pretty unhappy with us.) Some of them put it together when I said she was out until October in the summer (“Oh, is Baby here?!”), but for those who hadn’t met her or didn’t know she was pregnant, I just said “She’ll be back on X date” and referred them to her backup. For therapists I’d recommend something along the lines of “Sue is unexpectedly out today, but she’s very sorry she had to miss your appointment. Jen will be covering her appointments, or I can reschedule you if you’d like. Sue returns on Friday.” If they push back about why, say “I can’t go into that, but Sue returns on Friday.” Repeat as needed.

  17. Jan Arzooman*

    About the wedding vs. career award: In today’s economic environment, no one can afford to throw away a job because of a social occasion. Yes, a wedding is extremely important and someone might be a crappy friend if she didn’t go because last minute her new boyfriend invited her on a cruise (or something like that). It does sound like she’s in a sticky position at work where it will look bad if she doesn’t go on this trip and it could affect future work and earnings. “It’s a trip, but more importantly an opportunity that could elevate and create future career opportunities for me. Not going would cause my leaders to question my commitment to my job because people do NOT miss this opportunity.”
    If the issue is the waffling, then stop waffling and back out of being a bridesmaid. You can still decide to go to the wedding at the last minute. (Honestly. I know the caterer needs an “accurate” head count, but I’ve never been at a wedding with too little food.) If the issue is your friend doesn’t understand the seriousness of the work award, sit down and explain it to her. If she doesn’t understand there’s not a whole lot you can do. Normal friends will be sad you can’t make their wedding but understand the reason. Holding a friendship hostage over her not being able to attend your wedding isn’t a good sign, though.
    P.S. I agree that “Bridezilla” is sexist. Maybe there are “Groomzillas,” but in my experience men don’t care … and don’t contribute … so the brides, having to make all the decisions, are forced into the “controlling” roles.

    1. Sourire*

      ” You can still decide to go to the wedding at the last minute. (Honestly. I know the caterer needs an “accurate” head count, but I’ve never been at a wedding with too little food.)”

      I disagree, particularly if it is a plated meal. You may have had the experience of an abundance of food at weddings you have attended, but there are plenty of brides who have had to pay extra when extra guests show up. You may not see the mad dash to make up an extra plate of food, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening and someone is not paying for it.

      I’m not sure this will be an issue in this case as I am assuming OP will be able to give enough notice about the award before a final head-count is needed, assuming she’s going as just a guest. But either way, it’s pretty terrible etiquette to show up at the last minute and/or uninvited, in the same way it is to randomly not show up (emergencies excluded of course).

      1. A teacher*

        I just went to a wedding where 150 guests RSVP’d…220 people showed up and 4 were from off the street…talk about awkward. The wedding and reception were in the same room so it was really noticeable when people weren’t supposed to be there…the bride and groom are super nice people so everyone, including the strangers were allowed to stay.

        1. Kara*

          What the hell? Who rolls in off the street to a stranger’s wedding? Is this Wedding Crashers?

          1. Jessica (the celt)*

            I don’t know, but I was a MoH in a wedding last year and bunch of people crashed it. It was a HUGE wedding anyway, but there were definitely more people than expected and the reception was crazy-full due to all the crashers. My friend was actually excited that people were crashing her wedding, though.

      2. Natalie*

        Agreed. And even at a buffet, it’s pretty rude to hold up your RSVP as long as you feel like it.

        Whenever the invitations are sent out, they will tell you the deadline for responding. Respect that deadline, whether or not you can come.

      3. KellyK*

        Definitely true. Just because someone made it work doesn’t mean there wasn’t scrambling behind the scenes, or that it didn’t cost extra. Some people do their weddings buffet-style or plan for extra plates so there’s some wiggle room, but you should absolutely not just show up expecting that that will happen.

        1. Jan Arzooman*

          Oh, you guys are right — it is rude and difficult to add people at the last minute, I know that. I was talking about a quiet one-person exception that the caterer would never even know about (shush, all you caterers!) I had several people CANCEL last minute at my wedding (some never even told me). Thankfully, the caterer let us take home the extra food. I always figured if extra people showed up they could bring folding chairs (not my problem!). I’m like Alison on the small wedding theme. We spent less than $3,000. OMG, I’m getting way off topic. Sorry.

  18. E*

    I know the wedding question has already been discussed at length, but I want to add my own 2 cents, because I have been on the bride’s side of a similar situation. When I got married 2 years ago, my 2 best friends both had to drop out of the bridal party. One of them dropped out because she had a major conflict with her grad program, she talked about it with her advisor who told her missing that weekend would potentially prevent her from graduating, and she apologized profusely for having to miss it. The other dropped out because she really wanted to go to Costa Rica and “that weekend just works best for my schedule.”

    For both friends, I was sad they were not at my wedding. However, one friend I was pretty pissed at, while for the other I completely understood. Guess which was which?

    1. NBB*

      Amen to this. It’s all about how you express your regrets at not being able to attend. Make sure the bride knows you care, and that you feel bad, and she will probably still be disappointed, but understanding.

  19. Cat*

    #1 That is a tough decision! I have no idea what I would do in that situation. I totally can see both sides of this and where you are both coming from but I agree that you might want to back out of being in her wedding if you are not sure you can commit entirely to not going on the trip, that way if you were able to go to the wedding, you could still be there and not throw off her planning.

    I don’t think you are a jerk or she is a child for being upset. I think this is an awkward situation and I wish you all the best in figuring it out! :)

  20. Tina Career Counselor*

    Regarding # 3 – I actually just had this happen – twice, in fact, with the same establishment. And in the matter of a couple of days.

    I had an appointment scheduled for a massage. Almost 2 weeks before the appt, I got a call that the massage therapist would be traveling due to a death in the family. Understandable, no problem. Just 2 days later, the same office calls me to reschedule again, but this time it’s “the therapist you were scheduled with isn’t coming in.” That struck me as “I’ve decided your appointment isn’t worth my time.” Not only did I feel dismissed, but the fact that it was the 2nd time my appt was rescheduled in just a couple days, I was particularly irritated.

  21. Tina Career Counselor*

    And there is no situation I can currently think of where I would be willing to “stroke” a coworker’s ego so he can “puff out his chest and strut around”. Certainly not for a man who had just insulted me, and given that context, who on earth would give the suggestion to close the door? That sounds like asking for trouble.

    1. dejavu2*

      I would be willing to do it if he promised to make chicken noises, a la Arrested Development.

      “Have any of you even seen a chicken?”

      1. Tina Career Counselor*

        I’ve never seen that show, but I’ve heard good things. I may have to check it out.

  22. Katie the Fed*

    #7 – if I were feeling a bit mischievous, I might send the manager an email asking for more specific instructions on stroking his ego. Perhaps seeing it in writing will make her see how ridiculous it is.

    1. Lisa*

      I love you. This is the kind of thing that I love doing now that I know how to use office politics to my advantage (and personal amusement). Asking for clarification has never been so much fun!

    2. Bonnie*

      Actually, this is what I would do because not everyone has the same definition.

      I was asked to help in a work issue between a manager and an employee. Part of the problem was that the employee believed that the issue was not just performance related but that the manger really didn’t like him as a person and it was interfering with her judgement. We asked her to meet with him to clear the air about that one issue only. She said if we insisted she would meet with him and stroke is ego and puff him up. I was shocked that telling a co-worker that you did not dislike them was considered ego stroking and puffing up.

      Now in this case it was the employee who was male and the manager who was female but our request was not based on gender and we were all surprised that she saw this as stroking the male ego.

  23. Liz in a library*

    I know most things that can be said have been said about the wedding.

    I’ll just add that you have to be clear with your friend exactly why this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. She may not understand. Also, as other have said, you really need to make the decision about being in the bridal party now and not string her along. A possible guest is not going to be a problem with planning; a possible attendant is.

    My best friend who I’d known since I was 2 years old dropped out of her place as my maid-of-honor last minute for work. It was not for an exceptional experience, just that she decided she didn’t want to blow her vacation time (and there were other extenuating circumstances, including a non-refundable $2k plane ticket my dad bought her). We’ve stayed friends, but I’ve definitely learned not to rely on her for anything after that. If there isn’t an explained reason why, it can be very hurtful to have a friend bail on a promise. That’s not to say you shouldn’t go on the work trip, just that you should explain it.

  24. Mimi*

    What if you were nominated for an Academy Award? And while there was no guarantee you’d win (unless you’re Daniel Day-Lewis), it’s almost certain that you will? However, you had already promised to be your best friend’s MOH on that particular day. Would you skip the Academy Awards and all the publicity/networking that goes with it, or apologize profusely to your best friend and tell her that you couldn’t make the wedding?

    If I were the best friend, I’d be really, really disappointed…..but I’d also tell my friend that she HAD to go to the Academy Awards! And then I’d make sure to tell everyone at my wedding that my MOH couldn’t make it because she was AT THE ACADEMY AWARDS! Whoot whoot! Also, I would insist that she mention me in her acceptance speech. :-)

    I think it ultimately depends on the friendship, and the two people involved. If the award is that important, and your friendship is solid, it should work out ok (it wouldn’t hurt to be profusely apologetic, though, since you did make that commitment).

    1. Anonymous*

      I was just thinking this. Is friendship not a 2 way street?

      My best friend could not come to my baby shower due to a phone screen for her dream job. She helped with all the preparations and came over to my house the day after to organize the bounty, catch up on what she missed, and eat left over cake. At the shower I told everyone that she was interviewing for a very exciting new opportunity that I would not have wanted her to miss for anything–not my baby!

  25. Anonymous*

    My wedding two cents: I think this is a situation that requires some perspective. When I was planning my wedding and attending many other weddings due to the life stage we were in, weddings were SO IMPORTANT. Now, ten years later, I realize it’s just an expensive party. I was irritated with a friend for eloping; irritated that another friend dropped out of being in my wedding party and then bowing out due to expenses – and then bragging about the new TiVo she had just bought. And you know what? It doesn’t matter now. People have lives, they make good choices or poor ones, life goes on.

    OP has not ‘broken her promise’ about being in the wedding party. She agreed, and then her circumstances changed and she let the bride know of the new situation, eight months in advance. Things come up and life happens. Whether or not it’s work is irrelevant because it’s important to the OP. The bride has a legitimate reason to be annoyed but as that bride ten years later, I can tell you if she’s at all reasonable she’ll get over it.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Amen. A wedding is NOT a marriage. Other than the bride and groom who attends the wedding (or the cost, decorations, music, etc) does not actually predict the success of a marriage.

      A bride has a right to be disappointed and upset that her close friend is unable to be in her wedding. And it is fine for her to take a while to get over the upset and disappoint, but frankly if the bride is the kind of person who would drop a close friend because you can’t attend her wedding because of a legit rare opportunity, well, she’s not worth it. That is being a bridezilla. And if she would drop you for this, she’s likely to drop you for some other selfish reason in the future anyway.

      So I recommend that you be understanding of her disappointment and hurt. Offer to drop out of the wedding party if she’d prefer to finalize the wedding party now. And try to do something else with her and her fiancee/new husband (where you travel to her) around the time of the wedding to recognize the occassion.

      Plus to all the commenters especially those getting emotional about this: There is not right answer to this question. There might be a right answer based on personalities and details of the award, but we do not know all of them so the way some of you are getting so emtional about the question is unnecessary. It speaks more about your feelings and the importance or lack thereof you place on your friends, job, and wedding than the LW and her friend.

    2. Jane Doe*

      Yeah, I don’t think this sounds like a broken promise, it sounds like the OP gave her friend as much information as she could. Sure, it might have been better to formally “drop out” of the wedding by saying explicitly “I need to drop out of the wedding because of this work thing,” but it sounds like the OP was acting in good faith.

    3. B*

      But that is the issue…she only went so far to letting the bride know. She needs to state I am sorry I cannot be in your wedding, not hey I will let you know if my other thing falls through.

      1. Rana*

        Exactly. Bowing out is fine. Saying “I’ll let you know in a few months if I have to bow out”? No so much.

  26. Frieda*

    Regarding #3 (spa cancellations), you should give a reason, but it doesn’t really matter how specific. You don’t have to say, “Wakeen’s mother died after a long struggle with cancer,” but you can say, “Wakeen had to deal with a family emergency,” or “Wakeen had an unexpected illness and it’s our policy not to allow massage therapists to work with clients while sick.”

    A well known psychological study investigated compliance with a small request (asking a person using a public copier if you can cut them in line), comparing when the person asking (1) just asked (“May I use the xerox machine?”); (2) asked and gave a relevant reason (“May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”); and (3) gave a nonrelevant reason (“May I use the xerox machine, because I need to make copies?”). They found that fewer people complied with the request that just asked with no reason, but that more or less the same number of people complied with both the relevant reason and the nonrelevant reason. Turns out the salient part of the request isn’t the logic of the reason given, but just using the word “because.” [in case anyone is interested: Langer et al, “The mindlessness of ostensibly thoughtful action: The role of ‘placebic’ information in interpersonal interaction, ” Journal of Personal and Social Psychology 36:6, 1978,

    This helps me in my work on a daily basis.

    1. KayDay*

      That’s very interesting, thanks for sharing the study! Also, I would like to second your suggestion to give a general reason–I bet most cancellations could be covered by sick/emergency/death in the family.

    2. Cait*

      My hairdresser once cancelled on me for a “family emergency,” and I thought that was a perfect way of putting it. She didn’t have to give me any details, and I got the message that it was something serious.

    3. The IT Manager*

      Interesting. I’ve had a hair dressing appointment time changed (not cancelled) because my stylist had an audition. I know she’s a musician and I didn’t mind and , but I was able to be flexible that day. Given that I can almost only make appointments with her for Saturdays and I usually schedule the appointment after my hair starts to have a mind of its own, I’d have been frustrated with a cancellation then. Although I would have put up with it because I don’t want to try someone new.

      For my masseuse on the other hand, I don’t get annoyed with short notice cancellations (which I think I only later found out was an illness), but I choice another masseuse at the same time.

      If I am going to be inconvenienced, though, I definitely want to hear family emergency/illness, and not just something more important has come around.

    4. TBoT*

      That matches up with both my experience working in spas and my intuition about requesting things!

      That said, if it’s a big enough spa, with a sporadic enough clientele, it’s a great idea to have an on-call rotation to handle emergencies. I worked at a resort where we always had someone on call. About 99% of our visitors were vacationers who would be in the spa once a year, tops, and didn’t have a particular therapist in mind to see. So, the spa was big enough for its staff to support an on-call rotation (and need one), and the clientele wasn’t generally expecting to see one therapist in particular.

      But in all the other spas where I worked (which were much smaller) we had a mix of first-timers and repeat customers who had asked for a specific therapist. Having an on-call system wasn’t feasible with the size of the staff, and at least some of the appointments on a given day would be disappointed because they were seeing a substitute rather than their regular therapist.

      Also, there are a few sad, bitter people in the world who will be angry about cancellations no matter what the reason.

      1. OP #3*

        (i’m just reposting a comment I left below here because it makes more sense)

        Thanks so much for your answers, Alison + readers. It’s also nice to hear how an apology is perceived from a guest in the same kind of situation.

        I’ve worked in spas were I’ve regularly had to apologize for a hungover therapist who didn’t feel like showing up (sparse detail provided to the guest obviously). The environment I manage now is a much more professional one — we don’t cancel appointments regularly at all. We’re a reputable hotel spa, which makes it a bummer to cancel and give the impression to a guest who will often only have one or two treatments with us a year, if that, that this is standard. We often don’t have much of an opportunity to reschedule them as they’re travelling, and, to top it off, they’re often celebrating a special event like an anniversary or birthday.

        Re: not giving a lot of information: I think I ultimately just don’t like to seem like we’re emotionally blackmailing a guest into not feeling mad that they aren’t able to get a service. Maybe that’s a really deeply ingrained and not actually healthy tendency toward thinking the customer is always right (even if grandma just died). I guess it’s a little condescending to the guest to think that they wouldn’t be able to make their own decisions about how to feel about their cancellation.

        As for the confidentiality aspect: most of our guests are transient, don’t know who they booked with originally and are not as likely as they would be in other spas to see the therapist again. That said, I would never disclose anything super personal (ei: menstrual, diarrhea, etc.) unless, of course, the guest was being really pushy and insistent. ;-)

        Thanks again!

        1. M-C*

          Seems to me that as long as you run a reasonably professional outfit there should be no reason to provide specific apologies. We can all assume that the number of cancellations for hungover reasons will be kept to a minimum, if only in the future. Does it really matter whether your employee’s grandma just died or she’s merely off having dialysis? What you’re doing here is invading your employees’ privacy in order to placate bitchy clients, giving them something which is none of their business. The thought of talking about the state of their bowels if the client “insists enough” leaves me aghast.
          Now you may want to mention if the employee is going to be unavailable long-term (M is having a health issue and won’t be able to work for another 2 months, R has gone back to school and won’t be back till summer), just so the client knows to transfer their allegiance elsewhere, but ONE punctual absence requires strictly no explanation.
          In fact,this whole mandatory explanation business makes me suspect that you’re discussing your clients’ business inappropriately as well..

          1. OP #3*

            First, I though I was pretty clearly joking about telling someone about a therapist’s diarrhea. The point I was making was that I would obviously never be that specific, the joke was unless the client was being a inappropriately pushy, in which case, fine, let me make you really uncomfortable by telling you in unnecessary detail about our therapist’s condition. That wouldn’t actually happen, ever. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

            Again, I do have to reiterate — in the case that I was thinking of when writing to Alison (and a lot of cases), the inconvenienced guest was not aware who they booked with to begin with. They called our hotel facility to reserve a massage, not requesting anyone in particular. They were in from out of town. I don’t really consider telling them something about a death in the family of an unnamed therapist who had been assigned to work with them a breach of privacy.

            Like I said somewhere below, the whole dynamic changes when someone is a regular client of a particular therapist.

            1. OP #3*

              Another thing I should make clear — I’m talking about day of cancellation stuff, with not a lot of notice. We’re usually able to accommodate therapists not being able to come in unless it’s last minute. The last minute part is usually the most upsetting part, and it prompts the “why” and “why didn’t i know about this sooner” kinds of questions.

  27. Sarah*

    #2 – I recently applied to a museum ed job that had more than 300 applicants! I guess the job market is still tough. Sheesh.

    1. Rana*

      Application pools that large have been the norm for academic history jobs for a while (as in, for the last ten years). It’s a big part of the reason I switched careers!

    2. SevenSixOne*

      A friend recently told me about a position at her company and encouraged me to apply ASAP. So I did an hour later, and the autoreply confirmation told me TWO HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT people had already applied.

      The position had been posted less than four hours. Unsurprisingly, I did not get a call back.

  28. KellyK*

    I wanted to comment on #1 because I’ve been the bride in that situation. My maid of honor accidentally double-booked herself, and agreed to go to a major conference on the same weekend as my wedding. Not going wouldn’t have been a big deal in and of itself, but once they’d already made arrangements for her to go, she really couldn’t back out of it. I was upset, but I got over it.

    The main thing I would recommend is that if you choose the trip, make sure she knows that it’s not a run-of-the-mill work trip, but a serious, career-impacting *BIG DEAL.*

    And if you know you’re going to choose the trip, don’t wait for that confirmation to back out of being in the wedding. Depending on how much notice you’ll get, you may want to leave it up to her, but don’t expect to have it both ways. That is, say, “I’m not going to know until 4 months before. Will that give you enough time to make adjustments if I get it, or should we just plan as though I’m not going to be there?” For some weddings, that wouldn’t matter. (I had my bridesmaids choose their own dresses based on our colors, rather than having them identical, and a friend printed programs. The more formal and fancy things are, the more lead time everything needs.)

    If you have to bow out, it would be nice to offer to help with some other part of the ceremony or preparations that you can do. (My maid of honor painted our cake toppers, for example. She’d been planning on doing it even when she thought she was going, but when she couldn’t, it meant a lot that she was still sort of there in spirit.)

  29. OP #4*

    Thanks for the advice, Alison! I really appreciate it.

    I’d be happy to prepare a writing sample specifically for this job, but I’m not sure what kind of writing this job entails. I don’t know if the hiring manager just wants to see that I can write professionally and will represent the foundation well to grantees, or if there’s a specific kind of report that I’ll be expected to write regularly. Any foundation employees reading who could provide insight?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If they wanted to see a specific type, they would have told you. If they’ve just said “writing sample,” they’re looking for something that shows that you can write capably and what your basic style is. Go for something clear, well-written, and not too dense.

  30. VictoriaHR*

    Just want to say that the number of questions that Alison gets about “what does this email from HR mean” or “what did this interviewer mean” when they’re definitely reading too much into it, is exhausting for me. I can only imagine how it is for her!

    Wish people would read the articles and comments before sending one of those questions, but then I guess Alison would have nothing to do!

    1. Joey*

      Yeah, I can’t quite understand why people think interviewers talk in some secret code. I’m waiting for Alison to answer:” it means what it says. No more, no less.”

      1. KayDay*

        I think it’s because there often is very little communication during the hiring processes, and while I don’t think it is common, I think many people have indeed had situations where the employer was “talking in code” or otherwise engaging in some perplexing behavior. My first interview for an internship was like that–I’m glad I got it out of the way soon!!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Interestingly, I kind of like these questions. I think people get so anxious about the hiring process that they genuinely lose sight of the fact that these messages just mean what they say, and it’s nice to be able to help them see that they do.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I think people sometimes need an experienced voice (such as Alison) to tell them that no, there is no secret code. It helps to hear that from someone in the know because then you aren’t thinking you’re the only dingy in a sea of yachts. That is, that everyone else “gets it” and you don’t.

        That said, one of my life philosophies over the past few years has been “it is what it is.” This applies to a lot of life situations and certainly to the letters AAM receives. It is what it is, nothing more. Unless someone is sending you a letter saying “You’re hired, please report to the Chocolate Factory lobby on May 1” then assume nothing and keep looking.

    3. OP #2*

      OP #2 here. I definitely did search trhough the archives to see if the question had been answered directly or obliquely before, and it hadn’t.

      My biggest worry was that I’ve heard it said before in interviews, usually as a rejection (we’ve had over 100 applicatiosn, and unfortunately we can not progress you to the next stage etc.)

      So I thought it was odd in that context, and wanted to see if I was overthinking it or if it was something I should be aware of. I’m sure if Alison didn’t want to answer those questions she wouldn’t. :) Not all career questions can be weddings and crazy coworkers.

  31. KayDay*

    #1: I would make every effort to go to the wedding, short of seriously harming your career. Since it’s “just” an award, as opposed to something that impacts future projects, I don’t see why it would be mandatory. Can’t they honor you with out you being there in person? You can even write an acceptance (if that’s what’s expected) and have it read. I would certainly talk with your boss and find out what your options are.

    That said, if you absolutely have to go on the work trip to avoid harming your career, a best friend should being understanding. Missing your best friends wedding won’t harm her marriage, but missing the work trip could harm your career. But please do make a decision as soon as possible.

    #7: Does your boss expect all women to treat their male co-workers like this? Or just this male co-worker, because he responds well to it?

    1. fposte*

      I’d love to have more information on #7. What does this guy think the OP did or didn’t do and what did he actually say?

  32. Anonymous*

    I haven’t seen too many comments about #2 or #6, but I just wanted to note a common theme. These surprised me because they don’t seem to reflect a good understanding of normal communications. I get the sense that the posters are a little disturbed or offended by being congratulated on getting an interview from a large pool of candidates, or by being told they were impressive enough to be considered for a different position.

    Nothing bad to my mind – fairly normal and even a bit complimentary.

    I have to say that I wouldn’t want to hire anyone who, for example, took offense at being considered for a different position than the one to which he or she originally applied. If you don’t want to be considered, just say so – as a hiring manager, I would appreciate the honesty (and being saved from a bad hire).

    1. Anonymous-2*

      Some people are just extra sensitive and read too much into things. I also think that when people have been job hunting for a while they get this mentality that all HR people and recruiters are evil, dumb and out to get to them. In my field I know a lot of unemployed people and a lot of my friends get this way. It is really sad and I have a lot of sympathy for how to feel and I try to help them the best I can as I have a lot of industry and hiring experience. They will pick apart rejection letters and obsess over every word the HR person says. I always tell them just to relax and focus on preparing for a great interview. Your comment is an excellent reason why. When you act touchy or easily offended, that makes people not want to work with you. They assume that is how you will act on the job. You don’t want to be known as that person who is defensive and takes everything the wrong way. At least these folks are complaining in a letter to a blog and not to the HR person or hiring managers though :)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You DO get paranoid after a while. It seems as if everyone in the world has or is getting a job and you are the lone wolf that nobody wants. It’s too easy, unfortunately, to latch onto those communications and wonder, “What does this mean? Is there something I need to do differently? What am I not doing that I need to do,” etc. etc. The real problem may only be that there are too many racehorses and not enough slots. But it doesn’t FEEL that way.

        I’m soooo glad that’s over for me.

        1. Rana*

          Yeah, this feeling is one I know too well. It was particularly bad about ten years ago, because I happened to graduate and begin job seeking at a time when the academic job market was really compressed, but news of that hadn’t really filtered back to the people who’d been lucky enough to get jobs, or who were of the previous generation of job-seekers. For a while there was the automatic assumption that if you didn’t get a job – a tenure-track job, no less – it was because you were defective in some way, and so if you were struggling, you found little to no support, only blithe and nasty digs about your supposed incompetence. It took several more years and a lot of consciousness-raising before academia collectively was willing to admit that the situation was really more one of hundreds of genuinely qualified candidates trying to get a handful of jobs, rather than a bunch of losers whining about not being good enough.

          I’m still scarred by those years, as are a number of my friends and colleagues. It was not a good experience, at all.

    2. NutellaNutterson*

      It seems like sometimes job applicants think HR is an all-knowing, never-erring, super-entity. Therefore whatever comes from HR must have been perfectly constructed to convey a particular meaning, and it’s up to the applicant to decipher and comprehend.

      It reminds me a little bit of when I worked for an entertainment mega-corp. People had an expectation of it being the most magical place in the universe, and seemed to forget that it was in fact run by humans. (Not only were fallible humans involved, but it was subject to the same forces of time and weather as the rest of the state!)

    3. OP #2*

      OP#2 here – I’m only a few years out of school, and still in my first job (unhappily). So I’ve really only ever had ONE successful interview, and countless failures. I’m at a point where I don’t know what a good interview feels like, and I’m constantly questioning whether I’m misreading what they’re saying.
      I really value Alison’s advice – what one person might find a stupid question, there may be ten people breathing a silent sigh of relief that someone else asked it.
      For the record: I went to the in person interview, feeling kind of happy that I made it through, as per Alison’s advice. I found out less than 24 hours later I didn’t get it, and that I lost out to a stellar candidate. I should have researched more, it’s true, but it’s obvious that they’d seen this person before they saw me, and had pretty much made up their minds anyway. :( Back to searching.

  33. SarahMarie*

    #6 We actually do this quite a bit at my organization. Sometimes a manager really likes a candidate, but they are not the right fit for that particular opening. Also, sometimes a hiring manager has a very hard time choosing between two great candidates, ultimately chooses one, but hopes to consider the other candidate in the future. I would take this as a compliment that you have made a great impression in your interview and I would suggest that you keep in touch with the HR person regarding future opportunities. As far as whether or not you will have to repeat the interviewing process, every company does things differently so it doesn’t hurt to ask the HR Person for more details. In a polite and professional way of course. Good luck! I hope everything works out with the new position.

    1. Kacie*

      This happened to me in one of my first jobs. I wasn’t a good fit for the first position I interviewed for, but it gave them a chance to meet me and learn my skill set. I was called back two weeks later for a position with another group that wasn’t even advertised and was offered it almost immediately. The OP should be flattered that they impressed the interviewers and have a chance at another position that is likely to be a better fit.

    2. Elle*

      #6 is exactly how I got my job! I applied for a position that I was qualified for and REALLY wanted. I didn’t get it (which makes sense, because the person who did get it has about 5 years of experience on me), but my boss loved my enthusiasm for the organization so she offered me a different position about a month later when it opened up.

  34. Elizabeth*

    #1: Don’t waffle. If you believe that this trip is that important to your future career, sit down with your friend and explain that, and back out of the wedding. Be sympathetic, but be honest. If you know that you’ll take the trip if it is offered, don’t leave your friend hanging. Leaving them hanging is being a bad friend; being honest so that they can move forward with planning is being a good one.

    One of the advice that wedding planning boards all over the web give people is “Your wedding will never be as important to anyone else as it is to you.” It is hard to remember when you’re in the throes of planning that everyone around you has a life of their own that may or may not allow for high level participation.

    I had to make a similar decision about a friend’s wedding when I was planning a conference for work. We planned these for over a year, and the dates for the conference had been set for about 3 months when she decided that she was getting married over the holiday weekend that the conference week led into. She wanted me to be in the wedding party. Knowing that I would be exhausted and just want to sleep for 3 days afterwards, I thanked her for the honor but told her that I couldn’t do it, and why. She was upset for a couple weeks, then came back to me and agreed that she would have been more upset had I said yes then couldn’t be available the week prior to the wedding to help with last minute details. Instead, she asked that I try to carve out time to attend the wedding (which I did).

    1. mel*

      I also wonder if weddings would be a heck of a lot less stressful if couples dropped the whole bridal/groom party thing. If the wedding is never as important to all of these extra people, why put ourselves in a position to rely so heavily on them?

      1. Natalie*

        Probably. As far as I understand, the only truly required task of an attendant is witnessing the license, and you only need 2 people to do that (usually MOH and best man). Everything else is optional, even though it may be tradition.

        That said, depending on the people involved it can be fun and helpful to be in a wedding party. In my (albeit limited) experience it depends on everyone being honest and reasonable people who will not flip out about minor things, the bride and groom included. I was my cousin’s MOH and we all had a fun time getting ready in the bridal suite before the wedding and taking pictures.

      2. Lisa*

        Theoretically the attendants help. (It doesn’t ever work out that way, but that is the theory.)

  35. Anonymous*

    #1 has already been discussed at length. I’m not going to add “if you were a true best friend…” If this is a once in a lifetime, career advancing opportunity, go! Continue maid of honor duties with the new maid of honor and when you get back from your trip (if the bride is still speaking to you, that is) plan a girls’ day with her to extend the celebration.

  36. dejavu2*

    Not to beat a dead horse, but I’m stunned by the overwhelming number of responses to #1 that are siding with the bride. My guess is that it just depends on what line of work you’re in. I’ve had to miss several weddings of close friends (including a BFF’s wedding party) because of professional commitments, and no one has ever expressed any emotional upset over it. The most recent one, I had just finally gotten a job after a long stretch of unemployment, and was in a probationary period with no time off. I didn’t feel comfortable asking for a day off because it was a pretty conservative work place. My BFF totally understood, and the only emotion she expressed was to be excited that I finally had work. Someone upstream said the OP should “act like an adult.” Well, maybe the bride should “act like an adult” and realize that sometimes you need to conduct yourself in a gracious manner even when you feel butthurt.

      1. LV*

        We have no reason to believe that she wasn’t conducting herself in a gracious manner or what she believes “everything is about HER and HER wedding.”

        All we know is that she was upset and expressed disappointment that her best friend could no longer attend her wedding after previously saying she would. (And I think most of that upset-ness is over the uncertainty and waffling of “Maybe I’ll come, maybe I won’t.”)

        1. dejavu2*

          OP describes the friend as “really upset,” and many on this forum appear to be “really upset” just reading about it. If the bride is frustrated by the waffling, I think that’s understandable. In that case, the bride should say something like: “Planning this wedding is really stressful, and I hope that you don’t have your feelings hurt by this, but planning already requires at this stage a final list of who is in the bridal party, and so if you aren’t sure you can be in the bridal party, it’s going to make my life a million times easier to go ahead and find someone else who can commit to it at this point.”

    1. Cat*

      “Overwhelming”? I haven’t seen that at all. Anyway, some jobs really do have dealbreakers like that. At an awful lot, though, being in a wedding is the kind of thing that is considered to take precedence over almost everything. It really depends on what kind of job this is; what the award is; and various other factors that we don’t know. All I have done is caution that sometimes things appear to be more important than they are in jobs; and it is good to carefully ascertain what is what.

    1. LV*

      Since the OP doesn’t even know for sure whether they even won that award, I wouldn’t recommend that – it will come back and bite her in the butt in the event that she doesn’t win it after all!

  37. TL*

    On #1, I just want to point out that weddings are important to a lot of people, for cultural, emotional, familial, and other reasons.
    When my best friend got married, it was a Big Deal for her and her husband. It was really important to them to have people who loved and supported them there. They really felt like they were creating a new family that day. In both her family and her culture, weddings are a big freakin’ deal and missing them, if you’re a close friend/family, is also a big deal.

    Now, I’m the exact opposite and wouldn’t care if someone couldn’t make my wedding but I think it’s unfair to say that weddings are just a big party. I know 70 yr old people who still tear up a little when they look through their wedding album.

    The OP just needs to decide very soon if she’s going to commit to the awards if they happen (and being a guest at the wedding if they don’t, with appropriate apologies and explanations to her friend) or if she’s going to commit to the wedding. Both sound like very big life events and whichever she chooses will depend entirely on her situation.

    (If it were me, I would say “I can’t be the maid of honor, but if I go, I will give you all the support that I can – deal with the photographer, find the flowers, and keep your crazy uncle Wakeen from eating the table decorations.”)

  38. danr*

    #6… They mean what they say. They like you and think you could have a future with the company in the right job.
    Something similar happened to me early in my job searching. I had an interview and didn’t get the job, but the rejection letter mentioned that if another opening occurred, I’d be contacted. And I was. Didn’t get that job either, but they must have liked something and I was contacted a third time, but by that time I was employed.
    So, don’t stop your search, but don’t be surprised if you get a call.

  39. Kat M*

    OP1: Record a touching video toast for your friend’s wedding and go on your trip. A good friend will be a little disappointed, but also understand. Neither my best friend nor my husband’s were at our wedding (she was in China at the time, he was in Spain). Nor were most of my cousins, who had work obligations. It’s seriously not that big a deal. Apologize profusely and move on. Weddings only matter for a day. Careers, marriages, and friendships are much more important. Focus on those.

    1. Sydney Bristow*

      That’s a great suggestion! My brother’s best friend is in the military and couldn’t be at the wedding, so he surprised him by sending the video toast to the bride to play at the rehearsal dinner. It was the sweetest thing ever. Doesn’t really help on the decision whether to choose the wedding or trip, but definitely do this if you go on the trip.

  40. Jennifer*

    Is the #1 LW officially A Nominee for this award, or was this just kind of a whispered “hey, heads up, you might be up for this” sort of notification? Because if it’s the latter, it’s no guarantee compared to being A Public Nominee (like the Academy Awards).

    I honestly don’t think there’s a good way to handle this situation. I think this award trip sounds like it’s a work dealbreaker if it comes off that she really really cannot skip and not have it affect her career, but she can’t know if it’s going to come off for several months. I think she has to pick the trip and the bride will just have to learn to live with that, but I don’t quite think she has to drop out of the wedding 8 months from now Just In Case she wins. This is not a guaranteed problem, and she might not. I think both LW and bride are just gonna have to wait in limbo on this one. It sounds like they will have at least a few months to find another MOH if it comes up, so that’s not totally last minute out of the blue disaster. Sad for both LW and the bride if she can’t make it, but…work trip award of a lifetime that she cannot get again is probably going to affect more of her career and ability to make more money than missing a wedding, and I think that has to win.

    1. KellyK*

      I think she has to pick the trip and the bride will just have to learn to live with that, but I don’t quite think she has to drop out of the wedding 8 months from now Just In Case she wins. This is not a guaranteed problem, and she might not. I think both LW and bride are just gonna have to wait in limbo on this one. It sounds like they will have at least a few months to find another MOH if it comes up, so that’s not totally last minute out of the blue disaster.

      That actually depends a lot on the logistics of the specific wedding, including things like when dress fittings will happen. Alterations can take anywhere from a week to months, depending on who you use. Wedding party names go in the programs, which often need lead time to print.

      Also, how many months “a few” is might be really relevant here. If it’s a couple months, “wait and see” might make the most sense; if it’s four or five, maybe not.

  41. Shoshie*

    Is there a way to visit your friend shortly afterward? Two of my friends are getting married at the end of this month, less than a week before my PhD defense. It would be really stressful to go, so I bowed out, even though we’re really close and I actually set them up! I’m making a point to visit after my defense. A trip shows that, even though you’re missing the big day, the friendship is still a major priority. Or, if your friend lives in town, you could plan some special outing with her and her new spouse.

  42. OP #3*

    Thanks so much for your answers, Alison + readers. It’s also nice to hear how an apology is perceived from a guest in the same kind of situation.

    I’ve worked in spas were I’ve regularly had to apologize for a hungover therapist who didn’t feel like showing up (sparse detail provided to the guest obviously). The environment I manage now is a much more professional one — we don’t cancel appointments regularly at all. We’re a reputable hotel spa, which makes it a bummer to cancel and give the impression to a guest who will often only have one or two treatments with us a year, if that, that this is standard. We often don’t have much of an opportunity to reschedule them as they’re travelling, and, to top it off, they’re often celebrating a special event like an anniversary or birthday.

    Re: not giving a lot of information: I think I ultimately just don’t like to seem like we’re emotionally blackmailing a guest into not feeling mad that they aren’t able to get a service. Maybe that’s a really deeply ingrained and not actually healthy tendency toward thinking the customer is always right (even if grandma just died). I guess it’s a little condescending to the guest to think that they wouldn’t be able to make their own decisions about how to feel about their cancellation.

    As for the confidentiality aspect: most of our guests are transient, don’t know who they booked with originally and are not as likely as they would be in other spas to see the therapist again. That said, I would never disclose anything super personal (ei: menstrual, diarrhea, etc.) unless, of course, the guest was being really pushy and insistent. ;-)

    Thanks again!

  43. Chinook*

    #3 – as someone who uses a massage therapist regularly and, as a resutl, has gotten to knwo her professionally, I appreciated knowing that she was goign to be away for her honeymoon as it meant that I could congratulate her on her new marriage. And, if she had to go to a funeral, I would want to give her my condolences. But, these are big life changes and I woudl not be insulted if I was just told that my therapist was unavailable though I would always follow up with a “is she alright?” out of genuine concern and not to be nosey and would be satisifed with a “she just need personal time off.”

    1. OP #3*

      Yep, at our particular establishment, it’s not uncommon for our therapists to keep in contact with their regular guests via personal email or by text. In those cases, I’d definitely be more conscientious of the therapist-client relationship, as there’s already a rapport and I don’t personally know what the boundaries of it are. I’d probably give one of the sort of specific but mostly generic family emergency, illness, etc. reasons and let the two discuss it the next time they see each other to their comfort level.

  44. Elizabeth West*

    #1–work trip over wedding

    Is there any way that the OP can find out whether the trip is going to be a thing? May be selected isn’t the same thing as selected. Perhaps her boss could tell her how much notice they are going to give when they make the announcement?

    I would talk to the boss about this. Tell her that you have made a prior commitment to your friend and see if she has anything to say. It may be that she will say that the OP stands a good chance to receive this and it’s really necessary to go.

    If it is, then I’m afraid the OP may have to disappoint her friend, but she needs to find this out quickly so her friend can readjust. She didn’t say, but I will also add that if the friend is expecting her wedding to take priority over someone’s job just because it’s her wedding, then she needs to grow up. If she’s upset because of the logistics, that is understandable.

    #7–male vs female

    What an idiot boss. I’m sorry, but that is just too ridiculous. Sounds like she’s trying to get points from somewhere. I’m not sure I want to know why!

  45. T-riffic*

    #1- So. Many. Opinions. Just goes to show what I divisive issue weddings can be. For some, they are the be all, end all of life events. For others, they are little more than a “big party”.

    I have no advice for the OP, and I actually think that any advice in this situation will do more harm than good. We don’t know this person – and people are throwing around a lot of assumptions about both parties here in the comments – so there’s no way any of us can say with any certainty what the right answer is. The only person who can make this decision is OP.

    1. Another Eloper*


      Frankly, I am disappointed that so many have assumed that either the bride or the OP have been acting like a child. There is not enough information in the letter for anyone to make that determination. I have seen a lot of reactions based upon personal feelings about weddings rather than answers to her question.

      This is not an easy decision and only the OP has enough information to make it.

      OP, the advice to consider your friend’s needs is sound. It would not hurt to apologize, explain the situation, and ask her the date by which she needs an answer so she can find a replacement for you. She may be fine waiting. She may not be willing or able to wait. Since you are potentially backing out of a commitment that you made to her, it is up to you to lessen the impact upon her as much as you can. Good luck.

  46. Collarbone High*

    #4 — As an editor, I really appreciate your recognition of the unseen role editing plays in shaping documents, and unwillingness to pass that off as your work. I don’t mind the fact that the work I do for my publication is credited to the writer (I prefer the anonymity), but I’ve been irked when a reporter got a new job on the strength of stories that I substantially reworked, presented as their own writing. It usually comes back to bite them, too, when their exasperated boss is complaining “But their clips were so good!”

    Angry Writer suggested using your original versions of work documents, and I’m inclined to agree — I’d prefer to see a candidate’s original writing. (Just make sure you fix any errors that were caught during editing.) Also, if they were heavily edited, ask the editors what they thought of your version. You might hear that the original was fine, but a higher-up wanted a different tone, introduction, whatever.

  47. L*

    #4 – since it’s a grant-making foundation, your writing sample should be a grant application, a request/solicitation letter, a thank you letter to a donor, a grant review report, a rejection letter, or things along those lines. However, it will also depend on the position you are applying for. Look at their website and read their annual reports, you will see what activities they do the most: grant making, fundraising, outreach/PR, etc. See if you have written anything on those activities. Academic writing sometimes is not the best fit, business writing might be better, but it really depends on the organization.

    1. T*

      So, is it ethically OK to submit a grant proposal from your current job as a writing sample for a position you’re applying for? The requester is not another non-profit, so I feel OK about the content, just want to know if it’s in poor taste.

  48. Kerr*

    I agree with everyone else who’s saying that OP #1 needs to pick an option, and commit to it. I can understand the bride’s being upset that a best friend would choose a work event over her wedding; I can also understand why the OP would want to take a huge, career-impacting work trip if she wins the award.

    But here’s the thing: commit to one or the other. A close friend of mine was about as laid-back as possible about all the details of her wedding, but one of the things that *did* stress her out was a flaky bridesmaid. Planning dresses, dress alterations, number of groomsmen, etc. can all get very involved, and starts *months* in advance. (Remember that if you aren’t in the wedding, and she decides to find someone else, that person will need a dress too, which will have be ordered and fitted.) And the uncertainty of it all, when you’re a bride trying to nail down as many details as possible before the last minute, is an added strain that you don’t really need.

    If you decide to go on the work trip, apologize sincerely to your friend, explain *why* it is such a big deal (and not “just a work trip”) and how hard of a decision it was, and even apologize for not giving her a clearer commitment prior to this. Promise to be a guest at the wedding if the award doesn’t come through.

  49. mel*

    I’m totally fenced on the wedding issue.

    On one hand, I really wish weddings would go back to just getting married and then having cake in the basement kind of thing. Now it seems that everyone wants a “royal” wedding where they want to dress up like a princess and be the center of attention for a day. It’s just a party. Let friends be friends, not maids.

    On the other hand, from what I hear, planning a wedding is crazy and needs to be scheduled and arranged months and months ahead, so you really can’t wait to make a decision! Things may already be bought and tailored to you. Employers should understand this, but I’m not totally sure.

    Then again… I’ve been reading back “issues” of Gawker’s unemployment stories which are incredibly depressing, and I can totally envision OP writing back months later with a “I went to a friend’s wedding instead of furthering my career and now I’m laid off and homeless” story.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Do we even know this is a big princess occasion, though? And does it even matter? I mean, the friend could be getting married in the church basement, or in jeans in a park, or whatever, and it’s still a conflict because it means travel for the OP.

      1. VintageLydia*

        If the bride cares about a matching number of attendants and if there is a dress to be bought and altered, it absolutely matters.

  50. Elle*

    OP #1: Bow out and agree to go as a guest. Be generous and engaged. IF you don’t win the award, I GUARANTEE you that the bride will reinstate you as a bridesmaid anyway.

    Win, win.

  51. Anonymous*

    Question #1:

    If I had to make this decision, I’d make it based on the effects both events would have.

    Friend’s Wedding: If OP goes, the friend gets married. If the OP doesn’t go, the friend still gets married. It’d suck that OP can’t be there for an important day in her friend’s life, but her going doesn’t affect the outcome of the event at all, so her presence isn’t needed.

    Award/Trip: If OP goes, it will “elevate and create future career opportunities.” If OP doesn’t go, it will cause their leaders to question their commitment to their job. There will be a significant affect on their life depending on if they go or not.

    If the friend is a real friend, they’d understand that the OP needs to do what’s best for them in the long-term, not what’s best for her one-day event.

  52. HarryV*

    #1) I had a similar situation where I basically where I got employee of the month award and was a candidate for employee of the year. This is for a 20,000 employee company. The party was to be held at the HQ in London. I informed HR that I was not attending as it conflicted with my son’s 1 year old birthday and party. The CEO personally called me to make sure I had every support I needed to make this trip to London. I told him the same thing and he completely understood. Turns out I DID win employee of the year. I still don’t regret that decision. Family and friends are here when you need them and employers are quite the opposite. That particular CEO has moved on and I will likely move on from this. A few weeks later, a managing director during a town hall meeting presented me a plaque with several thousand dollars to boot. So that was nice.

    So I would attend your close friend’s wedding.

  53. Job seeker*

    #1 OP I really hope either way this works out well for you. I know most friends would understand if something was important to someone’s career. But, on the other hand a wedding is a important lifetime thing. A wedding means something very special to your friend.

    I think somewhere along the line people have forgotten just how important lifetime events are. Marriages, births, graduations, family reunions etc. These things matter and are a important part of living. You do remember through the years all these things. Being a part of something special to someone has meaning too.

    This a a hard one.

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