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Ask Team Practical: Inviting Former Friends


by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Inviting Former Friends | A Practical Wedding

My question might be common, but it’s perhaps the one most upsetting me while we plan our big wedding day: Do I invite my former best friend of over fifteen years?

In short, three years ago we ended our friendship on as good of terms as one could hope upon ending over fifteen years of being BFF. But getting there was rocky. Since that final conversation, we’ve not talked or connected. Just like a cold-turkey break-up. Upon news of my engagement in December, she posted a simple “congrats” on my Facebook wall—but nothing more.

So why am I hung up still? I guess I have guilt around the whole ending of our friendship because I was the one who finally said “enough.” But going through the motions of planning a wedding and stepping into my adult life, I cannot help but think about her and our former friendship. And when I reverse it, how would I feel if I wasn’t invited to hers? I won’t lie. I’d feel hurt, but understanding too.

I just feel confused overall. She wasn’t the most supportive friend of my relationship; nor was she supportive of great positive changes I made in my life in my early twenties. But when I think about it, I keep wondering, “Will I regret not having her there? Regret not extending an invite? Would an invite just be out of obligation as to not hurt her feelings?” I’d just like clarity around what to do!

—Anon

Dear Anon,

Weddings aren’t make-or-break. They don’t (often. I guess sometimes they do) change a dynamic. They usually just emphasize and highlight how things already are.

Put bluntly?

If you don’t invite her, it won’t ruin the friendship

If you do invite her, it won’t heal the friendship

Chances are, no matter which choice you make, things will stay as they are. For now, at least. Restoration and healing, or the drifting apart of ways, that stuff doesn’t usually happen suddenly and swiftly as a result of one big day. Usually, if there’s a fallout or a reuniting, the wedding is just one of several steps.

You admit that if roles were switched, you’d be hurt if you weren’t invited. But, would you be hurt by shock, or hurt because it confirmed what you already knew? In this case, a lack of wedding invitation wouldn’t be a startling revelation.

So, do you want to invite her to honor the relationship you have now? (Strained and tense though it may be.) Or, maybe to honor the place she once held in your life? If it’s either of those things, go for it. But, if you’re hoping that inviting her to your wedding will magically heal an abruptly ended past, skip it. That’s only going to end in disappointment.

Restoring a friendship takes work. It takes phone calls, coffee dates, birthday cards, sincere, “How are you doing?” sort of questions. As a result, if you can’t fit her into the wedding guest list, you’re in luck! You can still do all of that other stuff to try to rebuild a lost relationship. Or, if you can wiggle the guest list to fit her, that’s fine, too. But recognize that it’ll take all of that other stuff anyway. The wedding isn’t some fancy expensive band-aid you slap on wounded relationships.

As far as regret is concerned, what will you regret? Regret not fixing things by inviting her? As we talked about, that’s not incredibly likely. Are you afraid you’ll become close again and feel as though you missed out on sharing that special time? Well, frankly, that’s possible for anyone. The wedding, while important, happens at a very specific time in you life. And though it may seem obvious, it’s easy to forget that not everyone who becomes important and special to you will be important and special to you during that time. There are many friends who were at my wedding, who are no longer close to me. And there are many more who are close to me now, that never had the chance to be beside me during my vows. Luckily, life doesn’t end on the wedding day. There will always be special times to honor dear ones, and (hopefully) new folks joining the crowd supporting your relationship.

*****

Team Practical, did you invite former friends to your wedding? How do you handle the foreboding of possible wedding regret?

Photo by APW sponsor Moodeous Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • Trixie

    I’ve been on the opposite end of this…being invited to my former best friend’s wedding. I ended up going and sitting at a table filled with ‘former friends’, which was pretty amusing. And, she really did seem thrilled that I was there. I guess I’m glad I went? But it was really awkward the whole time. Would I have been hurt to not been invited? I don’t know if I know the answer.

    All that being said, I’m now struggling with planning my own wedding and wondering if to invite any “former friends”. My gut feeling is just to keep it small, with the people I really care about.

    • Moe

      A table of former friends all drinking and talking about the bride sounds like the best table to sit at!

    • http://www.snippetsof.blogspot.com Sarah E

      Another former friend who attended an awkward wedding. My best friend from high school and I had a falling out in our freshman year of college. I didn’t talk to her for a long time, then slowly chatted a bit more, then realized I was putting effort into someone I didn’t trust at all, so we stopped talking again. She invited me to her wedding in my junior year, which took place several states away. I thought a long time about what I wanted to do.

      Eventually, I went to the wedding with the thought “I don’t want to regret my decision later and wish I had been there.” It was really awkward, being at a table of high school friends I had lost touch with, and whose lives I wasn’t interested in anymore. Fortunately, one BFF who has stuck with me through thick and thin was also there- but she was in the wedding party, so wasn’t always around.

      Looking back, I could have skipped the road trip and skipped the wedding without a second thought. Throughout the ceremony and reception, I really felt like I was a total poser. Especially when picture time came and the bride wanted pictures of high school friends, I just felt so fake standing there with people that I don’t even speak to anymore. Accept your friendship where it is, and enjoy the close friends and family who are definites on the gust list.

  • Anon

    APDubs, you have read my mind twice in one day. Thank you so much!!

  • kyley

    If you found yourself having a quiet moment at your wedding, talking with this friend alone for 10 minutes, would that be time well spent, or would you wish you were spending that time with other guests? If it’s the former, go ahead and invite her. If it’s the latter, pass on sending out the invite.

    • Maddie

      Oh this is GOOD.

    • Moe

      Ok, this is also just a good rule of thumb for life in general.

    • scw

      this is perfect.

  • carrie

    Just wanted to say this is beautiful advice.

  • Lauren

    Just wanted to pipe in and say I’m inviting a former very close friend who has turned into an acquaintance following a slow slide into estrangement. I am doing this because we are in a grey area and this person, if they choose to come, will be unattached and won’t take up too much space, if that doesn’t sound too cold.

    This person offered to help me in planning, but i am not comfortable inviting them back so close, so fast. But they are obviously invested. I’d like to see if this can be the jump start to being close again, or if its the last, happy memory I will have of this person. Both are acceptable to me. But if we were definitely not speaking anymore I wouldn’t worry about it.

  • Violet

    I was once on the opposite end of this, in that I was not invited to my former best friend’s wedding. And we do still talk from time to time, so I was hurt. Going to the wedding wouldn’t have fixed the relationship, but not being invited kind of killed whatever was left of it.

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    I invited a former friend and wished I hadn’t. It was awkward, for so many reasons. I invited them to mine because they invited me to theirs, and it was awkward at theirs and returning an invitation wasn’t a good enough reason.

    Having them there is the one part of our wedding I don’t like remembering. Within a year I’d broken off all contact completely.

  • Cleo

    Anon, I empathize as I’m struggling with a similar issue.

    I have a former BFF who I’m slowly growing apart from. She’s well-intentioned, but in recent years, she’s started expecting people to conform to her needs/desires without reciprocating. I’ve played into that pattern and I’m currently trying to extricate myself from it. As a result, we’re not as close as we used to be. Also, I don’t like her boyfriend (personality clash) and I don’t like the person she becomes when she’s around him. My partner tolerates her for my sake and harbors a lot of dislike for the boyfriend.

    Anyway, the problem is that she’s one of the people in my close group of friends from college, a group I wouldn’t dream of excluding from the wedding, but, in all honesty, I would like to exclude her, mostly because etiquette dictates she’d get to bring her boyfriend and my partner would be happier if they weren’t there. We’re just now easing out of the pre-engaged ether, so this isn’t an issue that I’ll be dealing with immediately, but as this friendship is ending/morphing into something else, it’s something I think about.

    One suggestion to supplement Liz’s excellent advice is that if you’re doing an invitation B-list, consider putting her on it.

    • Copper

      being a part of a larger group of friends makes it so much harder! I’m also in a situation where a former roommate and I are in a rocky place, and I’m trying to figure out if these are things we’ll get over or whether we’ve just finally realized that we just don’t like each other’s styles of friendship (I suspect it’s the latter). And that’s hard enough, but I don’t know who I can talk to about it because I don’t think our mutual friends will understand. Which also means, if I chose not to invite her, they likely wouldn’t understand that either and I’d look like a major bitch for excluding her. And I know that sounds insecure, but frankly it seems like it’d be maybe easier to just invite her and not talk to her much than it would be to have everybody badgering me about why she’s not there?

  • Moe

    Oh Liz, you are so gracious and thoughtful. Your advice is excellent. You rock. I’m a tough-love kind of girl. I would flatly say “no” in response to such a question. I guess it wouldn’t make for very good reading though.

    A former friend is a former friend for a reason. So let it be.

    When I got serious and heading towards marriage I took it as an opportunity to ‘clean-house’ of friendships that were not working and/or had run their course. Most notably I cut ties with one overbearing friend who had become so dominating in our friendship that I felt like I was being smothered. She asked to plan my wedding. She offered to become ordained so that she could perform the ceremony. I began to have anxiety over every enoucnter with her. Finally my guy said “why are you friends with someone you clearly do not like?”

    I think falling in love and making a commitment to someone gave me more courage to speak up for myself.People, you are not obligated to invite someone to your wedding.

    • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

      I need to remember this for the future. I always want to make people happy, and I would hate to make others feel like they’ve missed out. My man is the same way. I feel like we might run the risk of inviting lots of people we know well but don’t care for- or even doing other things like moving the location of the wedding, changing food, etc- based on other people’s desires. I need to remember to stand up for myself.

      • Moe

        In many ways I felt lucky that 1- we were paying for this wedding ourselves and 2- we had a limited budget. It meant that we had the say-so on who would be invited or not.

        There were a few ‘rules’ we used to determine who would be invited:

        No co-workers because they were not really friends outside of the office.

        Distant family that we did not see ot talk to on a regular basis was not invited.

        A friend suggested the rule ‘you should invite people you would normally invite over to your house for dinner’…that narrowed down the field a lot.

        Ultimately I wanted the community who would be supporting us in our marriage to be present and to witness us make public vows. My guest list are the people who have supported us in our relationship, have been present in our lives in a positive way, and are worth going through all the trouble of planning a celebration for.

  • Jaya

    I have a similar question, if anyone has advice! I’ve been stressing myself nonstop over inviting someone who I have been trying to distance myself from (for various reasons, but suffice it to say many of our mutual friends are attempting to do the same thing with him), but who doesn’t seem to get the hint. He was a good friend of mine in college, but lives far away. I haven’t seen him in person for about two years, but on the occasional times we talk he is constantly saying how much he misses me and how I’m one of his best friends. I guess I feel like not inviting him would be the final hint, and I’m scared of doing that. Thoughts?

    • Moe

      I just commented above you. I had a somewhat similar situation. If you’re trying to spare his feelings by pretending to be a friend you aren’t…you’re being disingenuous. If he asks about not being invited you could possibly explain thet you only the resources to invite a limited number of people. (Which is true for most people).

    • Diane

      1) Miss Manners rocks at this: “Oh dear, we’re just having a small party with family and a few very old friends” with the caveat that a “small wedding” is not a wedding that is necessarily small in number but rather a wedding to which the other person is not invited!

      2) If this person has made it clear that your relationship, your partner, your way of going through the world, etc isn’t something that he can tolerate with equanimity, then he has no place at your wedding.

      3) How will you feel inviting him or not inviting him? Will you feel guilty and self-critical if you don’t invite him? Will you feel resentful and annoyed at him and yourself if you invite him and he’s there?

      4) Hints stink. Some people pick them up when they don’t exist, others fail to pick them up when they’re plain to everyone else. Stop dropping hints and talk to him like an adult. If he’s really clueless as to why he is losing this group of friends, you will be doing him a great kindness in telling him, even if he rejects the reasoning at first. It gives him the opportunity to examine himself, seek help if he needs it, make apologies if relevant, and grow. I have a feeling at the end of that conversation, the wedding invitation issue will become moot.

    • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

      I had a similar situation, though my “friend” was/is unstable and extremely clingy, so that made decisions all the more fraught.

      If your friend is stable and not the boundary-violating type, then I think you can feel safe making a decision that makes you feel the least uncomfortable, either way. If he’s not getting the hints, he probably won’t read into an invitation as a “rekindling of the friendship!” but more as “well, duh”, so an invite might not be as loaded as you think it may be. You could also likely get away with not inviting him and using the suggested Miss Manners “it’s a small affair” excuse.

      If he is the boundary-violating type, do not invite him. Literally my only regret from my wedding was caving and letting my now ex-friend come. We originally didn’t invite him, but he knew via Facebook when our wedding was, and he called my husband two days before and screamed at him for not inviting him, and guilted my love into letting him come to the ceremony (the reception was set in stone). He was an awful guest–just as clingy and boundary-violating as he’s always been, and my memory of my ceremony/wedding day is tainted by the awful, knotted-up feeling of having to literally tell him to GO. AWAY. because he was so persistent. His behavior at our wedding was the final straw for me having to have a frank “I don’t want to be your friend anymore” conversation, which was also horrible.

  • Jen

    I am having the same issue with 2 high school best friends who turned into acquaintances over the last 12 years. I was in one’s wedding and went to all the showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, 30th birthdays and baby showers. I’ve been with my fiance for 2.5 years and they’ve never met him. The one had previously told me that I was no longer invited to her game nights because I wasn’t in a couple and as soon as I was she wanted to hang out. If I don’t make the effort, I don’t get any response. But part of me wants to invite them just as pay-back, as terrible as it sounds. I have given a ton of time and effort for them, feel like I should get the same back. But the other part of me thinks if I don’t invite them, then I get to invite 4 more people who really care.

    • carrie

      “if I don’t invite them, then I get to invite 4 more people who really care.”

      THIS. Payback never really feels as good. I’ve already gotten married and the one thing I regret is not inviting a few of the people on the fringe. They were fine with not being invited, but they would have had so much fun and sent a lot of love our way that day, which is the most amazing feeling. You want those people there.

      • http://sarabittner.wordpress.com One More Sara

        Also, inviting people to a fun party and buying them dinner/booze doesn’t really seem like payback to me…

  • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com Rachel Wilkerson

    I really love Liz’s advice and I tend to err on the side of “don’t invite.” I went through a really sad friend breakup a year ago, and I, too, was the one who initiated it (and now I’m the one wondering this same thing!). I really feel like the advice that friendships aren’t fixed in a day is crucial here; I also think that trying to have that first conversation since the breakup at your wedding just may not be the right time, if only because you may be distracted by other things and emotions. So I feel like if you want to reconcile, maybe start that now and see how it goes before it’s invite-sending time?

    Another thing to consider is that an invite may just confuse your friend. Think about how you’d feel if a former romantic partner who you no longer talked to suddenly invited you to a big party. There would probably be so many “What does this mean?” feelings and feelings of “If I don’t go, does THAT mean something?” So out of consideration for her, I feel like it might be better to initiate contact in a more direct way than a wedding invite.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll just give you my experience as the un-invited former friend.

    A few years ago one of my good friends from high school and college got married to my college roommate. I was not invited.

    I had not been close with them for some time, due to a number of factors. My roommate and I had a falling out at one point which we never actually fixed or discussed and our relationship was never as close after that. Then I moved to a different state. A few years later, we had hung out a couple times when mutual friends were in town, and I had written her a note basically saying that I was sorry we had gotten so out of touch and I wanted to put the past behind us, etc. I never heard from her and our interaction was basically just on facebook. I was excited to see they had gotten engaged. Then later, having spoken to several mutual friends that had gotten their invites, it slowly dawned on me that I wasn’t invited. It was an awful feeling. As much as I tell myself that it’s a wedding, you can only invite so many people, and we hadn’t been close in years, and the wedding was in another state so I probably couldn’t have attended anyway, it still hurt.

    Maybe it would be different if we had had a conversation and ended the friendship, as you and your friend did. Then maybe I wouldn’t have felt as hurt and left out. I also think that it makes a big difference why you ended your friendship, because there could be a very good reason why you don’t want her there, like if she has a tendency to cause scenes or be disruptive. But if there’s nothing like that in play, and you feel like you want her there to honor how close you were and what a big part in your life she had, then invite her. If there’s room for her on the guest list, it won’t hurt you to extend the invitation. She can always decline if she feels like she might be uncomfortable and she might be thrilled just to get the invite.

  • Carolyn

    I actually feel like the choice to invite/not invite certain people did solidify fates of some meandering friendships (some for better some for worse). Maybe it was just a convenient life moment for taking inventory of our relationships, but most of the decisions came down to gut feelings and they were pretty spot on.

    Related, we were one of few high school friends to travel cross country recently for a wedding, and I feel like we (and my husband especially) are much closer to the couple since.

    • kyley

      I would agree with this. I was very close to a friend when we both were working entry level jobs together, but I moved an hour away and, although the affection was still there, we weren’t as close as we once were. I was *thrilled* when she got engaged, but never expected to be invited (because I know how complicated guests lists are, I always try to assume I won’t be invited). The invitation meant the world to me, and really solidified how we felt about each other. Since the wedding, we’ve made a real effort to spend time together, and the reality is that this happened in large part because she invited me to her wedding (and also that I attended the awesome, out-of-state affair).

    • Peg

      “the choice to invite/not invite certain people did solidify fates of some meandering friendships (some for better some for worse). Maybe it was just a convenient life moment for taking inventory of our relationships, but most of the decisions came down to gut feelings and they were pretty spot on.” THIS!

      I too used my wedding planning process as a convenient time to assess and evaluate old friendships. Only those friends that i wished to keep (or reconnect with) received an invite. Best decision ever.

  • http://peachyringsaredead.blogspot.com Ceej

    I struggled with this issue for several guests at our wedding, and ended up just inviting everybody who felt fencey. And – I don’t know if this’ll be true for anyone else, but – I was so EXPLODING WITH JOY (unexpectedly) on my wedding day, I could’ve cared less. Every single person who was there amplified my happy. There was no room in my consciousness for anything other than OMG YAY. If I could do it all over again, I’d invite even more people. Even though I couldn’t afford it probably. Even when once-upon-a-time-BFF-who-is-a-mess-of-life tried to corner me at the reception, all I could feel was overwhelming happiness.

    So. There’s that.

    • http://newcomfortfood.wordpress.com JenMcC

      Thank you for sharing this. I’m struggling over whether to invite several people I have drifted apart from – mostly as a result of time and distance. I hear so often to just cut the people I can cut, but my impulse is one of inclusion. It’s great to hear that it worked out so well for you.

    • Liz

      Yeah, same! We worked out the wedding so we would invite everyone we knew/had known/would like to know- everyone! Hugging, laughing, dancing- there were little icky feelings.

      Two of those relationships that were the most on the precipice of being “former” friends, took off in opposite directions, despite both being invited. One has started to reconnect with me, the other just stopped coming around. It was really the other little bits that added together to determine what happened next.

  • Granola

    This is a tricky issue and I think it really hinges on how exactly things stand with the former friend. The poster said she broke it off, but was it a dramatic, tumultuous break or a slow slide into “we don’t hang out as much anymore.”

    We had a our wedding in my hometown, but a second party where we live for all our local friends. I invited a friend who I feel similar about to this poster, more out of obligation and not wanting to hurt her feelings than anything else. To my great surprise, she made a special effort to come from quite a long distance and I was very touched. It doesn’t change who she is or why we hang out less now than we do when we were younger, but it did let me know that she cares and wanted to be at such an important event. As Liz points out, we’ll have to put effort into the friendship if we want it to grow, but ultimately I was happy with my decision.

  • Karissa

    Greatttt post. I must say that I went AGAINST most of the advice here and trusted my gut when it came time to invite my former BFF. I mean for 10 years we were there for each. Really there for each other. Then we lost touch, reconnected, lost touch, reconnected. And although many people told me to let it go, I was able to utilize this platform as an opportunity. I personally called her after getting engaged. From that point on, we both made it a point to spend time together over the course of the year. And ya know what? It was nice, really nice to reconnect. I was pleasantly surprised to have her with me at my bachelorette party, shower and wedding. A few months after my wedding, she got engaged and now I am going to be in her wedding. Sometimes, it IS worth the effort.

    On the flip side, there were other friendships/relationships that did not have the depth that I shared with my former BFF, and those people were all cut. I used the 10 year rule: “Are these people going to love, support and contribute to our marriage over the next 10 years?” If not, bye.

    • Another Anon

      I was also this way with my high school BFF. We spoke on and off through college, and she even visited me once (we’ve both moved far from our hometown). Conversations always hit this point where things would get awkward. I was almost ready to let the friendship go. Then we both happened to be in our hometown at the same time and met up for drinks (I was to the point that if this didn’t work, the friendship was over). Well, she came out to me that night. The woman I thought had replaced me as BFF was actually her partner, and they were also engaged. I’m SO SO SO happy that we’ve rekindled our friendship and she’s going to be a ‘maid at our wedding. BUT none of this would’ve happened by just sending a wedding invite. If the letter-writer cut this friend out for a reason, it’s probably best to let sleeping dogs lie.

      Also worth considering: it hurts more not to be part of a 400-person invite list than to not be on a 100-person invite list. The former implies that this person is no longer in your top 200 favorite people. Ouch. The latter implies that this person isn’t in your top 50, which probably isn’t a surprise if you haven’t spoken in years. If you aren’t being honest about the size of your wedding per Miss Manners’ advice, beware of The Facebook.

  • charmcityvixen

    My husband and I chose to elope and throw a party after, and we wanted that party to be people who our kids would know someday down the road. With that philosophy, we did not invite anyone we hadn’t spoken to and/or seen in 6 months. I had great friends in college and in high school — and for whatever reason when I got engaged (some secretly disapproved of my husband, some were just in a different place in their lives, some we just fell out of touch with), they did not make the party invite list. It may have cemented the end of certain friendships, but it was really a good move for us as we were able to have a more intimate gathering with loved ones.

    There were a few people that I was on the fence about inviting, but I saw them a lot so we decided to invite them. If I could do it over, I wouldn’t have invited them. Now that the celebrations are over, I find that I really don’t talk to them anymore and our friendship was probably slowly dying anyway.

  • E

    This can be difficult. I had a smaller wedding with about 100 people, so we could only really invite close friends and family. We wanted to invite friends we were currently close with, friends who knew us as a couple. We asked ourselves: do you currently feel close to this person? Has this friend met your partner? Do you think there’s a good chance you’ll be friends with this person five years from now?

    A good friend from college and I had grown apart and just didn’t keep in touch. When she told me she was hurt that she wasn’t invited to the wedding, I told her that it didn’t mean that I didn’t value our friendship during those years, and that I still treasured all our memories together.

    I agree with Carolyn above: “Maybe it was just a convenient life moment for taking inventory of our relationships, but most of the decisions came down to gut feelings and they were pretty spot on.”

    We went with what felt right, and I don’t regret the decisions we made.
    On your wedding day, you’ll be thinking about the people who ARE there, not the ones who aren’t.

  • Jo

    Personal experience:

    After going through a similar falling-out with a friend we didn’t speak for a few years. Before moving away, I finally accepted her request to get together for coffee and we left things on a friendly-though-strained note. A year later when she was preparing for her wedding, she included me in her Save-The-Date email. I was actually surprised and wrote back to her to make sure she had actually intended to send it to me.

    Even though my now-husband had strongly negative feelings against her (we got together around the time she and I were fighting), and he is not a fan of her groom, I convinced him that I cared enough and wanted to support her and we went to her wedding.

    I am SO glad she invited us, SO glad we went, and our relationship HAS turned for the better. I’ve seen her a few times since, and it’s been nice. She will be invited when my husband and I celebrate our own marriage later this year (he has now been able to see her in positive circumstances and gotten over his negative perspective too).

    Yes, we definitely hurt each other those years ago. And at the time, I feel I was right to convince myself that her friendship wasn’t worth it all. But looking back on it now, I see that we’ve both gotten older, things have changed in our lives, and the things we fought about (those that I can even remember) are just not important any more.

    I disagree with Liz’s advice that “If you do invite her, it won’t heal the friendship”. In my experience, it went a long way.

  • http://newcomfortfood.wordpress.com JenMcC

    This was my experience as the former friend who was invited to my ex-friend’s wedding:
    My old roommate and I had been very close, had a falling out, tried to mend it, but couldn’t really. Eventually, we stopped speaking altogether, and while I thought it was for the best, I still appreciated who she had been in my life when we were close. We were still connected on Facebook, and when she became engaged, of course, I congratulated her. A little while later, she reached out and asked to meet up, which I did with some hesitation (the falling out had a lot to do with anger issues on her part) and some hopefulness. And I was really glad I did. We had a nice visit, made plans to see each other a few weeks later, and when we did, she invited me to her wedding.

    I was really touched by the gesture, and I attended her wedding with my then newish boyfriend, who is now my fiance. It was a really lovely day and I was so glad to be able to celebrate her and see her great happiness with her husband. We didn’t really become close again after that, but we have stayed in touch, and I am grateful that we have been able to mend enough to be in each other’s lives again. I intend to invite her to my wedding, in part to honor how lovely it was to be at hers.

  • ATHENA

    Dear ANON,

    I went through a similar situation. My BFF of 10 years and I had a falling out. I chose to end it by no longer talking to her, she didn’t try to talk to me, friendship over for 2 years. Because we shared friends and our guys shared friends, I would often hear of her and think of her, and it was hard. I knew she’d gotten married in Hawaii and I wasn’t invited (I would have been her MOH) and I was sad to miss it, but stayed silent. I heard she was pregnant and I was happy for her, but stayed silent. When I got engaged though, she sent me a text saying “Congratulations on your engagement” and I couldn’t NOT reply. I said thank you and congratulated her on her wedding and pregnancy, which lead to her asking me for coffee or dinner to catch up. I didn’t know what to do. I talked to my fiance about it and he was hesitant because he knew how hurt I was and all the negativity I had felt about our friendship at the end. BUT, when I took the time to consider my own role in the death of our friendship and all that lead to it, I HAD to accept some responsibility. So I went to dinner, and told myself if she brought up the falling out and we talked it through, maybe we could be friends again. If we both went on as though nothing happened, then at the least we could be acquaintances.

    Needless to say, she brought it up and the two years apart matured us both and gave both of us the experience and time to reflect on ourselves and our friendship. She said sorry, I said sorry, and we both cried a little, we both acknowledged our flaws and our strengths. Eight months later, I knew I could not get married without her in my wedding party and my Bridesman graciously stepped down so she could step up. I have never regretted it. Our friendship is healthier and stronger than it’s ever been and I am so happy because of it.

    Basically, if her reaching out after years of silence made you miss her, then maybe you should reach out (before inviting her).

  • AnotherCourtney

    My heart hurts for you. I went through a very similar situation when I was planning my own wedding, with the small exception that your friendship seems to have ended on slightly better terms than mine did (not that there are really ever GOOD terms to end a friendship). I agonized over my decision, and it didn’t help that one of the very few things my mom was pushy about was inviting this person, saying she knew I would regret it.

    The way I thought about it (the way I approach most problems in my life) was to think about the potential results. I figured there were three: 1. She didn’t respond to the invite. I thought this was the most likely result, and it would hurt. 2. She rejected the invitation. Also hurt. 3. She accepted the invitation. I would be on pins and needles wondering if she would actually show up, and it would have made me anxious. None of those results had a happy ending, so for me, the answer was to not invite her.

    I don’t regret my decision because it was the right decision for me (and, as other friends have kindly pointed out, I didn’t owe her anything). However, not long afterward, she had her own wedding. Of course I was not invited. Of course I didn’t expect to be. But it stung. A lot. Especially when mutual friends of ours were her bridesmaids and I Wasn’t.Even.There. I imagine she felt similarly on my wedding day. But I would much rather feel hurt and angry and sad on someone else’s wedding day than on my own, and I’m thankful that I avoided mixing those memories with what turned out to be an amazing day without her.

    Good luck!!

  • Flamingo

    “Weddings [...] don’t [...] change a dynamic. They usually just emphasize and highlight how things already are.”

    That line hit me like a punch in the face. So anxious that it will highlight all of the resentment and bad relationships within my family, or the glaring differences between his group of friends and mine. Hoping that it mostly just shows how happy we are with each other, even when we come from such different places.

  • Anon

    This post and all the comments were so great to read this afternoon. I’ve experienced a whole assortment of ends to friendships, and have wrestled through this same issue as FH as I are finalizing our guest list. I think overall I went with gut feel on which of my old friends to invite or not. Anyone who I had a falling out with didn’t make the cut, but some who I just haven’t seen in a long time because of distance and life did. My only remaining issue in this category is actually a very recently ended friendship. One of my bridesmaids dropped out of the wedding due to time and money constraints then promptly stopped talking to me. To make matters worse, she is my co-worker (and the only co-worker invited to the wedding) and we literally do. not. speak. Shortly after asking her to be in the wedding I felt like something was off and she was sort of cutting me out of her life/avoiding me and simultaneously little things she did/said started to rub me the wrong way. Then she dropped of and totally stopped talking to me besides stuff like “hi.” At this point I really have no interest in her being at the wedding, but I’ve already sent STDs and can’t really find a way to justify uninviting an ex-bridesmaid. It won’t upset me that she’s there, I just would rather have someone else.

    • MDBethann

      If she dropped out of the bridal party and stopped talking to you, chances are she might not come anyway.

      Question: Have you tried engaging HER in conversation? It might be that she has a valid reason for dropping out of the bridal party but feels bad and awkward about it, so she figured she’d just avoid you. If you approach her and say “I’m sorry we’ve stopped talking and that you aren’t going to be in the wedding, but I’d still like us to be friends. Is everything okay?” or something like that, you’ve at least made an effort and you may find out that things are not as bad as you think.

  • Anon

    I invited my best friend from high school to my wedding (at age 27) even though we had pretty much turned into acquaintances that got together for lunch once or twice a year. In the end I was happy AND sad about it.

    She entered into an emotionally-abusive relationship a couple years ago (her boyfriend basically controls everything she does). Maybe this is terrible but part of my reason for inviting her was that I wanted her to see what a healthy relationship looked like. I wanted her to come to the shower and the stagette and meet my girlfriends – all strong, confident women who are either happily single or in healthy relationships. I wanted her to see how good her life could be if she would stop resigning herself to the life she has chosen for herself.

    Up until the last minute she said she was coming to the shower and stagette, but backed out the day before each to spend time with her boyfriend. I was especially sad when she didn’t show up at my stagette after saying she would come, because I know she would have enjoyed herself. She used to be very outgoing and loved meeting new people. I get the impression that she doesn’t have much fun anymore and I wanted her to be there, as part of my group of old and new friends.

    She was someone who saw me through some tough times in high school with boys (always being turned down or watching the boy I had a crush on date someone else) and she was always very supportive of my relationship with my now husband. I wanted her to be there and experience my wedding because of this, even though we aren’t that close anymore.

    In the end, I wasn’t sure if she was going to come at all and I was quite hurt. She did show up at the rehearsal dinner (all guests were invited) and there is a great picture of us happily visiting. And she came to the wedding the next day (alone – her boyfriend didn’t want to take time off work).

    So overall, my experience inviting a former friend was good and bad. I was so happy that she showed up at the rehearsal dinner, and so happy to have her there for my wedding. And maybe it’s my fault for inviting her with semi-ulterior motives but the sadness I felt when she chose her boyfriend over the shower and stagette still stings a bit.

    I am not sure if my story is helpful but I guess in summary – if you’re on the fence about inviting a former friend, don’t be hurt if they behave like a former friend. If it’s not 100% important to you that they are there in the first place, it probably won’t be that important to them either.

    • Anon

      (I realize this sounds kind of horrible and I just want to make sure it’s clear that my intention was not to “rub it in her face” that I have a “good” relationship and she doesn’t. I have just been so sad over the past few years to see such a formerly happy, confident, outgoing woman transform into the obedient, submissive person she is today. I thought maybe, MAYBE experiencing some positive things could make her “snap out of it”. But it didn’t work.)

      • Copper

        I think this is an unexpected case where Liz’s advice that an invitation isn’t going to make any big change is applicable. Sometimes, we try to put too much hope and other feelings into an invitation, want it to mean as much to the recipient as it does to us, and most of the time it just doesn’t.

  • Cat

    I’m presently in a similar situation with an unexpected twist. I had two people I spent a lot of time with in undergrad and grad school, one of whom I truly think of as a friend (A) and one of whom I tolerated more than enjoyed (B). I was secretly relieved when B moved away for a job after grad school, and I elected to not remain in contact with her due to her melodramatic and self-centered personality; she has made no effort to contact me. I have remained in routine contact with A, and sent him a Save the Date for our upcoming wedding. I have been on the fence about inviting B, not just due to her personality but also because of legitimate space problems. A invited B as his +1, not realizing that we didn’t send her a Save the Date and that we have run out of room. Now B is upset that she didn’t get a Save the Date (although my intention was to send her an invitation should we actually be able to) and aired her grievances on Facebook. The guilt makes me more inclined to send an invitation; her reaction makes me less so. To be totally honest, the idea of her being at the wedding makes me want to throw up (for full disclosure, the idea of having a wedding makes me want to throw up). Should she come, this would just revive a “friendship” I’m trying to let die a natural death. I’m not terribly sure what to do. Any suggestions would be welcomed.

    • Cleo

      I think there are 2 ways to handle this.

      First is send her a cordial but firm email or Facebook message to clear the air prior to the wedding, stating the following:

      1. You appreciate and are flattered that she wants to help you celebrate your wedding day
      2. Space and money concerns made it so you could only invite a limited number of people
      3. You and she haven’t talked in a couple years, so while you appreciate her friendship, your limited space made it so you were only inviting family and friends with whom you are currently close.
      4. If you had more space, you would have loved to invite her
      5. In the future, if she has a problem with you, please talk to you directly instead of posting a passive aggressive message on Facebook

      If that doesn’t appeal to you…don’t do anything. You haven’t talked to her in a couple years and you don’t want to continue to be friends with her. You don’t owe her anything, not an explanation, not an apology, and definitely not an invitation to your wedding.

    • http://www.snippetsof.blogspot.com Sarah E

      Yes. What Cleo said.

  • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

    This is so hard.

    I’ve somehow always managed to be part of a BFF trio (three, notably. Elementary school, which has long disbanded. Middle school, and college) and the two latter trios have since been relegated to duos. Even so, it was very tough when writing invitations to only invite the girl I’m still bff’s with, and not the long lost bffs. Even though I haven’t heard from my former best friends’ in years, I still think of them every time the current best friends’ and I get together. It still doesn’t feel right.

    I took my cues from my ultimate best friend (the one from middle school) who got married a couple months before I did. I was her maid of honor. She didn’t invite our Third. So, I didn’t invite our Third either. I didn’t invite my college Third, even though I thought that, perhaps, it might bring her back into our lives. College BFF was bummed, but understood. She wants to reconnect as badly as I do.

    On my wedding day, I very briefly and wistfully remembered my middle school trio promising to be each others’ bridesmaids, but when all was said and done, I didn’t miss my two former friends.

    College Third WAS invited to a mutual friend’s wedding a month after mine. Apparently, she didn’t even respond to the invitation. The intense feeling of rejection and sadness College BFF and I felt upon hearing that news (from our drunk BrideFriend at the reception) assured me that I’d made the right decision not inviting her to my wedding in the first place. Her absence was felt, but there was no rejection attached to it. An outright rejection felt so, so awful.

    On the other hand… Ultimate Best Friend and I have only remained UBFF’s because I made the effort to reach out to her during undergrad, when our friendship felt broken and our lives too far apart. She cried when I called her, too afraid to call me herself out of fear of rejection. And I must say–comparing the two feelings, the reconciliation of that friendship and the rejection felt at the other wedding– the happiness of a restored best friendship is worth the potential for heartbreak. For me, at least.

  • Sam

    Can we talk about this weird warp zone where people invite people they don’t really want to invite, and then those same people who don’t want to go feel obligated to go?

    I saw it a bunch of times in the comments above. ‘I was invited to a wedding of a friendship that is no more. But I went anyway.’ WHY? Why do we feel the requirement, when it was probably just a assumed requirement to send it in the first place? Shouldn’t we only be attending the unions we are genuinely excited to celebrate?

    I hate that there are all of these ‘rules’ surrounding the WEDDING. I don’t want you there. You don’t really want to be there. So why are we all tiptoeing around it?!

    Sometimes, you just invite people b/c you don’t want to be mean. That’s what I’m doing for my Uncle, whom nobody speaks to. But I really don’t want him to come. But it just seemed too rude to ignore family that close despite the rift. *sigh* The obligations continue.

    I desperately want to write notes on some of the invitations, “It’s REALLY ok if you don’t come. I’m totally good with it!”

    • Kat

      Yes, yes, yes!

      We are going to a wedding in April and spending a reasonable amount of time and money to get there. We aren’t in touch with the bride much (and don’t know her partner) but we would (and do) meet up when we’re in the same town. I really, really hope that they want us to be there, rather than inviting us because they feel they should. We are putting in the time and money based on the assumption they want us to go, but a small part of me wonders whether we were more of an obligation invite. I hope not!

  • Bethany

    I got married last summer, and while I didn’t have the same exact issue, I feel some regret in not inviting a particular acquaintance. In college, I became very good friends with a group of women; we all ended up living together and we all still see each other to varying degrees. There are about 10 of us, so some are closer friends than others. I decided not to invite one of these girls – I was never very close to her, and we never saw each other or talked unless the entire group was hanging out (which at most, was once a year). We had a limit on space in our venue, and it didn’t feel important to invite her (I had put her on our B list). But now, I can’t help but feel slightly awkward about it. She’s planning to come visit my area, and now I feel bad about not inviting her. I didn’t miss having her at my wedding. I feel like I need to just deal with my decision and get over it, but it isn’t easy. How does one handle this?

  • Beth C

    One thing to think about, does this person have any connection to your partner or your relationship?

    That is what I am making the tough decisions based on for my For our upcoming wedding we are only inviting people that are part of “our” life, not just my or his life. I am not inviting co-workers who my partner doesn’t really know, or friends from my past (even people that I really) if they don’t have some type of relationship with my partner. He’s not inviting his poker buddies that I have never met. I am also not inviting a few people that I used to be close to who never really seemed to like my partner.

    Family is excluded from this – he will be meeting a few of my cousins at the wedding and I will be meeting a few of his aunts & uncles.

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  • http://spaceysteph.blogspot.com Stephanie

    I have SUCH mixed feelings on this. I got married this weekend. We had 160 people there, and there were at least 10 people that I KNOW attended that I did not get to see. Like at all, even for a second.
    And I got cornered talking to some of my husband’s friends too long, which contributed to this. So, on one hand, I think that you shouldn’t even put yourself in the position of having anyone at your wedding that could take time from people you actually want to see.
    On the other hand, I didn’t invite some of my best friends from high school since we haven’t really spoken in about 3 years and they’d never met the man I was going to marry. But a little bit I was sad that night that they weren’t there, because I know they would have been happy for me and it would have been nice to see them… they are still in my heart, if not in my day to day life.
    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t?

  • blissing

    What does it say about me that I have at least 3 friends like this?

  • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com Erin

    I have been in this situation, although with high school friends (who both married fairly young – 22 or so), so not quite the same gravitas as friendships you’ve cultivated as adults (IMO).

    In the first, I wasn’t invited to my BFF from 1st to 7th grade’s wedding. And it did sort of hurt? Because she had something like 15 bridesmaids and invited 300 people, many from school, so I had sort of the “wow, I can’t even count among the 300?” feeling. And then I promptly got over it, because I realized that I didn’t care all that much.

    In the other, my other BFF (we ran as a fierce threesome) DID invite me, and it was an equally large wedding, and I sat with some other people from high school who I didn’t really like, and it was . . . okay? I mean, it was fine. But I literally have not thought of that day until I read this post.

    So I guess my advice is: picture yourself 10 years from now. Will you have been sad that your former BFF wasn’t there to see you married? Or will you shrug your shoulders and not really care?

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  • Conflicted

    Hi, I have just stumbled onto this blog and post/comments via Google. Mine is a complicated situation and since I’m turning to Google for advice, I’d say I’m at my wit’s end. My husband and I and family became very close to our neighbors and their children, 2 of whom babysat for my kids. Their oldest, a son, is getting married in the fall. A few years ago, my husband and the husband next door went to Las Vegas and of course, (stupidly) went to a strip club at the request of the friend. I came to find out that the husband/friend begged my husband not to say a word for fear of his wife divorcing him. Unfortunately, my husband kept the secret, not wondering why the wife would ask for a divorce for this one incident. A year after the Vegas trip, the wife, my good friend, attempted suicide. That night, her teen daughter came over to my house requesting help and without going into detail, I helped her and the older brother stay calm, fed the teens dinner until their father came to get them. We were told the wife survived the trauma but not much else was communicated to us. We assumed they wanted privacy and didn’t mind silence for a while. But we were asked by the husband to field all questions from their friends and other neighbors and to accept food donations and deliver them to the house. Yes, this was strange but we agreed b/c we’re good friends and we do as we’re asked in times of need. A few months later, I was called over to visit my friend (the wife) and she proceeded to tell me that she and her husband are now separated, that he was cheating on her for over 15 years and that she believed my husband knew. She told me about the Vegas escapade which wasn’t easy for me to learn about and at the same time, she implied my husband was also cheating on me. She described her husband as a drunkard, sex addict, violent man. Wow. Not the man we thought he was. My husband was floored when I came home and told him of the friend’s long time affair. The wife remains next door and we have a strained relationship with her. My husband is angry to be accused of knowing something vile when he didn’t and I do believe him. She has told others her suspicions and I know that b/c 2 people had approached me and asked “And you didn’t know?” I still stood by her and my husband has gone out of his way to write her a letter as well as speak to her about how misled she is to believe he knew. The husband/neighbor has moved out and reached out to my husband once but my husband made it clear that their friendship is over. Mutual friends have also alluded to me that they doubted my innocence in her marriage; that I may have known of her husband’s infidelity. But we absolutely wouldn’t have suspected him of it…he seemed a decent family man. Their son is getting married this fall. My husband doesn’t want to go. I don’t want to go. But if I go alone, would that be bad? If we both don’t go, we’re rightfully concerned that we will be subject to negative gossip and suspicions all over again. At this time, we don’t communicate with the husband and I barely communicate with the wife. But we have mutual friends and regardless of what we do, people will talk about us, won’t they? What shall we do?

  • Durima

    I wonder about a case where you are much more important in the friend’s life than she is in yours…? I have an old friend (over 15 years of long-distance close friendship) who I am considering not inviting to my wedding. Although he has never met her, my fiance does not approve of what he knows about her and generally has no desire to meet her (much less at our wedding). He is not inviting the one friend of his who I find repugnant (though I have much more concrete reasons for my distaste) so I kind of feel like not inviting her would be me meeting him in the middle. I would be nervous to invite her because I feel like the day would probably become all about her and I just don’t want to have to deal with the negative feelings being around her has sometimes evoked… not on that day. She and I have been there for each other through a lot, but she has never been my “best” friend because I’ve always had many extremely close relationships. However, I am by FAR her closest friend to this day. She struggles with multiple mental illnesses and has pretty effectively alienated everyone in her life. I know she would be devastated if I didn’t invite her to my wedding (especially since she’s already told me she’d want me to be her MOH…fulldisclosure: I told her I wouldn’t come to her wedding if she married the physically abusive man she’s been on & off with for the last few years and that I have no interest in meeting him ever). I don’t want to cede my day to taking care of her feelings, but I also don’t want to push her over an edge that has always been too close for comfort. My biggest concern is that she WOULD understand why i didn’t invite her and internalize all the horrible things that must mean about her (and become even more self-destructive than usual)… If I don’t invite her, I think I will have to actually say as much, as opposed to just not sending an invite, simply because she will be surprised and confused and not saying anything just seems cruel. I also feel selfish because there have already been several times I wanted to talk to her about wedding planning stuff and had to pull back, knowing that I might not invite her so I can’t involve her in it at all. Any thoughts would be appreciated!