A little while ago, Slate had a series on marriage that poked at some concerns that folks like myself have about liberals and marriage. But some of them left the hair on the back of my neck firmly resting. One of them involved David Plotz writing about wedding guests:
When you are in the throes of wedding planning—the epic, Iranian-nuke-level negotiations with your fiancée about invitations, the masterful diagramming of every possible seating permutation to maximize hookups and minimize family arguments—it seems inconceivable that somewhere in this group, the group of people that you are closest to in the entire world, the people with whom you will share the most extraordinary moment of your life, are dear friends you will never see again after your wedding day. You don’t know who the last-timers are—in fact, you can’t know—but they will be there on the dance floor and in photos. And suddenly, one day—two, five, 20 years on—you will think to yourself: I haven’t seen her since our wedding. And then: How did that happen?
When I talk about last-timers, I don’t mean those old friends of your parents who got invited over your protests. Of course you’ll never see them again. I also don’t mean the various disposable plus-ones. Any wedding of any size will be populated by boyfriends, girlfriends, and even spouses who will have been dumped or divorced by the next time you see your friend. My brother-in-law’s then-fiancée is all over our wedding photos. She was on her last legs as a fiancée, but we didn’t know it at the time. Sweet, kind Liane: Where are you now?
Some people focus on Friends From The Present. My brother Mitch did that.
This was a way in which my wedding different from my brother Mitch’s (Ollie had two weddings, one like mine and one like Mitch’s). Mitch focused on Friends From The Present. I focused on Friends From the Past. I invited people I hadn’t seen in years. I hadn’t invited people I considered myself close to at the time. Not that I would have protested the latter’s presence. But I had an inkling that things would probably break off whenever I next moved away. Or I wasn’t sure. But the people I hadn’t seen for years, and who I thought to myself “I really want them to come” were people that I knew I had relationships with that were far from circumstantial or relationships of convenience.
According to experts, both of these are wrong. The focus was supposed to be on Friends From The Future. Like Plotz, I just can’t agree with this due to the lack of a crystal ball. I mean, a part of my rationale of Friends Of The Past was that I was projecting future friendship based on past performance, to a degree. But as much as that, my motivation was that they could see the capstone of the person I was when they knew me. When I ceased to be that person and became a person that was enjoined with another person. In some cases, it truly didn’t matter if I would see them again. They had invested enough in me and who I was that I felt an invitation was something of an obligation. I invited some people I am not sure I really cared if I would ever see again, but whose role in my life demanded their invitation.
Of course, in the age of Facebook, the question of the future is somewhat even more moot than Plotz suggests. These days, you end up keeping track of people long after you would have in yesteryear, but only if they regularly Facebook or remain tied to you online in some other way (an online community).
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