Timing Trouble: Conflicting sibling weddings

by epi on May 30, 2012

Q: My fiance and I have been engaged since last summer and set our date for this fall (first week of October) four months ago. His sister just got engaged last week and is intending to get married in August, which we feel is too close to our nupitals (e.g. 6-8 weeks before us). She never called us to consider our thoughts on her desire to pursue this time frame and has made it clear that she plans to move forward, despite the fact that we communicated our feelings on the matter. She believes the two weddings have nothing to do with each other, although two children from the same family would be getting married within such a short time frame. Furthermore, she feels entitled to do what she wishes because this is her ‘big day’. Is there a proper way to go about this? Should she consider our plans and feelings in the process? Is there a rule of thumb that is considered appropriate when it comes to timing of weddings and only siblings?

A: This is always difficult, and there is some conflict when relatives are shared and have to travel. If they can only afford to travel once, the person who pre-empts the others wedding may have those relatives in attendance when they otherwise would have attended the second one. A way around this is to send Save the Date cards before her invitations go out. This gives relatives notice that they will have to make a choice, and leaves it to them, when otherwise they may not know about the second, in this case, your wedding. If you see this as a real crisis, then your fiance needs to talk to his parents about what to do, since it is their relatives that may be most affected. Otherwise, it is unlikely that there would be too much conflict in the two weddings being held two months apart.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen May 30, 2012 at 3:35 am

Hmm, I suppose if you’re considering expense, it’d be considerate to have the weddings close enough where relatives need only make one trip to attend. And it’d be sweet to have them back to back, I think. But it’s about personal preference…

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Toni July 10, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Something similar happened to me and it has devastated me and divided our family. Living overseas from my family, my fiance and I set our date 18 months in advance and sent out our overseas invitations early so that family had plenty of time to save for their travel, with a note to say that their presence at our wedding was more important to us than gifts.
9 months AFTER we set the date my younger sister became engaged and immediately set her date for 3 weeks BEFORE my wedding – in the same month. As she lives in the same country as all my other family and her wedding was first they decided to attend her wedding and decline mine. Her reasons for speeding up her wedding was that she wanted to start a family (2 years later and no children in sight), and that the venue she wanted was booked for 12 months and only available for that date to which I replied that I felt she should have either booked elsewhere or delayed her wedding until the venue was available. As we married in March I felt she could have waited until October/November (the southern hemisphere spring) and still had a nice wedding. Personally, I think 6 months between weddings is a proper length of time for 2 siblings to marry, unless they are close and choose to combine their weddings. It’s not just about respect and cost, it’s also about allowing each respective bride to be the centre of attention for her big day without anything else overshadowing it. I am now happily married and I adore my husband but it has come at the cost of my family who feel I was unreasonable to be upset at what I felt was my sister upstaging my wedding and now no longer talk to me

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Mary September 8, 2013 at 10:20 am

I’m in the same situation, Toni! My brother got engaged last December and they set their wedding date to August. I got engaged in June and my parents asked us to not talk about our wedding or start planning till after they were married- out if respect. We said of course- no problem. Well, after their wedding, we got right to planning! It was strange because we had heard my parents tell people that my older sister was engaged too– when in fact, she was not. This went on during the 3 months we were waiting to plan out wedding. So, to no surprise, two weeks ago my sister got engaged. Which is great- I’m very happy for her. But my parents nor her and her fiancé are giving me and my fiancé the same respect they demanded we give me brother. I don’t expect my sister to not start planning her wedding, but, she picked a wedding date two week before mine! I am so upset. I have a destination wedding and I feel several family members will go to hers now and not mine… I also feel it’s rude of us to our guest and it’s rude of my sister to me and my fiancé. We deserve our own time and the month before our wedding is when we have our engagement party and bachelor/bachelorette parties. My mom thinks it’s not a big deal and that I need to get over it. Words can’t explain how upset I’ve been. Why do I not deserve the sane respect my brother got? Or even just a shred of it. I know I’m not alone in thinking my sister is in the wrong. Everyone I’ve told has been jaw dropped. And a little background.. My sister and I have a very difficult relationship. We don’t really get along. Now, I don’t know what to do. I’m really hurt and upset and it’s like no one in my family cares..

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Elizabeth September 9, 2013 at 10:30 am

I’m sorry to hear about your family situation, it really does sound like your brother and sister are getting all of the consideration here. It was wholly inappropriate for your family to ask that you not plan or even discuss your wedding before your brother had his. A wedding is just a day. One doesn’t get to claim the whole month or year. It has nothing to do with respect, it has everything to do with the idea that we are not the most important people in the universe, and even when good things happen to us, they also happen for other people. That was true for your brother, and it is now also true for your sister. I do agree with you that there does seem to be something funny with your sister’s choice of wedding date. Will she even be able to attend your wedding, assuming she goes on a honeymoon?

In any case, I think there’s nothing you can do. Hold your head up high, go ahead with planning your fabulous wedding, and whoever can’t make it – that’s their loss. I would also recommend counseling to deal with your family issues. It’s really hard to be the least-favored child, and I think this whole situation would rightly prompt a reassessment of your investment and participation in your family. After your wedding you’ll be married, and it might be a good time to pull away, to not give your family so much sway in your decision-making and in your emotional state.

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