Wedding Etiquette Forum

Health tragedy with one of my guests

One of my friends has been married for 20 years. A month ago, her husband suffered a sudden stroke and went from an animated, spirited guy to bedridden and completely dependent on medical professionals for care. He is unable to communicate verbally, and almost unable to communicate in any other fashion, but through his limited body language, my friend believes that while he is aware of his condition, he has moments where he forgets and panics. Its devastating.

He is currently in rehabilitation, learning basic things like how to chew. However, the prognosis is that he will spend the remainder of his life in assisted care. I feel terrible for her.

It feels shallow and weird asking this question, but what is the best way to handle addressing her wedding invitation? Obviously, he was/is invited, but its clear that with his health, he will not be able to attend. Would it seem uncaring to include his name and remind her of this tragedy? Or is it more callous to leave his name off completely or replace it with a plus one? Should I just call and ask her-it seems such a trivial issue to bother her with at this time.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

Re: Health tragedy with one of my guests

  • Thank you. Should I communicate to her in some way that she is free to bring a plus one if she likes? She will know four other invited guests.
  • Address the envelope as you normally would for both of them.  Inclusion is the first thing many forget in these situations because you never know how the rehab is going to go, it's still pretty early after the stroke.  The technology has changed so much in the past 10-15 years when it comes to all things stroke care it's amazing!  Bonus points if the care center he's at is on the way the day of the wedding and you can swing by for a short "thinking of you" stop.. 

    If she's a welcome guest at your wedding, go ahead and pick up the phone as the PP mentioned and say she's welcome to bring a guest if she'd like to the wedding/reception.  She may decide not to, and that's o.k. too, sometimes the caregiver needs to take care of themselves!

  • Thank you guys for all the suggestions-I never thought of extending an invite to a nurse or assistant, and I like the idea of making a trip out to see them the morning of if he is unable to make it.
  • Invite them both! I've got a few family members in similar situations and even though I doubt they will come, I don't want them to feel excluded. If he has a home health nurse or caregiver, extending an invite to them would be a huge relief to everyone involved. 
  • Also, I'm not sure how far out your wedding is, but generally with strokes, one month out is too early to make any sort of definitive prognosis about the late effects of the stroke.  A lot of gains (and losses, there can be backsliding as well) are made within the first three months.  Generally, it's hard to predict before three months and in some cases up to six months to determine long-term prognosis.

    But either way, invite as you normally would on the written invite, and then verbally follow it up with additional offers for plus one or plus nurse, etc. as appropriate to the situation when you get closer.
  • I would invite both of them. Depending on how you feel about phoning, you could also enclose a note in the invite letting her know that her husband is welcome but you completely understand if it won't be possible and she is welcome to RSVP with an attendant for her husband or bring another person if her husband won't be able to attend. I agree with PP that the first thing to drop off is the invitations and it may be possible for both to attend. 
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I agree with sending the invitation with both names and then following up with a phone call to let her know an attendant or guest is welcome.

    Slightly different scenario, but DH's grandmother was palliative at the time of our wedding and staying at a palliative facility. The staff were able to get her dressed and into a wheelchair (she was using a mechanical lift at the time), then MIL and BIL came to the wedding with her in a wheelchair taxi. She stayed for the ceremony, cocktail hour and most of dinner, then BIL took her back to the facility via wheelchair taxi.

    Even with significant deficits, once a routine is established, very possible your friend and her husband can attend for some or all of the event.
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