I got married a few days ago. I am ridiculously happy and our day was so wonderful. Everyone who came made such an effort and it was the best day of my life.
The evening before the wedding, three guests cancelled via text. I was pretty gutted as there didn't seem to be any reasoning behind them cancelling. Obviously if it was something really important behind them cancelling, I would be so understanding — but they didn't really give a valid reason.
I'm a bit sad that they didn't come and I'm not sure what to say when I see them next.
The answer to that last question is pretty simple: the next time you see them, just say, “It's good to see you — we really missed you at the wedding.” That's all you need to say. I don't think that's really what you're asking, however, so let's see if we can break it down…
Recognize that this may not be about you
Yes, a wedding is an incredibly meaningful day and a powerful life moment. Weddings can be tent-pole events that act as community and family markers for the passage of time. That said, your guests are all just people with their own complex and challenging lives.
Simply stated: shit happens, and people cancel plans. This shit likely has nothing to do with you or your wedding.
Not knowing how large your wedding was, I can't know of course whether three people canceling is a huge deal (there were only 30 guests invited, and 10% of them didn't show?) or just three fewer people sitting in the pews at your 200-person ceremony. Let's split the difference and say you had 100 guests… trying to get 100 people in a room on one day is always going to be a challenge! Given the realities of life, three of them bailing at the last minute feels pretty plausible.
If it IS about you, make some decisions
I think what I'm really hearing from you though is not that you had a wedding guest cancel last minute — but that they canceled using a method you don't like, and reasons you don't think were valid.
We can debate for ages whether text messaging is an appropriate way to break bad news, but ultimately it's subjective. The ways people use text messages varies a lot by region and community. Your guests may have been trying to do you a favor by not calling, knowing you were likely busy the night before your wedding, or they may be cowardly jerks trying to avoid any accountability for their decision. We can't know, and I don't know that it's worth debating.
Now, as for this other issue:
Obviously if it was something really important behind them cancelling, I would be so understanding — but they didn't really give a valid reason.
What counts as a valid reason? Only you can know this, and what you find invalid might strike someone else as totally acceptable. A couple examples: I had a guest at my wedding decline attending because her yoga guru told her she needed to be on a “travel fast.” A few years later, I was pregnant and missed a friend's wedding because I was exhausted from morning sickness puking. Are either of these reasons valid? Who knows! It's subjective.
If YOU feel that someone's reason for missing your wedding was unforgivable, then you can decide to confront them or simply end your relationship with them. It's up to you whether you want to give them an opportunity to defend or explain their decision not to attend, or just write them off completely. Someone missing your wedding could be a deal-breaker on an already strained relationship.
Only you can know, but in this matter and all interpersonal issues, be gracious and forgiving when you can, and clear about your personal boundaries when you can't. Above all, hold yourself completely accountable for whatever decision you make — because ultimately, this is YOUR decision.
Yes, they missed your wedding, but it's YOUR decision how you react.
Then poop it out and move on
Ask yourself: are you focusing on these guests who bailed because you're not ready to let your wedding go? Are you using these three guests as a way to continue chewing over your wedding?
If so, find a way to swallow your wedding, digest it, be nourished by it, and then poop out the stuff you don't need.
Here's the tough reality: the time after a wedding is confusing, and can be a major let-down. You've been anticipating and building toward this one day for months or years, and now it's over. Maybe it went awesome! Maybe it was a disaster! Probably it was a little bit of both, and either way you want to give yourself some time to eat up your wedding.
For me, I did this by pooping out first a 4000-word write-up of the entire event, and then an entire book. For other people, it might be assembling a wedding scrap book, submitting your wedding to Offbeat Bride, or just posting on social media. This is the digesting and nourishing part. Capture your wedding in whatever way feels best to you. Feel nourished by all the wonder and beauty and lovely moments, and then move on.
Moving on also includes pooping out the wedding shit that didn't go well. The three guests who flaked at the last minute. The vendor who said that rude thing at the end of the night. The aunt who you caught rolling her eyes during the ceremony. This is the poop of your wedding, and it's not doing you any good to keep it inside. If you need to take direct action, go for it — but it might serve you just as well to do Ye Olde “write a letter you'll never send” action, and let that be your pooping.
Most importantly, make sure you find post-wedding aspects of your life to apply your energies. Pursuing a promotion at work? Applying to grad school? Making your living space feel awesome? Finding new levels of intimacy with your partner? Saving up for your next big travel adventure? These are all life thangs we love to talk about over at Offbeat Home & Life, so maybe after you're done pooping out the left over wedding stuff, we'll see you over there.