They're getting married. The grown son has finally found Ms Right. They've also found what they consider to be the perfect place for the wedding. It isn't your hometown or hers. It's a destination. Someplace far away and beautiful--but expensive. Too expensive for, say, most relatives and friends. If you're not asked to foot the wedding bill, do you have any say in the matter?
That was a source of lively discussion in a recent Carolyn Hax column in which the son and his bride-to-be planned to wed on the Isle of Capri. Sounds romantic. But airfare to Italy and several nights accommodation can run up a bill. The father wrote Hax to say he can afford to take his wife and stepson but no one else can afford to or wants to spend the money to go, including the elderly grandparents, uncles and aunts. He's tempted to decline the invitation but is, he writes, "afraid of the damage to our relationship with him. I did offer to host a reception for all those who cannot afford to go, but he declined, saying it would cheapen the ‘real wedding.’ How should I handle this?”
It's complicated. On the one hand, the grown child isn't thinking of his greater family or the down-home virtues of having his family and hers meet and mingle and put down roots together. He's thinking of a wedding that will have panoramic views and sophisticated venues--or one that has a particular meaning for him and his bride.That's the best case scenario.
Most Hax readers saw the grown son as incredibly selfish and advised the father to stay home. Hax, who suggested the father go and make the best of it, had this point to make vis a vis the selfishness of the son's decision: "There's no way to re-raise your adult child by saying no for the sake of saying no. Sometimes you have to make a calculation that taking a big stand isn't worth the cost."
It is their wedding--and they're paying for it. If they make a decision we don't approve of--and sometimes that may be the choice of spouse--we still want to continue to be part of their post-wedding lives. Sometimes we just have to suck up what we see as a bad decision and live with it. Especially since it's unlikely we can change it.