Two weddings, one day, miles apart: What to do?

Should I try to make it to an event for each, or just pick one and go? How do I choose? And what excuse do I give?

Published September 21, 2006 11:00AM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I recently discovered that two of my very closest friends are getting married in different parts of the country on the same day next summer. The two events will last roughly the same amount of time (a weekend) and both ceremonies are on the Saturday night; I have been asked to be in both wedding parties. Were it possible to decide that I am closer to one than the other, the choice would be easier, but both are absolutely-can't-miss events.

My only solution seems to be that I would go to a pre-event at one on the Friday, and then fly to the other on the Saturday -- but this would involve my spending most of that day at airports and furiously driving rented cars, and likely not enjoying either party. Even if I do this, however, I'll probably still hurt both people by my only-partial attendance, and I'd still have to choose which ceremony to be at.

Should I just pick one and go with it? If so, is there some basis on which I can make this decision rationally? Is it fair to go with the person who asked first? Or should I try and consider who will be most likely to forgive me afterward and go with the other?

Wanting It Both Ways

Dear Wanting It Both Ways,

Yes, just pick one and go with it. Picking the one who asked first sounds like a good way to go -- if that's the wedding you want to attend. If not, pick the one you want to go to, and say it was the one who asked first, or some such.

If you really have no preference, then let me help you: Which friend do you like better?

You like them equally? Oh, surely you jest! How can that be? You can't like two people equally. Well, then, which one is better looking? Which one makes more money? Which one is likely to have the better food? What about the opportunities for utterly selfish pleasure offered by each? What? Don't tell me you don't consider the opportunities for selfish pleasure when deciding on an invitation to a wedding? You don't? You really are a saint.

Even saints must enjoy themselves. And even saints have limited funds. That is one more thing to consider: Which of these weddings is going to be more costly? And which is going to be the more exhausting flight?

Whatever you do, don't spend all Saturday in airports. That's crazy. Just pick one and go to it.

Consider it a physics lesson, and meditate on it. Meditate on it until it becomes a metaphysics lesson. Does that happen? Does physics beget metaphysics? Or does religion beget metaphysics, which then flies religiously in the face of physics? Is there a first time for everything? I ask because I was just about to finish a column with utterly practical advice and no wiggy meanderings for the first time.

To recap: Do not go to both. Choose one. Choose based on personal preference. But use an impersonal excuse in your explanation, i.e., that one party asked first, that you had already bought the ticket (My, you do plan ahead!) or some such neutral fact as that. And have a good time.

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