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Just Said Yes October 2023

How to invite some members of a family and not others?

Sam, on January 4, 2023 at 1:42 PM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 5

Hi everyone! I have a specific wedding invite conundrum and I'm hoping someone out there has been in this spot and can offer a strategy.

TLDR: What's the best way to proceed when you don't want to invite certain members of a family group to your wedding?

Longer version: My Moms side of the family is fairly small. But since my maternal grandparents have passed, we don't talk to much of that family anymore. One aunt and uncle (lets call them PAIR A) moved out of state, and their two children soon followed them to the same far flung state. My Moms other brother and his spouse (call them PAIR B) were already living in said state...but the uncle and aunt who moved there never even gave an address to their new place even though its only like 45 minutes away. My two cousins who followed their parents there are apparently both getting married this summer. I dont know their soon-to-be-spouses names, have never met them, dont even follow one cousin on any social media. I have not talked to this family in YEARS. We don't celebrate holidays with them anymore. My Mom will even find out that PAIR A has come back to our hometown area to visit people without telling her that he's there. And since I believe in surrounding myself and my fiancé with the people who love us on our big day, I have zero desire to have them there. They are not part of our story.

That being said, I would ideally like to invite PAIR B uncle and aunt since we are closer. AND I think I would like to invite my two older cousins who are the children of PAIR A uncle from his previous marriage. I guess I haven't seen them in a few years, but we at least stay in touch on social media and I went to one of their weddings. I have no idea if PAIR B or my two cousins (PAIR A's kids) will actually attend since my wedding will involve travel for all of them. But has anyone ever had to navigate inviting only part of a family like this? I don't want to be the one who starts family drama (esp since my Mom will be the one they most likely complain to if they do. It's also basically a family of polite New Englanders who prefer to keep things bottled instead of expressing feelings or arguing) but also really dont need them there. My family count is already way over my partner's and there are other folks who we would prefer to be able to fit into our count/budget who we actually spend time with, love dearly, and know us as a couple. Would appreciate any strategies that have worked for you with this kind of situation.


Latest activity by Michelle, on January 16, 2023 at 5:26 PM
  • H
    Master July 2019
    Hannah ·
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    Honestly, it doesn’t sound like you’re particularly close with any of these people. Since your numbers are already high and your only contact is following each other on social media, I’d just skip that whole group altogether.
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  • Kelly
    Rockstar October 2023
    Kelly ·
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    It doesn't sound like not inviting Pair A would be a problem. You're not in contact with them, so I don't think they'd expect an invite.

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  • Erin
    Rockstar May 2022
    Erin ·
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    I’d normally agree with PPs, but I agree more with others that have said on similar forum posts of this subject that it’s best to invite in circles. Since you’re saying you want to invite the children of Pair A, you should either bite the bullet and invite actual Pair A (to complete the circle) or don’t invite Pair A and any children of them. Inviting the cousins, but not their actual parents would cause more drama than if you were to do the inverse of that (people understand more when you limit to aunts and uncles because cousins can be numerous). That said, if you’re not willing to go the “just aunts and uncles” route, it would be safer to just invite Pair B and their relations (one circle) and leave off Pair A and children.

    They’ll probably end up declining anyway if you go the “inviting the circle” route. I have 2 cousins from an aunt that passed before I was born. One is cordial with our family even though we aren’t close, but the other has harbored a grunge against us after a fall out from years ago. We knew we couldn’t invite her brother and his wife but not her and her boyfriend without that looking really bad, so we extended the invite. She of course declined, and actually without much fanfare or drama (she simply texted my mom “sorry can’t make it” when my mom chased her for a response).
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  • Jacks
    Champion November 2054
    Jacks ·
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    It's best to invite in "circles" based on familial relationships. In other words, I wouldn't invite pair A without pair B from the same family of origin. However, it doesn't sound like you're close with any of them. You're not obligated to invite anyone just because they are family.

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  • Michelle
    Rockstar December 2022
    Michelle ·
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    People do this all the time with no issues. Don’t invite people you are not close to. People do understand and very few people in reality are hurt by not receiving an invitation to a wedding of someone they barely speak to, if at all.

    Inviting in “circles” doesn’t always work, because why are you required/expected to invite someone you are not close to in the closest circle when you may have a much closer relationship with someone in an outer “circle” but not everyone in that closest group? Only invite people you cannot imagine the day without, not people you are not close to. But do make sure that significant others are invited by name regardless of how long they have been together if they consider themselves to be a couple. Then on a completely separate occasion, sit down with a close relative to organize a family reunion picnic at a local park that everyone is welcome to and each individual is responsible for their own costs.

    For example, you have an alcoholic sibling who can’t behave in public but you may have a very close relationship with an extended cousin or distant aunt who may not be considered family in an outsider’s eyes. By inviting in circles as is often suggested, you are wrongfully pressured into inviting the sibling and made to deal with the consequences of the scene they make instead of not inviting them for your safety and mental health and instead are convinced that the extended cousin should not be considered to receive an invitation. Tiering people like that is not a good look.
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