I was recently asked what I would suggest when an honored guest did not cooperate for an anniversary party in their name. Karen and her siblings were planning a 50th anniversary party for their parents. The planning had taken several months. The party was going to be at a banquet hall, rented just for the occasion with the family and a few friends invited, about 50 people total. Karen’s mother was excited about the party but her father was less enthusiastic. He did not want most of the friends, if any, invited and only wanted the immediate family to be in attendance. He preferred not to have it at the banquet hall but just a small gathering at their home. He actually preferred to not have the event at all. And yes they have been happily married for 50 years.
I have seen this situation before, with both anniversary and birthday parties. For any number of reasons, an honored guest refuses to cooperate or even attend the event. It might be that the honored guest does not want to be reminded of their age, a little fear that only a few people will show up, does not like to be the center of attention or maybe for health reasons.
If this is a birthday party and the honored guest does not want to be honored, so be it. Forget the party, simple as that. However for a 50th wedding anniversary, especially if one of the happy couple would like to be honored, some type of arrangement should still be made to focus on the event. An anniversary is an important date, especially the 50th. This could be a dammed if you do and damned if you don’t type of situation. But in the long term, I believe the anniversary couple will appreciate some anniversary celebration, especially provided by their children. It would be a big disappointment to them if nothing was done to acknowledge the event.
There are several potential solutions to this problem. First try to find out exactly why the person does not want to celebrate the anniversary. It is reasonable to scale down the event, including the number of guests and a change of location. It could be as simple as dinner at a local restaurant with a private dinning room. Remember it is certainly best to keep the parents home as untouched as possible. It is no fun for the anniversary couple to have to spend weeks cleaning and getting ready for a bunch of house guests for their own party.
Another possibility is to send the anniversary couple on a vacation. Purchase the airfare and hotel accommodations to one of their favorite locations. An all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean may be ideal.
Bottom line, save the frustration and speak with the honored guest early in the planning stage. Give them a few weeks to consider the options and then plan to party.