To invite or not to invite family members

I have been praying about this issue and really have not received an answer one way or another so I’m posting this to perhaps receive a perspective I haven’t thought of before. I am getting married next year. On my Mom’s side I have an Aunt who (to make a long story short) did some pretty cruel things to both my Mom (her sister) and Uncle (her brother) and for the last 2 years there has been a rift. My Aunt turned her children (my cousins) against my Mom and Uncle to the point where they do not even talk to my Mom anymore (and while they aren’t opposed to talking to me they obviously know I am on my Mom’s side). My Aunt (and her children) didn’t do anything specifically to harm me. On one hand, I want to invite my cousins and Aunt to my wedding, as I think it would be a good way of offering forgiveness. Yet, as my Mom pointed out, a wedding is a celebration, and if they have any ill will towards other members of my family, it may be best not to invite them. I am just wondering if anyone had a similar situation and how you resolved it. Thanks.

If someone was awful to my Mother and would not speak to her, I would not want them at my wedding and would not invite them.

That’s just me!

This is a difficult situation. In most cases you want to err on the side of mercy; however by your Aunt’s (and cousins’) choices they have placed themselves outside your family circle by their behavior. Is it possible to seek a reconciliation with them before the invitations go out? Would they be receptive to a phone call or visit from you to let them know that you want them to attend, but there needs to be peace between family members. Ask the Lord and the Blessed Virgin for help with this situation. In the end, it is your wedding and your and your future spouse will need to make this choice together.

Me too!

Plus I would not want my uncle to feel uncomfortable.

Send them an annoucement, but no invite. That is polite and offers just enough forgiveness.

You can forgive others in your heart, but not carry on a relationship with them. Your mother is right, a wedding is a celebration. Can you trust these people to have your best interest in heart as well as the rest of your family, if invited?

The tricky thing is that the cousins probably aren’t really culpable in this situation (it’s very natural for them to believe their mom is in the right), so you might want to invite them. But if you don’t invite their mom, maybe they won’t feel free to come?

Another issue is how large a wedding this is. If it’s a small wedding, it could be very awkward to have them there, even if you have tried to reconcile. If it’s a huge blowout, you might not notice them being there at all and it might be very pointed to not invite them.

It’s up to you, but if you want to have a relationship with the cousins in future, and if it is a good-sized wedding, you should probably invite them. If it is a small wedding, and if you don’t foresee a relationship with the cousins in future, feel free to not invite them.

Best wishes!

The aunt’s presence at the wedding would likely sour the occasion for your mother. I would not do this to her. And it will affect your own enjoyment of the day, when your focus should be on your spouse, God, and celebrating with people who are dear to you.

If a reconciliation is possible, it is best addressed in another manner.

The decision to invite or not the cousins is a more difficult one. On one hand it may place them in a difficult position, if their mother is not invited. On the other hand they probably aren’t culpable as Xantippe noted. But ultimately I think it depends on your own relationship with them more than anything.

I’m probably in the minority, but my philosophy is that polity is overrated. If there was somebody I didn’t want at the wedding, I wouldn’t invite them. If they asked me, I would tell them because of the past conflicts. If they got mad, I would shrug and kindly give some sort of “As you wish” response. If they asked for forgiveness down the road, I would forgive them. If they didn’t, then that would be that.

Being ‘friends’ with everybody is too much work, too much compromise, and too little peace and quiet.

One further comment: when considering whether or not to invite someone to the wedding, ask yourself if you can live with them never speaking with you again, because that is how some people react and you cannot predict or choose this. In the case of the aunt, who seems to not be on speaking terms anyway, I would not worry, but it may be worth considering with regard to the cousins. If they take it badly and shun you, can you live with that? There’s nothing at all wrong if the answer is “yes”, but you should give it some thought if the answer is “no”.

Naturally the size of you wedding will affect how people react to not being invited. If it’s a small wedding with just immediate family and close friends, then more distant relatives and friends are more likely to understand than if it’s a party of hundreds and you still didn’t have room for them.

Well, I agree. So there are at least two of us! I am not totally this way, but that is the basics.

When something is important to me, I don’t want anything to go wrong. Inviting a troublemaker is asking for trouble.

I don’t see that the size of your wedding makes much difference. People mingle. Also, there are some seating protocols for family. How are you going to assign tables and perhaps even seats? Your aunt sits at a table far off from her sister and brother? Your aunt and her children sit away from other family members? How will they react to that? Will they be offended? Seating arrangements can be challenging enough without having to consider such things.

If any of my mom’s relatives offended her, I’d leave it up to her about whether or not to invite them. As for me, if the offenses were social and at all public, I’d be inclined to leave them off the list unless she went to bat for them.

First off, if they have never apologized then even if your mom has forgiven them there has not been a reconciliation. More importantly, as your mother pointed out, if they are unrepentant about their earlier offenses against her, it would not be realistic to believe that they won’t consider similar behavior appropriate for your wedding. They’ve let you know what standards of behavior they keep. If that behavior is not OK with you, then don’t invite them. If you do invite them, though, you’ll have no room to act surprised when they act according to their lights. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

If they ask why they were not invited (which they are unlikely to do), you can say, “You’ve made it a point to say nasty things to and about Mom and Uncle Al, and even though you know they were very hurt by it, you’ve never said a word of apology to them. That kind of thing is out of place at our wedding. I’m sorry, but that is why you weren’t invited.”

If the cousins did nothing wrong but to stay out of the matter, then I wouldn’t penalize them. If they have said their mother’s cruel comments were fine, then that might be something else. The only exception to that rule is that engaged and married couples are a social unit. If you invite one, you invite both. You do not get to pick and choose.

Yes, when someone with a nasty tongue decides to quit speaking to you, that is doing you a favor. It is too bad if they go off into a corner to drink their own venom, but it is better than letting them continue to dump it onto you or those you love.

Good call!

With prudence. That course of action could work very well, but it is a mine field. Seek advice before trying to carry that out.

Thank you all for your kind responses. It has given me some more clarity into the issue. I was leaning this way to begin with, but I am probably not going to invite my Aunt and cousins. Although the cousins specifically aren’t culpable, at a recent funeral they ignored my Mom and did not speak with her, so in my mind, they would probably do the same at my wedding. I really have no contact with my Aunt and cousins. I see them rarely so I probably wouldn’t have a chance to explain why they aren’t invited. I am wondering if perhaps writing them each a letter would be a good idea, rather than just flat out not inviting them, or perhaps, send them a Christmas card (as a kind gesture…and basically a way of saying ‘Although you are not invited to my wedding I’m still open to having a civil relationship with you’).

ACanthony said:

“I really have no contact with my Aunt and cousins.”

If they have no contact with you and they don’t speak to your mother, it should not come as a shock if they don’t get an invitation to your wedding. (Although, if your aunt was there, they may have refrained from speaking to your mother out of fear of getting heck from their mom later. If they aren’t actively nasty to you or your mom, I wouldn’t automatically put them in the same basket as their mom.)

No, no, no! Do not say “although you are not invited to my wedding…” Nothing good will come from that. If you decide not to invite them, they already know why. They know there is a rift. They know they don’t speak to your mom. And ultimately, if you don’t invite them it’s because you didn’t want them there. No need to send a letter of explanation.

What I’m wondering is why you want to connect with people who treat your mom so badly??

There is wedding etiquitte that will help you out. Simply send them formal annoucements instead of invitations. They will look like your invitation, but instead of saying, “Request the honor of your presence,” they say something such as, “Announce the joining together of …”. That is enough. This is the proper thing to do and they can also be sent to relatives or friends who would have a hardship traveling a great distance for your wedding. See examples on line and talk to the person who will create your invitations.

Send them a Christmas card only if they send one to you or if they are already on your annual list. But do not include a note of apology or an update or one of those letters that says what you have done during the year. Simply sign it with your married name, as a couple, and perhaps add you hope all is well and think if them often.

Edit: I forgot that you aren’ t married yet, so just sign the card as normal.

Follow wedding etiquitte and you can’t go wrong.

Here’s another possible issue–make sure that your social media (if any) is not set up to rub it in the faces of non-invitees that you haven’t invited them to your amazing wedding.

If you want to try to reconcile with your Aunt and cousins…Send the invite and IF they accept (as I’m sure they will know your mother will be at your wedding…duh!) then either call them or have them call you and ask to set up a meeting beforehand to set the ground rules for the wedding. Be blunt. Tell them how you feel.

The other suggestion is to just invite them to the wedding, but not the reception where more social interaction takes place. At best, everyone kisses and makes up…at worst you have the same situation, but at least you made the effort.

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