“My Wife Isn’t Invited to My Brother’s Wedding”

I am the best man at my brother’s wedding. He is getting married at a small venue. I was told that the ceremony would be immediate family only but the reception afterwards would be at a bigger venue with family and friends. Here’s the problem: when he said “immediate family only,” he meant only me, my sisters, and our Mom and Dad. My wife is totally upset that she is not invited as are my teenage kids who are very close to him. The ceremony is at a house which is small but is this OK? I mean, shouldn’t he change the venue to a place that can at least allow us to bring our spouses? If I am wrong, so be it, but my wife doesn’t even want to go through buying a dress and paying for travel expenses as she feels totally disrespected. What should I do? — Best Man in the Middle

I can understand why your wife would feel disrespected. I’ve always thought that significant others — especially spouses! — should be invited to weddings (with very few exceptions), but sometimes the definition of “wedding” can be flexible, and this is such a case. Yes, there will be a private ceremony where your brother and his bride will be getting married, but the reception will be much more inclusive and your wife and teenage sons are invited to that. Would it be nice if extended family — which, for your brother means his sister-in-law and nephews — were included in the actual ceremony? Yes, of course. But for whatever reason — budgetary, space, wanting more intimacy — that isn’t happening. And the fact is, you don’t really know what that reason is. Maybe your brother’s fianceée has always wanted to get married in that house where they’ll have their ceremony and there simply isn’t enough room for more than a handful of people. Maybe they’ve decided that this is a super personal moment for them and they want it to be practically private, save for the closest people they grew up with. Maybe they don’t want any kids there.

As hard as it may be to understand your brother’s motives for keeping his wedding ceremony super small, for the benefit of your relationship, you need to let it go. This is his day and since he is sharing it with his larger family and friends in a way he and his fiancée are comfortable with, you — and your wife — need to try to respect that. What you can do is tell him that your wife is disappointed not to be able to see him get married and ask if he has given some thought as to whether and how he might include his reception guests in the actual ceremony, like by sharing some kind of video or photos at the reception. You can even offer to help with that if you want. And maybe by opening up that conversation, your brother will offer an explanation as to why he’s chosen to include “immediate family only” at the ceremony — an explanation that will, hopefully, help smoothe some of your wife’s ruffled feathers. (But if not, please, please try to encourage her to put her pride and hurt feelings aside and celebrate your brother’s nuptials at the wedding reception she has been cordially invited to. It’s unlikely that they’re going to change plans now just to appease your wife, and it would certainly put a damper on family get-togethers in the future if your wife decides to sit out the wedding celebration because she felt slighted).

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  1. Perfect answer, Wendy!
    I agree that a spouse should always be invited, but it’s not the LW’s place to make that decision for his brother and his finace, so he needs to respect the decision that was made- Especially since the rest of his family will be invited to the reception.

  2. I’m sick of people writing in complaining about someone else’s wedding decisions. The wife sounds pretty spoiled and full of herself if she can’t understand that she is not “immediate family”. The brother (presumably) is paying for the wedding and he can make any decisions he wants- including having a small ceremony. I’m wondering how many other siblings the brother and his wife have- that combined with parents and possibly grandparents, aunts, uncles (who are actually immediate family) could really bring up numbers.

    1. That is probably the only way to reason it out and hope she understands. Making an exception for her means making an exception for more people…so I understand the “all or no one” policy the brother has for the actual ceremony. Not to mention that is like the worst part of the wedding for guests…so….I’ll take the reception.

      1. That’s crap! Your brothers wife is imidiate family and if aunts and uncles are immediate family then so are the nieces and nephews that have been left out as well!!

    2. I was thinking the exact same thing about the rest of the family. If your brother, or his fiance, have quite a few more siblings, maybe they decided on immediate family only. Maybe this was the best line to draw? Because if those siblings had husbands or wives or longterm boyfriends and girlfriends, they didn’t know where it could end. And they didn’t want to hurt feelings. I honestly think your brother and his fiance aren’t being malicious, but that they wanted an intimate wedding and then a party afterwards.

    3. I consider parents, siblings, and siblings’ spouses immediate family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc are “extended family”. So I find the exclusion of his wife weird. But what can you do?

    4. Guy Friday says:

      I get your point, but unlike some of the other wedding-related letters that have run, I can absolutely see a need to look for outside opinions on this. I mean, granted, I’m assuming the kids were a product of the marriage when I say this, but if they have teenage kids together, they’ve likely been together for quite some time, and I’m not sure I fully grasp the cost issue of having spouses at the ceremony, particularly if (a) the husband will already be there, and (b) the wife is coming to the reception anyway.

      Also, I’m not sure I read into the letter that he was complaining about it. I took it as his being genuinely uncertain how to proceed in this situation. And not for nothing, but while I have many times questioned the appropriateness of the reactions described by people in these letters — and while I feel that throwing a hissy fit and refusing to show up at all is a bit much for the wife to do — I think I’d be pretty upset too if I were the wife in this situation. Hell, I’m not even married to my fiancee yet, and I’d still be pretty taken aback if one of her siblings decided to exclude me from their wedding reception.

      Personally, while I agree with the advice presented by Wendy, I do think the brother is in the wrong here to a certain degree for not at least having the common courtesy to explain why he’s excluding the wife of his brother/best man. Do people generally have to justify/clarify their wedding decisions? Not at all. But in this specific situation, he had to know it was going to make things awkward for his brother, and he could have at least given him the reason so the LW could arm himself with SOMETHING to explain it to his wife.

  3. Ask your brother why the actual wedding is so small and then you can relay that reason to your wife. It definitely is odd to be so exclusive but maybe there is a good reason for it. Is it the best form to invite one spouse and not the other – no. But it would be nice if your wife could just shrug it off and attend the reception – if for no other reason than it would lessen YOUR stress. At the end of the day does it really matter all that much to watch the recitation of vows? The fun part is the reception anyway. If your wife is adamant about not going then don’t force her but tell her it’s too bad she’ll miss the slow dance with the best man.

    1. GingerLaine says:


      Bro #1: “Hey bro, so I’m totally stoked about the wedding, but can I ask, why no spouses?”
      Bro #2: “Oh, we decided to do that because…”
      Bro #1: “Oh! That makes total sense, thanks for the info.”

      Easy peasy. We’re not talking about a friend of a friend. He’s your brother. Ask him.

  4. The spouse needs to be invited… so long there there are more than 5 people at the wedding! As usual, Wendy’s advice is spot on… though, I would say that I get why your wife feels disappointed (as opposed to disrespected)… They aren’t disrespecting her by not inviting her if no other family, spouses or friends are invited.

    Look, if ANY other extended family was invited, I get being upset. If any friends were invited, I get being upset. But only immediate family is a choice they get to make that has ***nothing*** to do with your wife, and she needs to get over herself, lest she carry this around and in 10 years you’re writing to Wendy that your wife “cant stand her sister in law, and it’s causing a rift in the family.”

  5. Wendy (not Wendy) says:

    My guess is that the bride either has a bunch of SILs/BILs who would bring the total up, or there’s one in particular she doesn’t want to invite. I could sympathize with that. I only wanted people at my wedding whom I REALLY wanted to be there, and who were happy for me. I don’t think your wife sounds spoiled at all–it is normal for spouses to be included in “immediate family” once you’re adults. Tell your kids they ARE invited to the wedding, just not the boring part.

    Wait, she didn’t sound spoiled until it got to the part where she flounces and maybe doesn’t want to go at all (or send the kids, it sounds like?). Only if she wants to create a rift in the family. Isn’t fair to the kids, either. This is really not that weird; lots of couples have private courthouse weddings with just two attendants and then regular receptions. They’re expanding it slightly to include siblings and parents.

    Immediate family doesn’t usually include aunts and uncles, BTW, as a poster above suggests.

    1. My husband and I were the only witnesses to the wedding of his brother and his bride. No one else was there – people were told they couldn’t come (on her side – her parents and brother) and his other siblings were told it happened after the fact – actually I’m not even sure they were all told. It just wasn’t a big thing. And everyone is close with family and we all spend time together and she visits her brother and parents regularly. They just did not want any fuss. Even getting them to pose for a picture taken on my iPhone was an event. The Justice of the Peace was told no vows – only what was legally necessary: do you come of your own free will and do you take this person in marriage. And then we went to a Hakka dinner. Done.

  6. silver_dragon_girl says:

    ARGH. Seriously, people, stop trying to tell people what they “can” and “can’t” and “should” and “shouldn’t” do at THEIR OWN WEDDINGS! Yes, there is etiquette involved, but there are about a gajillion reasons why they might not have invited certain people. LET IT GO. This is one time when it is NOT ABOUT YOU.


    In other words, I agree with Wendy, but she was way nicer than I am.

    1. “LET IT GO. This is one time when it is NOT ABOUT YOU.”

      True, but if you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know that everyone else really does think it’s about them. And no matter how you try to explain, they still think deserve a say in your wedding. It’s so, so frustrating.

      1. “LET IT GO. This is one time when it is NOT ABOUT YOU.”

        Um… actually, it kinda is. There is a reason why traditional marriage ceremonies talk about the “giving” of a man a and woman in holy matrimony – it’s about the families. On one level, the bride and groom represent the offshoots of two families creating a new one.

        True, in recent years weddings have become an opportunity for bridezillas to act out their Princess For A Day fantasies, but that’s only been over the last couple of decades. Before that, it was far more communal. Let’s face it, the bride’s parents traditionally pay for it. The bride’s father traditionally gives her away. How then did we get to the point where it’s ALL ABOUT HER?

        That said, the LW needs to ask his brother why the ceremony has been so viciously closed off, and (sensitively) pass the information on to his family. The lack of invitations is far enough outside the social norms for them to be owed an explanation.

        It might also be wise for the family to re-frame the event as centering on the reception – make that the “real” wedding ceremony – and make the little house party an adjunct to the main event.

      2. That’s true, to a point. But even you didn’t mention in-laws in the examples listed above. The LW’s brother and fiance are including their immediate families. Maybe her dad is giving her away, maybe her parents did pay for it. What’s her sister-in-law’s role in that? And I wouldn’t say it was viciously closed off. It’s closed to people outside the immediate family. It is odd, maybe. But it’s not wrong, and it’s certainly not about the future sister-in-law.

    2. Well said. All i heard was that the wife was crying too. How many people will be left crying too? Respect that it’s not the wife’s or LW’s wedding.

    3. Well said. All i heard was that the wife was being a waawaa. How many people will be left crying too? Respect that it’s not the wife’s or LW’s wedding.

  7. GatorGirl says:

    Honestly you need to ask your brother why your wife and other siblings spouses aren’t invited. There are a million reasons why the bride and groom could have made this decision. Maybe for their religion (I know Mormons do this), maybe for cost, privacy, intimacy, space. Maybe the bride is nervous she’ll mess up the words, maybe the groom is afraid he’ll pass out. The reasons are litterally endless why they only want parents and siblings at the ceremony.

    Your wife needs to take a chill pill and realize that this is not her wedding. She already had hers. She is not being singled out or shunned or treated poorly in any way. It would behove her to take the high road and respect the couples decision.

    A ceremony is a special moment for the bride and groom…not the guests.

    1. I couldn’t disagree more. Weddings aren’t special moments for the bride and the groom– that is the honeymoon. The wedding is the bringing together of two families. A bride that creates an awkward situation for her new family is the one stirring the pot. A wife who is already in the family has every right to question whether or not she desires to spend the money on a wedding when she and her children have been cut out.

      1. Francesca Subra says:

        Spot on! A man and a woman marry and become one. To exclude one’s brother’s spouse who has been in the family for a while is incredibly rude and causes unnecessary strife and tension within the family. If that were my husband I would be very upset if he didn’t say “sorry, I cannot stand up at your wedding without my wife”. That would be the proper thing to do. My nephew (whom Im not close with) has invited me to his wedding but excluded my children and my husband. We live 2500 miles away. Of course Im not attending and have been left with bad feelings. For the cost of three more chicken dinners there could have been such a much happier ending to this story. My point is sometimes hurt feelings are just not worth whatever one thinks they are gaining by not inviting certain family members.

      2. ele4phant says:

        “A man and a woman marry and become one. ”

        Um, not everyone shares this view.

        I married my husband because we wanted to communicate our love and commitment to one another. To commerate that we were agreeing to partner together for the rest of our lives. That commimtent is between just him and I, and I could give a lick what other people do or do not think about our relationship, or how they do or do not recognize our union. They aren’t part of it.

        And, we are a partnership, but we are very much individuals, not “one”. The whole thought of that makes my skin crawl. What makes our marriage so special is that we have committed to one another despite the fact we are fully formed individuals. Its a choice and a commitment we make to one another every day, even when it’s hard.

      3. Bringing together of two families? God in 8 years I think my family and his have met 3 times at the absolute most. Not everyone lives in their family’s pocket, especially not in these increasingly mobile times.

  8. Addie Pray says:

    I agree with Wendy. Though I’d definitely feel slighted too, I think your wife and kids should follow Wendy’s advice – chin up, go to the reception, and don’t make a fuss out of this. If you don’t have any reason to suspect they’re doing this to slight your wife, then don’t assume so.

    Out of curiosity: Are the bride’s siblings’ spouses and kids also excluded? If she has any, I assume they are also excluded, or else you surely would’ve mentioned that, in which case this is another reason not to take this “immediate family members only” cutoff personally. And if they are invited, well then your brother is an asshole and/or there’s definitely some bad blood between your brother/his bride and your wife. Or does the bride not have any siblings with spouses, making the “immediate family only” cutoff affect your wife only? If that’s the case, I can see your wife’s tendancy to feel the exclusion was a personal attack of sorts. And if that’s the case, are there other close-but-not-immediate family members (like a cousin or something) who are also excluded but would expect to be there? If so, remind your wife that she’s not the only one being excluded. … I’m not sure why I’m looking for more facts that might justify your feeling slighted. Probably best to just assume this is not about your wife and kids and do as your brother would like for his special day.

  9. fast eddie says:

    It appears that his brother hasn’t thought this through. Barring the LWs wife without a lengthy explanation is a social faux pas in the extreme and the damage is already done no matter what happens now. On the other hand his brother may have valid reasons for the exclusion. As Wendy wisely put it his wife must put on a happy face and attend the reception. Family relationships are deep and last forever. She may have an opportunity to return the snub in the future. That thought might be help her to get through this event.

    1. GatorGirl says:

      “She may have an opportunity to return the snub in the future.”

      Love this! (Although I do think it could lead to issues it is totally something I would do!)

      1. Yeah, that’s messed up. Revenge would be hard to pass up on this one.

  10. I didn’t think it was that odd for couples to have private ceremonies with bigger receptions. I’ve been to a couple weddings like that. It *is* slightly weird that their siblings-in-law aren’t included, but my guess is that they’re just trying to keep the numbers down…. or if their budget is tight, they want to splurge on the reception, which is the FUN part anyway. Who cares about the ceremony, really? I sit through it because I have to, haha. 😉

  11. It’s funny that people decry the “it’s all about me” aspect of many modern weddings, but then in the same breath will declare that the bride and groom can do whatever they want because it’s THEIR day. I think it is totally rude that the wife wasn’t invited. I understand the want for “immediate family” only, but in my family my sister-in-law IS my immediate family. Maybe this family isn’t that close, and I can only speculate about their reasons. However, I think Wendy is right and the LW and his wife should just let it go. In the long run it is only one day and they don’t want this to impact their relationship with the rest of the family. The wife and nephews can enjoy the reception and hopefully remember that this isn’t the end of the world and likely isn’t personal.

    1. I agree – it is rude. If you want a ceremony that small, go to city hall with two witnesses. If you want a wedding, then do it right and include your family AND spouses.

      That being said, you and Wendy are right: this isn’t worth making waves over, so the wife and kids have no choice but suck it up and attend the reception with smiles on their faces.

    2. THIS THIS THIS. It absolutely drives me CRAZY that people will decry the culture of it’sallaboutme weddings and then immediately declare that any person who has a problem with any decision made by a bride or groom is wrong, wrong, wrong because it’s THEIR day. You can’t have both.

  12. LW,

    I think you should just ask your brother why he is having a small wedding. But only if you can do so in a casual, non-accusatory way. I have a feeling he’ll give an acceptable answer and hopefully your wife can get over this perceived slight.

    If it is, in fact, a slight – like many of the reasons addie pray gave – then I do feel bad for your wife. But I suspect it was the best place to draw the line – immediate family only then a fun, inclusive reception.

  13. evanscr05 says:

    I think you need to ask your brother why, because yes, what they are doing is incredibly rude (regardless of whether or not it’s their place to do this, it is still rude). If there is a good enough reason behind it, at least it will help calm you and and your wife down and maybe you won’t feel so slighted. If there isn’t a good reason, then, well, I guess you and your family have a choice to make: 1) suck it up and deal with it or b) stand by your wife and kids, and don’t attend the ceremony. Your wife and your children are your immediate family now, and you should consider how they feel about this, and how they would feel if you went without them. You have to do what is best for you and your family, but until you know the reasons behind the decision, you can only be so mad.

    On a personal note, I would feel the exact same way as you if my brother or my husband’s sister did this, particularly if it is not in keeping with the family dynamics up to this point. If this is completely out of the blue and a very unusual decision, of course you’re going to feel slighted. They made the conscious decision to leave out very close family members, so there has to be some reason behind it.

  14. Not only does LW need to let it go, the wife and kids need to let it go, too. The bride and groom have made their decision about the wedding and reception they want, and it needs to be respected. The extended families are being included in the reception, so it’s not like they’re being completely snubbed. It is what it is.

    I’d also advise LW that “let it go” also means don’t pump the brother for insight as to why they chose to have a small wedding, or talk about why his wife’s feelings are hurt during the ceremonies and the reception. Let it go means let it go. Don’t go stirring up trouble or hurt feelings on his brother’s wedding day. If he absolutely can’t let it go (or if the wife can’t), that’s a conversation that should be held at a later, less emotionally charged time.

  15. Maybe its just me, but I have always been under the impression that once you were married, you became immediate family. I know I, and my parents and sister, consider my husband to be part of our family. I would be hurt if his family told me I was not considered to be immediate family.
    I think your wife should be the bigger person here and go to the reception, but I also think she has a right to feel a little hurt that she’s not “family” enough to attend.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      My dad was the same way. He always insisted the kids-in-law call him Papa (that’s what we called him – Papa, not Dad), and the in-laws were in ALL our family pictures. I remember saying “Hey, think we can have one just the kids and not the spouses?” and he scowled at me. Joke was on him though because one of my sisters ended up getting divorced, and her asshole ex is in ALL our pictures from those years.

      1. Iwannatalktosampson says:

        I agree! At my wedding we even had my brother-in-laws long term girlfriend in all the pictures. Even if they break up who cares? They were in love at the time and she had a blast that day and we had a blast having her there. So having her in pictures isn’t going to change my view of the day, it’s not like we can pretend she wasn’t there anyways. But I guess every day presents a new opportunity to be an asshole, apparently the brother doesn’t want to pass up that chance.

      2. My family is the same way – spouse are immediate family. Hell, some days I think my mom likes my husband more than me (except now he’s started calling her MeMaw and she hates that).

      3. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Hey honeybeenicki, you coming to the Chicago meetup on Thursday? I know you’re dying to trekk in all the way from Wisconsin. And you can bring along with you all the other hillbilly Wisconsin DW’ers! (Kidding! Just being a Chicago snob for no good reason.)

  16. I swear, every time I read one of these letters I want to elope. Here’s my scenario for a perfect wedding: elope/get married at the courthouse. Invite everyone over for a big BBQ or something, and then casually say, “By the way, we’re having this party because we got married yesterday.” Or wait til somoene asks you what you did over the weekend.

    I agree with Wendy. The wife needs to take the high road. Besides, the reception is more fun. 🙂

    1. We did have a very low key wedding, some friends and close family were there (a small civil ceremony, then to a restaurant), but we had only told those people like 5 days before (we got the paperwork done a week before we got married), and didn´t tell anyone else until after (I was on the winter break at work).
      If you do go that route prepare for people to get offended!!!! People I wouldn´t have invited if we had a big wedding seemed to feel like they should´ve known about the tiny wedding we did have beforehand.

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        JK, I’ve missed you! Did you miss me? I met some people from Argentina in Mexico, and I was like “hey, I have a friend who lives there. … Wait, no, actually, I don’t know her, but I know there’s a woman that lives there.” Awkward.

      2. I have AP 🙂
        Well next trip you´ll just have to come a bit further south then so we can meet, I´m getting jealous of all the meet ups people are planning up there!!!

      3. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        That would be so fun! I’ll have a glass of red wine for you at the Chicago Meetup on Thursday. Even though I know you don’t drink. It’s the least I can do.

    2. silver_dragon_girl says:

      Me too. I know that will piss off my mom, and my future MIL, and SIL, and sister, and friends, and you know what? I don’t care. I’m the one getting married, not them. No one is entitled to come to my wedding except my future husband.

      And ceremonies are no fun, anyway, you’re right. I’ll take the reception over the ceremony any day 🙂

    3. Or just randomly invite them to a potluck party, then when they show up tell them they are at your wedding! Andy and April did that on Parks and Rec 🙂

    4. Agreed! It’s posts like these that also make me want to elope. My boyfriend is all for it and I said I would never do it but I’m slowly being brought around.

    5. iseeshiny says:

      I did elope and it was still ridiculous. I’m terrible at keeping secrets and, like, lying, so once we had been engaged for more than a year my mom was finally like, No, really, when are you getting married? And I said, A week from Wednesda-shit.

      So of course my mom insisted she had to come. And I’m really bad at saying no, too. Well, of course my husband was like, If your mom gets to come then my mom has to. His mother speaks no English and can’t drive, so his sister decided to give her a ride. Which meant her two kids (kindergarten and preschool-aged) had to come. Which meant that my brothers had to come, too. Ugh. And we couldn’t un-invite our two witnesses who were supposed to be the only other people coming with us. We ended up with ten people at the courthouse, plus us.

    6. It goes back to entitlement. No one is entitled to be invited to anything. My mom would probably be upset but she and I have vey different ideas about everything anyway and I want to be sane.

  17. HelloJello says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I would LOVE to not have to attend the actual ceremony. Even my own, I’m still figuring out how I can get married by proxy.

    1. Totally! The ceremony is the boring part. Invite me to the party only any day!

  18. This is just one of those times where you need to suck it up and move on. Sure, it’s strange, but it’s not your wedding, and while your wife’s feelings may be a little bruised, she should just soldier on about it. The bottom line is that your children are going to take their cues from you guys on this one, and if the two of you are flipping out and being all “me, me, me!” so will they.

    So for the good of the family, and the betterment of your own sanity, just take a deep breath and say to yourselves, “This is fine. We are going to enjoy ourselves and act the adults that we are.” It may be hurtful, but you absolutely do not have to dwell on that AT ALL.

    Anyway, everyone knows the fun part of the wedding is the reception.

    As for returning snubs–childish. Be the bigger person. It’s always easier to do the wrong thing than it is to do the right thing.

  19. As long as the wife and kids are invited to the reception afterwards (they are, right?), then I don’t feel like this is a problem. I actually deliberately skipped the ceremony of the last wedding I was invited to & only went to the reception, because the actual “do-you-take-this-man-as-your-etc.” part is boring :-\ (don’t worry, they were friends & not anyone close so my absence wasn’t missed)

  20. I think I’m in the minority as far as feeling like everyone should be held to strict wedding etiquette like always inviting significant others (‘wah you must invite my significant other or I’ll be bored!’… Um, single people still manage to enjoy weddings right?!). It is a little odd that your brother isn’t inviting your wife and sons to the small ceremony, but as Wendy said, who knows what their reasons are? You could gently ask about it, to maybe give your family reason to feel better about not being invited. But I also think that at a certain point, getting super upset over problems like this is more about your ego than anything else.

  21. tbrucemom says:

    I swear if I hear one more person talk about going to the “fun” part of the wedding, I’ll scream! That’s the same attitude people have about marriage. They treat the wedding like it’s a gala and it makes them sound like all they want is to get married for the spectacle and when they have to deal with the actual marriage they can’t or won’t. I love weddings because of the vows and the tears in their eyes as they’re reciting them, seeing the bride walk down the aisle and her groom smiling from ear to ear, the first kiss as husband and wife..you get my point. I would much rather be at the ceremony that go to a reception and eat dry chicken, see people act ridiculous after they’ve had too much to drink and dance the chicken dance! I can appreciate the idea of a small wedding, but if it’s about cost I think the reception is where the money primarily goes anyway. I wonder if his sisters have spouses/kids and if they were also not invited.

    1. I agree with you about the ceremony. At my wedding, that was the thing that was the most important to me. Looking back, I could have totally done without a reception. Ours was really low key, so I enjoyed it a lot, but to me a wedding is about the ceremony, not a big party.

    2. People still talk about my wedding ceremony because we had fun with it. Our readings included “Oh The Places You’ll Go” (Dr. Suess) and an essay written by a nun (I think?) about laughter. Our vows were very heartfelt, but with a touch of silliness (ie: my husband was laid off 2 days before our wedding, so he amended his vows to include “job or no job”).

      1. evanscr05 says:

        haha that’s so cute!! I love the Dr. Seuss idea! I still get laughs about the “Wedding Word Find” I included in my programs. Ended up working out perfectly, though, as I was super duper late to my ceremony due to some attire complications.

      2. Something More says:

        Ahh – the infamous “warrobe malfunction” strikes again.

      3. Something More says:


      4. evanscr05 says:

        haha It was really just that my dress tied all the way up the back, so no zipper and no buttons. You have to get it really tight in order for it to look right. I had my mom and probably 2 or 3 bridesmaids back there. It still wasn’t right. Kind of bowed out on the sides more than it should have. I hate those particular pictures… But yeah, it took like 20 minutes to do it the first time, and when I told them it was way too lose, it took a few minutes to undo before tying it up again. I was already sooo behind at that point we had to leave it after the second go. Oh well. Things happen!

    3. I hated that attitude when I got married! At our rehearsal, the priest was running late and my mom was about as high strung as you can possibly be (i say about because she truly hit as high strung as possible the day of the wedding), and she was upset at me for not reminding the priest about the rehearsal. I was getting a little aggravated, and then my sister’s boyfriend (of like 6 months or something), said “its not like the ceremony matter anyway” I probably shouldn’t have snapped at him, but I really didn’t like that everyone seemed to be like eh get it over with so we can party. Obviously the ceremony was way important to me, that’s when we actually got married!

    4. GatorGirl says:

      I agree and disagree with you. While the ceremony is 110% the most important part- we can not wait for the huge celebration with our families. Our favorite part of weddings we’ve been to is sharing a meal and having a great time dancing with all the generations of our family! Maybe we are lucky with the weddings we’ve been to.

      1. Of course I was also super excited about the big celebration with our friends and family, that part was really important to me. I just didn’t like the insinuation from most people around me that the ceremony was just that boring thing you have to sit through in order to get to the free booze.

    5. Oh, I am so glad someone else feels this way! I was reading all the comments and starting to feel so sad. The most important part of my wedding was standing up there in front of my closest family and friends (very small wedding), and promising my husband commitment and love. That was the part that meant most to me, and I put so much thought and feeling into writing the vows and saying them to him. And I’d be so sad to think people came just for the “fun” reception. Maybe if there were people that were not close to the bride and groom, that would be different. But honestly, I want to see and hear the vows when my closest family and friends get married.

    6. There have been time when I was not invited to the ceremony due to religion (Bhuddist), yet looking back at our wedding the ones most interested in my Catholic nuptials were the Bhuddists, because they’ve never been to a church before.

      I understand the reception is more fun, because the ceremony is a pretty serious deal. As a general rule you’re invited as a witness to the marriage. We’re celebrating what we witnessed if there is a reception immediately after the ceremony. Of course there plenty of reasons why this may not occur, but maybe it is better viewed as something serious then boring.

  22. Maybe a better way to look at this is that your brother and sister-in-law aren’t inviting guests to their wedding, they’re having a private wedding with only a handful of witnesses. Sure, a sister-in-law would ordinarily be invited as a guest to even a small wedding, especially when her husband is the best man, but is her relationship to the bride and groom so close that it rises to the importance of being one of (literally) a handful of witnesses?

    LW, your brother-in-law probably could have explain the situation better, but frankly they ARE including your wife and children by inviting them to the ceremony. They’re not handling this in what I would call the typical way, but they’re certainly not out of line. Your wife has every right to feel a bit hurt, but it’s her job to suck it up and support them (and you!) anyway and encourage her kids to do the same. And, unfortunately for you, as the person in the middle it’s your job to try to smooth things over with your wife and kids so they don’t disrespect your brother and sister-in-law a million times worse than they, themselves, feel disrespected right now.

    1. Including them by inviting them to the RECEPTION, rather!

  23. Flanagan.er says:

    Yeah, I’m officially never getting married. It seems like there is literally no wedding-related decision that I can make that won’t offend people.

    Except, crap, if I elope, that will offend people.

    And if I just stay in a committed relationship without getting married, that will offend people.

    And if I stay single, *that* will offend people.

    Shit, I guess my only option is to pray that my family isn’t as completely petty as most of the families that are written about or have written in the the various advice columns that I read.

    1. I agree that most wedding-related questions in advice columns are petty, but I don’t think it is in this case. I really think the bigger issue here is that the sister-in-law is hurt to discover that she is not considered “immediate family”.

      1. rangerchic says:

        I totally agree with you niki. In our family our spouses become immediate family. I would feel hurt by the exclusion as well. But I do think the wife and kids should try to let it go though I’m sure that is easier said than done!

      2. Flanagan.er says:

        I guess. But in my family, I’m the youngest of seven. So even if only most of them our married by the time I am (and three already are) that’s ten people. Add in their kids, and it’s 13. And that’s just the numbers for me today, at 22, totally single, with no prospects. It could be more by the time I actually get married. If the man I marry has a similar situation, even slightly less, that’s around 20. Add in parents, and even if my husband doesnt have step-parents, that’s 26 people. That’s not a small ceremony any more. And if you’re really just looking for witnesses, that’s totally excessive. The lw doesnt say, but if this isn’t a religious wedding, but a civil ceremony, then theres really not much to watch, and I totally get wanting to place the focus on the celebration afterwards.

      3. Great example of why there is not a reason to be pissed. No one has a right to be at anyone’s wedding and if everyone else in the LW’s wife’s situation is not invited to the ceremony either then everything is fair and NO ONE has been slighted.

      4. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough information from the LW to determine whether there were multiple in-laws not invited, just this one, or if she was the only one. He only talks about his side of the family and not the bride’s. Going off the limited information provided we know that they are getting married in a small house and that they only want immediate family. Again, I think the reason the wife is hurt is the fact that the bride and groom termed the guest list as only “immediate family”. Had the bride and groom stated that there is only room for X number of guests so we’re limiting it to wedding party and parents, that would have made more sense. I know that it’s only semantics, but word choice can be powerful and realizing that your place in the family may not be what you thought it was can be hurtful.

      5. Terminology is silly and maybe if they said “nuclear family” that would have remedied the situation? I get what you are saying. I don’t like how emotionally charged this stuff gets though because as other commenters have posted it just makes me want to get married and then a year later say – oh btw….

  24. I understand not inviting everyone you’ve ever been drinking buddies or classmates with to your wedding, but leaving out family members is pretty shitty. And if there are travel expenses involved, that’s especially shitty. So she’s just supposed to wait at the hotel until she’s “allowed” in? That is totally disrespectful. If I were her, I wouldn’t even spend the money to go to the thing. Just sign the card and send him alone since that’s clearly how they want it. Make other plans that night.

    When my brother got married, it was a very small wedding but every single family member, spouse, SO, and child was invited. Many were in the wedding. My boyfriend was a groomsman and I was a bridesmaid; we aren’t even married.

    1. iseeshiny says:

      Wouldn’t a very small wedding with every single family member invited = very small family?

      Don’t look at me like that – I’m just sayin’…

      1. Yup!

    2. I forgot about the travel expenses – that’s a good point. It’s pretty awful to say, “Hey, sister-in-law, I want you to shell out hundreds of dollars for airfare, food, and hotel, but you’re not allowed to attend my wedding ceremony.”

      As I said earlier, I don’t think it’s worth it for the wife and kids to make waves over this issue, but it’s still rude and hurtful to cut them out of the wedding.

  25. Friend of Beagles says:

    Oh, brother. It’s the brother’s and future s-i-l’s wedding. THEIR wedding. Not the LW’s wife’s wedding. (BTW, I question just how insulted the kids are not to be invited to the wedding part. What kid likes to sit through wedding ceremonies? I know mine don’t.) And the bride and groom can have their wedding any way that they want. I read this as one or the other having major anxiety issues. Some people simply can’t be in front of anything even resembling a crowd and speak, much less repeat vows. Maybe the groom has already negotiated the witness list to the bride’s anxiety limit. Maybe she’s mortified that her family can’t/won’t attend. Let them do this thing their way, and everyone else should be happy for the couple, then whoop it up at the reception. Honestly, it’s none of the LW’s business (more specifically, none of his wife’s business) why the guest list is the way it is, and he shouldn’t press. Goodness knows they’re going to be taking heat from everyone else about this too. Support your brother, LW, and assure your wife this isn’t a personal affront (even if there’s a remote chance that it is personal, LW, and I can’t see any evidence aside from your wife’s reaction that it is, do your bro and his bride a solid and try to smooth over the ruffled feathers now).

  26. landygirl07 says:

    We only had family and friends that traveled from St. Louis to our ceremony, which took place in our backyard. The problem with inviting more people than you’d prefer is that pretty soon everyone will expect the bride and groom to make an execption for them.

    Sure, it’s natural that the LW’s wife would be miffed but I think she is overreacting. She is making the day about her instead of the bride and groom. She and the kids are invited to the reception so it isn’t like they are being ignored or overlooked. The LW’s wife needs to get over herself and go to the reception.

  27. Skyblossom says:

    Ultimately the bride and groom can have whatever wedding with whatever guests they choose. That being understood, I wouldn’t personally want to pay much in travel expenses to attend a wedding where I wasn’t actually invited to attend the wedding. I’d respect the bride and groom in their choice and know it was what they wanted most but I also probably wouldn’t travel to attend a reception.

  28. Hmmm… interesting.. in my “culture” when you get a wedding invitation, it means reception. Only the immediate family, and sometimes the closest friends will attend the wedding ceremony itself. And nobody makes even the slightest deal out of it. I don’t know what the LW’s or his wife’s background is, but to me that is completely acceptable.

  29. Sorry. I don’t get why your wife feels disrespected at all. If other in-laws were invited I could see it but a completely valid reason has been given that has nothing to do with her. If it was about anything else in reality would they have invited your wife and kids to the part of the celebration that is paid for by the head?

    Your brother and his fiancé should not be expected to change the location of their wedding ceremony so that your wife doesn’t have to be understanding or gets to be seen for an extra hour in her party dress. A wedding in a small home may not be everybody’s cup of tea but it’s obviously your brother’s and it’s his wedding.

    You and your wife should quit with the drama and accept that your brother and future sister in-law’s wedding choices aren’t about you two at all and support the couple on their big day.

  30. Wendy –

    I usually think you’re right on with your advice, but on this one I think you got it really wrong. I cannot imagine if my sister told me she was getting married and I was invited but my husband couldn’t come. People grow up and form their own families – the nuclear family you had as a kid just doesn’t stay that way forever.

    I intensely dislike the attitude of “it’s your day! you can do whatever you want!” It ceases to be all about you when you invite guests. At that point it becomes about the comfort of the people you’re hosting.

    1. Friend of Beagles says:

      My husband would be so relieved if I got an invitation to a wedding and he didn’t have to go too. . . .

  31. Isthisadviceserious says:

    Wow. This is horrible advice. Best man in the middle needs to disregard the advice given here. amyb has it right all the way. The wife SHOULD be invited. That’s a huge smack in the face. She’s a SISTER IN LAW which is immediate family.

  32. I feel for this dude, mainly because he’s just relaying a concern from his wife – who I’m sure is causing him more stress than the actual issue – since I feel most guys don’t really care about the logistics of the wedding (and I use the term “most” for a reason, there will always be exceptions, which I’m sure will show up in comments to follow that start with “well MY guy…”). But for most, the ceremony is just something you need to sit through before the celebration afterwards. You’ll never hear a guy say “it was a nice ceremony and all, could have used a few more passage readings, but…” My ideal wedding is “Do you? Yes. Do you? Yes. It’s done, this way to the reception.”

    But she’s pissed, and now he has to deal with it, which is why he wrote in since she refuses to accept his explanation of “who cares?” What bugs me is this whole “entitlement” approach families take with a wedding. Mainly it bugs me because I’m likely to be a part of some obnoxiously large wedding. My girlfriend’s brother – who is older – already had my ideal wedding. Small, close family only, few best friends, that was that. But ooooooh no, now the rest of the extended family is pissed they weren’t involved. This places high expectations on OUR wedding, which will likely consist of about as many people as reside in Rhode Island, just so we can uphold everyone else’s expectations of being invited to the wedding of any person who they bear even the slightest relation to, be it a droplet of blood or someone who “this one time I babysat for.” I’m wondering if I should start taking anxiety medication now as to build up a tolerance? But really, the two people getting married do not owe you shit. Get over yourselves. If the people getting married still talk to you or send you a Christmas card or pretend they’re happy to see you at reunions, then it’s likely not personal if they’d rather have a small, private wedding that you’re not invited to. Just get the cliff notes at the next get-together. If you are close, and you take on a piss-off attitude because of it, you won’t be close for much longer I can assure you that. Count your blessings, and hope they have an open bar so you can make it up to them at the reception.

  33. Wendy,
    I think your advice is awful. How terrible that you are encouraging the idea that people can be so incredibly rude as to exclude someone’s significant other. Immediate family means a sister-in-law. Does this give the writer and his wife the excuse to throw Christmas at their house next year, “immediate family only” which means excluding the bride?

    He’s not asking to bring the entire extended family, he’s asking to bring his wife. The woman that he was bound to, in the same ceremony that his brother is about to be bound in. If I was this best man, I would be refusing to go to the ceremony without my signficant other. Why would I want to celebrate in a day uniting two people who don’t feel that my significant other is part of their family?

    The sense of entitlement of this bride and groom is what is appalling, that they can be so devoid of etiquette and rude and expect people to just roll over for them because it’s their wedding day. Well as soon they decided to include others in their day they needed to consider the feelings of those others. Why does the writer’s wife have to soothe her ruffled feelings – according to you because it might create ill feeling with the couple that’s about to be married. Well what about the ill feeling they’re creating within the family by excluding AN IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER.

    Your implication that people can pick and choose their immediate family members is just as rude as the two people who are choosing to rudely do so.

  34. Aspasia475 says:

    Entitlement? Actually, in this case the “dude’s” wife is entitled to be entitled. Husband and wife are one social unit, and once married one puts one’s “Best Man in the Middle” had better step out of the middle and go stand beside his wife where he belongs.

    As for the damper that reacting to the insult will put on future family gatherings, it pales beside the damper that it will put on future family gatherings for that snubbed wife if she gets the message that her husband’s family don’t feel obliged to treat “outsiders” with respect — and that her husband is willing to be an “insider” while she is left out in the cold.

  35. The ceremony is always my favorite part of a wedding, actually. It makes my cry and laugh, and reflect on the hope that these promises represent. And what’s this business about “it’s my wedding and it’s all about me!!!” This is also a very modern, 80’s-born view of weddings. Sure do things that make you happy, but the unwillingness to even consider other people’s feelings indicates, to me, some rather ugly selfishness, and whoever decides this is appropriate behaviour shouldn’t be surprised to discover there’s a social cost to acting like a jerk. Cause its a jerky move to not invite your family to your wedding, or telling your best man and brother that the woman he shares his deepest bond with is not welcome at your own wedding. I don’t care what the reason in- it’s a jerk move. Not inviting a long-term spouse? Really? Really? It’s ok because that’s just what she wants? It’s just a wedding, it’s really worth hurting long-term relationships over?

    1. “there’s a social cost to acting like a jerk.” While I think using the term “jerk” might put people off because it extends a person’s behavior to label a whole person, I REALLY agree with this sentiment.

  36. i can really sympathize with both sides of this…

    on one hand, if i was to have a personal, intimate ceremony, i would literally only want those closest to me there. there are certain parts of me, certain things i would like to say on my wedding day, that i dont even know if i could say in front of ANYONE. my boyfriend wants to write our own vows, and i told him that I will, but i will read them to him that night, while we are alone. that is just not something that i would want to share with anyone else- not even my parents and siblings if I was in this position…. if i was to have a very small ceremony, i would do exactly as this bride and groom are doing- parents and siblings. no SO’s. you have to remember that the bride probably doesnt know the LW’s wife very well- if she has even met her!

    on the other hand, i will go through hell and high waters to make sure no one i love feels excluded. at my wedding, my one requirement is that all the people i love are there. i would never intentionally not include someone.

    i honestly think that this couple has done the right thing- they are going to have a very small intimate ceremony, and then everyone will get to celebrate at the ceremony. i dont think its a bad thing that your wife feels slighted -im sure i would to- but i think she just has to realize that in this particular ceremony, it has to be just this handful of people. its nothing personal against her, its more of a personal thing FOR the lw and his brother, if that makes sense. i really hope that you can get your wife to understand this, and that she can go to the reception and actually be happy for them.

  37. bittergaymark says:

    It always simply amazes me how so many people seemingly go through their lives just waiting and hoping and praying to be able to accuse others of “disrespecting” them. It’s all so tedious. And boring. Your wife is a bore, LW. In more ways than one. She’s trying to make trouble. Don’t take the bait. Seriously. Just don’t.

    Meanwhile, I fucking HATE wedding ceremonies. They are tedious, unoriginal, sloppy, and — more often than not — frightfully dull. Yes, if I could go through the rest of my life only showing up for the party, I would be one happy man. Seriously…

    1. Bittergaymark says:

      Hah. Boy oh boy do I ever still stands by this opinion. Bravo, me from the past!

  38. Personally I am with the posters who said the bride and groom are being extremely rude. This is such a slight to the SIL who has obviously been a member of this family since the day she married her husband. I can see why she is upset. If she was the spouse of a random friend then maybe but she is a member of the family and her husband is in the wedding.
    Added to that the fact they they have to spend money to travel to this wedding- the bride and groom have gone past rude.
    As to everyone who said the ceremony is “boring, tedious, whatever” I would question what sort of friend you are. Someone has invited to witness one of the most special days in their lives and the only emotion you can come up with is boredom? Really nice- you should probably RSVP No to wedding invites if you feel this way!

  39. I can understand why the wife would be upset, however I think she just needs to realize it’s not about her or leaving just her out. I eloped and only immediate family came to my ceremony. I got a lot of angry emails/phone calls about it and I understand that people want to celebrate with you, but it’s not their wedding. They don’t get to decide how you take those vows. I know also one of the venues we looked in to only allowed the bride and groom plus two witnesses (it was a historic home that was on the smaller side). I don’t see how what these two are doing is any different from other stories I’ve read online about brides and grooms getting married and then inviting family/friends to a celebration that night. I don’t know, I guess being someone who eloped I have more sympathy for people making the right choice for them and then having to deal with people telling what they think they should have done.

  40. I have to say that even though I’m not a fan of weddings and if I had it my way it would be me, my only guests would be 2 witnesses, I entirely agree with the wife here. The marrying couple is getting more than just a family of siblings, they’re getting everyone in the family. The woman is feeling like she’s not a part of the family and that’s the worst thing I can imagine. If you want to make it about family, you invite your family, even if you don’t particularly like them or even want certain ones there. Deciding that some people are family and some aren’t is just starting your life off on the wrong foot.

    So, I agree with others, get a better reason from the brother about why the non-invitation. Because frankly this one is just mean.

  41. Hello,

    Just a few clarifications and also a Thank You to all who have responded either way.
    Clarification 1: We were told by my brother that the wedding was going to be in March and so because everything should book flights and hotels ect…
    Clarification 2: After the above mention of the wedding, we then receive an email that said only immediate family are invited to the ceremony.
    What’s my point? Everything is booked and can not be refunded. The information of the ceremony should have been laid out before the message to book everything. I mean I fell this is more of an eloping then a party afterwards.
    Again, I respect all the responses just feel the entire mess could have been avoided completely.
    I think GingerLaine said it best for me and this is what I did…
    Bro #1: “Hey bro, so I’m totally stoked about the wedding, but can I ask, why no spouses?”
    Bro #2: “Oh, we decided to do that because…”
    Bro #1: “Oh! That makes total sense, thanks for the info.”
    Easy peasy. We’re not talking about a friend of a friend. He’s your brother. Ask him.

    All this aside if they decide to stay with immediate family we are all still going including my wife she just feels hurt and upset at the timing of the information.
    Anyway, I will let you know how it plays out and thanks again for all the responses!

  42. Hello,
    Wedding is over and turned out that the Bride’s Mom and family’s significant others were furious with the arrangements too. So, the bride caved and all were invited to the wedding even nieces, nephews, cousins ect… Man what a mess, I think in the end she just didn’t think it would be that big a deal but behind the scenes her family was furious. The good thing here is that my brother and I were already trying to get a bigger place and manage to get one at the last minute. Feelings have been spared and well not the best planning but not the end of the world either.
    Thanks to all!

  43. Limepink22 says:

    I’m glad you updated- and thats so funny. She had no problem pissing off her future husbands family with her exclusions- but once her family was upset she could cave.

    And personally, I don’t get that much vacation time- I would NOT take off vacation and spend money on airfare and hotel and car rental and gifts- to go to a PARTY.

    Because if you miss the vows, its just a party and its not worth the time and effort and money.
    I’d rather stay home and blow the cash on a spa day to pamper myself. Especially, as some people further up liked to claim” because the bride may not know the wife well”, then its even MORE of an outrageous effort for me to drop my time and money on it.

  44. A spouse in a Christian context is inseparable from the husband. So to invite the husband and not the wife is a gross act of disrespect not only to the wife but also to the husband.

    Assuming this is a non-Christian context, it is still obviously distressing and rude. The groom should have at least spoken privately and lovingly to the discluded wife and explained the full thinking behind it. E.g if no other wives were invited it would be have an air of consistency about it (even though still rude in my opinion).

    You don’t disclude the husband’s Wife! Perhaps the husband should decline from going. So sorry Wendy don’t agree with you.

  45. Bittergaymark says:

    I’m still baffled people actually got upset about this… But again, I find most wedding hokey and cliche’d.

  46. sarah'a mom says:

    Saw post from brother who advised that wedding actually took place in March. Just wondering, perhaps due to virus and small venue, that is why bride was keeping it so small. Perhaps one of her parents have health problems? The reception was to be larger and more folks could be accomodated with better distancing in place? Just wanted to throw that out there.

    As for my husband and I, second marriage for both. He had his best friend and spouse and I had my best friend and spouse. Afterwards a small dinner party which included children from previous marriage and a few other special friends and relatives. No one was snarky over our decision. Just saying.

  47. Partners and spouses should always be invited to weddings and other major functions. No exceptions. It is beyond rude to exclude a significant other. I don’t care what the excuse. She has every right to be pissed. I would not attend if my SO was not invited.

    1. Bittergaymark says:

      Married people are clearly the most needy and insecure people on the planet.

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