I Found out About My Nephew’s Wedding on Facebook


How do I talk to them about it?

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

woman working on a computer

Q:While looking for information about graduate school graduation days for my nephew, I came across engagement links—and then on Facebook, 226 wedding pictures posted by his wife. Ten months after his wedding. In total, it was after one year of dating, one year of engagement, and ten months of marriage. Prior to that, at Christmas, my sister-in-law sent along a nice and newsy Christmas card (as usual), a nice Christmas check, and mentioned that nephew and “Lisa” were a “cute pair.” I thought my twenty-six-year-old nephew had a girlfriend. Anyway, I got a Christmas card from said nephew thanking me for my Christmas money gift, and talked about his dogs and his truck and how he was working hard getting through graduate school. He was married by then, and I didn’t know it. He never said “we” in his news. He never mentioned a wife. I asked him to keep in touch about his graduation date, as I’d like to recognize his accomplishment. And when the future rolled around, I hadn’t heard from him, so I wrote his mom (they are in the same town). I didn’t hear anything from her either, so I looked up the university, and in the process discovered the marriage.

So at 3 a.m., after discovering this whole thing, I think I was in total shock and a state of disbelief. I had gotten as far as the engagement site when I emailed his mom saying, in one line, something like, “What is this?” and sent the link. And, “You know, I can’t help but feel a bit insulted I didn’t know.” In about twenty minutes, I found the Facebook page with the 226 pictures of a full-blown wedding, and I burst into tears. I sent the link to my nephew’s mom, saying “???? WTF. Why didn’t I know? You know I would have at least sent a card or something?” In my state, I wrote two other one-line emails, and then I stopped. I was soooo upset.

About an hour later, my blood brother and father of nephew interjected, saying, “That’s it! You’ve crossed the line by attacking my wife!” I defended myself briefly by asking how he would feel, saying I’m not attacking anyone, and that’s not fair! He said two other things in the emails, the last being “Back OFF!”

After a week and talking with friends and family, I wrote a nice letter. It was addressed to the whole family—my brother, his wife, the oldest son (twenty-eight), and the married nephew (twenty-six). I figured the parents wouldn’t circulate it, so I emailed it to the oldest boy. (The married one I texted for his email address, and he never responded.) I asked the oldest to share the letter, and don’t know if he did or not. In any case, the married nephew has never responded to any inquiries. The oldest emailed me back almost immediately—he had no idea I didn’t know. Couldn’t even begin to offer an explanation. (He was in the wedding party.) That’s all I have.

Making this harder is that my brother is executor of our estate. Until now, and for a long, long time, he’s been just wonderful about everything. Of course I can no longer consider this an option. His sons were my heirs. I don’t want to even consider this now, and will soon make other arrangements.

My thoughts are going more and more toward disconnection. Maybe they have already done that to me—I don’t know. We are waiting on some legal things to finalize, then I can advise my brother simply and without inflammation that he’s no longer executor of our estate. After that, the next step for me is nothing. I realize he may be having difficulties at his work, but still, even if he were to eventually apologize and offer repair, I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. Am I overreacting? I don’t think that after this, I can ever put serious issues in his care again. I need someone who can realistically appraise a situation and make a good decision(s), and not behave as I’ve seen.

Any input would be good to hear. From what I read on situations like this, my reactions are normal and my strategy for solution just fine, and now perhaps it’s a matter of personal choice on when to simply walk away.

—Unbelievably Upset

A: Dear UU,

Whew. Okay. This sucks, and you’re not wrong to feel emotional about it. But let’s step back for a second.

A good thing to remember about guest list decisions is that they probably have nothing to do with you at all. Wedding planning can be strange like that (with sometimes poor results). I know, when you find out that an entire elaborate wedding happened without your knowledge, it’s easy to take that very personally. You feel that even if you weren’t invited, you should’ve at least known about it. And I understand that. But sometimes, especially when we’re talking weddings, hurtful decisions are made without a specific intention to hurt.

There are a bunch of possibilities—and I’ll be frank, none of them are great—but it might not be as bad as you think. The most likely scenario, to me, is that your nephew or his wife were weird about the invitation list and it put his family in an uncomfortable position. Maybe your nephew doesn’t see you as a super close aunt, but instead someone he only hears from at Christmas. Maybe his partner wanted to limit the number of family members present. Instead of all of them conspiring together to exclude and hurt you, the family might have been respecting some really odd, unintentionally rude wishes from your nephew and his spouse. It’s possible there was even some tension in the family because of this wedding and the way the guest list was handled (making it understandable that your nephew’s mom would be really upset by your accusatory emails).

The point being: Until we know otherwise, this is your nephew’s problem. It was 3 a.m. and you were caught off-guard, but you shouldn’t have yelled at his mom. I’m sure you’re close to her and you feel betrayed that she didn’t let you know. But this was your nephew’s error, primarily (and if hers at all, only by extension).

(And as a mom, I’ve gotta say, why not contact your brother? Why’s it always gotta be the mom’s fault?)

This also shouldn’t be happening over email. I know, some folks say they communicate best that way. But the more nonverbal cues we can send, the better for everyone. I’m betting that your brother reacted so strongly not just because it was 3 a.m., not just because you were contacting his wife instead of the more obvious nephew or himself, but because your emails read as more angry and intense than you intended.

All that to say, sure. You very well might want to drop him from the inheritance. But have some conversations first, so you know why you’re doing it. It sounds like your nephew isn’t responding when you try to reach out (what is this dude’s deal, anyway?), but you also should talk to your brother and his wife. It was the middle of the night and you were all pretty emotional last time you spoke. I’m not sure what was in your letter, but if you haven’t already said it, now would be a good time to call and say, “Hey, sorry I reacted the way I did, but it was pretty early in the morning and I was really very hurt when I saw that a wedding happened and I hadn’t known.” And then I’d try to find out what happened. Your gut instinct (that they all intentionally hid it from you), very well may be correct. But like I said, it could also be some other sort of oversight or weirdness, and this will give them a chance to apologize for it.

Maybe this conversation will straighten everything out. Or they might not respond well at all. Either way, you’ll have your answer for what you should do about that estate.

Lastly, if this election season has taught me anything, it’s to stay off Facebook at 3 a.m. No good social media-ing happens in the middle of the night.

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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  • Meghan

    “(And as a mom, I’ve gotta say, why not contact your brother? Why’s it always gotta be the mom’s fault?)”

    THIS! I had several reactions to this letter, but this was my first/strongest. Even before I became a mom (although it’s absolutely worse now!), I found it outrageous when people would treat me as our family’s social secretary, or insinuate that I was responsible for our family’s etiquette. If your primary connection to a family is through a guy, then he’s your go-to. Enough with placing the burden of emotional labor primarily on women.

    • Abby

      I’m not even married yet and my fiances family are constantly reaching out to me about his whereabouts, life, our collective plans ,etc. Why don’t we let the men be the planners sometimes? *sigh*

      • louise danger

        This is a small part of the reason that I called off my previous engagement: his mom got frustrated that he’d avoid her or not communicate or post on Facebook as much as I did, so she started bombarding me with questions about him. Talk to your son, lady! He is an adult with his own phone!

      • flashphase

        “why doesn’t flashphase call me to ask me to help with wedding stuff?” well, you’re on the phone with your son right now so you could, idk, ask HIM?

      • Jess

        I definitely have a limit to the number of texts I’m willing to send to R’s family (two), and any planning questions get a patented response of, “I’m not sure. R is planning that.” The best is when she checks in with me to see if he’s done something and I’m like, “I have no idea. He’s an adult, so probably.”

        I’m a private enough person that asking me about my own life is dicey, though, so this is in character for me and may not be for you.

        • Yup. I text husband’s family sometimes if we are meeting them somewhere and he’s driving or whatever, but otherwise it’s his job. Just like it’s my job to organize things with my family. (Although he and my dad text A LOT. Like maybe more than either of them text me. I’m not really sure what they talk about so much.)

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        Ugh. I cannot even entertain this nonsense and thankfully, no one in my husband’s family does this.

      • Roselyne

        Speaking from personal experience, the conversation can totally go like this:

        Step 1: “I’m not the one responsible for this, you need to speak to Husband.”
        Person continues asking.

        Step 2: “No, seriously, I have no idea, Husband is responsible for organizing this, I can’t give you an answer.”
        Person continues, frustrated that they are not getting an answer by the Socially Approved Source of Answers.

        Step 3: “Is there a way I’m being unclear. I. Do. Not. Have. This. Information. Husband does. Why are you continuing to ask me??”

        Have that conversation a time or two, and people… suddenly start copying us both on emails and asking us BOTH about plans, instead of just me.

        It’s not easy or quick or emotionally painless, but it’s worth doing and doing early. In my opinion.

        • ART

          I need to start steps 2 and 3 at work to the people who keep asking me about my project manager’s whereabouts/emotions/review plans. So unbelievably annoying.

        • Mrrpaderp

          Oh man I’ve come across this with wedding plans. Fiance is setting up the hotel blocks. We initially really liked one hotel but they didn’t have enough rooms for us, so fiance kept looking. The block booking person at that hotel will. not. stop. calling. me. I’ve explained to her 3 times that he is handling it, I am not, she needs to call him. She literally said, BUT YOU’RE THE BRIIIIIIIIIDDEE. I’m no longer taking/returning her calls.

          • Roselyne

            OMG that answer. Flames. Flames coming out of my eyes.

          • Lisa

            How incredibly rude! Being a groom doesn’t make a man completely incapable of decision-making.

          • Jessica

            This makes me snort, a bit. My husband was in charge of the rooms and made an assumption rather than discussing the best option with me (resulting in a $500 charge to our card), then had to call the hotel to get something changed. The manager of the hotel was like “so you’re the groom? Figures, we only get calls from the groom when they’ve screwed up.”

            It’s like this never ending trap of trying to subvert gender role expectations and then falling back into them.

          • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

            Registering at Bed, Bath and Beyond was one of my least favorite engagement experiences, because we walked up to the counter, introduced ourselves, and the guy got on the PA to call an associate over because “We have a new BRIIIIIIIIIDE!!!!”. He completely ignored my fiance.

          • NolaJael

            Ew.

          • Eenie

            That is obnoxious. We came out with no bad registry experiences thankfully. Our “give us the scanner gun and leave us alone otherwise we are leaving” strategy worked well.

          • Lisa

            That’s gross. My nose is wrinkling in disgust at the idea of that.

          • Alanna Cartier

            I am so glad they did not do that when I registered there. I would have walked the eff out.

        • idkmybffjill

          I started just replying to emails and copying my husband (the fiance).

          “Great question! Fiance is actually handling this, take it away Fiance!”

          • sofar

            I had to do that constantly. If it was via text, I’d start a group text and be like, “Sweetie, this one’s for you, take it away!” If someone called me, I’d literally hand the phone to my fiance if he was there or offer to “pass the message along” if he wasn’t. If it was via email, I’d copy in fiance and say, “Sweetie, please advise!”

          • idkmybffjill

            Yep! I was lucky in that most people took the hint pretty quickly.

    • Eenie

      Yes. I finally convinced my husband to re sign up for Facebook because I’m sick and tired of showing him pictures of his nephews on Facebook. I have however given in to texting my SIL about details because my brother’s response is always did you check with SIL?

    • sofar

      OMG this was my first reaction as well.

      Nothing makes my blood boil more when one of my husband’s family members takes me to task for something he’s equally responsible for. And I admit, I don’t always react well. If I’d gotten 3am emails from his sister making me solely responsible for the situation, I’d have woken my husband up and said, “You need to tell her to f**ck off now.” That’s probably exactly where those “back off” emails from your brother came from.

    • Just came here to say this.

    • Justine

      The only thing in the writer’s defense, is that she had been receiving Christmas newsletters written by the mom for years. I think she was wondering why such a huge piece of family news was never mentioned in all those communications.

      • rg223

        You know what just occurred to me though, especially because you said “newsletter”? I wonder if the LW is getting a specific Christmas letter written JUST to her, or if is an actual newsletter that went out to everyone on their Christmas card list? Therefore making the “never mentioned a wedding” thing kind of irrelevant, since it was going to many people?

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          Not even a reference to the new couple and how great they’re doing though?

          • rg223

            I mean, that’s a fair point. Maybe (in the scenario I’m suggesting) they thought because it was going to a LOT of people who weren’t invited, it shouldn’t be mentioned?

        • Justine

          I don’t know. I would think even a Christmas newsletter going out to many people would still include a mention of the son getting engaged and then getting married. Generally, people that know the family would expect to know the marriage status of the family members. Marriage is a public declaration.

          • Eenie

            For reference, my husband’s family newsletter lists all graduations, marriages, and births of the extended family. It seems like the most logical thing to send. Especially since there were probably nice family photos from it? So weird. So very weird.

      • Ashley Meredith

        Yes!!! It’s not just, she wasn’t invited. At this point, nearly 2 years into the relationship and 1 year into the marriage, the brother/sister-in-law ARE to blame for not telling her. If it was just an awkward invitation scenario, it might be an awkward conversation, but you have to say, “Look, we’re sorry we couldn’t invite you, but we wanted you to know, and we hope you can understand/forgive.” But after sending several formal communications (and evidently having enough of an informal/family relationship to be her executor!), there is NO EXCUSE for not sharing this information – it is at this point a deliberate decision not to tell her. I am so ticked on LW’s behalf.

        • Justine

          Also, it doesn’t sound like the LW necessarily expected an invitation. She said that she would have at least sent the couple a card. She didn’t even have an opportunity to acknowledge her family member had gotten married.

          It is very weird.

        • Justine

          I can understand the anger, though it wasn’t expressed in the best way.

          So strange that she was going to leave money to the nephew, yet the family didn’t think she was important enough to know that said nephew was getting married?

          I’d be questioning the whole basis of the relationship too. I’d be wondering why I was making careful plans to leave money to a branch of the family who evidently didn’t think much of me!

          A discussion needs to happen.

          • Stéphanie

            One of my friend is single and has a brother and two nephews, it was normal for her to leave all she had to her nephews. Till she found out that she wasn’t even invited to her godson’s birthday (but present was welcome). Sometimes you just act “normal” and your family doesn’t. Oh and her brother mentionned she “better not get married cause my kids need your money”. My friend was very sad about this but decided to change her will to give her possessions to a charity.

        • Meghan

          I’m not saying that she’d necessarily be wrong to reach out to her brother about this. I’d need a whole lot more context/family history than we have here to have a personal opinion on that, and on the brother’s role vs. the nephew’s role. But I disagree with the idea that her brother and SIL are equally responsible for this communication.

          If at some point in the future my kiddo decided not to invite my husband’s brother to an important life event, I would want no part in that, and I would expect that others would keep me out of it.

          • Ashley Meredith

            I guess my POV is, if I have a relationship with someone, and I know that something is happening/happening in a way that will hurt them, and I have the ability to make that hurt less without hurting other people in the process, then I have a responsibility to the person I have a relationship with to do what I can to lessen their pain.

            In this case, sure, that argument involves a few assumptions: 1) that that brother/SIL have a relationship with LW (but if the brother is the executor, that doesn’t seem terribly far-fetched), 2) that the nephew did not explicitly say “please don’t tell her because x good reason” and 3) that handling this differently would have produced a different response from LW (though again, saying, “at least I could have sent them a card” rather than being offended simply by the lack of invite does point that way).

      • Rose

        There are a variety of reasons why a letter might not metion the wedding, though. I mean, I don’t think my parents mentioned my wedding in holiday cards–I know not everyone heard about it, because there’s someone who I know they exchange cards with who (deliberately) does not know that I’m married. Not a family member or close friend, but still. Now, that might be less likely here, since it sounds like the marriage was a man and a woman, which cuts down on the potential reasons not to tell people. But I could imagine that there might be other reasons that the parents wouldn’t broadcast the news, the Christmas letter part might have nothing to do with the aunt.

        • laddibugg

          I totally get not talking about certain things in a Christmas card that’s sent to one person, but a newsletter presumably goes to many different people.

          • Rose

            Right, but if for some reason they didn’t want to mention it to, like, a quarter of the people on their list, they might just leave it out of the newsletter altogether.

          • laddibugg

            Or maybe sent out different versions lol.

      • guest

        This. She went to the mom because the mom has been her main point of contact and she felt betrayed by the mom’s intentionally misleading “information.” There is no way to excuse that deception as “wedding weirdness.” It sounds like the guys in the family are terrible communicators, and of course it’s not fair to treat mom as the family’s secretary, but it sounds to me like the relationship between LW and mom is a really important part of this whole story that the “don’t blame women” point is missing.

    • Stéphanie

      My sister-in-law and my mum do this all-the-time. And I still go to my bro. SIR THOU ARE MY BROTHER, THOU SHALL ANSWER ME (or I’ll tell dad).

    • Gina

      YUP. It is exhausting even to do the emotional labor of NOT doing the emotional labor. I get blowback every time my MIL contacts me to handle something that she should be talking to my husband about, and I say “you’ll have to talk to [husband] about that.” Much less handling the emotional labor of hurt feelings that (probably) aren’t your fault.

  • Abby

    That is one complicated web…

    The only helpful insight I have here is that my fiance has an aunt/uncle that I had never even HEARD OF let alone met in our 6+ years of dating. 3 Months into wedding planning my future MIL calls my finance in a panic saying that we left his very important family members off our guest list. I didn’t even know these people existed.

    I guess I’m just saying that, people aren’t always intentionally malicious. We’re all human and it’s easy to feel hurt first, but maybe talk it out before you end familial ties?

  • Yikes. It definitely sucks to feel like the family left you out of a very big family event and then continued to hide it from you. Even as a kid, when I arguably should not have been that invested in attending weddings since I didn’t really know what all was involved, I was mad at my big cousin for a long time because he got married and didn’t invite any of us. It later transpired that his mom had made the decision not to allow him to invite any family because she knew the cost of the wedding for all of us (not just attending but even just the expected family gift) would be ruinous and she chose to take that decision and obligation entirely out of our hands. My parents were made aware of her decision and reasons after the fact, and they chose not to share it with us kids at all for a while on the grounds that we would fail to understand the logic and just be upset. (They were right, we reacted exactly the way they expected.) For my own wedding, my dad wouldn’t allow me to invite a beloved aunt and uncle because she was ill. I wanted to send her an invitation to let her know that I loved her and wanted her to be there, but in our family, the invitation itself creates an obligation he wasn’t willing to put on them. So they (likely) heard about my wedding after the fact. We don’t Facebook so I don’t know if they know, even.

    Because of these experiences, I’ve mixed feelings about the situation here. On the one hand, again, it sucks to find out the way you did. And it makes me wonder if perhaps there were good reasons they had to not invite you, as opposed to deliberately excluding you, and they felt awkward about telling you about it afterward. Or it was your nephew’s job and he chose not to. It was HIS marriage, after all, so therefore his responsibility, not your SIL’s. The fact that he didn’t respond to your text for his email is suggestive to me in a number of ways: he may not feel he has a close relationship to you, he may be blowing you off because he doesn’t want to deal with confrontation, he might have been the one who chose not to tell you in the first place.

    And it does confuse me why you’d take this up with your SIL rather than your nephew or your brother. They are the more reasonable people to whom I’d think you would express your dismay, either in the role of the actual groom or the blood relative, not your SIL, so maybe the fact that you expressed your hurt to her so vehemently has had a major effect on how they responded.

    Maybe cooler heads will prevail if your follow-up letter did explain that you were reacting out of hurt at the time, and they’ll be able to sit down and clarify what happened. I still regret not including my surrogate family who I love like real family in our wedding details like I would have if I weren’t under the stress of pulling together a massive affair, and it’s been five years. Mistakes happen and a lot of time it can be entirely without malice.

  • Sara

    I would add, it seems like your other nephew was very polite and quick to respond. Don’t punish him for his brother’s error in judgement.

    I can’t imagine a scenario where the family is keeping this marriage a secret for some reason – it seems very odd that you didn’t know he had a girlfriend (you said you assumed) at the very least especially if they’ve been together for three years. Had she not come to family functions? Were they keeping her hidden? Are you not spending time with these family members in person or talking to them for long periods of time? I have a couple uncles that aren’t close with my family, and it took a while to get word to them that my brother and his gf had a kid because they weren’t responsive.

    But from your timeline, you emailed about 5 one sentence angry, knee-jerk reactionary emails at 3am, and your brother got mad and responded at 4am? That is not a good time to have discussions AT ALL. I can see why your brother was upset. You have every right to feel the way you feel, but legally severing all ties with this family is severe. See if you can talk it out in person before you do that.

    • louise danger

      Seriously. If LW isn’t close enough to the family to know that the nephew’s now-wife was more than just a passing girlfriend, then it’s likely that family (nephew, brother, whomever) felt that the relationship wasn’t close enough to warrant an invitation. Layering _that_ with the only recent communication being screeds between the two siblings in the relationship, I can understand why they’d be reluctant to reach out – and why your sister in law is reluctant or resentful of being expected to play peacemaker.

      Contact your brother at some reasonable hour – for my dad, who has a rocky relationship with his sister, ‘reasonable’ is ‘after dinner but before 8pm’ for their occasional birthday phonecalls to one another – and be contrite. Take ownership of the fact that you reacted badly to finding out the news, apologize for it, and see if he’s willing to open a dialogue about it. If not, then at least you attempted to mend the fence. If so, then you won’t lose your family over a social occasion.

      • Justine

        The LW was close enough to have planned to leave the nephew an inheritance and her brother was to be the executor. Is that not close enough?

        • CMT

          LW thinks they’re that close, but relationships are a two way street. And she can’t use the inheritance to bribe the nephew into behaving a certain way.

          • Justine

            I don’t think her brother would have agreed to be executor of the will if they weren’t that close.

          • louise danger

            I don’t know – my mom all but doesn’t speak to $sibling, but since she’s the most sober and responsible of the sibling tree, she is the executor because $sibling trusts her to handle the affairs as needed. And there are plenty of examples of people not expecting or knowing about an inheritance – I had no idea that my grandma’s wedding rings were left to me, as a particularly close-to-home example, until mom mentioned it after I got engaged, and my grandma and I were as close as the LW describes the relationship to her brother/his family (included in Christmas card list, talked on the phone sometimes, etc).

    • Jessica

      I have an uncle that was explicitly not invited to my wedding–I wouldn’t know the guy if I passed him on the street. But I’m sure if his wife found out about my wedding like this she would have reacted poorly. The whole thing kind of reeks of misunderstood family relationships and poor communication skills on everyone’s part.

      • Yeah, that’s fine…but this nephew gets regular/holiday money/letters from LW. It’s a bit different…

        • Jessica

          Oof. Skimmed over that part.

        • Kara

          This is what got me. No one within that family unit decided to share the news “hey, Nephew is engaged!” or “We’ve all been busy with wedding planning this year”, or even “we’re happy to announce Nephew’s married”….at some point? o..O

          The fact that never came up seems very strange. Even if there was a reason for not inviting Angry Aunt, not sharing the news at any point in a 3 year period is just plain odd.

          • Sara

            Unless they knew they didn’t want her there from day one, and just maintained the cover story/vague nature. That’s some real passive aggressiveness though.

          • Kara

            True. Passive aggressiveness can run deep and for years, depending on family dynamics.

          • Ashley Meredith

            Which is really what this comes across like. Otherwise how does that big news never get mentioned? It takes effort to hold in your excitement about a family wedding. My mom definitely could never have managed it, no matter how much I might have wanted her to (hypothetically. We had no situations like this in our family).

          • Orange

            Meh. From a different perspective, I really hated talking about my wedding, except to close friends. It seemed super awkward and personal to me. I get my reticence from my mom, so I can see her never bringing it up, either. And then once the wedding was over, it seemed even weirder to talk about it. I think after an occurrence so big there can be a return to regularly scheduled programming, where people feel like something is such a change that they assume everyone knows.

          • Justine

            But most people aren’t going to understand that line of thinking.

            It’s not even that they had to talk about the wedding; all they had to do was at least mention that it was happening. I mean, the LW is a family member who was planning to leave an inheritance for the groom; not a total stranger.

          • Yeah, there’s something suuuuper weird going on here.

          • NolaJael

            I don’t know, it just seems like a bunch of people avoiding something awkward. When, exactly, is the right time to tell a relative that they aren’t invited to your wedding? I know that was the worst conversation I had in the engagement period, “Hey Grandma, guess what?! We’re engaged! Also, we’re having a very small wedding and you’re not invited. Toodles!”

          • Kara

            I had to be an adult and tell family members that they were not invited to our wedding. Did it suck? Yes. Was it necessary? Yes. Did it cause drama? Some, but 7 years later, no one is up in arms over it. No one cares anymore.

    • rg223

      Upvoting for the comment about the other nephew – SUCH a good and key point.

    • Spot

      Gotta say…leaving a spite-inheritance for only one sibling is likely going to cause even more of a family shitshow from beyond the grave than no inheritance at all (and who is to say he doesn’t share her assets with the Unforgivably Evil brother anyway?) I have a lot of trouble believing that LW will follow up her “??? WTF” emails and bickering with an announcement “without inflammation” that’s she’s rearranging “our(!) estate” without anyone else’s consent. That’s called pissing on people and telling them it’s raining, and it does not resolve tension.

      She’s going to deliberately damage her relationship to her family, possibly beyond repair, in return for this incident. Her money her choice, obviously, but perhaps this is indicative of behavior that didn’t foster close friendship with her in the first place.

  • Booknerd

    This is tough. I got married recently and didn’t contact my uncle to tell him he wasn’t invited. I don’t have a relationship with him at all, no cards, no phone calls, but it was still a big source of drama when the rest of the family found out he wasn’t invited even though I could pass him on the street and probably not even notice. Perhaps the bride and groom couldn’t afford more guests, and didn’t want to make the awkward phone call to tell you you didn’t make the cut. Maybe they only wanted people who were a part of their daily lives to be there. Maybe they honestly didn’t think you’d be upset (clearly wrong) and didn’t intend for anything to happen but now things have gotten escalated. I’m not saying what they did was right, but it was certainly no worse than a middle of the night angry email to someones mom, instead of a calm conversation with the actual couple.
    If you are now willing to cut them out of your will over this perhaps you need to reexamine your relationship altogether, and decide if they are the right people to get it, or if you are letting your hurt feelings colour your judgement.

    • Her Lindsayship

      This. I agree with Stephanie’s point about wedding invites being difficult and all, but there’s also the fact that being family doesn’t automatically equal closeness. We can’t know what LW’s relationship was to her nephew prior to The Wedding, but I think it’s worth considering that maybe they’re just not that close. And that’s ok! It might hurt for a while, but healing from this will be much easier if the expectation of super-loving-happy-family is removed from the equation. My advice to LW would be to spend a little time focusing on the people who do show you the love you want, and appreciate that presence in your life because it’s not guaranteed from anyone. Hope the pain has dimmed a little since the letter was written.

      • NolaJael

        My guess is that the closeness is mismatched. LW thinks they are close enough that nephew will inherit her estate. Nephew doesn’t think they are close enough invite her to the wedding. It happens.

    • Not inviting someone to the wedding is one thing, but not mentioning the marriage/engagement in holiday update letters reeks of intentionally hiding the thing…which is odd…

  • sofar

    Lots of blame to share, but it seems LW’s nephew doesn’t feel close to her and doesn’t want to make effort to be close to her. That’s his right. And LW has the right to not send him any more money/make effort to be close to him. That may lead to her dis-inhereting him so her money goes to a family member who does put the effort in (perhaps the other nephew?).

    Couples are welcome to exclude family from their wedding guest lists for whatever reason (keeping it “small and intimate,” saving money, whatever). And they don’t have to tell everyone about the wedding if they don’t want to. But there are consequences to that — socially and monetarily. And LW’s nephew will (and should) now face those.

    • Kelly

      I agree. Also, does anyone find it strange that LW’s family hasn’t told her anything? Cats out of the bag, she knows it happened. Maybe now would be a good time for her family to address the elephant in the room?

      • Alyssa

        Yeah, I did think that was weird. Honestly, through the whole letter I also found myself wondering what the other side of the story was. I couldn’t shake the idea that I felt like there might have been important pieces of information missing (such as her closeness with the family, etc.)

        • Kelly

          Yeah, to me there’s a difference between not inviting someone and going out of your way to make sure they don’t know. Definitely feels like some important info is missing

        • MrsRalphWaldo

          Especially considering (as others have pointed out) there’s about 4-5 years of relationship that she straight up didn’t know about. I had family members that weren’t explicitly told about my wedding. Sometimes you’re just not close enough to be included in the day to day announcements.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          I did too. The also wanting to disinherit the nephews over this and brother no longer executor of her estate made me feel like there was more going on in the background.

      • Liz

        I took that as possibly just being an irritated reaction to the midnight email barrage. Like, “Oh, so that’s how you want to talk about it? Yeah figure it out yourself.” Not mature or anything, but, shrug.

        • Kelly

          True. Hopefully after the dust settles everyone can have a more levelheaded convo

        • NolaJael

          And if they did feel guilty about her not knowing, there was probably some shame coming out when they lashed back at LW.

      • Jenna

        Which of course makes me think…did they really ever believe she wouldn’t find out?

    • Alyssa

      Yes, exactly — you can do this kind of thing so long as you are prepared to maturely manage the implications and hurt feelings that may come with it.

      I have a big extended family and inviting all my family would have made our invite list at least 75 people, which stressed us out. So instead we’re doing what we really wanted all along: we’re going abroad and doing a 25-person wedding there with our immediate families and our group of friends, and having a big party for family after we get back. We decided to invite one of my dad’s five sisters (because we both feel closest to her and her husband) but we made her our Officiant, to ease the awkwardness of only ONE extended family member being invited. Nonetheless, my dad has been on board with helping us be honest and transparent, and telling ALL the family our decision in a way that hopefully will minimize any hurt feelings…I feel like being transparent and mature in how you work with those who ARE hurt by the decision makes a huge difference.

      • Jenna

        The difference is though that the rest of the family is aware you are getting married. Not even mentioning it to the point of it seeming secretive after several communications is the odd part, not so much the not being invited part.

        • Alyssa

          Totally — I tend to get flowery with my words but I was trying to hone in on the secretive piece and why it’s important to NOT be that way, especially when it comes to family.

    • idkmybffjill

      Am I the only one who thinks that maybe they assumed she knew? She’s friends with them on Facebook obviously, and from what it sounds like, they didn’t hide any of the posts? I find this all very confusing.

      • MrsRalphWaldo

        Me too. I had family members that I wasn’t close enough to to call personally, but they found out through social media.

      • Sara

        To be fair she said “the facebook page”. It could have been the Bride’s fb page that she found, or maybe she doesn’t have FB but one or both of them don’t have a private page.

        • idkmybffjill

          Oh fair. Deep sleuthing.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I know I posted about my wedding plans on Facebook, even tagging specific family members, only to be told months later by other family, “Oh, he’s never on Facebook.”

        • Violet

          It’s like when my family members try to post birthday messages to my dad on FB. He *might* see it in five years, but it’s doubtful.

  • idkmybffjill

    “In total, it was after one year of dating, one year of engagement, and ten months of marriage.”

    I just… had you not seen any of these family members in nearly three years? I’m confused about how you’re close enough with these folks to have them as your heirs, but not close enough to have seen them in that time?

    Are you geograpically seperated? I have a very dear aunt who lives in New Zealand (we live in the states), but we keep in touch on facebook, and she was invited to my wedding (although unable to attend).

    • idkmybffjill

      Also – seeing as you were Facebook friends with him – is it possible they thought you already knew??

      • Jane

        Good point. I’ve had a few college friends I hadn’t talked to until months after I put my engagement be like, wait, you’re engaged? Because not everyone pays attention to that stuff on FB. Whi h is totally fine – and kind of great for them.

        But still – not mentioning it in the letter? But talking about the truck? Not like, married life is just what I expected!

        • idkmybffjill

          Ahh you know what – I forgot about the letters. That is bizarre that neither the parents or the son mentioned that. That’s 2 christmases of letters where they would’ve mentioned an engagment and then a wedding!

          At first blush I’m like – maybe the couple is very private, but they obvi aren’t if they have a huge wedding album on facebook!

          • Jane

            Right? I’m with all the people who want to hear the other side of this.

          • NotMotherTheresa

            I’m really wondering if there was something…..”off” about the wedding/the circumstances leading up to it.
            Like, here in the south, you’ll sometimes see pictures on Facebook of the wedding but no mention from the parents, and usually that’s code for “This was a shotgun wedding/we can’t believe she’s marrying this idiot/they’ve known each other a month and needed the military benefits/etc.”. The kids may post their pictures, because *they* aren’t the ones ashamed, but no word from Mom and Dad tends to indicate that there’s something going on that isn’t exactly proud Christmas card fodder.

        • MrsRalphWaldo

          But why would you specifically mention a life event that you assume someone knows about (Facebook friends) in a letter about updates? Maybe they thought it seemed redundant

          • Lisa

            That still strikes me as odd. We put our wedding in our holiday letter even though we’re friends on Facebook with everyone who got a physical letter. Holiday letters tend to be the highlights of the year so, if the truck was included but not the wedding, something feels really off.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Or that you wouldn’t say anything about your new life like Jane and I are doing great. SOMETHING.

          • Eenie

            Or had Jane sign her name? You’re married, you’re your own little family, if you can’t bother to sign your name on some cards…?

          • Sara

            I feel like Christmas letters tend to be a recap of the year. “Emily made state and we’re all so proud! Jack graduated and headed off to his first year at Purdue!”. This seems like prime filler info for a Christmas letter or two

          • idkmybffjill

            Oh GREAT point.

  • Mrrpaderp

    Two of my Rules For Life are applicable here: (1) Presume good intentions; and (2) You are responsible for your own actions.

    There is one person who was obligated to inform family and friends about his wedding: Married Nephew. It is not his parents’ job to send out wedding announcements, and it is CERTAINLY not their job to break the news to relatives who were excluded from the festivities. Of course, as Liz says, the fact that Married Nephew colossally dropped the ball doesn’t mean it was done with ill intent. It’s much more fair to presume that he wanted to tell LW – that his family encouraged him to tell LW – but he kept putting it off because he didn’t want to have an uncomfortable conversation. LW can feel hurt about that, sure, but it really doesn’t justify cutting off this whole branch of the family.

    LW asks if she overreacted. I don’t like the term “overreact” because it’s dismissive of the emotion underlying the reaction. But suffice it to say that LW’s actions are not cool. By my count, she fired off 4-5 one line emails with “????s” and CAPS in about a 20-minute period at 3 a.m. She then defended her actions by claiming that she was not “attacking” anyone. Anyone on the receiving end of five emails with WTF!!!?????s is going to feel attacked. Then a week later, LW follows up with a “nice” letter to the family. She doesn’t tell us what was in this “nice” letter but I question whether it was as nice as LW thinks it is. I’m guessing the letter explained how hurt she was and contained zero genuine apology for the late-night dramafest. Regardless of the reason LW was excluded, directing her ire toward her SIL at 3 a.m. was pretty out of line and I can understand why it’s now put everyone on the defensive. If she wants to move forward and get answers, the first step is going to have to be a genuine apology (and that means, no “but I was hurting!”).

    • Violet

      I don’t like the term “overreact,” either. While I understand (well, to some extent, there are clearly some details missing here) LW’s feelings, that doesn’t mean I have to condone her behavior. Not only is sending multiple emails at 3 AM in the heat of the moment unpleasant for the sender and recipient, it is a strategy with about a .00002% chance of being effective at either communicating or resolving anything. I understand the impetus to do it, but that’s what we work on our impulse control for. To make better decisions about how to act on our feelings.

    • guest

      I’m not against your “good intentions” idea, but I think you’re extending it too far towards Nephew, Mom, and Dad–and not far enough towards LW. Nephew is clearly a terrible communicator and seems to be a total jerk. But Mom and Dad, while not responsible for “breaking the news” as you put it, has deliberately mislead–and thus essentially lied to LW–thus betraying her on their own. They are culpable for their actions, and failing to share this huge, public piece of news for a very long time (engagement plus 10 months of marriage) in the context of any other communications (even a Christmas card or generic newsletter) is deceitful and unacceptable in the context of a relationship anything like what the LW had previously understood their relationship to be. Sure, maybe LW is a drama-hungry troubled late night emailer who persistently misunderstands the nature of her relationship with this branch of her family. Maybe Nephew, Mom, and Dad want to end the relationship. Maybe they have reason to (although if they’re trying to cut her out, they handled it quite poorly), and maybe they don’t. But the idea that LW is basically at fault here because she sent out a couple of emotional emails in the middle of the night and that if it weren’t for her reaction, there would basically be no problem other than “dropping the ball”– I don’t buy it. Not at all.

  • laddibugg

    I’m not going to jump all over LW for contacting the mother first–we don’t know their relationship, or the brother’s personality. My fiance’s sister pretty much contacts me over her brother for anything related to our relationship or our son–my partner is really not the best person to ask about anything. Everyone realizes that, and I don’t get mad or pissy about people coming to me first.

    Nephew talked about his dogs and truck but never not once mentions a wife? That’s super weird. ON THE OTHER HAND….i think it’s a little weird that LW went through so many hoops to find out about his graduation. The onus was on him to tell you–best believe that if you were still sending me Xmas money when I was 26 I would make damn sure to tell you I was graduating in hopes of getting another check. If he didn’t feel it was important to tell you, make it not important for you to go.

    • I want to gently push back on this: “my partner is really not the best person to ask about anything.” This is quite often the case with families, where sons/husbands/brothers are seen as the wrong person to ask about things related to logistics, maintaining social networks and relationships, emotional labor, etc. But all of those things are learned behaviors that get better with practice (or just…expectations), and it’s often the case that men don’t have to learn because their relatives (quite often the female ones!) don’t hold them accountable.

      • laddibugg

        No. My partner just isn’t the best person to ask. It’s part of his personality, not simply because he’s a man. His brother and step father (who he’s know since he was 3) are not like that at all, so I doubt it’s a learned behavior.

        • idkmybffjill

          You know – this is how my Dad is and it works for he and my stepmom! My brother isn’t that way at all. I think as long as everyone is cool about it, it’s all cool.

        • Mrrpaderp

          People divide the labor in their households and relationships to best suit their skills. I’m a better planner, so I usually plan things. He’s better at dealing with customer service, so he usually calls when the cable’s out. Sometimes these things align with gender stereotypes and sometimes they don’t.

          • Anon

            Agree, I like planning things, and I am better at it (he’s working on it, but with ADHD it’s not something that is natural). That said, I generally prefer for stuff to be texted or emailed to the both of us because it then feels like I’m choosing to take the task on, he’s kept in the loop without me having to fill him in.

      • Booknerd

        Agreed! I am working really hard to stop feeling responsible for my husband’s friends and family’s perception of us based on his actions. Like if he forgets his mother’s birthday, that’s on him, not on me for being a bad person. He certainly doesn’t worry about my family so I need to stop worrying now that I’m his wife that his lack of planning affects my reputation. It’s a work in progress…

      • NotMotherTheresa

        On one hand, it is super gendered, and yes, those are learned behaviors that improve with practice.
        Buuuuut, some people are just bad at that stuff. In my family, my Dad is a better person to go to than my mom for those things, because my mom is just so completely hopeless, while my dad will at least make a feeble attempt and/or pass the ball off on someone else who’ll know what to do with it. With my husband’s family, I’d PREFER that they go through me, because again, he’s just so completely horrible with those things that we’re all better off if people just ask me!
        A lot of it is gendered bullshit, but sometimes it’s not. Man or woman, there are some people who are just really bad at that emotional labor stuff, and trying to get them to work on it is mostly a recipe for hard feelings.

    • Ashley Meredith

      I thought it was nice that she made the effort about graduation even though he was more distant. It was showing that she cared and was trying to have some connection and relationship. I don’t put any effort into my relationship with my aunt, which isn’t fair and doesn’t reflect well on me, but it’s to her credit that she keeps showing up and not dropping the relationship just because I’m lazy.

      • Jess

        I had the exact opposite reaction to finding out about the graduation! I was like, “Oh hell no, if I don’t tell you details about my graduation, that does not give you license to google the crap out of it until you know exactly when and where!” I would feel on edge around that person and probably give them significantly less detail about my life moving forward.

        Your comment was a really good reminder for me as I head into the always-tense holidays – not everybody takes things the same way, and my “too much” is another person’s “showing I care.”

    • NolaJael

      I have people (distant relatives) in my life who want to be updated on things that I don’t care to update them on. Forcing someone to have a relationship with you – even by dangling the expected graduation gifts in front of them – is not cool either.

  • Jane

    So – I’m mostly on the bus with the people who are saying it was really inappropriate to attack your SIL that way (and yes, your brother was right, you were attacking – sending a bunch of angry emails in the middle of the night that suggest someone is at fault for something’s that hurt you IS attacking that person).

    On the other hand, it seems like something really strange other than guest lists is going on here. If you were not in contact with them generally and they weren’t inviting you, yeah, it might be weird for them to call you just to tell you. I think the strangest thing is that your nephew and SIL wrote family update letters that they sent you but left this off.

    Is there some reason that the couple might think that you would disapprove of their wedding? I can think of some extreme circumstances (from my actual family – where I would not tell certain family members). So, I’m using my grandparents as an example – but not at all trying to imply that you are like my grandparents – but just as situations where people might not tell family things.

    My grandparents are really religious. We are not mentioning to them that I am not having a religious ceremony (they probably won’t make it to the wedding for health reasons). They would almost certainly worry about me going to hell – and I don’t want to have the emotional weight of my grandparents really really thinking I’m damned. And I think they would be hurt about all of that. But it’s based on their words and actions over the past decades. I’d rather deal with their hurt than their condemnation.

    So – I guess my end point is – it seems unlikely that the decision not to tell you happened in a vacuum. If you still value your relationship with that part of your family at all, I think it’s worth trying to figure out what happened. I’m not trying to blame you for your nephew’s rudeness – but it seems like people are already confirming that your nephew was rude to you and validating those feelings. But why? Why was he rude?

    • MC

      I was thinking something along these lines, too. When one of my cousins got pregnant a few years ago, my aunt was very hesitant to announce it to the family at large because she wasn’t married and her boyfriend/baby daddy was flaky and not a very good partner overall; thus, my aunt was not psyched about sharing the news. (Not saying this specific thing is relevant, just an example from my life). If you’ve never heard of your nephew’s wife and never met her, seems like there could be some underlying family dynamics there.

      • Jane

        Yeah – pregnancy was another one I thought of.
        Or like, I know a couple who were pretty serious but maybe not that ready to get married but decided to get married for immigration reasons. Because it was like, get married or so inter-continental long distance. But they didn’t publicize their wedding much to people outside that city because (I think) they didn’t want everyone acting like it was just a green card wedding.

        • Sara

          ooh my cousin got married like that. But it was super weird because he and his wife said they were ‘engaged’ around Thanksgiving last year, then it came out that they had actually eloped for immigration/military reasons that summer(!) but they were keeping it quiet because they wanted to have a big wedding the next year. THEN around Valentine’s day they announced they had eloped (which they made seem like had just happened, but by this point had been married for 7 months). Then they had a big wedding in May that a lot of family was invited to via phone calls. It was pretty, but the whole “engagement’ was a confusing mess. They seem happy now though.
          Weddings can be weird.

          • Jane

            Also, I know someone who told her dad that she’d eloped but then her half-sister saw pictures of the wedding on Facebook, and the woman had invited her mom and the groom’s family but not the dad and his family (including her half-sister). I definitely know which side I think was in the wrong on this one, but I also know that this was not an aberration. The dynamics had been there since he divorce.

  • WHO HAS EMAIL NOTIFICATIONS TURNED ON AND DOES NOT ENABLE ‘DO NOT DISTURB HOURS’ THAT INCLUDE 4AM?!
    No one in their right mind can punctually respond to 3-5am emails, unless they work the night shift.

    • Ashlah

      Do Not Disturb is such a gift.

      • Eenie

        I would never use it though unless it included the “call twice in three minutes and you get put through” feature.

        • Ashlah

          Mine is set up that way (more than one call within 15 minutes) and also to allow certain people to get through (people I’d expect to hear from in an emergency, who I also trust won’t call for fun at 3 AM).

    • MrsRalphWaldo

      I literally have no idea why people wouldn’t use do not disturb. I have to literally silence my husband’s phone for him sometimes because he can sleep through anything and doesn’t use DND, but it will wake me up.

      • toomanybooks

        I don’t use Do Not Disturb because I don’t expect anyone to text me in the middle of the night. I don’t think I’ve ever been woken up by a text or other notification during the night.

      • Eh, set up DND for him, lol. Something conservative like 3am-6am.

    • Sara

      My little brother works the night shift and occasionally emails/texts me things he finds hilarious on his downtime. I am SO glad for Do Not Disturb.

    • laddibugg

      Lol. I can see when I get messages in Gmail but the vibration and sound are off for email.

  • Leah

    The mere fact that the letter-writer thinks that salting the earth and cutting all of these close relations out of her life is the “normal” one and that this is a “fine solution” tells me that maybe they were hiding things from her because she’s got a tremendous temper and attacks/shuns people to manipulate them. The “nephews were going to inherit from me” as a token of why they should be more polite to her also speaks to manipulative tendencies.

    Before she decides to break off relations with people she otherwise described as “wonderful”, she might want to take some deep breaths and do some therapy. She has every right to be very hurt. But lashing out isn’t going to be a “solution”.

    • MrsRalphWaldo

      Totally agree. Bringing the inheritance into things seems like a really low blow.

      • S

        I guess it really depends on whether she’s mentioning it to them or not. I agree in that I think it would be petty to be mentioning the inheritance to them as part of these angry 3am emails, but I don’t think privately reassessing where that money is going because of this situation is low at all. We’d really need more clarity to judge how she’s handling it before we write her off for mentioning the inheritance in her letter.

    • Alyssa

      So glad you mentioned the manipulation piece, I was picking up on that too and (like everyone else is saying) wondering about the other side of the situation. YES to therapy!

      • Leah

        And also, maybe I’m wrong and she’s all sweetness and light, but the therapy could at least help with the tremendous hurt she feels. But the hinky nature of the interactions and the “and I’m right to disinherit/block my brother and nephews” wrap-up make it seem like therapy could help her with self-awareness, too.

        • Alyssa

          Yes — I mean I’m a therapist so I’m biased but I imagine therapy helping her catch those initial reactions of pain and anger, and finding the space to pause, breathe and say “I’m going to call my brother in the morning.”

          • Leah

            So much! I recognize some of her “my emotional devastation means I’m right and should lash out” defensiveness and blanket-communicating as things I’d do pre-therapy. Family CAN totally be wonderful AND hurtful, but her reactions are escalating everything.

        • Jenna

          I actually think she is right to disinherit them…but, as others have said, not as emotional manipulation. Rather as seeing clearly that they are clearly not as close to you as you thought. Not so much that it ‘entitles’ her to a closer relationship as that she is entitled to leave her money only to someone with whom she has such a relationship.

          • Leah

            Oh, she’s always entitled to leave her money to whomever she chooses, for sure! But making this decision while “unbelievably upset” when, by her own words she has been in touch with all of these people and she previously considered her brother “wonderful” about all of this stuff seems rash and punitive rather than a rational, well-informed decision. If no one will talk to her, of course it’s the decision to make. But this seems less like, “we’re not as close as I thought” as it does “there was a secret, I lashed out, and now while everyone is still unbelievably upset I’m going to make even more alienating decisions”.

    • NolaJael

      Yes, if she feels like having them be executor and beneficiaries of her will *entitles* her to a deeper relationship than the other parties are up for, then there’s another problem here.

    • S

      I don’t know – I agree that I can see how it can seem manipulative – you didn’t do this thing I want, and you’re not replying to me, so no money for you. But also: if you’re under the impression you’re quite close to someone, and then something happens which makes you realise that feeling doesn’t flow both ways, I think that response (Oh, you didn’t do this thing, we’re not communicating, no money for you) is the correct and normal response rather than vindictive. Manipulative would have been using it as a way to get invited in the first place, or to get some other result she wants. Her saying she thinks she isn’t going to give that money to him anymore wasn’t attached with any “Unless he does X thing I want” statement. If you’re thinking you’re leaving your money to your nephew because you love him and you’re close to him, in my mind “Oh, this thing happened to indicate we’re not as close as I thought so obviously I have to find someone else to leave my money to” is a very natural thought to have. It’s not manipulative or childish to reassess your relationships with people, and I think this is a perfectly reasonable catalyst for doing so. I think close people in your life tend to invite you to their weddings, contact you on your birthday, are invited to your graduation, are there for you in times of crisis, etc, and vice versa. (Generally, not always, but you get my point.) There was definitely a point when I realised I was putting a lot of work and heart into keeping certain family relationships working, and that effort wasn’t flowing both ways, and I had to refocus that energy elsewhere. If I’d had money being left to those people, a realisation that I needed to find different people to give that money to would have followed. It would be childish to make a big song and dance about it, (“You didn’t do X so now I’m not leaving you my money!”) but the act of switching heirs because you realised you’re not close to them is not manipulative or childish in and of itself.

      • Violet

        Agreed. There’s a real potential for manipulation here, but without evidence of her using the money to get certain responses from her family, it *could* just be a healthy response to realizing you’re not as close to someone as you thought. Now, some of the other things LW says she did give me serious pause about her judgment, but if I take the inheritance response completely on its own (ignoring her other choices), it does not seem clear one way or the other.

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    There’s way more going on here that what LW says. The family dynamics are deep. Why is this one thing suddenly making her decide that she’s disinheriting her nephews and her brother is no longer executor of the estate. This isn’t about the wedding; this is the last straw in what reads like very tense family dynamics. My advice is LW should address THOSE issues and her relationship with her brother.

    • Lisa

      This was my feeling reading the letter, too. Something is really amiss in this situation if no one told her about the marriage and if they semi-regular contact. There are obviously a lot of feelings at play, and whatever other circumstances that are informing the LW’s response need to be dealt with.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      Yeeeeah, I got that impression from the “That’s it! You’ve crossed the line by attacking my wife!” bit. You don’t tell someone they’ve “crossed the line” the first time they do or say something that upsets you. Which is not to say I have any idea what is going on here, but it sounds like her relatives have some sort of longstanding beef with her, and have found ways to quietly and deliberately create space. Either she was completely oblivious to this, or chose not to include the background info in her letter.

    • NolaJael

      My guess is that the nephew just isn’t that close with the aunt. I’m not really close to any of my aunts/uncles as I grew up many states apart. They have these fond memories (“I remember when you were born!” stuff) and I just see them as adults that I don’t know that well. I maintain minimal contact for my parents’ sake. LW might be reading more deeply into this slight than the nephew intended.

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        I could see that. But that doesn’t explain why she didn’t know to me. I don’t talk to my aunts or uncles but when my parents talk to them, they fill them in on big news — so and so got married, so and so had a baby, etc.

  • flashphase

    I have family members who have ruined family events and bullied me to the point of tears… and yet, they seem to think they’ve done nothing wrong. I want to gently suggest getting another perspective as LW may have actually done something that would warrant being excluded from a wedding.

    • Cellistec

      When the one-line emails started flying, my first thought was something along the same lines, and it’s terrible but I admit it: “Well, I see why LW wasn’t invited to the wedding.” I don’t want to think uncharitable things about LWs, since they’re seeking advice on truly painful and difficult issues. And yet, I can’t help but hear echoes of my manipulative MIL here. That’s how it reads to me, though that may not be the objective truth.

      • MrsRalphWaldo

        The emails really get to me. The LW has obviously been financially successful in her life, but doesn’t know to stop and take a breath before angrily replying to emails? This is a basic lesson in effective communication I’ve gotten from managers. What purpose did firing those (all 5 of them) off really serve?

      • Violet

        I usually give LWs the benefit of the doubt. This letter struck me oddly, though. Even the request for advice was generic (“any input”) and she seemed to have already decided based on things she’s read (what things!?) that her solution is fine and normal. So what is she really asking us for? It seems like she wants external validation that her actions so far are socially excusable because of the nature of the provocation. But by and large, they have not been. That doesn’t mean she isn’t hurting, but I’m not seeing a genuine desire to introspect or get concrete advice. You know, as far as one can get from a letter, anyway.

  • Vanessa

    Hmm. I could easily see myself in the nephew’s position – and that his handling was an attempt to escape some really dysfunctional family dynamics. I have no relationship with my mom’s siblings, to protect myself from their deeply problematic behavior. I haven’t told any of them about my engagement; I won’t be inviting them to or informing them of my wedding. If my mom chooses to do so, that’s her decision. And if any of them get wind of my wedding and send me a gift, I’ll either return it or write a thank you card that is polite but does not open the door further.

    I’m not saying it’s the same situation, but given the amount of stuff we don’t know here I do think it’s a plausible explanation for nephew’s behavior.

    • flashphase

      this, except my parents are inviting their siblings :/

      • Vanessa

        Ugh that sucks, I’m sorry :(

    • Jenna

      Except she does have a relationship with the nephew. I could see how it would be plausible if she didn’t, but that’s simply not the case.

  • Cellistec

    After reading most of the comments, just wanted to say that I really appreciate Liz’ advice and the fact that it takes the LW’s question at face value, rather than pivoting to question LW’s reliability as a narrator. Many of the comments (including one of my own below) suggest that given LW’s strong and impulsive reaction, she must have done something to warrant exclusion from the wedding. Maybe so. But since we don’t know that for sure, and it’s not the actual topic of the letter, it smacks of gaslighting. Meanwhile, pain is pain, regardless of fault, and Liz’ response addresses that beautifully.

    • MrsRalphWaldo

      I totally agree with this. “If someone tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to tell them that you didn’t.” The problem I think (at least in my perspective) comes with the strong reaction to remove the whole family from the inheritance because of this. It seems like a really rash/manipulative reaction.

      • ThisOne

        I don’t know about it being a harsh reaction to disinherit them. They’re obviously not as close as she thought they were. If she’s sending them money at least once a year, and they’re not inviting her to family events, it sounds to me they might be using her for her money. Which is pretty gross.

        • MrsRalphWaldo

          I totally agree. I’m just trying to go off of the information provided. Based on what’s presented, the LW had what she though was a perfectly amicable relationship with the family. I think that’s why it seems like a fast jump to me.

        • idkmybffjill

          Well BUT she said that they also send her checks:

          “Prior to that, at Christmas, my sister-in-law sent along a nice and newsy Christmas card (as usual), a nice Christmas check, and mentioned that nephew and “Lisa” were a “cute pair.””

          Checks are going back and forth – so I’m not sure it’s a using for money issue. This, to me, reads like… old money issues. Everyone is fulfilling their expected social obligations and maybe nephew is like I AM DONE NOW.

          Although literally who even knows – would LOVE to watch a whole documentary on this situation cause I’m extremely interested.

          • MrsRalphWaldo

            Now I’m going through the dramatic reenactment in my head and I would SO read that book

          • ThisOne

            I was talking about the nephews specifically, getting Christmas money and graduation money. And if they nephew was that done, he wouldn’t accept the checks, you know? She certainly might be a difficult person to get along with, but it makes the nephew at the very least dishonest to accept these things from her and then not invite her to an important family event. I know people were speaking about not inviting toxic relations to weddings, which I can totally respect. But to still accept money and accept it often seems really gross to me.

          • idkmybffjill

            Ahh yes – totally fair. Hadn’t thought of that point!

          • rg223

            It should be the next season of Serial.

    • Jane

      I see what you mean – and I am certainly one of the people who has doubted her reliability as a narrator, but I think saying it “smacks of gaslighting” is pretty extreme. No one here did anything to create the situation she is describing to us. I think that’s a big part of gaslighting – that you create the situation and then deny it. I think most of the reactions that have been critical of LW, including my own, have pushed her to examine her family dynamics. Probably a little too harshly a couple times, in my case, but without doubting that she’s genuinely hurt.

      This is about people picking up on some pretty glaring holes in her story and wondering what goes in them. And wondering if she sees the holes and knows what goes in them, but didn’t include it because of length, complexity, etc. Or if this all seems to come totally out of the blue to her.

      Plus, I think she invited responses about her behavior by ending the email with that line about her reactions being normal and her solution being fine. Seemed to me like she wanted people to agree with her about that but most of us don’t.

      I agree that Liz gave excellent advice.

      • Amy March

        If you really believe your reactions are normal and your solution is fine, I don’t think you reach out for advice.

        • Jane

          For the most part, I agree with you. Except I’ve read a lot of non-APW advice articles where the LW definitely thinks they are right and wants a neutral referee to agree with them. So I think there’s a lot of people who write in for advice who are seeking to be vindicated or get approval.
          I really haven’t seen this as much on AAPW – but my mom and I always used to read the Dear Prudence and Ask Amy columns together, and I’ve seen A LOT of people there who just want everyone to acknowledge that they were right.
          This LW’s parting lines really struck me as in that vein. The rest of the letter seemed more genuinely hurt and hoping for a way to get a better solution.

          • Violet

            This was exactly my take on LW’s goals in writing in. And it’s not something we usually see on AAPW (unlike other sites, as you mention, where it’s more common) so it’s kind of throwing us for a loop.

      • Cellistec

        You’re right that it’s too strong a word to apply here. I’m still trying to figure out a better description, but I think my point was that regardless of LW’s reaction and whether it was proportionate, her pain at feeling disconnected from her family is real. And focusing on whether her perspective is valid detracts from that. Even if she has a complicated history with her family and their distance from her is understandable, I completely sympathize with her need to feel connected to them–that seems like the core of the letter, and not something good advice can ignore.

        • Jane

          Oh yeah – I agree and think Liz did a very good job of acknowledging the hurt, offering supportive advice, but expecting the LW to think about her own actions.

    • Amy March

      Gaslighting? I don’t see that at all. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse designed to make a victim doubt their sense of reality. I don’t think it has anything to do with outsiders to a situation saying “hey, maybe there is more to this situation that what you’re telling us, because your narrative has glaring holes.”

      • Cellistec

        Well, yes, and I just recently followed up my comment by agreeing that the term isn’t really what I meant. I do think the cumulative effect of so many “your narrative has glaring holes” comments is to minimize LW’s emotions under the assumption that she’s over-reacting or basically brought the situation on herself. Which, to me, is somewhat evocative of making someone doubt their sense of reality.

        • Jane

          Yeah, I know what you mean. I just objected to the word “gaslighting” because I think the meaning is pretty specific and I have just seen it everywhere recently. I do feel bad about none of us trusting her account. She definitely thought she was reaching out to a supportive community and, I’m guessing, did not expect this backlash. And I’m sure she appreciates someone trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.

          For me, seeing glaring holes doesn’t equal less sympathy. In fact, if there’s a bunch of other family issues at play, like if she has valued a relationship that others haven’t, she has more of my sympathy. A wedding, as important as it is, is one event. She’s talking about cutting ties to what seem to be her closest biological relatives. And that’s incredibly sad. But to give her any meaningful advice, we need to know what the full story is.

          • Cellistec

            Funnily enough, after I wrote my original gaslighting comment, I read something posted by a friend about how millennials are being gaslighted. And at that point, I realized exactly what you said–the term is all over the place, and not necessarily being used in accurate ways. And I suspect it’s gotten stuck in my head for that reason.

  • Amy March

    Oh no. There is no way to advise someone simply and without inflammation that you are removing them as the executor of your estate in these circumstances. That’s just not reality. If you want to remove him simply and without creating drama, talk to your lawyer about making the change and ensuring that your prior will is superseded.

    This letter to me indicates that concerned auntie is just disconnected from the reality of her relationships with this family entirely. And it might be very helpful to ask a professional for assistance reconciling that.

    • toomanybooks

      Yuuuuuuup. Good point. Telling someone this (either explicitly because of not being invited to the wedding, or letting it be the obvious reason because the fallout just happened) will seem like a really drastic and bitter move, no matter how you shake it.

    • S

      Agree: there is absolutely nothing childish or manipulative about changing your will because you realised that you’re not as close to your nephew as you previously thought, and want to leave it to someone, who, you know, loves you enough to want you at their wedding or graduation. But there is something childish and manipulative about using the will as something to hold over anyone’s heads. If you need to make the change, do it privately, and if you really do need to inform your brother as executor for any legitimate reason – don’t do it right now, for heaven’s sake. Sit on it.

  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    “After a week and talking with friends and family, I wrote a nice letter.”It seems like the LW had to cut out a lot of potentially interesting detail for brevity, but I would love to know what that letter said. Was it just an explanation as to why she reacted the way she did? Was she seeking an explanation? Did it include an apology? Request an apology? All of the above? The contents and purpose of her letter to the whole family will likely affect the outcome of the situation.

    • Violet

      I must be temperamentally very different from LW. If on a Monday I am so steamed that I’m dashing off multiple one line emails at 3 AM, by the next Monday I am not ready to sit down and write a letter that fits anyone’s definition of “nice.” I’d still be hurting and angry. Even if I tried to write a “nice” letter, I’m pretty sure the recipient would have remembered how mad I was just a week ago, and would look at the letter with a great deal of skepticism. So I dunno. I can’t say the letter wasn’t intended to be nice, or wasn’t read by the recipient as nice. I’m just too limited in my imagination to see it playing out as LW describes.

  • Rose

    So, my perspective as someone who did not tell an aunt and uncle that I was getting married, although my personal situation was somewhat different from this. My dad and his brother have had a really rough relationship; it was better for a bit when I was a kid, but they haven’t been speaking for a few years now. So a rift that was much more obvious than the letter writer here. I love my uncle and his wife, I really do, but I’m also very angry about the ways they’ve treated my parents, and even sometimes me and my sister. I thought about it for a bit, and decided not to invite them to the wedding, for a lot of reasons–I didn’t want my parents to be on edge about it all day, I’m angry about some of the things they’ve done, and this uncle has such a history of being incredibly rude and unwelcoming to my mom that I had no idea what kinds of things he might say to my wife or inlaws.

    I never told them that we were getting married. They knew–I’m friends with my aunt on Facebook, and although I didn’t talk about being engaged or wedding planning a lot on there, I know she saw it. I didn’t hide it. But I didn’t tell them. And they didn’t hear from my parents, because they don’t talk any more. That side of the family is small, so there weren’t any other relatives who were involved at all who would have told them. So it is different from this, because it sounds like the LW communicates a lot more with the rest of the family. I didn’t tell them because I don’t really talk to them much, and because there is no good way to say “I’m getting married, and you’re not invited, even though the rest of my family is, and I was a flower girl in your wedding and you live nearby and would probably love to come.”

    Their response? Was perfect. I got a congratulatory text from them a few months after we got engaged (presumably when they realized), and another shortly after the wedding. I ended up seeing them (for the first time in a couple of years) a couple of months after the wedding. They had a present (which I had not expected), and a couple nice words. Nothing about how they weren’t invited, or how they hadn’t known. Which is one of the only reasons I’m willing to talk to them at this point–if they’d gotten passive aggressive or complained about it, I probably would have just avoided talking to them at all for a while. To be honest, an email like the ones you describe sending was what I was afraid of happening. And I would instantly have gone on the defensive.

    LW, I don’t blame you at all for being hurt and having a lot of feelings about this. And I’m certainly not trying to say you’re the same as my uncle. All I can really say is that there might be reasons you specifically werne’t told, or there might not. If you are friends with them on Facebook, they may have just assumed you knew, and didn’t talk about it directly because it seemed awkward, if you weren’t invited for other reasons (like if they had a small wedding or something). If you want to repair the relationship (which is up to you! you don’t have to!), though, I’d recommend something more like what my aunt and uncle did. I don’t blame you for being hurt, but some kind words (even at this rather late date) and then largely letting it go, at least in your communications with them, would probably be the best way to build bridges.

  • toomanybooks

    What’s missing for me in this letter is any direct description from the LW on how close she is to her nephew. I didn’t get anything other than that he is her brother’s son and what their financial relationship is. I think if she had said something like “I’m close to nephew, we spend every major holiday together, we live close to each other” etc then that would’ve given some context.

    • Christina McPants

      She knows his phone number but not his email and either isn’t friends with him on Facebook or his wife deliberately did not tag him (in each of the 266 pictures of facebook). I don’t think they’re that close.

  • NotMotherTheresa

    Sooo….I know lots of people are saying that there must be an issue with the family dynamic between the aunt and everyone else, but I’m wondering if it’s something else at play.
    I live in the deep south, and generally when parents keep mum about a wedding, it’s because for some reason, they aren’t exactly thrilled about what’s going on. As in, it was a shotgun wedding, or their precious little baby decided to marry the stripper he was doing coke off of, or the couple got married after two weeks for military benefits, or so on and so forth.
    I doubt the aunt was sent a special version of the Christmas newsletter, so most likely, Mom and Dad were telling ALL of their friends and family members about their dog but not about the wedding. RED FLAG regarding how they felt about the wedding. Also, if these wedding pictures were only found after deep sleuthing, that’s indicating that Mom and Dad weren’t exactly sharing the album 28 times on their own Facebook pages…again, kind of a red flag.
    I’m really wondering if there was something about this wedding/marriage that the family wasn’t exactly eager to broadcast.

    • ART

      This is a really good point about the Christmas letter…if it’s the typical kind that goes out to everyone on the list, it wasn’t singling out the aunt to leave it out.

  • justme

    I am someone who always assumes good intentions gone wrong. But a similar (though less extreme) situation happened to me recently. A close friend had a baby. I found out on facebook. Like we talked on the phone and texted and emailed and she never mentioned that she was pregnant. She never mentioned that she had a baby.

    That was almost two years ago. Afterwards I stopped making an effort. I didn’t ignore her at all, but I didn’t reach out to her. She called me one time (and I was so excited). It was to ask legal advice of my husband.

    The lesson is: When people show you who they are, believe them. Don’t try to minimize this. This is insane. There is probably something going on that you don’t know about. But someone so close to you that you were going to write them in your will should not treat you this way no matter the reason. Get out for your own sanity.

    • You mention a good point (about life in general and relationships): when people show you who they are, believe them.

      I have spent most of my life reading other people’s behaviour based on what my values are. “They must not have really meant xyz when they said that, that were just joking!” Etc., etc. Always assuming the best out of sometimes bad behaviour. But not everyone sees the world with the same values that I value (or even with the same idea of logic or politeness, etc.)… So, I think there’s a balance I am working on: generally assuming the best intentions, but also listening really well and being open to the possibility that sometimes people treat other people badly and they think that’s okay and acceptable. And that’s when you have to protect yourself in that relationship because the other person certainly isn’t going to do that.

      Of course, I have no idea what the situation is in this particular circumstance, but justme, I think you brought up a good point in general!

    • i still haven’t had the chance to tell some of my close, long-distance friends that i had a baby. my pregnancy and post partum period have been some of the most stressful and depressing periods of my life due to a combination of medical issues, financial issues and family reasons. because of everything that was going on, i had neither time nor energy to discuss it with people whom i didn’t see on a regular basis and didn’t have the full picture of what was going on — it would have made me more upset to have a friend tell me “congratulations, you must be so excited!” when what i really want to say is “actually, things are kind of a mess, but we’re trying to get through…” i know that my friends would probably be understanding and supportive, but sometimes something that’s not the happy-happy conversation is just too awkward, difficult, stressful to start. that’s the thing with big life events — weddings and babies and graduation (etc.) aren’t simply happy, and sometimes the expectation to be happy can be hard to take.

  • CommaChick

    For many reasons, we didn’t invite any aunts, uncles or cousins to our wedding. We also didn’t call those people to explain why they weren’t invited because calling people to tell them they’re not invited to something is rude. However, 14 of the 16 aunts and uncles knew we got engaged and knew we got married because the close ones saw us at family events and the ones with whom we’re not close found out on Facebook. (The other aunt and uncle don’t speak to anyone in the family, so their finding out is kind of irrelevant to the conversation.)

    When a family member doesn’t inform you (general you) of his life event details (graduation date), even after you’ve asked for them, there’s a reason. When a family member doesn’t inform you that a big life change even occurred (marriage), there’s a reason. That reason or reasons could have nothing to do with you or everything to do with you. Unless the nephew writes in, we’ll never know. However, I urge the letter writer to step back from the situation. Some space may improve the relationship and may allow the letter writer to practice some self care.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I totally don’t practice in trusts and estates, but, as a lawyer who might someday, this is instructive. Family dynamics obviously come out just as much in estate planning as in wedding planning.

    I guess naming a family member as an executor is an honor, but being an executor is an important legal responsibility. To compare it to weddings, it’s like asking one person to be your maid-of-honor and wedding planner and stage manager. And just like the bigger and fancier the wedding, the more you should consider a professional planner and stage manager, the bigger and more complicated the estate, the more you should consider a professional executor.

    So I think there’s a disjunct between how the LW communicates feelings and how her family communicates feelings. The LW thinks naming an executor is a gift/honor. The executor may think it’s an ask/burden.

    And I can imagine that playing into wedding stuff. Is the invitation an honor or an obligation/gift demand? Is sharing wedding photos with those who weren’t invited nice or rubbing their noses in it? APW and each of us individually may have answers, but that doesn’t mean LW’s family’s answers are the same.

    • raccooncity

      I know my mother had some troubles with her parents’ “estates” (they were all quite poor, so there wasn’t much to speak of outside the sentimental and all the money was used to discharge debts), but as a result she made one of her friends who she deems to be rather meticulous and right-brained her executor. She would never make it a family member after her experiences because it was too emotional of a time for the person charged with the task to also do the task.

      So her setup is: dispassionate friend executor, kids inherit (again, mostly sentimental items), kids are jointly in charge of power of attorney and health decisions.

      Once she told me her plan it started seeming really weird to me to have someone who would be devastated at the death also being the executor.

      • Amy March

        Executors in many states are entitled to be paid for their service out of the estate. Many people prefer not to have their money going to an outsider.

  • Jenna

    I just…

    I feel like a lot of responses here are fine personal appraisals of what the situation would seem to be if she hadn’t been invited to the wedding, but they don’t hold up when you consider that she wasn’t even told about it. She’s not estranged from them, so that’s just not a reason. If there’s more distancing going on than she’s aware of, then why the ‘chatty Christmas cards’ and other contact? They clearly are not estranged or trying to be estranged. I could still see not being invited especially to a small affair, but not being told at all? None of those takes on the situation come close to explaining that. I mean it’s not like her brother, SIL and nephew could have kept it a secret forever.

    • GotMarried!

      My husband and I didn’t tell anyone IRL about our wedding outside the guest list ahead of time. We honestly probably wouldn’t have mentioned it after either, except my mother posted pictures on facebook the day of without my knowledge and kinda shared the news with the world. We still run into people who notice we are wearing rings or referring to “our” home now that we live together and who don’t know we married. When asked, of course, we are honest, but don’t go out of our way to make conversations and interactions about us and our news. For me, being the center of attention and having to field people’s questions and/or input are just not worth it.

  • Laura C

    This is a side point that I’m making super late, but I have to take issue with this:

    This also shouldn’t be happening over email. I know, some folks say they communicate best that way. But the more nonverbal cues we can send, the better for everyone.

    Some folks say they communicate best that way? No, some folks DO communicate best that way. If I’m angry with you on the phone, unless you’re my parents or maybe my husband there’s absolutely no chance I express myself at all. I shut down, I seethe, I might hang up on you, I definitely walk away with the kind of resentment that continues building. If I’m angry with you in person, there’s a very good chance I lose my temper in a way that has bystanders backing away slowly. No yelling, but the nonverbal cues? I’m told they can be frightening. On email, I can count to three as many times as it takes and go back and revise. I can run it by someone else. I can explain myself vs. being so angry or upset that all I can do is press my lips together and walk away mad. If you force me to have a difficult conversation by phone, you damage our relationship forever.

    Obviously, not everyone functions that way — as in this letter. But I really, really take issue with the blanket statement, which is flatly wrong.

    • Violet

      Interesting side point. Some people really can communicate better in written form than orally, particularly in emotional topics. One of the (many) reasons why my parents’ marriage didn’t work out is that my mom has trouble articulating her thoughts and feelings *in the moment.* She’s smart and can do it later, but in an emotional tete-a-tete with my dad, he always had the upper hand, just by virtue of him being better at that particular mode of communication.
      Along those lines, I wonder about those situations where one person communicates better in written form, but the other person is better orally. Navigating that is tricky, and could be an interesting side discussion.
      That said, it seems fairly clear that using email did not help LW communicate more effectively. She rattled off one-line emails without stopping, taking deep breaths, consulting anyone, etc. So while it’s possible LW is a person who communicates better via email than phone, you wouldn’t know it from this incident.

      • Laura C

        For sure the LW used email terribly. I just didn’t like it being made into a blanket statement.

    • Amy March

      I think though that there is a difference between how you say what you want to say best, which certainly can be by email, and how you communicate best. Because communication is about interacting with someone, and if you see “here is my perfect email” but what they hear is “I won’t even look at you in the eye, communicate with me only like we are business partners instead of friends” that’s not great communication. If you loose your temper in a frightening way in person, that kinda sounds like a problem to work on not a reason to not talk to someone?

      • Laura C

        I mean, I should be clear that this is something that happens every couple years at most — it’s not like I walk around unable to have routine interactions because I’ll lose my temper. I was thinking of how I’d respond in an extreme situation like “finding out my nephew/heir hadn’t told me he’d gotten married.”

        And as I consider, I think I’m talking mostly about email vs. phone, not email vs. in person; I think we lose almost as many nonverbal cues on the phone as in writing while being at least as likely to blurt out stupid stuff, and it sounds like this letter is a case where it was a question of phone vs. email, not in person vs. email.

        For me, when it comes to phone vs. email, if someone who knows me is hearing that I’m communicating with them like business partners not friends, that’s a problem on their end, because if you know me, you know that most of my closest friendships are long distance and we almost never talk on the phone. (Now, if I suggested a Slack conversation, I’d be putting you on the level of a coworker…) Email is my primary form of communication with all of the people closest to me other than my husband and parents, and for that matter I exchange a couple emails a day on average with my parents. So if someone believes it’s impersonal and therefore I should abandon it in favor of the phone for interactions with them, they are 1) showing they don’t know me all that well and 2) insisting that their preferred mode of communication should take priority over mine for no very good reason other than that the phone is an older form of communication and therefore has had longer to make its way into the etiquette books. And I just reject the view in point 2.

        (Subtext here: MIL MIL MIL MIL. I have kinda strong feelings on this one because I have a MIL who has repeatedly tried to ambush me for difficult conversations on the phone, knowing that it’s not a form of communication I would choose.)

        • Amy March

          Oh, if we are talking about your mother in law forcing you into conversations, I am team #snailmail all the way.

  • LisaA

    “why not contact your brother?” Always talk to your own sibling, not the in-law b/c fights w/ your sibling can be forgiven since you fight similarly, but when you fight w/ an in-law, it’ll be taken differently. The other thing is that they might’ve gotten married w/ little family support, and so the family was hiding the marriage. When I got engaged, my mom didn’t tell my uncle or family b/c she was hoping we’d break up. (Can we say interracial marriage? Anyone?) We had a smaller wedding, and then I sent out announcement cards (b/c I understand the family needs to know, even if we can’t invite them). So somewhere somehow, someone didn’t send out an announcement, or made a financial decision that excluded you (and it could be if we invite Aunt X, we have to invite 10 other people = $1000!). Either way, feel what you feel, and then you can choose to let it go, live your life, and choose not to be offended b/c that takes up too much energy. You don’t know what’s going on w/ everyone else. Someone else being tacky by not informing you (with a free phone call or email, I mean really?!) doesn’t mean they have to dominate your emotions. Be the classy side of the family!

  • clarkesara

    We’re not inviting my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and reading this TERRIFIES ME.

    I mean, we’re not doing it because we’re having a very small backyard wedding, and my extended family would double the guest list. It would be 50% my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and 50% all the rest of our loved ones on both sides combined. My family is just too big, and we can neither afford nor are we interested in having the type of wedding where it would be reasonable to have my entire extended family there. Period. It’s not personal. I hope that nobody in my family takes this much offense to it, but it is what it is and it’s not going to change because someone felt like I was obligated to have a 200+ guest formal wedding in order to guarantee them an evening of free entertainment. (And if anyone genuinely feels that way, we are happy to take them out to dinner next time we’re in town.)

    On the other hand, most of my extended family have met my fiance, and our engagement is no secret. So hopefully that will alienate people less than this question implies?

    • Amy March

      Ughh yeah? That’s completely different! You aren’t having a secret wedding and keeping your large wedding and your marriage hidden from them. It would be nice to spread the word that your wedding is going to be very small though, and maybe drop the tone about guaranteeing an evening of free entertainment- you aren’t obligated to invite them but they might actually just have wanted to celebrate with you because they love you.

  • Rosemary Quite Contrary

    What ever happened to good old fashioned wedding announcements? There are lots of reasons why people, even aunts and uncles, aren’t invited to the wedding, but unless there is a very good reason not to tell them, they should know their nephew got married.

    I got to this page because a googled “I found out about my nephew’s wedding on facebook” because I just did. The wedding was last week. I know I didn’t get invited because my sister isn’t speaking to me (for no good reason except that it’s my turn to be the villain in her drama), but I’m still really pissed that my nephew or one of my nieces didn’t tell me. I’d consider cutting them out of my will if they were my heirs, but they aren’t. I have my own kids. If any of my kids get married and there is a wedding, my sister, nephew, nieces and all will be invited, because that is the right thing to do. And if there isn’t a wedding (say they elope), I will expect the bride and groom to send announcements.