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#246: Wedding Invitation Guest List Questions

Dear Captain,

I am at a loss of what to do in the situation that I find myself stuck in. I am currently planning a wedding, and we’re at the guest list stage of things. Most of the guests get an obvious “yes” or “no”.

Then there’s my Aunt P and Uncle G. G is my mother’s brother, and is a bit worrisome. At the last major family event (that he attended), he hipchecked his other sister in anger and stormed off. Before that, he regularly left family events in a huff after being insulted some way or another. He hasn’t been at any major event since, and I for one am happy. Him? I definitely don’t want at the wedding.

Then there’s P. She’s from another country, and moved here after getting married to G in her birth country. She’s sweet, nice, and would be great to have at my wedding.

So here’s the question. Do I invite P and not G? Do I invite P and G and hope that G decides not to come? Or do I just not invite either and try to make it up to P some other way?

G(r)oom-y Guest List Planner

Dear Groom,

I’m not a wedding expert. I’m fascinated by the way that weddings are so expensive and “must” conform to so many traditions and expectations while simultaneously being just unique and magical and special enough and how that links up to this massive industry. I get that they are emotional minefields of dealing with family and expectations, and I understand why people want advice about them. Should I ever get married I’ll be writing posts that say “Dear Commenters: Help me out with this wedding shite, ok?” and going to Hot Doug’s with Commander Logic every week. But really what I know about weddings is that a year later they all sort of run together in my mind and as a guest I don’t really remember what you wore or what the flowers looked like or anything, and if someone’s weird uncle throws a fit I probably won’t notice or will find it hilarious.

PFC Marie and the commenters hit it out of the park in this thread with a lot of advice for how to deal with situations that require a Trigger Warning, so if anyone reading this is in a really bad situation you may find it helpful.  We’ve dealt with the threat of awful inlaws here and the question of calling off weddings here.

To your specific question, I think that it’s bad form to invite only half of a married couple to a wedding. That’s the kind of thing that the married couple would definitely notice. So either invite both (and potentially live with some weird hijinks from Uncle G. in the name of including his wife, Aunt P.) or invite neither but make some time to spend with Aunt P. just on an ongoing basis because you like her. Otherwise you are inviting Aunt P. AT Uncle G. as a message that you don’t like him.

If you can afford to invite both of them, chances are that day you’ll be totally swept up in events and not really noticing what one guest is doing, and you’ll have plenty of family buffers between you and Uncle G. Since he’s your mom’s brother, is this one case where you can ask her opinion and be ruled by that?

In the meantime, weddings can’t really be ruined unless at the end of the day the couple fails to be married, right? And the less you include “must” and “should” in your lexicon, probably the happier you’ll be. Also, keep in mind that certain relatives will find reasons to be upset about things because they are a baseline of difficult and sucky – it’s impossible to please everyone so you might as well please yourself first. Personally, I think it’s a mistake to treat wedding invites as a referendum on how much you like people, not least because I like WAY more people than I could ever feed at one party, and I can’t always afford to travel to weddings of people I really and truly adore.

So invite both or neither as your budget and tolerance for Weird Uncles allow. Congratulations to you.

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39 comments
  1. karinacinerina said:

    Optimistically thinking here, it’s possible that Uncle G’s behavior might be tempered by Cool Aunt P in a way it wasn’t on earlier occasions.
    The good news is that if he’s that easy to chase off in a huff, you just make sure he gets harmlessly offended and then he removes himself, without you having to Not-Invite him.
    Still. That sucks.
    But on the flip side, how awesome! You found someone worthy of marriage! It must make up for Uncle G somewhat. : )
    Congratulations!

  2. xenu01 said:

    This is definitely one for Team You to handle. Have you got a sibling or sibling-in-law definitively on Team You that you can enlist to be on Uncle G. duty? You’ve got enough crap to worry about.

    And yeah, unfortunately, even if he is terrible, you risk offending Aunt P AND Uncle G and possibly other random members of the family if you only invite one half of a couple or neither of them. At least in the xenu01 family, gossip spreads fast so I invited all of my aunts and uncles because I knew that there’d be all KINDS of fun drama if I invited Aunt L and not Aunt N.

    Let this be your comforting thought: it’s one day and then it’s over. That was my personal mantra the week before my own wedding, and the next day was the best EVER because I could be done GETTING married and move on with BEING married.

    • PomperaFirpa said:

      Seconding this so, so much: DELEGATE GUEST HANDLING DUTIES. Actually, that’s the only thing I remember from my involvement in weddings: delegating is key. It will keep you sane, and honestly there are always a lot of people who are stuck with showing up early (significant others of wedding party members, especially) and would probably welcome a little job to do so they don’t just sit around twiddling their thumbs.

  3. Sarah G. said:

    I was once, ten years ago, definitively not invited to a wedding (the bride agreed that my boyfriend could go but put “+0” on his invitation) and it hurt and still hurts. Don’t do it, LW. Either invite both or invite neither. If I were you, I’d invite both and deputize a family member who knows about Uncle G. to handle him if necessary as a special favor to you. If that family member is soon-to-wed, you can be the Uncle G. Handler at his/her wedding in return.

    I say this because Aunt P is from another country and your extended family may be the only people she has around. It would be kind to make her feel like a part of the family by inviting her to family functions. Also, I have no idea what country she’s from but they may place different (more) emphasis on families and weddings in her country and if you leave her out it could be a really awful blow to her.

    • xenu01 said:

      I’m really sorry that happened to you, btw. :(:( I hope your boyfriend iced her out after, because he should be on team you.

  4. Copcher said:

    “Personally, I think it’s a mistake to treat wedding invites as a referendum on how much you like people, not least because I like WAY more people than I could ever feed at one party, and I can’t always afford to travel to weddings of people I really and truly adore.”

    That’s pretty awesome advice. Weddings are big, complicated, expensive events and sometimes you can’t invite absolutely everyone you’d want to.

    I completely agree that leaving out one half of a couple is pretty crummy, unless you’ve had a serious falling out with that half and are still close with the other half. And even in that situation, I would recommend talking about it with the half you’re still close with first rather than just sending the invite so that they have some warning and time to think about how to mitigate any potential fallout.

    If P knows about G’s history with family events, and if you’re close with her, you could maybe talk about it with her before sending out invites. (I’m not sure how wedding invitation etiquette works, but I assume it’s okay to talk about them before they get sent?) But if she’s new to the family, or doesn’t know or like to talk about his behaviour, or if you aren’t really that close with her, then talking about it with her might not be a good idea. In that case, go with the Captain’s advice of inviting both or neither, and then enjoy the day!

  5. CPA_Lady said:

    As someone who recently got married I can assure you that unless Uncle G gets into a brawl with another guest you are unlikely to notice him being an ass.

    My own horrible uncle (he tries… but he fails) totally conveyed at my new husband’s married aunt. Awkward town. Agree with all points as follows:

    1) You can’t invite one half of a married couple and not the other. It’s hurtful and puts the invited half in a really tough position. I would take this to say you can’t invite one half a committed couple and not the other but this is a hot button issue among people who worry about shit like that… it was just my own personal rule.

    2) If you decide to invite Uncle G definitely give him a handler. I actually think it would be a great job for a NON-family member (e.g. someone with less emotionally wrought history). If you have a good friend or family friend or your partner has a super dope relative who is easy going, fill them in on the sitch, introduce them to Uncle G and let them subtly steer him away from the center of attention as necessary.

    Congrats! Have fun! My wedding was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had, so many people I loved were around, it makes me teary just thinking about it.

  6. xenu01 said:

    I just want to add that it is not fair to Aunt P in any way to make her referee Uncle G. If you truly like her and want her to feel welcome and comfortable, invite her and Uncle G and allow them to have a fun, stress-free evening. And ask someone who is close to YOU to be in charge of keeping an eye on Uncle G.

    Also, listen- the fun thing about weddings is something ALWAYS goes wrong or is funny or whatever. I mean, maybe not always, but the ones that have you in stitches ten years down the line are the ones in which you have a funny story to tell. As long as that story isn’t “I got drunk and punched the caterer when they said they were closing the bar,” you’re golden.

    Oh, and true story- I worked a fancy country-club wedding once in which the bride got wasted and was crawling around on her hands and knees looking for her bouquet. At 3 AM. When everyone was gone except her and the catering staff and (presumably) her husband.

    • Hugh said:

      She probably has to “handle” Uncle G every god-damn day of her life, so having the wedding as the one time when somebody else can do it would probably sound really appealing to her.

  7. My vote is invite them both. If he pulls some stunt, Uncle G’s only going to embarrass himself (and poor Aunt P, but that’s his fault, not yours). People will perceive it as “oh no, G’s doing it again, oh thank goodness, he’s leaving now,” not as “LW’s wedding was ruined!” Big family events always have some dramatics and very rarely are defined by them.

    Also, G may well decide he was too grievously insulted at some prior event to show up to your wedding, and that solves the problem for you.

  8. robiewankenobie said:

    it’s a matter of numbers. split the invites between you&spouse/familya/familyb etc. you let your family (in my case, my parents and in his case, his parents) decide family members, and you take your number and pick the friends. i didn’t have a moments worry about business associates and what family members are important – i left it up to my parents.

    that being said, i think it is important to have a personal herder at your wedding. my s-i-l (oh, how i love her) kept my mother at bay until after the ceremony (she was flitting like a moth and driving me insane) and i’ve had friends nominate trusted confidants to manage difficult family members.

    then? sit back. relax. get yer weddin’ on!

    (p.s. something will ALWAYS go wrong. so on your wedding day? let all that crap go, and focus on that love stuff)

  9. alphakitty said:

    If you invite Aunt P but not Uncle G, she probably won’t feel comfortable coming, anyway, because you’ll be asking her (indirectly) to side with you and the relatives who have issues with her husband against him. No matter how legitimate the family’s issues, that’s a rotten position to put her in. And if he’s really rotten, not just annoying, he could make her pay.

    If you invite Aunt P but not Uncle G and she actually decides to come, he might invite himself… you would literally have to do that obnoxious thing someone did above and say “+0,” and he might still gate-crash if he’s feeling ornery.

    If you invite Aunt P but not Uncle G, you will be the one who brought family drama and meanness and controversy and side-taking to your wedding.

    So decide: Can you truly not stand the thought of him being there and causing any kind of disruption? Or is being kind to P and having her there and NOT introducing any family drama and meanness and side-taking (in the form of excluding your mother’s brother and his wife) worth the risk that he’ll show up and make some kind stir? (Which, as other commenters have noted, other guests will correctly see as his jerkiness, not yours… even your spouse-to-be’s family will surely understand lots of people have obnoxious relatives that don’t particularly reflect on them).

    Unless he’s truly evil (like the LW on another thread who was being pressured to invite her childhood molester to her wedding), I would bet that being the bigger person, with the precaution of appointing a handler for Uncle G, is the way to go.

  10. sasha said:

    I’d say invite them both, and as others have said above, assign someone on Team You to keep an eye on Uncle G., if you’re really worried about it. From that point on, I’d try not to worry about it too much, and have a good time. This is your day, and you should enjoy it! Let whatever drama may come roll off your back, and/or consider it a good story to tell another day.

    Let me tell you, I had ALL KINDS of drama in my wedding: a beautiful 2-tier cake that crashed to the floor (beheading the bride and groom figurines) during the groom’s father’s speech; a wedding crasher who drank all our alcohol then harassed and tried to kiss several of my friends and tried to grab my a@@ on the dance floor; a fight between the wedding crasher and a friend of the groom’s who stepped up to defend my friend, which I had to step in the middle of to break up; and all kinds of stolen stuff (SILs cell phone, plates, silverware, and even my shoes!) at the end of the night. It was Dramatic with a capital ‘D’, but man do I have a good cocktail party story now! I still consider it one of the best nights of my life, even though I’ve since divorced – it was a heck of a party! So if you can, I’d recommend trying to see any drama that your Uncle G. pulls as just that – drama, that makes for a good story later.

    Congratulations!

  11. Jess said:

    You have to invite both or neither, absolutely.

    One of the big things you think about (or at least I did) when getting hitched was the whole social construct of couple-dom. Like, a couple who are formally or informally married/civilly united, or live together? They’re a social unit. For a Social Event (like a wedding, as opposed to a girl’s night out) they’re treated as one invitation.

    If a couple don’t live together but are a recognised couple – then it’s your discretion if they get an automatic couple invite, and it is on these question that etiquette columns live and breathe.

    When we were constructing our guest list I kept a couple of things in mind which I found useful:
    – would I have these people over for dinner at our house? (If not, probably not close enough for an invitation.)
    – if there were someone who we were on the fence about inviting but it seemed like they were eager…sure! We were lucky with an informal outdoor wedding that an extra body or two didn’t make that much difference, and at the end of the day if someone was happy for us and wanted to be there to celebrate? AWESOME. (And if someone *had* stormed off I doubt I would have noticed.)

    I agree with the other people that at the end of the day, the important thing is THAT YOU’RE MARRIED. I got a ton of comments that I was a super relaxed and easy-going bride, yay, which I think was mostly down to the fact that I didn’t care that much about napkins or matching chaircovers or having my teeth whitened, because at the end of the day all I really needed was the wedding licence, the celebrant, and my husband-to-be. Everything else was just decoration. (Spoiler: it all went well and was an awesome day.)

    And I’d be interested to know if anyone else found this: despite believing that marriage is cool but not necessary (i.e. a couple who co-habit for twenty years are no less a valid couple than some newly weds just because of a piece of paper) I really did FEEL different post-wedding. I wasn’t expecting that! It was weird!

    • sasha said:

      I’d be interested to know if anyone else found this: despite believing that marriage is cool but not necessary (i.e. a couple who co-habit for twenty years are no less a valid couple than some newly weds just because of a piece of paper) I really did FEEL different post-wedding.

      Me too. I really don’t believe in marriage for myself – it’s just a piece of paper to me. Moreover, my wedding was specifically for logistical issues – he wasn’t a US citizen and was from a Latin American country from which it’s exceedingly difficult to get tourist or work visas, and I wanted to bring him to the States with me. Despite all this, the wedding ended up being a much bigger deal to me than I expected, and I felt totally different afterwards. It really surprised me. I’ve always wondered if others who were not really “Go Marriage!” did, too – thanks!

    • L. said:

      Me too. While that doesn’t change my feelings about the validity of non-married relationships, I’ve been a lot more “go marriage” since. I think there’s something about taking the vows and also about how others treat you when you’re married. There is a lot of societal weight about it–which was all good for me, but of course it can be a double-edged sword as well, especially for those who aren’t allowed to marry.

      • Jess said:

        I think “weight” is a really good word to describe it – for me it’s comforting, like I’ve got new foundations and a really good heavy snuggly blanket for always. But like you say, that same weight could be crushing in other circumstances.

        I’m still wrapping my head around the social thing – there is NO REASON why people should see us differently, and yet they do! I almost felt like a kid playing dress ups the first few times I got to drop “my husband” in conversation X-D

    • commanderlogic said:

      1 – Great frameworking and advice! Congratulations!

      2 – As a counterpoint, I didn’t feel any differently after the wedding. I mean, I believe in marriage as a great responsibility and personal event. I get that other people feel differently. It’s great! We all feel our own feelings! But HusbandLogic and I were already married in our hearts, and making it official was just… official. The responsibility and personal attachment and “marriedness” had happened in a million tiny ways long before: when I told him I’d move wherever he went for work, when his mom told me she couldn’t think of anyone better for him, when we agreed on dinner plans for the 153rd time without incident, when we planned our sekkrit roof garden on our dream house, when 2nd cat chose me as her person, when I told a pushy relative of his that HL’d never get rid of me ring or not, when he agreed to go to pre-wedding sessions with a priest to make my mom happy, etc. etc.

      We were already married in all the smooshy emotional ways. The actual ceremony and stuff was more a relief thing for me: now it will be easier to file taxes, get co-insurance, see each other in the hospital, get a mortgage, blahblahblah. The only thing I felt after the wedding was just as happy as before with My Person, and that was AWESOME.

      Also, I love a wedding as a party (food! drink! dancing! cake!), and we had a blast at ours.

  12. Elodie said:

    Here is my advice for inviting people to your wedding:

    INVITE THE PEOPLE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO WATCH YOU GET MARRIED.

    There were 20 people at our wedding – ten from each side. They included my oldest fandom friend, who I’d only met once before, and my husband’s second cousin by marriage, one aunt-and-uncle set out of all fifteen of my aunts and uncles, and a beekeeper that we just happened to like an awful lot. THEY WERE THE PEOPLE AT THE INTERSECTION OF PEOPLE WE LIKED BEST IN ALL THE WORLD AND ALSO WANTED TO HAVE AT OUR WEDDING. There are some people we liked best in all the world who couldn’t come (because there was an ocean in the way, or because they were busy, or too poor) and there were some people that would have been free entertainment at our wedding but we didn’t like them enough to spend energy on them. If you wouldn’t joyfully spend a long weekend away with them, if you wouldn’t travel with them, if you wouldn’t trust them to have your back in a Prisoner’s Dilemma, then why do you want them to come to your wedding? Invite both or neither, but it’s not a problem you necessarily need to have in the first place.

    • Elodie said:

      Basically, if you’re at the point where you are asking an internet advice columnist about who you should invite to your wedding, it might be a good idea to check in with your lovely fiance and ask yourselves who is really important to you and whether you want them at your party and how you both feel about their lovability/partiness.

    • molly said:

      This seems a bit too reasonable for weddings, ey? Kidding aside, there’s also the issue of family matters (such as this one) and friends with S.O.s etc when making a guest list. I only really have my sister’s wedding as a point of reference, but in that situation my parents were paying for most of the celebration…So they also felt they had the right to invite whomever they thought was appropriate to have there. There’s lots of different dynamics in different families that I think that for most people just ‘inviting who you want’ doesn’t help for everyone.

      • secretrebel said:

        Carolyn Hax always tells people to have the wedding they can afford to avoid this “I’m paying so I decide who’s invited” thing.

      • Elodie said:

        Molly, you seem super nice and I’m sure your sister’s wedding was great, but I’m going to disagree with you. My response was kind of long, so I ended up writing this blog post about my Wedding Feelings. Grain of salt prescribed but not included.

        • molly said:

          I mean, frankly I agree with what you have to say about it, and since it wasn’t MY wedding I wasn’t really included in the nitty gritty guest listing (or financial aspects). Perhaps it’s the way I phrased it anyway that made it seem like my parents were just throwing people onto the roster willy nilly. The only reason this worked well and the wedding was indeed great is because my parents and sister/husband have a great relationship so…Really my sister WAS doing her wedding the way she and her husband intended it because that’s how they wanted it? Including having our parents have a say in the guest list. And them giving the engaged the gift of paying for it.

          It’s not that they couldn’t have paid for it themselves, there’s just tons of tradition and precedent, and yes, weird-ass overwrought rules about weddings that exist. This worked for my family. It’s not even like my sister or her husband are the ‘extravagant’ type…The occasion was in beautiful garden with a medium sized guest list and took place near our home with no ‘bridezilla’ incidents to speak of. But even if they were I still can’t fathom why people can’t do what they please even if what they please doesn’t conform to the ‘offbeat’ way?

          Now I guess in the case of the LW, maybe, if it doesn’t please them to do something (like invite Uncle), then yeah, of course they should err to the reasonable side of things…Like doing what they need for the celebration to go as smoothly as they want. I’m just saying that for some people the system they feel comfortable with, that makes them happy, can be complicated. Not dramatic, just including a lot of moving parts.

          Hope that made sense I wasn’t misinterpreting your post :p

  13. Alexandra said:

    I’d like to be a voice of dissent here. I won’t say that you should or shouldn’t invite him, but your wedding is a party for your guests as well as you. Even though the the wedding can’t be “ruined” as long as you’re married, and even though you might never notice, there are anywhere from several dozen to a few hundred people whose nights could be made miserable by him. If he has a long history of ruining family gatherings for the entire group, he may not be able to be trusted at this event.

    I don’t think it’s fair to make one of your guests give up their celebration to “handle” him. He’s an adult, and maybe he has to deal with the fact that one of the consequences of causing a scene is that he no longer gets invited to celebrations. That’s unfortunate for your aunt, but I still don’t think it is appropriate to make another guest clean up his mess just because it is your big day.

    • monsterzero said:

      Yeah, don’t invite Uncle G. He regularly makes a scene (that’s what “in a huff” means, right?) and last time he actually assaulted another guest. Please don’t invite him. Just don’t.

    • commanderlogic said:

      I appreciate the voice of dissent, but I dissent with the dissent and agree with the Captain: either invite them both or invite neither. The “handler” advice is if you have G at the event. The handler could be a groomsman or usher, who is already responsible for stuff, or could even be a wedding coordinator who is paid to do such things.

      No, it’s not fair to make a guest handle another guest, but it isn’t fair of G to be complete jerk sometimes, regardless of whose “day” it is. No one wins the it’s-not-fairlympics.

      I just came off of “handling” duty from a wedding this weekend – mother of the bride, at the same table as the father of the bride and his latest wife – and it was actually not bad nor did I give up any part of the celebration. Just kept dancing with people and interrupting with cake and drink offers if things got tense. No big.

      • insufficient data said:

        Yeah- I think some people might actually not mind as much? If my friend wanted me on uncle-handling duty, I totally would- feeling like I was doing something that would help my friend relax on her wedding day would be worth way more to me than just enjoying the party. You’d have to pick the right person, obviously- some people really would resent it, I expect- but I wouldn’t assume you’ll be ruining the experience for them.
        (Although I think maybe picking up the tab next time you go out to dinner afterwards or something wouldn’t be a bad idea.)

      • CPA Lady said:

        Also Uncle G, depending on the severity of his jerkiness, may be more “amusingly cranky” to a disinterested outsider. That’s the thing about nutty family members, they are often less obnoxious to people outside the family. Emotional history and all that.

        Of course there’s the possibility that Uncle G is in fact a grade A jerk that would berate/confront/be yucky at anyone they come in contact with, in which case maybe not inviting him is the way to go? But handling doesn’t have to be a super frought obnoxious thing, it can actually be sort of entertaining to the right person.

      • Alexandra said:

        For clarification, I didn’t think she should invite either of them.

        • monsterzero said:

          De Becker says don’t invite him, Miss Manners says don’t invite her either.

  14. General Expression said:

    Is it a corollary of Murphy’s Law that if you invite someone that you know will probably make something go wrong, that would prevent anything else from going wrong? If you are superstitious, you could use him as an insurance policy against fate.

  15. Vicki said:

    I agree with Alexandra. If you ask someone to be in the wedding party, that is directly supporting you, and shows the other guests “this person is close to me and I want them to stand up with me on my wedding day.” And then they get to enjoy the party. Asking someone to be “handler of obnoxious uncle” is asking a large favor: they don’t get to enjoy the party nearly as much, and they don’t get credit for having done a good thing for you. It’s not just that s/he won’t be at the head table, if there is one: the uncle handler won’t be able to relax and dance, if there’s dancing, because they have to keep an eye on him. If they get into a really good conversation, it might be interrupted by the difficult uncle causing problems.

    Inviting someone under those conditions isn’t a social thing: it’s an invitation that, if they accept, you owe them a favor for. Rather than “invite Aunt P to dinner separately from the wedding,” it’s “we’ll take Cousin Z out for his favorite meal when we’re back from the honeymoon to make up for this,” and you tell Cousin Z that up front.

    If you have a friend who has worked as a bouncer, see if they’re available that day and would be willing to put on nice clothes and be the bouncer at your wedding. If not, maybe actually hire someone, and explain that their job is to keep an eye on your uncle, and you’ll pay however much and they get a meal. It might be worth the extra money to keep the family peace and let you and your more reasonable guests relax.

  16. Emma said:

    FWIW, if alcohol plays a part in his bad wedding behavior, you can usually put catering bartenders on alert for specific guests. They tape a picture up under the bar, where it’s hidden but the staff all see it. Then they’ll cut that person off if they get drunk, claim to have a policy against shots that magically doesn’t apply to everyone, etc.

    brb, wondering how I got to a place in my life that I know this.

  17. As someone who’s been in on several weddings (only one of them my own) that included concerns like this, I think it’s important to recognize that weddings invitations tend to go in “circles.” That is, if you’re getting married at city hall you might each bring a friend. If you’re getting married in a small ceremony in your backyard you might have your own parents, brothers and sisters, and maybe a few trusted friends. As you expand out you start to add: grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends from college, etc. etc. You usually add these circles all at once – if you have a favorite uncle, he might be in on the small wedding, but once you start adding “Aunts and Uncles” as a circle, you would usually invite them all.

    One of the big dangers of not inviting one aunt/uncle couple while inviting all the rest is this one – they might show up. Don’t discount this possibility. People tend to hear about weddings through the family grapevine and often assume – either innocently or out of passive-aggressiveness – that they are invited even if they don’t receive an invitation.

    A good test of whether you want to disinvite someone who, by the “Rule of Circles” would be invited, is to ask yourself whether you would rather deal with the person at your wedding or explain to the person why they aren’t invited. This is not only a good rule of thumb, but you may genuinely find yourself in a situation where you are going to have to explain “Here is why you are not invited to my wedding” and you should at least be mentally ready for that in case it happens.

    Don’t ever invite a married person to a wedding without their spouse, and if you are extending +1’s extend them to all single people. There are few ironclad rules in wedding invitations but these are ironclad rules. When I got married most of my friends were in committed relationships, but there was one guy who was himself an embarrassing floozy and was plowing through a string of similarly embarrassing floozy girlfriends, and I really didn’t want to give him a +1, but in the end I did. He showed up with his embarrassing floozy girlfriend and they were embarrassing. It did not ruin the wedding; in fact it was kind of fun in context.

  18. I found myself wondering if there was a way that the LW could use his words to talk to Uncle G in advance. This probably only goes for if he and P are invited, and he may be too difficult a person for it to be worth it – that’s up to LW. But what if, in advance of the event, LW and G sat down and LW said something non-confrontational/non-blaming way about how he knows G has been upset by things at family events in the past, is there some way that all families members could agree to some rules/code of conduct on that day for LW’s sake? Or maybe, how Uncle G could help LW have a lovely wedding? I’m not as good with words as the Captain is – maybe others could chime in here?

    If the talk doesn’t go well, it could be the reason LW does not invite him – he could even cite it as the the reason if asked.

  19. I recommend a visit to Offbeat Bride. That website’s whole business is figuring out complicated or unusual wedding things, and there’s a TON of advice on how to deal with who’s-invited bullshit. And despite the name, it’s not actually exclusionary towards grooms. Grooms are welcome and respected, even if they’re not necessarily the target audience.

    http://offbeatbride.com/ for the link. And this might be a useful place for the Captain to direct wedding questions, since they’re not really her thing.

  20. s said:

    Speaking from the other side: I was that jerk who invited one half of a couple to my wedding, because I hated the other half of the couple, and more importantly, that other half of the couple hated both me and my partner. Why would I want those feelings at my wedding? I really wanted my friend to come, and I explained up front why I couldn’t make him a plus one. He chose not to come at the last minute to be on Team His Partner, which I respect (the pulling out, not the day before part of not coming), and then for whatever reason we’ve not really spoken since. Sometimes I miss his friendship, and I don’t regret issuing the single invitation, but if I did it again I’d probably just not invite him at all, and instead arrange to have dinner with him later or something.

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