My daughter refuses to change the date of her wedding, which I can’t safely attend

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Hi, Group Chat,

My daughter is planning on having her wedding in Lake Como, Italy, on August 3. As of today, there are multiple active cases of COVID-19 in the Lombardy region and, of course, worldwide travel alerts warning against visiting the area. Even though over half of the wedding guests have already graciously declined attendance and her father and I are on the highly susceptible list, she won’t budge on the date. It’s as if she doesn’t care if we cannot be there. I would venture to say most weddings have been postponed, but she still won’t change her mind. What am I to think? How should I respond? This is heartbreaking. We only have one daughter.

Sincerely, Mother of the Bride

Dear MOTB,

Jamé Jackson, who hasn’t seen her parents in over six months due to COVID-19, says — Mama, let that baby go like split ends! OK, I’m only half kidding, but seriously … you’ll have to cut it loose. It’s obvious that your daughter is very attached to having her wedding in Italy, despite the health risks it exposes her, her husband, family and friends to. I’m sure there are also costs associated with a destination wedding that are huge factors in the decision-making process, so we can’t fully wag our finger at her without additional details. That being said, while you can’t control her response to this situation (after all, she is an adult and has to have the autonomy to choose for herself and live with those consequences), you can control how you and your husband respond.

First, I’d let her know that you can’t attend because you are prioritizing your health and wellness. Ask if she plans to have technical support for the wedding — perhaps that’ll allow others to watch in real-time via Zoom or FaceTime. When they return to the states, you can plan an intimate celebration with close family and friends who have all tested negative and/or quarantined for two weeks. Is it a lot of work? Yes. But do you want to celebrate this important milestone with your daughter? Of course. If this marriage is long-term-bound, focus more on your health and safety right now, because you can do a celebration anytime.

Alex Lasker, who definitely will not be getting on a plane until the year 2021, says — As a mildly neurotic natural-born planner, I must first point out that if any of your daughter’s wedding guests are traveling to Lake Como from outside of the European Union, they will face a mandatory 14-day quarantine. That’s a logistical nightmare, and a pretty wild burden to place on any guests who are already being asked to travel internationally during a global pandemic. And, even if all invitees are coming to Lake Como from inside the E.U., it still just isn’t advisable to throw a party of any size in a region so heavily affected by COVID-19.

But, putting logistics aside (if I absolutely must), it has to feel devastating as a parent to have your health and safety so blatantly disregarded by your one and only daughter, and for that, I’m so sorry. Although it seems she is very preoccupied with herself at the moment — which, to be fair, most of us would be when trying to salvage a likely expensive destination wedding amid global pestilence — you need to think about yourself here and skip the event. Is one day of blissful celebration worth the risk of getting sick and, even worse, potentially missing out on the rest of your life? Absolutely not — and I’d venture to say your daughter would agree.

Morgan Greenwald, who is getting married in October 2021, says
As a bride-to-be, I understand why it’s hard for your daughter to give up her dream wedding. However, given the current global pandemic, a destination wedding in Italy is just not possible right now — and, if you and your husband don’t feel safe attending, then she should respect your feelings and postpone to a date when things have calmed down a bit. If your daughter wants to keep her date (at least logistically), she can certainly hold an intimate ceremony with just her, her husband-to-be and a few friends and family members, then reschedule the larger wedding in Lake Como for a later date (ideally when there is a vaccine).

Honestly, if you put your foot down and tell your daughter you won’t be attending her wedding, this may finally help her understand the severity of the situation. It may also be a blessing in disguise since half of her guest list has “graciously declined” as well! What kind of a dream wedding is it, really, if you can’t even be surrounded by the people you love the most? Do your daughter — and yourself — a favor and tell her you’re not going.

Pamela Reynoso, new mother to a baby girl born during the pandemic, says — Let me start off by apologizing on behalf of your daughter for putting you and the rest of your family between a rock and a hard place. I believe you when you say this is heartbreaking. Although I’m sure this is not what you want, I wouldn’t attend.

I know you’ve probably been looking forward to your only daughter’s wedding since she was born, but the risks are just too high at the moment, and there will be other major milestones that I’m sure you’d like to be healthy and present for (i.e. the birth of grandchildren and their subsequent milestones). So, for the sake of maintaining your health and reducing risk for those attending, I’d follow your doctor’s advice and stay home. Maybe you can even convince her to set up cameras for declining guests to join via Zoom? Hopefully, she’ll come around and push back the date, and if she doesn’t, I really hope she regrets her decision one day.

Dillon Thompson, who has spent close to 3,000 hours with his parents during the pandemic, says — No one wants to have their life — let alone their marriage or a wonderful vacation to Italy — put on hold. Sadly, thanks to the pandemic, that’s exactly what so many of us are being asked to do right now. This could be one of the most important moments in your daughter’s life, but ultimately, that still doesn’t make it important enough to risk you or your husband’s health.

Skipping this wedding doesn’t have to mean missing the moment, though. If I were you, I’d tell your daughter you can’t make it to Italy, then immediately start planning your own celebration for her and her new husband — even if that’s just a small family get-together when they (safely) return stateside. Your daughter might be unhappy at first, but in the end, she’ll realize that prioritizing your safety has nothing to do with your love for her.

TL;DR — You should absolutely not feel guilty declining attendance, even if your daughter is hell-bent on pressing ahead with the wedding. While it’s awful to be stuck trying to salvage such an event during a global pandemic, it’s still your daughter’s responsibility to take into consideration your and your husband’s health, as well as the well-being of her other guests and even herself and the groom. Sadly, since it seems she cannot be reasoned with, consider joining in via FaceTime or Zoom to ease the emotional pain of missing the wedding entirely.

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