Do I Have to Invite My MOH’s Jerk Partner?


He probably won't even make an effort to come anyway

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

couple standing together on the street

Q: I’ve asked my best friend of ten years to be my maid of honor. We’ve had a bit of a complicated relationship, but she’s been at my side for so many years, and we’ve experienced so much together that it was never a question that she’d be my MOH.

Now for the tricky part.

She’s been dating a guy for a few months now that my fiancé and I don’t really like. There’s nothing glaringly terrible about him, but he doesn’t seem to care much about my MOH’s friends, and he’s been consistently cynical and negative the few times we have managed to spend time with him. He was hours late for another friend’s twenty-first birthday recently, and his only reason was that he didn’t feel up for socializing yet (the speeches were delayed just because we were waiting for him).

My fiancé and I don’t really want to invite him. When I tried to gently broach the topic with my MOH, she became very hurt and upset, and stated that since she and her new boyfriend will have been dating for a year at the time of the wedding, it’s very inconsiderate of us not to invite him. Although I love her and want to support her relationship, I don’t think that should extend to us inviting him to our intimate destination wedding.

We’re also planning on renting a small house close to the wedding venue for our wedding party, and we’re paying for one of the groomsmen to bring his live-in girlfriend (whom we know very well and have spent a lot of time with) and their two young kids. My MOH hasn’t clearly said she expects the same treatment for her boyfriend, but I feel that it’s implied.

Now I don’t know what to do. Should we stick to our guns and not invite my MOH’s boyfriend (we’re not planning on inviting plus-ones that we don’t know well anyway)? Should we invite him as a gesture (seeing as we don’t think he’ll make the effort anyway)? Or should we bite the bullet, avoid the drama, and include him in our plans?

—Confused and Stressed

A: Dear CAS,

Invite him. But it’s not about avoiding drama, it’s about getting to know the people your nearest and dearest love.

Put another way: keep your friends close, and their douchebags closer.

Maybe you haven’t gotten to know him enough. It sounds like your friend is an awesome person, and she likes him. Set aside those first impressions and try to figure out what it is your friend sees in him. Even if he’s not your favorite personality, maybe you can appreciate their relationship, their dynamic, or how well they treat one another.

Or it turns out he really is just as awful as you think he is. In which case, there’s a chance your friend will hit some heartbreak with him in the future, and she’ll need someone around who never left her side. Conversely, she could start really making serious plans with this guy, and you might want to say, “Wait, don’t!” Your thoughts and advice will be better received if you’ve actually been around the guy and made some effort to know him.

That’s all rationale for inviting him to your small wedding. But, yeesh, I can understand not wanting him to stay with you. So I wouldn’t mention that part up front. Just invite him to the wedding and see how that pans out (you mention he probably won’t even make the effort to come). If he is coming and, ugh, you are stuck offering a place to stay, it’s a small sacrifice for the good of your friendship (and keeping an eye on him).

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTIONPLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO 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 sons.

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  • Moose

    My ex-best friend and I had a small falling out over a guy she was dating for about a year at the time. He grabbed my breasts at a party in a weird, playful way (I didn’t feel sexually threatened, it was like if someone kept pinching my arm, really annoying and invasive) and wouldn’t stop – I told her about it and asked her to speak with him about his behavior. She said I was being ridiculous and of course he doesn’t want to have sex with me so don’t worry about it. We didn’t talk for about 3 months after that (this was about 4 years ago). She has since apologized and so has he. They are now living together and are married but for the piece of paper (combined finances and everything).

    Anyway, none of my and her mutual friends likes this guy, but we all love her, and over the course of 3 to 4 years, he has calmed down and become a more mature, better person. And he’s recently been someone I feel comfortable having one-on-one conversations with again. I don’t trust either of them completely, but I’m not throwing the baby out with the bathwater when they’ve both shown growth and remorse.

    All this is to say people can be shitty, and they can also change, mature, and grow. So, invite the asshole if he’s just an asshole (if he has no boundaries like in my example, then you need to talk to your MOH about him), trust that there’s good in him. Or, if there’s not, make yourself a soft place to fall for your friend (like Liz said) when he decides that she’s no longer worth the effort.

    • toomanybooks

      Yikes. To be honest, if I were in that situation, it’s possible I would’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater to avoid seeing this guy again. The way I see it, she shouldn’t have been so dismissive of you and should’ve let this guy go immediately. Red flag on both their parts. But it wasn’t me, so who am I to say?

      • Cleo

        For 2 years, I didn’t see my friend if her boyfriend was in the house or coming around. And she’s my ex-best friend not because she’s no longer my friend, but because I’ve built up walls where she’s concerned.

        But she’s also the only friend I have who is just as hockey obsessed as me (men included) – so we watch and go to games together. Our friendship is based around that now instead of a mutual respect.

  • Loran

    Liz as usual is right on the money. Find out what your MOH sees in this person, and be there to catch her if she falls.

  • Daisy6564

    Ugh, the tone of this letter really bothers me. If you love your friend enough to invite her and make her MOH, then you should absolutely love her enough to include her loved ones. You do not get to be the relationship police and only include SOs that you like.

    Especially if this is a small destination wedding, imagine how uncomfortable and sad your MOH would be to travel alone and spend time with other happy couples knowing that her relationship was disregarded in such a way. She would have to be the biggest, most selfless person in the world to not resent you for that. Also, I disagree that a 1 year relationship is still a “new” boyfriend.

    This guy may suck, but short of having slept with the bride or punched the groom in the face, I can think of no reasonable excuse to exclude him.* Your wedding is not an elementary school club where you get to exclude people you don’t like to prove a point. If you are inviting people, and especially asking them to travel, they should get to bring their person. Even if you do not like their person and even if you do not know them that well. Inviting SO’s is for the sake of the person you love, not your stamp of approval.

    *If you think this guy is abusive in some way that might be another reasonable excuse not to invite him.

    • Violet

      As to your footnote, LW said he wasn’t glaringly terrible. I think this is the run-of-the-mill situation lots of us have been in where we just have to suck it up and invite someone we’re not crazy about because they matter to someone we ARE crazy about. Such is life. And wedding planning.

      • CMT

        I don’t want to make too many assumptions or be too judgey, but it sounds like the LW might be fairly young (since she mentioned going to a 21st birthday party). This might just be one of those situations where she learns it’s easier to suck it up and pick her battles because life is looooong and keeping friends is important.

        • Violet

          I know what you mean; I was thinking something along those lines. Also to LW’s credit, she’s reaching out to an internet audience for a gut check. She can still do whatever she (and her fiance) wants, ultimately, but that she’s being thoughtful about it is really cool. It shows a deal of maturity for someone who’s (possibly) fairly young.

    • JenC

      Sometimes even when you’re 99% your friend is being abused by the partner you still have to invite them. Or at least that’s the mentality I’ve taken further down with my friend. Everything I’ve read about abusive relationships say that the abuser will try and distance their partner from their families and friends. To me, not inviting the abusive person to your wedding is a chance for them to say “she isn’t really your friend, your friend would have invited me to the wedding, she clearly doesn’t care for you and you shouldn’t see her anymore”. Yes it’s awful having them there knowing that they’re destroying your friend but I could think of no better way to say “I’m still here, ready when you need me and I’m not going anywhere, my day doesn’t trump your wellbeing”. That being said, I knew he’d be well behaved at the wedding in front of other people because they never show it in public and fortunately my MOH’s husband “entertained” him and so she could actually enjoy her evening without him constantly checking up on her (which would have been the case had he not been invited).

  • CMT

    Invite him, but don’t make anything dependent on him, like the birthday speeches you mentioned. That is just setting yourself up to be mad at him, which 1) isn’t fair and 2) isn’t going to do anything to make you feel better.

    • Violet

      So smart, this comment.

    • gonzalesbeach

      seems like holding up a birthday party for one guest to arrive in order to make sure everyone hears the speeches is going out of their way to get annoyed at him. there is no way that they were having boyfriend do a speech since he doesn’t know anyone that well.
      also he probably thought ‘great bday party invite, hmm, I’m getting off work at 7 and the party starts at 730, I’ll have to be a little late since I’ll go home and shower and need a little decompression time before socializing since I’m such an introvert. well, it’s not like I’m late to my own graduation ceremony where I’m valedictorian and have to perform a speech. they’ll just have fun and i’ll hopefully there will be a piece of cake left)

      • Daisy6564

        Right? What a strange thing to do. If I had been invited to one of my husband’s friend’s birthday parties I would certainly not be expecting the festivities to revolve around my presence.

        • vxbxl

          Yeah, that anecdote seems really bizarre to me. Who waits on random dude for speeches at a birthday?

        • gonzalesbeach

          exactly! I think that would freak me out as the newbie to the group tbh

      • Jess

        Yeah, I read that and was like… “What? You just… waited for him?” I dunno, we have a few people in our friend group that a chronically late. We love them, but we don’t wait for them. If they miss the speeches (aside: birthday speeches are a thing?), then they chose to miss them.

        • Sara

          Yeah, my reaction was “birthday speeches? at a 21st birthday?”. Plus if this is a new boyfriend, why would he care to come listen to speeches?

          • BSM

            Glad someone else had the same reaction. Although I barely remember my 21st birthday, so perhaps there were speeches?

          • Sara

            I’m pretty sure the only speech at my 21st was a toast of ‘to nights we can’t remember with friends we’ll never forget’ and then we all did a shot.

          • Eenie

            Yeah there were no speeches, just a lot of shots.!

          • toomanybooks

            Yeah I had to assume that somehow they are in a Gossip Girl-esque crowd where the 21st birthday is an incredibly formal event, but even so, I don’t know why speeches would’ve been delayed for this guy.

        • Daisy6564

          Also, was he explicitly told in this case that there was a prompt start time? With things like parties I would likely not view the invite time as binding in any way without being explicitly told that the start time is firm. Plenty of people intentionally arrive at things like birthday parties late in order to get there when the festivities have started. Without setting him up ahead of time that the start time was firm then they really were just setting him up to be the subject of their irritation.

          • Lisa

            This is such a great point. At parties I’ve gone to where I’ll only know one or two people, I usually try to arrive later so that I’m not stuck mingling with whomever is the first person to show up. Maybe he had something going on beforehand and then decided to wait until he knew the party would definitely be under way before showing up. Who knows! There are a lot of good explanations.

        • Ella

          In my (Australian) culture, speeches at a 21st birthday party are definitely expected and important. Personally I wouldn’t wait for someone’s else’s SO, but if it was a small party and there was worry of him arriving in the middle of them and disrupting things, I can understand.

          • Jess

            Oh cool! That is so not a thing in the midwestern US, but it’s good to know in case I’m ever invited to an Australian birthday. Do you do speeches at every birthday, or just at major milestones?

          • Ella

            Just major milestones – in my family that’s 18ths, 21sts and 50ths.

      • BD

        lol I’m so glad others are commenting on this! I feel like I should be focusing on how he seems negative and cynical but all I can think is “who gives speeches at 21st birthday parties” and “what was so damn important in those speeches that a friend’s boyfriend of only a few months had to be there to hear them?”

        • Ella

          Not sure about your second question but as for the first, there’s been speeches at almost every 21st I’ve been to. 21sts are a big deal here in Australia. 18ths are like “you’re legally an adult!” but 21sts are more like “you’re *actually* an adult now!”

  • Amy March

    Yup. You have to invite him. You don’t need to pay for his expenses, and you should probably not mention/stop telling your MOH that you are doing so for other people.

    I’ll go a step further though and say that I think everyone invited to this destination wedding should be invited with their romantic partner, should they have one. It’s not clear if by “we’re not planning on inviting plus-ones that we don’t know well anyway” you mean no “and guest” for guests who are single, which I think is acceptable, or “no boyfriends we haven’t gotten to know.” I think the latter is rude and inconsiderate at any wedding, and particularly at one where your guests have to travel.

    • Daisy6564

      Truth. A friend got invited to a NYE wedding a few years ago where there were no +1s unless except for married couples. Imagine asking people to leave their bf/gf at home on NYE to attend your wedding. So rude. I get that budget is an issue, but if you are asking someone to celebrate your love, you have to celebrate theirs too.

      • Ashlah

        Ugh. I’m betting a lot of people RSVP’d no to that one… And I mean, marriage can be a pretty arbitrary line sometimes! Is a 5 year relationship less important or meaningful than that of a married couple who’ve been together less than a year?

        • idkmybffjill

          THIS. omg. Not to mention – if someone was in the pre-engaged state and then didn’t get invited? That would SMART.

      • Eh

        Not to mention, pre-marriage equality there were people would couldn’t get married (and in some cases it is still hard for people to get married).

      • ATLawyer

        I went to a Labor Day weekend wedding a few years ago that I had to fly to and rent a car. The bride and groom had large families and she had told me in order to keep numbers down they were only inviting married, engaged, or couples who currently live together. At the time, I had been dating someone for 7 months (he’s now my husband). I was a bit annoyed and bummed I couldn’t bring him- especially since it was a long holiday weekend- but I didn’t push the issue with the bride. However, during dinner I was seated at a table with the groom’s college roommate and his girlfriend and they were chatting about how annoying it was for them to get together during the week because of the traffic between their apartments. In other words- they didn’t live together and weren’t engaged and weren’t married. (And she didn’t know the groom at all whereas my now-husband had spent plenty of time with the bride and groom and as far as I knew they liked him) I am still cranky and a bit bitter to this day about being lied to about their “rules” for inviting him.
        This is a long way of saying to just invite the boyfriend. It will be ok.

        • Sara

          I have been invited to an out-of-town wedding without a +1 for my boyfriend who I had lived with for 2 years at the time. I declined the invite and sent a gift. Would have been a fun trip, otherwise, but I could not get over the slap in the face.

          • ATLawyer

            The bride from that anecdote had also asked me to attend her final 3 dress fittings with her despite not selecting me as a bridesmaid. I also threw her a shower as I was one of her only local friends at the time (point being the no plus one was a slap in the face for sure). She then ended up skipping our wedding last summer for not entirely well articulated reasons, and I rarely hear from her anymore (once every 3-4 months). All’s well that ends well, eh? Sigh.

    • Sara

      I mostly agree, though I do have a counterpoint to your latter one being rude. My friends who live a few states away did the whole “no girlfriends we don’t know well” for their wedding because two of my guy friends were dating women that had made a HUGE scene at a different friend’s wedding several months before. One guy tried to argue it but my friend pulled the bride/limited venue space card and shut it down. I’m very glad she did, because those two were awful.
      Anyway my point is, I don’t think its the worst guideline.

    • sofar

      Exactly. In fact, the “official” Miss Manners rule is: You have to invite all couples who are married “or live as if they are.” If you are going beyond that to invite unmarried/non-cohabiting couples, you have to invite all the couples. It’s OK not to give a plus-one to single people, obviously. But you can’t hand-pick whose BF or GF can’t come. Yes, it’s ‘your’ wedding blah blah blah, but it’s also a social event, so you have to respect the rules of throwing a social event.

      And now an anecdote: I saw a long friendship end over this very issue. A friend invited everyone’s romantic partner EXCEPT for her best friend’s boyfriend. Yeah, her boyfriend was kind of an anti-social douchecanoo and nobody really liked him. But it wasn’t as if he’d make a scene. He was just kind of an annoying ass. And guess what? Their friendship is over because the bride figured she’d rather insult her best friend than have to eat overcooked chicken within 50 feet of someone she kinda didn’t like.

      LW, you have to realize you might ruin this friendship. Ask yourself if it’s worth it.

      • Violet

        Your line on overcooked chicken… I die. Really drives home how little is at stake by inviting him.
        Seriously though, this guy attending the wedding is not going to mar LW’s experience of the day in any tangible sense. The only way his presence will upset her is if she decides to be upset by him. Again, the usual caveats if she’d said he’s a loud, angry drunk, or is abusive, or whatever. But she just isn’t a fan. That really doesn’t mean much in the scheme of things. We invited plenty of people I wasn’t a huge fan of, because they were my partner’s family, or whatever. So I really do know how LW is feeling. But really, I promise LW, it won’t end up being as big a deal as she’s worried it might be. You can’t curate a wedding to be *exactly* how you want.

        • sofar

          “You can’t curate a wedding to be *exactly* how you want.”

          YES. This. We are inviting so many people I’d rather not see (and who have poor social skills), but who have to be there for various reasons. Sometimes I cringe, thinking about the stupid things they might say to my other guests when drunk. But I think everyone is aware that brides and grooms have to invite people out of obligation.

      • JC

        Everything you said is exactly on point, but also I’ve always spelled it “douchecanoe” and I am officially switching to “douchecanoo” because it is way better.

        • Violet

          Agreed. I think we’ve all learned a lot today.

        • sofar

          haha i just realized I spelled canoo wrong. You should keep spelling it the *correct* way ;)

          • JC

            Nope. Too late.

    • Totch

      We’ve definitely talked about this before, and I was a bit surprised it didn’t get mentioned in the APW reply.

      Most of us have limited resources and time off, and a destination wedding invite often means choosing between a personal vacation and the wedding. If a partner isn’t invited, then you’re choosing between time off with them or without. Destination weddings are usually pitched as fun group vacations, but it may not feel that way for people being asked to leave behind their most important person.

      Not to stray too far from the LW’s central question, but I do think they need to really think about this when hoping guests will travel for them.

      • sofar

        I went to a friend’s wedding where only married couples were invited. One of the bridesmaids had to travel far to get there, so she brought along her boyfriend. Not to the wedding. But he stayed with her in the hotel, and they came in a few days early to do touristy stuff, since, with her limited vacation time, it would be the only vacation she could take all year. We all got together with the bride and groom for drinks two days before the wedding, and the bride was visibly annoyed when the boyfriend was there. And I was like, “Dude, you can’t dictate what people do on their vacations. And until your actual wedding day, this is *their* vacation.”

        • Lisa

          That’s really short-sighted and rude of the bride. It’s not like she didn’t get other time with her friend that was just them, and like you said, she doesn’t get to dictate other people’s vacations.

        • Totch

          There was a brief moment when my would-be bridesmaids and I wanted this! We’re having a super small wedding and made the difficult decision not to invite any friends, but my wonderful besties have still been helping me plan. For a little while, inviting them to the wedding and their husbands to visit but not attend seemed viable? They were all for it, but inviting any friends was too slippery a slope for us.

    • JenC

      This is probably breaking every etiquette rule but my general approach was to say to my friends, “we aren’t doing plus ones if you’re single, we hope you understand but it adds a lot of expense to us and puts pressure on you to bring someone. However, if in the time we send the invites out you develop a relationship no matter how emotionally deep and you’re prepared to take ‘that step’ in the relationship of going to a wedding together, let us know and they are more than welcome. We can’t invite them though unless you tell us all the gory details ;)”. One friend had entered a relationship between the point of saying we weren’t giving her a plus one because she was single and the wedding. She decided it was serious enough to do the meeting the friends and going to their first wedding together, it was great fun meeting her partner.

      • sofar

        So, actually… your approach FOLLOWS etiquette rules! And I can say that because I just read both of Miss Manner’s wedding books cover to cover. You’re actually NOT supposed to invite nameless plus-ones! Obviously that means touching base with your friends to find out if they *have* significant others, which it appears you did. So you’re actually following etiquette “better” than those who invited “plus ones” and “and guest.”

        We did the plus-one thing, since like 80% of our guest list has to travel so we figured we didn’t want anyone to have to go on vacation alone. But, in doing so, we BROKE Miss Manner’s rules. Whereas you actually followed her rules. :)

        • JenC

          Sorry should have clarified I’m in the UK so invites go out a little earlier here. I sent the invite to just my friend (she hadn’t gone public with her relationship yet) and then found out about the relationship and texted my friend saying “check if they wanna come, we’re eating pork. Pork is cool right? Wait, check they’re not Jewish or Muslim but we have salmon otherwise”. So I’m lead to believe you shouldn’t ‘add’ to your invite after they’ve gone out and definitely shouldn’t do it by text! That’s why I probably broke all the etiquette rules but they both had a grand old time.

      • Eh

        We did this with our single friends. One told me that it wasn’t an issue since she was not seeing anyone and she did not feel right bringing a guy she met less than two months before a wedding. Another friend did start dating someone between the time the invites were sent and the wedding date but she was fine with him not coming since she did not know where it was going. Three years later, they just bought a house and are looking at engagement rings. No one involved has hard feelings about him not being invited.

  • vxbxl

    Hmm, I guess I’ll be in the minority and say that, while I think it would be a nice gesture to your MOH to invite him, you really don’t have to if you’re truly not inviting other significant others. I guess I see it as an “is he the exception or the rule?” issue. If you were giving everyone a +1 but purposefully excluding him, that would be harsh. Here it sounds like you’re giving no one a +1 (the significant other that’s coming is someone you now know personally), so inviting him would be a special exception. I agree that it’s probably best for your future relationship with your MOH to just invite him and hope he’s too lazy to show up, but I have to disagree with the “everyone should get a +1” attitude that’s so pervasive. It’s your wedding, you and your partner get to decide the guest list. Those decisions have consequences that you should carefully consider, but they’re still your decisions to make.

    • Violet

      I see what you mean, but being the MOH is the exception to the wedding guest rule. She’s possibly being asked to do special tasks or favors, or spend extra money. I do think that warrants an exception when it comes to +1 decision-making time.

      • vxbxl

        I guess I really don’t see it that way. I completely agree with the idea that weddings are about more than the couple and that you can’t ignore the feelings of others and the importance of the event to them. That said, though, weddings are also about the couple. It’s one thing to say “hey, suck it up a bit and have some generosity of spirit towards your guest list” it’s another to say that this couple has to invite someone they actively don’t like because he happens to be attached to someone they do. There are certainly consequences for not inviting him (and I think the answer to the letter covers them well), but it is still up to the couple to decide if they want to live with those consequences. I don’t believe in an automatic +1 for anyone.

        • Eh

          ” I don’t believe in an automatic +1 for anyone.”

          I am curious: Does that include married couples? Only inviting one half?

          • vxbxl

            Yes. Although, to be clear, I’m not saying that they’re an automatic non-invite either. I’m saying that the couple getting married is within their rights to consider each individual rather than following “automatic” rules. That doesn’t mean that I think it’s nice to exclude an SO or that I don’t think it has consequences. Personally, I’d suck it up and invite the guy mentioned in this letter because the consequences of leaving him out are too high. I’m just saying that if someone is so bothered by an SO (including half of a married couple) that they would seriously consider leaving them out DESPITE the consequences, that we shouldn’t override that consideration with automatic rules.

          • BSM

            Wow, I completely disagree, especially when you lay it out that way. If someone I knew was considering my husband and I as individuals AND THEN decided not to invite one of us to their wedding, I would be unbelievably hurt. That does not seem like something you do to a friend, unless there are extraordinary extenuating circumstances (abuse is the only thing I can think of right now).

          • vxbxl

            And it would be totally within your right to be hurt. I’d be hurt too! I could very much see deciding to exclude someone’s SO in that way as a friendship ending decision. The thing is, if you really hate someone’s SO so much that you would accept ending your friendship in order to avoid them for a couple of hours, either there’s really something wrong with the SO or there’s really something wrong with your friendship. I don’t think “automatic” rules mean you have to pretend otherwise.

            I want to be clear, I wouldn’t exclude any of my friend’s SOs in this way. I just think that a couple can choose to do so for their wedding if it’s really worth the consequences to them. One of those consequences would almost certainly be an end to the friendship.

          • Eh

            If just me or just my husband were invited to a wedding we would have to have a serious consideration about continuing our/mine/his relationship with the couple/person.

            The only person we considered not inviting was my cousin’s husband since he was investigated for inappropriate behaviour with another cousins daughter. It’s a super difficult situation in our family. My aunt (his MIL) did not attend my sisters wedding because the cousin that accused him was attending.

          • Eh

            I agree that there can be exceptions to automatically inviting both people in a couple (married or long term) but the bar is super high for that. Like the person is abusive, not just a general feeling that you don’t like the guy.

          • vxbxl

            I think the couple gets to set the bar. The invitees get to set the bar for how they feel about and respond to the couple’s decision, but I object to the idea that married couples must be automatically treated as a unit.

          • BSM

            It sounds like you’re saying the couple’s preferences should supersede all else when it comes to their wedding, and I wholly object to that.

          • vxbxl

            Well, then I politely agree to disagree.

            The couple’s decisions should absolutely take in to consideration other people’s feelings (if they don’t, they’re monsters), but, yes, I do ultimately believe that people get to decide who to invite to their weddings and that they’re the final authority.

            I honestly think this is a case where my bar is just set at a different place. There seems to be near-universal agreement that it would be within the couple’s rights not to invite him if her were abusive. I believe that if the letter writer had said “he’s kind of a racist prick” that people would support her decision to say she doesn’t want him at her wedding. I think couples (gay or straight) could reasonably decide to exclude folks who are, say, anti-gay marriage (and others could reasonably decide to include those folks because they’re family). How are those preferences acceptable and the LW preferences not? I certainly think the LW should stop and think deeply about whether she really feels so strongly that she would wreck her friendship over it, but if she does? Then I firmly believe it’s her right to say she doesn’t want the boyfriend there.

          • Mindy

            I mean, if you’re willing to wreck a friendship, then yeah…I guess no one can really argue with that. It’s probably best not to choose someone like that as your MOH then and it definitely seems like the LW is not interested in torpedoing her friendship, but sure…if you don’t care about the consequences or the person you supposedly love having a negative reaction, then by all means, try your luck.

            But what you can’t expect is to not invite him and for friend to have no reaction, even if it’s technically your “right” to do so. It’s like my mom says: You can walk into oncoming traffic if you have the right of way, but that won’t stop the bus from smashing you.

          • vxbxl

            And I’ve never argued that the LW can expect her MOH to have no reaction.

            I think that a reasonable person could decide that something about this guy’s presence is so objectionable that they’re willing to risk a friendship over being honest with their friend that there is a problem (and I think the bar for “so objectionable” is up to the couple). The MOH could have one of two reactions – decide the LW is an unreasonable jerk and end the friendship or decide the LW has never been an unreasonable jerk before and wonder if there’s some good reason why she’s holding firm about not inviting this guy.

          • Eh

            We will have to agree to disagree. Before my husband and I were married we were repeatedly excluded from things (for example health insurance, family photos, etc) so I see one of the benefits of being married as being treated as a unit.

          • vxbxl

            Fair enough. I completely get the sentiment, and I totally respect your opinion.

          • Amy March

            I mean, sure, we are all always at liberty to be rude. But I don’t think any couple is at liberty to ignore well established rules and not be thought of as rude. I always read these “can we” questions as “can we do this and be acting acceptably” not “can we do this like is anyone going to physically stop us.” Because obviously you always can.

          • idkmybffjill

            “But I don’t think any couple is at liberty to ignore well established rules and not be thought of as rude.”

            THIS.

          • Greta

            YES. Of course the LW can do whatever she wants. She’s writing in to the internet to find out if what she wants to do is socially acceptable. I think the answer is pretty clearly “no”.

          • vxbxl

            OK, but from the other side. The LW has politely told her MOH “hey, I love you, but your dude, kind of a jerk. We’re having an intimate wedding and we’d be a whole lot happier if he weren’t there”. Why are we completely ok with the MOH saying “yeah, I know that your happiness will be diminished by his presence, but I still care more about his presence than your happiness and I think you should suck it up and invite him.”?

          • Amy March

            Because we expect adults to suck it up and deal sometimes. It’s not ok to just flounce and decide that your happiness will be harmed, so you get to do what you want, when what you want is to violate an accepted rule of behavior, unkind to someone important to you, selfish, and inconsiderate. MOH isn’t saying “I care more about his presence than your happiness” she is saying “it is important to me that you treat me and my relationship with dignity and respect, the same as I treat yours.” There isn’t actually a polite way to tell someone “your dude, kind of a jerk, we’d be happier if he weren’t there.” Sure, it might be true, but there is often not a polite way to share a truth and this is one of those times.

          • vxbxl

            You really don’t believe there’s a polite way to tell a friend that their SO is a jerk and that his presence makes people unhappy? Cause I can see your side on every other point, but I find this horrifying.

          • Amy March

            Not in the context of explaining why you aren’t inviting him to your wedding, no. In the context of a discussion you are having between friends about how you’re kinda concerned about her because of some behavior of her SO, and that you’ve actually been hurt by some of SO’s behavior too, sure. But if what you want to say is “i don’t like him, he makes me sad, he can’t come to my wedding” no. If you’re genuinely concerned about her, have that conversation. But if you aren’t genuinely concerned and you just don’t like him very much, nah. We don’t get to walk around telling people that we just don’t like them or their SOs. Not politely at least.

          • vxbxl

            I think this attitude is precisely why I felt compelled to comment as I did. My comment may have been too extreme in the other direction – the internet flattens nuance – but this is unacceptable to me. The guy is a jerk (the LW describes him as cynical, negative, uncaring about the MOH’s friends – and this is dude’s public persona? Hell no), and the fact that it’s in the context of a wedding invite does not, to me, take away the LW’s right to honestly tell her MOH that.

          • BSM

            Perhaps the internet does flatten nuance because I keep getting stuck on the way you’re phrasing things around what people can do, what rights they’re entitled to.

            Of course no one is taking away LW’s right to honestly tell her MOH that MOH’s BF is a jerk. Of course she can decide not to invite MOH’s BF to her wedding. She is capable of doing essentially whatever she wants, just as we all are.

            But I cannot see a way to politely tell someone that they’re dating a jerk unless you are doing so out of concern for them. Telling a friend something like that just to have your opinion be known is the definition of being impolite. Sure, you can go ahead and do it anyways, but it’s rude, hurtful, and unnecessary. Same with not inviting your MOH’s BF to your wedding – rude, hurtful, and unnecessary.

          • vxbxl

            I don’t think it’s “just to have your opinion be known” (and if that’s really all it is, I think that the LW should and would just invite the guy after further reflection).

            There are plenty of, to my mind, good reasons that the LW could choose to tell her MOH that the boyfriend is not invited – because she’s concerned about the MOH, because she’s concerned about the impact of this awful person’s presence on her other guests (if he really is that bad, he may be making other people miserable too and that matters), because she believes the wedding is about building ties to a trusted community and inviting someone horrible would taint that. To me, telling her MOH that may be hurtful, but it’s not, by default, rude or unnecessary. It may be very necessary.

          • BSM

            Meh. Agree to disagree. I really don’t think that either of the other reasons you mentioned (I already flagged concern for your friend) are necessary.

          • Daisy6564

            Yep, I don’t like my friend’s boyfriend. He is pretty quiet and when he does talk it is usually to say something bro-y. He never looks me in the eye when talking to me and frequently does not even address me directly when speaking in a crowd. He has been either drunk or stoned nearly every time I have met him. I can’t see what she sees in him and I think she could do better. But he’s ultimately fine and she obviously likes him so I just keep my mouth shut.

          • vxbxl

            And I’m just saying there’s a line where being “polite” and inviting someone becomes impolite to everyone else.

            In your example, if he’s just kind of a jerk, yes you should invite him. If bro-y means he tells rape jokes? No, I don’t think you’re under a social obligation to invite him. He could be making someone else extremely upset. If he’s always drunk/stoned means he’s just a party guy and you’re not, invite him. If he’s always drunk/stoned (even when people ask him not to be) and you or one of your friends is in recovery? It is not rude to tell him he can’t be there. It’s rude to invite him and subject your other friends to it.

          • Violet

            By that logic, every couple who’s ever invited their rude Great Uncle Larry, knowing that he makes off-color, racist, homophobic, etc. statements, is being “rude” to their guests. I can’t get on board with that. Great Uncle Larry is a boor, but you know, wedding guests will survive. They will manage to move away and still enjoy themselves. They’ve encountered rude people before; they will again. You can’t hold the couple responsible for every action and statement of all of their guests. That’s not fair.

          • vxbxl

            And by that logic, it’s ruder to not invite a bigot than to subject everyone else to bigots. If that’s how etiquette works, let me campaign for being rude.

            I’m not saying no one should invite Uncle Larry. I’m saying that if you consider not inviting him rude, you should also consider that inviting him is rude. You can still choose to invite him, but i don’t think you’re absolved of responsibility for his behaviour. I think you’re then obligated to do something to mitigate it (maybe just as simple as warning people about him) or you are complicit.

          • Violet

            Oh, I disagree so much. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have difficult people in their lives. If everyone has to invite some people who are rude, that means everyone who’s ever thrown a wedding is rude. By which point, the word has lost all meaning and we have to start all over again. I can’t imagine thinking that a couple is rude because they have a difficult person in their lives and invited that person (people, usually) to their wedding.

          • Eh

            I discussed this with my husband last night and we figured that using this rule we wouldn’t have been able to invite most of my in-laws, including my FIL. We also wouldn’t have been able to invite one of my uncles who I am very close to (or either of my grandfathers if they were alive). Sometimes people in older generations have those views (and make inappropriate jokes, even at weddings). We had a small family wedding, with few friends. If the expectations of one family was totally different than the other we would have warned them. My father is very inclusive and open to other people, and when we were growing up he would debrief up after a family said something was racist or homophobic. I knew he would not be offended (though might cringe) if one of my in-laws made an offensive joke (like he does with some of our family members). That said, if we had a friend at our wedding who was in one of the groups targeted by these comments we would have warned them before hand.

          • vxbxl

            “That said, if we had a friend at our wedding who was in one of the groups targeted by these comments we would have warned them before hand.”

            That’s pretty much all I’m advocating. I’m not saying “anyone who has ever invited a bigot to their wedding is a bigot.” I’m saying “hey, if you’re planning to invite a bigot because it would be rude not to (or because you have some other good reason to invite them), you should also stop to consider the fact that imposing him on others with no warning, no way to temper the behaviour, and no sense of responsibility is also rude.”

            That doesn’t mean that if you have a 200 person wedding where he is known and loved by other people there and anyone bothered by him can get up and leave, then you have to individually tell each of the 199 other people. It *does* mean that if you have a sit down wedding where a group of your friends who would be hurt by his beliefs is going to have to endure this guy’s “off-color” jokes for 2 hours, you would be remiss not to say “hey, I wanted to give you a heads up that uncle Larry can be inappropriate. But you both really love X, so I thought you might enjoy chatting about that.” or even “Uncle Larry is a racist, but he’s still my uncle. I know he’ll be a prick, but I really appreciate you putting up with him for a couple hours so that he doesn’t cause a scene.”

          • Eh

            I just think saying it’s rude to impose an uncle Larry on people with no warning is a bit extreme. Adults need to be responsible for their own behaviour. I am not responsible for what Uncle Larry says just because I invited him. As I said I would warn people in a group that might be attacked by the comments. That said, I did not warn every female friend (or relative) at my wedding that my husband’s uncle makes sexists jokes (in addition to racist and homophobic). You previously mentioned that you had an intimate wedding, so I guess in that situation, where it is a very small group, there might be a issue, but generally people can avoid people or step out. Even at a wedding with 30 people one person stepping out or staying away from a specific person is probably not going to be difficult and is not going to seem obvious to other guests (if there were fewer than 20 guests it might be an issue). Most people have family members like uncle Larry and understand.

            Also, if I did have a person who would be offended by uncle Larry’s comments I would in no way suggest that they talk, even if they did have something in common. And I would make sure the friend was not seated near him (again, easily possible, unless the wedding has fewer than 20 people).

          • vxbxl

            I don’t think it’s extreme. You’re not responsible for Uncle Larry being a bigot, but you are responsible for putting your friends in a place where they have to deal with that bigot for multiple hours. You’re not a bigot just for inviting him, but if you worry about his feelings (“oh, he’ll be so hurt if we don’t invite him”) but not the feelings of non-bigots (“people will understand, they can just leave the table if he’s being rude”), then I think you need to evaluate your priorities.

            Do you have to send out a card in your invites that says “Sorry everyone, uncle Larry is a bigot but I’m inviting him anyway”? Of course not, but saying that the offended party should just step out or avoid him? No. Why should Larry the bigot get to enjoy himself and let his bs hang out while your non-bigoted friends and family spend their night stepping out? No. You owe it to those friends who are seated at dinner with him to either 1.) warn them, 2.) tell him to behave, 3.) assign him a babysitter, or 4.) have permission to tell him he’s a bigot and he needs to stop even if doing so means causing a scene. If you can’t do that then you owe it to your friends to sit him at a table with people who love him enough that they can stand his bigotry. Asking aunt Mable to suck it up and deal with him? Fine. Asking your friend Sarah to spend your whole wedding ducking a bigot? Why would you do that? Why do the bigot’s feelings win?

          • Eh

            I do think you are responsible for warning a small specific group of people that might be targeted. I don’t think you need to warn everyone that might be offended. And if uncle Larry said something offensive, I would have no issue with someone calling him out (even it might offend other people), but brides/grooms need to consider that consequence. As I said, unless it’s a really small wedding I can’t see a situation where a guest couldn’t get away from someone who was offensive. At every wedding I have been to the guest have broken off into smaller groups. We did not give people +1s but most people knew at least a couple people they could hang out with. And unless is a very small wedding, I don’t understand why you would put your friends at a table with an uncle who is a bigot. And if they are not seated at the same table, I don’t think you need to warn them as they are not being forced to sit with him (unless, as I mentioned they are in one of the groups he might target).

          • vxbxl

            “I do think you are responsible for warning a small specific group of people that might be targeted. I don’t think you need to warn everyone that might be offended.” <—I… am having a hard time seeing where you think I disagree with this point?

            As for a situation where people couldn't get away from him, I can think of two – 1.) assigned seats and 2.) he's a homophobe and you know he's going to spend all night following your cute butch friend around asking why her hair is so short.

            As for 1, yeah, ideally you wouldn't assign anyone to sit with him who would be offended, but realistically do you really know that many people who are cool with a bigot that you can fill a whole table with them? Cause I don't. I do, however, know enough people who share non-bigoted interests with that bigot and can keep him distracted from that bigotry by talking about those interests. I think it's fair to give them a heads up that he can be a jerk but, hey, if you get him talking about X you'll both have a great time.

            In case 2, I think you owe it to your butch friend to give her a heads up so that she can prepare herself for it or to do something to keep him from following her around all night (ask one of his less bigoted relatives to distract him every time he heads in that direction?). If you don't, you may have met the letter of etiquette rules but you've also knowingly put your butch friend in a non-safe space when she might reasonably have expected a safe one (because she knows you and your other friends aren't bigots).

          • Eh

            Based on your comments it still seems like anyone who could be offended needs to be warned. For example you said “do you really know that many people who are cool with a bigot that you can fill a whole table?” That’s why I think you disagree. I would never put someone who might be targeted at the same table. That said, I managed to out bigots at tables with people who know them so that was not an issue. I put my FIL at a table with my MIL, her parents and a couple other close family members. I put my husband’s uncle at a table with his daughter, his brother, his niece (who requested to sit with her father, her cousin and her uncle who is a bigot because she loves them and did not know many people at the wedding – this is one of the most open and caring people I know, she is also an introvert so she wanted to sit with people she knew), and another aunt. So I did manage to find enough people to fill tables with people who would be ok with sitting with bigots because they love them and ‘understand’/tolerate them (even if they do not agree with them).

            And I would warn my friend in case 2. I have repeatedly said I would warn anyone who could be targeted. And also in this case I would give the bigot a handler.

          • vxbxl

            “That said, I managed to out bigots at tables with people who know them so that was not an issue.” That’s great, that’s ideal, and that’s all I’m asking for. I am not saying that you then needed to go around to all of your friends and say “psst, by the way, that dude over there that you have no need to interact with tonight? total bigot.”

            But I think it’s disingenuous to act as though everyone’s numbers add up like that. I’ve been asked to sit with bigoted uncle Larry at several weddings. I’ve even been asked to sit with him and not tell him to stop being a bigot (because he would have caused an even bigger scene if I had). I may not be obviously part of the groups he’s bigoted against (I pass as white and straight, I am neither), but I still should not have to put up with him without some warning or apology. I believe that about myself and I believe that about my guests.

            I completely understand that everyone has difficult people in their life, I have some of my own and they came to my wedding, but I will not accept a society where etiquette says “you have to invite so-and-so because it would be rude not to” and doesn’t say “you shouldn’t force your friends to spend their evening with a bigot/jerk as the price of attending your wedding without considering how to mitigate the effect of that bigot/jerk on them.”

          • Eh

            I am not sure if you saw my edit as it deals with your comment about me being disingenuous.

            I think there are so many situations where people can be offended or upset by others that etiquette can’t deal with them easily in a clear, concise rule. The bride/groom knows their people and mange this on a case by case basis as they feel is best. Or they don’t and they risk either having their friends hurt/upset.

          • vxbxl

            I did not see your edit, thank you for pointing it out. A bigot handler is a great way to deal with it – you know what your situation is, and, in many situations, that’s the ideal way to deal with uncle Larry.

            I’m not saying you have to deal with it in way X or that you are a terrible person if your friends end up getting offended at your wedding (as you say, they are adults). I am saying that it should be considered rude to invite a bigot to an obligatory social situation without considering how that bigot’s presence will impact on others.

          • BSM

            What!?! You’re complicit in bigotry because an extended family member who is attending your wedding is bigoted and you don’t warn your guests?

            APW, why wasn’t this included as something to add to your wedding website?

          • vxbxl

            So you think it’s unacceptably rude to tell a friend her boyfriend is a jerk but not rude to subject people who are your guests to a bigot with no warning?

            Yeah, I was wrong. This isn’t a nuance on the Internet thing, you and I just fundamentally disagree on world view.

            To each their own.

          • BSM

            Guess so. And I suppose I’ll think about retroactively apologizing to my wedding guests for inviting my husband’s aunt to our wedding, since I consider her to be a misogynist.

          • vxbxl

            If she was on her best behaviour? Of course not. If she was just generally grumbly, but everyone laughed her off? Of course not, people will deal! But if she made rude and personal comments to one of your guests, then, yes, I actually believe you should apologize to that particular guest. Not only that, I can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to.

            Is it really that outrageous for me to want you to tell your (hurt) friend “hey, sorry my husband’s aunt was a jerk. I don’t share her views, but she means a lot to my husband and his family.” I’m not expecting you to cut short your honeymoon to go grovel at your friend’s feet. I’m saying that thoughtful people would say “sorry your love for me meant that you had to deal with a dick.”

          • Vanessa

            I just can’t imagine being on the receiving end of this kind of conversation from a friend and thinking “gosh, my best friend whose wedding I’m standing up in hates my boyfriend but at least she told me in such a polite way.” If you don’t like someone, and there’s nothing objectively objectionable (which I’m taking from LW saying that there’s nothing glaringly terrible about the guy) then the polite way to handle it is to keep your opinion to yourself.

          • vxbxl

            I guess I read it very differently. I see the LW saying he’s cynical, negative, and uncaring about the MOH’s friends and I think there’s plenty that’s objectively objectionable. This is that guy’s public persona. Sure, the LW may be judging him too harshly, but on the other hand maybe she’s being too nice. I think we’re conditioned to think “well, at least he doesn’t…” and I read nothing “glaringly terrible” as “I’ve never seen him hit her”.

          • Vanessa

            That’s fair. I read LW’s example of the guy’s rudeness (the 21st bday party) as pretty thin and probably ran too far down the road with that. But I do think it’s worthwhile for LW to take a step back and look again at her reasons, and whether they’re more about LW than about the guy.

          • vxbxl

            100% agree. I’m an introvert, so that 21st birthday thing particularly stood out to me (and what’s up with waiting on him for the speeches?).

            At the time that I commented every comment had some variation on “you have to”, and I guess that just really sat poorly with me. My feeling is that the LW was right to write in for advice and that the couple should really stop and think honestly about whether the guy is so bad that they’ll burn a friendship over him. I also agree with the response that he may be that bad and it still be smart to invite him to keep ties with the MOH and keep an eye on him. But, all that said, I still really firmly stand on the side of “if you’ve thought through all the consequences and something in you still says ‘I am willing to accept losing my 10 year friendship with my MOH because something about this guy bothers me that badly’ then you don’t need to be told that you *have* to invite the guy”.

            They may look back and think “wow, we were young and really unreasonable when we decided not to invite that guy”, but, on the other hand, I have been in relationships where I wish a friend had said “hey V, we love you, and he’s not doing anything terrible, but there’s something wrong here”. I would hope the MOH would, at some point in the future, think “huh, my friend, who I’ve been through 10 years of ups and downs with, dislikes this guy so much that she ended our friendship over it. Maybe I should seriously consider why she would do that – is she a jerk or is there something wrong with him?”

          • Vanessa

            I see where you’re coming from, and ultimately I think you & the people you were responding to are saying the same thing (you’re just making fewer initial assumptions than they are).

          • Vanessa

            I second @amymarch:disqus here but will add that the destination wedding aspect makes this especially rude.

          • stayce

            Well, for one thing, it sounds like this came up after her friend accepted being MOH. If I was being asked to spend a lot of vacation time and savings to support a friend’s life event, AND have my partner be explicitly uninvited– not because they did something really egregious like harass someone or be really offensive, but because they were a bad hang– AND be asked to support my friend during her wedding and have, you know, duties? I’d have to think very long and hard about that friendship. CAN the LW ask for that? Sure. Is it really a reasonable request? I don’t think so.
            Sometimes we have to take the good with the bad in our friendships because we value the good so much. In this case, when the bad is ‘this guy seems kind of inconsiderate and cynical and we don’t really like him,’ versus ‘I really value a historically complex friendship’, I think the LW is risking damaging her friendship for (in my opinion) a fairly small offense.
            But they totally shouldn’t pay for the dude to be there. I wouldn’t bring it up unless the MOH asks, and just say that you sacrificed a part of the now-spent budget to make sure those friends could be there.

          • vxbxl

            I would completely understand if the MOH considers the LWs point, decides the LW is just being a jerk about this guy unreasonably, and said “hey, I didn’t realize that he wouldn’t be invited when I agreed to do this, and, honestly, I’m super hurt that you’re not inviting him. I don’t think I can legitimately stand up for you at your wedding while feeling the way that I do about this situation. I’m sorry.”

            That said, I really feel like everyone is giving the MOH a pass in this scenario that is undeserved and that, in the battle of who’s ruder, the MOH may be winning. There is a chance that this guy is really that bad. Here’s my perspective – as the MOH, she should presumably be aware that the wedding they’re planning is one with only intimate friends and that other SOs are not being invited. She is now also, presumably, aware that her boyfriend is considered rude by that group of friends. Are we totally cool with her saying “Sorry, I know it means a lot to you to have an intimate wedding just with your loved ones and that my dude makes people unhappy, but I would rather hold out for my boyfriend of <1 year to be invited as the exception even though it will make people unhappy and be hurtful to the other people whose SOs aren't invited than just suck it up and spend a weekend with my friends." I'm not automatically cool with that.

            I'm not saying that the MOH is automatically wrong, I'm just saying that there is a possibility that the LW is being reasonable about excluding the guy and that MOH is just the type that doesn't understand that her new beau isn't always welcome.

        • Violet

          To say “weddings are about the couple” is not a universally accepted fact, though. Many people believe that weddings are about the community as well as the couple. Otherwise, if it’s *only* about the couple, why invite any guests at all? Like Eh, I think there’s a difference between automatic “+1” (of which we extended exactly zero in our small guest list) and automatic “significant others” (of which we extended many).

          • vxbxl

            Agreed, that’s why I said “*also* about the couple”. I do think that it’s extremely important to consider other people’s feelings and your community as a whole, but I think it’s a mistake to go in the opposite direction and exclude the couple’s preferences altogether. To me, it’s what distinguishes a wedding from a party. I’d feel like a jerk excluding someone’s SO from a party I was throwing, but from my wedding? Not so much.

          • Elizabeth

            I’d feel even more a jerk from excluding a SO from my wedding, because for me a wedding is a celebration of love and relationship, so yes we’re talking specifically about my relationship but I don’t want to delegitimize other people’s, based on what I see from outside. Perhaps I’m particularly sensitive to that, though.

          • Violet

            I don’t think LW is excluding her and her fiance’s preferences, as their preferences are the only thing that make this a question in the first place. It just happens that sometimes you realize your preference to keep a good relationship with your friend is higher than your preference to… not have a guy at your wedding. Which I think we’re both ultimately saying. Her preference to preserve her friendship seems to be stronger than her preference to avoid this guy (who, as she says, is not actually terrible, he’s simply not her cup of tea). Hence everyone’s advice to just invite the guy.

          • vxbxl

            I am 100% in the camp of advising to just invite the guy. I guess I really just object to the “You *have* to, those are the rules” vibe of some of the comments when I added mine.

            I think inviting him is totally the right thing to do because the consequences of not inviting him are way out of proportion to the issue (you’re seriously going to wreck your friendship cause some dude is kind of annoying? Have you really thought that through?), but if they think it through and decide they’d rather burn the relationship than have that dude there? I’m totally going to say “I think you’re crazy, but that’s absolutely your right”.

          • Violet

            Yeah, there’s no Wedding Invite Prison; LW can always do what she wants, no matter what the internet says. But she did ask for opinions, so she’s getting them. Like you, I think to invite or not to invite comes down to opinions and etiquette, not “rules” per se.

          • vxbxl

            Yup, agree completely.

            I think there’s a bit of the whole “internet making stances seem more extreme than they really are” thing going on here. I’m totally not saying “burn it all down, screw the consequences, you get to invite whoever you want etiquette and other people’s feelings be damned!”. I’m just saying, “hey, if you read this advice and still feel like, seriously, you hate this guy so much that you cannot imagine being happy at your wedding with him there and you’d lose your relationship with your MOH to make that point, then you do you. There is no rule that overrides feelings that strong even if they have no logical justification.”.

          • Elizabeth

            I guess the reason at least I took the line of ‘you *have* to’ is because the LW seemed to be hoping her friend was unreasonable in expecting/wanting him to be invited. The LW is free to do what they wish, but it is a choice that could be friendship-ending, and it’s not because the MOH is being unreasonable in wanting their person at their side in a destination wedding.

    • Eh

      +1s usually refer to people who are not coupled. The MOH is coupled (and they will have been together a year at the time of the wedding) but the LW and her fiancé don’t know him well or don’t like him (and there is “nothing glaringly terrible about him”). This would be like not inviting a friend’s boyfriend because you have never met him. We didn’t invite +1s to our wedding but we did invite the other halves of couples even when we hadn’t met them or didn’t know them well.

      • Daisy6564

        Good way to think about it: +1s vs. “other halves.”

        In my world other halves are always a “yes,” +1s are a nice gesture to guests but certainly not required.

        • vxbxl

          I was using +1 to mean both the casual and the serious in this case.

          “This would be like not inviting a friend’s boyfriend because you have never met him.” – we did this at our wedding and I am very, very glad that we stuck to our guns on it. We limited the guest list to people who knew and loved both of us (there were three exceptions – 2 that we discussed and agreed on, including a random +1 for a bridesmaid, and 1 awful human being who invited herself to our wedding). In our case, we had a very small wedding and our guests were the ones who consecrated our marriage. It was important to us that everyone there truly be someone who was invested in us and part of our community. Years later, I’m still very happy with that decision. Yes, we allowed a couple of people who didn’t fit the criteria, but it was with careful consideration not automatic.

          Look, I get it. Leaving this guy out is a serious decision with serious consequences for their relationship with the MOH, but I still think that it’s up to the couple to decide if they want to deal with those consequences. We chose to give one of my bridesmaids a +1 to a +1-less wedding because her happiness was part of making our wedding a joyous occasion.

          When I read this letter, I see phrases that remind me of my own wedding – “intimate”, “we’re not planning on inviting plus-ones that we don’t know well anyway”, the fact that the one significant other they mention is someone they’ve gotten to know well. Personally, I would probably invite the MOH’s boyfriend for all the reasons mentioned in the letter, but I STRONGLY object the the idea that there’s some kind of automatic expectation of +1s or SO invites. The couple gets to decide who to invite. The invitees get to decide if they want to go to a wedding alone. The couple deals with the consequences of their decision.

          • Elizabeth

            Drawing on your last lines a little, I guess that’s part of why it feels difficult. Because the couple has asked this person to be their MOH, so she’s been asked to commit to being at the wedding and now learned that her boyfriend may not be invited. Yes, he doesn’t have to be invited…but that assumes the maid of honor doesn’t have to go herself, and that’s a very difficult position to put a friend in.

          • vxbxl

            Agreed. I think of that as one of the consequences, and, personally, it’s a consequence that I wouldn’t be able to live with. I’d just invite the guy. Still, though, I believe that the couple is within their rights to say “I’m sorry, we’ve thought about the consequences, we understand that you may not be able to be the MOH and that this may destroy our relationship, but we really hate your boyfriend that much”. Not saying it’s a good idea, just saying that no “automatic” rule overrides their right to make decisions about their guest list.

          • Elizabeth

            Well sure, people always have the option to ignore rules of etiquette and destroy their friendships. But part of the reasons these rules of etiquette exist is to try to not have that happen, or at least for it to not be unintentional. Yes, they can ignore the ‘automatic’ rule, but even more importantly to me would be that they’re ignoring their close friend’s clear preferences and personal level of comfort.

          • vxbxl

            Yes, but the MOH is ALSO ignoring her close friend’s clear preferences and personal level of comfort.

          • Violet

            We actually don’t know if MOH is ignoring, or is looking at the situation, wherein her boyfriend did nothing to her friend (by the friend’s own admission), and yet her friend doesn’t like him. And has said as much to her after they’ve only been dating a few months. And is now sitting her down for conversations about not inviting him to her wedding. Ouch.

          • Amy March

            Her close friend’s clear preferences are rude and should be ignored. Just not really liking someone much so excluding someone is not a call adults are entitled to make and face no consequence from.

          • Vanessa

            Particularly when the LW says there’s nothing “glaringly terrible” about the guy.

          • vxbxl

            I have never said “and face no consequence from”.

          • Daisy6564

            “The couple gets to decide who to invite.” <- Not always the case, when families are paying they have a big say in who is invited. In many cases the couple does not have total control over that anyway.

            "The couple deals with the consequences of their decision." <- Fine, but that doesn't make it not rude. All etiquette is technically negotiable and not set in stone. Etiquette exists to help people know how to make others comfortable and welcome.

            I do not have to hold the door for people, I get to decide to do it. Letting a door slam in someone's face is totally allowed. I won't be crushed over the consequence of a stranger thinking I am rude. I hold doors for people anyway because I like to make people around me comfortable and welcome.

          • “I do not have to hold the door for people, I get to decide to do it. Letting a door slam in someone’s face is totally allowed. I won’t be crushed over the consequence of a stranger thinking I am rude. I hold doors for people anyway because I like to make people around me comfortable and welcome.”
            THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS.

          • vxbxl

            I hold a lot of doors, but if I routinely held a door for my friend’s boyfriend and he never said thank you? Well, then I’m not obligated to keep holding the door for him in the future, and anyone who tells me I am “because you *have* to” is a jerk. I could choose to continue to hold the door because I’m more polite than he is, but I’m not rude if I decide not to. I’m sure as hell not going to hold the door for him at my wedding.

          • Amy March

            You are rude though. So is he, but 2 rudes don’t make a polite. You might be thrilled to be embracing the rude, but it’s still rude.

          • idkmybffjill

            “2 rudes don’t make a polite” pahahaha

          • vxbxl

            Do you seriously hold the door open for everyone, all the time, and think that you’re rude if you don’t? You must spend a lot of time standing at doors.

          • “Do you seriously hold the door open for everyone, all the time, and think that you’re rude if you don’t? You must spend a lot of time standing at doors.”
            There’s an approximate socially accepted amount of time to wait to hold the door for people. You don’t stand around and wait forever. No need to be hyperbolic.

            But, yes, if you don’t wait that set amount of time, you’re certainly leaning more towards rude than polite.

          • vxbxl

            Again, this is an analogy to a situation where they have decided not to invite an entire category of people to their wedding and are being asked to make a special exception for someone they don’t like.

            This isn’t a case where they “held the door open” for everyone and then slammed it in one guy’s face (which, yes, of course that would be crazy rude). It’s a case where they just don’t happen to be holding the door open to him and they’re getting told that they *have* to hold the door because that’s just what you *have* to do.

            It’s lovely when you hold the door open for someone, but if you never said “hey, I’m done holding the door today” you will literally spend a considerable chunk of time holding the door open. It’s lovely when you decide that you’re going to invite everyone + their jerk boyfriend of <1 year to your wedding, but if you never get to say "hey, I'm sorry, but we're not inviting the whole world" then you have a 200 person wedding. Not everyone wants that, and there shouldn't be constant "but you *have* to" shaming for people who decide to set boundaries.

            If they had just picked out this one guy to exclude and included everyone else, I'd be shocked and appalled. That's not what happened here. Again, this isn't them deciding to slam the door in his face. This is them deciding not to play doorman.

          • I mean, sure. At a certain point you no longer have to “be the bigger person” and can be just as rude as the person you were previously affording the politeness to. But most people aren’t not-inviting guests’ partners because the guest was rude to them. They do a sweeping decision where *no one* has their non-legal loved one invited, rather than just the people who were inconsiderate.

            It’s sort of like, refusing to hold the door open for any of your friends or their partners, just because your one friend’s boyfriend never said thank you.

          • vxbxl

            In this case, the LW described an intimate wedding where they were not inviting +1s (with the exception of one person whom they also knew well) and this guy would be an exception to their stated rule. That’s part of what sat poorly with me about the tone of the other comments when I first posted. They aren’t only excluding this one guy. They’ve chosen to exclude a whole category of people, and the MOH is asking an exception for a guy they don’t like anyway. That’s how I read it originally, anyways.

          • Daisy6564

            Also, I went to a wedding a few years ago with the same rule: “No SO’s we don’t know.” That meant that one person in my friend group did not get to bring her boyfriend while all the rest of us did (she had even been dating him longer than I had been with my SO.)

            I know it made he enjoy the wedding less and definitely created awkwardness between her and the couple for a while. She ended up marrying the boyfriend she was with. Why would you want to put conditions on your friend’s ability to enjoy him/herself?

          • vxbxl

            And I think that situation sounds horrible and the couple should have considered those consequences.

            That doesn’t mean, though, that I think it means they were automatically wrong without context. Consider the hypothetical where the SO is a jerk. They invite him, he makes everyone else miserable. The girl is now happy but at the cost of everyone else’s happiness. Is that better?

          • Daisy6564

            I did not get the impression from the LW that his presence would make everyone else miserable. I could see an argument in an extreme situation where he was loud, disruptive, gropey, destructive… that his presence would actually make others unhappy and that they should ban him. Just having a guy there who is a jerk, without the added piece of actually getting in the face/space of other guests, could only make others unhappy if they let it.

          • vxbxl

            And if that’s true, I’m for inviting him.

            I think the assumption a lot of people are making is that I disagree with the response to the letter. I don’t. I think the response is perfect and that in 95% (maybe more) of cases the guy should be invited because the MOH’s feelings are important. I just also think that there’s a 5% case where the LW reads this advice and still feels in her gut that there’s something wrong with this guy. Something that would make his presence a serious problem in some way. No rule of etiquette means you need to ignore your own happiness or the happiness of your other guests.

            As I said above, to me it’s about where the bar is placed, I would totally uninvite someone if they were abusive, racist, homophobic, or otherwise bad enough in some way that they make other people (including me) miserable. I don’t think that decision is rude, and I don’t think any etiquette rule trumps that.

          • Amy March

            And if this question had said he was abusive, racist, or homophobic, you’d see different answers. But it isn’t. It’s about someone who is garden variety annoying.

          • vxbxl

            Where does the bar for annoying enough that they can decide not to make an exception for him get set?

            This isn’t a 200 person wedding where every other SO was invited but him and he’s going to fade in to the background. This is an “intimate” wedding, where the group will be spending the whole weekend together, where no other random SOs are invited, and where at least one friend other than the bride and groom (the 21st birthday person, presuming they’re invited) is displeased with the guy. This isn’t them going “we hate this guy and we’re not inviting him.” This is them going “we don’t have a reason to give him an exception.”

            I still think it would be good to invite him for many reasons (to give him a second chance, because you know it will make your MOH happy, because you don’t want to alienate her, because you want to keep an eye on him, because you’re just nice), but to say that the couple has to invite some random dude that’s been dating their friend for less than a year and who is rude to them to their intimate destination wedding because “he’s her +1”, no. I do not think that is a rule that exists or should exist.

          • Amy March

            It is a rule that exists, whether you like it or not. I’m not sure why you are so insistent otherwise. If you don’t want to follow it, fine, but it 100% is a rule. And other SOs should also be invited. That’s also part of the rule.

            You want to have a small destination wedding? Totally fine. You want to hang out with everyone all weekend? Enjoy. That means you might wind up interacting with people’s partners more than you otherwise would.

            I think the bar for making an exception from that rule and excluding a partner is quite high. Violence, threats of violence, abuse, risk of person behaving abusively to other guests in attendance, including physical or verbal abuse and bigotry. I don’t think any level of annoying justifies exclusion.

            To me, as adults, one of the big things to accept is the reality of our people. Do you want a happy go lucky cabin wedding where all 14 of you eat and drink together in harmony? Lovely. Do your people get whiny in the woods and is one of them a really annoying picky eater and one hates being around alcohol? Then sorry, you can’t have that. You want to only have people you know and love at your wedding? Better be making an effort to get to know everyone you would like to be there’s partners then, or be comfortable limiting your guest list to people whose partners you already know. There is not an unlimited smorgasbord of acceptable options. If, of course, you’re again just making the point that no wedding police is going to come and throw them in jail for breaking this rule, I agree with you. But it is a rule.

          • vxbxl

            If it was an absolute rule, everyone who ever had a wedding where they didn’t invite everyone they knew would be rude (“what do you mean you’re not giving +1s?”, “what do you mean you’re not inviting your cousins?”, “what do you mean you’re not inviting your parent’s work friends?” All of those are considered rules by someone). At some point, the couple gets to draw the line without getting told they’re rude for having boundaries.

            In order to have a 14 person wedding, someone is going to be left off the guest list. That’s not inherently rude.

          • Amy March

            That’s not the rule. I don’t even know what you are talking about here. The rule is that people with significant others are invited with those significant others. That’s it. There is no rule that you must invite your cousins. There is no rule that you must invite your parents work friends. These are not rules. The couple can draw all of those lines. But they cannot exclude people’s significant others.

            And yes, everyone who has had a wedding and decided not to invite guests significant others, where those significant others are not violent or abusive, is rude. Inherently.

          • vxbxl

            Re: cousins and work friends of parents (presuming those parents are paying), look around, in some communities those are rules just as firm as the all SOs rule you’re referring to (in fact, the biggest push back I personally got about my wedding guest list was leaving out cousins).

            Really, though, I think we can at the very least both agree on your addendum. I’m sorry we disagree so intensely, but at least we were able to be reasonably respectful about it.

          • TheOtherLiz

            Surprised at myself for disagreeing with you for the first time, Amy! Having made the decision not to allow plus ones for people who weren’t married or engaged, I thought it over a lot – but it wasn’t a rude thing to do. It was something we needed to do, to include all the people we loved. This “rule” doesn’t really allow for budget constraints or space constraints. Everyone makes hard choices and tradeoffs. When you single out a specific SO you don’t want there, maybe that’s rude. But if it’s a rule across the board, and you’re up front about it, then it’s not rude.

          • Amy is following some basic levels of etiquette. Even APW says you have to invite all significant others (as defined by the guest, not by you)…and APW is pretty loosey-goosey when it comes to wedding etiquette (as compared to, say, Miss Manners).

            Doesn’t mean you can’t be rude. We always have the option to take the most polite option or not. Doesn’t mean it’s a catastrophic rudeness. But it is considered, by polite society that follows agreed-upon etiquette, to be rude. We can talk about the weaknesses of these etiquette beliefs (i.e., classism, Western-centric, dismissal of regional etiquette, etc.) but it does not mean you are somehow following etiquette by taking the most affordable option for you. Etiquette is a preset grouping of rules, and if you break them, you break them.

            The argument really goes, if you can’t afford to invite all the guests’ partners, you should either invite fewer people (in circles, i.e., don’t invite your work friends or distant relatives), or spend less on food/music/decorations/transportation/rentals/venue. If there are space limitations, the proper thing to do is to invite fewer people again (in circles…so you invite everyone’s partners, but maybe not the people you aren’t as close to). This doesn’t mean you cannot choose to prioritize your centerpieces or beautiful, intimate venue over inviting everyone’s significant other. It just means you are breaking etiquette rules (therefore, being rude at some level). I sorta believe this is what cake & punch weddings are meant for…

          • vxbxl

            We get rid of bad or outdated etiquette rules all the time, so appealing to “but it’s the rule, you *have* to” isn’t a particularly effective argument to me.

            Yes, there are some aspects of that rule that are very valuable. Etiquette is ultimately about making people feel welcomed and respected. Inviting their significant others can certainly be a way of doing that, but, in a world where so much has changed in weddings (who funds, civil vs. religious, expectations of event style, the fact that most people don’t live in the same place/around the same people for most of their lives anymore, different cultural expectations) saying that “every single guest gets a +1” is a rule that no longer makes sense for many weddings.

            In your scenario, it’s more polite for me to exclude a close friend because I can’t invite her boyfriend than it would be for me to invite her alone. I’m sorry, but I don’t think that is still a reasonable rule of etiquette that can be universally applied. If I had told my close friend whom I met in Florida but who now lives in California that I couldn’t invite her to my wedding in Texas because I wasn’t inviting her California boyfriend (whom I had never met) she would have been furious with me. If I said “Hey, we’re not inviting +1s we don’t know, but I would still love to have you and it would be great to meet him some other time”, that would be far more welcoming and respectful. Sure, if she hadn’t know anyone at all in the wedding, I might have made an exception and invited him to keep her company, but in a scenario where she knows multiple other people there, where they won’t have +1s either, and where the boyfriend would know no one there but her, I honestly think it’s more pleasant for everyone if I don’t invite him.

            “This is the rule, that’s what you *have* to do” isn’t a valid reason for making a decision in the context of modern weddings. “This is the historical rule, breaking it could really hurt some feelings, and you should really think hard before you break it about whether keeping it or breaking it is more hurtful” is way more sensible to me.

          • Oh, the etiquette rule isn’t “every single guest gets a +1”. +1s are actually against etiquette. You’re supposed to know the names of everyone you invite (i.e., ask your guests). I specifically used the term guests’ “partners” and “significant others”, because THAT is the rule. People don’t get to bring randos (because randos are not necessary for guest happiness), but they do get to bring someone they consider themselves to be in a relationship with…because that’s how you make your guests comfortable and show respect for their relationship and time.

            “”This is the historical rule, breaking it could really hurt some feelings, and you should really think hard before you break it about whether keeping it or breaking it is more hurtful” is way more sensible to me.”
            That’s exactly what etiquette is for. It states the rules that can really hurt some feelings. You should think really hard before breaking most etiquette rules, because the etiquette is there to help you make life easier and more comfortable for your guests.

            The rules do have varying levels of severity for being broken, and each couple can determine how much they care…but you’re still potentially offending people. The stupidest etiquette rule is something like “invitations should not include a statement that dinner will be served” (premise is, it’s showing off). That’s one where…sometimes your guests need to know if they should bring dancing shoes or not, so it’s easily breakable because it will likely increase guests’ comfort. However, there is no real way to not invite guests’ significant others that will increase their comfort. So not inviting guests’ life partners is really hard to argue that it’s in the guests’ best interests.

          • vxbxl

            To be honest, I think this thread has gotten confusing enough that we’re arguing different issues. You are (obviously!) free to disagree with me in full or in part (in fact, I think you do, and that’s totally cool). I’m also not implying anything like “you’re confused and I’m not”, I’m confused at this point and you may not be. I just want to make it clear what I’m advocating.

            Here are the arguments I’ve made over the course of this thread:
            1. The APW response was spot on! It gave many well thought out reasons for inviting the guy. None of which was “because the rules say you have to”. (As an aside, I’m really glad to see things worked out for the LW and that extending some generosity of spirit helped make the guy a better fit with their group)
            2. No one is automatically invited to someone else’s wedding.
            2a. There are a number of competing “rules” about guest lists at this point (as I said, I was personally held to “you must invite all cousins” while my family could care less about SOs). Some of them are more widely held, but none of them are absolute any longer. As long as you’re consistently applying whatever rule you choose to follow AND truly considering the sum total happiness of your guests and broader community (rather than just being petty or prioritizing your needs over other people’s happiness without consideration), then you are not rude for choosing to ignore a “rule” that says you *have* to invite category X. Anyone who says you *have* to invite so-and-so because the rules say so is inviting people to your wedding, which is way ruder.
            3. You are allowed to exclude +1s (meaning both random dates AND boyfriends/girlfriends/what have you that have not met some basic definition of seriousness – living together, married, dating for 1 year, actually met because they function as the person’s partner, whatever) or whatever other category you choose to exclude (cousins, parent’s work friends, etc.) as long as you are clear that that’s what you’re doing and consistent across the board.
            4. If the MOH’s boyfriend is a +1 by your definition and she is aware of your definition and your rule, it is rude for her to insist you make an exception just for him. You can still choose to make an exception because it will make her feel good, but you are not the rude one in that equation. She is.
            5. Sometimes, someone can be really awful without a.) you being able to articulate why they’re awful (i.e. he’s not “glaringly terrible, but…” or b.) everyone agreeing with you that they’re awful (see, for example, the person in another comment who mentioned a guy who grabbed her boobs “as a joke” and whose girlfriend doesn’t think that the commenter should be offended. The commenter would not be rude if she didn’t invite that guy. From my own wedding, we got a lot of pressure to invite cousins. My husband has a cousin who threatened to kill our dog “as a joke”. We did not invite him. People were pissed at the exclusion even though they knew about the “joke”. We are not the rude ones in that scenario).
            6. You can tell your friend that they’re dating a jerk. Even in the context of a wedding invitation.
            7. If you choose to invite someone, for whatever reason, KNOWING that they are a bigot, a jerk, or just likely to be awful to your other guests, then you are responsible for mitigating their behaviour IN SOME WAY. The uncle Larry argument. If you invite a bigot, that doesn’t make you a bigot and it doesn’t mean you have to personally babysit them during your wedding or handhold every guest through his presence. It does mean that if you force people to spend time with the bigot you invited (because you assigned seating or because they’re aggressive in their bigotry), then it’s rude if you don’t do something to make the other guests more comfortable (warn them, separate the bigot from the group, assign the bigot a babysitter, whatever makes sense in your context).
            8. There are some, extremely rare and very carefully thought out, situations where it would be ok to exclude someone who would otherwise be invited (up to and including someone’s Significant Other/Partner/Spouse). Cases where their presence would hurt more feelings than their exclusion would or where you know your crowd well enough to know how the invitation will be judged (e.g. my Florida/California/Texas example above). I believed that this would be my only truly controversial point. I know it’s extreme, and I accept that it may be too extreme. I didn’t realize my other points would be so controversial.

            Sorry for the length, but I just really want to be clear what I’m arguing for here.

          • Amy March

            Exactly. There are so many ways to have a wedding that you can afford that aren’t rude. Excluding people’s partners simply isn’t one of them. Of course there are trade offs and hard decisions, and I can see why people chose this one, but it’s a rude choice.

          • vxbxl

            1. This isn’t just about money. There are other reasons to cut a guest list.
            2. Not every American community follows the same etiquette rules that you seem to believe are so absolute. I am appalled by the idea of cutting people who would otherwise be invited from the guest list until you can invite everyone + their partner (even partners who are less serious than spouse/spouse equivalent), and I have multiple friends who would be as well for completely different reasons from me. Assuming the universality and immutability of these etiquette rules is exactly what I objected to enough to comment on in the first place.

          • LucyPirates

            We are having the same discussion about our imminent wedding and whilst I hate being rude and want to invite all the people, the fact of the matter is that with our large family and friends we already have 120 people to the day. We are funding this ourselves so we have had to say, if dating less than a year and we haven’t met – no go.
            I have had about 4 people (cousins) asking if their gf/bf will be invited and whilst I hate it, we literally do not have the budget. I can’t even invite all of my cousins.
            But I also agree that it is important to us to have people there who at the very least know our names…

          • vxbxl

            I mean, I’m clearly in the minority here, but I will say that I loved my wedding, the guest list was great, we had a lot of fun, and no one who said “but you *have* to…” before the wedding was still upset after they attended the wedding and saw why we structured the guest list the way we did.

            Yeah, it’s great if you want to invite everyone and have a big shin-dig. We didn’t. We had a 64 person wedding. We have 36 first cousins BEFORE counting their SOs and children. No one got an automatic +1.

  • Sarah

    Frieds of mine had a destination wedding and a childhood friend brought along his latest dish who was out of the picture shortly thereafter. Now they have wedding pictures with a total rando. I agree inviting him would be best but just FYI.

    • Violet

      If I were LW, I definitely wouldn’t have him be in formal portraits. But you still can’t predict the future; my cousin’s fiance was of course in the family shots at our wedding. They got married a few months later and divorced a few months after that. So now he’s in our family shots forever, but I mean, who would’ve known? He was there; the pictures reflect who was there. So even if this guy ends up in candids of the reception, or whatever, that’s an accurate reflection of the day. (If he shows, of course.)

      • Keri

        Just take more pictures. “Okay, let’s get one with everyone! Okay, now just the childhood best friends!” etc.

      • Eh

        I was not allowed in the family photos at my BIL’s wedding because me and my husband were not married. My SIL did not want to pay for a picture with me in and another one with me out. Anyways, she regrets it. (note: she also told the photographer to not take pictures of me)

        • Violet

          Well as far as I can figure, your in-laws were seriously affecting your SIL’s impressions of you, behind-the-scenes. I’m glad you two have figured things out since then.

          • Eh

            I agree. I was lucky to be invited. I was almost uninvited.

        • JenC

          Same thing happened to me. We had just got engaged at the time of his brothers wedding, I believed we all got on really well and I’d been on the scene a long time (read: since the beginning of the relationship of the wedding I was attending). The bride still didn’t want me in the official family photos, it really upset me. My dear husband picked up on me being upset and made his brother include me in some pictures but it was just the four of us, not the family. What hurts even more now is they didn’t even make it to their first anniversary before separating. They were having troubles before the wedding so I really don’t understand why I was excluded because they’re wedding pictures are completely redundant now.

          • Eh

            I wasn’t upset but my MIL was pissed. That’s why the photographer was told not to take pictures of me (you can see me in the audience in some ceremony pictures and that’s it – I am strategicly cropped out of pictures of the guys getting ready since I helped them). My SIL also told our MIL that since she (and my BIL) were paying for the photographer she had no say. My inlaws gave them half the money for their wedding with no (official) strings attached (they were hoping that it would give them some cloat when stuff like this came up). It would have been nice I have a picture of me and my husband from that day but we have other pictures.

          • Lisa

            I had something similar, too. I was at my now-SIL’s wedding and served as the cantor. No one told me where they wanted me to go after the ceremony so I hung off to the side during pictures. My MIL called out for me to come and join the family photos and insisted I stay as the group whittled down further and further to just immediate family. At this point, my SIL curtly told me to get out of the pictures so she could have one with just her family.

            I’m sure it was the stress of the wedding day combined with the fact that I was really sick and was also meeting the extended family for the first time, but the way she said it stuck with me and still kind of hurts. I wish someone had told me beforehand whether I should be in the pictures or not so they hadn’t put my SIL on the spot. (Coincidentally, yesterday was their fourth anniversary. How time flies!)

        • toomanybooks

          Wow… Were they paying per photo?? Seems harsh.

          • Eh

            Nope they paid for a package and got around a thousand edited pictures. When that was brought up she said “well they only edit so many so that would have been one less photo of people I wanted”. She also said that getting a picture with me printed would have also meant getting a picture without me printed in case we broke up. No one said they wanted her to get a picture with me printed, my MIL would have liked one though and my MIL bought a lot of pictures from the photographer’s website because my BIL/SIL never told her that they were getting digital copies that she could use to get prints from a less expensive source.

        • sage

          When my now aunt entered the scene on my mom’s side of the family (but before she married my uncle) they included her in the formal family portraits… however, they positioned her on the edge “so that if things didn’t work out they could just photo-shop her out”.

          • Eh

            My grandfather used to ‘photoshop’ people into family pictures when they weren’t even in the picture. When we were teenagers he took separate pictures of me and my siblings and then put them together. He would also add people into large family photos at weddings/reunions

          • sage

            Hahaha that’s awesome. We actually had a professional photographer do this with some family portraits he took last Christmas when my sister and her husband couldn’t make it due to a family emergency. The photographer had us sort of just leave a space for them in the back.

          • Eh

            I have seen this down with small children at weddings when they would not sit still long enough so a separate picture of the children was taken with fewer people around.

      • Carolyn S

        Yeah it’s nice to have an idea of pictures that perfectly capture your family for eternity, but it definitely happens that they could end up having some people who aren’t part of the family in years to come, but that could happen even if that person is married. That said, when my brother got married he just asked me if he thought my boyfriend of the time should be in pictures or not. And when I said yes he respected that. If he had said “married or engaged sibling partners only” I don’t think I would have been that upset.

        • Lisa

          So true! There are people in my parents’ wedding pictures that have since been divorced or have removed themselves from the family. We talk a lot here on APW about how weddings aren’t timeless, but a moment that reflect our circumstances at the time. That is reflected in our families as well.

          • Eh

            That’s for sure how I feel about my wedding photos. I would love them to have my SIL and my nieces in them but that’s not where we were as a family.

        • Eh

          My brother had just met my SIL four months before my dad’s wedding to my step-mum. I am glad she wasn’t excluded from the pictures (they ended up eloping a month later). On the other hand, I was with my ex (we had been together four years at that point) so he is forever in the pictures.

          The idea that family portraits can’t capture your family for eternity is something I am trying to explain to my MIL. For Christmas two years ago we bought her a family portrait session (since my BIL/SIL’s wedding pictures exclude me since we weren’t married, and our wedding pictures don’t have my SIL or my nieces because of a family fight and them not attending – my SIL regrets both situations). That same Christmas we announced we were pregnant. My MIL then decided to hold off on family pictures until after our daughter was born. And then she waited too long and the photographer didn’t have time available for us in time to use the pictures for Christmas. And now my MIL is trying to pick the perfect time for all of us for the session. lol and if we get pregnant again (we have no plans to anytime soon) before the pictures are taken then I suspect she will push it off again.

    • Daisy6564

      Our approach was +1s for any long term relationship. My friends lived all over the country so I may never have met the guy you have been dating for 18 mos. but he is certainly not a random to you. If I did not know if my friend was dating someone I asked.

      We did not do across the board +1s meaning that people not in a relationship could just bring a date. Also, we did not allow +1s in any formal photos. My sister is now engaged to the guy she had been dating for just six months at my wedding. He was there because he was important to her. He was not in photos because we did not know how long he would be around. I made it clear to her to let him know he should not be in family photos and they were both fine with that. I do not regret not having my future BIL in my wedding photos.

    • Rhie

      Oh man, the sister of the guy I dated in college got married about six months after we got together and I was invited to the wedding. They tried to get me to be in a couple of the family photos and I was flattered but also like um no, I’m not part of your family yet… I have no business being in these pictures!! Ultimately that relationship ended acrimoniously after almost three years and I still think back on it sometimes and am so so so thankful that I’m not in those photographs.

      • Orangie

        Not the same, but I was with a guy for over 5 years, and his parents planted trees for all the kids/spouses. The guy ended up cheating on me with a coworker and it blew up in the worst way possible. I wonder what the guy’s parents (and his wife, the coworker!) feel about “my” pecan tree being right outside their kitchen window? :)

        • gonzalesbeach

          maybe they think he should have waited for the pecan tree to produce and not spread his own nuts about town?

      • CMT

        Another solution to this is to just take two sets of photos. It’s (probably) not like there’s a limit to the amount of film available.

        • Eenie

          This is great, but I felt so awkward asking my brother’s girlfriend to jump in and out of photos as the only non married partner in both our families. She just got to be in all of them that had other SOs included.

          • Totch

            At my brother’s wedding we joked about all the possible permutations we’d have to do to cover our bases:
            1) Spouse 1, boyf 2, girlf 3 (and obviously the bride in all of these)
            2) 1 & 2
            3) 1 & 3
            4) 1
            5) 2 & 3
            6) 2
            7) 3
            8) None

            We opted for numbers 4 and 8 (boyf and girlf were happy to stay to the side). Turns out that only option 6 would still work today (5 years out). There’s no good way to do it.

          • raccooncity

            My now-husband’s sister got married shortly after we started dating (after a long friendship, even)…we’d only been together a few months. He brought me as a date, and they didn’t include me in any pics and I completely understood that. They’re in my wedding pictures now, of course, so we have the whole family together in a picture at this point.

            Anyway, I think 90% of people get the gravity of wedding photos and get why they’re hopping in and out.

          • Eenie

            Oh I know! I still felt awkward doing it. I decided I’d rather just include her and make the process easier. I will also not think she ruined our wedding photos if they break up in the future. She was an important part of my brother’s life when we got married. Perfect definition of a snapshot in time :) (she’s also super awesome and I okayed her being in the photos ahead of time with my brother to make sure it wouldn’t make her feel awkward.)

          • raccooncity

            You know, I hadn’t thought about that wedding really since the day of but now that I think about it, I might have been fully excluded because of another sibling’s SO who had been with that sibling much longer but people didn’t really like.

            Sibling came to our wedding, but SO skipped it, and I can’t say I’m sad that he’s not in the pictures.

    • emmers

      My take on this was that they’re meant to be photos capturing a moment in time, the day. People will die, people will break up, you’ll grow apart from people, it happens. I had my brother’s longtime girlfriend in my wedding as a bridesmaid, and they broke up a few months later. She’s in my photos, and I do feel a twinge when looking at them, because I miss her. But I don’t regret having her in photos.
      She even said she wasn’t sure about being a bridesmaid because she didn’t want to “mess up” photos if they broke up, and one of the first things my bro said post-breakup was that he was sorry that the photos were messed up. But it’s totttalllly not something I care about at this point. So to each their own, I guess!

  • BDubs

    You already broached the subject and know she will be mad if you exclude him. For the sake of your friendship, regardless of what “etiquette” dictates, I think it’s best to just invite him.

    • Keri

      Plus, what’s the *reasonable* worst case scenario? Not really that he’s going to ruin your whole wedding. More likely, you warn some other folks that you don’t really want to spend time with this dude and they help you out, you’re busy getting married/hanging with your maid of honor (don’t wedding party dates that are not also in the wedding part usually kind of get left out anyway?), and maybe you feel awkward/avoid him at times. Not really worth the risk of wrecking an otherwise healthy friendship over.

      • Violet

        Love this approach of considering what the actual downsides are to inviting him. Not many. Versus the downsides to not inviting him, which are much more significant.

  • JenC

    I sympathise with the LW writer, really I do, but you have to invite him. One of my bridesmaids is with a guy who I really don’t think deserves her, I think he’s emotionally abusive to her. Some of the things he’s said to her are beyond horrible, I wouldn’t say them to my worst enemy (for which he is a strong front runner) let alone someone I’m meant to love. No question though that he got an invite. She is choosing to be with him, for reasons beyond my control and I refuse to give him an option to cut her out of my life or feel unsupported by me. Not inviting him to our wedding would have been that chance. I live in hope that she will dump his lying, piece of shit arse and I know at that point she’ll need my support because whilst I can’t wait to see the back of him, she cares. Even if she doesn’t care anymore and is staying with him because of fear (which I belive is possible) she needs my support and I gave it to her by not even questioning if her loser partner came to our wedding. She’s my friends and has been my friend for most of my adult life, my wedding doesn’t equate to that level of friendship. Somethings are bigger than the day.

    • Kate

      I’m in a very similar situation, only they’ve been in an on again off again relationship for the last several years because he refuses to be in an actual relationship. I HATE him for really good reasons (e.g. He hit on me while they were together, putting me in the awful position of having to tell her or feel like I’m betraying her) but have accepted that she can bring him if she wants.

      At some point in our friendship I was so critical of the guy that my friend was embarrassed to tell me that they were back “on.” So she didn’t. That was a wake up call. I love this friend and don’t want her to feel she has to keep anything from me.

      • JenC

        It’s really hard because once you’ve let your friend know that you don’t like their partner they’re less inclined to talk to you about their troubles. I made that mistake with her and she would then only tell me the really bad stuff and only then if I caught her whilst she was upset about it. She’s warning back up now but it’s taken ages and she still won’t share a lot. Somehow you have to find the line between making her feel like her choice is respected but also making them realise when their partner is just a horrible person.

  • Sara

    I say invite him for two reasons – 1) They’ve only been dating a few months, who knows if they’ll stay together (making this a moot point) or if he’ll want to travel for a wedding for people he doesn’t seem to know very well. 2) Your reasons for not liking him seem to be more about not knowing him very well. You’ve spent a few times with him and he was late to a friend’s birthday party.

    Short story – I have a good friend who dated I guy I did not like at all. He was sarcastic and negative and antisocial. He literally made her leave parties because he was ‘too tired’. The more time I spent with him though, the more I found out he’s just really introverted. The time he spent at our parties was a struggle for him and he was doing his best. I like him a lot now. He’s funny when you know him (the negative thing is a front to the true Dave) and now I get that she’s cool with leaving early because he’s hit his limit. If she wants to stay out later, they take two cars or he stays home (where he’s happier anyway). He’s a good friend now and a great husband for my friend.

    • Greta

      Totally agreed! A friend of mine has a boyfriend/now husband that really wasn’t my cup of tea. He was quite abrasive, and I didn’t particularly enjoy his company. But the more and more time I’ve spent with him, including some time where it was just the three of us, really changed my views of him. I now really enjoy his presence and am excited to hear when he’s able to make it to some events. It’s taken a few years to get to this point, with some growth and maturity on all ends, but I really am glad that I gave him a chance and didn’t write him off because now I think he’s awesome.

    • Amy March

      Right. And I always think ok, so he “made” her leave, but actually he didn’t. She decided to date him, she decided to bring him, she decided to leave when he wanted to leave. We make all kinds of excuses for our people because we love them, but none for their partners even though there are two people in that relationship.

      • Violet

        Also, sometimes it’s just hard to see our friends grow and change. Especially in the context of a relationship. We worry they’ll change so much we won’t be friends anymore. Or that we’ll lose the strength of our connection if they connect with someone else too. Or maybe just me who worries about things like that? LW and her friend have had ups and downs; I can see why LW’s on high alert for something that might jeopardize their relationship once more. But you can’t bubble wrap your friendships. You have to have enough trust that your friendship can evolve even if your friend changes.

        • Scalliwag

          This in such a big way. My family has never been particularly welcoming to my SOs but I try and remember that they’ve known me one way for a very long time, and seeing me as another way (in a serious relationship, not that my husband drastically “changed me”) can be scary. The beauty of family and long standing friendships is a lot of shared history, but that can also be a negative if it’s just all in the past.

      • Totch

        Absolutely. I know (read: avoid) some people who blame partners for pulling people away from the core group. The reality is that they suck, and finding a solid partner makes it easier to see that and find better social options. It’s not a sudden absence of free will.

      • Sara

        Right. I only say ‘made’ because think it was an agreement between the two of them. She wanted to go, he didn’t. So his compromise was when he said ‘now’, she said her goodbyes. But she wasn’t forced to do anything she didn’t really want to do in that scenario.

      • tr

        Oh my gosh, yes! In general, it’s helpful to remember that our friends are people, and so are their partners. We all have at least one friend who has a thousand annoying habits (I’m looking at you, super flaky friend who’s late for everything and always forgets birthdays, but is also crazy awesome in a thousand different ways). It only stands to reason that the people our friends choose to date will also have some annoying quirks and hangups. To us, their upsides may not ever outweigh the negatives, but that doesn’t mean that our friend is going to feel the same way. We don’t expect to just completely adore every single one of our friends’ friends, so why do we expect that it’ll be any different with their relationship partners?

      • raccooncity

        Not to mention Mr. RC and I have a longstanding tradition of being the one who takes the blame for leaving early with each other’s acquaintances/coworkers/new friends regardless of who wants to go. Helps to make the goodbye conversations quicker.

    • Lawyerette510

      Similar to Greta, one of my best friends then boyfriend (now husband) was someone I just did not click with for a very long time (3 to 4 years) and the feeling was mutual. But we kept spending time together because we both adored my friend/ his significant other. Over the years 6 or, we have grown close and like each other a lot now. It just took time to understand one another. I’m so glad neither of us did anything particularly exclusionary or hurtful to the other than would have made our growth as friends harder.

      • Lisa

        I felt this way about my sister’s husband for quite a while. I didn’t dislike him per se, but I thought he was boring and plain. It wasn’t until around the time they got married or shortly after (so 3-4 years) that he started to open up around my family and really join in. I remember being amazed that he actually seemed like a nice, fun, intelligent person. So we’re all 6-7 years into our relationships at this point, and it finally feels like we’re able to settle into a great dynamic.

    • Anona

      I was the girl who used to “make” her then boyfriend (now husband) go home “early” (~midnight) at parties. His best friend HATED me for it even though I didn’t understand why she cared so much, especially since it’s not like we left 5 minutes later. Turns out, she was used to having him stay at her house until 6am, just the two of them. So what she really hated was that their relationship had changed and that spending the majority of his time with her was no longer his priority. Once we both kind of came to terms with that, we were good, but it was hard. Serious relationships change friendship dynamics and that can be an awkward time. And it’s harder if the friend and the new SO don’t naturally click either (as was/is our case – even after getting over the initial hump, we kinda silently know that we’re both good people, but would neeeeeever hang out in any other circumstance).

      • sofar

        haha several of my fiance’s friends think I am “Destroyer of all fun” because they can’t drop by with a bong and pass out playing video games at my fiance’s place anymore. SorryNotSorry :)

    • Eh

      When I read how the LW described the boyfriend’s behaviour that she didn’t like my first thoughts was he sounds introverted. He could totally be a jerk, but it sounds more like that the LW and her fiancé don’t know him very well so they don’t understand him.

    • sage

      Yeah, when reading the LW’s description of her MOH’s boyfriend, my first thought was “Whoa, I could totally see someone thinking similar things about me (negative, cynical, and not caring toward people I don’t know well) if I am not ‘on’ the first few times we meet.” It is stressful hanging out with new people (especially SO’s friends) for the first few times, more so if you don’t click right away. And if the person is an introvert, works a stressful job, or deals with depression (all three in my case), it’s not surprising they might come off as negative. Sometimes all it takes is spending more time together, and not just in large group settings.

  • Her Lindsayship

    Not that LW has to justify anything to the masses, but I don’t get a good sense of why this guy’s presence at this wedding is a big enough deal that it will be the cross she bears against her best friend of 10 years. I agree with Liz’s advice, but I’d also like to add that there’s a possibility that you’re being a bit exclusionary toward this guy. It struck me as a red flag that you didn’t at all respect his excuse of not feeling sociable. How important is it to be on time for a 21st birthday party of a friend of your gf of a few months? Not more important than your own well-being. That part irked me.

    • Totch

      I’ll second this. If you sometimes have trouble socializing, it can be even harder to get close to people when you know they don’t get it.

      The boyfriend might have made a bad impression on the friend group, but the reverse might be true as well. If I was attending a birthday party for a new partner’s friend I’d feel nervous enough. If I got there and felt annoyance from them when I said I was late because I “didn’t feel up for socializing” … I wouldn’t dislike them for it, but my guard would stay up.

    • BD

      Yeeah, I was struck by that too. Maybe I’m biased because I’m pretty introverted myself. (Also I’m assuming he didn’t ask you to hold off on those speeches at the party so why would you do that and then hold it against him?)

    • LW

      The issue with the birthday was that we actually had phoned him more than once to ask if he was coming and his excuses kept changing. In retrospect I understand needing to decompress before a social event but not knowing the guy very well it did irk a few people.

      Also I’m not sure how customs differ but where I come from 21st birthdays are a pretty big deal. Not necessarily formal but generally your grandparents and parents come and a few people say speeches – it’s an important milestone event, and it was actually important to the host that my friends SO there. It’s also kind of awkward to walk into a party during speeches so we wanted to make sure he would be there.

      I do understand the confusion, though, and completely understand how the situation might look to an outsider. Ironically, my friends and i are a pretty close community, and I guess we were hurt that he would pass up an important event because he ‘didnt feel like it’.

      That being said, ive since gotten to know him better and have come to understand how difficult socialising is for him. We get along much better now, and ive apologised to my MOH for being selfish and exclusionary. Hes very excited to attend our wedding next year :)

      • Her Lindsayship

        Wow, thank you for such a thoughtful reply. It sounds like the whole concept of a 21st birthday is very different for your social group than mine, and that does lend more context to the scenario. I hope my reaction wasn’t hurtful. It sounds like he made a bad first impression, but good for you for making the effort to get to know him anyway! This introvert is glad to hear that. :) Best of luck with the wedding!

  • Katharine Parker

    I agree with Liz and everyone saying that LW should invite the MOH’s boyfriend, but I don’t think you have to pay for the boyfriend because you’re paying for a groomsman’s girlfriend. You don’t owe every member of the wedding party the exact same treatment – publicly giving wildly different gifts (e.g. a paperback book for one bridesmaid, a gold watch for another) would be rude, but you can offer to host one groomsman and not others. People don’t need to know if the groomsman is paying his share of the house or not. If the MOH does know, this may not be possible, but in general you are allowed to be discreet with how you choose to spend money and adults shouldn’t keep tabs on who gets what.

    • Lawyerette510

      I think the key concept of your point is discretion.

      • Amy March

        Right. Starting with not telling MOH that you’re paying for other people!! Zip it.

  • Eenie

    No one else has said it yet:

    Invite him and include him, and if they break up before the wedding, you win! You were inclusive and supportive of the relationship when MOH needed it. You don’t have to actually deal with him at the wedding.

  • sofar

    As for paying for his accommodations … I don’t think you have to. You can always say you’re paying for the other friend because they have little kids and can’t afford to travel to your wedding without help, or something. Don’t tell MoH you are paying. We are paying for several people’s travel expenses for various reasons and are keeping it quiet.

  • honeycomehome

    What if he WAS terrible? What if he said racist/homophobic/transphobic things? What if he said these things loudly? What if he said these things loudly and also carried on a gun on his hip and was very vocal about his right to do so?

    What if the whole wedding was 25 people, so there’d be no way he could just fade in the background and there was a zero percent chance he’d be quiet/polite throughout?

    This isn’t really a hypothetical question for me… Does etiquette really dictate I should (“have to”) invite him? (He’s not married to, but is living with, the nearest/dearest that I want there.)

    • Cleo

      Can you talk to your nearest/dearest about your concerns and couch them in a way of “I love you and want you there, and of course your SO should come too, but I’m worried about how the types of comments he makes might offend X/or will turn my wedding into a forum for political debate. I really want the focus to be on love during the day, so could you ask him to tone it down a bit during the ceremony and reception? Also, just so you and he know, the venue explicitly doesn’t allow any weapons, despite the conceal carry laws.”

      Only you know your nearest/dearest, but hopefully this works. Make it about your wedding/keeping the peace instead of his specific views and him as a person.

      Good luck!

    • stephanie

      “What if he WAS terrible? What if he said racist/homophobic/transphobic things? What if he said these things loudly? What if he said these things loudly and also carried on a gun on his hip and was very vocal about his right to do so?”

      I… would not invite that person to my wedding, especially if there are 25 people. No no no.

    • Violet

      No, I don’t think etiquette suggests you invite him. Very different scenario, for a number of reasons.

    • Liz

      Nope.

      This may mean having a, “I’m not inviting him because he says racist/homophobic/transphobic things,” conversation, but that conversation is a lot more black and white and easier to stand firm on than, “I just don’t like him.”

      I’d be completely fine with making it about his specific views. (Though, I understand Cleo’s point and think it’s a good work-around if you’re not)

    • tr

      Honestly, this is one of the reasons that I avoided having a suuuper intimate wedding–I wanted there to be enough people in total that a handful of questionable guests could easily fade into the background! (Thanks to the town I come from, there is definitely going to have to be one table in the back just full of people like him…since they’ll all be at one table, they can entertain themselves with discussions about how wonderful Trump is, and nobody else has to be bothered). I’m not going to say that you *have* to invite him, but you are definitely risking the friendship with your nearest/dearest that you do want there.

      • raccooncity

        same, although it was less about individual guests being questionable and more about relationships being dicey. more people = more socialization options for everyone

    • Amy March

      So I think you can certainly tell him that he is not allowed to bring a gun into your wedding- he has no right to do so over the objection of the host of a party he is attending. And I’d also go with eh, it’s not perfect, but yeah don’t invite him if he’s loudly bigoted. But my question is why you are comfortable considering someone your nearest/dearest when that person is choosing to live with someone who is a gun toting bigot? Because the politest solution here is inviting neither of them. And I get that you probably don’t want to do that, but you are giving your friend a free pass here. I think there’s a different calculus for supporting a friend in an abusive relationship and supporting a friend who is dating someone horrible, but not abusive. Obviously I don’t know which situation we are talking about here, but worth thinking about.

    • Ebloom

      If that were the case, it seems like one would have that talk with their friend before the wedding invite came up. Like when you met him and he said racist, homophobic, and transphobic things. Then the question morphs into not should I invite this gun toting guy to my wedding, but why is my friend (who I’m assuming has similar values if they are soooo close) dating someone who is racist, homophobic, and carries a gun? I think those specific examples are enough to say to one’s friend, “you know, I don’t feel comfortable inviting him because he’s clearly racist. There will be guests in attendance who will be impacted by his views and lack of a filter. I’m sorry, but I need to put their emotional safety first. I love our friendship, and I hope that you can understand.”

  • Alexandra

    I think people just do not get how little the specifics of the guest list matters at one’s own wedding. I blew this issue way out of proportion, didn’t allow people to bring kids and +1s, and if I had it to do over again I’d let everybody invite whoever they wanted. It was a buffet, plenty of people RSVPd and didn’t show so there was a TON of extra food. Also, I was way too nervous and way too involved in making sure everyone was welcomed, greeted and taken care of to actually have a meaningful social interaction with anyone that night. The one person who drove me insane the whole weekend was my mother, and I had to invite her. A rando or a weirdo here or there would not have mattered. It’s such a blur when it’s your own wedding–so different from the experience of being a wedding attendee.

    I understand if you have a plated cost per head kind of wedding that changes things a bit, but even in that case I’d probably round down my numbers to the caterer, maybe pay a little more, and still let everybody bring whoever. They usually make extra food. It all comes out in the wash. The goodwill generated is priceless.

    • Ashlah

      This. As you mentioned, there are some weddings where you logistically need to hammer down the exact guest list, or where a tiny guest list means unwanted guests are obvious. But I regret how much stress I put into our guest list. Our wedding had no seating chart, it was a buffet meal with PLENTY of food, and a few more people really wouldn’t have made a difference to me, but may have meant a lot to them/others. I should have let my dad invite his friends. I should have invited that one cousin and her family I’d never met. I shouldn’t have worried so much that there were a few will-they-won’t-they-show-up folks. It really was not a big deal in the end–the few uninvited plus ones who attended were a complete non-issue–and I wish I’d realized that earlier.

    • BSM

      Totally agree. I was also overly annoyed about random extended family members whom I’d never met needing to be invited, but it just did not matter at all. AT ALL. In fact, many of those people were so thrilled to finally meet me (in-laws) and excited to have the opportunity to see far-flung relatives that they were some of the most joyful guests in attendance.

      Big ditto on the mom part. She was the only jerk there, and even that didn’t matter!

  • JC

    My stance is that wedding attendants always get invites for their significant others. I get it, that there are personality clashes, costs to consider, and maybe the attendant situation isn’t super clear-cut. But let me ask you (the collective universe), do you believe that your MOH loves you? And do you believe that your MOH is going to be loving you fiercely on your special day? Hopefully yes to both those questions. And do you believe that you will be in a position to love your MOH back, on that day? Probably not in the same way. So make sure she has someone in her corner. Make sure she gets some attention, someone who treats her as a priority while she’s busy treating you as a priority. Think of the boyfriend not so much like a guest as one of the supplies you would give to your MOH to make sure she has a good day too– the cup of coffee in the morning, the bottle of water in the afternoon, the waterproof mascara and mini deodorant. I’m not going to take this deodorant analogy much further because it could ridiculous and also flippant, which I don’t want to do. I think others are right, that having this one person there won’t actually affect your day a whole lot, but it can affect the day for her, and that sounds like a fair price to pay.

    • Eh

      “So make sure she has someone in her corner.” – I had never thought of it this way. I am going to say that little things have come up at every wedding I have been part of. At my wedding my sister was MOH and my now-BIL ran tons of errands for us (like finding the cheque for the bagpiper while we were having pictures, or getting my niece to smile in pictures by spinning a yellow umbrella). At my BIL’s wedding my husband was Best Man and I brought all the guys lunch while they were decorating the ceremony site and I helped the guys get ready (since none of them knew how to put on a boutonnière). At my sister wedding my husband ran errands when other family members had other commitments. I have other examples too but I will stop there. It’s good to have someone (who isn’t as involved) there for your VIPs and help make sure things run smoothly.

      • JC

        Yes, absolutely! Willing and able significant others become great assets during set up (especially if they have vehicles) and as extra hands for clean up!

    • TheOtherLiz

      That’s the call we made for our wedding – we said NO plus ones except for engaged or married, and were strict about it – live-in boyfriends and girlfriends were not invited unless there was a ring on it. I worried it seemed judgy, but it was the simplest way to draw the line and fit all our invitees into our small venue. But we made an exception for our attendants, even though we didn’t like the boyfriend of one of them – just got a “bleh” feeling. Then, he started to be a really questionable boyfriend and my now-husband was ready to say “uninvite him”… and then the attendant finally dumped him. And you know what? We let her invite whomever she wanted for a plus one, because it sucks to be single and not have a partner in crime at a wedding when you’ve only been single for a couple of weeks. So she brought a friend who we’d never met before, and who cares? She had a friend on the dance floor and at her dinner table. Feel bad about other guests, but at the end of the day, you can only invite so many. The advice about “you DO need to invite your friend’s long term SO” didn’t mesh with our budget, and so, well, sorry.

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  • Nell

    She’s been dating him for a few months – your wedding is still a few months away. . . there’s a very good chance that they’ll break up before you get married. We actually had 2 guest breakups and a divorce between our invites and our wedding. We were relieved on all counts, but we also were glad that we had extended the invitation anyway.

    Plus, being a MOH for someone when you are in no way near marriage is a really intense experience. She’s honoring this major shift in your life by standing up with you at your wedding. Inviting her person of choice is a good way to honor where she is at in her life. She may know, on some level, that this guy isn’t “the one.” But it’s not fun to have someone on the outside tell you that.

  • riotgrrlonfire

    I have a similar situation brewing for my wedding next year (though hopefully not as emotionally loaded). Basically, the long-term girlfriend of my partner’s good friend is prone to drinking too much and causing a scene (previous offenses include: screaming and crying at her boyfriend and other bystanders, sexually harassing bystanders and friends with uninvited sexual comments/offers to sleep together, etc., and has personally made advances toward me and my partner, including groping and petting us). I think my partner’s friend is fully aware of his girlfriend’s behavior, but makes no mention of it, and only infrequently/unreliably tries to neutralize her or situations. We are inviting other friends from the same close circle – should we not invite the couple? Invite my partner’s good friend but not his girlfriend? We would like to give friends/peers +1’s to the reception as a rule if we don’t know the dates, but I’m really concerned about this woman’s behavior.

    • Amy March

      In this case, I’d do both or neither. Both, if you really want good friend there, knowing that if she makes a scene its fine to tell her to leave. Neither, if you’d rather avoid it entirely. I don’t see a justification for splitting them up- partner’s friend wants to date someone who gets drunk and rowdy, partner’s friend faces consequences for that. Personally, I wouldn’t be calling someone a good friend if they chose to be in a relationship with someone who groped me.

    • Lisa

      I agree with Amy. I’d also add it that, if you do invite this couple, perhaps you can get one of your other friends to run interference if the girlfriend starts to get too drunk. You might also talk to the venue coordinator/cater and let them know that they are welcome to cut her off if they notice she’s drinking excessively.

  • LT

    There were several people we had to invite to our wedding despite not really wanting to, because of requests from family and close friends. Every time we agreed to one of those “Ugh, do we haaave tooo” guests, we had to remind ourselves that this was not the hill we wanted to die on right before we started married life. The LW’s MOH is important to her, and this guy, as punchable as she might find him, is important to her MOH. My advice: suck it up and make your loved ones happy (within reason, of course).

    The way it worked out, neither of us noticed the objectionable people because we were having such a good time! Floating on a cloud of newlywed happiness really helps you ignore people you don’t care about.

  • LW

    LW here! I wrote in to APW a few months ago because I was feeling very conflicted with this issue. I absolutely agree with this advice – I was being a little selfish, and I realised that my friendship with my friend was more important than me not liking her SO.

    However! I actually did end up following this advice, having a long discussion with my MOH, and it turns out that there was some not so great stuff that happened in his past that contributed to him being rude and cynical around her friends, and my fiance and I have made more of an effort to get to know him. Our relationship is much better now, and he is excited to attend our wedding next year :) Just goes to show that sometimes people who might seem like douche bags just need some understanding and love to uncover the awesome people that they are.

    Thanks Liz, this was solid advice.

    • Amy March

      Glad everything worked out!

    • Lisa

      Thank you for coming back with an update! I also appreciated the clarification about the 21st birthdays that you gave elsewhere; it seems that many of us commenters were hung up on that when it was just a different convention from our own. I’m glad to hear things have worked out and that everyone is enjoying each other’s company. Best of luck to you on the rest of the wedding planning!