Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Daughter Refuses to Invite my Mother to Her Wedding”

wedding invitation
My daughter and my mother have long had a very turbulent relationship. I understand and acknowledge my mother is verbally abusive to my daughter, and we have made steps to protect her.

My mother’s behavior has alienated my brother, my sister-in-law, and my other siblings as well. At my nephew’s recent wedding there was a procedure in place by my nieces and nephews to deal with her so she would not upset or disrupt the wedding or the guests.

My daughter is getting married next year, and she and her fiancé, who have high-paying professional jobs, are paying for the wedding themselves. My daughter has been very vocal about refusing to invite my mother to the wedding. Her fiancé and his family, as well as her cousins and siblings, support this decision. I’m torn.

On the one hand, she only wants people she loves and who love her steadfastly to be there, and my mother has been vocally unsupportive of my daughter and her relationship for years. My mother has insulted my daughter’s fiancé for his race as well as for his job. On the other hand, my mother is the only family member not invited.

My daughter and her fiancé recently announced to my mother that she was not invited. This occurred when she was trying to insert her own plans for their wedding, such as telling them to have it at church even though my daughter and her fiancé are non-religious. This resulted in my mother yelling, and my daughter and her fiancé first defending themselves and then, when my mother wouldn’t calm down, leaving. My mother then burst into tears and asked why my daughter hates her. She is now urging my siblings and me to convince my daughter to change her mind.

My husband has said he will support my daughter and her decision, as will I. I don’t know what to do to make this situation better. — Mother of the Bride, Daughter of the Uninvited

Questions likes yours are perfect for me during this exhausting, sleep-deprived (and hopefully short) period in my life because they’re so simple to answer. Your daughter and her fiancé are paying for their own wedding and you have absolutely ZERO say in whom they invite. The end, period. If you are honest in saying that you take steps to protect your daughter from her abusive grandmother, you will wholeheartedly support her decision to not invite the woman to her wedding.

Now, as for how to “make this situation better,” I can only assume you mean, how can you manage your mother’s feelings and behavior around this decision. And the answer to that is also simple: you can’t. You have no control over how your mother reacts or behaves to anything. If you did, I imagine you would never have let her verbally abuse your daughter (or you or any of your other loved ones she’s managed to alienate over the years). Your mom is going to behave the way she wants to behave. The good news is you CAN control your own reaction and behavior. And you know what you should do? Refuse to discuss the wedding with your mother. Tell her she’s not invited because she has alienated your daughter and her fiancé and they don’t want her there and it’s out of your control and the topic is not up for discussion. Then when she tries to discuss it with you, as you know she will, change the topic. If she keeps bringing it back to the wedding, leave/stop talking to her. Take a cue from your daughter and set some boundaries.

I understand how difficult it must be say no to the woman who raised you and whom, I’m sure, you no doubt love despite her flaws and her mistreatment of her children and grandchildren. But setting boundaries doesn’t make you a bad daughter. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your mother. It means you love yourself (and your daughter) enough to say “enough!”.

Go to your daughter’s wedding and enjoy yourself and celebrate the love she shares with her husband-to-be and be proud of how you raised a woman strong enough to stand up for herself, financially stable enough to throw her own wedding, and confident enough to stand by her decisions. You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about—and so much to celebrate.


Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

35 comments… add one
  • Crochet.Ninja September 3, 2015, 8:59 am

    why would you want your mother there?? she sounds absolutely horrible, and you should be supporting your DAUGHTER in her decision. why would you want to subject her to abuse from anyone?

    maybe if your mother wasn’t such a huge asshole, she’d be invited to family functions. now YOU be a good mother and support your daughter.

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  • keyblade September 3, 2015, 9:01 am

    Perfecto, Wendy!

    “Sorry, It’s her choice” {shrug}

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    • BlueKate September 3, 2015, 11:55 am

      Not sorry.

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  • Anonymous September 3, 2015, 9:07 am

    I am against petty bickering and power games when it comes to weddings, but also, the event should be a happy one and anyone who will detract from the joy and happiness in a very huge way should not be invited. An invitation is not a right. Hopefully she will learn one day that her behavior is isolating her from her family and change, but the focus now should be on the couple’s joy and hosting a wonderful celebration.

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  • Essie September 3, 2015, 9:24 am

    Wendy, you nailed it.
    The only thing I would add is to ask your mother why she would expect to be invited to a wedding when she’s done nothing but insult the couple for years? Weddings are for people who support and celebrate a couple.
    Your mother chose to live her life as a hateful bitch. She made an active choice to be that way every time she opened her mouth to inflict pain on someone. There’s a price to pay for that, and now your mother is paying it, in the alienation of her family. You can be sad that she’s chosen to behave that way, but there’s not a single thing you can do about the consequences.

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    • Red_Lady September 3, 2015, 10:23 am

      This. Grandma needs to realize that being a shitty person has consequences.

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    • Eve September 3, 2015, 4:59 pm

      I’ll bet everything I have that the grandmother would never admit to being insulting or hurtful in any way, she’ll just find a way to portray herself as the victim (this is honestly a talent some people have!) and probably deny having done anything “wrong”, call all her family “ungrateful” for “everything she has done for them”, list goes on.
      She’s getting what she deserves anyway, it’s good that someone is strong enough to set some boundaries.

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    • Ange September 3, 2015, 8:57 pm

      You said it. It’s nice to see horrible people actually get the treatment they have earned themselves. Too often they get to continue their hostile behaviour under the guise of ‘family’ because nobody wants to upset the apple cart.

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  • Wonderland September 3, 2015, 10:22 am

    I have seen so many families just ripped apart because there is one bad apple (in terms of how they treat people) and one enabler. It is a sure-fire way for a family to end up in constant chaos year after year.

    LW – your mother is an adult & chooses the way she treats people. The way she treats people has foreseeable consequences. You’re protecting her from learning that insulting people means you end up without people around. You’re actually helping to keep her the way she is by not setting boundaries because she knows you’ll step in and try to smooth things over. Let her feel the weight of her choices. Maybe she’s stop being such a jerk.

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  • bagge72 September 3, 2015, 10:33 am

    Why couldn’t you just tell your mother the truth when she asks why your daughter hates her. It sounds like she needs to hear the truth, because she doesn’t understand how bad she is hurting people. It is time to stop trying to make things better and lying to your mother about how she treats people.

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    • SpaceySteph September 3, 2015, 11:26 am

      Totally agree. The right answer when your mother asks why your daughter hates her is to tell her the freaking truth. You told us, now tell her.
      I have a relative that is similar (but not nearly as bad, I wouldn’t go so far as to say “abusive”). In the past we had let this person walk all over us, but recently have begun telling them the truth– that their opinion is not welcome and that we sometimes don’t want to spend time with them because of the way they act. While it hasn’t FIXED the problem, it has helped immensely in getting them to dial it back. I’m sure they’re thinking the same things, but at least now we don’t have to hear it. Maybe your mother would shut up if someone told her that was the reason she was being cut out of your daughter’s wedding?
      I fully admit this could backfire or just not work… but what if it did?

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    • Addie Pray September 3, 2015, 11:30 am

      Yes, agreed!

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  • Bostonpupgal September 3, 2015, 10:38 am

    Lw, I’m sorry you grew up a mother like this. It must have been really hard, and it’s understandable that you have a desire for your mom to be happy and included, even if she’s treated those around her so poorly. However, as Wendy said, you must back your daughter up on this. Having some consequences for her painful treatment of them over the years may actually do your mom some good. I like the suggestion of asking her why in the world she would expect to be invited, given the hateful things she’s said, and from then on tell her the subject is closed when she brings it up. It might also help you, too, to start setting some boundaries with your mom. You are not obligated to see, spend time with, or take care of someone who treats your poorly. You can set limits on how often you see her, for how long, and what kind of interactions you have with her, and you should not feel guilty about that. Even if sure tries to guilt you, if she cries, or uses other manipulative behavior. If she’s affecting your happiness, and she’s clearly affecting the happiness of your family, some time with a therapist or counselor might help you set good boundaries and let go of any negative feelings

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    • Sunshine Brite September 3, 2015, 10:58 am

      Yes to therapy, grandma needs boundaries that the LW has tried work-arounds to before which aren’t working anymore. It’s time for a more direct approach and she needs the support to do it.

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  • LisforLeslie September 3, 2015, 10:57 am

    LW you are going to hear about this over and over from your mother. The only thing you can do is remove yourself from the middle of this. Do not advocate for your mother. When your mother starts complaining and begging and crying all you have to say is “She’s told you exactly why. This is her decision and I support her.” If she wants more information, she can call up her granddaughter and ask. Your daughter sounds like an intelligent woman with a strong spine. You raised her, be proud of her.

    Normal, sane adults don’t need to be managed with complex contingency plans. Toddlers and infants need contingency plans.

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  • HarneyS September 3, 2015, 10:57 am

    Yes! Thank god someone is finally standing up to her. Also Wendy, there’s an adorable typo in there that says “wahen” when you meant to type “when” and I imagined you typing it when your baby started “wah-wah”ing! It was just a funny image in my head 🙂

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    • Dear Wendy September 3, 2015, 11:52 am

      Ha – thanks. That’s what happens when I type one-handed with a baby on my lap.

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      • HarneyS September 3, 2015, 1:18 pm

        A typical moment in a multitasking super mom’s life

  • bittergaymark September 3, 2015, 11:11 am

    Just be honest, LW.
    “Well, gee… Mother. Apparently, inviting deranged racists and all around horrible cunts somehow just isn’t in vogue this season. Sorry, about that. Maybe there is a local KKK rally you can attend instead.”

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    • Regina Chapman September 3, 2015, 4:35 pm

      I laughed so hard at this I drooled a little bit. Very attractive.

      Also, now I imagine Mother in a vintage Chanel suit and a KKK mask.

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  • lee3 September 3, 2015, 11:50 am

    Tell your mom that it’s up to her to make apologies to the couple and mend bridges if she wants to be included at the wedding and she has a year until the wedding to do so. As to telling her why her granddaughter “hates” her, you can tell her the truth about her past behavior and give her specific examples because she won’t understand generalities.

    I’ve heard old grannies say a lot worse than the wedding should be in a church.

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    • bittergaymark September 3, 2015, 12:03 pm

      Um… Being racist to the groom is… uh… pretty fucking bad.

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      • lee3 September 3, 2015, 12:16 pm

        Absolutely. And that’s why grannie has to have it explained to her in very short words: “Granny, she dislikes you because you called her fiancé a **** , she dislikes you because you said he was only marrying her for a green card, she dislikes you because called her fiancé trash. That was very rude and you don’t get a pass because you are old and that’s just how you talk. She doesn’t want you at the wedding because it would be like having Archie Bunker . She doesn’t want you to embarrass her or ruin the wedding celebration.”

      • Katmich15 September 3, 2015, 12:22 pm

        That’s my favorite part about her wondering why she’s not invited to the wedding! What, they’re mad that I insulted the groom’s race??? How touchy . . .

      • LisforLeslie September 4, 2015, 9:00 am

        I’m sure there’s a “But I’m only telling them the truth!” rationalizzation in there somewhere.

  • HmC September 3, 2015, 12:04 pm

    Your mother is a verbally abusive whacko who needs a special “procedure” in place to make her presence at a wedding tolerable, and you are even questioning that your daughter doesn’t want to invite her? I’m all about big weddings and acquiescing to certain customs and cultural events in order to make family happy, but, in this circumstance the best and only thing you can do to “make it better” is to do nothing. Let your daughter leave your mother out of it and don’t interfere or try to talk her out of it. She is paying for the wedding herself for chrissakes.

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  • PurpleIsAwesome September 3, 2015, 12:12 pm

    I was dealing with a relative who was being all, “why are you distancing yourself from meeee?!” (which of course got worse as I plan my wedding because weddings bring out the family issues). So, instead of denying it or watering down how I felt for the sake of her feelings, I told her exactly why. For two hours. In great and honest detail. I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, and she’s been an angel ever since. I’m not saying she’ll always behave or that this works for everyone, but being brutally honest with difficult people has a way of shutting them up in a completely satisfying way. Maybe worth a try?

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  • Laura Hope September 3, 2015, 4:18 pm

    BGM I can’t stop laughing. Love it!

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  • dinoceros September 3, 2015, 4:46 pm

    If you’ve decided to support your daughter, then stay out of it. It sounds like you’re itching to convince her to invite your mother, but that’s not your place. Even if you were helping to pay, I’d hope that you’d have the respect for your daughter and her fiance to let them make choices that will help them have an emotionally healthy wedding day.

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    • Eve September 3, 2015, 5:08 pm

      Yeah I thought about this while reading the letter…. if they were not as financially stable and the LW was paying for at least part of the wedding (as many parents do), would she have insisted the abusive grandmother attend the wedding with the huge likelihood of causing massive chaos, drama, showing racism to the groom (!) and insulting the daughter, groom and the rest of the family who she’s managed to alienate as well?!
      Some people….

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      • Skyblossom September 3, 2015, 5:14 pm

        Also, if she is insulting the groom’s race then she is also insulting his extended family who will also be there.

  • Eve September 3, 2015, 5:03 pm

    Nothing to add but just wanted to say I love Wendy’s reply. 🙂
    Especially the:

    “But setting boundaries doesn’t make you a bad daughter. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your mother. It means you love yourself (and your daughter) enough to say “enough!”. ”

    and also:

    “be proud of how you raised a woman strong enough to stand up for herself, financially stable enough to throw her own wedding, and confident enough to stand by her decisions”

    LW, it seems like your daughter has grown to become a very mature, healthy, stable young woman and you can only be proud of that.

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  • Emme September 14, 2015, 4:20 am

    When a daughter do not want her mother who always praise look after her let her experience numerous activities at school, but now that she is poor reject her and do not want her at wedding for unexplainable reasons maybe because she could not pay for wedding or as rich as her new in laws or afraid she has to take care of her, its heart breaking ….

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    • Skyblossom September 14, 2015, 7:33 am

      The reason isn’t unexplainable. The grandmother has been mean to the entire family, including the granddaughter and now the granddaughter doesn’t want her at the wedding. Grandma has earned not being welcome. She did it day in and day out by being a nasty person that no one wants at the wedding. If she can’t be nice she can be lonely. It isn’t heartbreaking.

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  • Yvonne Shane July 13, 2019, 7:10 pm

    Good for the bride and groom! An angry, insulting parent or grandparent should NOT be permitted to bring their ” issues” to this blessed event. People like that will find a way, subtly or not to get their digs in. It is very painful for others with kind intentions.

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