Same-Sex Wedding Etiquette: Do We Invite Non-Supportive Parents?
April 15, 2015 9:02 PM   Subscribe

My same-sex partner and I have decided to get married. However, on both sides of our family we have immediate family members who are either tepid or outright hostile to gay marriage--specifically, both sets of parents. Should we extend to them invitations to our wedding anyway out of courtesy or deliberately not invite them?

Both sets of parents are religiously and politically conservative. My parents cannot even utter the word "gay" (they prefer "same-sex attraction," which I find demeaning). His father is as supportive as he can be, but his mother refuses to acknowledge that I exist. She will deliberately ignore me (i.e., look past me, speak as if I am not present) at family gatherings. It should not be surprising, then, that when we announced our engagement and wedding the news was greeted with deafening silence.

We both feel the need to be respectful to our parents, partly out of love and partly out of familial duty, and even though they have for the most part not softened their views against homosexuality. At the same time, we believe we have a right to have a wedding amongst people who are fully supportive and who are able to celebrate, not mourn, this occasion.

The time has come to send out formal invitations, and we are unsure about what to do with the parents. So far, we've sketched out four possibilities:

A. Invite them, they show up. If this were to happen, it is highly likely that one or more parents will subtly or vocally demonstrate their displeasure with the proceedings, thus putting a dampener on things.
B. Invite them, they don't show up. My concern is that under this scenario we have given them a public platform to snub us in front of our guests.
C. Don't invite them, they don't show up. It is highly likely that a non-invite would be used to "prove" to other family members how disrespectful we are.
D. Don't invite them, they show up anyway. Not likely.

We want this to be a happy occasion, but each option vis-a-vis the parents feels like a losing proposition. What is unchangeable is parental opposition to homosexuality; what is changeable is how we handle this invite situation. Which option seems the best? Are there options we haven't thought of?
posted by Quaversalis to Human Relations (42 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Offer them the option to be better people. They may surprise you. And if they don't, I wouldn't worry about them having a 'public platform to snub you' - people who notice they're not there will notice whether you invited them or not. And the drama from not inviting them I think would be worse than that from inviting them.

What you can do is what I did for my wedding - albeit different parentally disapproving circumstances. Have someone whose job it is to watch and make sure they don't do anything terrible, and if they do, politely ask them to leave. It probably won't be needed, but the peace of mind is incredibly valuable.
posted by corb at 9:06 PM on April 15, 2015 [42 favorites]

Invite them.
posted by Oyéah at 9:13 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Personally, I invited the people I wanted at my wedding and people I did not want at my wedding did not get invited. I am sure noses were bent, but as it turns out, the sun came up the next day and all these years later those people still don't like me and I still don't like them. I have no regrets*. A++ would not invite again.

YMMV of course. But I would invite the people I want for my wedding, and not think twice about it.

*honestly, after like 2 months, I doubt anybody would care anymore. And if they do, maybe they should get a hobby or some shit. Whatever. Haters gonna hate.

posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:15 PM on April 15, 2015 [15 favorites]

I think your best bet is going to be to talk to them before making this decision. Sit down with each parent or set of parents individually (or if you can't visit in person, at least do it by phone), and say to them, "we love each other, and we love you, and we're getting married. We want to be surrounded by love on that day, and we want you to be there. However, if you don't think you can be supportive and loving and happy for us, then you shouldn't attend. Do you want to come and celebrate with us, or would you prefer to just see us at the next family gathering?"

This does two things, I think. First, it opens up an honest conversation about the tension in the relationship and the cause of it and what they can do to fix it. And second, it puts them on notice that they are very much wanted, but that bad behavior won't be tolerated. If they don't come or refuse an invitation, that's on them. And if they say they want to come and then you get hints that they're going to be jerks about it, you can remind them that they promised to behave and that they're breaking that promise. They're the ones causing the problem, so the onus should be on them to provide the solution to it.
posted by decathecting at 9:17 PM on April 15, 2015 [106 favorites]

I think if you do decide to invite them, it's totally fair to have a conversation with them and let them know that you want them there, but only if they feel like they can be there and be supportive. If they can't, then you'd prefer if they opt out.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:18 PM on April 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

my mormon family was offended that i didn't get married in the temple. we eloped. we had a party later. some came, some didn't. i let their hatred and pettiness be on them. it's none of my business, really. if their interpretations of their scriptures comes before the love of their family, i'm of the opinion that they've read their books all wrong.

you should have exactly the wedding you want to have. if that includes an invite to your parents you should extend it. if it doesn't, you are completely justified. i personally favor letting them be petty and letting that show the truth about them. if they come and make a scene, kick them out and then take a shot and get back to your party. if they don't come after you've invited them, that's on them and it does not reflect poorly on you. if you don't invite them, that's ok too.

i'll say it again - you deserve to have the wedding you want. you can't control how they love you or don't, so act in a way that you'll be happy with in the moment, in 10 years, on your death bed. you know what you want to do, do that. and give your soon to be spouse the option to follow their truth. you guys will make the right choice whatever it is.

finally - congratulations. i hope you have a joyous day.
posted by nadawi at 9:23 PM on April 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'd invite them. Maybe the invitation will have the effect of helping them come to terms that this is reality, so they need to get with the program or resign themselves to a life of being alienated from you two.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:29 PM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Invite them, they show up. If this were to happen, it is highly likely that one or more parents will subtly or vocally demonstrate their displeasure with the proceedings, thus putting a dampener on things.

If you invite them and they accept, could you get a friend to run interference, so that your parents can express all the displeasure they want, but you won't have to hear it?
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:29 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm not going to suggest what you should do, but I think it may be helpful in your decision-making to reframe your inviting them and their not coming as them showing everyone their shortcomings, rather than their having a platform to snub you.
posted by jaguar at 9:31 PM on April 15, 2015 [13 favorites]

It is 100% your choice. Don't feel like you have to invite them. You can do whatever feels right.

That said, people can be surprising. More than a few homophobes have had their hearts changed when their own kids found love.
posted by miyabo at 9:38 PM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

My wife's parents didn't approve of me. By the time we got married we hadn't talked to them in years. My wife didn't want to invite them, for fear that they would not behave, make a fuss, whatever. It was an understandable concern. Her father had at one time threatened to shoot me if I came near the house where she lived at the time. I don't know if this was serious, but she thought he was.

We did invite them (heh, I basically told her that if she didn't invite them, I would). They behaved. It also was an opening for them to get back into our lives. Since then, well, I don't know if they really approve of me, but we're involved in their lives again. They don't bring it up, and they invite me into the house.
posted by doomsey at 9:40 PM on April 15, 2015 [13 favorites]

Allow them to opt out of the ceremony but come to the reception. This way, they can show their love and support without going against their beliefs. Acceptance works best when everyone is doing it.
posted by myselfasme at 9:44 PM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

I would talk to them about it first and say "I love you both and want you to be there, but I know you don't support our marriage, which makes me sad. My partner and I want this to be a happy occasion, and I'm not sure if you will be able to put your personal feelings aside and be happy for us." Basically, ask the parents if they want to go. They may say no, and then you don't have to worry. They may say yes, and you can say you'll only invite them if they are supportive because this is your special day.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:45 PM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

My perspective is from the other side, being a wedding guest who was unhappy with the bridal couple's decision. Not the same as yours but maybe similar enough.

One of my parents re-married a few years ago. I do not like the new spouse AT ALL (for reasons specific to the individual) but my parent adores them. The wedding was in step parent's home town (on another continent from my home) and the overwhelming majority of guests would be people who loved my new step parent. It was a long weekend, lots of dinners and I was so stressed about it. But I went for my parent for reasons of love, familial duty etc.

I actually had a great time. I still avoid step parent and I did have moments where I was overwhelmed and had to go hide, but I've developed good relationships with many of my new step- family members. I got to see how the extended family really cared about my parent and wanted to include me and my siblings into the family. It also helped to see that really cool people loved my new step parent even if they didn't agree with all they did.

Invite your parents. They might surprise you. It provides a chance for them to meet the other side of the family and develop relationships with them. They'll see that your new spouses family love their child, they'll see that your family loves you, and that ultimately we're all just people doing the best we can. I really hope they can get past their hostility to gay marriage but I think including them in your special day is a good start. If they don't come then they've missed a hugely important event in your life and that regret could fester and irreparably breach your relationships with them.

Congratulations and I wish you both the very best.
posted by kitten magic at 9:49 PM on April 15, 2015 [8 favorites]

I just wanted to speak to "B."

Uh, if your conservative parents don't show up, no one will think they snubbed you and got away with it! They will look like jerks for not showing up.

Extend the invitation. You have zero to lose.
posted by jbenben at 9:52 PM on April 15, 2015 [23 favorites]

I think invite them, and talk with them beforehand. Make it clear, in whatever subtle or blunt way would be effective with them as people you know, that they are welcome to come but not if they're going to be jerks.

If they come and they are jerks: People will notice the jerkitude, and no one will blame you at all.
posted by rtha at 10:00 PM on April 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

I came in to suggest basically what decathecting said, particularly for your fiance's parents - it sounds as though he has a decent relationship with his father, and perhaps his father would have good advice to give about whether it will be possible for his mother to attend and behave in a civil manner (because her past behaviour has certainly not fit that description!)

Also echoing that you deserve to be surrounded by people who love and support you on your wedding day. I would certainly not consent to have people present at my wedding who would not acknowledge my existence as a person. That is unconscionable behaviour.

An anecdote: a close friend decided not to invite her father to her (straight) wedding, and while at the time I wondered if this was a good idea, in hindsight I don't think the wedding would have been the joyous occasion it was if she had been looking over her shoulder wondering if he was going to behave badly, or even just being conscious of his disapproval. So at the least I would do as blue jello elf suggested and have a friend on standby to step in if they are behaving outrageously.
posted by Cheese Monster at 10:02 PM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

And I meant to add - Congratulations! I'm sorry that you have to deal with this, and I hope you are surrounded by people who love you and are happy for you on the day.
posted by Cheese Monster at 10:08 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Two, possibly contradictory, things:
One, feel NO obligation to invite people who don't support you and your relationship. Fuck that.
Two, we invited family members I didn't know well and who I knew to be politically conservative to our (same-sex) wedding, and they showed up, said nice things, and generally seemed happy to be there and supportive. I'm glad we invited them, although I was dubious about it at the time.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:01 PM on April 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

I think that you should "take the high road" and invite them. Speak to the unsupportive people in person and tell them that you would really like it if they would come and be supportive on this important day, but that they can sit this one out if they can't leave the negative feelings out of it. (Essentially: "Don't come if you're going to be jerks.")

Edit: oops, should have read upthread. Someone else already said essentially the same thing.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 11:42 PM on April 15, 2015

Congratulations! Being married is awesome.

I'd go wth a combination of corb and decatheting's solutions. My brother and his husband got married and decided that they would just go ahead and invite everyone within X degree of family to be fair, with polite reminders that people shouldn't come if they weren't going to be nice to those who might need such a reminder.

That meant that my Mormon parents showed up and did their darndest after being told they were welcome if they were going to be supportive and pleasant- you should have seen my dad circulate, like he was trying SO HARD to be Not That Guy- and the one Mormon cousin capable of shutting her mouth did, and two religious aunts, and all the couple's myriad siblings watched out just in case anyone went rogue. And many cousins and aunts and uncles did not come, but they all had their chance and those capable of stepping up did.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:52 PM on April 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

I might come from an alien planet but it amazes me how people feel so powerless in the face of their families. You're an adult. You can decide not to spend time in the company of people who don't respect you. How can someone love you if they don't respect who you are? How can YOU love someone who doesn't respect you? What is keeping you connected to family who are hostile to you? Like, literally what do you get out of such a relationship? Besides stress and hurt? For some people the answer is usually money, but that doesn't sound like the case here.

Relationships are negotiated. You're acting like they have all the power to set terms. They do not.

I suggest: option E. Literally and actually send them a Go-Fuck-Yourselves card and tell them they will only be allowed back into your lives once they stop acting like a bunch of assholes.
posted by danny the boy at 12:10 AM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

Invite your parents because at the end of the day you will know you did everything in your power to be kind & compassionate even if they could not afford this to you. At the very least you deserve to feel good about your decisions & choices in your life. It's a significant life event and I hope very much your parents will support you, if they do not then at least you know you did all you could have and you can move on together with no regrets. Best wishes for a happy future together!
posted by Under the Sea at 4:08 AM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

I invited my mother, she didn't come or let my mid-teen brother come. I think she regrets it a bit now fifteen or so years later. We haven't talked about it and I'm sure that if we did her retrospective reasons would not be dissaproval, shame or homophobia, but they were. For what its worth, she's a great motherinlaw now, and an improved mother also. Time moves.on and sometimes brings people with it.
posted by Iteki at 4:09 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would invite them and do as decathecting suggests but not ask them to reply right away. I would give them time to digest and think through what they want to do. Be prepared to deal with one or more sets trying to talk you out of it, however, in that time.
posted by girlpublisher at 4:13 AM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Invite them. Their demonstration of displeasure about your happiness will look really distasteful if they are among other friends and family that will be there because they love you and actually want you to be happy.

Perhaps the two of you could have a really open conversation with your parents and make it really clear that that will be YOUR DAY and that you would really appreciate it if they came with an open heart. Also, gve them the option to not come if that means they will be uncomfortable and therefore more prone to making a scene of any kind and potentially ruining it for you.

Congratulations! I hope you have a wonderful day :)
posted by heartofglass at 4:17 AM on April 16, 2015

I'm going to let you in on a little secret of non-same-sex-weddings. Sometimes you invite people who you know will be contentious and they do come and they behave exactly the way you think they will and it's kind of terrible. It doesn't always happen, but sometimes it does.

The good news is that most of the time, no matter how terrible or embarrassing or frustrating or enraging it is, it usually ends up as a blip on an otherwise happy marriage. Honestly, I found my wedding day very stressful due to family reasons, but I got to spend time with my friends, who were all happy to be there and supportive throughout the worst of the weekend, my honeymoon was fantastic, and I got married to the person I love (which was pretty much the whole point of the thing to begin with).

Here's how I would take on your four situations:
A. Tell your friends ahead of time that you're concerned about this. If they know they can act as mediators and bodyguards of sorts against this. A funny comeback to an outrageous statement will make the whole crowd laugh which will lighten the mood and allow you to carry on. If something disrupts the wedding, just remember that every one else attending is in full support. Also, place the parents next to someone who has the talent of being able to speak to anyone, like a guest who does sales for a living.

B. I'm fairly sure most people will just assume you hadn't invited your parents and they will be fully understanding of the reason why. Unless your parents go around telling every one that they don't intend to go, which is way more embarrassing for them than for you.

C. If you are not eloping, I wouldn't give them any justification for their behavior. If it is important that you have them there, you should invite them. You get more points if you do all the right etiquette things, because no one can fault you and you feel better about it in the long run even if the person you're accommodating squanders their opportunity to behave civilly.

D. Ugh, this is all kinds of awkward. I would avoid this at all costs. Or hire a bouncer.
posted by donut_princess at 4:38 AM on April 16, 2015

I would invite them, but contingent on both sets of parents behaving themselves on an evening out with you and your fiancé. Explicitly. "Mom, Dad, I love you and want you at my wedding, but I know how you feel. _____'s Mom feels the same way. But this marriage is happening, and our families are important to us. I'd like you to come to dinner with _____ and your future in-laws so you can get to know each other a little in advance and we can see if there's a way for you to be at the wedding."

It's sort of a combination test flight and preemptive strike, forcing them to react to you, and be linked to you, as a married couple in public before the wedding itself.

They are afforded a chance to take a smaller first step in rising to the challenge, you get to see if they way they behave is acceptable enough that you can be comfortable inviting them to the wedding.

If they can't rise to this invitation,or it goes poorly, and you choose not to invite them to the wedding because of it, you will still have tried. And you will have a response should any of the parents give you a hard time about it down the road -- 'you couldn't even deal with going to dinner with us.'
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:17 AM on April 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

B. Invite them, they don't show up. My concern is that under this scenario we have given them a public platform to snub us in front of our guests.

Not sure how this would turn into a public platform. You don't have to just invite them and wait and see if they show up on the day - send them the formal invitation, and expect an RSVP. You could include a nice handwritten letter with it laying out your expectations, or have a conversation with them in person after they get the invitation - and if the wedding isn't being planned for three weeks from now, then you should have plenty of opportunity to just discuss plans for the wedding as you go. If you think that they might RSVP and commit to coming and then not show up, then they sound crazy enough that I wouldn't invite them.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 5:32 AM on April 16, 2015

Invite them, and assign a good friend to run interference if necessary. My BFF knew how difficult one of my relatives was going to be, and so made it her mission to approach and distract her all weekend, on the pretense of introducing her to all my friends, or getting her opinion on whether the place settings looked right, or just whatever. Every time she started to get out of line, my BFF attempted to redirect her with chat, and if that didn't work, pulled her away with, "I think Eyebrows needs a minute to herself," or "Let's get Mr. McGee to handle that." My difficult relative thought my BFF was just THE BEST and had lots of fun at my wedding because she met so many people.

They won't be snubbing you in front of your guests ... just by RSVP in advance. I wouldn't worry about B at all. If anyone even thinks about it, they look like jerks, not successful snubbers.

Invite them because you are the bigger, more loving, more inclusive people. Whatever decision they make is on their consciences. You disagree, and they are jerks, but you extend a hand of welcome and reconciliation, even though they're in the wrong. In 15 years when they try to bitch about you being ungrateful children, everyone will be like, "Dude, they invited you to their WEDDING when you were being a jerk." And I do think the right way to go into a marriage is with the kind of open-hearted love that forgives an erring parent and gives them space to do the right thing ... even if they don't do the right thing. Because you will have started your marriage by extending your love as a couple to even people who are not very lovable, and that is a powerful statement about your beliefs as a couple about the importance and power and greatness of love.

(And if you invite them in this spirit of love and they decide not to come, you can be secretly relieved you don't have to deal with their drama, and know that you have the moral high ground for all eternity now.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:39 AM on April 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: We just went through this in August, and you have my sympathies. We went for a sort-of hybrid approach.

My aunt and uncle that expressed reservations? Got invited, because I knew once there they'd act appropriately, and they did.
My wife's stepmom, who has not expressed disapproval (and sometimes is a little too nosy and interested) was invited and showed up an hour and a half late.
My conservative sister, whom I wasn't sure felt about the whole thing? Was invited, and I let her sort herself out. We didn't even talk about it at the time, but she said later that she loves my wife and she was happy to come, but isn't sure she could have been a bridesmaid, so she was glad not to get asked.
My wife's mother, who threw her out of the house upon finding out she was a lesbian? We didn't invite. I was fine inviting or not inviting her, but I let wife manage her relationship with her mother, and in the end, wife said "She'd probably be fine, but I can't cope with the stress of not being sure how she's going to act on our wedding day." They're slowly redeveloping their relationship now - we all attended my BIL's wedding this past weekend - and it's going all right.

We didn't need to assign anyone to my aunt and uncle - I had gobs of family there, and they were self entertaining - but we could have if we'd needed to. We have several large, formidable friends (including a 6 foot tall Latvian dude and my wife's 6 foot tall girlfriend) and they were all quietly prepared to handle trouble if any happened (wife has had a couple of legit stalkers in the past, has a couple of rowdy exes that could have showed up). Luckily, there was no trouble; luckily, our day bore out the adage that weddings tend to bring out the best in people (except for my wife's friends that got into the whiskey at 10am, but that's another story for another day).

I am generally on team invite, but we were lucky - I knew that no one invited was likely to actually pitch a scene. I trust y'all to know your folks and know whether they're likely to throw a fit/try to have a prayer meeting/something in the middle of the day. If that's likely, and the stress of worrying about that is going to stress you out too much on what is already going to potentially be a stressful day (because getting married is awesome, but man, so much to dooooo), then I might flip to team not-invite.

And but his mother refuses to acknowledge that I exist. She will deliberately ignore me (i.e., look past me, speak as if I am not present? That is some horseshit. I'm going to assume that you two have addressed that with her before and that it hasn't helped. That would make me send an invitation to his father (since you said FIL is supportive), and have a phone call with him saying, you can bring your wife if you want but she has got to cut that out. Regardless of whether she's the one who is going to look like a fool in public for not wanting to talk to her SIL, who wants to deal with that kind of foolishness on their wedding day?

[Oh, and hey - congratulations!!! :) ]
posted by joycehealy at 5:40 AM on April 16, 2015 [13 favorites]

but his mother refuses to acknowledge that I exist. She will deliberately ignore me (i.e., look past me, speak as if I am not present?

This seems pretty horrible to me and should probably be addressed before the wedding anyway. As in your partner has a talk with her along the lines of "When you do [those things] it is extremely hurtful not only to my partner but to me. Please do not bother to invite me over any more unless you are going to stop doing this. If we're at a family gathering don't approach us thinking you can act this way, because I'm no longer going to participate in that dynamic."

That said, you're playing the long game here and not providing an invite will just be another roadblock to any possible change for them down the road. I'd say having a talk first as suggested by others and then inviting (and assigning a minder) is the way to go, unless you think one of them would be actively disruptive during the proceedings. Everyone else there will presumably be there to celebrate the wedding - if anyone is muttering negative comments or glaring at you the whole time your guests will be on your side.
posted by mikepop at 6:05 AM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

Not a same-sex wedding example, but I think it's relevant. My ex's mom deeply, deeply disapproved of me. But we plowed ahead and invited her to the wedding... the entirety of which she spent sitting in the back row, sobbing loudly, ostentatiously, and uncontrollably. SUCH a joyous occasion, and such beautiful memories I have! Except, not at all. It was miserable, humiliating, and horrible.

Unless you are absolutely rock-solid-certain you can trust both sets of parents to behave like grown-ups and at least pretend to be happy and supportive, don't invite them. Don't let something like that color your experience. It's the kind of thing that stays with you, no matter how much you want to forget it.
posted by kythuen at 7:29 AM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hey, we're planning a queer wedding right now too but we're older and parents are less homophobic but... I have been thinking about this.

1. Whatever you decide is fine.

2. Personally, I would send an invitation to close family members. It's up to them from there, and if they don't come they look terrible and you look the opposite of terrible.

3. Consider assigning a conservative-looking friend to babysit them/chat with them.

4. After they've had a few weeks to sit with the invitation, you could each have a private phone call with your own parents and let them know you'd like to have them at the ceremony and/or reception if they want to come but (if you think this part is necessary) you expect them to be respectful on your special day.

posted by latkes at 8:01 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think that I would not invite them, and to anyone who thought that I was disrespectful, I would say that, on the contrary, I was being very respectful of their issues and boundaries by not inviting them to an event they could not/would not support.
posted by worldswalker at 8:06 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

We both feel the need to be respectful to our parents, partly out of love and partly out of familial duty

I think your desire to be respectful of them is something they've trained into you, and you should reexamine that desire. Respect is earned by being respectable. Your parents are not respectable, and it sounds like they don't love you. It's OK if you love them, but it's also OK if you don't. Beware the automatic response "Of course I love them - they're my family!" and consider instead that love is earned by being loving and lovable. It sounds like they are neither, if they treat their sons with contempt.

If you invite them, do it because YOU sincerely want them to be there, complete with their ugly sides. Assume their ugly sides will show. Don't hope they'll act any certain way. Don't invite them out of respect (which they do not deserve from you) or love (which they also probably do not deserve from you).

Also, congratulations! What a wonderful time we live in; I'm happy for you guys. Enjoy your life together surrounded by all your loving friends.
posted by fritley at 8:12 AM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

Congratulations to ya!

The husband hasn't been in touch with his parents for about 15 years, except for a couple weird phone calls here and there. Mom's got an undiagnosed psychiatric issue, so she's volatile and has a history of acting out at public or group events. She fits the classic 'narcissist' label that husband has introduced me to over the years (I didn't know that was a thing). Dad is an enabler who's cool with the radio silence as opposed to living with his wife in a state of mania.

Husband siblings who have children are all equally radio-silent with their parents. Two of them are so done with the parents that they would feel incredibly uncomfortable (as would husband) if the parents showed up.

We invited the parents to our city hall legal wedding, which was really parents and a couple friends only. They didn't come (phew, but sad). We did not invite them to, or even tell them about, the wedding-ish party the following day.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:27 AM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

You have to invite them. Whether they know it or not, they are on the path to accepting same-sex marriage eventually. It's inevitable. Being at this event is part of their journey.
posted by w0mbat at 10:57 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. if they're on the path to accepting same-sex marriage, great, but it's not your responsibility to hand hold them through while also suffering from their homophobia. if you want to invite them, you should, but if you don't want to, that's ok too.
posted by nadawi at 12:39 PM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

My parents cannot even utter the word "gay" (they prefer "same-sex attraction," which I find demeaning).

I guess it depends on what tone of voice it's said in, but I actually like 'same-sex attraction' more than 'gay', because it simply describes a characteristic I happen to have, instead of trying to encompass my whole identity.

As far as the invites go, I think you should just give each set of parents a call, and ask them what they think you should do. You don't have to do what they tell you of course, but at least you'd have more information with which to make your decision.
posted by sam_harms at 2:28 PM on April 16, 2015

It's your wedding. Surround yourself only with supportive people on that special day. My wedding was small and perfect. Have a super great day!
posted by hz37 at 2:59 AM on April 17, 2015

Congratulations! YAY LOVE! (Sorry, that's all I got.)
posted by IAmBroom at 6:32 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

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