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Wedding Wednesday – Dodged That Invitation Bullet!

My second cousin was getting married in my hometown. We are not close; I hadn’t seen him in at least 3 years and had only met the bride-to-be once. My siblings and I don’t live in our hometown, but all live within a couple hours drive. A few months before the wedding, my mother told us the date and advised we should put it on our calendars. About 2 months before the wedding, she texts me and asks if I received an invitation. I had not. “You must be invited on our invitation, then,” she replied. “They don’t have your address.” I told her no one had asked for my address.

She sent me a picture of her invitation, including the envelope. The envelope was addressed to Dad and Mom LastName. There was no indication that my siblings and I were invited. (We are all in our late 20s/early 30s and haven’t lived with my parents in years). I took from this that I was not invited.

I spoke to my mother on the phone a few days later and she was insistent that my siblings and I were invited under her invitation. “You’re family!” She explained. I told her I would not be attending if I didn’t receive an invitation to my house.

Over the next few weeks, my parents continued to try and convince me to go. My siblings said they had other plans, although I’m not sure if they actually did or if they were trying to avoid going to a wedding they weren’t invited to. Three weeks before the wedding, I received an invitation. It was postmarked a few days before, so it wasn’t lost in the mail. My mother had asked my cousin’s mother to send me an invitation, since I was refusing to come.

They ended up calling off the wedding a week before the ceremony, and I was a little relieved to not have to attend a wedding I wasn’t sure if the couple actually intended to invite me to. 0905-18


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dominic September 12, 2018, 6:47 am

    OP’s mistake here was telling their mother they “would not be attending if [they] didn’t receive an invitation.” Their mother viewed that as an opening to arrange for an invitation to be sent. OP’s siblings had the right idea: the polite fiction of having other plans for that day.

    • flora September 12, 2018, 9:06 am

      I’m not sure I agree. Polite fiction has it’s place but I like to think I’m close enough to my mom to gently inform her when I honestly think she’s wrong. Also the OP didn’t say she would go if invited, just that she wouldn’t go if she did not receive an invitation. If the wedding had happened, there’s nothing to stop the OP from declining the invite and sending along a gift. That’s probably how I would have handled it.

      • Op September 12, 2018, 12:55 pm

        Submitter here. I didn’t tell her I had plans when I didn’t because, like flora said, I felt like I could just tell her she was wrong. Also, she would have asked what the plans were and how it went afterwards. The “I won’t go without an invitation addressed to me” was the end of a 10-15 minute conversation in which I tried to convince her my siblings and I were our own social units. I pointed out how our first cousin (on the other side) had gotten married the year before and obtained our addresses and sent us our own invitations. Her argument was that my second cousin just wasn’t savvy enough to know he needed to send us our own invitations.

        • Store Manager September 13, 2018, 8:04 am

          What if you simply told your mother that you are not close with the 2nd cousin and barely met the bride to be once? AND YOU DON’T WANT TO GO, whether you got the invitation or not? Guess your mom may not take it lightly.

          • Op September 13, 2018, 10:45 am

            She also didn’t want to go, but “we’re family”.

      • Kay_L September 12, 2018, 2:09 pm

        The key to polite fiction is for it not to be something someone can act on.

      • Liz September 13, 2018, 10:09 am

        I agree. it probably just came up in the conversation “no i wont’ go without an invite” – not meaning she expected one to be sent, but that etiquette dictates you don’t attend a wedding without an invitation, and as one had not been sent, it wasn’t appropriate for the OP to attend.

        I seriously hate the idea that if someone in a family is invited, it means EVERYONE is. No, no it does not. It mean whoever’s name is on the invite is invited, and no one else. But some people just don’t get it, and insist, like the OP’s mom, it means everyone. Its especially egregious for something like a wedding where there is a headcount and per plate cost.

        If I were the OP, I would have done the same thing, and would have not gone even though I DID get an invite, albeit last minute.

  • NicoleK September 12, 2018, 7:12 am

    The best thing would have been for whichever of LWs parents is the cousin of whichever of the groom’s parents to call the other parent and ask. Honestly, this is the sort of thing where communication is a good thing.

    • Melissa September 12, 2018, 8:01 am

      But that sounds like exactly what happened, and asking whether someone is invited to a wedding can easily turn into an awkward situation if you aren’t gracious about it. The way OP describes mom’s insistence that OP and siblings were invited, even though they weren’t, leads me to believe she may not have been very gracious, and the HC may have felt obligated at that point to invite OP.

    • Devin September 12, 2018, 9:22 am

      I have to respectfully disagree with you on this. It is not within the scope of etiquette to ask for an invitation for uninvited guests even if it is family. The OP and her siblings are grown adults and have become their own social units. If the cousin had intended to invite them they either would have included them by name on the original invite (even mom, dad, plus family) if they didn’t have current addresses, or reach out to mom and dad to get addresses to send the invites directly (and possibly inquire if their are partners or dependents that should be included). If the invite for mom and dad were opened up to all their children, plus spouses, and possibly grandchildren then an invite for two just became and invite for 10!
      I’m also not close with several of my cousins, only see them every other year, and live a plane ride away. I have been invited to some of their weddings and not to others. There have never been any hard feelings because in truth, if we weren’t related we probably wouldn’t social at all. My parents usually pass along pictures, because they live locally and are always invited, but never pass along the invitation. If I marry, I’ll likely only invite a small portion of my family because those are the only people who continue to be a part of my life.

      • ladyv21454 September 12, 2018, 9:25 am

        Devin, I don’t think Nicole meant that the mother should have asked for an invitation – that WOULD be an etiquette violation. However, since Mom was so convinced the adult children were invited, it would have been a good idea for her to call and confirm that.

        • NicoleDSK September 14, 2018, 2:44 pm

          Yes, because it could easily turn into cousins not showing because they think they are not invited, and hosts being offended they didn’t come.

      • Harry's Mom September 12, 2018, 10:33 am

        I wish I had a LIKE option here. This is it in a nutshell. Bravo

      • Liz September 13, 2018, 10:11 am

        This. My dad’s side of the family lives 3K miles away across the country. I’m not that close to them and I think out of 4 or 5 of my cousins, i and my parents were only invited to one wedding. I was fine with that. i’m not all that close to my cousins due to distance, and quite likely wouldn’t have been able to go had i been invited anyway!

        But if my parents had been, and I wasn’t, fine too. they would have gone or not gone, and I would have stayed home, but being they are family, i would ahve sent a gift.

  • ladyv21454 September 12, 2018, 8:25 am

    Mom apparently has no clue about one of the basic rules of etiquette: if your name is not actually on the invitation, YOU’RE NOT INVITED. This is the kind of logic that makes people think that their small children are invited to an adults-only wedding. If Mom wanted the facts, all she had to do was call the groom’s mother and actually ASK if the invitation included the adult children – although that could become awkward if the groom’s mother said “no”. It’s likely that this was a small wedding and there just wasn’t room for the whole family.

    • NicoleDSK September 14, 2018, 2:45 pm

      YEah they always say that on forums but IRL sometiems heads of family branches are expected to summon their own downline to family events

    • Lex October 3, 2018, 6:40 am

      Dependent minors are an interesting conundrum. When I got married, I addressed my invitations to all members of the invited families – right down to kids and babies, so there was explicitly no confusion about whether or not kids were invited.

      When I myself was a child, and various family members got married, it was automatically ‘assumed’ within the family that if parents of small children were invited, then the children were invited by default. Perhaps this idea of ‘adults-only weddings’ is relatively new? Or perhaps my extended family are clueless (probably a bit of both), but I grew up assuming that invitations for ‘family events’ (like weddings) addressed to a couple also included any dependent minors. It was always the case that anyone over the age of 18 was to receive either their own individual invitation, or were explicitly named on a ‘group’ invitation (when I was 19 I was living at home and was named explicitly on an invite sent to my parents, for example), and if an 18+ offspring were not mentioned, they were not invited.

      It wasn’t until I started to see all this hassle on EHell about ‘adults only weddings’ and ‘self-entitled parents’ that I decided to make my own invitations unequivocal. As an example, I sent an invite to a colleague, M, his wife E, and their 2 children, A and M and whilst the envelope was addressed to ‘Mr & Mrs S & Family’, the invite specifically stated ‘To M, E, A & M, we would be delighted etc etc.’

      It seems to me that such a practice ought to be the ‘norm’ – it helps to avoid misunderstanding.

  • mark132 September 12, 2018, 9:23 am

    I likely have dozens or more 2nd cousins as does my wife. Right now I couldn’t name a single one. If I got an invitation from one, after calling my mom/dad to figure out who it was, I would just file it in the trash can.

    • ladyv21454 September 12, 2018, 12:53 pm

      Which would be extremely rude. An invitation deserves a response.

      • Bea September 12, 2018, 6:05 pm

        Meh. You don’t owe a response to a stranger.

        • Anne September 13, 2018, 6:15 am

          But it would be the polite thing to do and usually the reply card has a stamp on it, so you would be out about 10 mins of your time. My mother wanted people invited to my wedding, whom I didn’t know (work friends) and I was fine with that.

        • cattlekid September 13, 2018, 7:05 am

          It’s not like it was an unsolicited invitation to a MLM sales party. It is a wedding invitation and as such it deserves a response.

      • Mark132 September 13, 2018, 8:52 pm

        I’ve literally gotten invitations from people I’ve never met. Just that their grandmother and mine are sisters. And also most of these invitations to be fair aren’t to a ceremony but to a reception. And my response was to throw it into the trash. I don’t owe them anything.

  • Val September 12, 2018, 9:33 am

    I wonder if part of the reason the wedding was called off is that the groom’s mother was pushy enough to harass the bride about getting extra invitations less than a month before the wedding. Not to say that it would be enough to call off a wedding on its own, but someone who doesn’t get the issue with this probably had several instances of pushiness under her belt already.

    • Op September 12, 2018, 12:34 pm

      Submitter here. The bride was cheating on the groom and apparently had been for months.

      • Charliesmum September 13, 2018, 7:14 am

        Wow. Sounds like you’re not the only one to dodge a bullet with this wedding! 🙂

        Also, I can never figure out how 2nd cousins work. Are they your cousin’s children?

        • stampysmom September 13, 2018, 8:37 am

          Your cousin’s children are your first cousins once removed (as they are one step removed from your first cousins). However your children and your first cousin’s children are second cousins to each other. There’s some excellent websites explain in simple ways. My mom is our family genealogist so she mapped it for me with out family and it all came clear. Before that – not a clue lol.

          • stampysmom September 13, 2018, 8:38 am

            sorry that should be “with our family” not “with out family”!

        • JD September 13, 2018, 9:01 am

          That depends on who you ask. In my family, second cousins are the children of first cousins, first cousins being the children of siblings. Here’s the part that starts arguments: In my family, if John and I are first cousins, then I am first cousin once removed to his children. He is first cousin once removed to my kids. His kids and my kids are second cousins to each other. My husband’s family vociferously disagrees. Pick the method you like, I say.

          • AFS September 13, 2018, 10:18 am

            It’s not a family-by-family thing; JD has it right. Your second cousin is the child of your parent’s cousin. Your parent’s cousin or your cousin’s child is your first cousin once removed (X times removed refers to the generational gap.)

            To take an example from the gossip pages: Lady Amelia Windsor, the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth’s cousin, is Her Majesty’s cousin twice removed. To Princes William and Harry, LAW is their third cousin. More than a handful of publications called it a “snub” when Lady Amelia wasn’t invited to Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Granted that most people don’t even know the identity of their third cousins, much less invite them to their wedding, I’d say it was prudent guest-list pruning; and any media blowback otherwise was from Dolce & Gabbana’s PR team, annoyed that their spokesmodel wouldn’t be wearing D&G in royal wedding photographs.

        • Elisabunny September 13, 2018, 9:19 am

          JD, your family is correct. The children of first cousins are second cousins. Or to put it another way: same grandparents- first cousins. Same great-grandparents- second cousins. And so on. Removeds indicate how far you have to shift to get to cousinship. My children are first cousins once removed to my first cousin, because they are one generation from the regular cousin relationship.

          • Queen of Putrescence September 13, 2018, 7:50 pm

            This is the way I’ve explained it. First cousins share the same grandparents, second cousins share the same Great grandparents etc.

            It’s definitely not a definition that would by vary by family. There are legal definitions of these cousin relationships for the purpose of determining marriage laws.

    • staceyizme September 12, 2018, 12:55 pm

      That seems to be reading rather a lot into scant, if any, possible supporting evidence. It’s difficult to believe that a couple would call off a wedding a week before because of a troublesome parent. There are too many other potential options ranging from such strong measures as choosing to elope, postpone the ceremony or isolate the offending party to less severe options such as having a firm-but-quiet word, bean dipping as needed to obfuscate or arranging for a go-between that can distract and draw out the process of communication sufficiently so as to make additional invitations moot. (“Oh, dear, I’m sorry to say that we had to get our final head count in and won’t be able to accommodate Snertha and WhatHizName…”. None of these options necessitate alterations to existing plans and none of them require excessive drama, if done correctly.

  • jokergirl129 September 12, 2018, 10:21 am

    I’m glad you were able to the dodge the bullet there. If you had gone then I’m sure it would have been awkward all around because like you said you’re not sure if the couple had intended to invite you or if they were convince/forced to invite you. I wouldn’t have been comfortable in a situation like that.

    OP I would probably talk to your mom and explain to her that fishing for an invite like that is against etiquette (not to mention putting you in an awkward and uncomfortable position) and that you really didn’t mind that you weren’t invited to the wedding. You and your cousin aren’t that close so it’s understandable that you weren’t invited. Hopefully if something like this comes up again your mom will just accept that you weren’t invited and leave it be.

  • shoegal September 12, 2018, 10:50 am

    Clearly the OP was not invited. I would of told my mother as much – we are grown adults, have my own address and have not been asked to supply the information by the bride or groom. I am not included on your invitation and I won’t crash this wedding. End of discussion.

    • Livvy17 September 12, 2018, 11:19 am

      Yes, exactly. OP should have either done what siblings did, and say they had other plans, or told mom that the invite clearly only invited mom & dad, and that OP had no problem with that, didn’t want to go anyway. By being stating that they wouldn’t attend unless invited, they made it sound like they wanted to go, but were affronted by the lack of invite, so Mom basically pressured the couple to invite a couple they didn’t intend to invite, who didn’t want to attend! (and perhaps caused some unnecessary anxiety over inviting this set of second cousins, when they hadn’t invited that set of second cousins, etc.)

  • JD September 12, 2018, 11:42 am

    I’m hesitant to come down on someone’s mom, but even if the OP said “not without an invitation”, Mom was totally in the wrong to call and ask for OP to be invited, totally wrong to pressure her grown kids to come, and totally wrong to read an invitation that clearly stated Mom and Dad only as one open to all the family. And she didn’t let OP know she was going to ask for an invitation for OP — which leads me to suspect she kind of knew OP wouldn’t want her to do that.
    It sounds like Mom is still stuck in the mode of being The Mom. She wants to go to events as “family”, without recalling that her kids are no longer part of her social unit. I understand her longing for the old family unit, but when she starts forcing invitations for her grown kids from others, it’s time for her to be (gently and lovingly) set straight; the kids are grown and are their own social units/families.
    It’s sad that the wedding fell through, but OP really did dodge that bullet there.

    • staceyizme September 12, 2018, 12:58 pm

      I think you nailed it! And perhaps it’s not even necessary to be overly genteel with a mother like this: she sounds like she might benefit from being socially and metaphorically bopped once or twice with a clue-by-four.

    • Queen of the Weezils September 12, 2018, 1:58 pm

      Yep, I agree that she wants to still be “The Mom”. I get that it must be hard to shift modes of thinking after the kids grow into adults, but it’s gotta happen sooner rather than later!

    • Catherine St. Clair September 13, 2018, 8:21 pm

      I had a problem like that with my mother. I was not allowed to go anywhere except to college without my mother. When someone I knew from college was getting married, I’d receive an invitation. I was stuck with either declining or having to explain that I would not be allowed to come unless my mother was also invited. I offered to just come to the wedding itself so as not to burden them with paying for my mother’s dinner at the reception. It was a ridiculous situation to be in, but, in those days, you were not legally an adult until age twenty-one.

      • ladyv21454 September 20, 2018, 12:19 pm

        How long ago was this? I wasn’t “legally” an adult when I went to college back in the 70s, but my mom figured that if I was old enough to survive 2000 miles away at college, I was old enough to make my own decisions. I’m sorry that you had to put up with a mother who wanted to control your life so completely.

  • Queen of the Weezils September 12, 2018, 1:56 pm

    Oh, that takes me back. When I was a pre-teen, I unintentionally crashed a wedding. My parents were invited, but just them. They assumed it was the whole family (two kids). I don’t know why they assumed that; probably because we it was out of state and OF COURSE they couldn’t leave kids alone for a weekend. They totally could have, though, as my older brother was a teenager and we were already latch-key kids. Anyway, they didn’t bother to clarify either. So we showed up…. and we were the only kids there. And two chairs were squeezed in at the table. And that’s when I realized what happened and was mortified.

    My parents really are lovely people and I’m sure they intended no disrespect to the couple. But they can be clueless sometimes, and this was one of those times.

    I think you dodged a real bullet there, and it was terrible of your mother to have both pressured you and the bridal couple for an invite.

    • stampysmom September 13, 2018, 8:48 am

      This just made me think of the time we got a wedding invite when our 2 boys were maybe 3 and 5? HB was talking to the groom about the wedding and mentioned about us getting a sitter etc. Groom told HB that they boys were definitely invited and they should come. They were not on the invitation. HB – figuring they were a lot of work for the grandparents for a long day of babysitting – opted yes and told the groom so right then. Our guys love a good party and there were other kids coming.
      Get there and surprise – the only other kids are close family. And there’s no seats for our guys at the table. I’m assuming that the groom (nicest guy but a bit too laid back) didn’t pass it along. HB got a better chance to talk to them while I danced with the boys who were very good thankfully. He tried politely explain some “confusion” without throwing his friend of many years under the bus.

  • kingsrings September 12, 2018, 2:38 pm

    My mother has pulled this with me as well a couple of times. Once I almost fell for it and tagged along with her to a long time family friend’s daughter’s wedding, until I found out I couldn’t attend due to my job. My mom told me that (daughter) meant and was okay with other family going as well, she just was simply inviting going through the head of the family instead of sending invites to each family member. I think that my mom was just assuming that though and hadn’t actually received word about it. And I think only her name was on the invite. And who knows, maybe some people really do operate that way when sending invites. But I’m just going to go by my safe assumption that if my name isn’t on an invite, then it’s not for me, and if someone really cares enough to invite me, they can care enough to find out my address.

  • cattlekid September 13, 2018, 7:09 am

    My MIL was the queen of the assumed invitation. We stuck to our guns from the beginning. I know she rolled her eyes at us more than once but it was my hill to die on, especially after I issued wedding invitations with our return address on the outside envelope and on the RSVP envelopes, which clearly gave the message that we have our own address.

    She would also be the one to call as soon as she received an invitation to make sure we got ours as well. I hope to the heavens she never fished for us.

    This is also the reason why I was adamant that when we got married, each adult social entity got their own invitation. Yes, I sent four invitations to the same household (parents and three adult children living with them) but it was the message that I wanted to send that invitations should be sent individually, not handed down through generations.

  • ALM September 13, 2018, 7:45 am

    My mother did this to me once, but went so far as to RSVP on my behalf, THEN tell me about the wedding I wasn’t invited to. Mom had moved to Florida. I was in graduate school in Pennsylvania, was in my 20’s, and had been for more than 4 years. A cousin’s son was getting married locally and Mom RSVP’d for herself, me and my sister, despite the fact that neither of us kids had ever lived in her house or the state of Florida. It didn’t occur to her we weren’t invited, that we didn’t want to go, or that we couldn’t afford to go. In her mind, we were still the kids, and she still made the decisions. We had quite a loud argument about it over the phone, I didn’t go and I sent a gift card with my sister (who did go and there is a good chance based on subsequent behavior that she ‘lost’ the gift card and it never made it to the happy couple).

    My cousin was 10-15 years older than me, her son was 10 years younger than me, I have met either of them perhaps three times in my life and only saw them once since. But Mom still thought her kids should be there because so many of her sister’s had moved locally and so had some of their kids.

  • Store Manager September 13, 2018, 8:34 am

    Let me just say something fair to OP and Mother. Your parents want to show off you and your sibling so badly. Sit on it and enjoy it. The whole incident may be an etiquette faux pas, and lucky to all involved to dodge a bullet.

  • Liz September 13, 2018, 10:15 am

    The only time I went to a wedding I wasn’t invited too, and this was only the ceremony at the church, NOT the reception, was when the daughter of a neighbor of my grandmother got married. She had been invited, and even though the church was literally across the street from her apt, she needed me, as an escort, to walk her over, and back.

    Being that the MOB was an old family friend, they were perfectly fine with my grandmother bringing me along to the church, and even said I was welcome to come with her to the reception (which Grandma was invited to, but declined to attend). But i got dressed up, walked my grandmother over, and then we came back to her apt.

  • Catherine St. Clair September 13, 2018, 8:14 pm

    Your names were not on the invitation and it did not say, ” and family”. You were not invited. Mom had no business trying to invite you; and she was wrong to ask for an invitation to be sent to you. There is no point in arguing with her over it. “Mom, I barely know this man and I have only seen his intended once. I am not invited and have no interest in going. We have exhausted the topic and the discussion is closed.”

  • EchoGirl September 15, 2018, 3:47 pm

    I will say that I kind of understand where the confusion comes from. My boyfriend moved out of his parents’ home over a year ago, and there are still more than a few family friends who will issue an invite to his parents’ household and wonder why he doesn’t respond to it (usually for casual things like having them over for lunch/dinner, not formal events like weddings). The element of legitimate misunderstanding could be avoided if there weren’t also those people that continue to treat independent adult children as part of their parents’ social unit.

    That said, what Mom did was incredibly rude. It’s always better to err on the side of assuming people aren’t invited than that they are. And while calling to check would be acceptable, the implication here is that Mom basically badgered an invite for OP, which she absolutely should not have done.

    And then there’s the part where the parents kept badgering OP to attend (and where the siblings presumably felt they had to make excuses to prevent the same from happening to them). Even apart from the question of who was invited, it always bugs me when parents don’t respect their adult children’s autonomy. Whatever the reasoning, the parents should have respected OP and siblings’ “no” and not continued to try and push them to go when they clearly didn’t want to.

  • Jamie September 19, 2018, 3:23 pm

    If you do NOT receive an invitation…you are not invited. By the same token, if you are not included on another invitation…you are not invited. If you are living on your own then an invite should of been sent to you. The bride/groom can call you or someone and ask for your address. Mum should of not pushed.

  • Ashley Kilday February 25, 2019, 4:33 pm

    My mother tried this on me. She said something like, “Oh, they won’t mind if you and your sister come along. Their parents go to church with us.” I told her in no uncertain terms that because I had not been included on the invitation, I would not attend. Guests showing up with more mouths to feed than expected puts the hosts in an awkward situation, for starters.