Bradley, a guy who went to high school with my husband and college with me, is getting married, and we were not invited. Normally as an antisocial person, I wouldn’t even bat an eyelid. Of a dozen or so male friends from high school who are all in a very active group chat together, my husband was the only one who was not invited to Bradley’s wedding.
He was never a fan of paying for things in college (and likely has not changed much) so we would often pay for his food using our meal points. Bradley would also frequently “forget” his wallet when we went out to bars, which he got away with because he was a decent-looking fella by societal standards, and occasionally told funny jokes.
“‘Bradley would also frequently “forget” his wallet when we went out to bars, which he usually got away with because he was a decent-looking fella by societal standards and occasionally told funny jokes.’”
Fast forward to 2023: he and his girlfriend took up our offer to watch a New York Rangers game from box seats (valued at $2,000 each), and accepted a pair of tickets to a concert (valued at $400) that we couldn’t make at the last-minute. For free! We didn’t really expect anything in return, but at least I thought we’d be invited to their wedding.
Needless to say, we are very upset that we did not receive an invitation. My husband is probably one of the nicest guys you would meet, and he doesn’t like confrontations, so he’s quite confused and hurt by it. My theory is that the girlfriend isn’t a big fan of mine. However, if she didn’t like me, why did she agree to all of these free things?
I totally respect what others want to do with their wedding, what kind of wedding they wish to have, where they choose to have it, and — yes — who they choose to invite. I would not care at all had we not been the only ones being excluded, especially given our recent exchanges of free gifts. Am I overreacting? Do we speak up? I would appreciate your wisdom on this.
Friend and Wife
Dear Friend and Wife,
The first rule of life and finance: If you give a gift, don’t expect anything in return.
If you were banking on an invite to Bradley’s wedding, you were expecting something in return. Whether it’s $400 concert tickets or $2,000 box seats at a Rangers game, you give them with God’s blessings, or the blessings of the gods. If you give a friend’s child $100 for their bar mitzvah, give your doorman $300, or tip 20% in a restaurant, you do so based on what has gone before.
Expectations lead to resentments, and the tough work starts now. You have both been tested. You could argue that Bradley has given your husband an extremely valuable gift, even if he did so inadvertently. Every employee who does not receive their desired pay raise or promotion faces the same dilemma: remain or exit with dignity. And do so without rancor or resentment. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
“‘Every employee who did not receive their desired pay raise or promotion faces the same dilemma: remain or exit with dignity. And do so without rancor or resentment. It’s not as easy as it sounds.’”
Your letter also says Bradley has a history of not paying his way, and that he should not have excluded your husband. So it’s not such an uncharacteristic swerve. Perhaps Bradley’s fiancée has issues with you, or has her own private reasons for not dispatching an invitation. Or maybe — and this one is a long shot — he left your husband off the guest list by accident. His choice, his life, his decision.
Are you overreacting? No, you are entitled to feel the way you feel. If you had lost money in the stock market, I would say the same. But how you act upon those feelings and how long you choose to entertain them is a question for you alone. Give it a week, accept that people have the right to accept gifts and make their own guest lists, and let it go. When you see them, say, “Congratulations.” And mean it.
Do you speak up? If your husband is part of a friend group, I don’t see how it could do anyone any good to ask why he wasn’t invited to the wedding. It could cause a rift with the other men in the friend group. Bradley will either say it was an oversight, which may or may not be true, or he will say that the numbers were limited. It will only leave you with more questions, and renewed feelings of discontent.
These gifts may have cost you money, but they likely had no value in the friendship marketplace. So it’s hard to monetize them now. What’s more, you probably saved at least the value of the concert tickets in the amount of money you would have spent on a gift, hotel and travel attending Bradley’s wedding. So the outcome of all these events is likely cost neutral for you. Let Bradley do Bradley. Next time you have free tickets, strike his name off the list.
Readers write to me with all sorts of dilemmas.
By emailing your questions, you agree to have them published anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties.
The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.
More from Quentin Fottrell:
‘Tipping culture is out of control’: I was asked to tip 15% for a charitable donation. Is it time to say ‘no’ to these requests?
If a restaurant automatically adds a 20% tip, am I obliged to pay? Should tipping not be optional?
My brother-in-law is being honored by a charity, but tickets for the ceremony cost $375. Shouldn’t he offer to pay for my ticket?