"I wrote 63 songs this year. They're all about Jeter." Just kidding. The game we love, the players we hate, and more.

Culture and Criticism

From Norman Mailer to Wendy Pepper — everything on film, TV, books, music, and snacks (shut up, raisins), plus the Girls' Bike Club.

Donors Choose and Contests

Helping public schools, winning prizes, sending a crazy lady in a tomato costume out in public.

Stories, True and Otherwise

Monologues, travelogues, fiction, and fart humor. And hens. Don't forget the hens.

The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: April 23, 2014

Submitted by on April 23, 2014 – 1:54 PM14 Comments


I come from a large and (I thought) close family of six girls and one boy.

My oldest sister "Eve" has had a long time boyfriend "Adam." She recently bought a house and Adam has been planning to move in soon.

As I mentioned, we are pretty close, get along well and get together pretty often for happy hour, birthdays etc.

Yesterday, I received phone calls at about the same time from two of my sisters asking "if it was true." Eve had married her boyfriend (which is great, he is a wonderful guy), but…and here's the kicker…she announced it on Facebook. No advance emails, texts, etc., giving us a heads-up about the announcement. This was not a spur-of-the-moment thing; she had just been keeping it a secret from us.

I was stunned and a little hurt, as were my sisters. To put it in a bit more perspective, she is 53 and the youngest sister is 42, so it's not like we grew up on social media.

Am I overreacting? I feel like this is a big event and since it was posted during the day on a weekday, I wouldn't have even seen it until much later if my sisters hadn't called. In other words, a zillion people I barely know found out my sister was married before I did (yes, a slight exaggeration, but that's what it felt like).

Your thoughts? I did offer my congrats…on FB of course.

Old-fashioned, or maybe just plain old

Dear Fash,

No, you're not overreacting; you feel how you feel, and Eve lumped the family in with everyone else she knows by announcing a significant life change on Facebook. It's alienating, because you don't feel special, and the fact that Eve doesn't seem to have realized how it would come off — or realized it, but didn't give a shit — just compounds that.

It's a bit immature, really, too, because if I had to guess, Eve was trying to opt out of the emotional politicking she assumed would go with having a full wedding, or even a tiny wedding, telling anyone she planned to get married, inviting witnesses, planning a lunch afterward, et cetera and so on. She saw the whole thing turning into a series of obligations she wanted no part of and resented, so she just went and got married and threw it out there on FB all kind of "well, so there," and I kind of understand where she's coming from — I loved my wedding, I'm glad we had one, but it was not our first instinct. Our first instinct was to go to Massachusetts and get a mobile JP to marry us in the parking lot of Arnold's Seafood Shack, then go have lobster roll and take a nap, buuuuut you soon figure out that that hurts people's feelings, or they just don't get it, or whatever. People want to celebrate with you and give you things and have cocktails, which is great; people also want to use your wedding as a referendum on their relationships with you/each other, which is not great at all…

…but it is also not avoidable, period, end of story. Eloping or having a secret weekday wedding doesn't void those feelings; it just moves them around, aims them from a different angle, and it just really isn't possible to get married and not have some emotional chores to do…or not pay a price for not doing them, as Eve is no doubt finding out now from her family, and from people who thought they were close friends with her and now feel like dicks. I mean, it's also not possible to please everyone when you get married, and a couple of people you didn't predict will become offended for reasons you didn't anticipate, and that's annoying, but there's trying to appease everyone, and then there's basic courtesy. I understand not wanting to get too bogged down with making everyone happy, but some corners you just shouldn't cut.

As for what's next: maybe ask her, in a neutral tone, why she chose to announce it on Facebook instead of giving you a call first. Let her explain, and listen without interrupting; I'm betting she says something like "we just wanted to keep it private and not have it be a big deal; that kind of backfired." Whatever her reason, tell her you understand, but you wish she'd told the family first, because you felt left out and not worthy of a phone call. She'll get that or she won't, but at least she'll know — if she doesn't already, because I'm also betting she's been hearing about it since she did it.

Be Sociable, Share!



  • Maria says:

    I'm sorry; that had to hurt. It's great you can be happy for her and Adam. But…it's kind of weird from a family perspective. It's like, Adam is her family now, but are we? Or at least that's how I would feel.

    I'm sure it made sense in her head, for finances and distances and all sorts of things. It would be nice if they at least planned some sort of gathering afterwards where this could all be acknowledged and celebrated. But, no.

    I guess the thing to do is congratulate her and just keep the lines open. These kinds of things have a way of starting something that is hard to back down from later, and it would be great if things didn't have to get gnarly.

  • Marv in DC says:

    I agree with Sars, but I also think that considering how recent the events are, that this may not be the end of it all. One of my best friends did this with her husband, because they didn't want the hassle and also wanted the advantages of being legally married. Several months later they had their "real" wedding where everyone was invited and we all had a great time celebrating. We may have had a better time because they weren't also getting caught up planning a legal wedding as well as the party aspect of it, and so could spend more time celebrating with us rather than worrying about logistics.

  • Beth C. says:

    I found out our family cat died when my sister posted about it at noon on a Wednesday on facebook. It isn't the same, but I get what you're feeling, it was very much a "so… WHY am I learning about this in this fashion? We have these lovely things now called cell phones…" My mom felt awful when I called her crying asking WTF happened to Grace.

    I agree with Sars, give your sister a chance to explain, and really take it in, but don't be afraid to also let her know that it's her wedding, so it was her decision, but her decision hurt more than a little bit. It could also be that they just wanted the ceremony part over with so they could plan the party with that little bit of pressure gone. Again, that's their decision, and it isn't a horrible one, but it's OK to let her know you felt left out and unimportant to her.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Yep, there are certain things that are unavoidably public, and weddings/marriages are one of those things.

    Who knows? Maybe Adam's the one who wanted a no fuss wedding and she agreed. Maybe Adam wanted the full schlamozzle and Eve has had a lifelong utter dread of being the focus of attention. Maybe they're secretly really in debt or saving for something huge. Maybe they truly thought the families would be 'grateful' not to 'have' to participate. Maybe they were embarrassed at doing something for the first time that's still really associated with people younger then they are and didn't want to look silly (not that it is silly to want whatever kind of wedding you want at whatever age, but still. A woman over 30 wanting the full veil of wedding fever is still viewed in our society as greedy or "trying to act young".)

    There are a million things it could be. But that doesn't change the fact that doing something this huge and trying to pretend it's the equivalent of posting "went to lunch with Adam today at McDonalds" is both off-kilter and hurtful.

    Go into it assuming she's not an evil wench who hates you all (as I am assuming she is not.) Bring a nice gift for them. Don't minimize how you feel, at all, but don't make her feel like she's done something like sacrificing a baby on the backyard grill. Ask gently why they decided to do this the way they did.

    They may get defensive or produce a list of grievances you never knew they held, or something much less ragey and more genuinely tone deaf. But it will be what it is. You'll have to decide from there how to readjust your relationship.

  • Gina says:

    I'm curious as to what "This was not a spur-of-the-moment thing; she had just been keeping it a secret from us" means. If it means she had planned to elope for a while an then actually did it, then yes, maybe she just didn't think through the emotional implications of elopement. If it means that Eve actually DID plan a whole wedding but without inviting the family (or informing them), then, well, Eve is sending the family a message, and not a terribly cordial one, I'm afraid. If there was cake and a dress, or even just cocktails or lunch but not a single sibling invited or informed? That sounds like a passive-aggressive dig of the highest order to me. Even if she lives seven time zones away from the rest of the fam and knew there was no way anyone could possibly show up, a couple of phone calls would have been the more appropriate way to go.

  • ferretrick says:

    You aren't overreacting, but I think you can try to see it from her side. You and your sister are both middle aged and you have five other siblings. Presumably that also means lots of cousins, in laws, cousins kids, etc. I think Eve probably

    1) felt like she was past the age of doing the big traditional wedding
    2) knew that there was no way, given the size of your family, to keep it small and not a big deal except by inviting no one and
    3) may not like being the center of attention

    The facebook announcement was thoughtless, I agree, but again I understand the instinct, because….six phone calls, dude, just to inform her generation much less the extended family. Six rounds of you WHAT? Where? When? Well tell me all about it! Probably three hours on the phone, minimum, and if she's kind of a shy or introverted person who doesn't like too much attention? That's some torture right there.

    Again, I'm not saying what she did was right, at all. I think she was at best, painfully naive about how this would be received. It's one of those situations where, by trying not to make it a big deal, she made a bigger deal of it than if she'd followed the more traditional path. So, I think you have every right to feel slighted, but try to mitigate your feelings by understanding it probably wasn't meant as a personal slight even if that's how it feels. And I agree, say your peace, not in an accusing or angry way, but more of a "I know you didn't mean it this way, but it made me feel X when a kid you haven't seen since elementary school got the news before your own sister." Then forgive her and move on.

  • attica says:

    Geez, even a post-wedding-pre-FB mass-email to the fam would have helped. Which is too late now, of course. As my late mother would sigh: honestly.

  • Lily says:

    Ugh, this hits home. I've found out about so so many family/best friend/pet milestones through facebook, some devastating, some wonderful, and it never gets easier. It is always awful being grouped in with hundreds of strangers for these announcements, which then puts me in the position of confronting and tears and awkward and blech. It hurts. Please, people of the internet: a phone call or an email, even a text would do. Even a group email is okay! Facebook does not run your life, facebook can wait! Your news will still be fresh and exciting tomorrow!

  • Missicat says:

    Hi all – original letter writer here. Thanks for all your thoughts, now that the initial shock is over I am much better about it. Guess I forgot to mention one important point…this was her third wedding, so that may have played a part. And there was no cake or party, just the two of them and the minister. There will be a party later on, so that's all good, and being our family we will tease her (will love of course) about it. Still feeling a little bit like a mass email before the FB post hit would have been nice, but I am big girl and will get over it.
    It's just well, people I DON'T LIKE knew before I did! (Yes I know it's not about me….)

  • M says:

    I understand being surprised and confused by the Facebook announcement so asking about that would be the best move. It sounds like an attempt to be casual and low-key that failed. We can be thankful for the object lesson that a quick heads-up before eloping might be appreciated. It's too late for Eve, so giving congratulations and adding this to what you know about Eve's personality as an adult are all that really possible to do.

    If some of the siblings want to celebrate, you can offer to throw a party for the newlyweds. That's always an option.

    My dirty lens: My early 30's little sister just eloped a few weeks ago. It was planned and the family knew ahead of time; there was a wedding dress and bouquet and photos and the location was special to the couple. I think that it's great! (I would've just gone to the courthouse, but she's more traditional than me.) The parents were a little disappointed but understood that sis and bro-in-law just wanted to be married already!

    [If the legal stuff is important, waiting long is a bad idea. Fiances have no legal standing just by planning to get married sometime in the future. So either get married by the government or get a good lawyer for wills, power-of-attorney, trusts etc. PSA complete.]

  • Elizabeth says:

    You feel how you feel and that's legit. But I'm sympathetic to Eve here. She's been married twice before; you knew Adam was planning to move in; this may not have seemed like the milestone to her that you're treating it as. I'm not saying that your feelings are invalid, I'm just saying that I don't think it was intended as a slight and I don't feel that she's wronged you.

    I'm guessing that the emotional content of what you want is an affirmation of her ties to her family of origin right now. So is there a way you can get that? Can you pick out a gift you know they'll love, or take them out to lunch and enjoy being a family? My guess is that interacting with your sister in a loving way will help to reassure you that, however she approached her wedding, you matter to her.

  • Sarah says:

    I guess I'm super weird about this stuff, but I would not care at all. But I got on facebook my freshman year in college, so I may be coming at this from the yoot (tm My Cousin Vinny) perspective.

    At the same time, I know other people care A LOT about being informed before facebook at large is. I've been trying to set up a social outing with my two college roommates for over a month for just that reason (i.e., before I let facebook know I'm knocked up, as my husband would like to do).

    Maybe Eve put herself in your position and figured she wouldn't care if you did it?

  • Mingles' Mommy says:

    It's totally normal to be hurt. I've already told my sister if she ever did that I'd throttle her (not really, of course, but … well, maybe really. :)

    A co-worker had that happen to friends of hers. It caused all kinds of trouble.

    I don't get it, but what can I tell you … I wouldn't do that to my family, and I totally get why you're hurt.

    I hope you're all able to resolve it and stay close.

  • MizShrew says:

    For what it's worth, I don't think that being hurt about something like this is generational. My nephew (in his 30s) got pretty ticked when his younger sister mentioned something about "my future mother-in-law" on FB. Turns out it was a joke, but in the moment, he was not cool with the idea of finding out his sister was engaged on FB. And I don't blame him a bit, I'd be offended too. So it's not just the 40+ crowd that may tend to feel that way.

Leave a comment!

Please familiarize yourself with the Tomato Nation commenting policy before posting.
It is in the FAQ. Thanks, friend.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>