Wedding Etiquette Forum

Awkward family invitation

Until recently, my father, sister and I were somewhat estranged from my uncle and his 2 daughters (long story). We have started talking again, but are by no means super-close. The older of my 2 cousins, Emily, married last fall and did not invite my dad, sister or me to her wedding. None of us are really close to Emily, but we are closer to the younger cousin, Samantha. I would like to invite my uncle and Sam to my wedding, and would prefer not to invite Emily, though I know it's a sticky situation. Even though Emily did not invite any of us to her wedding, is the best approach to still invite all 3 of them? That's what I'm leaning towards doing, as I feel it't the right thing to do, but…

Re: Awkward family invitation

  • I agree with HisGirl Friday.  It isn't worth the family fallout to not include the other cousin and her husband.
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  • Is it possible that Emily chose not to invite you for budget reasons? Did she have a large wedding? I think that makes a big difference. I am inviting my cousin and his family to my wedding although I wasn't invited to his a few years ago. He had a small wedding in the desert. I think there were less than 10 guests, so if I figure they aren't really comparable situations and it would be silly to hold that against him. If I were you I would invite her either way but that is just my personal opinion.
  • Agree with PP. For the sake of rebuilding your relationship, I would include all 3.
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  • phiraphira member
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    Will two extra people push you over budget or be too many people for your space? I'd just invite all three (plus SOs). It doesn't seem worth it to exclude Emily and her spouse. Think about it this way: if Emily had invited your dad and your sister to her wedding, but NOT you, what would that have felt like? Probably really shitty, right? Like maybe she had some kind of a problem with you personally? That's the message it would send if you invited her dad and sister, but not her.

    We often say that weddings aren't tit for tat in the context of, "Do I have to invite So-and-So to my wedding, so do I have to invite them to mine?" It can be for whatever reason: one person could afford/had the space to invite 400 people and invited everyone they knew, while the other person has a 50 person limit and is sticking to close family and friends. Maybe one person feels like they're best friends, and the other person always thought of them as a passing acquaintance. So we say, "Not tit for tat." And in your case, that means that even though Emily didn't invite you to her wedding, that's not the only factor to consider when you're trying to decide to invite her to yours. Certainly, it's a factor to consider, just not the single most important one.

    In your case, I think that you would be extending an olive branch to the whole family. Who knows? Maybe Emily will be very touched that you invited her and her whole family. Maybe all three of them will be like, "Why is she inviting us?" and decline.

    By the way, rebuilding relationships is really hard and it takes a lot of patience and bravery.
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  • Thank you all for the comments!  My dad and sister were actually quite offended that they were not invited (my aunt was not either.)  My sister called her on it (by playing dumb), and ended up going. 
    I don't think it was financial, though there were about 50 people and it was held in a park with BBQ take-out. My sister said they were moving out of town, and thought, 'hey, let's get married before we go.' I think I'm going to invite her and hope she doesn't come; given that we've spoken maybe 5 times in our lives, that is not an impossibility. 
  • phira - all good points. It's tough because I'm on a limited budget and we do have space limitations. My fiancé has a big family, and I think we're both feeling the pressure of having to chose relatives we don't ever see or talk to, over good friends. 
  • phiraphira member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    @Imsavage Yeah, I doubt they'll come, or at least, maybe only Sam will come.
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  • It would depend on how badly you want to attempt to rebuild the relationships. If you don't care to have a future relationship with your uncle or Emily then don't invite them. I personally wouldn't invite family I wasn't close to or didn't like over close friends.

    After 6 years and 2 boys, finally tying the knot on October 27th, 2013!

  • lmsavage said:
    Thank you all for the comments!  My dad and sister were actually quite offended that they were not invited (my aunt was not either.)  My sister called her on it (by playing dumb), and ended up going. 
    I don't think it was financial, though there were about 50 people and it was held in a park with BBQ take-out. My sister said they were moving out of town, and thought, 'hey, let's get married before we go.' I think I'm going to invite her and hope she doesn't come; given that we've spoken maybe 5 times in our lives, that is not an impossibility. 
    Even if it wasn't financial, the bolded could be why she chose to not invite you to her wedding.  Or, being that this was last fall- prior to which you were estranged- your relationship was in a different state, and maybe she would have considered inviting you now, as some time as passed.

    Weddings are not tit for tat.  She didn't invite you because of (whatever reason), so that doesn't mean that you don't invite her, because she didn't invite you; however, as PPs have pointed out, you are under no obligation to invite her, just be aware of any family drama that may be caused by not inviting her and inviting Uncle and Samantha.

    Who is paying for the wedding?  If it is just you and your FI, you are allowed to (politely) tell people that they are not to dictate who should be on the guest list.
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