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Wedding Wednesday – The Evil Stepmother Gets An Invitation, Too, If Dad Is Invited

A couple of days ago while chatting with my fiance we began jokingly discussing our plans to elope and be married in Vegas by Elvis to avoid having our two very dysfunctional families in the same place. While our mothers and stepfathers are mostly sane, it is our fathers and stepmothers who are out of control. My stepmother is a particular brand of nasty.

My SM (stepmom) is crazy and has shown a deep hatred of myself and my entire family, sometimes including my dad (her husband). They have been married 18 months and she…

-has told me that she was “messing around” with my father when my mother was pregnant with me;

– told me I was being irresponsible and selfish because I refused to babysit her granddaughter when I was given 6 hours notice;

-told me that her daughter would be my maid of honor;

-told my father that my fiance proposed because I was pregnant (not at all!);

-told my mother she isn’t welcome at my paternal grandmother’s home (Granny and my mom are close);

-called me entitled and selfish because I bought a new car and would not let her pot smoking daughter borrow it;

– called me disrespectful when I told her to stop calling my mother out of her name;

-told DF he is an idiot because he proposed to me and that I am a manipulative b****;

…and many more!

So my question is can I not invite her to the wedding? We want people who love us and want to celebrate our next step in life. SM has gotten upset at events and made my father leave because she didn’t get her way. I want my father at my wedding. I am not so sure about his wife.   1120-13

Nope, married couples are one social unit so if you invite one, you invite them both.  Your father is not an innocent victim to all this chaos, btw.   If he really did have an affair with Stepmother decades ago when your mom was pregnant with you, he’s a creep. And he obviously either allows or looks the other way when Stepmother says all these hateful things.   He chose to marry a woman who has an ugly, ugly heart which says a lot about where his priorities are.   In your situation, I’d elope alone and then later have a quiet dinner with your mom and stepfather to celebrate.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Just4Kicks October 25, 2017, 3:24 am

    I agree with admin, elope and have the stress free YOU want.
    You can always throw a nice little get together later if you choose to.

    My husband’s ex wife (we have a decent relationship now, 20 years later) pulled some REAL doozies in the beginning of our marriage in relation to the young daughter they shared.
    I had nothing to do with the divorce, I met my now husband about year after they split.

  • o_gal October 25, 2017, 6:19 am

    I’m going to get roasted for this, but I disagree with the admin and etiquette rules on this one, because the situation itself has gone outside of the bounds of etiquette. Dealing with someone like that is so far outside the bounds of polite society that you all would have to take 5 planes, 2 trains, and 12 hour bus ride to even get within siting distance of polite society. I’m saying that you should invite your father but explicitly not invite your stepmother. You should have a talk with your father and say why you are not inviting her. Then you should have bouncers – some very intimidating looking friends of you and your DH who will keep an eye out for her and prevent her from getting in. You could even restrict it that he is only invited to the ceremony, not the reception.

    As the admin says, your father was not some innocent boy who got kidnapped and put under a spell by this wicked witch. If he truly was fooling around with her while your Mom was pregnant with you, then he’s an awful person. But how do you/we know that WW wasn’t lying, just trying to upset you? Just looking at the timeline, some of her nastiness doesn’t work out – if they’ve only been married for 18 months, and you are presumably an adult in your early or mid 20’s, then they’ve been having an affair for 20+ years?

    So if your father is actually a fairly decent person to you and your DH, and it’s just your Stepmonster, then I’d break strict etiquette rules and only invite him. That will also save a lot of explaining that you would have to do at the reception if people see he’s not there at the wedding. Good luck with everything!

    • Lacey October 25, 2017, 11:43 am

      Even if you throw away the etiquette rules on this one, though, there’s no way this woman is letting her husband go to the wedding without her. If he lets his wife talk to his daughter like that, chances are very slim that he’d even try to go without the stepmother. All the OP would be doing by trying to only invite her father would be invoking stepmother’s wrath and creating a huge fight and more headaches for herself in the future.

      • Ange October 29, 2017, 8:18 pm

        I agree with this one. Father has shown himself to be spineless repeatedly. He won’t go and all you’ll end up with is further discord in the family when step-mother finds out what you’ve tried to do.

        My source: my father was with a woman like this for years. He always sided with her due to his own weakness. Thankfully they broke up before I got married but I can see with perfect clarity how the whole situation would have panned out, it’s just not worth it.

    • Dee October 25, 2017, 11:57 am

      o_gal – I agree with you; there is no reason to pretend this is an etiquette issue. SM is so hostile it borders on a harassment level. At the very least, it’s a safety/mental health issue.

      There is no reason to eliminate an entire event just because of one person. I imagine how hurt the OP’s mother would be to know the couple chose elopement, eliminating close family members from being there on an important day, just because one person is so ugly. That’s choosing to accommodate the wicked SM over the loving mother. And that’s wrong.

      OP, have a talk with your father. Be honest. Tell him how much his acceptance of SM’s behaviour has hurt you and your family. Let him know that since SM has burned ALL the bridges AND WITH HIS APPARENT CONSENT that it is now impossible to have her at your wedding. Tell him that she has made it absolutely clear, with her open hatred for yourself and your family, that her message, of not wanting to associate with yourself and your family, has been made loud and clear, and that you will respect those wishes by not inviting her to your wedding.

      There are lots of weddings where one parent or spouse of a close family member is barred from the event. Sometimes with security to ensure the outcome. It’s not an etiquette issue in cases like yours.

      And then ask what your father wants to do from this point on. Leave it to him. Does he want to attend the wedding without his wife or stay home with her? Does he want to continue seeing you, without SM, or does he want an estrangement? Really, OP, you’ve never been in control of how these two behave so just leave it as it always was – in their hands. Let your father decide what sort of relationship he wants to have with you, and let you be in charge of what is acceptable to you.

      And then let him know that these are hard and fast boundaries. Your father had plenty of time to keep things civil and chose not to, and now it’s too late. There will be no repairing of the relationship between you and your SM. There will be no negotiation on that. She is not welcome in your company. And you will enforce that at the wedding and at your home, every time.

      And then go and have the wedding you and your fiancé want, within reason and good taste, of course. Allow those close to you – the people who have supported you and love you – to join you in your celebration. Don’t punish them for that which they have no control over. That would just be letting SM win all over again.

      • Jared Bascomb October 25, 2017, 6:55 pm

        Dee — I often disagree with you, sometimes harshly, but you are spot on with this. I would only add that OP needs to have this talk with her father NOW, if not yesterday, so as to minimize drama as the wedding date draws near.
        It also puts OP’s father on notice that he is risking at least partial severance from his daughter thenceforward based on SM’s behavior and his tolerance of it.

      • David October 26, 2017, 3:15 am

        I agree highly with Dee laying it all out there for your father and giving him the choice of attending the wedding/visiting you without her or staying home with her.

        If you end up with a destination wedding where both of your non-toxic parent couples attend and the toxic couples do not, it will be a win win situation, as the only people attending a wedding should be people supporting the couple and wishing them happiness.

        • Dee October 26, 2017, 9:37 am

          A destination wedding is not a win-win for the guests. They have to pay for the “privilege” of attending the wedding. If they don’t have the money, they don’t get to go. That’s horrible. Forcing a loving parent to choose between shelling out big bucks to attend their child’s milestone event or not being able to go is sure to instill long-lasting bitterness with no benefit to anyone. If OP and her fiancé want a close relationship with loving family and friends then they should take care not to impose restrictions on those relationships by demanding a price to be paid. Otherwise, OP’s behaviour starts to look as selfish as her father’s.

          • Lanes November 5, 2017, 1:59 am

            I agree Dee; in one of my past, previously very close “BFF” friendships, a destination wedding became one of the straws to eventually break the camel’s back.
            Use the honeymoon as your holiday, don’t impose on your invited guests.

      • gramma dishes October 28, 2017, 8:44 pm

        I couldn’t agree more.
        Invite those family members who love you (including Dad’s mom) and don’t feel obligated to invite anyone who treats you so shabbily.

    • CPete October 25, 2017, 3:53 pm

      I tend to agree, o_gal. While etiquette would call for a husband and wife to be a social unit, I don’t think etiquette rules are the be-all, end-all, especially when it comes to family relationships. It is understandable that the OP would want her father to see her get married, and from this post it is also understandable that she wouldn’t want her stepmother there. Of course, asking the stepmom not to come could be difficult to enforce and will add more fuel for her nastiness later, but ultimately, in this case, I’d say OP should consult her and her future husband’s wishes and best judgement instead of general societal rules.

    • It's Me October 25, 2017, 4:52 pm

      “Just looking at the timeline, some of her nastiness doesn’t work out – if they’ve only been married for 18 months, and you are presumably an adult in your early or mid 20’s, then they’ve been having an affair for 20+ years?”

      You never know – the SM might be telling the truth. I know a woman who got pregnant when she was 18. She and the baby’s father weren’t in an exclusive relationship at the time, but they got married anyway, even though the guy claimed that he cared more about another woman that he was dating than he cared about this woman whom he was coerced into marrying.

      Right after she gave birth, he asked her for a divorce. She said no because she was Catholic. So he stayed married to her and complained constantly to her and their children that the only reason he stayed married was that his wife wouldn’t give him a divorce, and he openly dated the other woman, the one he really cared for at the time he impregnated his future wife. So the kids grew up knowing that their father did not enjoy being married to their mother, and they all knew the woman their father preferred. When he died, the other woman came to the funeral. And that was way more than 20 years later, so yes, affairs can last for more than 20 years.

      In this case, the father does not sound like “a fairly decent person” since he doesn’t seem to have done anything about the SM’s shockingly disrespectful behavior.

    • A different Tracy October 26, 2017, 8:37 am

      “Just looking at the timeline, some of her nastiness doesn’t work out – if they’ve only been married for 18 months, and you are presumably an adult in your early or mid 20’s, then they’ve been having an affair for 20+ years?”

      Yes, it happens. Or they had an affair 20 years ago and started up again in the last few years.

    • pennywit October 26, 2017, 10:26 am

      I have to agree with you here. If Stepmom “just” had a habit of being occasionally rude or crude, then I’d say invite her and bear it for the sake of Dad. But Stepmom’s behavior is over the top. So I’d say invite Dad but not Stepmom. If it creates drama, so be it.

    • Judecat December 31, 2017, 7:26 pm

      My father had an affair with another woman for over 20 years when he was married to my mother. He didn’t divorce my mother until my brother was in his 30’s, but he had been seeing this woman since shortly after said brother was born. They even had a child together the year before I was born. So such things are not unheard of. So the woman may not be lying at all, just telling you truths you don’t want to hear.

  • Saucygirl October 25, 2017, 6:41 am

    Did I write this letter? ? I had not been talking to my sm when I got engaged as she is a horrible person. But as admin says, she is my dad’s wife, so I was going to have to invite her. Then we were all at a very good family friends wedding and she slapped my mom. And as admin also said, dad isn’t innocent, as she does this stuff solely because he doesn’t call her on it. But I do. I informed my father she was no longer allowed at my wedding, as my mom comes first. I told him I was done forgiving her actions in order to make his life easier. I wasn’t the one married her, I wasn’t the one who stayed married to her, and I wasn’t the one who let her act that way. He was. So he needed to deal with the consequences of it, not me. He offered up feeble excuses, and then asked if I would invite her anyway, as she wouldn’t come because since I lived in a different state she wouldn’t have any of her friends at my wedding. I told him no, that I needed her to know she wasn’t coming because I said so, not because she declined. It’s an important distinction.

    It’s been 20 wonderful years since that conversation. I have a great relationship with my father, which she is absolutely no part of. If you are willing to have a real conversation with your father, and lay it out all, and deal with whatever the outcome of it is (I was fully prepared to cancel my wedding and elope if my dad decided to make her invite a condition of his payment), then do it. Your sanity and respecting your mother will thank you.

    • kgg October 25, 2017, 10:51 am

      OMG he’s *still* married to her? I’m glad you have a great relationship with your father. But holy cow, how did you NOT punch your stepmonster in the face? Your self-control is amazing!

      • saucygirl October 25, 2017, 5:29 pm

        Thanks! My self control comes from years of experience with her (i could keep this website in stories for at least a year just with things that happened with her!), so I would go in prepared to be zen. Plus I wasn’t there when she hit my mom. By the time I heard about it around 20 minutes later she had already made my dad leave. smartest move she ever made. 🙂

        he is still married to her. its been around 35 years at this point. they have a great, active social life that he enjoys. and as I said, I live in a different state . he isn’t going to “throw” away his whole life cause his wife is a bitch to me (or as he says – jealous of me).

    • Pat October 25, 2017, 12:51 pm

      I think in your case, you did the right thing.

      • staceyizme October 25, 2017, 9:46 pm

        That must have been a difficult conversation to have; kudos to you for finding a way forward! Your honesty allowed your dad to see his choice clearly and you were willing to let go of the outcome and deal with whatever decision he made. This is the epitome of functioning like a mature human being in the midst of difficult circumstances. Good to see that you have been able to continue to see your dad without having to filter the relationship through a hostile partner. (Also, evidence for the idea that for every rule of etiquette, there will be a very few circumstances where they cannot reasonably be applied in the normal way. Or- if applied, the cost would be quite high.)

  • chigrrl October 25, 2017, 7:48 am

    Maybe she won’t want to come? Sounds like the relationship is overtly contentious if all these interactions really happened as stated; the dad couldn’t possibly surprised at this point. I can’t help but wonder why these ongoing comments are allowed to continue and the dad doesn’t step in and defend his daughter. Why feel obligated to include someone who allows someone to abuse you? Is there the expectation that dad and SM will be contributing financially to the event?

    • DancerDiva October 25, 2017, 8:59 pm

      If she’s that nasty, I can’t imagine that she’d miss out on a chance to make LW’s wedding day a miserable affair. If I were dealing with someone like this, I’d tell my dad that I didn’t want her there, but if he didn’t attend because his wife wasn’t invited, I’d understand. My grandmother (Dad’s mom) was a nasty person, to my mom and to me also, but my father modeled how to stand up for both of us.

  • Anon October 25, 2017, 7:54 am

    Generally, yes, it is true that one does not invite one-half of a couple to a social engagement. However, I think there are exceptions to be made in case of close family ties and/or really bad behavior, which this story has in spades. To invite your father without your stepmother would put the nail in the coffin of your relationship, so to speak, but it sounds like you’ve had it with her and that there is no relationship to maintain. Your father will be put in a difficult position of having to choose between his child and his wife…and he has to see her everyday and sleep with her next to him at night. In practical terms, she can make his life hell. So if it were me I probably would invite dad without stepmom, but I would prepare myself for him to say no, and even to get angry at the suggestion. It may even cause an estrangement. It is likely better to simply not invite them both, and perhaps to meet with dad privately to explain why.

  • Shoegal October 25, 2017, 8:18 am

    Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to not invite Stepmother – but she sounds like a real winner. Your Dad obviously made some mistakes and isn’t up to fixing them, it seems.

    Why not skip some formalities at your wedding and not introduce everyone as they come in and maybe have the DJ/band acknowledge the bride’s parents – have Mom stand up – have Dad stand up but not introduce their spouses. Have new husband’s parents stand up in the same fashion.

    And in the future – I would distance myself from that woman. She is bad news and you don’t need that in your life.

  • Wild Irish Rose October 25, 2017, 8:21 am

    Admin nailed it. This is the perfect scenario for elopement. Imagine the things she’ll say once you’ve tied the knot without her present!

  • LadyV October 25, 2017, 8:33 am

    Just because you have to invite Stepmother doesn’t mean you need to tolerate bad behavior. If you’re lucky, she’ll refuse to attend. I would suggest OP have a talk with her father prior to the wedding and let him know that if Stepmother starts acting up, she will be asked to leave – and he can decide whether or not to leave with her. No bride should have her wedding day ruined by someone as awful as Stepmother appears to be.

    Side note: this is one of those situations where I would LOVE to hear the other side!

  • Abby October 25, 2017, 8:44 am

    I agree with Admin. I always get so frustrated when people complain about stepmoms, mother in laws, sister in laws, daughter in laws, etc…in every one of those cases, you have a father, a son, or a husband who is standing idly by while their partner, or sister, or mother is verbally (or in some cases physically) abusive to someone he claims he loves. Yet 100% of the blame is laid on the other person.

    Your father would rather go along to get along and that means forcing you to put up with someone who constantly berates you for no (good) reason and disrespects your mother. I would have a HUGE problem with that if my father did that to me. Your stepmom is hateful, but your father enables her, at a great cost to his daughter’s emotional health. I understand you love your father, but you must recognize his character flaws here are what is allowing Evil Stepmother to go on with her reign of terror.

    • Just4Kicks October 26, 2017, 10:33 am

      @Abby: I agree with your statement completely.
      I have posted many stories about my late MIL, who did everything in her power to make my life miserable.
      After one particularly awful fight with my husband about her (she crossed the line BIG TIME with one of my kids), I told him he is culpable in letting his mom treat me like garbage.
      If you don’t want to stand up to mommy and tell her not to treat your wife badly, that’s fine, I am a big girl….but you will NOT let her treat our children badly!!!
      I also may have called him “Norman Bates” once or twice…he eventually came around a little.

  • Pat October 25, 2017, 8:59 am

    Or you could have a very small private wedding and not invite your father and SM. It seems kind of sad to not have your mother and SF at your wedding because of your SM’s behavior. I guess only you could judge the ramifications of that option though.

  • DGS October 25, 2017, 9:09 am

    Married couples are a social unit, so you have to invite both, and at any rate, why would you feed into the drama? Fueling the fire of drama simply creates bigger fires, until you have a real dumpster blaze of epic proportions. This is a wonderful opportunity for a few sessions with a good, licensed therapist (psychologist, licensed clinical social worker or licensed marriage and family therapist) to address healthy boundary setting and reflect on your relationship with you father (who must in some way, collude with step-monster, since silence equals tacit acceptance). It will be useful to your, LW, and your fiancé, as build your life together in the long term, to learn and practice how to set healthy boundaries, and in the short term, it will help you have a happy wedding day, whether you choose to have a big formal event or elope and have a quiet reception.

  • VickyJoJo October 25, 2017, 9:09 am

    Do yourselves a favor and elope. The admin is correct. Your father and his wife are a social unit. You can’t invite him and exclude her.

    Elope and have a nice dinner with each side of the family to celebrate when you return. That way you limit your interaction with her to a shorter, finite time while still celebrating with your dad.

    On a separate note, the best advice is was given when putting together the guest list for my wedding was this: don’t include anyone out of sheer obligation. Include people that you would be utterly thrilled that they can attend or disappointed if they decline. I know that’s not always possible especially in situations like yours but it did really help me.

  • Michelle October 25, 2017, 9:23 am

    Seconding elopement! Your stepmom sounds really awful and you know she will cause drama and act out at your wedding. Even if you did not invite her, she would find out the info from your dad, friends or some other way, show up and make a scene.

  • Harry October 25, 2017, 10:05 am

    Admin is spot on. Married couples are just that, a couple and must be treated as so. The question of the day is WHY does your Dad allow his wife to treat you so bad? Why not pose the question you posted here to your Dad, and then sit back quietly and listen to what he has to say.

    • Anon October 25, 2017, 2:21 pm

      And then here a bunch of weak excuses as to why she does it. Yeah, I’m sure she definitely has a good reason to treat LW like crud.

  • kgg October 25, 2017, 10:14 am

    Or you could just not invite your father and stepmother.

    If he’s inflicting this monster on your family, then your father is just as much to blame. You could tell your father that he married a hateful woman who has the potential to ruin your wedding day, and that you do not want to risk it. There will be fallout but, honestly, how much more unpleasant will the fallout be compared to dealing with them?

    • Semperviren October 27, 2017, 10:14 am

      I agree, don’t invite them. And tell Dad (with love, respect and regret) why you can’t.

  • Dyan October 25, 2017, 10:17 am

    she sounds like a real winner…mind you if your dad stands by and lets her talk to you that way…he is to blame also.
    run away and get married or don’t invite either of them you don’t need that crap at your wedding …just people you love

  • Devin October 25, 2017, 10:37 am

    I agree with the admin on this one. You and your DF should elope and only include those you know will be there with nothing but love for you. In the mean time, if you want to have your father in your life, you need to sit down with him one on one and let him know how you feel. Have an honest conversation about the issues you have with his family (him, his wife, step daughter and grandchild). use your police spine to tell him you won’t take verbal or emotional abuse or manipulation from them and you are prepared to cut them out of your life. if your father is not aware of how you are being treated this may be a wake up call. If he knows and is allowing it, he has made his choice and sadly it isn’t you.

    • bern821 November 1, 2017, 3:49 pm

      You can’t really elope AND include those with nothing but love for you. Elopement means “running off to get married without telling anyone”.
      I’m all for not inviting stepmonster – but not before first having a long, honest talk with dad. It would seem that without a doubt this woman will ruin the LW’s wedding day, so she shouldn’t be given that opportunity. And the people who love the bride and groom shouldn’t be deprived of celebrating their wedding day with them if they elope. I say eliminate the problem and have a lovely wedding, with or without dad. His choice.

  • Daisy October 25, 2017, 10:44 am

    Miss Jeanne is right; you can’t invite one half of a married couple, and from the sound of it, your stepmother wouldn’t let your dad come anyway. Would you want to risk her turning up at the church uninvited and doing her best Joan Crawford in front of your guests? Elope, maybe with some good friends as witnesses, and have that quiet dinner with your parents later. You may as well set a precedent now, because it isn’t going to be any different down the road when you want to celebrate Christmases, Thanksgivings, new baby christenings, birthdays, and graduations.

  • Gena October 25, 2017, 11:20 am

    I disagree with elopement – unless you really want to. Why do I have to miss out on the wedding of my dreams (whatever that may be) because of one person that I don’t want to invite? So I don’t get to have my mother and friends at my wedding, because I don’t want my stepmother?

    And I agree wholeheartedly with Saucygirl. My best friends brother married an awful woman, and we are all told to “be nice to her”, or she’ll take it out on him. Why do I have to be nice and she’s allowed to act however she wants?

  • Firsttimer October 25, 2017, 11:24 am

    Been reading for years and this is my first time commenting. I actually got married five years ago in a similar situation. My dad had cheated on my mom and it was a very nasty divorce. My father did some things that were difficult to forgive and we didn’t have a relationship for about ten years. We had a very strained and superficial relationship when I was getting married. He had married the other woman right after the divorce and then had divorced her before I got engaged. Shortly before sending invites, he remarried this woman suddenly. I invited my father, and not the new/old wife. She had been exceedingly cruel to my mother during the divorce (mostly verbal taunting) and had encouraged my dad not to pay his child support afterwards. The split invitation caused a rift and he has not spoken to me since. I’m honestly better off without him in my life and I do not regret my decision. You should do what’s best for you based on your relationship with your father, but know that asking him to choose may not end well initially. Side note: I walked myself down the aisle and it was a great experience, very freeing and symbolic of my choice for the future.

    • Lanes November 5, 2017, 2:18 am

      I don’t have a relationship with my father either, he was not invited to my wedding (though his mother – my grandmother – was, and did attend).

      Result: I had my mum walk me down the aisle 🙂

  • lakey October 25, 2017, 12:01 pm

    I agree with administrator that you can’t invite your father without his wife. He is a big part of the problem.
    These are your options:
    1. Elope, have a get together afterwards with the people who are supportive of you.
    2. Have a wedding, invite them, ignore her as much as possible.
    3. Have a wedding, and don’t invite them.
    The remark about having an affair with your father when your mother was pregnant accomplished nothing more than to hurt you, and says a lot about what kind of a person she is. You can use it. If the relationship is as you describe, you owe this woman nothing. I would minimize contact. I certainly wouldn’t babysit for her grandchildren or loan anything to her children. I would see them at holidays and so on, but avoid having any real personal relationship with her. She’s not your friend. I don’t think you need to pretend that she is. If your father questions why you don’t want to have more of a relationship with her, remind him of her making that outrageous admission.

    When family members and step family members behave badly, you put up with it and be miserable, or you can spend less time with them and be happier.

  • Diane October 25, 2017, 12:04 pm

    I agree that a couple is a social unit. I also think that the bad behaviour is a unit. If I had a friend whose husband treated me badly and she just asked where the bean dip was, I’d not be inviting that couple to any of my events.
    A parent bean dipping while his partner is cruel to his child is worse.
    If I wanted a wedding, I’d have a wedding. There is no need to elope because of one woman.
    The mother and step-father are a well behaved unit that are not a part of the father and step-mother social unit. One couple would receive an invitation while the other would not.
    If you want to elope, elope. If you want a nice wedding, don’t include guests with a track record of misbehaving.

    I don’t see the etiquette problem in that.

  • Diane October 25, 2017, 12:06 pm

    I agree that a couple is a social unit. I also think that the bad behaviour is a unit. If I had a friend whose husband treated me badly and she just asked where the bean dip was, I’d not be inviting that couple to any of my events.
    A parent bean dipping while his partner is cruel to his child is worse.
    If I wanted a wedding, I’d have a wedding. There is no need to elope because of one woman.
    The mother and step-father are a well behaved unit that are not a part of the father and step-mother social unit. One couple would receive an invitation while the other would not.
    If you want to elope, elope. If you want a nice wedding, don’t include guests with a track record of misbehaving.

    I don’t see the etiquette problem in that.

  • Aleko October 25, 2017, 12:21 pm

    I would say, have a proper wedding if you want to, invite your mother and stepfather along with all your other decent relations and your friends, and have a happy day. Explain politely to your father that your stepmother’s consistent display of deliberate offensiveness to you, your mother and the bridegroom makes it simply impossible to have her at the wedding; and as it would be improper for you to invite him and exclude her (and it would be equally improper and disloyal for him to accept if you did) you simply can’t invite him, and you hope he understands the hard choice you have had to make.

  • Shoegal October 25, 2017, 1:26 pm

    I just thought of something, Tell your father you aren’t inviting your Stepmonster because surely she wouldn’t want to attend the wedding of the “idiot” who proposed to you and a manipulative b***h. You are doing her a favor.

  • fuggadaboutit October 25, 2017, 1:31 pm

    I disagree with admin. You would basically be punishing your mom because of actions of your father again. OP’s mom was already cheated on by her father with SM and now because of SM she should not get to see her daughter get married. I would be more worried about ruining my relationship with my mom and SF than what my dad and SM would think in this scenario.

  • Princess Buttercup October 25, 2017, 2:30 pm

    I’d be a bit sneaky.
    Ask Dad out to lunch with you and fiance, have mom and stepdad “just happen” to pass by and see you. Lead conversation towards wedding. Suddenly have the idea to get married right now. Do it before stepmom can have a chance to get there.

    Even if you tried to just invite dad stepmom might come just for spite and drama. So be a step ahead of her.

    • Jared Bascomb October 25, 2017, 7:05 pm

      That’s essentially what my cousin did when he married his now-husband, but there was no drama in the background — they just didn’t want all the fuss of a big marriage ceremony. So they invited their nearest and dearest to dinner – one of whom was a minister – and got married on the spot.

  • Roses October 25, 2017, 3:03 pm

    I think you should sit down and have a conversation with your father. She absolutely should not be invited. You can either have the difficult conversation with your dad that she’s not invited; he can come alone or not at all. Or, you can elope and avoid the drama. I would consider though that this likely isn’t the last issue you will have with SM so you will probably have many more occasions where you will want to see your dad, but not SM. You can set the boundary and have the difficult conversation now, or just postpone it until some later date.

  • PJ October 25, 2017, 4:09 pm

    As I was reading responses, I was really on the fence with this one, because as someone pointed out we’re waaaay outside of the realm of proper behavior here with this woman.

    In the end, though, they are a social unit, and your father has chosen to be a ‘package deal’ with her.

    I say invite your mother and stepfather, and not your father and his wife. They should not be punished for your stepmother and your father (who is allowing it to happen). Your father and hist wife have caused their own un-invitation by their choices.

    The wedding day is about you, and it is shared with people who love and support you. This woman is absolutely not deserving of that honor, and I doubt your father is either.

  • koolchicken October 25, 2017, 4:09 pm

    If a big wedding isn’t important to you, elope.

    My MIL (who I get along with well now) and I were fighting at the time of my engagement. Long story short, she treated me badly, my husband told her not to, and she decided not to speak to him for a year when he made it clear he was never going to be okay with her disrespecting me. She softened a bit when we got engaged but still pulled a lot of crap. Including but not limited to telling us we had to invite the entire family in Singapore (we live in the US) but she wouldn’t give me anyone’s address. She expected me to send a single invite (to an address I didn’t have) and apparently it would be passed around and whoever felt like coming would show up. Um, no. The venue was clear, they wanted the first and last name of every guest, their exact seat, and what they wanted to eat. Failure to adhere to their strict rules would mean cancellation of the event. One extra person could have seen my wedding canceled on the day of. So no, we weren’t going to just see who showed up.

    Needless to say, we eloped. She didn’t get to stage the fiasco she wanted that would have cost us tens of thousands of dollars and see our wedding day canceled. I got to avoid the panic attack that is a big wedding (I did not want a big wedding). And my husband got to show up unannounced at his parents house to introduce his wife- and enjoyed the satisfaction of watching her see her plan failed. Elopements, seriously undervalued little affairs.

    Oh, and my MIL did eventually move on. I actually got an apology, first ever from her according to the entire family. Guess she didn’t want to risk not seeing her future grandchildren…

  • L October 25, 2017, 5:20 pm

    Ad the admin pointed out, your father is not the innocent in all this. But that’s not my point.

    I tend to look askew at posts that show someone as all good or all bad. In reading your posts I see you have labeled your stepmother as “all bad” as you have not listed even one tiny redeeming feature about her. You don’t say your father is innocent but if I take your word for it he is all saint.

    No way. Very, very few people have no good qualities even if they never show them to us. I just don’t believe this because you have painted it as absolute black and white.

    • Saucygirl October 26, 2017, 5:22 am

      I responded above that I could have written this letter, and that I ended up having a talk with my dad about his wife. I told him that part of my problem was that I couldn’t find one redeeming feature in his wife. But I also told him that since I wasn’t part of his day to day life I could very easily be missing it. I asked him to tell me something nice about his wife, something that could make me like her. He thought about it, and then told me that when she went grocery shopping she bought the treats he likes. I told him a maid could do the same thing, so that wasn’t good enough.

      How deep must her good qualities be buried if that’s the best her husband can come up with?

      • Anon October 26, 2017, 10:03 am

        I’m surprised he didn’t say “she’s good in bed”. After all, that’s the only reason I could imagine people putting up with these horrible people for so long.

    • Rattus October 26, 2017, 7:27 am

      My father is intelligent. That’s it. That is his sole “redeeming” feature. It is not redeeming enough. My mother’s second husband was financially responsible. That’s it. Otherwise, a horrible human being. Not everyone has enough of a redeeming feature to mention.

    • A different Tracy October 26, 2017, 8:33 am

      Why would you presume the LW is going to go to the trouble of listing some of her stepmother’s good qualities in a letter about her bad ones? That’s not the point of her letter.

    • jokergirl129 October 26, 2017, 9:54 am

      L some people really are just horrible human beings with very little or no good qualities to them. And even if the stepmother did have any good qualities to her the bad ones clearly outweigh them. That also doesn’t change the fact that the stepmother has said some terrible things to the OP and there might be even more examples that the OP didn’t write about. The point is the stepmother sounds like a nasty person in general and OP doesn’t want her at the wedding which I don’t blame her one bit. I wouldn’t want someone like that at my wedding either.

      Also we don’t know the exact relationship OP has with her father. Since she really wants him there it sounds like their relationship might be good or OP is willing to look away at certain things because he is her father. But she does need to have a serious talk with him about stepmother and her behavior. Because I agree with Admin and a few other commenters that he isn’t innocent in all of this either.

    • mark October 26, 2017, 4:38 pm

      You actually bring up a very valuable point here. This is one side of the story here. And the story is very black and white, and that definitely makes you wonder.

    • InTheEther October 28, 2017, 1:33 am

      You’re right about the Step-mom probably not being satan incarnate, but that doesn’t mean the OP has ever SEEN any good qualities. People usually don’t treat everybody else the same way. The step-mom may be a great grandmother or a good friend for a couple of people, but it sounds like she’s decided to hate the OP for existing and proving that her husband had a marriage and family before her. So OP will never get anything but vileness from her and never be exposed to whatever good qualities she has.

      I have a co-worker who is a vivacious, friendly, cheerful person. She’s eager to talk and give advice, willing to jump on if you ever say you need help. Until you get on her bad side. Then its long stretches of the silent treatment and PA BS. I’m almost permanently on her bad side now. My sins consist of not being gossipy (I’ll talk with people, but I just really don’t care about 2nd and 3rd hand information about people I barely interact with) and being too independent. She really doesn’t like you not hanging on her every word (since she knows best) or not depending on her, and I’d like to just do my work (I’ll ask for help if I don’t know something, but she likes to interrupt me to tell me to do what I’m already doing). So while a large amount of people really like her, I mostly just enjoy my stretches of the silent treatment.

  • jokergirl129 October 25, 2017, 6:13 pm

    OP your stepmother is a horrible woman and I have no idea why your father would marry a woman like that. But even so I have to agree with admin that your father isn’t innocent in all of this either. I don’t know what the relationship was like between your mom and dad but if stepmother is telling the truth that he cheated on your mom with her while pregnant that is just low. But even if that part isn’t true he still chose to marry her even though there should have been plenty of red flags that told him it was a bad idea. I can’t imagine a woman like that being able to hide her bad side for long.

    Has your father ever told his second wife to not say such terrible things about you? Defended you or called your stepmother out on her behavior? Because if not then you need to have a serious talk with him or consider not having him involved in your life as much. And I know I don’t know the relationship you have with your father so please feel free to clear anything up if you want to. But… none of this sounds good and I’ll admit that fact he willingly married a horrid woman like your stepmother and may or may not have cheated on your mom with your stepmother is really painting him in a bad light.

  • OutdoorGirl October 25, 2017, 7:15 pm

    I don’t agree with the advice to elope. Why should the OP have to give up the idea of the wedding she’d like to have, just because of one woman who doesn’t know how to behave?

    So go ahead and plan the wedding you’d like to have but don’t invite the father and step-mother. It might be worth having a discussion with her father to let him know that his wife’s behaviour means that she will never be welcome in the OP’s home or at any event the OP is hosting. That she would like her father to be at her wedding but he would have to leave his wife at home. And if he shows up with his wife, they will both be turned away.

    And I’d stop calling her ‘stepmother’. She isn’t. She’s the father’s wife.

    • LadyV October 26, 2017, 8:54 am

      Thank you for those last two lines! I personally feel that once kids are adults, the whole stepmother/stepfather thing doesn’t apply anymore. There are exceptions to that – mostly when the adult children have a good relationship with the new wife/husband. My father married twice after he and my mom were divorced. Wife #2 wanted nothing to do with dad’s family – and the feeling was pretty much mutual. Wife #3, on the other hand, was wonderful and I got along very well with her. (it didn’t hurt that I’d known her for a long time – she’s my brother’s second wife’s mother. And yes, that does sound like a Jerry Springer episode!) I called her Mama Barbara because I really cared about her.

  • staceyizme October 25, 2017, 9:25 pm

    Not an easy situation to be in. However, you can either invite both and have a back-up plan (bouncer in the form of a wedding planner, family member or actual security( or have a frank conversation with your father “I’d love it if you could attend, but I cannot have guests, even family, whose record of behavior is so bad that trouble is almost certainly guaranteed.” Your father almost certainly won’t attend without her, but you’ve spoken your truth and you haven’t been forced to elope. If you don’t nip her shenanigans in the bud, she is likely to hold every event you ever host hostage to her whims, hurt feelings or overblown entitlement. She can only do that if you allow it (either by tolerating her behavior or by allowing your father to compel you to risk having some of the best moments of your life ruined in the name of family. (Of course, you can omit an invitation to both halves of this couple. Awkward, but an option. Anyone rude enough to remark on it could be told “I love my father, but we are not close…”, if you elected to make any remark at all.

  • Rebecca October 25, 2017, 10:41 pm

    I would totally invite the dad without the wife. Who cares about the “social unit”? That is an artificial construct. He is your FATHER and no matter what he did or did not do wrong, if you want him there, you want him there. Of course he might not come without her but I don’t see why you should have to invite someone who has been nasty to you just because of some bizarre societal expectation.

  • A different Tracy October 26, 2017, 8:35 am

    I like Dee’s advice about, about giving your father the choice of a relationship with you that doesn’t involve his wife, or no relationship at all. Barring that, I’d have exactly the wedding you want, and simply don’t invite them to it. Why should you, and your fiance, and your supportive family and friends, not get to enjoy this day simply because of this one woman?

  • pennywit October 26, 2017, 10:21 am

    Don’t just elope. Elope to Vegas … with Elvis!! If you’re gonna do it, do it in style.

  • Mindblown October 26, 2017, 10:38 am

    Some married couples don’t always see the faults of each other. Some couples depend on each other in ways we can’t understand so they will stay together even when they do know the faults of each other. Some stay in marriages like this because of blackmail, religious reasons, or are scared because of financial difficulties. Some people will put up with absolutely anything for sex and because of loneliness. It does no good to wonder why the people we love “put up” with these horrible people, they just do. But we have to decide whether to deal with it or deal out of it. In this case, it would be element all the way. Do you know there are some absolutely gorgeous places to buy elopement packages? (Besides vegas) lol

  • Lisa October 26, 2017, 10:50 am

    I disagree with Jeanne on this one.

    Once someone has crossed the line into violence (she slapped OP’s mother!) the rules are out the window. The couple should not have to elope to avoid this woman.

    I do agree that the father is complicit in enabling this behavior so I would be straight about it with him. Either he comes alone or not at all.

  • Hopefulfour October 26, 2017, 10:58 am

    The Stepmonster should definitely NOT be invited and the dad is questionable at best. That he allows his wife to treat his family in this manner makes him spineless at best, an accomplice at worse. If stepmonster were to attend, it is likely that she would do something nasty at the wedding and/or reception. Eloping will void some, but not all, of the drama. If LW does decide to have a wedding/reception, I would advise NOT inviting the dad and not even letting him know when and where as stepmonster might get the information from him and show up to cause trouble.

    Harsh? Yes, I suppose. But given stepmonster’s behavior and the ‘dad’s implied acceptance of it (is he doing ANYTHING to address it?) IMO it is deserved. You reap what you sow.

  • EOM October 26, 2017, 2:06 pm

    I hate hate hate that whenever someone has one toxic relative, the default advice is that they elope. “Sorry every single loving, caring, normal member of my friends and family. But this one person is a nightmare so off we go. I know that I want to have you with me and I know that you want to be with me. But, instead we’re going to let the toxic witch win again. Toodles.”

    Just have the wedding you want and don’t invite your dad. Tell him why. Never talk to your stepmom again.

    • Aleko October 27, 2017, 5:17 am

      YES to this!

  • Lady Phoenix October 26, 2017, 2:37 pm

    You don’t have a stepmom problem, you have a dad problem. If your dad can’t be bothered to twll this woman to stop harassing you and your family, then he is a terrible father.

  • Lady Phoenix October 26, 2017, 2:46 pm

    Also disagree with the Admin. Go ahead and get married Nd invite all you love. Do not invite your dad and the wicked step mother. They are terrible people, period.

  • Billia October 26, 2017, 3:14 pm

    You are not under any obligation to your wedding. I really think admin has that wrong.

  • Kelly Taylor October 26, 2017, 4:07 pm

    This isn’t about wedding etiquette, it’s about what kind of relationship the LW wants to have with her father, and if it’s even possible. (I’ve been in the situation, where the horrible person was actually my father, and I would’ve preferred his wife’s company.)

    Talk to your father, and I wouldn’t even bring up the wedding or frame things around it. It’s about more than that. “Dad, for the duration of your marriage, SM has done ___ and said ___. Therefore, I cannot and will not be in her presence, or attend events where she is there. She is not welcome in my home. I know you are understandably hurt by this, but I can’t compromise on the pain and grief she has caused me, and I need to establish this boundary. Can I still see you/have a relationship with you with the understanding that, under no circumstances, to I wish to see or talk about SM?”

    There is a small but unlikely possibility you can negotiate something overall, and then cross the wedding invite bridge when you get to it. “Dad, I want to make clear, SM is not welcome at our wedding. I would appreciate you being there to celebrate with us, but I understand if you don’t want to attend without her. We’ll miss you.”

  • CaffeineKatie October 26, 2017, 7:54 pm

    I understand the rules about inviting both members of a social unit, but jeepers I don’t blame the LW for wanting to avoid this woman on their happy day. So I will just share this–I have 2 friends who came into their current marriage with 3 exes each, and multiple wildly disfunctional family members. They ran off to Vegas and did indeed get married by an Elvis impersonator and are still extremely happy some 20+ years later. (Elope!!!!!)

  • MzLiz October 27, 2017, 4:33 pm

    By the sounds of it, inviting SM is a huge risk. I wouldn’t. Her toxicity has been too established to trust that she’ll be any different at the wedding. Being mannerly is one thing but those who use hammers on others cannot expect to be treated like china dolls in return. As host, OP has to consider not only herself & her FH but also the comfort of the other family members, in-laws & guests. Does she really want to expose them to this woman’s potential (seemingly likely) spiteful behavior during the celebration? When the answer can’t be found in normal civility, it’s time for what I like to call ‘Vulcan Etiquette’; the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. Personally, I’d give Dad a single opportunity to understand why SM isn’t welcome & if he doesn’t agree to show up without her, (complete with a BIG smile & a great, supportive attitude on the day), I’d sic Grandma on him. Let him explain to his mother that SM is more important than his own child & HER grandchild, on the OP’s wedding day, of all days. And if Grandma can’t make him see sense? See ya, Dad. You’re off the guest list too. Yeah, it’ll sting but if this woman is as bad as you say, you might find that the relief of her not being there outstrips your disappointment & you will know, for sure & for certain, where you stand with your father. His loss.

  • Marozia October 30, 2017, 7:17 pm

    I heartily agree with Admin.