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Should You Invite Estranged Family Members to Your Wedding?

It's a complicated decision, so it's important to think carefully.

Though everyone’s situation is unique, we hope we can help provide guidance for this tough decision by sharing questions you should ask yourself and other thoughts to keep in mind.

Relationship Advice
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Photo: Christian Oth Studio

Many people espouse the belief that “family is family” and “blood is thicker than water” but as some people unfortunately know all too well, it can be more complicated than that. Despite being biologically related, some people have truly toxic relationships with certain family members. At a certain point, it becomes healthier to cut that person from your life. However, as painful as that can be in your day-to-day life, an upcoming wedding can exacerbate the issue further. Family is so often a given when it comes to sending invitations, and you may wonder if this is an opportunity to extend an olive branch. That said, it can be difficult to know whether or not you should include estranged relatives in your special day. Though everyone’s situation is unique, we hope we can help provide guidance for this tough decision by sharing questions you should ask yourself and other thoughts to keep in mind.

- How will you feel if they are in attendance? Do you genuinely want to rebuild the relationship, or is the invitation out of obligation to others in your family? Will this person cause a scene?
- Is the estrangement based on a major betrayal or a petty feud? If you can truly forgive them, it may be worth it, but there are certainly situations where forgiveness and peace is unattainable.
- Reconcile before sending the invitation. You’re more likely to actually improve the relationship, and there’s a non-zero chance that they will view the invitation as a passive-aggressive slap in the face, rather than a true desire to reconnect.
- If they choose not to attend, take comfort in the fact that you were the bigger person, and it’s now out of your hands.
- Should you decide not to invite the family member in question, do not allow others to make you feel guilty. You presumably have legitimate reasons, and if someone doesn’t respect that to the point of threatening not to attend, that’s on them.
- But do keep in mind that it will be very difficult to rebuild a relationship after excluding someone from your wedding, so it’s important to be sure that’s a result you’re comfortable with.
- Talk it through with your partner, a family member who understands the situation, and maybe even a therapist before making your final decision. 

Find out how to tell someone they aren't invited to your wedding and whether or not it's okay to invite your ex to the wedding

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