Parents Can Be Such Petty Tyrants

by admin on April 23, 2014

We are planning the wedding and my bride-to-be has decided on a “white wedding”, which to start with is completely against my family’s religious beliefs, as all of them expect me to get married in someone’s back yard for $200 or so. My family has refused to help with organizing or any costs or anything. The costs are about $30,000 all up. And we are budgeting for up to 100 guests. That is how many we get. My bride-to-be’s parents are forking out a fair amount of the bill, more than half, and I pay just for my own guests and my own expenses. So I was encouraged to invite as few people as possible so as to keep my costs down. They are inviting 60 so I can invite a maximum of 40 more or else the venue is full. But I have to invite at least 10 or else we don’t meet our minimum costs. And I can only afford 30.

I have 5 sisters and my parents are divorced, with my dad remarrying. So that is 8 right there. All of my grandparents are dead but my step mother’s mother is still alive. So that makes 9. 2 of my 5 sisters have partners, so I am up to 11. With me it makes 12. So I can have a maximum of 18 others. I invited 3 groomsmen, plus 2 other guys and 1 female co-worker, so we are up to 18 – 12 to go. All 3 of my groomsmen have partners so 9 to go. Phew. So that is 4 each side of my family and then that’s it. But I decided, what the heck, I’ll invite 5. It seems like a nice even number.

So I asked each of my parents who the 5 should be, in their opinion, out of my distant relatives – my aunts, uncles, cousins and such.

My mum answered almost immediately and suggested one aunt, 2 cousins, 1 husband of a cousin, and 1 child of a cousin. That’s it. That’s 5 right there.

My dad answered by saying “everyone”. Everyone, on his side, is about 30 people – and I don’t have the cash for that. He said it’d be rude if I just invited a few. But he didn’t want me to invite his younger brother, who he had an issue with. But his younger brother twice saved my life and helped to get me a place when I moved, when nobody else cared. My dad wants me to invite his older brother instead – the guy that pushed me into the lake and I nearly died, the guy who refused to help me to move even though he had 2 spare bedrooms, the guy who has made fun of me for my entire life. And my dad’s older brother is hated by virtually everyone on my mum’s side (including my mum) and half the people on my dad’s side – not to mention me – and my fiancee. He only met her once but he was just so nasty to her. Why on earth would I want her to come?

So to start with I was negotiating how this uncle could come and not disrupt anyone. But my dad said to me that I had to get rid of his younger brother – the one who had always been there for me. I simply could not invite him, or his son, who had acted like my older brother all my life. I could not invite anyone at all who he hated – or he would be offended.

So I said to my dad it is simpler if I just don’t invite his older brother. My dad then was hysterical. He was saying that then it was so rude, because, after all, he was the only member of my family to go to our engagement party. But only because my 2 cousins told me they weren’t allowed to go unless their dad went, then he banned them from going – and because all of my other relatives refused to go because he was there. And he just spent the whole night making fun of everyone – including me and my fiancee. Very nasty stuff. But he at least went. Sure, but he was a jerk. I do not want that at my wedding.

My dad just won’t leave this alone. His two sisters, who I invited, but was never really all that excited about them coming, both decided that they wouldn’t come, and my dad insisted that it was because I was not inviting his older brother. Really? Or is it because one of them lives in another country and barely knows me, while the other one is interstate and doesn’t have enough money to fly over? And the one who is interstate hates her older brother, so why would she refuse to come because I didn’t invite him?

My dad keeps saying that he will destroy the wedding if I don’t invite his brother. He says that he won’t come. I have half a mind to ask my dad not to bother to come. He has never been like this before. But I know what he is like with his older brother. They like to sit around making fun of everyone. That is what they are like together. My dad doesn’t do it with anyone else – just with his older brother. That’s why he wants him there. So they can sit in a corner and terrorize everyone. My dad doesn’t see anything wrong with doing that. It is just a bit of a laugh.

I can just see how it would start. They’d sit together, just the two of them, and they’d start by saying how extravagant it is, and how I am against our religion by doing this. Then they will say that she is meant to be catholic but we are going non-denominational so we can’t even get that right. Then they will comment that nobody in the room besides them has a PhD, and they bet that they don’t even have university degrees – or even proper jobs. Then there will be comments about them being illegal immigrants – even though they aren’t – they are sponsored immigrants. Then they will be making fun of my fiancee for her speech impedement, then making fun of me. Then the cruel stuff begins.

My dad I can put up with because he is my dad. And because, except when he is with my older brother, he is fine. He just badmouths people behind their back. But my dad is just not showing very good etiquette here. And he insists that I am destroying the family over this and ruining my own wedding. No – he is the one trying his best to ruin it, and I am trying to stop him.

Not sure if this is a story or needs comment. I am pretty sure I am doing the right thing here. I am not going to budge on this.  0409-14

 

I’m staunchly of the opinion that the bride and groom get to determine the kind of wedding they want and they have first priority in choosing wedding guests.  Sorry, Mom and Dad, but you had your wedding and now is not the time to live vicariously through your kid’s wedding.

If your Dad were paying for the wedding, I would say that he had a right to decide to invite his older brother but since you are paying for it, you get to veto any proposed guests that you do not feel would be an edifying addition to the guest list.    Stick to your guns and call Dad’s bluff about threatening to not come to the wedding.   “Oh, sorry to hear that, Dad.  Well, we’ll miss you!”

It’s a shame that family morph into petty tyrants during a wedding but if people won’t come because they cannot put aside their preferences for a few hours, then you really won’t miss them.

{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

essie April 23, 2014 at 6:58 am

You don’t want to invite your older uncle and that’s acceptable to (preferred by?) everyone except Dad, who won’t come if his big brother’s not invited. So the next time, the conversation can go along these lines:

“Dad, I’m not inviting Uncle Dick.”
“If Dick’s not invited, I’m not coming, either.”
“Mum, since Dad’s not coming to the wedding, would you rather have [close friend or relative #1] or [close friend or relative #2] bring you home afterward or would you rather drive yoruself there and back?”

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Asharah April 23, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Parents are divorced.

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Powers April 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Parents are divorced, so transportation shouldn’t be an issue.

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essie April 25, 2014 at 6:40 am

Oops, missed that part. Then, if he’s especially close to his stepmother, he could offer to help her with transportation. Otherwise, just shrug and say “You choice, Dad.”

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Lo April 23, 2014 at 7:46 am

I think you should definitely call your father’s bluff and tell him to stay home.

Taking a stand now is the first step in protecting yourself for the rest of your life. Look, this is bigger than one day, this is every day that comes after. If you let him walk all over you now on your own wedding day it will be harder to stop in the future.

I think you’re doing the right thing but I think you should be more proactive in doing it. Let him know that if he makes any trouble at the wedding he’ll be asked the leave. Standing up to a parent is the hardest thing on earth but it’s for the good of your family and your wife is your new family and your priority now. Don’t let your father ruin this for you.

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Chelle April 23, 2014 at 11:39 am

Agreed. This is YOUR wedding that you, as an adult, are paying for.
Your dad does not dictate who is invited, just like he doesn’t make another choices for you.
If you let him manipulate you this time, you are setting the stage for a lifetime of manipulation.
Your bride is your primary obligation now- not your parents. Do what is best for you- as a couple.

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Daisy April 23, 2014 at 9:45 am

Having a $30,000 white wedding isn’t a religious choice. It’s a lifestyle choice. A religious wedding can easily be you, your fiancee, two witnesses, and an officiant. If I were you, I’d give that some very serious thought.

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Marie April 23, 2014 at 11:53 am

He said a big wedding went against the family’s religious choices, not that it was a religious choice in itself. I don’t know which religion he’s talking about, but it’s probably one that advocates modesty and therefore a lavish wedding would be seen as inappropriate.

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Spuck April 23, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I don’t see why the groom should have to change his plans in this situation because his father is being a cad. It is a s good a way as any to build up the spine, and considering he complains more about his father than then wedding tag, the event itself doesn’t seem to bother him. Just the circus that could occur if he doesn’t have the proper boundaries.

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Valb April 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Apparently they have given it some thought, and have chosen otherwise. I didn’t see it expressed anywhere that said choice was driven by religion in any way. Why do you sound so judgemental about them being adults and having the wedding they want? They know they could have the wedding you described, in fact OP made it sound as though this is the wedding his family expexted him to have. They didn’t want that, and are planning an event that sounds expensive, but seems to still be within their means. The key word in your post is CHOICE, even if it isn’t the one you would make.

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The Elf April 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm

I thought the “against my family’s religious beliefs” thing was odd, too.

There’s nothing wrong with a $30k wedding, assuming they don’t go into debt for it. They sound like they aren’t, so it’s their choice.

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Library Diva April 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm

I think OP was saying that his religion explicitly calls for simpler celebrations than what he’s planning, not that they did the white wedding to go along with his fiancee’s religious beliefs.

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jen a. April 23, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Yes. My eyes bugged out a bit at this.

“My family has refused to help with organizing or any costs or anything”

OP, that’s okay. Your dad (as difficult as he sounds) isn’t obligated to help out. Especially with five kids! This is good, though, because you aren’t obligated to listen to a word he says. I’m glad you’re sticking to your guns, because you’re building a life with someone else now.

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nuit93 April 23, 2014 at 11:53 pm

The OP stated that simple weddings were in line with her family’s religious beliefs…larger/fancier weddings were against them.

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Brit April 24, 2014 at 4:52 am

The OP doesn’t say he wants a religious wedding.

How about we all respect their right to choose the wedding THEY want?

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Mer April 24, 2014 at 6:06 am

I think LW said the big wedding was against his family’s religious choices, but it is something his future wife wants to have.

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Lindsay April 24, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Daisy, I think the OP is saying that his family’s religion does not approve of lavish white weddings, not that his fiancee’s religion is in support of them.

Which brings me to the point that your bride’s family is choosing a lavish wedding. If you are footing the entire bill for “your” guests, why do your parents have so much input as to which guests and family members are invited? Most people would choose some family as part of their guest list, but it sounds like you are giving a huge amount of influence to parents who sound disdainful of this wedding, yet are insisting that Aunt so-and-so be there. Your money, your loved ones, your invites to issue, not theirs.

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KenderJ April 24, 2014 at 3:23 pm

I was wondering about this too. He said several times that the BWW was against his family’s religion, but I’m wondering if he meant it was against his family’s CUSTOM. Of course, there are all sorts of religions and denominations out there and I am by far not an expert, so I guess it is possible that his religion is against extravagant weddings….maybe Quaker? Maybe the OP will be able to explain.

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The Elf April 25, 2014 at 8:16 am

The post says “Then they will say that she is meant to be catholic but we are going non-denominational so we can’t even get that right.” I took that to mean the religion in question was Catholicism, which strikes me as odd because I’ve seen some pretty over-the-top Catholic weddings! And there’s always the wedding scene in “Godfather”! I think he used the term “against their religion” figuratively, for the family custom of doing wedding simply.

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Kirsten April 28, 2014 at 2:17 pm

No, it reads to me as if the groom comes from a family whose religious beliefs prohibit extravagant weddings, and the bride is Catholic and someone might have tried to justify the big wedding as a Catholic requirement, but as they’re having a non-denominational wedding, the groom’s family won’t accept the bride’s Catholicism as reason for the big wedding because it’s not a Catholic ceremony.

Anyway, if your dad wants to be like that about it all, he’s free to choose not to attend. His loss.

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Cecilia April 23, 2014 at 9:58 am

I agree with Admin. Father is not contributing, he doesn’t get to say who does or does not attend.

OP, you said that your Father keeps saying he will “destroy” the wedding if older brother is not invited and you also said that if older brother does come, they will “terrorize everyone”. Add to that fact that older brother has been nasty to your fiance. WHY would you even entertain the idea of inviting these people? I know it’s your Father and Uncle but they sound like sociopaths who enjoy bullying others and making life hell. If this sounds rude, I apologize, but they sound like awful people and I would never invite such people to my wedding, family or not.

Personally, I would flat out tell Father that older brother is *not* invited, younger brother *is* invited and if Father decides not to come? Too bad, he will miss his son’s wedding. I would also tell him if he does come, he needs to act like an adult & keep his opinions and comments to himself or he will be asked to leave.

I’ve said it before- Weddings bring out the worst in some people.

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Cecilia April 25, 2014 at 10:51 am

I still stand by my original comment that Dad & Older Uncle should not be invited. From OP’s description, they seem to be bullies and get enjoyment out of harassing & torturing others.

However after re-reading the submission, the whole first paragraph concerns me a bit, especially this part: “So I was encouraged to invite as few people as possible so as to keep my costs down”. The way I understand it, the Bride’s parents and the Groom are paying for the wedding, not Bride & Groom. Since they are paying more, they get more guests and they want him to invite as few guests as possible, but enough so that they get some sort of discount?

I don’t know why, but I have this odd feeling that something else is going on here, as far as the Bride’s parents are concerned. I agree with other posters who mentioned that the couple may need to sit down and have a discussion or 2.

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Mer April 29, 2014 at 8:34 am

It does not necessarily seem “as few as possible” if they have allocated 40% of guest places for him to use if he desired. Given that his family is not into big weddings but bride’s family is, it’s reasonable that her side has more guests given the finances too. I thought that the “invite as few people as possible” to be more of a financial advice than “we don’t necessarily want you to invite people” if it came from the bride’s side. Actually after first read I got impression that the “invite as few as possible” came from groom’s family as they oppose big weddings and do not want to support groom with it. After few re-reads and your comment I’m not so sure about that anymore.

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Shoegal April 23, 2014 at 10:05 am

It is true that choosing wedding guests is a very political and nasty ordeal. Who would have thought? I am also of the mind that the bride and groom have the final say about who attends their celebration. I also agree that if your Dad were paying for even a portion of your event that he would have more of a say but since that isn’t the case, it just sounds like he is being extremely selfish and wants his older brother there simply for his own enjoyment. Your Dad is also being irrational – it is so very rude of you not invite his older father – but perfectly fine not to invite his younger brother?? You choose. This is an important day and it should be just about you and your fiance not about him and his brother.

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Wendy B. April 23, 2014 at 10:17 am

Yeah, the “religious” statements confused me as well.

Regardless, it is your wedding, you get to choose. If your dad is going to be childish over all of this (Ph. D. not withstanding, apparently) then let him. Call his bluff and find someone else. Good luck!

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Cady April 23, 2014 at 11:46 am

Since your parents aren’t paying for this wedding, they don’t really get any input on who you invite. Invite whoever you want, and stop having the conversation with your dad. If he tries to bring it up again, say “Dad, I’ve made my decision and it’s final, and I am not going to discuss this with you any longer.” If he refuses to drop it, hang up or walk away.

You are an adult helping to finance a wedding that costs as much as a car or a down payment on a house. It’s time for you make healthy decisions for yourself without worrying about your parents’ reaction. If your uncle is as cruel as you say, he doesn’t need to be involved in your life AT ALL. And if your father can’t recognize his brother’s cruelty and can’t accept why you don’t want a relationship with your uncle, your father doesn’t need to be in your life, either. I guarantee that when (if) you and your wife have kids, this behavior is going to return with a vengeance. If you’re not ready to stand up for your choices when your parents don’t agree with you, you’d better take a hard look at whether this $30K is a good investment.

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Asharah April 23, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Parents are divorced.

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Lisa S. April 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm

According to you, “My family has refused to help with organizing or any costs or anything.” So why on earth are you listening when he demands that you invite “everyone?” If he was contributing, then I can understand your dilemma.

I had the same situation for my first wedding. My fiancé asked his parents to contribute and they refused…they only gave money for his sisters’ weddings. So when the day came and they handed him a list of their friends they wanted us to invite, he just handed the list back to them. And of course they pitched a fit, but he just answered their tantrum with, “No pay, no play!”

If you are old enough to get married, you need to learn how to stand up to people, particularly your parents.

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Library Diva April 29, 2014 at 11:13 am

I don’t think he’s listening. He’s said that he’s not inviting this uncle come hell or high water. I think he’s just frustrated that his father is indeed making him walk through hell and wade through high water. He tried to be nice and courteous by asking for his parents’ input. He’s apparently up against someone who will abuse any kindness or politeness shown to him in order to get his own way.

The stress of constant complaints and threats can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, even when you have no intention of succumbing to them.

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Brit April 30, 2014 at 8:00 am

“No pay, no play!”

Sorry but EUW. Asking people how much they’ll give you for your wedding is massively entitled. Expecting your parents to pay for your wedding is too, unless you’re very traditional, in which case the BRIDE’S parents pay, not the groom’s. His parents paid for the brides’ weddings twice. Sounds like they didn’t expect their son to buck tradition at that point.

“If you are old enough to get married, you need to learn how to stand up to people, particularly your parents.”

If you are old enough to get married, you are old enough to pay for it yourself and show some manners to people, particularly your parents. What a nasty little story.

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Michele K. April 23, 2014 at 2:12 pm

“My dad keeps saying that he will destroy the wedding if I don’t invite his brother. He says that he won’t come. I have half a mind to ask my dad not to bother to come.”

I say don’t invite dad or the older brother. Dad is threatening to destroy the wedding if he doesn’t get his way. If any other guest threatened that, they would be quickly removed from the guest list. I don’t think a parent should be an exception.

And older brother sounds like someone who shouldn’t be invited to ANY social gathering. He has managed to alienate most of the OP’s family and sounds like he would do the same with the bride’s family. Why give him the chance to do it at what is supposed to be a celebration of the happy couple?

Take those two invites and give them to the younger brother and your cousin. They have been there for you and should be invited to your wedding.

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Lakey April 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Sorry that your wedding is being turned into a stress filled event. Since you’re paying, it is your choice who you invite. Since your dad is being a bit unreasonable, I would limit conversation with him. Have your statement ready before the next time you speak to him. Something like, “Because I am limited to 30 people, I can only invite, ______, ______, _______, etc. I’m sorry if people are offended at this, there really isn’t anything I can do. I hope you come, ” should work. Don’t argue with him about it. If he argues, don’t answer, don’t engage. It’s not his place to tell you who you can and cannot invite. Stand strong.

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Michelle C. Young April 29, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Do not JADE.
Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain.

You owe your father no explanation or justification, and he’ll only continue to argue as long as you give him any opportunity. Tell him your position, and then, CASE CLOSED.

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Meri April 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm

You are doing the right thing. It’s nice of you to ask your parents for their opinions, but they don’t get veto rights over your guest list- ESPECIALLY since they’re not helping to pay for the wedding. Your younger uncle and cousin mean something to you, and you want them to celebrate with you- that’s what matters. If that causes your father to boycott the wedding- that’s his choice. His absence won’t “destroy” your wedding, while it sounds like inviting your older uncle might. That makes it a simple choice. “I’m sorry you’re not coming, Dad.”

(I have other thoughts, but they’re not germane to the question at hand.)

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The Elf April 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I think this is much ado about nothing, like a lot of wedding planning. Why do you need 5 more guests? He says he needs to invite 10 to cover “minimum costs”, which is something I don’t quite understand anyway. I assume the caterer has a minimum number of plates they’ll serve for the per head price agreed upon and he doesn’t want to have those 10 plates go wasted. He meets that minimum right away with immediate family + himself. So just don’t invite those 5 “distant relatives”. It’s obvious OP is not close to any of them. There might be controversy over who gets invited and who doesn’t. So don’t invite any.

He wants to invite 5 more, because “it is such a nice even number”. I am reminded of the scene from The Fellowship of the Ring, when Bilbo announces that there are 144 people (One Gross) at his party, which is the number of he and Frodo’s combined ages. The guests start to wonder if they were invited just to make the numbers neat. Just like family, “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

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Asharah April 24, 2014 at 7:20 pm

No, he doesn’t have to invite the extended family, but he is trying to be courteous by allowing his parents to have a few guests of their own choosing for the wedding.

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Wendy May 2, 2014 at 12:12 am

It may be that like my own wedding there are minimum contracted numbers and if you fall under it then you pay extra. It’s why I told them a good 20 people under what I expected to turn up and any good vender should give that to you as an option.

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RedDevil April 23, 2014 at 4:12 pm

What does your wife-to-be think? Her opinion should matter more than your dad’s.

I understand that you’re budgeting for 100 guests, but who says you HAVE to fill that quota? What’s wrong with 91 guests? If these are the people you really want to share your day with you, then that’s all you need. The rest are just bums in seats, what’s the point of spending more money on people you never really wanted there in the first place?

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Cora April 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I agree with admin to call his bluff; I think you should also spend some time planning how to deal with your father not being at the wedding. Brainstorm with your future bride on this. If you’re pretty sure people might ask, “Where’s your father?”, then come up with a polite response now you can both give. Likewise, if a family member says something well-meaning but rude (e.g. “Boy am I glad you didn’t invite–”) have a planned polite but nonjudgmental response in mind. You can go even further and plan your mantra for if/when your father bitches, “You didn’t invite me to your wedding!!” “Yes, we did. You decided not to attend.” It may seem callous; but I think having a plan with your FW, even if it turns out not to be needed, will help you when it comes to the big day.

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Michelle C. Young April 29, 2014 at 11:32 pm

“Where’s your father?”

“Unfortunately, he was unable to attend today, after all.”

The “today,” makes it seem like a scheduling issue, and the “after all,” makes it seem like he planned to attend, but something urgent came up. It’s not in the least bit dishonest, but it also doesn’t tell them a darned thing that is not actually their business.

Of course, the rumors are going to circulate, anyway, but you are classy and above such things.

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La April 23, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Yeah, I would not invite your older uncle to the wedding. He sounds like someone who sucks the fun out of it for everyone else.

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Marozia April 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Admin is right. Stick to your guns. And if needs be, call your dad’s bluff. It’s your wedding, no-one else is paying for it but you and BTB. You have a right to choose who’s invited and who’s not. Don’t back down. I hope it all works out fine for you both.

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RC April 23, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Oh dear OP, your family sounds…. hard. Really hard. But I applaud you for sticking to your guns, don’t invite Rude Uncle, and if your Dad throws his toys and refuses to attend, then it sounds like you’re better off without his presence too.

And as previous commenters have mentioned, a large white wedding has nothing to do with religion. You choose to have a large formal wedding as a lifestyle choice; if your wife is indeed Catholic there is nothing in her religion that dictates you must do this.

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ladycrim April 23, 2014 at 4:42 pm

I’m having a similar (though less dramatic) dilemma with trying to figure out how to invite all my cousins to my wedding next year. My mom was one of 11 first cousins, all of whom have families of their own. There’s always been an unwritten rule that all family gets invited. For Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, this was easier. The passage of time and exponential increase in number of relatives, though, makes it a bit more difficult for weddings. My brother didn’t invite all of the cousins to his wedding in 2012 due to space restrictions at the venue, and there was drama and hurt feelings. I also have space restrictions, and find myself trying to include as much family as possible without cutting my friends who are my “chosen family”. Lots of anxiety attacks happening. :-/

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Michelle C. Young April 29, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Change the venue
Have a “snack-time” wedding, instead of a “meal-time” wedding.

Cake and punch in a park, for example, would be less expensive, and more expansive, to allow you to invite as many people as necessary, without breaking the bank.

Sometimes, you have to lower your expectations for grandeur, in order to put the people first. If you care more about the grandeur than the people, well, that’s your prerogative, but be aware of the consequences.

Good luck!

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Prim May 6, 2014 at 11:47 am

People can’t always just change the venue. Some times you just have to look at the number of people you can have and do your best to invite those that are important to you. Cut down on plus ones, keep extended family to a minimum and try not to stress the little things.
When my Mom got married she chose a lovely historic hotel in a popular tourist area. The venue had a maximum capacity of 40 people. My Mom stressed over her list. The numbers were so tight that there was family and friends she wouldn’t be able to invite. With my Mom and Step-Dad, plus the kids and their significant others we already added up to 10 people. My Step-Dad also has a rather large family. In the end, almost everyone was understanding if they weren’t invited due to space restrictions. When I say almost everyone, that’s everyone except my Aunt who tried to create a big stink. Aunt is question is my deceased Dad’s sister and why she wanted to come, I have no idea. She obtained the wedding details from my Grandparents and invited herself and her husband. Then she promptly demanded that her four sons be invited as well. Mom chose to accommodate Aunt and Uncle, but explained that she couldn’t include the cousins due to space restrictions. In the end my Aunt and her husband still came, but she continued to complain the entire time and still constantly brings up the fact that Mom wouldn’t get a bigger venue to accommodate her kids. The moral of the story is, unfortunately you can’t please everyone :)

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Michelle C. Young May 10, 2014 at 3:39 am

It’s true, it can be difficult to change the venue. My suggestion was more to choose a large venue, in the first place, if you already know you have a large family that will want to attend.

In my opinion, the guest list should be the first consideration, and the venue should be lower priority. YMMV.

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Kimstu April 23, 2014 at 5:09 pm

I second the Admin’s sound advice, with the one caveat that technically it’s the fact that you’re HOSTING the wedding, not PAYING FOR the wedding, that gives you the right to determine the guest list.

Sure, hosting and paying generally come to the same thing. But the deciding factor is the names on the invitation. If your invitations say “Mary Louise Fiancee and John Quincy Letterwriter request the honor of your presence at their marriage…” instead of “Mr. and Mrs. Caron Fiancee request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter…” or something along those lines, then YOU are the hosts, and YOU have the responsibility and the right to control the wedding arrangements, including who gets invited. Even if your sweet old Great-Aunt Ethelberta, the retired hedge fund manager, had given you the $30K as a present to cover the wedding expenses, it wouldn’t change the fact that you and your fiancee are the hosts if you are listed as hosts on the invitations, so you decide the arrangements.

That said, though:

1) If you ask your parents who they think should be invited, they’re going to tell you. Traditionally, the hosts of a wedding have usually been the bride’s or couple’s parents, so it’s not unusual for parents to see themselves in the role of the hosts and arbiters of hostly decisions, even if they’re not actually the ones hosting. If you don’t want them trying to lay down the law, just don’t ask for their input. Oh well, I guess that would have been useful advice back before you actually asked them, huh?

2) Unfortunately, it IS technically contrary to etiquette to cut a particular subset of relatives off your wedding guest list when you’re inviting other relatives who are equally or less nearly related (unless the nearer relatives are so geographically or personally distant from you that they’re basically ex-relatives). The rule of thumb is that you cut off by relationship category, not individually: so you invite either all the first cousins or none of the first cousins, all the aunts and uncles or none of the aunts and uncles, etc.

I completely understand how wedding budget constraints can make it difficult to hew to this standard, even aside from having some individual relations who are absolutely toxic, as in your uncle’s case. But be aware that wedding hosts pick-n-mixing the invited relatives based on which ones they personally get along with DOES have a long unhallowed history of starting severe family feuds.

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Michelle C. Young April 29, 2014 at 11:40 pm

I agree about the hosting thing. As to your other points:

1) Yep.

2) This is true. However, protecting the hosts and the guests from toxic people trumps traditional etiquette, in my book. I see it as a battle of etiquette rules. Do you invite by tiers, as per the rule, or do you follow the rule to invite people who will make the party as harmonious as possible? As for the family feud, that is a very valid point, which should always be considered. It looks like this particular instance, however, the only ones who would be taking father and Uncle Jerk’s sides are themselves. Inviting them would be MORE likely to cause a family feud, in my opinion. Unfortunate, but then toxic people are always unfortunate.

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B April 23, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Elope. Find a minister/priest/cleric/justice of the peace that will do the ceremony you two are comfortable with (religious or not), and leave everyone else out. You will drive yourselves mad trying to accomodate people who cannot be accomodated, and will hang (GUILT) things over your head forever. Do not let your wedding day be their stage for their antics. It will lead to more problems down the road. TRUST ME. Have 2 trusted siblings or friends stand as your witnesses, and spend the money on some nice photographs and a honeymoon away from everyone instead. If they have always acted like this, and are continuing to act like this, they will never change. This is supposed to be the happiest day of your lives, and the start of your life as a team together!

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Mer April 29, 2014 at 8:41 am

That would be good advice, but the big wedding is something that bride wants. And it would be the wedding she is comfortable with. Can’t blame her if his side is unreasonable.

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Michelle C. Young April 29, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Agreed. If she didn’t want the big wedding, in the first place, I would say have a small one in the backyard, and invite only the people you want. Or, “elope,” and invite the uncle and cousin to stand up as witnesses. You do need witnesses, after all, even for an elopement. Although, plenty of officiants provide their own for those who want to be as private as possible.

My reading of the letter leads me to believe that the bride has a large family (requiring 60 invitations), and that they actually get along well with each other. If she were nervous about any of her relatives acting this way, she would be hesitant about inviting them all for the big wedding. The fact that she really wants the big wedding, and her parents support her in it, leads me to believe that she is lucky to have relatives that all either get along well with each other, or are at minimum classy enough to behave well in public.

It would certainly simplify things if LW could convince his bride to give up her dream of a big wedding, but then he’d have to face the consequences of living with her disappointment for years to come. Either way, someone is going to be disappointed. Choose which, and live with it.

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Ally April 23, 2014 at 7:08 pm

It’s “against their religious beliefs” to have a white wedding? That’s the biggest load of crock I’ve ever heard. Since you and your fiance’s family are paying for the wedding, no one else has a right to have any opinion whatsoever. And really, the only people whose opinions are *really* important are those of you and your fiance.

Your dad is being a bully, plain and simple. Don’t give in to his bullying.

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Michelle C. Young April 29, 2014 at 11:47 pm

There are religions that do not believe in fancy celebrations. LW has not indicated his religion, so I’m guessing he was raised Seventh Day Adventist, Jehova’s Witness, or the like, or else some similar sect of a non-Christian religion.

Apparently, the bride is Catholic, and big weddings are certainly allowed, but not required. Since the bride and groom are of different religious sects (could be both Christian, but maybe not), having a non-denominational wedding makes perfect sense. It’s either non-denominational religious wedding or else strictly secular. And for a Catholic, a strictly secular wedding may feel as if she’s not REALLY married, in the eyes of God.

Agreed with everything else you said.

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Cat April 23, 2014 at 7:37 pm

If ever there will be a time in your life to stand up to dear old Dad, this is it. Well, this and when your children are born.
Your Dad wants to make rules that will make you miserable. “You have to invite my brother so you will be mocked at your own wedding. ” Answer, “No. He is not invited.” “Well then, I won’t come.” “That’s fine, Dad, suit yourself.”
Invite those whom you love and who support and love you. Enjoy your wedding.
When the kids come, your Dad and his brother sound like the kind of guys who will torment the kids about how stupid and ugly they are. All in good fun, of course. That’s when you remind Dad that he can be omitted from your life, but your children will not be.

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Michelle C. Young April 29, 2014 at 11:51 pm

YES! THIS!

Look at this as practice for dealing with dear old Dad when the kids come along. Someone who is this abusive to his own son will likewise be abusive to his grandchildren.

You can protect yourself, and them, while still allowing him a place in your life, if you stand up and stay firm on your boundaries. Or, you can let him walk all over you, until either you snap and cut him off completely, or until he dies, and you and your family breathe a sigh of relief that he’s gone. Personally, I vote for boundaries. That gives him the benefit of time and opportunity to learn and grow, and possibly even develop a good relationship. Yes, it can be done. People can, and have, turned around like that. But boundaries, FIRM boundaries, are vital to protecting the good in such a relationship.

Make your decision now with an eye to the future, and remember that it is not just about how he treats ONLY YOU now. He will be treating your wife and future children the way you allow him to treat you. If you stand up to him, he might come to his senses, but if you do not stand up to him, he will continue to dominate and abuse.

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rings90 April 23, 2014 at 9:26 pm

$30,000?! Imho Better spent as down payment on a house, than a wedding.
To each there own I guess, its Your Wedding, its up to you & the Bride to be
To decide who YOU want at YOUR wedding.

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Bibianne May 5, 2014 at 3:14 pm

I was thinking the same. Hubby and I had a lovely civil ceremony, a fun party, plenty of food (well except for the phenomenal cake: THAT disappeared!) I know it was 24 years ago… but designer dress, catering, suit, rings, photographer… all form about 4K. And our friends still to this day say it was the most relaxed, fun, wedding they’ve attended.

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SilentClaw May 6, 2014 at 9:50 am

As someone who is looking into this now, the prices have gone up a lot. Even trying to do it on the cheap side in a backyard ($1000 for tents, tables, chairs, and a dance floor), and feed everyone a buffet dinner ($40/person x 100 people = $4,000, and that’s the minimum for halfway decent food and a couple glasses of wine each) it’s at 5K. Throw in a photographer ($1500), some sort of sound system and DJ iPod ($250), a dress for me and a suit for him ($500), rings ($3,000 for engagement & wedding), some decorations/flowers ($500), a cake ($500), invitations and thank you notes ($500). So the bare minimum for a 100 person wedding is coming in at $12,000.

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KenderJ May 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm

I guess it depends on where you look. My son is getting married soon and we’re going to do our best to stay under the budget of $600. We’re looking at all inclusive wedding chapels, renting dress & tux, lower cost flowers and instead of a reception, a nice dinner out. Granted, we are looking at a guest list of 5 ppl plus the HC, but so far we might even be able to come in under budget at about $485 including the dinner.

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SororSalsa April 23, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Vegas just looks better and better….

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The Elf April 25, 2014 at 8:21 am

No kidding. If I had to do it over again, I’d totally do a drive-thru Elvis impersonator wedding and throw a casual backyard bbq party later. Not that I regret my small, formal wedding, but when I started the whole process I really didn’t realize what I was getting into. Wedding planning is really tough!

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KenderJ April 28, 2014 at 2:57 pm

At least that way, you would have hilarious pics and really good food.

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cdubz April 24, 2014 at 8:42 am

Invite the younger brother, forget dad and older brother.

It sounds like everyone in general would have better time for it.

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clairedelune April 24, 2014 at 10:24 am

I feel like someone here needs to stop thinking about the wedding and start focusing on the fact that these families are going to be in the couple’s lives for the indefinite future, and sort out what that means–the bride & her family seem to have decided on a type and size of wedding that are completely counter to the groom’s family’s (and the groom’s?) preferences–is this just going to be for one day, or is there an established dynamic in which the bride colludes with her family of origin to steamroll over her future husband? And meanwhile, the groom’s father belittles and maligns the bride’s family, her education level, and even her speech impediment (!), and he puts up with it “because he’s my dad,” rather than defending his wife-to-be against his bully of a father. These are potential trouble areas that it’s far better to sort out before getting married.

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Michelle C. Young April 29, 2014 at 11:53 pm

Valid points. A bit of pre-marriage counseling would be a very good thing here. Even if it means delaying the wedding.

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Gee April 24, 2014 at 10:32 am

Totally agree with admin about calling dad’s bluff. I did the same thing. My parents kept threatening to boycott my wedding because they didn’t like my then-fiancé. I said, “Well, I’ll miss having you there, but it’s your choice if you decide not to attend.” The shock on their faces was almost comical. They totally expected me to cave to their demands. Then ended up backing down and coming to the wedding.

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Michelle C. Young April 29, 2014 at 11:53 pm

Yaaay! This is the sort of story that warms my heart.

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Devil's Advocate April 24, 2014 at 11:35 am

Admin is spot on with this one and you should handle it exactly the way she has said. Honestly, a parent who would allow another person to behave so cruelly to their child or their child’s wife makes me mad.

@Daisy–LW never said he was having a 30K due to his religious beliefs. In fact, we can only tell that they are going to be non-denominational. We don’t know the reasoning behind LW’s choice of an expensive wedding, but certainly being judgmental regarding it isn’t proper etiquette. If LW forgoes the whole wedding because of his father’s behavior, he only loses.

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wintershere April 24, 2014 at 1:03 pm

This is off topic maybe, but I’m confused. Why is the groom expected to pay for his guests? Is that common? I thought the bride’s family paid for everything? (and honestly, how do you shell out $30,000 for 100 people –I don’t think I could do that if I tried) lol

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Kimstu April 24, 2014 at 10:33 pm

Nowadays, what with more brides having incomes of their own and more grooms and their families wanting more input into wedding arrangements, it’s very common to see some such splitting of costs instead of the more traditional “the bride’s family pays for everything”.

In the last analysis, if two independent adults choose to get married, nobody else in either family is in any way obligated by etiquette to pay for any part of their marriage celebrations. Of course, many bridal couples’ parents do pay for and/or host their children’s wedding, but it’s not rude of them not to contribute if they can’t afford it or would rather not.

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Cecilia April 28, 2014 at 11:25 am

If the parents are not contributing, then does that not make the bride & groom the”hosts” and the parents “guests”?
(Serious question-not being snarky)

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Mer April 29, 2014 at 8:57 am

Basically, yes it does. I think we are at time where parent’s hosting weddings is starting to be “thing from the past”. And so should it be, as it is tradition of time when children, especially women married straight from home. It was reasonable, as they did not have home set yet and so on. It was also the moment when woman was transferred from the childhood family to new family, the groom’s family. So wedding was the time the woman still “belonged” to her original family. (And I think traditions vary over the world. If my memory serves me right, here one option was to have two celebrations. One at the bride’s side, after that when the bride left the home and quite often in agrarian society moved to the in-law’s home, the groom’s family may have a celebration there too.) But now quite many couples, and women and men alike, have established lives, money of their own and they are their own people, not under their parent’s command. So it is reasonable that hosting and paying is not expected from the parents. After all, usually the child has left the home long time ago.

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Michelle C. Young April 29, 2014 at 11:58 pm

The $30,000 are not all going to the guests. There’s the venue, the clothes, decorations, band or DJ, photographer/videographer, etc.

There are wedding dresses that cost $30,000 in themselves.

Ultimately, it is up to the bride and groom to decide how it will all be spent.

As for “the bride’s family paid for everything,” that was true in the days when a woman stayed with her family until her father gave her (literally) into her husband’s keeping. The corollary to the rule of the bride’s parents paying for the wedding is that the husband (and ONLY the husband) paid for the honeymoon. Thus, an heiress marrying the chauffeur could have a big blow-out of a wedding, and then go camping for the honeymoon. After the honeymoon, the tradition is that the way a married couple spend their money together is their own business. Thus, the heiress, getting an allowance from her father, could support her former-chauffeur husband in high style. It’s been done, and was perfectly correct.

But it is no longer 1917, and the rules of who pays for what have changed.

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AnnieB April 24, 2014 at 3:10 pm

This is YOUR wedding, not your father’s. While I respect that you are trying to make everyone happy, this day should really only be about you and your betrothed. Your father can choose to respect your guest list or he can choose not to show up. It’s really that simple.

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yokozbornak April 24, 2014 at 4:09 pm

So dad won’t come if evil uncle isn’t invited? Sounds like a win-win to me! Seriously, you are old enough to get married and are paying for it. Strengthen your spine and set firm boundaries NOW or you will spend the rest of your life with him running roughshod over you.

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Jeanne April 24, 2014 at 4:28 pm

What religion insists on a backyard wedding? I’m confused.

You haven’t said what your fiancee thinks about all this. The money problems, the family problems, the religious problems. It sounds like you need to have a long talk. If she doesn’t care and just wants what ahe wants, you have other problems.

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doodlemor April 24, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Your father and uncle sound like impossible people. His threat to “destroy” your wedding should be taken seriously. You absolutely need to hire some serious security – like off duty cops.

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Wren April 26, 2014 at 3:19 pm

I agree with this. Hire some security if you can afford it. I used to be a church worker and this is not as uncommon as you may think. I’ve worked at weddings where there was security, and it was much-needed. Not often needed, but when it was, it was worth every penny.

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NostalgicGal April 25, 2014 at 1:56 am

Seriously?

I’d uninvited dad and invite the younger brother and tell dad to stuff it.

It’s your wedding.

Get a few professional bouncers to keep the peace and pay for them with the money saved by trimming your side of the guest list.

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Mary April 25, 2014 at 7:05 am

If the groom doesn’t want to invite a certain person that is his choice , not his a Dad’s.

However ,I can’t stand this attitude of deciding what style of wedding you want and then determining how many people you can invite from there. How about deciding who you want there , whether it be immediate family only , extended family or friends and family? Then after the guest list is decided then decide what kind of wedding you can afford ?

My parents paid for everything. My in laws contributed about $200 to the rehearsal dinner, drove 475 miles to the wedding, bought their outfits and gave us a vacuum cleaner. This was the upper limits of what they could afford. They were definitely not well off. Does this mean I said they couldn’t invite anybody? Hubby sat down with them, established what level of relatives were to be invited (aunts, uncles, his first cousins and his great aunts and uncles) and which family friends. Then invites went to all of them. I think it does nothing for family relations when a couple decides we will have this number of people, you are allowed x number of friends and relatives.

As I said before , select the guest list first and the type of wedding you can afford second. If my parents couldn’t pay for our wedding , it would have been the exact same guest list but with a cake and punch reception that hubby and I paid for. That would have been a lovely wedding also.

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Kimstu April 27, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Yup. Choose your groom (or bride) first, then the date, then the guest list, then everything else.

It won’t fix a problem like the OP’s, where the toxic guests-from-hell happen to be among the groom’s closest relatives, but it’s the right approach in general.

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Michelle C. Young April 30, 2014 at 12:02 am

Seconded

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Angela April 26, 2014 at 2:45 pm

A lot of these stories make me really glad that my beloved and I eloped. We were a little older, so that probably made it easier.
All I can say is, stand up for yourself now because it will become even more of an issue if you have children. You don’t want your children to watch Dad cave and then see Grandpa and Uncle Joe making everyone miserable.

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Wild Irish Rose April 28, 2014 at 9:54 am

This is a situation in which I would almost definitely have a serious “let’s elope” conversation with the bride. But given that she’s not likely to give up her lavish wedding, the best you can do, OP, is rescind your invitation to your father. Just because he’s your father doesn’t mean you have to put up with his rudeness or his threats; it’s YOUR wedding, he’s NOT paying for it, and he DOESN’T get to make the guest list. If you give in to his bullying, you are due for a lifetime of it during your marriage, and I promise your bride will resent it deeply. And so will you. NOW is the time to tell him to forget it, he’s no longer welcome, and neither is his older brother. You will invite the uncle you’re close to, and any family member who get their knickers in a twist over this can most assuredly be replaced with friends. If Dad threatens to come anyway and cause trouble, then perhaps you should consider replacing the unwanted relatives with bouncers.

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Michelle C. Young April 29, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Ask him, point blank, “Dad, why do you think the man who nearly killed me has better right to be at my wedding than the man who saved my life?”

If he can give ANYTHING CLOSE to a valid answer, then tell him, “Fine. You can pay for him to come. No pay, no Uncle.”

And definitely, absolutely, invite the younger uncle, and tell your father that he IS invited and that it is NOT negotiable.

Then, call and warn your younger uncle that if he hears anything, from anyone, to make him think he is not welcome at that wedding, that such talk is a foul falsehood, and he is not to believe anything of the kind. He was there for you, many times, and you want him to stand up with you now.

In fact, I think you should make the younger uncle your best man, or at least a groomsman. If the numbers don’t work out to be even (4 groomsmen/4 bridesmaids), then who gives a hoot. He can walk down the aisle alone, to show how much you honor him. Weddings need not be symmetrical, but they do need to be happy, and honor those who deserve honor. Uncle Elder-Jerk does NOT deserve honor, and if your father insists on acting like Younger-Jerk, neither does he.

Good luck. Remember, if you let him bully you, and your bride, now, he’ll be bullying both of you, as well as future children, for the rest of his life. Time to draw the line. If he wants to be a part of your life, then he needs to respect your rights and your boundaries.

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Michelle C. Young April 29, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Another thing – since the younger brother and cousin deserve to attend, and the father and uncle do not, and the other relatives are afraid of attending if said older uncle are there, I think it would be a good idea to preemptively call the relatives you are inviting, before their invitations even arrive, and tell them, “Dad and Uncle Jerk will not be attending. I sure hope you will!”

Also, look into security to make sure your father does not fulfill his promise to “destroy” your wedding.

Perhaps look into elderly care facilities, as well, because he sounds… off. Seriously. Who behaves this way?

I know that it’s hard to say the man who raised you doesn’t deserve to attend your wedding, but remember, he CHOSE to have you, and it was his responsibility to do so, once he and your mother brought you into this world. He was merely following through on his own choices. If he did a GOOD job, then he gets a cookie. But as it is, with this threatening behavior, I’d say he does not deserve a cookie, and don’t give it to him. It looks to me like you turned out well, probably more because of your mother than you. She seems like a very gracious woman. Congratulations on having such a good mother!

If you need support, or even more warnings, please do not hesitate to look up various forums online for “in-law” stories. Often the conflict is between the parents and the child-in-law, but quite frequently, the stories on such forums are because the new spouse sees the dysfunction in the family of origin. It sounds like your bride will have issues galore with her father-in-law if you do not work to protect her (and YOU) starting right now.

EHellDame – am I allowed to give an example of a forum for him? Please edit it out, if I’m not. http://www.motherinlawstories.com
The forum members are very supportive there, and can help you develop your spine, as well as strategy. Good luck!

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Rusty May 1, 2014 at 3:32 am

As far as your Dad is concerned. “If he don’t pay he don’t get a say”.

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Fawful May 1, 2014 at 10:08 am

I don’t understand how we get “lavish, 30K wedding” and “Only able to invite 10 family members” at the same time. It boggles my mind.

At the same time, I echo the sentiments of the rest of the crowd, and call his bluff. Perhaps, if he threatens again, say “We’ll miss you.”

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Shannon May 1, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Perhaps it isn’t common, but the phrase “against my religion” doesn’t have to be taken literally. It could be that the OP was just using it in the sense of “something my family would never, ever do.”

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Mrs L May 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm

I don’t know why some parents feel entitled to hijack their kids weddings. Maybe they didn’t enjoy their own and they want to live vicariously through their children? DH and I were married a couple of years back and we paid for and put together the entire thing. My parents are divorced and my dad remarried. His new wife is crazy. She is absolutely convinced that my mom wants my dad back even though my mom is the one who ended the marriage. So the end result was that this woman would only attend the wedding on the condition that she and my dad have zero interaction with my mom. It caused all sorts of issues. I may have giggled a little inside when the hotel messed up the rooms and put my parents next to each other.
The other issue was my dad’s input in our guest list. He told me to not invite any of his family because they all lived out of province and they would feel obligated to come but may struggle with the expenses. I haven’t seen any of them in years so I followed his advice. A week before the wedding he was upset that he didn’t have family coming and that my uncle on my mom’s side and a few close cousins would be there.
At the end of the day your wedding is your wedding. Invite who you want there and don’t invite people who you don’t want there. If your dad is going to be a bully then he doesn’t need to be there – it’ll save you a headache and he will be the one who loses out. And if he does come and he’s making you crazy? Get a label maker and make a very small label that says “naughty chair” or “time out chair” and stick it under his chair where it won’t be seen. That way whenever he starts to get on your nerves you can remember that he’s in the naughty chair :)

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Enna May 10, 2014 at 10:58 am

I do see where Admin is coming from – dad is not paying so dad does not need to come. However, just because someone is paying does not mean someone can be unreasonable or nasty. For exmaple if the perosn who was paying thought it would be funny to make racist/sexist jokes or be a control freak.

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WMK May 20, 2014 at 8:18 am

Whoever is paying for the wedding expenses gets to determine the guest list. Simple as that.

I’m with the Admin. I would politely tell Dad that he will be sorely missed at the wedding.

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