DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter was engaged to a young man who wanted a big wedding. They both saved to pay for it, but in practice, the burden of organizing and paying deposits fell on my daughter, with the expectation that later they would either join their finances or he would reimburse her.
Well, two months before the wedding, he ran off with a pregnant girlfriend. My daughter is overwhelmed by the emotional fallout and the financial obligations. I volunteered to notify the guests about the cancellation.
Some guests, especially on our side of the family, complained about their nonrefundable plane tickets and demanded that we reimburse them. What is our obligation to these people? We are not in dire financial straits, but neither are they, and I feel that all financial support I can muster should be going to my daughter.
Emotionally, I am appalled that so many relatives and friends saw fit to complain and demand more from us instead of offering any words of support to my daughter. The only words that were offered were along the lines of, “I am sorry about your wedding, but can I have a few hundred dollars to cover my canceled plane ticket and my new dress?”
I cannot see this situation as anything other than them showing their true colors, and I don’t want to have any relationship with them anymore.
GENTLE READER: It never ceases to amaze Miss Manners how, even under the best circumstances, weddings -- a time for joy and warm family feelings -- consistently bring out the worst in people.
While your relatives have behaved abhorrently, they may well be rebelling against the circuslike atmosphere and financial outpouring that weddings typically incur. And now they feel that it was all for naught.
That does not condone their callous behavior; it just produces in Miss Manners a shred of sympathy for most modern wedding guests.
You have no financial obligation to these people other than returning any presents your daughter may have received. If you wanted to address your family and friends’ travel concerns, you could have hosted a gathering in the wedding’s stead -- presumably excusing your hapless daughter from attendance. But there is no reason to do so for such unfeeling people.