Caroline Moss is an author and host of the podcast "Gee Thanks, Just Bought It," which helps people find the products they need to make life easier, better and more productive. Now with this column, "Asking for a Friend," she's helping people with the advice they need to make life easier, better and more productive.
My friend is refusing to cancel her wedding in September. I am in the wedding. I really don’t feel comfortable going due to the coronavirus. What do I say? Or do?
A Masked Bridesmaid
Hey Masked Bridesmaid,
Well, woof. That sucks a lot and I am sorry you are in the lead role of this morality theater production.
I am also sorry for your friend; weddings are exciting and stressful and the buildup to each one is almost an unbearable excitement. Throwing in a global health crisis? I cannot imagine that feeling, and I am lucky I do not have to experience it firsthand. Give her some grace in that respect. This suckkkkksssss.
She has also probably put down a ton of money to make it happen and depending on where you are writing me from, perhaps lives in a state that is still hosting events and therefore cannot get her money back. You know all that fine print on contracts that no one reads? I guarantee it’s making all of this wedding planning and canceling and postponing during a pandemic that much more difficult. I can imagine that she is so hellbent on having the wedding of her dreams that she isn’t thinking totally clearly right now. This! Wedding! Is! Happening! And! Nothing! Is! Going! To! Stop! It!
But you, the person who is not planning a wedding right now, unfortunately know better. This wedding, whether big or small, could easily be one of those ground-zero events that ends up infecting many people with COVID-19. One sick person, one asymptomatic wedding guest would put thousands of people in danger. But there might not be a sick person there! But there might. For that reason, it’s in the best interest of all involved to cancel or postpone. But of course, you know that! That’s why you don’t want to go, and that’s why you’re not-so-secretly hoping she comes to her senses and cancels.
Rarely does life present us with such difficult choices. We make choices every day, probably hundreds of little choices an hour, but these are the big ones. Remember, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Like historic, traumatic, unrelenting pandemic. This isn’t about your friend, the bride, and it’s not about you. These choices — to stay inside when we’d rather be at the beach with friends, to wear a mask when it’s uncomfortable and hot and makes our skin breakout, to cancel flights to much-anticipated vacations — are the ones we make because they are the ones that will keep other people safe. It doesn’t matter if we don’t know these people; we have to care about them anyway.
Part of me wants to tell you to lie, masked bridesmaid. I mean, who could say anything to someone who's exhibiting signs of coronavirus? Maybe you have a dry cough or a fever. Maybe you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive. No one will fight you if you say you’re sick and that’s why you won’t be able to go. And you might just go that route and lie. I wouldn’t blame you. It’s an irrefutable get-out-of-wedding-free card right now. I am sure you wouldn’t be the first one to use it.
But I think you know what you have to do, masked bridesmaid, and it’s not lying. It’s taking a stand and doing what’s right. If it costs you your friendship, that may be a sacrifice you make. (My guess is that it won’t cost you your friendship but it might be tense for a month or two.)
This is going to be one of those moments. You will never have proof that not going to this wedding did or did not harm lives. But you have to take a step back from this very personal situation and put it in the context of the bigger picture and the information we have at hand which is: The more you stay home and away from other people, the safer you will be and the safer everyone else will be.