How to not go to an invaid marriage


My brother is engaged to a woman who is seriously mentally ill and completely mooching off of him. She went through about 5 different jobs within the last year till her social worker told her she made qualify for SSI income claiming that she is too mentally ill to financially support herself. Now that she is receiving money from the government, she and my brother are trying to save money to have a small wedding next year. She is on medication that would cause severe birth defects if she ever got pregnant. My brother says he has no desire to be a father. Both plan on never having children. During their courtship, a priest said something to her in the confessional and around them the two of them rejected the Catholic faith. They have no intention of marrying in the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, my brother's fiance' had been under the impression that she'd qualify for less SSI money if she were legally married to my brother. As such, she told me that she and my brother intend on having a wedding only without even a civil marriage. They've sense been told that they can't do this, but she seems overall willing to toss this.

As you can see on all levels, I really can't support this. First, I cannot see this woman as having the mental stability to handle the responsibilities of married life. I see no real attempt to enter into a real marriage as neither of them intend to have children. She was even consider the civil element unnecessary. And of course they're Catholics getting married outside of the Catholic Church. My husband feels we should not attend the wedding, and when I brought up the situation in the confessional, the priest agreed that I probably should not attend.

The problem is this. For the past couple of years I've come to a greater understanding of my mother in ways that don't put her under the best light. She was seriously emotionally abused and repetitively abandoned by her mother. Her mother's love was back and forth on complete rejection and yet "You must be completely loyal to me." As such, my mom is extreemly loyal, but willing to bend over backwards to get her emotionally needs satisfied.

Without getting into details, I believe that my mother is being manipulated by my brother's fiance'. I believe his fiance' has given her a limited and tempermental connection with my brother that hinges on my mom's approval of their relationship. My mom is obsessed with approving their relationship and in complete denial over bad the situation is. There is an anger my mom seems to be harboring. Any time the ceremony is mentioned my mom gets a very hostile and angry tone insisting that it is our moral duty to attend the ceremony.

The priest suggested even faking a flat tire at the last minute, but I know my mother will see right through it. I know overall night attending will cause a bigger rift than there is now within the family. So the question is how can I respectfully not attend? I feel right now like the best option is to inform everyone that I asked a priest and was told that I cannot. However, I don't know if that'll go over too well either.



Anything you do to avoid attending this wedding is going to cause a family rift. From the situation you described, "dysfunctional" is about the mildest adjective I could think of to describe it, so don't expect that anything you do to not attend will be met with anything like gracious understanding on the part of the bride-to-be or your mother. In fact, I shudder to think of the dramatic reaction on the part of both of these ladies when you do not attend, I doubt that they would be charitable if you were involved in a real car accident on the way to the wedding.

I'm not entirely sure if I would attend such a ceremony; I might put in an appearance at the reception just to wish them well. With the situation you described, your brother and his new wife are going to be able to use all the well wishes and prayers they can get. BTW--none of the people you mentioned---the mentally ill bride to be, your deluded brother, or your needy and unrealistic mother--give two cents about your religious or moral beliefs, or church teachings, or anything objectively right. They want what they want when they want it, and anyone who stands in their way or even verbalizes the voice of faith and reason will be a target for their anger. In other words, save your breath concerning your beliefs standing in the way of your attendance.

I'm also not sure what genuine religious body would hold a wedding ceremony without a civil marriage license. Maybe they are getting one of those mail-order ministers to perform a ceremony. Neither of them seem to be thinking the situation all the way through, It sounds like this poor deluded girl just wants to dress up in a white dress and have a party and get a bunch of presents.

You might want to send them a card and a small gift, with your best wishes, when you respectfully decline the invitation (without giving any reason whatsoever,) but expect an explosion in any case. The situation is just plain crazy. Don't expect sanity.


I agree with the person above, "Don't expect sanity."

I don't what to say. You should stick to your guns, but families are so challenging! I'm sure these guys will hold your non-attendance against you for a long time. I'm wondering what the best way to go about this is. I'm wondering if you can sit down with the couple and say, diplomatically and firmly, "Here's what I believe, what my faith teaches, and how that informs why I cannot attend your ceremony." Wish them well and pray for them.

Will be thinking about you. Please update us. :hug1:



I would suggest going to the “Ask An Apologist” section of the forums and do a search under invalid weddings. You will get good solid advice there.

It is my understanding that although you may attend an invalid wedding, you must carefully discern it and should not be an honor attendant such as a best man or maid of honor. The example I recall being given is that a person might decline invitation to an invalid wedding of a couple that had been married to other people previously and had an adulterous affair. However a person might consider attending the invalid wedding of a couple who were living together and trying to get on the right path by getting married. (my summary only, please see the forum)

That being said I might consider attending an invalid wedding as an adult, but would probably not bring children, not sure if you have children or not.

It is a difficult situation with no easy answer. If you do a search you will see that this problem is COMMON and has caused heartbreak in countless families. Please be assured of my prayers.


I agree with the above. You either have to compromise your beliefs and give approval to an invalid marriage by attending, or make your family angry. It is clear that manipulation and control are a common thing here and I bet you’ve encountered it many times before in your family. I feel sorry for your mother because my mother also had it tough in her life which very much damaged her as a person. But we have to pray for such people and sometimes be strong and put the foot down. This is not your mother’s wedding after all and decision you make should not prioritise her feelings. Be brave and do the right thing. Maybe that will help your brother come to his senses one day to validate this union.


You may want to go just to keep communications open with your brother. He is going to need you in the future. When he comes up for air and realizes what he has done and how difficult to rectify the situation, you may want to have that door opened to provide some kind of help.

I went to a friend’s wedding for the same reason. Different kind of issues but an invalid marriage just the same. They don’t listen while they are “in love”. But when reality hits, they may need your help…


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