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Wedding Wednesday – Money Can Be The Root Of All That Is Evil About Weddings

For today’ post I am going to respond uncharacteristically by breaking down the submitted story and replying to each paragraph individually…..


Hi, can I ask your and your readers’ advice?

You certainly may.

I’ve been divorced for 3 years. My ex and I were married for 30 years and were friends until just a few months ago when we had a falling out. Part of the falling out was I don’t like his new girlfriend, and neither does most of the family. She is cold and snobbish. They have been dating for about 6 months. Our daughter, Lucy, is very angry with me for “breaking up” the family just before Christmas and blames me for the divorce and a lot of other things. Other things she shouldn’t even know about that my ex told her and spun in ways to make me look bad and himself look like poor Mr. Nice Guy. I am completely avoiding him, since I would really like to rip his head off. Lucy is barely talking to me and has been really hateful.

It is unfortunate when children become the battleground upon which their adult parents fight.

Lucy is getting married in 4 months. She has decided to have a very small wedding with just parents, siblings, and grandparents — about 20 people. I want her to include aunts and uncles, as my SIL (ex’s sister), who I am very close to, is very disappointed. Lucy’s other aunt will be heartbroken to not be invited. This would be bring the count to around 30.

Lucy is going to invite the ex’s girlfriend. I don’t want her there, especially since the party is so small and immediate family only. I really don’t want her there since my SIL isn’t going to be invited.

The ex’s girlfriend being there and the bride’s aunt not being invited are two separate issues.   Be careful to not take up the offense of your sister-in-law at not being invited.   You are justifying rude behavior in retaliation for your sister-in-law not being invited.    If most of the family dislikes the ex’s girlfriend,  trust me, it will be more awkward for her than it is for you.   Imagine being in close quarters with a family that universally disdains you.   The best revenge, imo, is to play the part of the gracious mother of the bride and enjoy the family connections that are there.   If ex’s girlfriend is truly cold and snobbish,  you want to present a totally opposite image of civility, graciousness (defined as kindness to the undeserving) and pleasantness.

Here’s the kicker. My daughter is keeping her wedding tiny so she can use the money the parents are contributing for a house down payment. I had intended to contribute 5k, my ex 3k, which is what we contributed to another child’s wedding last year. Lucy’s wedding is going to cost less than $1k (previous child’s was over $10k).

I really only want to give $1k since she doesn’t have any interest in my wishes. I know this probably makes me sound small and selfish, but I am really hurt and angry about this. Part of me does want to get back at her for being so hateful lately. But mostly I can’t stand the idea of having to be polite to my ex, much less his GF, when people we love are excluded. How bad is it to gift different amounts to children when their expenses are so different? Or can I say to Lucy, if you want my money you have to expand the guest list?

While I appreciate the transparency of your motives, I would caution you to seriously consider the ramifications of what you are pondering doing.  You are considering using money to exert your preferences which will come across as manipulative and petty.   You will confirm to your daughter that you really are the evil creature her father has portrayed you to be and she is the latest “poor Nice Daughter”.  Why behave in ways that plays right into people’s poor perceptions of you?

As for being polite to your ex, you would do well to engage him in what I refer to as “business civility”.  A person can be formal, civil, even pleasant to business associates in order to get a job done but that doesn’t mean there is any depth of relationship beyond that.   Your job is to get your daughter married with as little drama as possible and that means you will greet the bride’s father with a polite “Good morning” and then interact with him throughout the day in a business-like manner which may include having to chat about very superficial topics and stand in proximity to him for photos.

It is certainly within your prerogative to decide the parameters of your monetary gift.   But be careful,  if you did not have these parameters in place with the other child’s wedding last year, you will come across as the evil mother who rewards one child and punishes the other.   There is the real possibility of creting divisiveness between your children.

What you can do is state that your offer for Lucy and the other child was to pay for a wedding, not a down payment for a house.   But if the money for the other child’s wedding was presented as a gift to do with as he/she pleases, I think you are stuck with the obligation to be consistent.

On Ehell there’s been the steady belief that he who would holds the purse string calls the shots.   But in your case, I would be very careful how you call those shots because this is a situation where it can backfire rather spectacularly with repercussions well into the future.


To add detail, the original plan for 20 was due to a very small location, but Lucy intended a big casual BBQ celebration a few months later. That plan has been dropped due to cost, and now it’s just a restaurant dinner following the ceremony for the 20 guests (location can accommodate 30, easily).

One last thing, if Lucy insists on ex’s GF attending, can I insist on a plus one, too? I’ll take my SIL as my guest.

Sure!  I wouldn’t “insist” but merely make the observation that since the father of the bride has the liberty to bring a “plus one”,  you would appreciate the same opportunity.

Thank you. 0131-17

You are welcome.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • NostalgicGal February 8, 2017, 7:56 am

    With the drama llamas and money and disgusting things that have happened and will happen in both sides of the blended family I live with….

    The two issues are the GF and the seriously restricted invite list….

    Onwards. Either you gave daughter A the gift of a sum of money with no strings attached to do with what she wished, and it was sort of implied it was for the wedding, that she did apparently spend it on that; or you gave daughter A the funds expressly FOR the wedding.

    You are rather obligated to either give daughter B the same amount since you gave daughter A that much. Under the same terms is fine. If you gave daughter A $10k just for wedding, you can do the same for B and the boom only drops if B uses it for something else. If you gave A no strings attached, you know B can then use it for her down.

    Actually, a down on a house trumps any show of frillery (a lot of weddings are too overblown IMO). $50k on a wedding, a one time event, or $50k towards a house, I’m afraid I vote ‘house’. After the day I have something to show…

    As for the hated GF, be the gracious person, do the ‘live well’ approach despite her and that will speak more volumes. You might be able to get away with getting a +1 and indeed in that case take who you want. Otherwise, just bear it. It’s on the bride that she wouldn’t invite her aunt. In the end it’s the bride that did that one… not the GF.

    • abby February 8, 2017, 12:53 pm

      I agree! I can’t believe it’s a point of contention that Daughter wants to scale back on the wedding so she can invest in a house- that to me, is a far better plan, and I’d feel much better about contributing $5K towards an appreciating asset than a one day party.

    • Darshiva February 16, 2017, 5:14 pm

      I agree, 100%, Nostalgic Girl.

      Also, the LW should bear in mind that the bride’s relationship with her aunt (not, HER aunt, not LW’s SIL) is the bride’s relationship, not the LW’s.

      For all we know, the bride has reasons that she does not want the aunt there. Maybe THEY had a falling out, but were quiet about it. Or maybe she had a falling out with the other aunt (not the SIL), and the bride knows that etiquette would demand that she invite both aunts or neither, and so, she’s choosing neither.

      I have a similar situation with cousins, actually, where I would prefer to exclude all cousins than to include that one.

      It’s the bride’s choice to make, and IMO, the best thing to do is to treat your children equally, give equally, and allow the bride to be frugal in planning a wedding, and smart in making a house downpayment. She’s likely to be the one who doesn’t need to run to you for support somewhere down the line when things go haywire. Haywire happens, in life, after all, and it’s best to be prepared for it.

      If you can out-civil the GF, you’ll come across smelling of roses. Meanwhile, if the GF is really as bad as all that, and the rest of the family already despises her, then eventually, the bride will kick herself for inviting her to the wedding, anyway.

      Showing yourself to be the classy one is almost always the best way to proceed, as painful as that may be, in the moment.

  • Tan February 8, 2017, 8:11 am

    If you have the money and it’s a a restaurant dinner, whats to stop you inviting 10 people to dinner on your purse if you think they need to be there? Or at least seeing if anyone wants to “pay their way for a dinner with family. If the venue is not closed for a private function, I can’t see the issue. Might make the brides day or it might make her day uncomfortable. But I suspect your actions on the whole will be seen as a loving and kind gesture to include people, particularly as you are inviting both your’s and the ex’s family.

    • LadyV February 8, 2017, 9:47 am

      No, her actions will be seen as pre-empting the bride’s plans for what is, in effect, her reception. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would be furious if my mother, or anyone else, did this to me.

      • Darshiva February 16, 2017, 5:16 pm

        Yep. This.

        Regardless of what *can* be done, one should never pre-empt another person’s plans.

        Besides, what if everyone said to themselves, “That venue can easily fit another ten people,” and invited their own “ought-to-have-been-invited” crowd? You’d soon have a fire hazard, as well as a mass of angry people.

    • wolfie February 8, 2017, 10:57 am

      If my mother did that I would not see her actions as loving and kind. I would see them as overstepping and trying to get her way and it would create a huge rift between us.

    • lakey February 8, 2017, 11:17 am

      I would be very careful with that. Even though the reception is a restaurant dinner, it is the couple’s decision who they want to invite. Inviting people that the couple has decided not to invite, whether OP pays or not, could be seen in a very poor light.

    • Shannon February 8, 2017, 11:56 am

      Disagree with this fully.

      “whats to stop you inviting 10 people to dinner on your purse if you think they need to be there?” It’s not her party? It’s the couple’s wedding and they get to invite who they want to invite, no matter where it’s being held. Mom can ask and suggest but it’s not her decision to make.

      • Tan February 9, 2017, 6:12 am

        If the venue is not closed for a private function they cannot un-invite someone to sit one table over.

      • Tan February 9, 2017, 6:41 am

        As I tell my neighbour, her property ends at the end of her garden, what (legally) goes on in my garden or on the road is non of her business. She hates when people park in front of her house- but if you don’t own it you can’t control it. Besides I see Lucy’s motivations as purely monetary and nothing to do with having a limited wish list for people to see her on her wedding day.

        • Ernie February 9, 2017, 12:43 pm

          By this measure, it is perfectly legal for me to paint my house pink with green and purple swear words painted in big block letters. I can do it, its my house and its not against the law. But it makes me a bad neighbor.

          We’re not saying that it is not legal or possible for the mother to invite other people and have them sit in the restaurant… We are saying that it is petty, unkind, and against the wishes of the person getting married. The mom can do whatever she wants technically, but it will damage her relationship with her daughter considerably.

        • Dee February 9, 2017, 1:08 pm

          Technically you’re right, Tan, OP can invite people to sit in the restaurant elsewhere, and you can do whatever is within your legal rights up to your property line. If OP does invite her own guests, however, she cannot control how that will make Lucy and those guests feel, for being manipulated by OP. And you, Tan, cannot control how you make your neighbour feel, if you are like OP and endeavour to make her as uncomfortable as possible just because you legally can. People get to choose how they live their lives and others get to choose whether they have relationships with passive-aggressive and mean people. We are all assuming the OP actually prefers a relationship with Lucy vs. being as horrible as possible but it’s entirely possible her goal is the latter, in which case your advice is spot on.

          • Darshiva February 16, 2017, 5:19 pm

            Yeah, that sort of smacks of finding out what the local noise ordinances are in your neighborhood, and then carefully measuring the stereo output to make sure it is one or two decibels below the limit, when you blast it out all night long.

            It might be technically feasible, and legal, and all, but it will still make you look like a jerk.

            LW isn’t asking what she can get away with. She’s asking for advice on the best way to handle a sticky situation with her family.

        • shhh its me February 9, 2017, 6:59 pm

          All this needs is some gasoline to “help” keep the candles burning.

          Can I do this legally ? has very little to do with “Is this polite?” ,”Am I adding to the drama?” , “Will I further damage my relationship with my daughter.”

          You’re right OP will not be arrested for inviting more people to the restaurant but it would be rude , dramatic and damaging.

    • Betty February 8, 2017, 12:04 pm

      Oh no, don’t do this. Inviting other people who “just happen to show up” without permission would be taking a giant leap over the line.

      • Tan February 9, 2017, 6:11 am

        If the venue is not closed for a private function they do not need permission. Places usually charge a premium to close off the room and it doesn’t sound like the bride has done this

        • Darshiva February 16, 2017, 5:24 pm

          Still not a good idea, if you want to have good familial relationships.

          Once upon a time, my nephew was invited to a birthday party at a bowling center. My sister and I drove him there, and chatted a bit with the hostess. Then, once our nephew was settled, we went and rented our own lane, and bought out own food, and basically stayed on the other end of the center.

          At one point, they called us over and offered us a bit of cake, but we had made it very clear that we were NOT butting into the party, because WE had not been invited.

          So, if someone whom the LW thinks ought to have been invited were to happen to show up at the restaurant, about the most they could do, and still come across as polite and gracious, would be to wave, say, “Hey, congratulations!” and maybe send over a round of drinks, with compliments, as they enjoy their own meal on the other side of the restaurant. If the bridal couple want them to join, they’ll ask them to join. If not, they need to keep their distance, as a gesture of respect.

          And really, I have to say I think the bride is doing well to keep the wedding so tiny. There are always those who will call any wedding a “gift grab,” but the smaller the wedding, the fewer people will make that jab.

    • Teapot February 8, 2017, 12:22 pm

      No!!! These are terrible ideas. These will not be seen as kind and loving, they will be seen as manipulative and smug. You cannot hijack your daughter’s wedding by inviting whomever you choose. And inviting *anyone* to pay their own way into the reception just because it’s being held in a public venue is the most outrageous idea I’ve ever seen on this website.

      • Tan February 9, 2017, 6:14 am

        They would not be part of the reception just at the next table

        • Goldie February 9, 2017, 12:34 pm

          What is the point of having the relatives who were not invited to the wedding, awkwardly sit at the next table during the wedding dinner, trying to look like they have nothing to do with the wedding? What good will come out of it? Other than it going on to be a running joke in the family for generations. If OP wants to have dinner with SIL, she can have her dinner with SIL at literally any other time, any other place.

          • NostalgicGal February 10, 2017, 5:14 pm


            Do you want to be seen as the crasher, or be the proper guest? Inviting others to be in the restaurant at the same time, even if you are picking up the tab, is bad form. You’re usurping the event to your own means.

    • Redblues February 8, 2017, 12:23 pm

      It will come off as an attempt to circumvent the express wishes of the couple. There is nothing stopping mom from hosting a party to celebrate the wedding at another time, and inviting whomever she pleases. It is not acceptable to invite people to crash a wedding reception, even if you are paying for them to do it. I agree with the admin. Using money as a weapon to manipulate people always makes you look bad. It also usally backfires. Either the individual who is potentially being controlled avoids the manipulator outright, or, at most, avoids the manipulator unless s/he wants money from that person. It turns a relationship into a business transaction.

    • Dee February 8, 2017, 12:51 pm

      Tan – Then OP would be changing the guest list behind Lucy’s back. Interfering with someone else’s wedding plans is grounds for at least short-term war in any relationship. In this case, I think it would be the final nail in the coffin. Not to mention how awful and uncomfortable it would be for the “guests” that OP would “invite”.

      And nobody wants to “pay their way for a dinner with family”, particularly when others in the same family don’t have to pay. This is all a recipe for hurt feelings and feuds. It might make good TV ratings but it’s not generally something conscientious people want to create.

      • Tan February 9, 2017, 6:16 am

        This would not be part of the reception. If the venue is not closed for a private function then anybody can join in. What’s to prevent a local football team turning up to hold an annual meal? They could be rude and ruin the mood to the venue much more than people you like

        • NostalgicGal February 10, 2017, 5:17 pm

          Legality is one thing. Boorishness is another. If the football team comes in, everyone has to cope. However they are not there because of the HC. They are not tied to the HC. They were not formally invited to the HC’s wedding and reception but just happened to be there. They are also not an attempt to circumvent the HC’s invite list. Bringing in the other relatives to dine at the same time will come across as the latter, even if you put football jerseys on them all.

    • Kirsten February 8, 2017, 1:26 pm

      I dunno, I’d see it as interfering if my mother decided to invite people to my wedding after I had decided not to invite them.

      • Tan February 9, 2017, 6:37 am

        It sounds like Lucy’s motives are purely financial. So I’d be inclined to say she may want more people there

        • Goldie February 9, 2017, 12:38 pm

          Yup, Lucy’s motives can’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that “most of the family” collectively cannot stand her dad’s girlfriend, who she wants as a guest at her wedding. Purely financial. Not to mention, people can want a small wedding for a whole slew of non-financial reasons. I had one and do not regret it, it was a very small gathering with the closest family and friends.

          • Joanna June 5, 2017, 12:16 am

            I have a feeling that the “most of the family” is really just her mom. Mom sounds incredibly jealous of dad’s girlfriend.

        • Betty February 9, 2017, 1:56 pm

          If OP wants to talk with her daughter and ASK if OP can gift her the extra money to invite the extra people, that would be one thing.

          To invite people to show up at the restaurant during the reception without clearing it with the wedding couple ahead of time is extremely rude.

        • Darshiva February 16, 2017, 5:28 pm

          If she wanted more people there, she would invite more people there, and not fight against them being invited there.

    • Lady Phoenix February 9, 2017, 5:11 pm

      So you’re saying OP should crash the reception by inviting people who were not included in the wedding just so OP could have a family reunion? Hm.

      Not to mention why would a family member want to go to what is essentially a reception to a wedding they were not invited to? Would they have to bring a gift too? And what if they don’t bring a gift for the bride or groom? Or what if these people confront the bride about the lack of an invitation?

      This would just be an excuse for OP to have an unofficial family reunion in order to gossip about the “evil stepmother”/gf. That will create a very hostile environment for the gf, the bride, and the groom.

      In short, terrible advice

    • Joanna June 5, 2017, 12:14 am


      It’s rude, it’s controlling, it’s undermining and it’s disrespectful. The Bride has decided what she wants and it is not her mother’s business to run the wedding her own way instead. That’s terribly rude.

      No way I would see that as loving and kind. It’s would make the mother even more manipulative and petty than she already is.

  • Miriam February 8, 2017, 8:12 am

    OP, I would be very wary about giving different amounts for the wedding.

    My parents *helped* me with money towards a house deposit (many moons ago). I tried (repeatedly) to pay them back once I was earning more, and Dad said each time “We will do the same for your brother, *if*/when he pulls his finger out and buys a house. I refuse to just give him money to ‘pour’ [not his actual word] down the toilet.”

    Dad is no longer with us, and Mum has made it clear that Brother must receive extra money in her will because of that house deposit. I’m fine with whatever she decides – it’s her money, not mine; I frequently urge her to spend it whilst she’s still alive, as I don’t believe adult children (should) need providing for, and I don’t *want* her money…

    What does make me feel a tiny bit aggrieved on the odd occasion I think about this, is that Mum has forgotten all the monies she has paid to loan companies, debt collectors, bailiffs over the years to get my brother out of trouble/keep him out of prison. I know of *at least as much* as was given to me for my deposit, and I started shutting her up about it decades ago [so I suspect there is more I haven’t heard about]. It’s unlikely that Brother will ever buy a house now, so that is moot [Mum doesn’t have spare since Dad died, and Brother likes living at the Hotel of Mum too much to think of paying current market rates for a roof over his head – why would he, when everything is done for him?].

    All absolutely fine, but I no longer have patience with my brother and his ‘poor me, I never got anything’ attitude, so I only occasionally phone him. He, of course, calls whenever he needs something.

    If you want to create a situation where your daughter feels antagonistic towards her sister who had the bigger wedding, I think your plan sounds perfect!

    • Lanes February 8, 2017, 2:44 pm

      There are TWO of those in my extended family. Both men are a product of their own life choices, and both men’s parents believe that they should be given more because they’re ‘poor’ or more ‘needy’ or whatever.

      All it shows is favoritism, and leaves a sour taste in your mouth.

    • Amanda H. February 8, 2017, 11:10 pm

      What is it with so many peoples’ brothers being stay-at-home mooches well into adulthood?

      • NostalgicGal February 10, 2017, 12:28 am

        “Precious Boys”. This concept is strong in several cultural backgrounds. Boys rank as the top of the heap and girls are a distant second or third. I skirted this and only because I was an only child did I not get relegated to behind the boy or boys. I had friends and relatives (girls) that did get the worst end of this. If you read this site, the comments are full of this.

  • Cleosia February 8, 2017, 8:13 am

    Oh My God, What a minefield!

    I agree with the Admin. Tread VERY carefully. Your daughter is mad at you now but things can easily change. You want to reconcile with her and as she goes through life as an adult woman, you want her to turn to you for guidance and advice. If you pursue a course of action that is nasty or manipulative, she may well seek advice from your ex’s girlfriend and start looking upon her as a mother.

    Please make sure that a momentary sense of satisfaction in giving them a hard time about the wedding and guest list does not become a lifetime of regret if you drive your daughter away from you as a result.

  • pennywit February 8, 2017, 8:18 am


    * If Lucy has relied — either in the legal sense or a personal, financial sense — on an explicit promise from OP to provide money, then IMO it would be bad form (at the very least) for OP to withdraw that promise in a fit of pique.

    * If OP’s ex has been dating his GF for a long time, Lucy probably considers her part of the family. If OP wants to have a relationship — even a frosty one — with her daughter, she should probably accept that Ex’s GF is going to be at family events.

    * Remember that the best revenge is to live well.

  • kgg February 8, 2017, 8:20 am

    If your relationship with your daughter is tenuous right now – and I assume you want to improve that relationship, not worsen it – just contribute what you planned to contribute. Please don’t make the wedding about you or your feelings. Honestly, I think your daughter is practical for wanting an economical wedding. It’s unfortunate that she doesn’t want to include people you feel are close family members, but that’s her decision and it may be something she comes to regret later on in life – or not. I’m sorry that your ex is creating trouble for you and your daughter is not seeing that – but the best thing you can do is be magnanimous. It will ultimately be the healthy thing for your relationship with your daughter in the long run.

  • Wendy B February 8, 2017, 8:36 am

    All I could think of as I read this was, which one is the “child”? Lucy or OP? I mean, the whole thing read as, “If I can’t get my way, I’m going to pout and make everyone miserable.”

    It’s her wedding, not yours. She gets to invite who she wants to, not you. Try the plus one thing, but expect Lucy to at least look at you as though you’ve grown another head. Dad has every right to bring his girlfriend. SIL is a completely different relationship.

    Suck it up, smile and be the better person.

    • Wild Irish Rose February 8, 2017, 10:16 am

      Couldn’t have said this better. OP, I think you’re being very childish and petulant, which is what other people will see if you dig in your heels and refuse to give Lucy the money you said you would for whatever petty reason you have thought up. As Wendy said, it’s HER wedding and HER guest list. Admin was spot on, but I’m going to add this: GROW UP. Be the bigger person for that day. Then go home and tell your dog all about how horrible everyone ELSE was. 🙂

    • Rebecca February 8, 2017, 12:05 pm

      ^ This!

    • ally February 8, 2017, 12:15 pm

      A bit blunt, but an excellent summary and advice.

      I’d like to think that if OP had an actual significant other, then that person would be invited as well.

    • Dee February 8, 2017, 12:44 pm

      Yes, OP doesn’t come off very well in her own submission. She includes a ton of info, designed to make others look bad and herself better, that has nothing to do with the issue. What is relevant is this: Daugther and mother are not close right now; mother doesn’t want ex’s girlfriend invited; and mother wants to control the guest list. Absolutely none of the other stuff matters.

      If you, OP, gave your other child money for their wedding without stipulating that it must ONLY be used for the wedding then you can have the same expectations of Lucy. If, however, you just handed over the money to your other child, and they CHOSE to use it all for their wedding, then, to be fair, you must give Lucy the same freedom. Keep in mind, however, that with all the drama floating around in your circle right now and Lucy’s feelings toward you, requiring her to use all the money in her wedding simply because her sibling was supposed to (and did), is not going to improve relations between you two. So, would you rather be agreeable to Lucy’s wishes or fight them and be right? That is your choice to own (as is the fallout that you create from it).

      You can demand that Lucy disinvite ex’s girlfriend. You can do anything you want. Do not complain about the consequences of that, though. You will have earned them.

      You can ask Lucy if you can bring your own companion, as perhaps you are uncomfortable sitting alone. You can let Lucy know it would be your SIL. If, however, you’ve already been harassing Lucy about her not inviting said SIL then she will see through your not-so-subtle attempt to change the guest list. Expect to be denied the privilege of a plus one. Accept it graciously or throw a tantrum, your choice.

      If Lucy is really acting out because of lies your ex has been telling her then it behooves you – and her – to tell her the truth. Not to cast ex in a bad light but to provide her with “the other side”, so she can weigh the two sides and see which she finds most believable. If you aren’t willing to have a discussion with her, as adults, then her attitude towards you is somewhat deserved, as you’ve left her with no choice but to see things her dad’s way. In that way she is a victim, and your treatment and attitude toward her is appalling. If the reality is that you cannot defend yourself against your ex’s charges then you have a lot more to deal with than just Lucy’s wedding plans and attitude. You have a responsibility to address your wrongs against others by apologizing and vowing to change your behaviour from this point on.

      There is much you can do, OP, about your relationship with Lucy, and little of it involves Lucy herself. Or you can continue to stomp and demand your own way. All of it is your choice.

      • Kiara February 9, 2017, 8:23 am

        *applause* Perfectly said.

    • Redblues February 8, 2017, 1:15 pm

      That’s exactly how it sounds to me too. I don’t blame Lucy for being angry. Mom sounds like a spoiled brat. I’m not surprised that she’s divorced, I’m surprised she stayed married as long as she did. She doesn’t consider anyone’s feelings but her own. Whining that other people will be “heartbroken” sounds like OP is projecting her own “heartbreak” over being unable to control other adults. She even dismisses Lucy’s feelings about breaking up the family with her antics by putting the words “breaking up” in quotations, as if Lucy just doesn’t understand the One Truth about mom’s relationship with ex.
      Frankly, it sounds as if mom is the “hateful” one, not Lucy, not the ex, and certainly not the GF.

    • Lanes February 8, 2017, 2:38 pm


      Your daughter gets one wedding day, make it special for HER, not for you.

  • Mojo February 8, 2017, 8:40 am

    “I really only want to give $1k since she doesn’t have any interest in my wishes”. Woah, Nelly! Your withholding the money you’ve promised to your daughter, because she’s not holding HER wedding the way you want? Really?

    The circumstances will be forgotten in time, but your actions will always be remembered. Don’t renege on a promise that could effect your relationship in years to come. Be better than that.

  • Margo February 8, 2017, 8:47 am

    OP, I’m sorry that your relationship with your daughter is not as good as you would like, and that your ex has not helped.

    I suggest that you see your daughter’s wedding as an opportunity to build bridges with her.

    In terms of the invitations nad the size of the wedding, thise are choices which are up to your daughter and her finace. It is their wedding, not yours, and whatever their motives are, and whatevcer you think of those motives, they get to chose who to invite and not to invite.

    From an etiquette perspective they are correct to invite Lucy’s father’s partner: the two of them are a couple and it is appropriate to invite both halves of a couple. I appreciate that they have only been dating for 6 months but it sounds as though she is his partner, and it is fairly standard to treat them as a couple.

    The issue of whether your SIL is invited is separate. It’s up to Lucy and her fiance whether they want to invite their aunts and uncles, and it is perfectly legitimate for them to have decided that they don’t wish to. It’s also lgitimate (and potentially limits possible hurt feelings) if the decide not to invite any aunts or uncles, rather than inviting some and not others.

    So, don’t try to persaude your daughter to change her guest list. (and try not tothink of her as ‘insisting’ that her Dad’sgirlfriend is invited. She doesn’t ned to insist. It ‘s her wedding. She and her fiance get to decide who they invite. They don’t have to justify that choice to anyone else.

    I think you can ask, politely, whether they would be happy for you to bring a plus one. I would frame it as “I would feel uncomfortable attending solo” rather than as ” if he gets a guest so do I”.

    In terms of the finacial support you provide, you are of course, as admin says, free to give as much or as little as you can. That said, I think that if you treat Lucy differently to her sibling then that is going to look unfiar (it *is* unfair), and trying to attach strings to the gift by making it conditional on her inviting people you want isgoing to do nothing for your relationship.

    on the other hand, if you give her the $5,000 you originally planned on, tell her that you are looking forward to the weding and that you are sure it will be a wonderful day, and that you are also looking forward to seing them in their new home and hope that the gift helps them to achieve what they want, then you send Lucy a very powerful message that you love and support her and respect the choices she makes as an adult, even if they are not the choices which you might ideally have liked her to make. A combination of generosity and respect is much more likely to help you rebuild your relationship with her than one where you try to control her and punish her if she doesn’t comply.

    in tems of how you ehave at the wedding, remind yourself that you are there for Lucy, becuase she is your daughter and you love her and wanher to be happy. You say “I can’t stand the idea of having to be polite to my ex, much less his GF, when people we love are excluded.” – it might help you to keep reminding yourself that for Lucy, your ex is one of the “people we love” . And so are you. She wants you both to be there, and so you do it for her, not for your ex.

    And if members of the wider family are hurt, well, that is between them and Lucy. It’s not your responsibility. If your sisters or other relations express disappointment to you then think of a response which is supportive of your daughter “Lucy and Charles decided they wanted a small, intimate wedding, so it was immediate family only”

    I think that this is your chance to start mending your relationship with your dghter, or alternatively to damage it further, possibly beyond repair. You only get one chance at this with her.

    If your daughter and her fiance do agree to you having a plus one, chose someone who youfeel will be supportive of you and who will be polite to your ex and his partner. If that is your SIL, great, if she has been very partisan about the divorce etc then consider whether she is the best person to take, or whethr chosing a supportive friend who is more distant from the issue might be a better choice. r if your daughter doesn’t want to let you bring a plus one then you could ask her abut other options, for instance, (depending on the formality of the wedding) whether she is willing for you to have one of the groomsmen walk you to your seat so you don’t haveto do it alone, whether she can make sure that you do’t have to sit next to your ex’s partner at the meal etc – frame it as requestsnot demands.

    Finally, when you actually attend, do as Admin says, treat your ex and his partner with the same courtesy you would show to anyone else in a social setting. You don’t ned to be be best friends, you just need to be polite and not distress your daughter by creating a bad atmosphere at her wedding. if necessary plan head. think of things like whether your daghter may chose to have photos including GF so that you are not blindsided and so you can stay civil even if you are upset.

    I don’t think, based on what you’ve said, that either your daughter or your ex are enirely balmeless here, but you can’t control their behaviour, you can only control your own. And if you behave in a way which is polite, generous and thoughtful of your daughter and fiance you stand a far better chance of rebuilding a good relationship with her, not to mentiomn the rest of your family 9on both sides) who can then see that you are both willing, and able, to make your daughter’s happiness on her wedding day your priorty, whatever you ex or his partner do.

  • clairedelune February 8, 2017, 8:56 am

    Oh my gosh, PLEASE don’t proceed with this passive-aggressive “plus-one” plan. Lucy has decided on some sensible parameters to limit numbers at her wedding, and if you try to subvert it in this way, it’s only going to cause trouble and bad feelings. Your ex isn’t “getting a plus one,” Lucy is inviting his current partner. Unless you and your SIL are dating, these two situations aren’t parallel. It’s not as if she has a certain number of tickets to distribute to a fundraiser or something. This is a private event to which she is inviting specific people, and the GF happens to be included in that.

    • Ernie February 8, 2017, 1:53 pm

      Agreed. What the OP is doing is trying to find a technicality in order to get her way. I particularly don’t like this, because the daughter may have her own reasons for not wanting certain aunts and uncles there, that she doesn’t want to discuss with her mom.

    • mm February 9, 2017, 10:20 pm

      In general I think it is very poor manners to invite someone as your plus-one who *could* have been invited on his/her own but wasn’t for whatever reason. Lucy has made a blanket “no aunts or uncles” rule for some reason (perhaps Fiance has some boorish uncles who cause problems or a narcissist aunt, maybe they just don’t want them there) and OP should respect that. Lucy’s rule may cause some hurt feelings but reasonable people will see it as fair and equitable across the board, and not personal. For OP to circumvent that would be very awkward and very rude.

  • ketchup February 8, 2017, 9:10 am

    Your daughter is getting married. The bride and groom decide on the guest list. Not you.
    As a daughter from a family where the two siblings were not treated equally, I strongly advise against donating different amounts.
    I understand your reasoning and emotions, in this case I’d recommend being the person your daughter should know you to be.

    • Goldie February 8, 2017, 9:44 am

      As a parent of two adult children, I second your advice against donating different amounts. There is no way this will look good.

      As for the guest list containing people OP doesn’t like or get along with, welcome to life with relatives! Most of have at some point had to grit our teeth, fake a smile, and pretend to enjoy a party with extended family. I would never expect a party with family, outside of my immediate family, to be a fun experience for me. If it happens to be fun by some kind of accident, great! Otherwise, as long as the bride and groom enjoy the day, that’s all that matters.

    • Redblues February 8, 2017, 1:17 pm

      I think Lucy knows exactly who her mother is. Mom is about to let everyone else in the family know, if they haven’t figured it out already.

      • ketchup February 8, 2017, 7:16 pm

        Yes, I had that feeling too. That’s why I added the ‘should’. It changes it somewhat… I hope for the daughter’s sake the petty reasoning for preferential treatment is not standard mummy behaviour, but I fear it might be… We don’t know though, so let’s give the mother the benefit of the doubt.

  • Mustard February 8, 2017, 9:11 am

    I agree with Admin on all points. However hurt and angry you are, remember that whatever you do cannot be undone, so be really sure that you can live with your decisions down the years to come.

  • Huh February 8, 2017, 9:13 am

    When DH and I got married (we’d both been married before, though neither of us came anywhere near to spending $5k on the first wedding) we decided to have a very small and cheap wedding (way under $1k) and buy a house instead. We had about 25 people there total. We did have a reception/house warming at our new home later for friends and family. So from my perspective, your daughter is being reasonable not wanting to spend $10k on a big wedding, and instead have a small one and use the rest on a house that she will use for a very long time. I’m picturing this weird conversation: “How dare you have a small wedding and only spend $1k and use the rest on a house, young lady! I want to see a champagne fountain, and doves released as you say your vows and for the ceremony to be held at the Louvre!”

    Also – you don’t have to like your ex’s new GF. And you especially don’t have to like your ex. He’s your ex for a reason! As the Dame says, you have to business civil. I have coworkers I chat regularly with, I have coworkers that I only talk to when we have work-related matters. Your ex can definitely be one of those – talk politely when you have kids-related things to talk about and otherwise, you really don’t have to talk. I have no idea what my ex thinks of my DH. I honestly know very little about my ex’s GF. From what my kids have said, she sounds decent (kinda want to warn her away from him, LOL.) None of us are friends. We don’t have to be! We talk work-related matters and we go our separate ways after that.

    • Ernie February 8, 2017, 1:46 pm

      Yeah, I’m really not getting this thing where the OP is at odds with her ex due to his new girlfriend. OP doesn’t get a say in his relationships now, and frankly, as it sounds like the children are grown, I’d think that OP’s inclusion in his life would decrease over time. The new girlfriend being “cold and snobbish” shouldn’t be much of an issue, since her and OP don’t have to be friends.

  • Waltzing Matilda February 8, 2017, 9:29 am

    Hmm, a tricky one indeed. I’m agreeing with Miss Jeanne on this – don’t burn your bridges with your daughter. You need to remember that this is HER wedding and she can ask (or not ask) anyone her and her fiance want to. Agreed, you’re putting money in, but that doesn’t give you veto rights on wedding guests. Be gracious, be kind, be attentive, and wear an outfit that will absolutely knock their socks off! Weddings are something that you (generally) get only one shot at to get right – and the repercussions and bad memories will last a lifetime – you should hear my mother complain about her mother-in-law’s behaviour at her wedding to my Dad, and that was 62 years ago!

    As an aunt with no children, I know I’d be heartbroken to be left out of a niece of nephew’s wedding. You could maybe gently use some of your financial leverage into the wedding to make the case that, even though your daughter’s wedding will cost less than your other child’s, you are happy to match the cost but request that some (say $500) of it be earmarked for the inclusion of additional family members. I would think that if the parents are paying, there would be an expectation that they could at least ask a couple of their own friends/relatives to the wedding. My friend’s daughter is getting married later this year and, while I’ve only met the daughter a few times, I’ve been asked to the wedding as a friend of her mother’s, which is lovely. Failing that, there’s no reason why you couldn’t let them know that, as your ex-husband is bringing a ‘plus one’, you will be as well.

    Tread carefully. Your relationship with your daughter sounds like it’s already on rocky ground. Don’t make it worse and give her ammunition to fire back at you over the course of the rest of your lives.

  • DCGirl February 8, 2017, 9:44 am

    When my husband’s cousin’s daughter (did you all follow that?) got married, a huge topic of conversation at the reception was how well the groom’s divorced parents behaved. They each came with their new spouses and were seated together at a table with their shared children as well as one parent’s children from the new marriage. DH and I were seated nearby, and it was clear that the entire family was having a good time sharing in the joy of the groom’s marriage. But, seriously, to hear people talk, you’d have thought no one had ever seen divorced people behaving well. “Can you believe they’re sitting together? You’d never catch me sitting at a table with my ex, and if someone made me I’d probably throw the gravy boat at him that hussy…..” were the kind of comments that were heard. It was like they were a new species at the zoo that no one had ever seen before.

    The young couple who got married that day got divorced within five years, but in the 15 years since then I have continued to be impressed by how well they are handling their divorce and co-parenting their high-school age son. I’m convinced it was because they had a really good example in his parents.

    What a gift to give your children! OP, there are things you can do in the moment that may make you feel good in the moment, but, in the end, you and your daughter have decades ahead of you. Begin as you mean to go forward and take the high road.

    • Serryce February 8, 2017, 11:59 pm

      My stepfather’s first wife used money to control the guest list and the seating arrangements at my stepbrother’s wedding, so that my stepfather and my mother (the 2nd wife) were on the out – no speeches, no public acknowledgement, etc.. My stepbrother and his wife wanted the money, so they went with his mother’s insistence on the arrangements. That said, my stepbrother and his wife have moved away in order to escape from his mother; they still call and chat with my stepfather and my mother regularly, but not with his mother.

      So, yes, OP, you might “win” the battle of the wedding by using money as leverage, but in the process you might lose your daughter.

      The admin’s advice is wise: take the high road. Give the money without strings, be polite to your ex and his partner at the wedding, and support your daughter in her endeavours even when you disagree with the specifics.

      I’ve always appreciated my mother for being willing to back away from my choices when I pointed out they were my choices (and possibly mistakes) to make; my father can’t quite let the matter go, and while I love him, it’s one reason why I’m very glad he lives in another country.

      I would recommend not making your daughter wish she lived somewhere where she didn’t have to deal with you so closely…

    • Suzanne February 9, 2017, 2:37 am

      When we got married, DH’s divorced parents not only wouldn’t talk to each other, they refused to be in the same picture. They had been divorced for 10 years at this point, separated for 15. MIL refused to wear her corsage or talk to anyone after she spotted FIL’s ex-girlfriend. We invited her because she was OUR friend. FIL and ex-girlfriend hadn’t even seen each other in years and years.

      Fortunately, 15 years later, SIL got married and they had grown up quite a bit. They sat at the same table and were polite to each other all evening. I think the difference was SIL got married in Turkey and the only English speaking people were family, so it was either be nice to each other or be completely excluded!

      if I had known that would work, I would have gotten married in Turkey too!

    • charliesmum February 9, 2017, 7:48 am

      At a college friend of mine’s baby shower her mother and her father’s new wife were literally walking around laughing and joking and acting like BFFs because they totally were.

  • LadyV February 8, 2017, 9:45 am

    I agree that the OP needs to think really, REALLY hard about using money as a weapon. Is this really the hill she wants her relationship with her daughter to die on? Because that is exactly what will happen. As Jeanne said, all that the attempt at financial manipulation will accomplish is to confirm Lucy’s impression of Mom as a horrible person. If, instead, she is gracious to both her ex and the ex’s girlfriend at the wedding, she will come across as someone who cares more about her daughter’s happiness than about her own grievances.

    I do think that after all of the stress of the wedding is over, OP should make a concerted effort to sit down with Lucy and try to clear the air – preferably without being defensive and ABSOLUTELY without bad-mouthing Dear Old Dad. Even if she’s unsuccessful right now, she will have left the door open for a future reconciliation, instead of slamming it shut.

  • DGS February 8, 2017, 9:51 am

    What Admin said. Acting out now will result in lifelong ramifications. Tread lightly, behave politely, do not “split” your family (good daughter vs. bad daughter, etc.), and consider that investing in a healthy relationship with your daughter now will yield a healthy relationship with her, your son-in-law and any potential grandchildren later.

  • mark February 8, 2017, 9:53 am

    I have to say this story ranks neat the top of all the stories I’ve read here that make me want to hear the exes version of things.

    • Redblues February 8, 2017, 7:06 pm

      Mine too. But I can guess.

    • ketchup February 8, 2017, 7:18 pm

      Yes! And the daughter’s version as well.

    • o_gal February 9, 2017, 7:55 am

      Yeah, that might be epic, along the lines of the infamous goth wedding in the graveyard. Here’s a stab at it:

      Please let me know what you all think of this situation. My ex and I have been divorced for some time now – we were married for 30 years, now divorced for 3. Up until I met the new love of my life, we were friends. My ex especially does not like my girlfriend. We have been together for 6 months now, and she is finding it hard to fit in with my family. I know that she seems cold and snobbish, but the reality is that she is shy. She finds it hard to fit in, so she tends to keep to herself.

      I have told my daughter Lucy things that maybe, as a child, she should not have heard. But she is firmly on my side regarding my girlfriend. In fact, Lucy is getting married and has invited her to the very, very small wedding. I was deeply touched that she wanted to include my girlfriend, because she is only having about 20 people total. Of course, my ex is having a conniption fit over this. My ex wants to expand the guest list to include people that she wants to invite, not the ones that my daughter wants to invite. We know that by excluding some relatives there may be hard feelings, but this is what she and her fiancé want.

      The problem is that my ex gave a certain amount of money to our son when he got married last year, and had promised Lucy that she would give the same amount. Now she’s reneging on that promise, all because Lucy and her fiancé want to be responsible and use most of the money for a house down payment. They are in a stable relationship and stable careers, and want to use it to fund an appreciating investment, not blow it on a big party. In fact, they had originally planned to have a big BBQ at some later date, but due to finances that has been dropped. My ex is threatening to drastically drop the generous amount she was going to give in favor of another amount that is 20% of the original. Unless, of course, she gets control of the guest list. It’s blackmail.

      Oh, and another thing my ex is asking – since I’m “getting” a “plus one”, she wants one too – so she can bring someone that she insists should be on the guest list. Since when does a committed relationship count as a “plus one”, like I’m going to bring just anyone I meet at a bar? Please give me some helpful etiquette phrases I can use instead of making a scene at what I want to be a lovely occasion for my daughter. And not rip my ex’s head off.

    • Vermin8 February 9, 2017, 10:21 am

      I thought that, too. I’d also like to hear what Lucy says.

      • o_gal February 10, 2017, 8:53 am

        Oooo! Oooo! I can tackle this one as well:

        Hello everyone, my name is Lucy. I’m having a problem with my divorced parents and my upcoming wedding. Wow, divorced parents fighting over the details of a child’s wedding – I’m sure you all have never ever seen anything like that, right?

        My parents were married for 30 years, and they’ve now been divorced for 3. They have both moved on with their lives, and my Dad has been dating someone for 6 months that he really loves. My Mom out and out hates her and I’m not sure why. Yeah, she’s kind of cold and snobbish but I can’t do anything about that. Because she’s in a committed relationship with my Dad, I feel that I have to invite her to my wedding. Mom is not in a relationship and I’ve only invited her. Mom says she doesn’t want GF at my wedding. She wants other people invited, like aunts and uncles, especially Mom’s SIL. I knew them as a child visiting relatives, but I’ not close to any of them. My fiancé and I are keeping the wedding small, around 20 people total. With Mom’s additions, it would bring it up to 30 people, 20 that I’m close to and 10 that are just there because they are relatives that Mom is close to. At 20, we can keep our budget under $1k, which is a miracle! We always heard that you plan the wedding/reception you want to have, and then you invite the people that you have room to invite. This is all working out perfectly, except…

        Mom is blackmailing me. She promised to give us $5K for our wedding. That’s what she gave my brother when he got married last year, but his wedding ended up costing over $10K because it was a destination wedding. He and his now wife paid the expenses for everyone to come. Now Mom said that she’ll only give me $1K unless we invite the people that she wants to have invited. Yes, that will cover the cost of the wedding, but my fiancé and I wanted to save the rest of the $5K and use it for a house down payment. I thought that being responsible, keeping the wedding under a certain amount, saving the rest, applying it to a new house instead of a big party, was what my parents would want. Dad is OK with it but Mom somehow is not.

        So how do I handle a Stepmom who is cold and snobbish, a Dad who is enthusiastic for her, and a Mom who wants to take over my wedding? We’re seriously considering skipping an official photographer because I sure don’t want to have to get those 3 together in any combination for pictures!

        • NostalgicGal February 10, 2017, 5:25 pm

          I just LOVE that last sentence….

          • Darshiva February 16, 2017, 5:57 pm

            That last sentence is classic.

        • Joanna June 5, 2017, 12:20 am

          Actually…mom is the only one fighting. And the only thing we know about dad’s girlfriend is that the angry, crazy mom hates her. Maybe Lucy does like her.

  • Goldie February 8, 2017, 9:55 am

    I’m civil with my ex-husband, but I can’t say we are friends. I had two serious relationships after my divorce, each two years long. One ended badly, the other one, we parted on amicable terms. I have no contact with either of these men, because frankly there is no reason for contact anymore. I tried to stay friends with my first ex-bf, but had to go no contact after a few months, because we were simply not capable of being friends. Second ex-bf, I had already learned it the hard way that staying friends was not a good idea, he’d had the same experience with his prior exes, and we both happily agreed to be no contact from day one. I don’t know anything about my ex-husband’s personal life, nor do I have or want to. I sometimes ask him about my former in-laws, who I had a very good relationship with, but that’s it. He and I can never have a falling out because we are not close enough to have a falling out over anything. I don’t care who he dates, as long as he’s happy with that person. I cannot overstate how amazingly these arrangements work for me, my exes, and everyone in our lives. Honestly I think the idea of being friends with an ex, who is by definition no longer in your life and you in theirs, is a fairly easy way to complicate both of your lives and create problems for everyone involved. When the time comes for our kids to get married, it sounds perfectly reasonable that the SOs will be welcome at the wedding, if the kids want to see them there. They are the ones in control of the guest list anyway, within budget of course. It’s their party.

    • Huh February 8, 2017, 4:39 pm

      I agree with this 1000 percent. There seems to be a push in this “conscious uncoupling” world of co-parenting that you MUST be good friends with your ex. And in my experience, this leads to terrible boundaries and toxic patterns that were reasons why the relationship is an “ex” in the first place – like the OP fighting with her ex about his new GF. You need to be civil with your ex and talk about what you need to talk about. You don’t have to sit together at events, or celebrate holidays together, or go on large vacations together. Those boundaries exist for a reason.

      I came to realize in therapy that my ex, as he is now and maybe how he always was, is a very toxic person for me to be around. If we met today, I would not choose to be friends with him. I can hold a light conversation with him but we’ll never be yucking it up/socializing together.

      • Vermin8 February 9, 2017, 10:23 am

        I’ve done the “friends with ex” thing and it’s never worked out (I’m leaving out the ones where it was never a serious relationship).
        The last time it happened, the guy in question had a whole list of requirements for the “friendship” which mainly consisted of me doing what he wanted but not expecting him to show up on time or show up at all. So I broke up with him a second time, this time saying I didn’t want to be friends. That was a harder breakup for him than the first one.
        The bottom line is – unless there is a friendship aside from the relationship, there is not much left and one or both may be trying to hold on to the few aspects of the relationship that was beneficial to them without having to be held to the others. Sometimes it’s control (and I suspect that’s the issue with OP – she has lost some control with the entrance of new GF thus her condemnation of the lady).
        It’s generally not worth the time and effort.

        • Darshiva February 16, 2017, 6:44 pm

          In my experience, from watching other people who went through it, the ones who manage to remain friends with exes, and even become BFFs with them, are the ones who were friends first, then fell in love with a passion, the passion faded, and they realized that while they loved each other, they were not still “in love with” each other, and they mutually agreed to move on.

          Their friendship was true friendship in the first place, and it survived the divorce, because they were truly better “together” as friends than “together” as a couple. Their friendship actually improved their lives (being there to support each other, advise each other, strengthen each other, and keep each other down to earth), even as they recognized that they were not really romantic-couple material. Fortunately, the new people in their lives realize that they have no cause for jealousy, and the exes became more like a brother-sister act than anything else.

          Mature people can make the friends-after-divorce thing work, but ALL parties need to be equally mature about it, and recognize the difference between a friendship love and a romantic love. Unfortunately, that sort of thing is rare.

          Another time I have seen exes work out as friends is when they did a clean break, both moved on with their lives, and then met up again after a year or more. They were able to deal with each other as strictly friends, rather than lovers, and again, maturity all around. This, of course, won’t work if there are children involved, but it does work for childless relationships.

          That initial no-contact time can work wonders for a future relationship, and I highly recommend it for anyone breaking up, even if the no contact period is only three months. Basically, if it’s enough for an anti-addiction program, it’s enough for a break-up. Once the mind is cleared of all the romance-chemicals, and you can start looking at the relationship from a fresh perspective, you can see what works, what doesn’t, what you can have in a friendship, and what triggers to avoid, as well as how to establish and maintain healthy boundaries.

          It can happen, but it’s just not very common, I’m afraid.

  • Amanda February 8, 2017, 10:15 am

    If the bitter and controlling OP penalizes her daughter by reducing her gift, she risks provoking sibling rivalry between her children by playing favorites.

  • Marie February 8, 2017, 10:26 am

    1. This is not your wedding. You do not get to decide on the guest list.
    2. You do not get to demand a +1, especially if that person is not your significant other. See also point 1.
    3. Yes, it is petty. Get over yourself, give whatever you want to gift your daughter but do not do it because you didn’t get your way on the guest list. See also point 1 & 2.

    And please, please, don’t turn the wedding into a battleground. If you do, you’ll prove your ex right.

    • Darshiva February 16, 2017, 6:45 pm

      Yes! If you want your daughter to stop believing the stuff your ex told her, then you must go out of your way NOT to prove your ex right.

      Let your behavior prove to her that you are the blameless one, by being blameless in all future behavior regarding him.

  • Pat February 8, 2017, 10:28 am

    As an attorney for almost 30 years, I’ve observed over and over again the family wreckage and lasting hard feelings (even hatred) between siblings caused by parents treating their children unequally. You can ask your daughter to reconsider her decision not to invite your SIL, but you should not try to manipulate her with money or punish her by withholding money. You don’t have to like your ex’s new GF, but you do have to accept the fact that there will be occasions where you have to interact with her. All that is required is that you be civil to her. If you can’t manage that, you are only going to make family dynamics worse than they already are.

  • livvy17 February 8, 2017, 10:29 am

    I agree with all of the Admin’s points.

    My own father was very much up front that his money came with strings. In a way, this was ok, because he was always really clear on that point, but it still chafed quite a bit. It did accomplish what he hoped it would, though, which was to allow him control of my brother and I as long as we weren’t standing on our own, and providing us with excellent motivation to be self-supporting.

    I would definitely agree with Admin and others that this is not the time to start being manipulative with money. It is, however, a great time to be as supportive as possible, and to talk to her. I’m sure in her mind, she has excluded SIL because she didn’t want to have to invite another “layer” of family – aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. For each extra person she invites, she has to think about explaining why that person made the “cut” and why some other, possibly similarly situated person, didn’t. For each expanded circle, you have more people who could possibly be offended at not being invited. For example, if you invite the aunts/uncles, they you have to explain why you didn’t invite the cousins…it’s actually easier to be exclusive when it’s a really small/tight circle of exclusion. People understand it better. I’m sure if you talked to her more as a friend / helper on this, you’d get a better idea of her motivations. Then you might be able to ask, “would you mind if I brought SIL as my date?” She might say yes, she might explain her motivations, but whatever you do, accept it. This is her wedding, and even if she’s planning a tiny one, it’s for her to plan and control.

    One thing you could do, if you REALLY want those aunts and uncles, would be to offer to pay for them to attend, ABOVE AND BEYOND what Lucy is counting on. Something like, “I understand that you want to spend the bulk of the wedding money on your house, and I understand that, but would you be open to inviting them if I offered to put in a little more to cover their cost?” NOTE: This could possible offend sibling #1, as he/she will have in effect, gotten less. Depending on how much money you can afford, theoretically you could even this out by extra gift to Sibling #1

    The more supportive and “high-road” your actions, the better your relationship with her will be, and eventually, she will question the badmouthing of your Ex, and see the issues with the new GF. As a woman who has been in a similar situation as your daughter, believe me, she is probably already anxious about her parents being on the outs at her very tiny wedding, and hoping that everyone behaves. She may not like the GF either, but there’s no possible way she could exclude her without being unforgivably rude, as it would be if you had a significant other who wasn’t allowed to accompany you to your daughter’s wedding.

  • Green123 February 8, 2017, 10:32 am

    This isn’t your wedding, OP. It’s your daughter’s wedding. It is her choice, and hers alone, who is present on the day. Butt out, turn up, be gracious. But most of all, behave like an adult.

  • stacey February 8, 2017, 10:38 am

    It’s not your daughter’s fault that you are divorced, dislike your ex for his conduct and dislike his girlfriend for whatever reason. Your obligation is still to be the bigger prrson. If you offered money of “x” dollars, honor your word. If you have relational difficulties with your daughter, try to be clear, kind and patient. It seems to me that you are misusing the occasion of your daughter’s wedding as an opportunity to gain a bit of revenge. This occasion and these event details are not, primarily, about you. If you miscast yourself in the role of aggrieved lead player, there will be unpleasant and long-term repercussions. Take the high road.

  • Shoegal February 8, 2017, 10:45 am

    Do the right thing and I know that the OP already knows what that is. You have a right to your own feelings – good or bad, right or wrong but in the end doing the wrong/bad thing isn’t going to get you anywhere. Be a better person and take the high road. Think of this as if you were your daughter. When you married did you want somebody else dictating how it should be handled – who you should invite/ not invite?

    Is that what you want to remember? Fighting, bad behavior? You fighting with your ex and his girlfriend at your daughter’s wedding? Your daughter recounting how you didn’t want to give her the same amount of money because she didn’t do what you wanted that caused lasting resentment and a deteriorated relationship?

  • Rings90 February 8, 2017, 10:46 am

    Maybe my sister & I aren’t that close or we just don’t care, but neither of us know how much our parents chipped in for our weddings. It really isn’t my business to know that and vice versa.

    Altho I do think that using most of the $ the OP has budgeted for a down payment on a house is a way better investment than a $3,000 ice sculpture.

    As for the guest list, I recently got remarried, we had about 80 people. I did not invite some aunts & uncles because we wanted to keep it small & honestly I didn’t want to invite them. (My 1 aunt is a drama queen & I lost all respect for her a few years back.) Please keep in mind that just because another family member is close to someone it doesn’t mean the bride/groom is and there maybe another nreason as to why they are off the guest list.

  • Michelle February 8, 2017, 10:46 am

    I agree with the others- don’t make this about you and your feelings. I can understand your feelings, but do you really want to use your daughter’s wedding as a way to get revenge on your ex and his girlfriend?

    Let Lucy and her fiance decide the guest list. You can ask for a plus 1 if you want, but be prepared to say no.

    Don’t give different amounts as a way to punish your daughter for not have the wedding your way and inviting the girlfriend. It’s going to hurt her, further damage your relationship with her and confirm that you are the bitter harpy that your ex is portraying you to be. As Lucy matures and gets more life experience, her attitude toward you may change and she will turn to you for advice and my even apologize for her behavior. Finding out marriages (relationships) are not like romance novels has a way of changing your perspective.

    Be an example of the gracious mother of the bride. That’s a suit that looks good on everyone and it’s really the best revenge.

  • Anna February 8, 2017, 10:50 am

    Reading your question, I have to think to myself, what is the most important thing to you?

    Making sure your ex’s girlfriend is excluded?

    Having the people you favor be the ones included in your daughter’s wedding?

    Making sure the money you give to your daughter goes toward getting the things you want?

    Or…you and your daughter’s relationship?

    I hope that it is your relationship with your daughter, and being gracious in this case could go a long way towards repairing that relationship, if indeed it is repairable. You haven’t detailed how your daughter is being “hateful,” but given all you’ve said here, might you have also played a part in the negativity between the two of you? If Lucy’s hatefulness is based on the fact that she doesn’t want to talk to you much because you are trying to manage how she feels about people like her father’s girlfriend, well, I honestly thing that is a reasonable reaction to that treatment. And maybe she is being bratty and immature about other things, I don’t know, you don’t say, but I think a first step might be to make sure your own behavior is NOT hateful before expecting better behavior from your daughter.

    And to be clear, I think that trying to manage your child’s wedding guest list to suit your own personal feelings is hateful. Expecting your child to take your side against her father’s girlfriend is hateful. Using your money as a way to reward or punish your child for being on your side or not is hateful.

    If family members you feel are important are being left out, it is reasonable to voice this to your child, but it is not reasonable to act out of spite. “I think Aunt Sally would be hurt to be excluded. Is there a way you can make room for her?” is really different than “I want Aunt Sally at the wedding, and if you can’t see that she is way more important than Dad’s girlfriend, who is hated by everyone else, you are a spoiled, hateful brat, and I’m going to find a way to get her there whether you like it or not!”

    I think injecting as much kindness and grace into all of your interactions with your daughter and all wedding-related events is the only way to move forward towards repairing your relationship with your daughter. And maybe it doesn’t work–maybe her feelings about you won’t change, and/or she really is just being hateful. But at least you will know that you were kind and tried to make positive change.

  • SweetPea February 8, 2017, 11:27 am

    As one who is planning a small wedding, I say let your daughter invite who she wants. She’s creating the day that will be perfect for her; your love for someone (and others, as you want to add 10 people to a 20 person guest list) is irrelevant.

    Take her as your +1 if you want, I guess, but remember the day isn’t about you. It’s about living your daughter.

    As for the money… I would suggest following through on previous plans. To express one thing, then take it away just because it’s not done the way you’d like, will not only (rightly so) make you look small, but it will leave lasting hurt.

    You are making a mountain out of a molehill.

  • Harry February 8, 2017, 11:40 am

    Seriously, you have an opportunity to come out of this smelling like a rose if you heed her advice.

  • Maria February 8, 2017, 11:50 am

    Oh boy, MOB may not be able to control herself. The final bit was the most foreboding. I assume MOB has an alliance with with her ex SIL, she purposely leaves off the ex, and they dislike EXH’s GF. She wants to turn her daughter’s wedding into mean girls and does not respect the importance of the day for her daughter. I can see why that display of narcissism has created unpleasantness with daughter. MOB needs to knock it off and realign her priorities, fast, or the next wedding will be the EXH’s to GF with her children and ex SIL happily looking on.
    MOB also seems to have some boundary issues separating from her former in laws. While maintaining a loving relationship is terrific, it seems the divorce affected her more deeply than she realizes. Her desire to have a perfect day with her and her ex together as the only parents and no dates, is no longer reality and she can’t manipulate the circumstances to make it so. MOB should certainly be permitted a plus one but it may not be SIL. Perhaps her own sister would be acceptable if she isn’t dating anyone seriously.

  • Stephenie February 8, 2017, 11:56 am

    You were originally planning on paying $5000 and are demanding to control the guest list. Your ex is spending $3000 and is not allowed to have his guest attend. Reverse this and see how unreasonable you are sounding.

    You don’t like one of the guests. However this is NOT your wedding, it is your daughter’s. She should be choosing the guest list.

    Complaining that your daughter’s wedding isn’t expensive enough is a separate bizarre complaint. It sounds like she is trying to be a mature adult and not waste money frivolously. It is much more sensible to invest the money into her future, which you should be supporting and encouraging.

  • Lerah99 February 8, 2017, 11:57 am

    My brother has been married twice: once by a JP and once by a notary in a Starbucks. So he certainly didn’t ask our parents for money for either of those weddings.

    And neither of my parents have money to spare. So I can’t imagine asking them to kick in $8,000 for my wedding.

    Much less insist that if I decided to forgo a normal wedding and get married by a notary at Starbucks, like my brother did, that they should still give me the $8,000 so I could use it as part of a down payments on a home.

    Letter writer,
    Your money is your money. You are welcome to tell your daughter “I offered to help pay for your wedding, like I did with your sister. You’ve chosen to have a very small wedding that will cost $1,000 so I will pay for half of it just as I paid for half of your sister’s wedding.”

    BUT, that doesn’t really seem to get to the heart of your issue.
    It seems to me that you’re in a place where you have to chose if you want to be right or you want to be happy.

    You don’t like your ex husband’s girlfriend. She’s cold and snobbish.
    Ok. Fair enough.
    You don’t have to like her; you aren’t dating her.

    But you didn’t say she’s a violent drunk, or drug addict and thief, or wanted by the FBI or any of the extreme things that would give you a right to take your daughter aside and say:

    “Your father’s girlfriend should not be invited. She was arrested just two months ago for smuggling a bunch of heroin into the country and at Grandma’s Thanksgiving dinner she got so drunk she passed out in the living room after groping poor cousin Johnny. I’m afraid her poor behavior will distract from your special day. You don’t want the fun times ruined by an ATF raid like the 4th of July picnic was.”

    You want to be right.
    You want everyone, including your ex and daughter, to agree that the girlfriend is a terrible person. You want your daughter to agree to invite all the family member you want invited.
    You want people to do what you want.
    But you don’t want them to resent you for being a dictator or being mean.

    But you don’t get to have it both way.
    That’s just human nature.

    You can use the money as a lever to force your daughter to do what you want.
    But you’ll have to accept that she’ll resent you for it.

    If I were you, I’d choose being happy vs. being right.

    And that may mean you have to swallow your pride a little.
    You’ll have to be civil with your ex and his girlfriend.
    You’ll have to let it go that your husband is playing “poor me! Your mama is sooooo mean” with your daughter.
    You’ll have to be the bigger person.

    You’ll need to let your daughter know that you love her and support her even when you disagree with her decisions.

    And when she closes on her new house using your money as part of the down payment, you’ll have to be effusive with your praise about what a lovely home it is and how smart she was to buy property with that money rather than throwing a huge party.

    Live well. Choose happiness. And I think you’ll find it better than being right but bitter.

  • KUS February 8, 2017, 11:59 am

    While I think she’s being petty, I do agree that if she was contributing toward a wedding only, then she can adjust her contribution accordingly. I was one of those people who had the huge expensive weddings that my parents paid for. Since the affair was quite lavish and large when people hear of the venue, sometimes I get comments on how it would have been wiser to spend the money on a down payment on a home. To me, that thinking is weird. My parents didn’t offer to buy me a house, they offered to throw a party (which, since they paid for, they had final say on the planning).

    I think it’s totally fair to say that she intended her gift to be for the wedding only and she’s sorry for the confusion, but I really don’t think her reasons for being angry at her daughter constitute a line in the sand.

    • ketchup February 8, 2017, 7:22 pm

      Whenever my husband received a monetary gift for any occasion from his parents, they made sure his sister received the same. And vice versa. They’re the epitome of financial fairness and I admire them for it.

    • PJ February 9, 2017, 12:29 pm

      I was thinking along the same lines. Did the OP give the first child a flat-out gift of $5k, or did she offer to pay wedding costs, up to $5k? There is a huge difference. Regardless of what anyone here thinks about how much money **should** be spent on a wedding vs a house, that’s really none of our business.

      While the OP doesn’t come across as a saint in this story, my impression of Lucy was not great. I imagined her thought process of making wedding plans, then seeing $$$ and dropping the plans to host friends and family in a traditional celebration (not necessarily even huge or fancy) and opting to entertain and feed as few guests as possible so she can save all that free-money for herself.

      I know, I know: that gets into territory of ‘what is the happy couple’s obligation, really?’ and other valid issues, but that was my first impression.

      As for the other issues:

      The girlfriend for the ex makes sense as a plus-one, as much as you don’t like it. Just avoid then when you can, and then be business-polite as you would to a stranger. It must sting that beloved aunts are left out while this woman in included. If they share your feelings about the girlfriend, they’ll likely know that it wasn’t your doing that she was in attendance while the aunts were not. It’s just not your choice to make. You can make it clear to the aunts: ‘I was disappointed that the small wedding meant you couldn’t share the day with us, but it was Lucy’s big day and we just have different styles and preferences…’

      Asking for a plus-one sounds fair to me. I think you can at least ask, but be ready to hear a ‘no.’ I had a plus-one for every single adult guest at my wedding, which was less than 100 people. My SIL brought along an old childhood friend of hers, and she was lovely.

      I do agree that the worst thing you can do is hold out the money until you get your way. That will not soon be forgotten.

  • Cat2 February 8, 2017, 12:00 pm

    OP, you need to seriously back up and re-think how you look at stuff, and what is within your control and what is standing back and respecting someone else’s wishes. Because you’re all over the map on this stuff.

    First – the things your Ex said to Lucy. Did he “spin” them? Or did he discuss them with her honestly, from his perspective? One which you may not agree with, but is nevertheless his and not said with an intent to purposefully malign you? Whose call is it to say these are things she didn’t need to know about? *You* may not think she needed to know, but hey – he’s her father, and he gets equal say in what he thinks she needs to know. Particularly if it’s affecting his relationship with her. Again, you may not think it’s necessary. But you have to remember that he is entitled to have a different opinion than you do, and HE gets to manage his relationship with her without your input. You, can then decide how you want to address what has been said. I suggest that when you do so, you focus on wording that does not lay blame, but rather simply differentiates that you had a different view and that is part of why you are divorced, because you could not agree on how such actions were thought of, etc.

    Next – your SIL. She can be disappointed all she likes. That’s on her to manage as part of what expectations she has, and her own relationship with her niece. It’s not up to you to manage this. It’s up to you to maybe call attention to something that you think Lucy doesn’t know – but then let Lucy as a fully functional adult make up her own mind about what is right for her and respect her right to do so, including handling whatever fallout may come. Rather like you would like her to respect your decision to divorce her father. Because it was what worked for you, as an adult, managing your relationship with him.

    I suspect that part of the falling out with your ex is that you have tried to some extent to manage his relationship with his new gf – I note you don’t say latest, is she by chance the first one since the divorce? – including discussing what it is and isn’t okay for him to bring her to. If so… These are not things you get a say in. At all, ever. Not unless you have a mutual agreement with him that you do AND that he gets equal say on what you can include any guy you’re dating in. This is his relationship to manage, even if you can’t stand the woman and she’s the most obnoxious thing since Barney. Yours to manage is your relationship with him, and whatever relationship you have with her – and the low bar there that you’d be shooting for is “civil acquaintances”.

    The one thing you don’t seem to be looking to do is to manage your own relationship with Lucy – through taking her wishes into account and allowing those to be valid *for her*, even though they are different than what you would like or would choose. Including recognizing that Lucy may be well aware that she is disappointing SIL, but would rather disappoint SIL rather than offend and hurt her other aunts and uncles by inviting just her OR expanding her wedding out beyond what she wants to spend on it by including them to balance it out. Until you give her that respect and that room, I suspect you will not make much headway with Lucy on the idea that your choice was valid for you, even if it was different from what others would like or want you to have chosen.

    So pile that all up – and here’s what you get.

    • The new gf gets to come because she’s the current established partner of your ex. If you don’t have an established partner right now, you don’t get a “plus 1” unless Lucy is allowing *everybody* who is single to bring one.

    • You respect Lucy’s choices about what kind of wedding she’s having and who she’s inviting and you show up and you celebrate with her without trying to push her into making choices that you would prefer.

    • You contribute money to Lucy’s wedding as a gift towards her new married life, without definition of how she is to spend it or consideration of how much she “deserves” based on how closely what she’s doing aligns with what you want her to be doing.

    • You express sympathy to your SIL and DEFEND YOUR CHILD’S RIGHT TO MAKE CHOICES THAT WORK FOR HER at the same time that you do it.

    • You do your very best to be politely civil to your husband and his ex under all circumstances, particularly “event” ones.

    • You reach out to Lucy, and ask to have a conversation with her about the things she’s upset about and allow you to talk to her about them and try to improve your relationship.

    And finally, you can, if you wish, ask Lucy if you can throw a party/reception for her that the aunts and uncles and wider family might be invited to. Within a budget of your choosing, etc. – but do take her tastes and preferences into account here, because disregarding those is a bad way to “honor” the person you’re trying to celebrate.

    • Cat2 February 8, 2017, 12:03 pm

      P.S. Yes, her father gets to bring his current partner to that, even if you dislike the woman. The only point at which you have any grounds for disinviting her from a celebration that you are throwing that your ex is invited to is when her actions have been so actively egregious and harmful to you, that it is reasonable to say “It is unreasonable to ask me to accept being treated this way”.

  • Ashley February 8, 2017, 12:28 pm

    Oh for goodness sakes, the passive agressiveness is jumping off the page here.

    Your daughter and her fiance have decided to prioritize a house over a large wedding. They are making a smart decision, and you’re trying to punish her for not inviting SIL or whoever, by waving money over her head?

    Grow up. Either all your kids get the same amount of money, to do with what they want, or you wind up fracturing your relationship with your daughter, when it’s already on shaky ground. And act like an adult at the wedding, it’s really not that hard to be civil.

    I’m sorry if any of this comes across as harsh but holy heck, why can’t grown ups just act like grown ups.

  • Jazzgirl205 February 8, 2017, 12:44 pm

    OP said her daughter didn’t like the GF. Perhaps her father demanded that GF be invited or he wouldn’t come. Now the poor girl’s mother is thinking of not showing up if she is invited. Don’t make your daughter choose which parent she wants to be there. Be gracious. Give the amount you told her you would give. I like big weddings, but choosing a house is a responsible, adult thing to do and you should applaud her decision.

    • Vermin8 February 9, 2017, 10:33 am

      Actually she said “most of the family” didn’t like GF but didn’t talk about the daughter specifically.
      And I have my suspicions that “most of the family” means her + the SIL who is her ally.

  • Devin February 8, 2017, 1:01 pm

    When my brother married I know my parents gave them some money, but not the amount. If/when I marry my parents will also give me some money. If you havent already promised a set amount to your daughter, and you know the whole affair will cost less than the max you set, offer to cover the whole wedding. This is only if you feel strongly against your money being spent towards their home, and she wasn’t already told x amount is earmarked for her.
    If the ex wants to still give them the amount he promised they can use that for the home. Using your money towards the home opens up many avenues for you to work on your relationship with your daughter, as long as you dont hold it over their heads.

    Since the new gf is cold and snobbish it should be easy for you to avoid her at the wedding and reception. Use the pre-wedding festivities to get to know the fiances family and then be the proud MOB at the wedding. Your positive energy will speak volumes about who you are and you’ll have plenty of people to socialize without a plus 1.

    Sodenote: admin i love the break apart reponse format!!

  • Redblues February 8, 2017, 1:03 pm

    I think OP is leaving a lot out of this story, and I only believe about half of her description of the circumstances. I think OP is the one who has tried to turn Lucy against her own father and playing the “poor Ms nice mom” victim role. I doubt the rest of the family dislikes GF as much as OP wants to believe. I am also suspicious of the description of dad’s girlfriend as “cold and snobbish”. My guess is, OP has been “cold and snobbish” to the GF. The fact that OP and ex were friends until GF came along is a sign that OP is bitter about being replaced, years after the divorce. Add to that the fact that OP had this falling out with her ex right before the holidays, and it sounds more like a tantrum thrown by OP in a failed attempt to control the ex, through the daughter. Daughter is justifiably angry that mom won’t grow up. I doubt any of the relatives will be “heartbroken” over not being invited to a party that is only for immediate family. (Yes, GF is immediate family if she is partnered with dad. Sorry mom. Those are the rules.) They might be mildly disappointed, but that’s about it. They can attend the *wedding* if they want to, and it is in a church. They just can’t go to the reception. I have attended many a church wedding, expressed my best wishes to the couple, and gone home, happy for them. Children pout over parties to which they are not invited. Adults realize that the world does not revolve around them. Demanding a plus one because dad gets one is childish. Dad has a partner, he gets to bring her. Mom does not have a partner, so she attends solo. Wedding invitations are not prom tickets. OP is not entitled to bring a date. It sounds as if OP just wants to outmaneuver her daughter and control the guest list any way she can think of. Failing that, she will withhold money out of revenge. YS, that does indeed sound “small and selfish” as well as controlling, and spiteful. No wonder daughter is angry. If OP wants to have a relationship with her adult daughter, OP needs to grow up, and quit trying to control other people.

    • Vermin8 February 9, 2017, 11:01 am

      I will second this post.
      “My guess is, OP has been “cold and snobbish” to the GF.” Or the GF would not grovel to OP and that offended OP.

    • Victoria February 9, 2017, 11:35 am

      That is a LOT of assumptions.

    • Joanna June 5, 2017, 12:26 am

      I run a blog about dealing with narcissists. The OP is screaming to be featured. There are all kinds of mind games going on in her submission. Oddly enough, one of my posts is dedicated to warning daughters of mothers like this. They are infamous for trying to take over their daughter’s weddings, and we hear from soooo many women that their controlling mothers are destroying their wedding days by trying to make the day all about the mom instead of the bride.

      Given how bad the OP’s post is, I am not sure she can fix her relationship with her daughter if she chooses to persistently act like that.

  • tatdaisie February 8, 2017, 1:06 pm

    Wow, this wedding sounds similar to my own! We also had a guest list of 20 at a small restaurant and excluded the extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. It certainly wasn’t malicious or spiteful in intention – we love our family but hate being center of attention. We wanted a small, intimate ceremony with those who are closest to us, and I was prepared to give a polite, diplomatic, but uncompromising rebuttal to any declarations of hurt feelings. You can’t just invite one aunt or one cousin – you have to invite everyone, and then your small, intimate day becomes a large party you didn’t want.

    We also had a ‘problem’ step-mother who is married to my husband’s father. My husband and her have a terrible relationship and my husband was insistent on not inviting her, despite etiquette stating that couples should be treated as a social unit. It did cause issues which have still not resolved, so I can also appreciate why your daughter doesn’t want to add to her stress by taking a hard line against the new GF (that’s assuming they don’t have a cordial relationship).

    The bottom line is that the day isn’t yours. You’re a part of it, and an important part of it, but ultimately it belongs to the HC. If you don’t want to support how they have chosen to celebrate their day financially that it is totally up to you. It will likely cause further tension with your daughter. If it were me, I wouldn’t be upset about having to foot the bill on my own, I would be livid at my mother’s attempts to create a day that she wanted despite my views. If you don’t wish to contribute to the house downpayment I think it’s entirely reasonable to pay what you are willing to pay towards the wedding and leave it at that. I wouldn’t have begrudged my brother getting more money for his wedding simply because his cost more than mine did. Finally, the idea of inviting your SIL as a plus one seems incredibly petty since you’ve made it clear you’d be inviting her because you think she ought to be part of the wedding guest list. Frankly, I think that would incredibly awkward for both your SIL and the HC.

    I hate to rag on the OP but I found myself feeling sorry for Lucy, even if she has been acting ‘hatefully.’ Her family was torn apart this year just as yours was, and it seems like she’s trying to organize a wedding in a respectful, though understated, manner.

  • Multi-Facets February 8, 2017, 1:06 pm

    Personally, I’d be thrilled if I could have a wedding below $1,000. Less debt for me and anyone who wanted to contribute.

    I suggest the OP suck it up, because this is Lucy’s day, not hers. OP should give fairly, be civil, bring her SIL as her plus one if needed, and see a therapist at the soonest opportunity to sort through all these feelings of hurt and resentment. It would also help her build strategies on how to deal with her ex and the ex’s girlfriend, and everything else.

  • Calli Arcale February 8, 2017, 1:17 pm

    I’ve been to a few weddings where there had been an acrimonious divorce between the parents of one of the happy couple. In all cases, both parents were invited, along with their significant others. The exes were frosty towards one another, but civil. This can be very painful, but it is important to use it as an opportunity to learn how to tolerate the ex. God willing, you and your daughter will live many more years, which means there will be many more interactions with your ex. The sooner you learn how to compartmentalize your anger and remain civil with him and his girlfriend, the better, because then it will have fewer opportunities to eat away at you. He seems to be having difficult with that himself, so for your daughter’s sake, show the right way to do it. Take the high road.

    It will be harder in such an intimate setting, especially with the lies. But I don’t think your daughter hates you as much as you think. It is a testimony to how much your daughter still cares about you (in spite of the lies) that she still wants you and your parents there. Be there for her. Be her mother. She will need you. Treat your ex and his girlfriend politely, and avoid prolonged contact. Practice your “beandips” in case someone tries to snipe, and resist all temptation to snipe yourself. People will remember your graciousness — or your lack thereof.

    • EchoGirl February 13, 2017, 5:46 pm

      Seconding that. My mother’s cousin went through a nasty and painful divorce, but when their two children got married (by chance, only a few months apart), the parents walked each child down the aisle, one on each side (this is customary for Jewish weddings), and did it without showing any signs of resentment. If they can do it, I feel like OP, who by her own admission was on good terms with her ex until the GF came into the picture, should be able to do it.

  • Vere February 8, 2017, 1:23 pm

    Newsflash lady, you are divorced, you don’t have any say in your ex husband choice of partners, you sound like you want to control everything (your daughter’s behavior and wedding, your ex choice of partners) just reading your letter makes me want to keep you at arm’s length, maybe we read your letter and see if you need to change your ways.

  • Elizabeth February 8, 2017, 1:24 pm

    As the daughter of a mother who lovingly used money as a way to control the tone and such of my wedding can I just say at the end of the day you have to decide what is more important, you getting your way or your relationship with your daughter. My mother wasn’t demanding or awful to work with when I was planning my wedding but due to both I am my husband being students at the time we had no money of our own so we had to rely on our parents for any kind of wedding expenses. I asked at the very beginning of the planning process how we would be handling money. The answer I received was “You let us know what you want and we will decide if we can afford it.” I know this was not meant maliciously but the things she didn’t care for were always “too expensive”. I still had a lovely wedding but I always chuckle when I hear my mother chatting with friends and patting herself on the back that “DD got the exact wedding she wanted.” She doesn’t realize I just stopped asking about things I knew she didn’t feel fit with the appropriate feel of a wedding.

    • Annie February 9, 2017, 11:53 am

      For my wedding, my mom did the flower arrangements for the tables. She asked what I wanted, and I said, “White roses.” She said, “That’s not enough color; you need something with color. What do you want?” And I said, “I already told you what I want. Go ahead and do what you want.”

      On my wedding day, all the tables had arrangements of white roses. I thought it was so sweet of her. To this day it makes me smile every time I think about it.

  • Gabriele February 8, 2017, 1:35 pm

    I wonder if the first daughter was Mama’s girl, and the second is more Daddy’s girl…but that the OP didn’t see it before, or it wasn’t as clearly expressed.
    As far as the difference between the first wedding finances and the second, the OP might consider giving the wedding cost outright and putting the balance in an interest-bearing account so that when it comes time for the house purchase they will have the gift plus the interest. You could use that as a means to express your support for her (excellent!) idea of saving for a house rather than having a big wedding. And if it has been the practice to give actual presents for birthdays and Christmas, then the daughter could be asked if she preferred the gifts be financial to add to the savings.
    A suggestion: Ask her if you could have a small ‘shower’ for the relatives who won’t be coming to the wedding, not for gifts but for the chance to see her and wish her well. It doesn’t have to be called a shower, just a small hosted get-together, perhaps at a nice café or such: casual but suitable.
    Rather than creating a division in the family, it could be a bridge between the bride and the uninvited.
    Another option would be to host a small gathering after the couple are married
    And when talking with those who are not invited, she could express her support for the couple’s decision to save for a house and that there will be time in the future for the new couple to reconnect with aunts, uncles and cousins. Another small ploy would be to praise the daughter for not being a gimme pig, inviting people only for the gifts!

    In noting the difference between what the father will give and what the mother would give, I wonder if the father has less capacity to give because of a divorce settlement and which he complains about to the daughter? Or perhaps he hasn’t been as careful in his money management as she has…

  • Ernie February 8, 2017, 2:06 pm

    I don’t like when someone uses someone else’s wedding as an opportunity for a family reunion. If the daughter doesn’t want to extend the guest list to all of her aunts and uncles, that should be up to her and her husband to be.

    I think its perfectly natural to extend plus ones to couples, they are a pleasantry afforded to loved ones so that their recognized partner can share the day with them. They are not a commodity used to get your own way.

    Sometimes I think that parents forget that while a sibling or in-law may be close to them, that person may have little actual impact in their child’s life. For instance, my mom grew up with her brother and knows him well, but I’ve met the guy twice, both times before I turned 16. I’m not inviting him to my wedding and my mom has no problem with that, because she understands that her relationship with her brother is just that, her relationship. We each get to set our own values for our own relationships, I think it is wrong to impose those on other people.

  • Amara February 8, 2017, 2:18 pm

    Rage is controlling your life and your decisions right now, OP. I am sorry to say it is breathtakingly obvious. Equally obvious is that pain is fueling that rage so I understand–I really do–your need to give some of that pain back where you think it should go.

    But like everyone else here I urge you to re-think your strategy before taking any of the steps you have outlined in your letter. The consequences, both long- and short-term, are going to be huge. They probably will set your life in stone for the rest of it. Is this hatred and destruction going to satisfy you for decades to come? Will you want to be 80 or 90 and really have the consequences–destroyed family, silence, cut directs, no contacts, bitterness–be all you have in your life?

    Not doing what you propose but instead following the admin’s suggestions will be, I guarantee, one of the hardest things you ever do in your entire life. It will in fact seem impossible. But . . . it’s not. It is possible to be gracious and kind and thoughtful, though it may hurt now. Do it and you will never regret it.

    • PJ February 9, 2017, 12:40 pm

      I think this is a very thoughtful response. There are a lot of unfair and harsh words against the OP’s level of maturity and the content of her character right now. It is clear that she is acting on a level of anger and pain and frustration… it is very human, and makes us behave in ways that aren’t otherwise ‘normal’ for us.

      OP, take to heart Amara’s last paragraph: it will be hard to take the high road, but you will not look back on it with regrets.


  • Arrynne February 8, 2017, 2:23 pm

    I think the Admin is spot-on with her advice. It’s your daughter’s wedding. You are there to show your love and support for her. If you actively show your disdain for your ex’s girlfriend, you are feeding right into the negative picture that your ex has been creating of you. As the mother of the bride, be kind and gracious to all who come to the wedding, no matter your personal opinions of them. You can’t control their behavior, only your own. You want to come away from the wedding looking like a prime example of a classy woman, not a bitter ex-wife. Etiquette dictates that your daughter invite her father’s girlfriend, as they are a social unit (assuming they have been together for some time). I think you would be OK asking if you can bring your SIL as a plus 1, but you need to be prepared for your daughter to say no and be willing to accept it.

    As for the money, please don’t use money as a way to control your daughter’s actions. It’s not worth the potential damage to your relationship.

  • Sarah B. February 8, 2017, 3:00 pm

    As the daughter of divorced parents who was also not treated equally to her siblings, I can say this is a bad plan, OP. My dad left my mother for another woman he ended up marrying and having a second family with. My mom hated both of them — but she handled it pretty graciously. She was honest about her feelings, but also very fair — she didn’t hide the bad things, but she gave equal time to the good things, too. Even if she had to think really hard to find any. When she had to be around them, she was civil and even surface friendly. Of course, she did have the advantage of my stepmother actually being a decent human being, other than perhaps the lapse of absconding with somebody else’s husband. (Which, knowing my dad, she probably didn’t know at first and probably didn’t know the real story until years later, if ever, so it really wasn’t much of a ‘lapse’, regardless of how one feels about borrowed spouses.) If your ex and his GF are both jerks, trust me, eventually your kids and everyone else will figure it out. You want to kill them with politeness and fairness — that’s the kind of thing that earns admiration and respect. I’ve always both admired and respected my mother for how she acted, especially when I was older and knew exactly how he was and realized how difficult it must’ve been for her.

    I always got the short end of the stick from both parents. I resent it, even the parts I understand the reasoning for; even the parts I would’ve done the same in their positions. It’s a slippery slope into more than e-hell to treat your kids unequally. They’ll never forget, and they may never forgive, especially if you’re already starting out with a strained relationship. Blatant inequality will probably kill any chance of reconciliation. Honestly, I think a cheap wedding and using their money for a down payment is a very practical, logical use of funds. My fiancee and I are currently planning a wedding that will cost less than $200, including rings, because we’d rather use our money to fund buying a van and travel trailer to live out our mutual dream of traveling (fiancee is self-employed in a highly mobile field, so it’s actually quite practical) than fund a party or ceremony that won’t make us any more committed or married than the bare bones options we’ve chosen. It’s not like Lucy’s $1k wedding will make her a tenth as married as her sibling’s $10k wedding makes them. It only means she has more money to buy something lasting rather than wasting money on a fleeting party.

    If you really, really care that much and can afford it, the most you can do, I think, is give her the same $5k, plus offer to pay more to add the guests you’d like to add, then give sibling the same amount on their next birthday/for Christmas/to pay for some unexpected expense like home or car repair or a medical bill. *Offer*. In a very calm discussion where ‘no’ is the final answer and you go forth and behave civilly and graciously to all and sundry and support your daughter 100% publicly. I’d personally skip that discussion and go straight for behaving civilly and graciously to all and sundry and supporting my kid 100%. It’s *her* life and wedding and it’s not like she’s using the extra funds for crack or child porn, for pete’s sake. *Then* it would be perfectly fine to decline to contribute anything.