Wedding Etiquette Forum

Inviting children: bending the rules


I have been estranged from one side of my family since I was 8 years old. I want to invite them to my wedding because they're still technically family, but I have an issue.  My SO's family welcomed me with complete open arms and became the family I never had. I'm close to ALL of his cousins and their children (there are like 30 kids).  They are a big Catholic family and children have always been welcome at weddings--I want to continue this at my wedding!  However, many say because I invite children from his family, I have to invite those from mine. 

I am not close to my cousins in the first place--they never invited me to their weddings or family events.  Whenever we sent out prior invites or announced special occasions (graduations, birthdays, etc), they were ignored. My mom and I have always had to go out of our way to get together with them (if they would even reply). The cost of adding the extra 20+ children to my guest list is over $3000 (rentals, food, etc), which either pushes us over budget or makes us sacrifice other budget priorities. My mom says I shouldn't invite the kids since we aren't close to them.

 I've heard the rules of age limits to get around it, but I would be leaving out so many important people on his family's side (the 20 of the kids are under 10, and we can't make all of them ring bearers/flower girls).  I'm at a loss.  So many people say that they would be very insulted if they went to a wedding and this was the case. I don't want to insult people; but, at the same time, I barely know my cousins in the first place. 

Any suggestions? 

Re: Inviting children: bending the rules

  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    My suggestion is to not invite these adults. They're not close to you, they don't respond to you, and you have no relationship with them. Inviting them pro forma is just a waste of paper. 

    Outside of that, I would say invite in circles. If you're inviting the children who are his first cousins but not the children of his first cousins, do the same for yours. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, but I could see a perceived insult if you're inviting children of his third cousin twice removed while your own first cousins are excluded. 
  • I understand. The circles thing is where it gets complicated because we are inviting all of his first cousins, which would mean we would invite all of mine. But these are the adults who don't respond and have a bunch of kids. And I think it would be almost worse to invite some of my adult cousins and not all of my adult cousins (not that there is a relationship at all, but it's just an exacerbation of the initial problem). We would be inviting children of first cousins from his side but not children of first cousins from my side. 
  • Why are you inviting these estranged relatives in the first place? They have ignored you for years and never invited you to their events. Save yourself the money and the trouble and leave them off the guest list.
  • I'm also going to say that the rule of inviting in circles is what applies when you're not estranged.   The sides here aren't equal.   In this case, you either don't have to invite them or you can invite them and not their children.   Personally - I'd look at your budget, your current situation and decide if this is what you really want to do.
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Another vote for - why are you inviting people you are estranged from??
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I agree not to even invite your cousins with whom you have no relationship. FWIW, when I married many years ago, I only invited a handful of my cousins on my Dad's side. There were 47 cousins and I invited the ones I knew. I didn't even know some of the older ones who were old enough to be my parents. My cousins on my Mom's side were all invited because I had a relationship with them.
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited January 2020
    I'm going to differ from the PPs and say it's fine to invite your FILs with all their kids, since those are the people that you love and want to include. IMO, that does not obligate you to invite kids that you don't even know from your family. I would advise you consider each branch of your families and invite in circles within each of those branches. Your fi's circle and yours don't have to match. 

    When my daughter was married, we invited everyone from my very small family. There are 2 cousins, spouses, and their (teen and adult) kids, plus an aunt and uncle. My husband has a cousin and his wife, who were invited. My kids grew up with all those relatives. My mother's family is huge, but I don't know those people well. My daughter has never met them. None of them were invited. My SIL has a huge family, both sides. I didn't envy him the task of drawing a circle large enough to include the people he wanted. He invited all the 1st cousins, spouses and children from his mother's family. That was simple. On his father's side, the circles are less distinct. He's closer to some of his 2nd cousins because they are the same age. Some of the 1st cousins are not close because of age and distance. He really struggled with the guest list. 

    I agree with everyone else who wonders why you would even invite family members who have ignored your prior invitations. You don't have to invite them just because they are related.
  • maine7mobmaine7mob Maine, USA member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Third Anniversary First Answer
    A lot of these so-called wedding rules don't actually exist. But let's pretend they do, and you break them by not inviting your cousins. What will your punishment be? Estrangement? How is that different from your current situation?

    I would not waste a thought on this. Invite the families with whom you have a relationship.
  • The fact that they're estranged and have been since you were a young kid probably says the most.  If they didn't invite you to their weddings, the social etiquette for that family is that not inviting them isn't going to be seen as a personal affront.  Ultimately I'd invite your FI's full family the way you'd planned.  It's really up to you to decide given that they are estranged, it's not like some families where any invitation is an excuse and great time to get together to make those connections in the further out generations.  
  • I wouldn't even invite your cousins at all, much less their kids, since you don't have much relationship with any of them anyway.  Just because you are related to someone doesn't mean they get an invite to your wedding.  I would 100x rather invite a friend I see a few times a year, then a first cousin I haven't seen or talked to since I was 8.

    I had a small wedding.  I like all my first cousins, no bad blood or anything.  But I grew up and currently live far away from all of them.  I invited some of them to my wedding.  I've been invited to some of their weddings.  But those two groups were not necessarily the same.  It was more whatever worked out best for each couple, when it came to invites.  I have not been offended when I haven't been invited.  I assume no one was offended if they did not get an invite to mine.  
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