Reader's Question: I love your practical advice for wedding stuff--was hoping you could help me with my own little issue. I did not envision any real drama at my wedding as my large gets along fairly well, and I couldn't foresee anything popping up. Then something did, that puts me right in the middle of my divorced parents.
My parents met and married out of high school, and divorced about 20 years ago. My mum, about 10 years later, had a fling with one of my dad's from high school (who had been a mutual friend back in the day) that was short-lived and the guy was not super cool (bit sleazy). But my dad seemed unfazed and continued to be his friend. Right after the affair, my mum met the man who is now her fiance and most solidly her . But he knew about the affair, and as a lovely but slightly insecure guy, prefers to not even hear his name (I mentioned the man's recent wedding to my mom last year, and he left the room. Ugh.)
Anyhoo, my wedding venue has a limited capacity, as does our budget. We are lucky because all our parents are helping out. However my dad got some advice from friends at work that because he is pitching-in, he is entitled to invite some of his own friends. It means some of my people can't come, but I suppose that is the price for accepting money and that's fine. But guess who he insists on inviting? This old friend (and his wife). Don't like the guy, he treated my mom poorly and my stepdad-figure will be possibly upset on the day (for better or worse). I have mentioned to my father this fact (he and the stepdad get along just fine) that there could be problems on the day, and he basically said that he doesn't care and he wants his friend there. Had to tell my mum, she is not happy, and their up-to-now civilized relationship seems shaky. I don't want the guy there, because I don't want to be looking over my shoulder on the day making sure that all my parent figures are getting along. Do I have the right to put my foot down? I have expressed my opinion only to be rebuffed. Can I use an excuse such as numbers? I have to compile my invite list soon...ugh. Thanks so much!
I try not to think in such a black-and-white way if I can help it, but in this situation, I honestly see only one right answer: the "sleazy" dude is not invited to the wedding. Period. Case closed.
You're right when you say your dad "is pitching in" and so is therefore "entitled to invite some of his own friends." You hit the nail on the head when you say "that is the price for accepting money."
But seriously, it is not okay for your dad to play the money card by inviting someone who literally makes you and other family members uncomfortable. Even though he is his contributing financially, it is still your wedding. It's your opportunity to share your love and commitment with your nearest and dearest. If your dad wants to spend quality time with his friend, he can invite him out for dinner 364 other days of the year. If he wants to share your wedding with his friend, he can bring along the photos.
I don't mean to sound so negative. I am just a wee-bit outraged that your family members are putting you through this. It's stressful enough to coordinate a big party and maintain your other life priorities and battle the Wedding Industrial Complex and placate a zillion people with a zillion different opinions--without having to fight with your father about something so asinine.
I say, stick to your guns. You know your dad better than I do, so I don't know the best way to communicate your resolution to him. Maybe you need to be more aggressive and resolute? Maybe you need to cry and let him see how much this situation is hurting you? Maybe you need to beg him to change his mind?
(P.S. If it ends up not working and the guy gets invited, don't fret about it. Seriously. I know I just ranted about how the battle is worth fighting (and I hope you win). But if, for some reason, it doesn't work out and the guy gets invited, do not worry about it. I repeat: Do not worry about it. Let it go. You are not responsible for the discomfort that your step-dad and/or mom might feel. You are not responsible for diffusing the tension on your wedding day. Your job is to do your best to create a good situation and then let it all go and actually enjoy the day. Immerse yourself in it. Bask in it. Do not let family baggage take any piece of the pleasure away from you.)
Okay, I am officially stepping off my soapbox. Please, 2000dollarwedding kindred spirits, chime in. Your insight into the last Q&A was so delightful. You all are so, so smart and helpful!