Two Questions to Ask Yourself When Deciding Whether or Not to Invite Estranged Family Members to Your Wedding
Creating your wedding's guest list and sending invitations can be equal parts exciting and stressful. You're thrilled to think about who will be there to celebrate with you on the big day, but you're also nervous about hurting people's feelings, navigating tense family politics, or inviting more people than your budget allows for. Ultimately, you should plan to invite the family members and friends that you're most looking forward to being with on your wedding day first. And that's what begs the all too common question: Is it acceptable to forgo sending an invite to an estranged family member? We asked Heather Dwight of Calluna Events to help us navigate this tricky and potentially emotional situation. Ultimately, there are two questions to ask yourself, as Dwight outlines here.
At the end of the day, it's your wedding and the people in attendance should be those who you genuinely wanted to share one of the most special days of your life with. You are the ultimate decision maker, and whether you invite a family member who you have not seen or spoken to in some time is up to you, Dwight says.
But it's also important to really think about the relationship and to consider whether or not this is your battle. The first question you need to ask yourself is: Is this really my battle? "It really depends on who is estranged from who," Dwight explains. "If you or your fiancé are personally the ones estranged from the family then we believe you're not obligated to invite them if it would create unnecessary stress or drama for you on your wedding day. However, if the family member is estranged from another member of the family but not you, then [it's worth considering extending an invite]." Next, ask yourself: Will sending the invitation cause me more stress on my wedding day or after than not sending it would? "Consider whether or not inviting them will cause more stress later on for you, or if inviting them create more drama than you want to deal with during the wedding weekend," Dwight says. Being honest with yourself about the potential fallout, and considering whether or not you'll be able to handle it, is important.
If you've ultimately decided to invite the estranged family member, be sure to give your wedding planner or coordinator all of the information they need to know in order to ensure things run smoothly during the ceremony and reception. "As wedding planners, we often have to work with couples on keeping estranged family members separate during ceremony rehearsals, the actual wedding ceremony and wedding reception," advises Dwight. "We can help run interference for you to keep interactions at a minimum and help keep the peace. Ultimately, you have to weigh the relationships you have with each and every family member before, leading up to and hopefully after the wedding. In an ideal world, all family members would put aside their differences for the sake of the married couple and be on their best behavior. However, we know that's not always the case!"
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