I’m just starting to build a guest list and am looking to get any advice or insight on my particular situation! My parents have been divorced for just a few years now, and, boy, was it UGLY—lots of drama, lots of tears, lots of anger. There’s still hostility between them, and in addition to everything, my dad married the woman he cheated on my mom with. I’ve decided to invite my dad to the wedding, but am I justified in asking his wife not to attend? I’m cordial with her, but will never see her as a stepmother figure, and I really can’t stand to think how hurt my mom would be if she was there. I want to avoid drama as much as I can, but also don’t want to strain my relationship with my dad too terribly. Any advice on how to deal with this is greatly appreciated!
This is going to be a tough discussion with your dad. How’s your relationship with him? Tell him how you feel but don’t be surprised if he says that if she’s not invited than he’s not coming either. Talk with your mom about this & how she feels about her attending. Who’s on your VIP list? Who you can’t imagine not being there? You’ve got yourself a real life soap opera!
So, my husband had this issue with his parents. They divorced a few years before we started dating. A few years ago we attended my husbands cousins wedding, and the couple couldn’t invite my mother in law because it was my father in laws family. His cousin also had divorced parents and at the wedding they had his dad and mom at separate tables to also avoid any fighting.
Before my FIL passed we had conversations about getting married and how my MIL probably wouldn’t be able to bring her boyfriend to the ceremony because there was still hostility. If you are able to talk to your dad with your concerns.
Boy that’s rough. But, as hard as it might be for your mom, she will need to learn to coexist in same breathing space as him and her. Meaning, when you have kids you can’t going in future always do things separately.
I would first speak to your mother. She doesn’t need to be in pics etc with step mom. And your step mom would be just that -a guest of your father. She doesn’t walk with him down aisle etc. See what your mom might be comfortable with. Then go to your dad.
Talk to your mom about it first and see what she says. If it would truly hurt her, talk to your father. As someone else said, be prepared for him to say that he does not wish to attend without her. She is his wife, and it’s generally rude to exclude someone’s significant other, especially if they’re married. He may not take it well. There are, of course, extenuating circumstances here, so he could also be understanding of it. Just be ready either way!
Same situation with my fiancé’s father. We are not inviting his wife to our wedding, & that decision is set in stone. We’ve invited her to our babyshower, birthday parties, etc and she ALWAYS has something negative to say. So she’s a definite no and we don’t feel bad at all 🤷🏾♀️. Maybe your mom won’t care? My fiancé’s mother doesn’t care about his stepmother being in attendance they can be cordial but that’s not the problem for us. Maybe talk to your mom first
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I agree with this. It understand where you are coming from but I don't think it would be right to not let him have his wife there with him. She would only be his plus one, she doesn't need to be in pictures if you don't want her to be. I understand your mom being upset and wouldn't want her there but she needs to get over it. Unfortunately there are going to be times where she might have to be in the same room as her, that's what happens when you have children with someone who you are no longer with. If you end up letting him bring her then your mom is going to need to be an adult about it and not ruin her daughters moment.
Talk with your Dad. He may think it best to come alone. But still send the invitation, either way, so Stepmother knows you properly recognize her as your father's wife. She may be around for 35 years. Don't alienate her now. A wedding is not a place to punish people for bad behavior in the past. And your mom needs to learn to coexist with him. They may be seated apart, and mom and dad need not be together in any pictures. But mom being unhappy about the divorce does not justify you being rude to your father and stepmother. Married couples are invited together or neither person is invited.
I think it's unreasonable to ask your dad to attend without his wife. I understand that it will be hurtful to your mother, but she needs to learn to coexist with your father and his wife for the sake of their child(ren.) Will you tiptoe around these situations for the rest of your life? What other events will your dad be expected to attend alone; holidays, birthday parties, your children's sporting events, etc.?
Divorces are never easy especially as they relate to our families. My uncle and aunt divorced when I was in my teens. He immediately moved in with the woman he had been having an affair with for most of his marriage (20 years). He would later remarry her. My cousins, his children took sides with their parents (split) and some hated their new step mom, some their father and some their mother (very dysfunctional family). Their divorce actually divided our entire family, thinking back on it, it's crazy... Where I'm going with this is, my uncle has now been married to his former mistress (who was married to my uncles employee at the time) going on almost 30 years. Divorces SUCK, but MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, your dad married the love of his life. Doesn't mean he didn't love your mom while they were together, but maybe there was always something missing. And it definitely doesn't mean he didn't love his kids.
If you choose not to invite her, make sure you talk to your dad first. Don't ruin your relationship with your father over this. Your wedding should be a happy time and as some said, you can keep them at separate tables which is perfectly acceptable. Talk to your mom too, let her know your thoughts and feelings. Don't hold what happened between your parents against her, she did nothing wrong except fall in love with a married man. But definitely TALK to your parents, express your concerns and feelings. They love you and they should understand how you feel and what this day means to you.
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Thank you for the insight! Our relationship is OK; we talk pretty infrequently so I’m not really sure how he’ll react. I’m also pretty confident in how my mom would react to her attendance though (not well), but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t still talk to her about it.
Thank you, all, for the advice! I’ll talk to my parents and figure it out. At the same time, I’m not just considering my parents’ feelings about it, but also have a hard time putting aside my own. I feel a bit uneasy thinking about having their relationship on display at my wedding when it serves as a representation of something that tore my family apart. Not to go into too much detail, but my father’s wife was also very hostile toward my mom. Etiquette may deem otherwise, but I’m leaning toward the side that will best avoid any conflict.
This situation is the worst. Sometimes parents have to and should put aside their own drama to do what is best for their child, in this case you. Maybe explain to dad and new wife that you want your parents at the wedding but given history it should be only the parents and no plus ones. I would just make sure that the rules are the same for both parents. And be prepared that Dad may not want to attend if the wife isn't invited. Best of luck, sending you and your mom healing vibes.