Wedding Etiquette Forum

Estranged Alcoholic Mother at Wedding.. ? Yes/No/How?

Hi everyone, I saw a similar post to this a little while ago and although similar, the advice I'm looking for is a bit different.
DISCLOSURE.. This is obviously a bit of a heavy subject.  All advice and suggestions are welcome as different suggestions and outcomes will be different for circumstances.

Brief back story:
My mother is bipolar and an alcoholic.  She's mostly estranged from me and my 3 brothers.  I am the only one who still talks to her (on the phone) maybe once every few months.  She is negative, can be very cruel and has something a therapist once described as 'mush brain'.  My youngest brothers essentially don't know her at all and my middle brother has completely cut her off to cope.  I talk to her still for various personal reasons: a) she is my mother.. b) guilt that she's on her own c) I know she's sick.

None of my mothers side of the family will be coming to the wedding (either deceased or also estranged).
I did tell my mother that I got engaged, I didn't want her to some how find out through someone else and be hurt(I grew up in a small town and have high school friends on social media).
Her reaction wasn't very nice, at first indifferent and then clearly hurt knowing she probably wouldn't get an invite and she found out that a family I live with when I was in my teens was at the engagement instead of her.

Advice needed:
Should I invite her to the wedding... ? 
Initially I thought 100% no.  Even if by some miracle she doesn't yell and cause a scene by saying obscene mean things, I'll be on eggshells the whole time thinking she will and so will my brothers.
That said, she's still my mom and although she isn't at all a part of my life I can't imagine looking back and thinking that my mom wasn't at my wedding although she's alive and physically able to be.
I considered hiring a secret security guard to 'supervise her' and thought maybe she could just be at the ceremony part??  Any of this she would be wildly opposed to.  Plus there's logistics of how would I get her to the wedding - she doesn't drive or have disposable income.  Do I burden friends or family to be at a table with her for dinner?

Any advice is appreciated.  I feel for anyone in similar situations and would love to hear how you might have managed things.
To be clear, my mother is not going to get help for the foreseeable future.  There isn't anything more I can do at this time for her but I'm looking for ways to limit hurting her or me by including her in some way.

Thank you to anyone who read that whole thing LOL

Re: Estranged Alcoholic Mother at Wedding.. ? Yes/No/How?

  • First of all, I'm sorry you are in this situation. Having a mentally ill family member is difficult even when you're not planning a wedding.

    Yes, it is your wedding, but it is also an event to which you are inviting guests, who deserve to have a good time and not be exposed to what could be a terrifying outburst. And you don't really know how your mother will behave, especially if she is untreated, as your post suggests. Even if you hire a security guard, your mom is an adult with agency who is free to drink too much, scream at people, or have a meltdown. You can't expect a stranger to handle her and escort her out if she misbehaves. And you certainly can't ask an invited guest to take this on.

    Bipolar disorder is an illness over which your mother has no control, but it's also highly disruptive and can be frightening to outsiders. And it's frightening to her. I don't think it's a good idea to put her into a very fraught, emotional situation knowing that she lacks the tools to deal with it. I doubt she will be able to have a good time and be glad she attended. If I were you, I would try to stream it so that she can watch the ceremony live. She will be hurt, but the damage will be far less than if she attended in person and had a meltdown that made her and everyone else feel awful.
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I wouldn't invite her. Yes, you'll look back and know that your mother wasn't there, but you'll also know that you were able to relax and enjoy the day, rather than chasing her around or worrying about what she might do. I think it's pretty clear that the chances of her attending and behaving are slim to none. I agree with PP that it would be unfair to ask a friend or family member to watch her. You could hire security, but they'd only escort her out once the damage is done. Plus, security isn't going to stop her from making nasty comments and hurting your feelings. 

    This is really, really hard, and there's no great answer. But I think you have to do what you have to do to protect yourself first before you think about her feelings. 
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