What is and is not appropriate etiquette for a member of the wedding party may be considered a matter of personal preference based on the wedding.
Sometimes people have other engagements, and it’s up to the bride and groom to decide whether those engagements make it worth having someone in their wedding party.
But if the wedding in question is an immediate family member’s wedding, is leaving early for what you consider an equally important event out of line?
Redditor Clever_Username31 recently came under fire for leaving his brother’s wedding early, so he turned to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) to see if he was in the wrong.
“AITA for leaving my brother’s wedding reception early?”
The original poster (OP) explained the less-than-ideal circumstances.
“My (35m[ale]) brother set his wedding date on Halloween, which was also my youngest son’s 4th birthday.
“I was asked to be a groomsman, but I was transparent and told my brother and SIL that I would accept, but also we probably wouldn’t stay for the whole reception.”
“My sons (4 and 7) still wanted to dress up, go trick-or-treating and have their neighborhood kid friends over for a small Halloween birthday party after.”
“Weirdly, my brother and SIL never really acknowledged that I said we’d be leaving early, and I said it more than once over the months after they set the date.”
“They always just kinda skirted around the topic so I said, screw it, if it was a problem they’d say something.”
“My wife was nervous about this, she agreed we’d leave but still felt guilty. I, however, did not.”
“They planned their wedding on a holiday and on their nephew’s birthday. They had to have expected this and I was sure we wouldn’t be the only ones with kids leaving early.”
When the big day came, the OP decided to stick to his plan.
“Day of the wedding, my mom pulls me aside and asks ‘Are you sure you want to leave the reception early? I think Kate (SIL) has a cake for [son] and she’s expecting that you guys won’t leave.'”
“I told her, no, we’re still leaving. We’ll be there for the ceremony, all the pictures, and at the reception for about an hour or so, but we’re still giving our son his day.”
“If they got a cake for my son this was never communicated with us, even though we said multiple times we weren’t staying for the entire reception. They just assumed this would make us stay.”
“So that’s what we did, we left right after the cake cutting and yeah, they had a small personal sized cake for my son and everyone sang Happy Birthday to him before their cake cutting. It was very sweet and I was grateful.”
The OP has since learned, however, his actions were not appreciated.
“Recently we visited for my mom’s birthday and my brother and his wife didn’t come by but I figured it was because of them not being vaccinated. Apparently not, according to my parents and sister they’re upset about us leaving their reception early.”
“Apparently I was supposed to stay and help them clean up like all the groomsmen/bridesmaids were (this was also never communicated with me).”
“Also my SIL told my sister after the reception that my sons having to miss trick-or-treating one year shouldn’t have been a big deal and that we could have had a birthday party any other day.”
Now the OP is wondering if he should’ve gone about things differently.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to them, but I’m also not totally sorry. I’m sorry their feelings are hurt, that was not my goal, but feel like I communicated and compromised pretty well and they never said that it was an issue.”
“If it was, I would have backed out of being a groomsman, but I doubt I would have stayed for the entire reception.”
“My kids come first period. If their wedding was any other day I would have stayed for the entire reception.”
“I might be the a**hole because he’s my only brother and I left, what might be his only wedding, early.”
Redditors weighed in on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
They didn’t think he was out of line, especially given he’d communicated his intention to leave early.
“NTA: Ignoring someone is not a form of conflict resolution. If they had an issue with your plans to leave early, they could have and should have addressed it much sooner instead of buying a cake for your son without communicating at all.”
“That’s some passive aggressive nonsense, right there.”—NorthernLitUp
“If they can’t talk about it with OP directly, and this is all secondhand gossip from others, I would ignore all the talk and carry on as if everything is normal.”
“If they can’t be honest with OP and they prefer to talk behind their back, that says A LOT about their character.”
“If pressed by anyone, I’d reply shocked that anyone would be upset with a 4-yr-old for celebrating his birthday, and flip it back on them.”—Regediot
“You told them multiple times you were going to leave early. They chose to ignore this and then try and make you stay via Mom and son’s cake. It’s sneaky and manipulative.”
“The only people a wedding really matters to is the folks getting married, for everyone else it’s just another event they have to plan for.”
“Sure, your son(s) could miss a Halloween, but why? Because the couple are selfish?”
“Trick or treating is one of those things there’s a hard cap on, after a certain age, it’s gone.”—F**kMyPenisHole
The fact the OP’s brother chose that specific date to have his wedding didn’t go unnoticed.
“Halloween is major holiday depending on where you are.”
“It’s your sons birthday – your brother knew this for X-years.”
“You gave him a warning ahead of time, that you wouldn’t stay for the entire wedding, to celebrate your boy and halloween.”—Daddy_Muttonchop
“What is it about weddings that turn mature, grown adults into selfish teenagers?”
Y”our brother and SIL chose to have their wedding on your son’s birthday. They demanded that a child celebrate his birthday that they way that THEY wanted because they are the bride and groom and the center of the *#&$ing universe.”
“You told them repeatedly that you would leave the reception early. They ignored you and surprised you with a birthday cake to pressure you into staying.”
“They have continued their temper tantrum by ignoring you and communicating their anger through others.”
“I’d also comment that I’m surprised they’re upset that children left early to celebrate Halloween. They picked a pretty bad day for their wedding.”—Coffee-Historian-11
“Also, forgetting just the birthday party, but missing trick or treating with friends at 4 for a wedding and clean up?”
“I would not have understood at that age and been very upset.”—PouncingFox
“I’m 36 and if I missed trick or treating and a Halloween party for a wedding I’d be upset lol”—Schuld6
Many also pointed out young kids don’t usually stay for the entire reception anyway.
“Also most 4 yr olds aren’t going to stay for hours at a wedding…like he’s going to behave for 6+ hours then calmly chill out while his father cleans up a wedding venue? It is very unrealistic expectation.”—derbarkbark
“A four year old’s not going to make it through a long wedding reception anyway. They attended the actual wedding and the big parts of the reception.”—JaPrufr0ck
“Especially when the expectation (that was not communicated) is that the wedding party stays behind to clean up.”
“Let’s pretend the wedding wasn’t on Halloween or the kid’s birthday. What did the bride and groom think the kids would do? Stay awake till 2 am for the reception to be over and dad to help clean up?”
“Have mom leave with the kids to get them into bed and then leave them home alone to pick up her husband? When someone you have an expectation for has kids, you need to communicate with them and work with them!”—Zipper_Eden_Ems
“Even if it wasn’t Halloween”
“Even if it wasn’t 4’s birthday”
“Did they really expect a 4 and 7 year old to stay for a whole reception? I’ve never heard of parents of young kids staying for a whole reception.”—SourNotesRockHardAbs
Hopefully the OP’s brother and sister-in-law will get over their feelings of betrayal.
If not, the next few upcoming family holidays could get a bit icy.