“My Family Is Refusing to Attend My Wedding”

I am getting married in less than two months. My fiancé and I have been together for 15 years. Both of us were married before, and between us we have five adult children. His children are all involved in the wedding while my two sons refuse to come. My mother isn’t coming either though my father is walking me down the aisle. (My patents are divorced.)

My fiancé shares different political views from most of my family who are extremely liberal, as am I. They don’t think I should marry him, but I love him. And we already own a house together, share finances, and are domestic partners. Other than with politics, we share very similar values and have a strong affection for each other. He just took care of me through three emergency surgeries.

I am trying not to be hurt by my immediate family’s refusal to attend. This should be a happy day, but I find myself deeply saddened. My mom keeps calling it weird and my sons refuse to discuss it. I am worried that on the day I will be so depressed that I won’t be able to enjoy it because they won’t be there.

I know they are adults and it’s their right to do what they want, but I am having a hard time balancing my emotions about all of this. I could sure use your perspective. — Sad Bride-to-Be

I’m so curious as to how your family has regarded your relationship over the past 15 years that you’ve been with your fiancé. If there’s a history of their avoiding him or not supporting the relationship, I would imagine it’s probably not a surprise that they aren’t coming to the wedding, though I can certainly understand why you’d still be sad about this. If your family has otherwise been accepting of your fiancé and their refusal to attend your wedding reflects a new stance, I am wondering what the inciting incident was and whether you are aware of it.

If there has been an inciting incident, it would need to be a pretty big one for your family to refuse to attend your wedding. Over the nearly twenty years I’ve been writing advice columns, I’ve answered tons of letters from brides whose family weren’t thrilled about their choice in partners inconvenient wedding circumstances, but those family members nearly always attend the weddings, even if begrudgingly. They attend to show support – to essentially say, “I love you no matter what and will show up for you.” That your mother and your sons are choosing to avoid your wedding and are calling your marriage “weird” or refuse to even discuss it suggests a rift or a misunderstanding that is deeper than just differing political views (even in our very polarized, deeply divided political climate).

So, what is it? What has happened? What, if anything, might your immediate family members be upset or concerned or offended about? What is big enough that they are risking the future of their relationship with you? If there’s a chance that what bothers them is a legitimate concern over your well-being, is there any part of you that can appreciate their concern? And if you can find that bridge, can you cross it by talking to them about it and reassuring them that you’re in caring hands – that despite your political differences, your fiancé shows you love and tenderness and that they can trust him to do right by you? If what is bothering them is a direct offense on them by your fiancé, are you aware of what that offense is and do you feel their concern is warranted? Have you spoken to your fiancé about it or to your family and tried to play mediator?

And if this something isn’t a new thing – if you’ve lived in the shadow of it during the duration of your 15-year relationship – why did you expect things to suddenly change for your wedding? I would imagine, in this case, that the sadness you’re feeling now is a reflection of your understanding that this is how it’s likely going to be forever – that being with your fiancé means alienating your family, and not even a wedding can inspire them to essentially cross the metaphoric picket line. What they are striking against is your very union, and, yes, it would be normal and appropriate for that to create a lot of feelings for you.

So, how do you balance these feelings? First, I’d suggest naming as many of your feelings as you can. You’ve named the sadness. What else is there? Joy? Anger? Confusion? What about doubt? Has any part of this scenario created any sense of doubt that marrying your fiancé is the wrong decision? If so, please take some time to explore those feelings and make absolutely certain that getting married feels 100% right before you walk down the aisle. If doubt is not part of the buffet of feelings you’re navigating, know that the sadness and the anger and the disappointment are normal given the circumstances and, like all feelings, they will pass. We can’t control the feelings that we have, but we can control the power we give them. I do this by making friends with my feelings (even the ones I don’t always like and am not always happy to see): I acknowledge them – “oh, hey, sadness, I see you” – and I even thank them for the perspective they give and the opportunity to think critically about decisions I’m making. Doing this helps me frame all my feelings as teachers or guides in my life. And in this way, I can appreciate the advantages of all feelings, and I can quit labeling them as “good” or “bad” or even as welcome or unwelcome. They are all serving a purpose here.

So, what do you so when you feel sadness, in addition to joy, on your wedding day? Acknowledge it. Acknowledge what it represents: the absence of your family and the love you feel for them. And then take a look around at the people who do show up and think about what their presence represents to you: acceptance; love; family. Even in the absence of the people you will miss will be an abundance of what they actually represent to you. You will have family at your wedding. You will have friends. And you will certainly have love and support. And how wonderful that all of these things find some paths to reach you and various ways to show up in your life.


  1. One more thing: when you say you want to “balance your feelings,” it implies that you think each value should hold the same weight or value and that isn’t true. the sadness can and will likely be a small part of your wedding day, but the joy can and likely will be a much much larger part of the day, too. Life is like this – it is full of contradictory feelings that you can hold simultaneously. They don’t negate or distinguish one another. So, feel the sadness when it’s there, but feel the joy, too, and let whichever one demands the most attention at any given moment have it until the need passes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There are several missing stairs here. I don’t think for one minute that this is the full story – either this guy is a complete dick about his politics and the LW is complacent to let him say vile things that potentially hit too close to home (anti-LGBTQ+ , racism, misogyny, anti-semitism, etc.) or he’s financially abusive and she’s been paying for all the things, or he’s just a raging dick and the kids are fed up with the drama.

  3. You’ve gotta include how he practices his politics. I highly doubt it’s just his views if he’s got different views from your family but also is a kind, respectful person to them and everyone he meets. How does he treat your sons and mother? How is your relationship with your sons and mother? I feel like there’s a lot missing from this letter.

  4. Anonymousse says:

    I agree there must be some reason the majority of your family do not like this man. Be honest. Come back with more details and maybe even the series of or single event that happened to make this line so drawn in the sand. It does sounds like he must have said something bigoted or full of hatred perhaps even directed at another family member, that makes your family just think you marrying him is “weird” and are not going to go.

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