Q: My sweetie and I are getting married and having a very small ceremony/reception (thirty to forty people). We aren’t inviting extended families, family friends, or plus ones for our friends unless we know them well.
The question I have is about plus ones for my parents. My parents divorced recently. At the time of the wedding, it will be about two years since their divorce. My dad currently lives with a new partner, and my mom is dating, but not in a serious relationship. While they are generally pretty good at being around each other, my dad’s new girlfriend is a sore spot for my mom. They haven’t met, and I don’t think my mom has any inclination to meet her. I think they will be able to get along a little better if she isn’t there. They’ve said repeatedly that they will always still be me and my brother’s parents together, and I think they will be able to put on parent hats a little better and ignore their recently divorced hats if she isn’t there.
I still haven’t met my dad’s girlfriend, due to a couple mistimed visits and other mishaps. (They live a few hours’ drive away, so I have a few quick weekend visits with them a year, usually.) I’m sure I will have met her at some point before the wedding, but she definitely isn’t someone I am close to/is important in my life.
Do I have to invite her anyway? No one else gets a plus one that we aren’t close to, and even if we give one to my mom, I’m pretty sure she won’t take it. The fact is, I’d rather not have her there, but I don’t want my dad to be offended by that.
A: Dear Anonymous,
Yeah, your dad would be offended by that. And probably should be.
If people are living together, they’re a couple. It’s not a matter of “plus ones,” because they come as a set. Invite one, get one free sort of thing. Your dad is living with this lady, which means she’s important to him—and he’s important to you, so by some sort of mathematical transitive property, she gets to come to the wedding.
Granted, your mom might not like seeing her. But she’s an adult, and it sounds like she’s moving on and dating and living the life. She will be fine. Trust her to be fine. Part of being a good parent is being fine when your kids need you to (no matter what’s going on in the depths of your soul). Give her a heads-up that the girlfriend is coming, and ask her to brace herself to be civil (but you probably don’t even need to do that, because feigning civility is one of the basic responsibilities of adulthood).
Invite her. She’s significant to your dad, it sounds like you personally don’t have any issue with her, and your parents are grownups.
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