Groom’s parents are divorced. Groom does not want to invite step siblings and groom’s mother is upset. What is proper etiquette?

QuestionThe groom’s parents are divorced and they do not get along. The groom isn’t close to his step siblings at all and has no desire to invite them to the wedding. The groom’s mother is upset that he doesn’t want to invite the step children to the wedding and doesn’t want to be at the wedding. What is the proper etiquette in this situation? Should the step children be invited even though we have no relationship with them at all?

AnswerWhat traditional wedding etiquette dictates may not always complement the dynamics of individual families and the history each carries. Considering the groom’s personal feelings and his well being on the wedding day, perhaps it would be best to invite immediate family members that are close to you. There is some debate over whether or not step family should be invited to the wedding and much of that is based on the quality of the relationships that exist.

Regardless of what is decided, I personally think it’s important to consider what works best for you and your groom. If inviting only those that care for you to the wedding is what works, then that is the route to go with. What will be key however, is to have a good quality conversation with the groom’s mother to let her know the reasons for the decision to only invite those family members that are close to you and the groom.

The conversation may sound something like this:

The groom, “Mom, I want you to know how much we appreciate you and value you. Know that Anna and I have made a decision to invite only family that are close to us. We really struggled with this decision but because we’re not close with x, y, z, it makes no sense to invite them. It would put a huge financial strain on them for the travel and the wedding gift and we really don’t even know if we have the space or budget to invite that many people. We really want to have a loving and memorable wedding and know you’ll support us in this because you are the reason why I’m this strong and can stand up to what I believe in. Without you, I don’t know where I’d be. Our wedding would only be complete with you there at our side, to let everyone know who was the great lady that made me the man that I am today.”

The above is an example of how the conversation may sound with the groom’s mother. Feel free to modify and use as appropriate for your situation. The key is to focus on having a positive and constructive conversation with the groom’s mother. By having a focused idea of what will be said, you and your groom will be able to stay positive during the conversation, which may have some heartfelt moments.

Remember: our past experiences determine how we interpret and perceive the world and while weddings are fun and loving events, they do at times carry heavier and deeper reflections for family members that are involved. Keeping positive and empathetic will go a long way in smoothing out troubled waters.