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How to arrange wedding invites around parental estrangement?
December 10, 2007 11:36 AM   Subscribe

How to arrange wedding invites around parental estrangement?

My fiance and I are planning a small-ish Las Vegas wedding followed a week or so later by a large-ish reception at home in Calgary, Alberta. My fiance has a large, tight family, but we don't expect/want the bulk of them to travel to LV for this reason, so we figure the Calgary reception will give people less distance to travel and a more comfortable experience for some of the older invitees.

My extended family is not very close, and while I have no animosity toward any of them, I don't particularly care if anyone from my side attends either affair. I do, however, want to make it clear that the whole lot of them are welcome, should they care to attend.

The complication is that I have no desire for any contact with my parents, particularly at my wedding. I have no idea how my estrangement from my parents is considered amongst my family - not even whether most/any of them are aware of it, let alone what they think of it. So I'm very anxious about putting anyone in my family "between" my parents and I.

Since the wedding itself will be small, I'd likely only invite my maternal grandmother and two of my closest aunts (one from each side of the family), but if I'm going to invite anyone to anything, I think politeness would mandate most of the other aunts, uncles and cousins being welcome at the reception.

Because of the circumstances of our estrangement, it's likely my parents are going to feel very bad about being excluded from the wedding, and probably rather embarrassed when they find out about it from a third party, so I'm loathe to put any relatives in the position of dealing with that, as well as the position of having to "choose a side" in order to decide about their attendance.

My fiance has suggested simply telling my entire family that I eloped, but I'm wary of having to maintain that lie over the entire course of my marriage. I've thought about taking my fiance for some personal visits with my closest family members after the wedding, but since none of them are local to us, I can't guarantee managing that financially or time-wise anywhere in proximity of the wedding.

So, please: suggestions and thoughts of any sort are welcome. I'd love to know how you'd feel in the position of my relatives, or how you've dealt with similar matters.
posted by chudmonkey to Human Relations (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
it's likely my parents are going to feel very bad about being excluded from the wedding, and probably rather embarrassed when they find out about it from a third party

This is you can deal with by informing them yourselves, by letter, without providing details about the wedding date or location. You can even specify that they shouldn't contact you about it in the letter; they might still try, which they might do anyway once they hear about the wedding from their siblings or parents—but at least you told them not to.
posted by gerryblog at 11:40 AM on December 10, 2007

I have no idea how my estrangement from my parents is considered amongst my family - not even whether most/any of them are aware of it, let alone what they think of it.

This might be a good time to talk to the relatives you are close to about your estangement with your parents. It's probably better for your closest relatives to hear your side of the story at some point, especially if they haven't heard about it from your parents. Once you do that, if they get mixed up with the issues between you and your parents its their own fault, because you gave them a heads up on the situation.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:54 AM on December 10, 2007

You might want to call these relatives individually (especially since there are only a few) and explain the situation to them (you don't have to give details of the estrangement, but make it clear that there's nothing they can say or do to get you to invite your parents). Say that you understand if they don't want to come, but you'd also be happy to see them if they do decide to come. Also say that if they don't come, you and your fiance will try to make a point of coming to visit over the next few years, and that you always welcome a visit from them. Follow up with paper invitations.

I think these tough conversations are easier over the phone, especially because letter-writing can exacerbate a "feud" atmosphere and end up in documents being passed around.

That being said, a short letter as gerryblog describes above sounds like a good way to deal with your parents.

Congratulations and good luck!
posted by tk at 11:55 AM on December 10, 2007

I think gerryblog's advice is good. And if you and your parents are so estranged that you don't want them to know where you live, don't put a return address on the envelope. Maybe even mail it next time you're traveling.

I am guessing that if you interact on a semi-regular basis with any of your aunts, etc., they'll already know you and your parents don't talk. Same goes for your grandmother, who probably hears all about it from your parents.

If you only want to invite two aunts and one grandmother, try a phone call first. "Hi, Grandma. I'm getting married, and I wanted to let you know you'll be receiving an invitation soon, both to the wedding and the reception, X of which is closer to you. Just one thing: we're keeping this all very small and private, and so we're not inviting everyone in the family. Would you mind not mentioning it to others? We don't want them to feel excluded, but we are really only inviting those to whom we are closest."

Something along those lines, anyway
posted by brina at 11:56 AM on December 10, 2007

:) My parents haven't spoken in almost 10yrs. Dad doesn't even know he's been divorced and she has married again... I was about 17 when I decided eloping would be a viable solution to what would be the event from hell! - So Honey I sympathize!

If it were me I'd send personalized invite/letters to everyone on matching paper and all that. My parents would recieve notification of when it was, that they were not invited because they were childish... but I still love them :) Everyone else would have a normal invite with a note enclosed.
- P.S. Although I feel mum and dad need more time to *grow up and get over their shit* please feel you are welcome and it would be lovely to see you. If for whatever reason you can't make it but would like photos, let me know and I'll send them off when I send mum and dads. Blah blah blah. :)

Good Luck! And don't worry about the crap!
Have a Tremendous Day! :)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 12:22 PM on December 10, 2007

Don't try to please other people on your wedding day. Your wedding is for you and your spouse, and I assume you're paying for it, so to hell with other people's hurt feelings. Serve the food you like to eat, play the music the music you like, invite just the people you want to be there.
posted by StarForce5 at 12:45 PM on December 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

I think you should invite the people you want to attend. Since you have 3 people you especially want to invite (my maternal grandmother and two of my closest aunts (one from each side of the family), you could write them each a personal letter describing the circumstances you are facing and include it with their invitations. Let them be the carriers of the news to the other relations. If you are feeling generous you could send a copy of the letter to your parents without an invite.
posted by MiffyCLB at 3:33 PM on December 10, 2007

I just posted a related issue a couple of days ago, I do not talk to either of my parents aside from letting them know I am alive due to their misbehavior. My fiance and I are getting married soon and I was wondering the similar thing to invite them, I am having a small beach wedding, which mean more chances for people to chat together and I do not think my parents have the capability of being mildly appropriate or civil.

I would suggest that you inform your parents that you are getting married, either via email, but something nonchalant, and then have your wedding without them. I am a female and having my father walk me down the aisle is something I value, however, it is MY wedding and my fiance's and I am allowed to be a little selfish and consider my happiness for that day and no one else's. I know that sounds bad, but if there is an issue, a prolonged one, you do not need to deal with that, neither does your betrothed or the future in laws.

I say inform your whole family, as if it was a mass announcement, nothing special. Then those you do want to come, such as your grandmother and your aunts, shall receive an official wedding invitation. Those who are not chosen to come will get the hint, but at least they were informed about it. If they decide to get butt hurt about it, their problem, not yours. You need to look out for your wedding happiness.
posted by dnthomps at 8:13 PM on December 10, 2007

In case you wanted, here is the link to my mefi post.
posted by dnthomps at 8:13 PM on December 10, 2007

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