Your Turn: “Do I Have to Invite My Fiancé’s Daughter to Our Wedding?”

I’m feeling a little under the weather today, with a sinus infection and foggy brain, so I’m going to let you all handle this one and if I’ve got more energy later I will chime in in the comments.

Over the past four years we’ve had huge issues with my fiancés daughter, “Clementine.” She’s 22 and not in my life at all because of death threats, stealing, lying, manipulating, and disturbing legal violations against others. She occasionally contacts her father, usually to request money, which he denies. It was a very rocky road to get to this point. Dilemma: We are planning a small destination wedding. Despite all the dysfunction we’ve crawled through, he still wants to invite Clementine to come (if she can legally cross the border). His mom — who’s hard enough to deal with — and other family heard about the possible wedding and also insist that Clementine attend. “Blood is thicker than water,” they say.

I have three young adult sons who get along with my fiancé great. He has one other daughter whom he hasn’t spoken with in three years. I’ve met with her three times, thinking she’d maybe open up to him but no luck; I do like her, though. There’s no point in inviting her to the wedding since she refuses to talk to her dad.

The thought of having Clementine anywhere near — let alone our sharing a week together for our wedding — makes me shake. I thought of just eloping to avoid the issues, but my sons and fiancé’s mom/dad/brother, etc. are super excited to go, so if we elope, I feel we’re punishing everyone. My fiancé doesn’t want to hurt Clementine’s feelings by not inviting her and thinks I should give her another chance. Any suggestions? — Feeling Shaky

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  1. I disagree that there’s no point in inviting the second daughter. Think of the invitation as a gesture of welcoming. Yes, she’s unlikely to attend, but sending her an invitation anyways isn’t going to cause harm and may help foster some warm fuzzy feelings. Conversely, not inviting her could make her feel hurt and excluded, even if she’s been self-excluding herself until now. People get weird about wedding invites.
    What’s the harm in sending an invitation to the second daughter?

  2. Yes, you both should invite ALL your children, his both daughters, whatever relationship he or you have with them. To marry is an act of love, and if your future husband asks you to give her an other chance, yes, do give her another chance. If you don’t respect his family link with his children, what will you respect? I would ask him, if she comes, to organise some measures so that she is somehow under control. But do invite also the other daughter, give her too an other chance.

    1. MalinoisMom82 says:

      While I would normally say “Yes, invite them all” there are death threats that have been made- as indicated in the letter, so this isn’t as cut and dry. If the death threats were legitimate, and made against the letter writer, then the threats to her safety and well being trump the feelings of this daughter. Unless active measures can be made to make LW feel safe and comfortable, I actually think that not including this 22 year old wouldn’t be a problem. Honestly, people have been not invited for less (some legit reasons, some not), they just didn’t happen to be the adult children of the fiancee.

      As for the one that won’t talk to her dad, inviting her won’t hurt. She may or may not come, but at least you will have tried.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Yeah. Once on has literally received Death Threats from somebody… I think that they are well within their rights NOT to invite the person who made said threats…

        That said. I would NOT marry this guy. See below…

  3. I say don’t invite any of the kids. Seriously. Sit down with your boys. Tell them the problem. Tell them you’re going away to get married and that when you get back, you’ll take them and their partners to a lovely dinner where you can celebrate.

    Your boys will be fine if you are up front with them and treat them with respect.

    And the saying is “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb” meaning that the people you choose to spend time with are more important than your family of origin.

    1. Yes, this is the other option: to invite none of them, or to organise a wedding that is NOT a destination wedding: a week away is way too long and complicated if they are problematic guests. Anyway, I would apply the same rule to all children.

    2. Carrotstick21 says:

      Yes, I think this is the way to go.

    3. If I was the LW’s sons, I think I’d be hurt upset if I couldn’t go support my mom in getting married because of someone with terrible behavior, especially when I have good relationships with everyone. It’s possible they’d understand, but you could also hurt these relationships because of someone else.

      I do think the fiance’s other daughter should be invited. She might not go, but you’re extending an olive branch.

      If all kids that are invited are expected to pay their own way, I highly doubt the 22 year old that’s in trouble with the law and repeatedly asks to borrow money can afford to go anyway.

    4. The covenant part is a weird add on that popped up in modern times, not that I disagree with the point.

  4. I’d be wary of marrying a guy who is estranged from both of his children and has one daughter who is this out of bounds. Also, his family insisting upon an invite to daughter who issues death threats, because blood is thicker than water (you’re the water, btw, in this analogy) promises years of grief from his family. There is a lot of dysfunction here. Do you really want to be a part of it. And, hell no, I wouldn’t spend a week with his daughter. If he insists he must have his daughter at his wedding to appease the rest of his family, AND if you really, truly believe he is actually a good guy with his head screwed on right who is largely blameless in this double estrangement, then can the plan for a destination wedding and have a simple local wedding in which his daughter can spend just a day with you and husband-to-be. You wrote in, because you know for 99.9% sure that a one-week destination wedding with daughter isn’t going to work. If he wants to reconnect with his daughters, there are far less stressful ways than a week together at a wedding to baby step back into a relationship.

    1. x1000. When you marry the person you marry the family and i just don’t think that’s something you should do.

      Also if you really decide this drama is what you want for life, then sure marry the guy in a local courthouse ceremony with family and then instead of a week destination wedding (WHY?) take a honeymoon and vacation.

  5. Btw, you don’t say why this daughter needs money, when she calls your fiancé for same, but it’s strange that he would deny her $ for basic life and then pay for a week at a destination wedding.

    When you marry, you marry your spouse’s family. If his mother is difficult and if your husband is still enough under her control that she can enlist his family to basically force him to invite his dangerous, criminal, estranged daughter, then you are going to deal with his mother’s control during your whole marriage. This really sound like an ill-advised union.

  6. Bittergaymark says:

    Eh… lI wouldn’t marry somebody who has such a FUCKED UP relationship with their own kids. Or such a fucked up family. Your life together will just be one giant headache. Why?

    NEWSFLASH: you will FOREVER be “water” to these people…

    Bittergaymark my words.

    Give. Back. The. Ring.

  7. I agree with BGM. This isn’t about “Clementine.” There is something wrong if a guy is estranged from both of his children. Was he an absent parent? Is he trying to help her by paying for counseling, etc., now at least?

    I mean, that’s a lot of broken relationships, and I’d take a look at how he contributed to those estrangements.

  8. Bekahtravels says:

    I have so many red flags here. Not one but all of his children are estranged from him. This doesn’t bode well for your future. He is taking his mother’s feelings and opinions more seriously than yours. This doesn’t bode well for your future. At the very least, I would slow down and do somebody pre-marital counseling to get on the same page before you get married. It seems essential that you should re-evaluate if this relationship is working for YOU!

  9. dinoceros says:

    I’m not sure it’s smart to marry someone when you have such a big difference of opinion on something this important and do not have an established way to handle a difference of opinion like this where both people feel heard. This is not a wedding issue. This is a life issue. By marrying him without addressing this, any future issues where you two can’t agree on how to handle Clementine will be something that you willingly walked into. At that point, it’s not “Clementine is making me miserable” or “My husband won’t listen”; it’ll be “I chose to marry someone before we’d worked out all our stuff and I brought this on myself.”

    Not to mention, as others point out. why is he estranged from both his daughters? Is he super unlucky or is he a crappy dad? Also, I can’t believe either of you think it makes sense to not invite a distant, but apparently not crazy, daughter simply because they aren’t super close. What a slap in the face. That would literally be sending the message that he is done with their relationship. So what if you invite her and she doesn’t come? Just adjust your numbers with your caterer…

  10. Margaery Tyrell says:

    Okay, I don’t want to add to the pile-on about your fiance’s red flags, but I think it’s worth considering.

    If you are 100% sure you want to get married to him, and because your children are all adults, I think the rule should be the same as with any in-laws: *you deal with your family.*

    Here’s how that shakes out in your situation:
    * YOU want to invite YOUR sons, so they get an invite. (Yay!)
    * Fiance does NOT want to invite estranged daughter, so she doesn’t get an invite. (You can extend the olive branch if you want, but I think the ultimate invite call should be up to him).
    * Fiance WANTS to invite Clementine. (Clementine’s mom and other family’s opinions are irrelevant in this situation, this is not their wedding.) HOWEVER, Clementine has literally THREATENED TO KILL YOU amongst other legal violations. You don’t specify what those are (I’m presuming no restraining orders, else that would make the whole issue of Clementine coming moot), but you need to make clear to Fiance this is not about your wants, this is about your safety.

    Clementine MAY get an invite under these conditions:
    * She apologizes to you, sincerely. (I’d say via Fiance if you feel safer, but make sure the apology is actually from her and not Fiance, maybe a letter or email.)
    * She apologizes for the “legal violations to others” to their respective parties.
    * She agrees that the wedding is NOT about her, and she cannot attend if she wishes either you or other parties physical or emotional harm.

    My guess is Clementine will not agree to these conditions and she may throw a fit. This is Fiance’s problem. If Fiance insists on inviting Clementine when she cannot promise to *not threaten to kill you,* then that tells you enough about his character and priorities.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      Clementine would agree to the conditions with no intent to follow them. She makes death threats. She isn’t the type to respect boundaries.

    2. Anonymous says:

      I would never trust an apology from Clementine. She’s a chronic liar and manipulator. I said I’d never reopen our relationship until she’s completed intense counselling and agreed to group counselling with all 3 of us.
      Fiancé has done a lot of work on his enabler role, but falls back into the emotional manipulation after a silent treatment. Life is fairly smooth for me as everyone respected my boundaries that I cemented into the ground after too many broken chances but then “the wedding” seemed to blur the lines or at least test if I’d cave

  11. LW, as others have pointed out, I am not sure if you should marry your fiancé.

    If your are determined to marry, then refuse to let your step daughter attend the wedding on the grounds that just like your BF is estranged from one of his daughters, you are estranged from his other dangerous daughter. Also that the estranged daughter will feel bad if you invite only one of his daughters to the wedding.

    Also what happened to blood being thicker than water when it came to his estranged daughter ? Why wouldn’t he invite her to the wedding ?

  12. Invite the kids who haven’t sent you death threats. I wouldn’t not invite all the kids just because one kid was bad.

  13. Part-time Lurker says:

    I feel like there’s a big piece of the puzzle missing. One daughter is estranged and one is ….. behaving psychotically. Why?

    1. Anonymous says:

      One (Clementine) acts like her narcissist mother. She cuts ties and gives her dad the silent treatment when he doesn’t cave to her requests. (Usually money for new car, debt, insurance issues etc) more of an emotional extortionist than a daughter.
      The other one has been brain washed that her dad is bad didn’t pay child support etc. He has shown her proof they are lies but it’s a classic case of parental alienation.

  14. Sea Witch says:

    I find the comment “if she can cross the border” interesting. This hints at some sort of criminal record that might get her refused entry to the country that the wedding is held in. So maybe the death threats to LW are no new or unusual behaviour and she has been charged with crimes or threats against other people.

    Also interesting that the fiance is considering inviting the bat-crap crazy death-threat daughter but doesn’t want the other one there. This is one screwed up family all right.

  15. Chicken Situation says:

    You don’t have to invite someone who has made DEATH THREATS to your wedding, no matter what the relationship. Good lord! If other family members don’t like it, it’s not your problem. If your fiance can’t see the issue, perhaps you should delay the wedding. This isn’t normal dysfunction; she is dangerous.

  16. Add me to the camp of “it’s a red flag he is estranged from both of his children”. Do you know why he is estranged from the second daughter as well?

    1. Anonymous says:

      Clementine is only estranged because she gives him the silent treatment after he refuses her requests mainly for money (car, insurance, fines, etc) this can vary from a few months to several. The other one is brainwashed by the narcissist mother. She moved far from all the dysfunction but still has contact with the mom and sister.

      1. anonymousse says:

        I think you’re being incredibly naive about the family history. I don’t think you know the full story at all. You should not marry a man who claims his ex wife and daughters are all nuts, narcissistic and brainwashed. You should not marry a man who even after death threats from a daughter still believes, “Blood is thicker than water.” You’re the water! He’s all but telling you you are about to marry into decades of drama and dysfunction. Heed the warning signs and back off.

  17. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    I have to wonder if the estranged daughter has removed herself from the family because they always refused to protect her from the death threat issuing, lying, stealing, manipulating daughter. Self protection is always a good reason to remove yourself from your family.

    1. Sea witch says:

      Bingo. In really messed up families, it’s always the sane person who is lectured and pressured to “take the high road”, “go along to get along”, and “You must forgive!!” when they’re abused by the crazy family member.

      When they stop doing that, they are the ones that get ostracized, not the abusive one. Because they don’t play along with the fantasy any more and that forces everyone else to take a hard look at what they’re supporting.

  18. LW, you don’t have to invite her, but that isn’t the issue — your fiancé has every right to invite his own daughter. Really, he and his family seem awfully fucked up. That is where you should focus attention.

  19. LW, this is a lot of drama and pressure coming at you from the fiancé and his family. What is anyone on that side doing to make things right and good for you here? Nothing? You’re supposed to suck it up for all of their behalfs and in return no one is giving you assurances, promising to run interception, encouraging daughter #2 that blood is thicker than water so she should show up, etc. They’re just suuuupperr excited about a week’s vacation!
    Peh! I wouldn’t touch any of them with a barge-pole. You’re asking for a lifetime of issues and a lack of peace with this selfish, dysfunctional bunch Good luck to you!

  20. ‘Not in MY life at all…”. Well, who’s life is she in?…if not yours?

    “She’s 22 and not in my life at all because of death threats, stealing, lying, manipulating, and disturbing legal violations against others…”

  21. Don’t marry this guy. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and with the amount of smoke rising from his family — estrangement with his kids, death threats from his daughter, his mother (and other family members) making guest list demands at YOUR wedding — there are flames there that you do not want to be legally tied to. Until you both are on the same page about how to interact with his family, don’t get married. Until you can bear the idea of spending a holiday with family members he wants to invite, don’t get married. And if you decide to barrel ahead and get married anyway, just elope and have a small party afterward for only the people you both agree to invite. You seriously do NOT need to spend a week with any of the people you mentioned. Your fiancé — and all of his family — will insist on inviting clementine and you’ll have to put your foot down and say no. There will probably be fighting and resentment and ugliness. Get used to it – because if you marry the guy, this will be your future. So, again, I’d advise not marrying him.

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