I'm the oldest sister in a tight-knit family. My middle sister, who lives across the country, wants to have a destination wedding out of the country next spring. My youngest sister and I tried to persuade her to get married closer to home when she first pitched the idea—not only because the whole thing is really expensive, and we're not a wealthy family, but also because our father has a debilitating terminal illness and travel will be difficult for him to say the least. Middle sister got hella defensive when we suggested she change her plans and insisted that it would all work out. Since then my mom has started making monthly payments on the venue and rooms, and middle sister and her husband have sent out save-the-date cards.
The pandemic has made the impossibility of this endeavor so much more clear. For starters, my mom is a a small business owner who lost most of her income as a result of the pandemic, but she's still on the hook for these wedding expenses. for reference, she makes $35,000 in a good year. Meanwhile, youngest sister and i have been helping with my dad's care during this time and seen first-hand just how rapidly his health is deteriorating. He struggles with each daily task and is really frustrated and embarrassed by his condition. But my parents don't want to so much as suggest middle sister rethink her wedding because they want to be supportive of her, come hell or high water.
The wedding is a year off, but I've heard there won't be a vaccine for coronavirus until at least fall 2021. If my dad catches coronavirus, it will probably kill him. Meanwhile, my mom has severe asthma, and I have a new baby. It doesn't seem wise for any of them to travel by plane without being vaccinated. I have sought guidance on the Internet about this, Dan, but I'm coming up dry. I want to tell my sister she's being an asshole and needs to have her wedding closer to home. But what do you think? Is my sister being an asshole, or am I being a meddlesome drama queen? Or both?
Probable Drama Queen
Your middle sister and her fiancé are the assholes.
A couple can want a destination wedding more than anything in the world—they can even announce their destination wedding to the world—but that doesn't obligate anyone to show up for their destination wedding. A wedding invitation is not a summons, PDQ, and you're not gonna get arrested if you refuse to show up in that villa in northern Italy or wherever the fuck your sister thinks she's getting married next year.
And just as no one is obligated to attend a destination wedding, no one is obligated to pay for someone else's destination wedding. That hook your mom is on? She's free to hop off it whenever she likes.
You say your family is tightly knit, PDQ, but if indulging your middle sister and her fiancé's potentially lethal assholery is the price of that closeness... well... your family would be better off if that knit was a little looser. So you and your younger sister should give mom a call and urge her stop making those payments. And you should both call your sister to tell her you won't be attending her wedding if she insists on throwing it at that Austrian ski resort or wherever the fuck she thinks she's getting married next year. But that's all you can do. You can't stop your sister from sending out invites or getting on a plane, PDQ, and you can't stop mother from flushing money she doesn't have down the toilet for a wedding that is highly likely to kill her husband if the wedding happens at all.
Oh, and give your middle sister's fiancé a call too. Does he care that this wedding is bankrupting your mother and might kill your father? He might not give a shit, PDQ, but it's possible he doesn't like this idea anymore than you do and is just as afraid of confronting your middle sister as your mother is.
Your middle sister is being an asshole—your sister and her fiancé both—and she's gonna continue to be an asshole for as long as the whole family lets her get away with it.