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Handling questions about family absent from wedding

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  • #1093863 Reply

    Hi all! I am a long-time, mostly lurker here and would appreciate some advice. I am getting married in a few months and none of my bio family will be invited. We have been estranged for many years, since before my fiancee and I met, and I have celebrated every major holiday with his family for years. Despite this, I am concerned my family situation will come up at the wedding because I encounter some line of questioning about visiting/spending time with my bio family from each of his extended family members (there are many) every year. I have stated we are not in contact/they are not part of my life, but I avoid getting into details. I understand they do not have bad intentions, but it is upsetting to me to discuss year after year. (To be clear, this is not an issue with his parents and siblings, just grandparents and aunts, uncles, cousins.) My chosen family will be all around on my wedding day, and I want a joyous celebration with those who are present to be the focus.

    My question is whether there is a way to tactfully head off questions at the wedding from my fiancee’s extended family about where my bio family is/why they are not there. My fiancee has volunteered to do this, but I am not sure it is the right way to go. If I do get questioned at the wedding, what would be the best, least stressful way to answer/redirect the conversation?

    Thank you for reading!

    #1093864 Reply

    Are you having chosen friends as well as your partners’ family? if so you could simply say all my loved and chosen family are here today, and that’s what matters,I am so happy to see you all, or something like that, and if they try to pursue the matter just smile and breezily move on to another guest.Hope you have a lovely day.

    #1093869 Reply

    Agree with Hazel. I hope you have some of your own friends and people, not only your fiance’s family. This would be unbalanced and strange.
    I think the reaction of the extended family is quite normal. Everybody would ask themselves the same question.
    So yes, let your fiance do the job. It is for him to mediate this matter. If they keep asking you after that, they are, in my opinion, too curious and indiscreet. This is none of their business, after all. It is obvious that this is a painful aspect of your life. So let the fiance give them an explanation. Then, what Hazel said.
    If your wedding is at church, the priest can also make a discreet statement. Speak of it with them.

    #1093884 Reply

    So I have a strained relationship with my immediate family. We talk, but we’re not super close because we’re no longer a family unit, if that makes sense. I’ve received questions about them when I’ve spent holidays with my boyfriend’s family and do my best to politely deflect with something vague. But the context of a wedding, where you will both have people you love there for you and supporting you, I think it’d be less obvious that your bio family isn’t around. At Thanksgiving dinner at your fiance’s parents’ house or whatever, his family members who are asking are probably just trying to make conversation and didn’t realize the situation. As a wedding guest, even at family weddings where I know quite a few guests, I’ve certainly not known all or even most of them. It’d never occur to me to ask the bride or groom if their bio families are there or who they are amongst the guests.

    So, if by “heading them off” you mean some kind of announcement ahead of the wedding to his family, I personally wouldn’t bother because I simply don’t think most people will notice or comment on it. The brief time I get with any bride/groom at their wedding is spent congratulating them. You can both have a polite canned answer ready to go if it comes up. Anyone who chooses your wedding day to ask you where specific people are, or worse, WHY they’re not in attendance is tone deaf.

    #1093889 Reply

    If you have family like mine, all you have to do is give a little innocuous information to the chief gossip and by the time the wedding weekend rolls around his entire family will be aware that your family of origin isn’t invited. To protect yourself, keep the reason simple and your preferences simple: You were raised in an abusive household and your family isn’t part of your life. It would be cruel to ask you about them on your special wedding day, so please don’t ask about it that weekend so that everyone has a good time. Anyone who doesn’t follow the rules will be shamed by the other family members for not following instructions.

    But this approach does mean you’d have to answer questions later on. If you can live with that, this approach might work. If not, then just stay quiet and say “They couldn’t make it” (because they weren’t invited and didn’t know it was happening).

    #1093899 Reply

    I’ve had good success with LisforLeslie’s method myself. When I was getting married I didn’t have a registry or anything but I also didn’t need anything so I asked a few key family members to pass the word around that we weren’t looking for gifts and that worked a treat. So if you’re comfortable doing it I’d ask his family members that you know to subtly get the word out beforehand or have them run a bit of interference on the day.

    #1093910 Reply

    Can you get your fiancé to do some groundwork for you?

    Before the wedding have them tell some key family members of theirs that are generally trustworthy that you have a difficult situation with your family, they won’t be there, and we’d really like happygenius to be left alone about it so they can enjoy the day. Let them deal with all the invasive questions ahead of time and set the boundaries that you don’t know the specifics, just know this is a touchy subject and we expect it to be left alone.

    Then let these informed family members take charge of the whisper campaign and enforcement.

    If anyone doesn’t get the message or has the gall to ask you directly – I mean give them the righteous stink eye and say something along the lines of “That’s a difficult subject I’d rather not get into on my wedding day. Thanks for understanding”.

    #1093911 Reply

    Oh basically yes I recommend Lisa’s approach, with the tweaks of have your fiancé do it so they are the one fielding inappropriate questions and keep it very simple (there’s not a relationship there, I’m not going into details as they don’t really matter, I trust you won’t bum my wife out on her wedding day by asking about it and will be disappointed if you do).

    #1094012 Reply

    Just to be more clear: the part about “it would be so awful for you to raise this question on her wedding day” is part of the message. It needs to be spoken out loud to the gossip/family members – as in “I know you’re a good person and would never make my bride to be suffer on her wedding day by asking this intrusive question so here’s what’s going to happen, here’s a peek why and since you’re such a good and kind person I know you’re not going to mention it over the wedding weekend because you are not a cruel person and only a cruel person would ask that.”

    #1094030 Reply

    Thanks, all. I really appreciate all of the suggestions. I was caught between wanting to head off any questions and not wanting to appear rude or call more attention to the situation than it would otherwise get. We are having a smallish wedding (75 max), so I feel opportunities for conversation may be more plentiful and who is not there may be more obvious. My bio fam isn’t big to begin with, so the groom’s would have overwhelmed them regardless, but I will have plenty of friends in attendance. I hope I am not asked about them at all, but I am glad to have so many proactive and reactive options to consider. Thanks again! –OP

    #1094035 Reply

    I have a similar family situation in that I don’t see many of them and I think my husband (who comes from a big & pretty tight family) spread the word where he needed to just in general to his family once we became seriously involved/married. We had a courthouse wedding thousands of miles away from both of our families.

    Also, having a really abusive/traumatic childhood type family situation, I used to worry about people asking me where my family was? or what was my family like? but I find most often people do not ask these questions because most people think a lot about their own worries and stresses and dramas more than why I’m a person who doesn’t really talk to most of her family, or they know plenty of others with estranged families. I’ve certainly met my fair share. The ones who do ask usually just take an innocuous, “oh we’re not really that close.” And don’t ask more.

    I know the dynamic at a wedding with strangers is different but they’ll be drunk and having fun soon and won’t give a shit or judge you. Try not to worry.

    Also, Congratulations!

    #1094220 Reply
    Another Jen

    Hi! First and foremost, congratulations on your upcoming wedding! It’s wonderful you’ve found a loving family in your in-laws.

    If anyone should ask about your family at the wedding, I’d just respond that “I wanted to celebrate today with the family and friends who’ve loved and supported me most…I’m so glad you’re here, thank you for coming!” And then I’d move the conversation on to how nice it is to gather after such a long, difficult year.

    Ideally that will shut down the chance for anyone nosy to inquire further about your absent family.


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