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i'm (not) a believer

I hate the church part of weddings. I don’t care what faith it is. I’m an atheist, and most folks who know me well know that. For example, all three of the couples whose weddings I’ll be attending this summer know it. Can I skip the church ceremonies and go directly to the receptions? Wouldn’t that be the more honest and respectful thing to do?

Sneering in the Pews

The Practical Cogitator says: The ceremony is not about you. The ceremony is what they chose, and they have invited you to share and be witness to their union, their way. It would be polite for you to attend and honor the union they chose. It would behoove you to show a little tolerance and respect for other peoples beliefs. No one is asking you to take communion or stand and sit or confess or whatever. Most ceremonies last about an hour, and I’m quite certain you can sit still for that long.

The Straight Skinny says: I have been witness to some remarkably inappropriate sermons during weddings: an hour-long harangue against abortion, for example. I have alternately glazed over and clenched my teeth through church weddings, wishing I was anywhere else. I have awkwardly obliged the faithful to squeeze past me as they lined up to take communion. But I’ve never actually considered leaving or choosing not to attend a wedding to which I’ve been invited on account of its religious symbolism.

My partner is a vegetarian, and though she’s pretty nice about it, I’m pretty sure she hates the everybody-eats-shrimp-cocktail-and-prime-rib part of weddings. I’m a cheap bastard who hates being told what to do, so I hate ordering the newlyweds a set of spoons from their online registry at Williams Sonoma.

Come to think of it, I don’t much believe in the virtues of matrimony as an institution at all, for reasons personal and political. I like the booze, the friends, the dancing, and sometimes, rarely, even the music to which all my drunken friends and I are dancing. And I like putting on fancy dress. So I go to weddings, even the parts of them for which I have little use, to indulge in those pleasures. You should do the same. After all, they invited you into their church despite knowing you’re an atheist, right? Show the same forbearance for their beliefs that they have shown your lack of them.

Strictly Classified says: There are many reasons why people skip out on ceremonies—I often have conflicts in the summer, and there are times when I will go to one couple’s wedding, and later head to a different couple’s reception. I think that your friends, being aware of your position on religion, will be happy to have you attend the reception.

Smart Money says: My mother would be appalled. Do what you want.

the gift of guilt

Is it okay to send a wedding present to someone who doesn’t invite you to their wedding.

I know that sounds like a dumb question, but I don’t want this couple to feel guilty about not inviting me, or think I’m being passive-aggressive about it. I honestly don’t care that I wasn’t invited, and I have a gift for them. So how do I present them that gift without reminding them that they didn’t ask me to come? Should I just wait and give it to them later, on some other occasion?

Not a Member of the Wedding

Strictly Classified says: I think you are over-thinking this a little bit, but if it will ease your mind, send the newlyweds a gift after the wedding. I doubt they will think you are exhibiting some sort of passive-aggressive behavior, but you could put them at ease by giving them the gift in person. Perhaps you could invite them over for dinner, and give them your present then.

Smart Money says: Who are you kidding? Buying a gift is obviously a ploy to inspire great guilt. Definitely give it to them.

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