A few weeks ago my brother, nephew, and I went to our cousin's daughter's wedding. We don't know her and she wouldn't recognize us if she bumped into us in an empty room, and the room was not uncrowded. When her brother got married a couple of years ago I decided to go to the wedding not because I care about these people (at least not in more than the generic way that one cares about all mankind), but because I wanted my daughter to see some of her extended family (we live only about an hour away from almost all of my cousins - yeah, yeah, kind of sad) now that she's old enough to work out familial relationships and attach names to them. My brother brought his son for the same reason, and my nephew was a good sport about going to the wedding of people he doesn't know and probably never will know.
It took us about two hours to get there and the ceremony lasted twenty minutes. During the ceremony we realized that we didn't know anyone there except our cousin, and we don't really know him. And, could not have less in common with him. Not sure what happened to the rest of his family, although a couple of steps were missing from the directions that came with the invitation so some people might have gotten lost. We did not sign the guest book because we didn't see it until it was too late.
After the ceremony they hustled us outside so they could move the wedding chairs and set up the reception tables and chairs for dinner. After surveying the crowd, social butterflies that we are, on the way down the steps my brother said, "I'm done here if you are." "Roger that." And we left. We felt a little guilty, especially since we were really hungry. As we were slinking out toward the car, my nephew said, "That smells really good." He was right: I think we missed a good dinner. Arrive at 4:50, wedding at 5:00, in the car searching for a restaurant at 5:25. And then the two-hour trip home.
A few days ago we got a lovely (and prompt!) thank you note in the mail.
Dear Dad's Cousin and Dad's Cousin's Husband,
Thank you for the gift. [A specific reference to the specific gift (nice touch, that)]. It was so good to see you!
My husband didn't go and she didn't see either my brother or me. I don't expect a bride to remember all the people she doesn't know who come to her wedding and eat (or don't) the food they've spent months agonizing over. I fully understand that it's a bitch to write thank you notes to people you don't know and I very much admire anyone who does such a nice job of it. But now I don't feel so guilty about skipping out.