How best to plan a wedding around a loving but dysfucntional family?
March 6, 2012 12:21 PM Subscribe
Have you had or attended a one-sided wedding (meaning only one person's family was in attendance)? Did it go okay for everyone or was it weird and sad or depressing? How did you best cope if it was your family that was not in attendance? My partner and I are in the very early stages of planning our wedding, and we're trying to figure out the best thing to do considering our current family situations.
posted by anonymous to human relations (26 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I have always looked forward to eloping, due to having an unpredictable, drama-prone family, plus an aversion to event planning of any kind. My partner was always indifferent about elopement vs. a small ceremony. He's now leaning toward a small, family-only ceremony because his brother just eloped and it really upset his parents. Neither of us wants to hurt their feelings again.
However, I have no desire to invite my family to my wedding. My mom and two of my siblings suffer from bi-polar disorder, and the stress of big events makes them difficult to predict or deal with. My mom especially has a propensity to make herself the center of attention by snapping at people, making dramatic exits (she comes back if no one follows her to "see what's wrong"), or openly getting upset about perceived slights, even if she's supposed to be celebrating one of her kids' milestones or achievements. She spent the weeks leading up to my sister's wedding threatening not to attend for some now-forgotten reason, and then interrupted the ceremony to go up and hug/comfort (?) my BIL when he got upset talking about his late mom during his vows (granted his mom had recently passed away, and the ceremony was in a gazebo and not a more formal setting, but she just couldn't resist inserting herself). To be clear, I love them all deeply and would love it if we had a healthy dynamic that negates this concern. I now live far away from them all, and have only recently begun to feel the relief of having a break from the emotional roller coaster that is my family dynamic.
That said, I am feeling kind of sad about not having anyone there for me if we end up not eloping. Inviting one or two siblings and not my mom or the others seems cruel, so my partner suggested *only* having our moms there, which might be more understandable for those left out. I really do wish I could just invite my mom and know that she would be supportive and fun instead of an emotional drain, but that is not my reality. Eloping has always seemed like the best answer to this, but I know now that my partner would not feel entirely comfortable with leaving his own family out. They have their own issues (divorce and remarriage/kids with lots of surrounding tension), but we have already started brainstorming working around them. We have some good mutual friends, but I don't really have a best friend who could stand in for my family, and the thought of asking new, nearer friends with whom I'm not very close is even more depressing, somehow. Plus, my family would be hurt to learn they were excluded in favor of non-family.
Here are our options as I see them:
A. Invite partner's original family--mom, brother & SIL, and sister--to the ceremony. Celebrate with his dad, stepmom and other siblings at a nice meal afterwards--his idea. Send my family members each some photos of the ceremony and snazzy announcement/letter/keepsake.
B. Invite just his mom to the ceremony. Celebrate with everyone after. Send my family members each some photos of the ceremony and an announcement/letter/keepsake.
C. Hold the ceremony in a very nice civil ceremony venue that has password-protected live streaming footage (this exists near our town), and "invite" both our families and all our friends to view it. Have a celebratory meal with his family. Send my immediate family members a nice photo afterwards.
D. Convince my partner to elope anyway. Send everyone photos and announcement.
While none of these are ideal, I'm wondering which of them might result in the least bad feelings for everyone, including my partner and myself. Is there anything I'm not considering? I welcome any other ideas, suggestions or anecdotes about how to include the most people with minimal stress and drama, if possible.