Do I HAVE to Invite My Dad’s Girlfriend to the Wedding?


We haven't even met yet

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

bride and groom sitting together

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.

—Anonymous

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.

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.

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • idkmybffjill

    Also! She may not even come. It sounds like your parents are pretty respectful of each other still and your dad may pick up on that and act accordingly.

    • Amy March

      Oh, but I wouldn’t want to green light the reverse assumption- bringing his girlfriend isn’t a sign of disrespect.

      • idkmybffjill

        Yes. Totally – great point!

    • Jess

      She could totally talk to her dad and say, “We are keeping this wedding quite small. We do plan on inviting X. Do you anticipate any problems with that?”

      I don’t know their relationship, but it sounds like it’s actually pretty good, so maybe just saying, “Would Mom have a problem with this?” gives him a chance to think it through. Also having a similar conversation with the Mom.

      I would think she’d invite her no matter what.

      • idkmybffjill

        Yeah I completely agree. People who have a history of being considerate of one another, which it sounds like her parents have, tend to keep that up. Whether that means her mom not making it a thing or her dad leaving his gf at home for this one, they’ll probably work it out amongst themselves.

  • Amy March

    “Feigning civility is one of the basic responsibilities of adulthood.” Yes, this, exactly a million times.

    Also, you need to invite everyone who is in a relationship with their person. If it’s important to you to know everyone at your wedding, then you need to figure out a way to get to know them, or not invite either member of the couple. If it’s more important to have only 30-40 people there, then, again, some cuts to make. Single people don’t need a plus one, but in this circumstance no matter what your mom’s dating life is like, it would be nice to give her that option.

    But there are lots of ways to try and smooth things over, even at a tiny wedding! Each parent could get their “own” table, populated with their people, or if you’re doing one long table they can be at opposite “heads” with your fiance(e)’s parents in the middle of the table. You could have seating for the ceremony arranged as New Girl Friend, Dad, Brother, Brother’s plus one, Mom’s sister, mom, aisle, to give a bit of distance without “favoring” one or the other with a “better” row. And new girlfriend might also be interested in not making waves. At one wedding I attended Dad’s new girlfriend literally wore beige, stood in the back, and did her best to blend into the crowd.

    • H

      Yep. The “We aren’t inviting…plus ones for our friends unless we know them well.” stood out to me as well. I think that’s a rude thing to do and could potentially hurt relationships with friends you DO know well. Just because your friend has a girlfriend who is shy or who travels a lot for work so you don’t know her, doesn’t mean your friend doesn’t deserve a plus one. If your friend is in a relationship, I think they should get a plus one.

      • The confusing bit for everyone is technically a “plus one” is for people you don’t know the name of…and they aren’t required. What is required is providing everyone who considers themselves to be in a relationship an additional *named* guest. So, technically, plus ones are just whoever (i.e., your friend could bring their best friend from elementary school), but a named additional guest are for people with a boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other/partner/fiance[e]/spouse.

    • Annie

      Totally agree with this. My partner’s cousin is getting married this weekend and restricted plus-ones to spouses only, so no boyfriends/girlfriends. We’ve been living together 6 years and are each other’s family, just not married. I honestly didn’t care about not being invited – I’m not that close to her and it’s her wedding, her rules. However my in-laws threw a huge fit about the injustice, taking offense on my behalf, and then my partner decided not to go because he felt so bad taking a fun family trip without me. A lot of drama ensued as I stood helpless from the sidelines. My partner has since declared that should we get married one day, they wouldn’t be invited. Which is almost funny because he’s the lowest-drama person you could imagine. So, yeah, invite people’s significant others. It’s the decent thing to do.

      • idkmybffjill

        I particularly hate it when it’s on the lines of marraige. You don’t know someone’s reasons for being unmarried or if marriage is even part of their plan!

        • But if you do it along the lines of living-together, then you’re unfair to religious types! rofl

          *sigh*
          There is no way to win, except to invite everyone’s SOs, forcing a cut to your UNecessaries budget (flowers, fanciness), or your guest list more generally.

          • idkmybffjill

            Yep! Totally!

            We invited all significant others cause our wedding is small enough and our relationships are such that they were all our friends too. But I don’t begrudge anyone the task when their relationships are different!

        • LJ

          I’m having a secular wedding but renewing my vows in 3 years once the Anglican church adopts gay marriage (general synod 2019 woooo)… I want to be married under the church (it would make my mom happy) but I’m not doing it until then because values. If someone is making a similar choice (or a choice with way better reasons, of which there are many)….. then it’s pretty lame to punish them.

      • Lindsey

        I dealt with the same exact thing when my (then boyfriend) was Best Man for his brother’s wedding!
        FMIL ultimately threw a fit and ensured I was invited, although the Bride made it very clear that his date for the evening was the MOH.
        It gave me a good sense of how to make guests for our wedding as comfortable and welcome as possible. It really is the decent thing to do.

        • “Bride made it very clear that his date for the evening was the MOH.”
          ahahahahahahahahha
          That poor lady.

        • brooksienne

          WOW.

      • At my wedding, my dividing line was “partner”. (I think this term is used a bit more widely in Australia than the US.) If someone could be described as “my partner” – so, a spouse, a fiance, the person you live with, or just a very long-term relationship – then they got an invitation. “My boyfriend of 3 weeks” did not.

        • Lisa

          I like this. Our dividing line was 1 year, which worked well because most of our friends fell into the category of casually dating or committed relationships. This did end up cutting out a couple of relationships that were pretty new at the time (<6 months) and are still going now, but I don't think most of the two friends that affected would have wanted to bring their SO at that point in time anyway.

  • Eenie

    It really shouldn’t come as a surprise to your mom that your dad’s partner is invited. I think it’d be nice to give her a heads up and ask her if there’s anything you can do to make the GF at your wedding easier for her (sit on opposite sides of the room, meet her beforehand, let her bring one family friend if won’t have a lot of “her” people there, etc.).

  • Annie

    If you trusted your parents when they said that they would be your parents together, no matter what, then give them the chance to prove it.

    I know it can be hard to imagine that in action where there is a new partner involved (especially depending on how recent “recently” is) but everything you’ve said here indicates that they love you and support you, and meant it when they said they’ll work together to be co-parents through life. It sounds like they will do their best, even in these uncharted waters.

    Now, coming to terms with your dad possibly bringing a new partner *yourself*? That might be harder!

  • T.K.

    Glossed over in the response and most of the comments is that LW herself is the one who would rather not invite the dad’s girlfriend. Could there be a possible compromise of inviting the girlfriend to the reception but not the ceremony?

    • Eenie

      Nope. She also expresses not wanting to offend her dad. Not inviting a live in partner is extremely offensive.

    • Amy March

      Not glossed over so much as ignored, because no, that’s still really rude.

      • T.K.

        Plenty of people have a family-only ceremony and broader reception. It’s not
        rude or even unusual.

        • Amy March

          It is extremely rude if you define family to exclude your family member’s significant others. And it’s certainly not a rule you can apply to just one girlfriend.

          • emmers

            Yea, as soon as I saw they were living together, that answered it for me. If you live together, it’s serious, even if it hasn’t been long.

          • T.K.

            I think it’s up to LW to define family and priorities for herself. It’s not black and white that sharing a house with a member of your family makes someone family, especially when they’ve been un-involved with your life to the point you’ve never met them.

          • emmers

            I guess. But when I was living with my boyfriend, we’d both have been offended if he’d received a wedding invite, and I wasn’t invited. It’s just one of those things.

          • T.K.

            That did happen to me when I was newly living with my boyfriend and his sister got married, and while, yes, it would have been nice to be invited, I recognized that there were complex family dynamics and it wasn’t about me at all.

          • Laura C

            Yup. There are lots of weddings my husband attended and I didn’t. I don’t remember them all, but you best believe I remember the one I wasn’t invited to even though we lived together.

          • JC

            There’s a flip side of this too. I remember my friend being SO disappointed that my boyfriend wasn’t coming to her wedding, even though they had only met…maybe twice? We made the right decision; I was with the wedding party all day and he wouldn’t have known a single other person there. But it was pretty great to feel so loved that my friend wanted a stranger at her wedding just so that I would have my boyfriend with me.

          • Amy March

            Not if she plans to continue to interact with people. She doesn’t have to consider this woman family, she just has to treat her as a human being who exists, is in a relationship with her dad, and therefore is invited to social events with him as his date.

            Or, she can exclude the girlfriend and be rude and hurtful. There’s no rude police gonna stop her. But there’s no acceptable way to do this.

          • Stephanie B.

            “Sharing a house”? She’s not a roommate who splits rent. She’s the father’s girlfriend. Big difference.

          • T.K.

            I still don’t understand how that requires her boyfriend’s children to consider her as family.

          • Stephanie B.

            I don’t actually see where I said that the OP is required to consider her father’s live-in girlfriend to be family. Can you point it out?

            What I did say is that the father’s live-in girlfriend is more than just someone who is “sharing a house” with the father. A relationship where the partners live together is generally considered to be a significant relationship. Not inviting someone’s live-in partner is generally considered to be rude, although based on the comments here, it’s certainly something that happens, for whatever reason, and it’s an option the OP has. There’s no Invitation Police who are going to bust down her door, grab her hand, and physically force her to invite the GF. It’s just a matter of weighing whether the hurt feelings are going to be worth it. For this OP, they might be.

          • T.K.

            Two comments up in the thread from your first comment. I think in a neutral situation, yes, inviting a live in significant other is the way to go. Basically, I’m arguing that since this is a situation in which the LW seems have reason to think that than invitation her will cause hurt to people she loves, there’s a good chance it would be worth it in this case. Etiquette is a social ideal, and LW needs to weigh it against the real situation and people in her life.

          • Stephanie B.

            Still don’t understand why you replied to my comment as though I said something that I didn’t. Maybe you should reply to that person?

          • T.K.

            Sorry, I read “I” in your last comment as “it”. You didn’t say she needs to be considering family, but it is the topic of the subthread, and what I was arguing against in the comment you replied to.

          • Sara

            I have to agree here. How important can this woman really be to the dad if he hasn’t even bothered to introduce her to his children?

        • Larkin

          If this woman is living with her father then, like it or not, she should get categorized with family.

          • emmers

            And that doesn’t necessarily mean that she needs to be in family photos. But definitely invited to the wedding, if your dad is!

        • Anon

          But this is her father’s live-in girlfriend! I could understand the temptation to try to rationalize the lack of seriousness (the divorce wasn’t that long ago, etc) but at the end of the day, she doesn’t get to decide how significant the relationship is.

          Not saying the LW is necessarily definitely doing that, but I wondered if mentioning that the divorce is recent also sort of dog-whistles that this woman is newer to her father’s life and therefore shouldn’t be held to the same standard as longer term relationships. Maybe I’m off-base on that assumption, but if I’m not…it’s really not her call.

          • Violet

            I think it could simply just be indicating how recently the divorce happened, because this can indicate how comfortable the divorced couple is around one another. My parents can much more easily be around each other now, 15 years after the divorce, than they were two years after it.

          • Anon

            Yup, that’s why I said I might be wrong! Genuine caveat :) Just a feeling I got and also something I’ve experienced people in my life doing. Some people on this thread are doing it too!

            But totally fair that LW never actually says anything along those lines.

        • Eenie

          You don’t invite one half of the couple to both events and the other to only one though! Even if this was a smaller ceremony with a bigger reception, the GF gets an invite to both.

  • Annelle Hughes

    I second inviting her. As the child of divorced parents I know it is painful to recognize that it happened but this is kind of one of those steps. Since you haven’t met her yet you may not know if you even like her! It took me some time but I actually love my step mom now… But make sure you get some family photos without her in them just in case! I know it sucks but I would try to make more of an effort to get to know her and try to accept her for your Dad’s sake. After all, I am sure you want him to be happy too even if it is weird. In the end you want him to have a companion who takes care of him even if it is someone you find out you don’t really like. Best of luck to you and I hope she’s sweet!

  • emmers

    We had a somewhat similar situation- recently divorced (less than 2 years) parents uncomfortable seeing each other at our wedding. In our case one parent had quickly remarried. We invited everyone, and gave the unmarried parent a plus one. Unmarried parent was so uncomfortable that they didn’t end up coming to the wedding, which I’m sure they regret.

    Divorce can be sticky and hard for everyone, especially when it’s recent, but in cases like that, all you can do is try to be fair to everyone, and hope that they can pull it together. If they end up choosing not to come, that’s really on them.

  • G.

    I don’t know, I think there’s room for discussion with the parents before making an iron-clad commitment to inviting dad’s new gf. Circumstances matter. If they moved in together (for whatever reasons) after 1 month of dating, I’m not really persuaded that the gf rises to the level of “family.” Conversely, if (hypothetically in a different context) divorced dad had been dating a woman for 6 years but they didn’t live together, I’d consider her family even if they maintained separate dwellings. I’m just not compelled by the notion that living together must equal serious commitment and not living together means less serious commitment, especially with older people who may have a range of reasons that generate that status.

    The real question is how does dad see the gf in the context of his family, and that can’t necessarily be inferred from living arrangements. Maybe he views her as part of his family and expects her to be part of all family activities; maybe he views her as an important part of his new life but not yet part of his family life; maybe he views her as important to moving on from the divorce but not much more. Who knows?! Thus assuming the parents are as reasonable as the LW suggests, then a conversation with dad about the upcoming nuptials and where gf fits is warranted.

    • Amy March

      The great thing about this is that if Dad doesn’t want her to come or doesn’t think she is important to him, he can just RSVP for one. I don’t think girlfriend is, alone, family, but she is a significant other and must be invited, like any other guest. Your friend has a boyfriend? I don’t care if they’ve been living together a month, dating 6 years long distance, are feeling pre-engaged, or are on the verge of break-up. You don’t get to ask, beyond establishing that yes, they have someone and come as a pair.

      • G.

        I generally agree that the blanket rule approach is best–it’s a social nicety. Full stop. But it’s not just your friend or cousin’s SO showing up or not, and basically being in the background. In complicated emotional situations like parents’ divorces, I think social niceties can be misread as more than civility, depending on the parties, their emotional intelligence, and their dynamic. So the important issue here is less the invite itself and more about how all the people will comport themselves, how the moving parts fit together in the post-divorce landscape, and how social cues are being read and possibly misinterpreted. In this regard, I think it’s important to actually *talk* about it. Ideally, the gf will either really integrate into the family by the time the wedding rolls around or recognize that she should be in the background, but not everyone intuits or gets that. Have a conversation first (even if the outcome regarding the invite is itself pre-determined) lest the invite be read as anything more than a social nicety. Ideally this will allay LW’s fears or let her prepare for less desirable situations.

    • Mrrpaderp

      I agree with the first paragraph wholeheartedly – some conversations are needed here. Neither of LW’s parents is throwing a fit at this point; it’s not as if mom’s threatened to not come if GF comes, or dad’s threatened to not come if GF isn’t invited. It sounds like LW is gearing up for an ill advised attempt at conflict avoidance – “I’d rather not talk to my mom about new GF so I’m going to just sort of not invite GF and hope that dad doesn’t bring it up.” If you’re going to exclude someone who might eventually be a family member, then there are going to be some Feelings about that.

      You’re going to need to confront it at some point, so do it in a way that takes the wind out of everyone’s sails. “Mom, I love you and I don’t want to see you upset on my wedding day, but you know that dad is in a new relationship and may want to bring GF.” And then, “Dad, I respect your new relationship, but I’m worried about how mom will feel meeting your GF for the first time at my wedding. I want everyone to be happy, not tense. Can we talk about some solutions?” I really think the best thing for everyone is for mom, dad, and GF to have coffee before the wedding. That way mom isn’t anxious and distracted on the day of.

      • G.

        I think this is really good language for starting conversations with each parent.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      I kind of agree with you but I hesitate on evaluating the relationships of other people. I think generally a significant other a person is living with merits an invitation. I think the convo re where the girlfriend fits in in dad’s life is for dad and girlfriend to decide.

      • G.

        I agree that ultimately where the gf fits is up to dad and gf. But I think it’s reasonable in cases of parental dating/remarriage to have conversations that locate the new relationship and identify its status/importance (subject to change, of course). It doesn’t need the gory details or messiness that the individuals in the relationship would have when discussing the same question, but the point is to clarify to children (of any age, in age-appropriate ways) what’s happening. A wedding is prompting this particular question, but I’d argue a conversation is warranted when new relationships affect the kids, say, in discussions of how a divorced parent’s dating life changes things like contributions to college or attendance at graduations (is the graduate obligated to invite the new SO to the graduation? to the graduation party?), or end-of-life care (who is making decisions? who is paying? what’s happening to wills/estates?), or retirement finances (whose money? are accounts getting combined? are beneficiaries changing?).

        In the end, I think this is a case of a surface etiquette question revealing a more substantive question about the status/role of this new relationship in LW’s life. Hence, converse.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          Oh yes I think definitely a conversation is in order and I agree with your reasoning. I am pushing against the idea that the daughter here has to be convinced re the seriousness of this relationship before she extends invitation to girlfriend. She doesn’t. Perhaps that isn’t what you were suggesting. But I do think it’s important that her father let her know who this person is to him and they can discuss expectations etc

  • MTM

    So what’s LW supposed to do about pictures? Is it the same sense that she should be in family pictures, too?

    • Eenie

      You do what all SO’s do – you either include them (my personal choice for my brother’s GF), have them jump in and out (the just in case strategy), or you don’t include anyone who isn’t married/or otherwise related to offspring.

      • MTM

        But she’s not just a SO, she’s a live in partner, which was the whole premise for inviting her even when the LW didn’t know her.

        • Jessica

          The jumping in and out thing seems to be the solution. One with, they jump out, one without.

        • Eenie

          My now husband, who I’d been dating longer than my SIL and brother had been dating, was living in a house with me when SIL and brother got married. He was not in the photos. Was this sad? Yes. Was I offended? Nope.

        • Amy March

          Doesn’t change my answer at all. Significant other to me is anyone significant who is not a fiance(e) or spouse.

        • Alex K

          I find that SO defines all sorts of relationships…including live in partner. I consider by husband my SO, but that’s just me.

        • Liz

          Yeah, I don’t think an invite necessitates inclusion in the photos, though. Dad might want a photo of them all, so maybe do one for him. But photos without her aren’t rude.

        • laddibugg

          She’s been around for less than 2 years (I assume). People move in with each other at the drop of a hat so living together isn’t always this BIG DEAL.
          I could see her in random group pics, but not ‘family’ ones.

          • MTM

            I think that’s my point though? The live in partner aspect is being considered really important for one part that the LW doesn’t want (to invite her), but not a deal at all for the other (family photos). It just seems inconsistent.

          • Liz

            I dont really see how? Photos and invitations don’t have much to do with one another.

          • Ashlah

            This. Most of the people invited to our wedding were not in our family photos.

          • heyqueen

            But if we’re in the vein of not “offending” the girlfriend, won’t she be offended if she isn’t included in all the family pictures?

          • Ashlah

            My dad and stepmom have been together since I was a toddler, and I still have photos of just me and my dad and just me with my biological parents. If girlfriend throws a fit, she is very much in the wrong.

          • Alex K

            I think it is how you do it? If you snap one photo with her and are nice- you are probably good. If you do what my MIL did at my now SIL’s wedding (when my husband and I were engaged) and loudly announce NO Alex (or gf) CAN NOT be in the photos because she isn’t family…you will probably upset her..haha. But really..most people are happy to hang out while everyone runs around taking photos.

          • rg223

            Yeah, I think how you do it can totally help. Like, if the photographer has a list of photos you want taken, he can just run through the list and say “Now let’s get one with [mom], [dad], [bride], [bride’s brother (or whoever)],” then say, “Okay, now let’s get one with these people,” etc, and there’s maybe one or two with the GF… I don’t think that’s awkward or exclusionary at all.

          • Amy March

            We are in the vein of being polite adults. What girlfriend feels offended about beyond being treated rudely is on her.

          • Liz

            Well, I’m not coming from a place of “how do we avoid offending the girlfriend,” but instead of, “how do we avoid being rude to the girlfriend.” No invitation is rude. Taking photos without her is not rude.

          • MTM

            Because the partner isn’t significant enough to be in the family photos, but is significant enough that she mandates an invitation to an intimate family/close friend ceremony when the LW has never met her just because she’s dad’s live in partner. I agree that most people invited aren’t in the family photos, but if the specific reason the partner will be there because she’s dad’s significant partner; it’s a little insulting to ask that person to step in and out of a role she’s been placed in to.

          • heyqueen

            So I think the conclusion we have circulating is that most people feel like this is all nothing. If you invite the gf, she comes under the umbrella of family. So you *must* include her in all family wedding activities. Otherwise, don’t invite her.

          • Amy March

            No one else seems to feel this? She must be invited. You don’t need to pretend she is second mom. Arguing that if she is invited she must be treated as such is just silly- that’s simply not true, and no excuse for excluding her from even an invitation.

          • Caitlyn

            I completely agree with you Amy. Yes, the GF should be invited. It would be insulting to the LW’s father if she does not. However, she is not family. Including her in family photos (when LW hasn’t even met her) would be incredibly odd. And frankly THAT is what I think would hurt the LW’s mother. I think this is important enough that the LW should address it ahead of time with the father and nicely clarify that while GF is invited to attend, she is not welcome to join the family photos.

          • MTM

            To clarify, I don’t think LW should have to invite her. Based on her wording, it doesn’t seem like the partner and dad have been dating very long (despite “live in” status), and the partner is not significant in LW’s life. (And she wants her mom to be able to enjoy the day, also).

          • Alex K

            I really don’t think “how long have you been together” is a good measure of wedding invites. Someone could be about to get married and “only” be together 1 year (which you are saying is not ground for an invite) but someone else could be very far from serious and have been together 8 years.

          • MTM

            But the partner is not significant to the LW…she’s being told inviting a stranger to an intimate occasion based on being a live in partner, not the “seriousness” of the relationship (as laddibugg pointed out above of people moving in at the drop of a hat).

          • Liz

            Nah, I don’t see it that way. Many folks are invited to the wedding, but not asked to be in the photos. I can see from your other comments, though, that we’re coming from totally different perspectives.

      • FM

        I agree with the option to have some with, some without. But whatever is done, good idea to talk to Dad about it beforehand so they can be aware of the plan and not have first-reaction feelings (if any) to it on the spot at the wedding. Also, maybe Dad doesn’t want girlfriend in all the forever wedding pictures. And I think it would be strange if new-to-the-family girlfriend would expect to be in all or even any formal family wedding photos. Being invited is definitely separate from being in the formal family wedding photos. One has to do with her relationship with Dad, the other has to do with her relationship with bride and groom. Offering to include her in some photos would be kind.

        • MTM

          ” One has to do with her relationship with Dad, the other has to do with her relationship with bride and groom. Offering to include her in some photos would be kind.” This might be the fork in the road. I think for the LW (and me) guests at the wedding should have to do with relationship to the bride and groom (not Dad) and LW said that that was the standard for their other guests.

          • FM

            If the dad and gf were married (but still she hadn’t met her), would you think that the wife should be invited?

          • MTM

            Maybe? I think my issue was the premise that live-in = significant (and significant enough to make the LW and LW’s mom uncomfortable enough), when live-in might not = significant enough for that. But I would still question why dad got married and they still haven’t met each other.

          • FM

            Ok, but then it seems like you are buying into the idea that the invite should be extended based on the gf/dad relationship rather than the gf/bride relationship. And then you get into the question raised by others of who’s place it is to judge the seriousness of a relationship. I don’t think you’d be alone in drawing the line at married rather than live-in, but I personally don’t think it’s in line with the realities of the day. Either way, I still think the question of whether to invite the SO is mostly about the relationship of the SO to the target guest, whereas inclusion of someone in formal pics is mostly about the relationship of the guest to the bride/groom, with some consideration given to their relationship with someone else in the pics. Also, I would just note that from what I have seen it is incredibly common with divorced families for there to be some pictures with just the immediate family grouping.

          • MTM

            That’s why there’s the question mark. I personally invited plus ones liberally, but I wanted for my guests to be comfortable. I’m trying to use LW’s premise that she wants everyone there to be significant to them, and perhaps if here dad were married, that would make the partner more significant?

          • AmandaBee

            I would argue that that is a bad standard, both for Dad and other guests. Your wedding is not all about you. If you’re inviting your community, it is also about them.

    • Ashlah

      Nope. Hopefully the girlfriend will graciously step aside herself, but usually the solution to this kind of issue is to take some photos with and some without.

      • Jess

        This. So much this. The same as my brother’s girlfriend may be in some photos and not in others. The same as I would not be in every photo of R’s family.

        “what a lovely time for me to grab a drink” I say, or “time to go sit in the shade!”

    • laddibugg

      eh, i think that’s a family by family thing.

    • I think this is probably easy to solve by more pictures. I am not in all the family photos with my husband’s family, because sometimes they just want a picture of their sons with their parents and that is fine. I think we had some boyfriends jump in and out of family pictures, too, at my wedding, but I don’t really remember because we took 10 million pictures. In general, I’ve found that people will usually assume they are not in the family picture and then be happy when they are asked to jump in for some shots (but I recognize that maybe that is not universal).

      • Eenie

        My uncle thought I was only including him in the family photos to be nice. Nope, you’re my family, so you’re in the “her family” and “entire family” shots! Wasn’t just a courtesy invite?!

  • laddibugg

    I’m not sure I would go if I was ‘girlfriend’ but I think I’d like to be invited.
    I don’t think you need to extend an invite to her, but you should give your father the opportunity to bring her if he wants. Even though your mom might not bring a plus one, she could, right?

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      I’m envisioning a really passive aggressive “Dad + 1” invite.

      • Ugh. I had to do this for my uncle. He left his wife of 20+ years in December, and got immediately remarried with the woman he was having an affair with. This left two 20+ daughters, and 1 daughter<18. My mom didn't want there to be any custody issues, so I didn't explicitly give my cousins an invitation, just gave my uncle a "+1". He can bring the new wife, or a daughter, or whatever. It's not right, but families are tricky and this is how my mom wanted to handle it.

        It's all a bunch of ughhhhhhhhhh.

  • Alex K

    It sounds like LW does not really want dad’s partner there on the basis that she doesn’t know her and that it will possibly upset mom. I definitely think LW has to invite dad’s partner but maybe meeting her first and trying to remember that your wedding day is busy will help with the first issue. Also- I’d talk to my dad and just let him know that I wanted a pleasant day for all (if I thought he would be reasonable). My guess is dad and gf have thought about how this might go and most people don’t want to cause drama at weddings!

  • heyqueen

    I think LW should talk with her father and tell her how she feels. If the gf had any good sense, I think she’d understand how complicated and uncomfortable the dynamic is and not go to the wedding.

    • G.

      Yep to talking. Or things can change, and all parties can/should re-evaluate closer to the wedding.

    • Amy March

      It is entirely possible to both “have good sense” and expect to attend social events with your live in boyfriend, and expect other adults to have the good sense not to cause drama about it.

      • G.

        Eh, I think this over-elevates the importance of always doing all-the-things with one’s SO, when it should be and feel perfectly reasonable to make those decisions (be it a birthday party, picnic in the park, bowling game, work xmas party, grandma’s 90th bday, or wedding) on a case-by-case basis. Cultivating social norms of independence, and neither expecting to attend nor expecting everyone’s SO’s would (want to) attend everything, would help make these situations hella less fraught.

        • Amy March

          Would it? Right now we have a blanket rule- do they have a person? They get invited. Would it really be “less fraught” to be making a case by case individual determination on everyone else’s relationship and how independent they are or should be? Seems incredibly nosy, judgmental, and designed for hurt feelings to me.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Yes.

            I haven’t seen a wedding yet where this was done and didn’t get messy and nasty.

          • G.

            I can make no guarantees. But I think if the social and cultural context were different, such that every event didn’t assume a Noah’s Ark approach to invitations *and* attendance, people would be able to spend less time dwelling on what every invitation or lack thereof meant. In our current cultural landscape, not sending an invite Means Things and Sends a Message. But it doesn’t have to.

            I recognize I’m suggesting an alternative reality. It’s just one that I think would check some current assumptions in useful ways.

      • heyqueen

        I don’t think LW is causing drama about it. Guests often feel a sense of entitlement when it comes to weddings. Yes, she’s your father’s girlfriend, but LW has the right to not invite her. I don’t subscribe to the idea that you HAVE to invite non spousal SOs that you don’t know well.

        • Liz

          “I don’t subscribe to the idea that you HAVE to invite non spousal SOs that you don’t know well.”

          I do (at least live-in ones), but I think in this particular situation, not sending an invitation will Send A Message in ways that a usual do invite/don’t invite situation wouldn’t.

        • Amy March

          Well, then that is rude. We all have the right to be rude if we want!

    • laddibugg

      I also think that if LW and girlfriend haven’t met by the wedding….the wedding is not the time to meet.

      • Amy March

        No, but I think the solution to that is making sure to meet, not not inviting her.

      • heyqueen

        Agree.

      • AmandaBee

        So make it a priority to meet beforehand. That’s not really a valid excuse for not inviting her.

  • JC

    This whole situation is colored by the fact that the LW hasn’t met her dad’s girlfriend yet. Go meet her, LW. This hypothetical “maybe I will, maybe I won’t invite” is being fed by your own uncertainty, but that uncertainty is yours to control. Meeting her might or might not make it easier to decide if you want to invite her, but do yourself a favor and allow this woman to be a whole person in your life and not just a name and the title “Dad’s Girlfriend.”

    • AmandaBee

      Right. From what context we’ve been given (which is admittedly not much) there’s not much reason to have not met her by now. Take some time and go meet this person who is clearly an important part of your dad’s life. It will probably feel weird until you get to know her, so start getting to know her.

  • sofar

    Just wanted to +1 this response. And Miss Manners (for those who deem her the authority) also says you need to invite “married couples — AND couples who live as if they are married” at the very minimum. Ideally, if anyone on your list has a significant other they can provide a name for (“My girlfriend, Stephanie”), you should probably invite them, although it’s not technically mandated.

    It’s not about whether you are close to someone, but whether your guest is. My husband’s high school friend left me off an invitation because we’d never met (her website had a cutesy little message saying, “We’re trying to keep our wedding compact, so we’re including only those who know us and have shown us love. Thanks for understanding”). Honestly, I’d have stayed home anyway (since the wedding involved travel), but it REALLY stung not to be invited, and my husband (then my fiance) didn’t go either, just on principle.

    Anyway, if you don’t invite dad’s girlfriend, that will almost certainly create a rift. With any luck, she’ll bow out gracefully, but at least you won’t be starting out your relationship with her on an awkward foot.

    • AmandaBee

      “It’s not about whether you are close to someone, but whether your guest is.”

      This, exactly. This falls into my general philosophy that the wedding is not just about you and what you want. As long as you’re inviting people you’re close to, it’s also about your community and (to a reasonable extent) what is important to them. Assuming Dad’s SO is important to him (which seems like a safe assumption to make), then she needs to be invited. Not doing so would be a big slap in the face, and probably create a lot of drama that, from what we can tell anyway, doesn’t need to be created.

      • sofar

        Yeah, we had total strangers at our wedding — people our parents wanted there. Because it wasn’t about us. It was about the community. Now, the honeymoon, on the other hand — THAT’S about us. :)

        • APlus

          It is harder when you have a smaller wedding though. You can exclude the random significant others of cousins and distant relatives by just not inviting the relative. But it will feel really hard to have 1 or 2 strangers, and have those strangers be the significant other of your parents. Doesn’t mean you can not invite them, but it does mean it sucks.

    • Katharine Parker

      Not inviting SOs is rude, but trying to be cute about it is revolting.

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        I’ve never seen a situation where this was done and went over well.

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        I’m having flashbacks to a wedding where the bride decided which of her friends’ (bridesmaids- she had about 8) relationships were serious and extended invited to SOs that way. Since she invited couples who didn’t live together or who had not been together a long time, no one understood the criteria. She did this to close friends in her wedding party and it was awful.

        • Katharine Parker

          Wow. That is horrible. I’m amazed that the bridesmaids who were refused an invite for their partners then stood up in the wedding!

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            It was a close call. Some of them are no longer friends.To add insult to injury, when some people rsvp’d no, she told some of those friends “oh you can bring so and so now.” I couldn’t believe she thought that was ok. Don’t be her. Invite the SO lol.

          • Katharine Parker

            Not shocked that it was friendship ending. Please, no one do this to your bridesmaids (or guests).

        • sofar

          Oh god. My friend was a bridesmaid in the wedding where the bride (her childhood friend) did this. My friend had been with her boyfriend for 5 years (they’d just moved in together). Bride invited some guests with nameless “Plus ones” but didn’t invite my friend’s boyfriend because she didn’t like him. Yeah, he’s an arrogant ass sometimes, but not in a way that would ruin a wedding.

          My friend bowed out of the wedding. And removed herself from the bride’s life. I sure hope excluding a boyfriend from her wedding was worth losing a bridesmaid and a childhood friend over!

        • Kyle

          Last time I was a bridesmaid my boyfriend wasn’t invited. He hadn’t me the bride because she doesn’t live near us. I did the thing you’re not supposed to do and called up the bride and said, “Hey, I’m really serious about this guy – can he come?” and she said that she hadn’t been sure since we weren’t “facebook official!” (Keep in mind we are all in our thirties… late thirties even.)

          BF and I moved in together shortly after the wedding (2 years ago) and still aren’t facebook-official… I don’t hold it against her but do wish she had just asked. One of the other bridesmaids was in the process of separating from her husband, like, the week of the wedding, and her husband attended the wedding.

          Life is awkward, I guess!

          • Amy March

            Omg major eyerolls for her. Sure sugar, you weren’t sure that one of your closest friends was in a relationship, so you decided total silence on the issue and just not inviting him was cool.

          • Kyle

            It was more of a “That’s [friend]!” kind of moment, honestly – she has a somewhat avoidant personality and that is just kind of what she does (although, really, FACEBOOK OFFICIAL, I can’t even). I can be pretty uncommunicative and non-confrontational myself, so I had a lot of sympathy for her, even though it was a frustrating situation for me!

    • Annelle Hughes

      I agree with the married couples and living together thing. However, it does get complicated when my step mom asked me to invite her sister + husband + 3 college age kids. My dad assumed their boyfriends would be invited but since I have only met the kids a couple times and they would be coming with their family I didn’t extend the invitation to them. They live in a different city and none came anyway but my mom did throw a fit about me inviting my cousins girlfriend. I told her she could come if we had enough “no’s” RSVP first but still she got really mad about it. Turns out that girlfriend had to work that day anyway but the whole extended family in their early 20’s non live in girlfriends situation is a tough call.

      • Amy March

        I don’t see how. Are they adults? Do they have significant others? They should be invited.

        • Annelle Hughes

          Maybe I’m wrong about this? But I just felt so over burdened by including cousins/step cousins who I didn’t know very well and to add to that their boyfriends and girlfriends who hadn’t been together that long at an age that relationships don’t generally last? Had they been married or lived together, I get it and they would have been invited. Or if they got their own invite that wasn’t a family invite since they had their own residence? Weddings are expensive and I think its ok if they’re 16-22 ish and are part of some extended long distance family bracket that an invite including them in itself is generous. Beyond that just seems like so much pressure to me.

          • The age range is 18 and up (or 21 and up) for including *all* significant others. And if you don’t, yes, you’re breaking etiquette rules. How much you care about that is a different matter.

            Etiquette would tell you to tell your step-mom you’re not inviting her sister’s kids (or even her sister+husband), simply because you (a) want to keep the wedding smaller or (b) can’t afford all the additional guests that comes with, including their SOs, or (c) you just don’t know them very well. Etiquette does not care about familial expectations. However, *you* do care about these expectations.

            Balancing etiquette against familial, cultural, and regional expectations is tricky.

          • Janet

            I think the real problem for me would be inviting step-mothers extended family, unless they had been a part of my life.

            But I have a problem with assuming that the age range of 16-22 ish is somehow too young to start including significant others, even if they do not have their own residence. I understand the idea of not including SOs that you cannot name (i.e. if someone is dating casually, multiple people, etc.). If someone is in a committed relationship, then you should invite their partner or be prepared for hurt feelings. A committed relationship can be hard to define arbitrarily yes, but if you can say “Tom and Stephanie,” that’s a good rule. However, lots of people in the age range of 16-22 are in committed relationships – how many people meet their future spouse/live-in partner/committed SO at college? I got married at 22.

            So, just because someone is young (18 and up), DOES NOT MEAN that they cannot be in a committed relationship, regardless of where they are living.

          • z

            I think 18 and up is the rule. At 16 and 17, I just don’t think there’s an expectation of being invited. This has to stop somewhere, right? And high school kids rarely travel solo to weddings or don’t know anyone else at the wedding.

            My husband had a cousin who was 16 and she argued that her bf should be invited. Because they are really in love! And because she is taking honors classes so really should be treated as if she’s older. And because he is 18!!!!! Sorry little Cuz! Big fat no.

          • Janet

            Yes, I agree that 18 is a good rule – legal age of adulthood in most countries. My point is that people aged 19, 20, 21, 22 can still potentially be in committed relationships and come as a package deal with their SO.

            In regards to people who are younger than that (16-17) who want to bring their SO’s, I think handling it GENTLY if you are not accommodating them is a good idea. Someone brought up drinking age as a good rule in order to set your date/invite list. Drinking age is 18 where I live, so it provides a nice complement of “kids don’t get dates, and I am not inviting kids because kid-free wedding” (and yes there is a difference between ‘kid-free’ and ‘no-plus-ones’).

        • MrsRalphWaldo

          I feel anxious just reading this one statement. Weddings are expensive, and I don’t think it’s valid to say that it’s a requirement to invite everyone’s SO just because they exist. Are you living together? Are you engaged? Are you married? No? Then you’re not invited. I wish I had the unlimited budget to invite every single person who feels close to every other person who’s invited, but that’s just not the case.

          • Janet

            You need to be prepared for hurt feelings then on behalf of your guests. That’s fine if you want to navigate those waters. BUT living together, engaged, married are not markers of SO’s. I understand the compulsion to use those as markers, but what you are doing is perpetuating societal expectations of what a “real” relationship requires. What about people who are pre-engaged, but won’t live together before marriage? What about people who have been together for ten years, do not co-habitate for logistical reasons, and don’t believe in marriage? Are these relationships not deemed worthy enough to be considered ‘serious SO’s’?

            It’s not a matter of inviting “every single person who feels close to every other person” – it’s a matter of partners and how you want to validate that. Be prepared for if you do not invite, then you might have hurt feelings that you will have to be ok to deal with in the name of budget.

            You don’t have to invite everyone’s SO, but know what you are doing by not doing so.

          • MrsRalphWaldo

            Unfortunately those markers make it easy to delineate who gets an invite and who doesn’t. Do I not invite my incredibly close friend because I can’t afford to also invite their boyfriend/girlfriend? I’m not decided whose relationship is “serious” and whose I don’t deem worthy, simply finding a balance of knowing who is or isn’t a package deal.

          • Janet

            I think that just because they don’t have those markers of married/engaged/living together doesn’t necessarily mean they are not a package deal though.

      • sofar

        Yeah, that’s WAY out of control. Obviously your stepmom gets an invite because she’s married to your parent. But she doesn’t get to invite her family (unless you’re close to them).

      • I feel like if you invite the X family, where the kids are not independent adults and therefore don’t get their own invitations because they are included in the family invite, then it is ok. I would have thought it would be reasonable when I was a college student if I was invited to a family wedding and my boyfriend (who is my husband now) was not invited because at that age I was still a dependent. I didn’t get individual invitations to (family weddings/friends of family weddings) because I wasn’t set apart. And I wasn’t lonely at those weddings because they were family friends weddings so I knew people there. Also, honestly, I wasn’t personally close to the person getting married individually, but my family (including me) was close to their family (like vacation together, etc).
        It may not be technically correct, but I think for college-aged dependent children, things are blurrier.

        • Lisa

          It probably also depends on the family dynamic. My cousins all just sent invitations to my parents’ house inviting “The MyLast Family,” and it was assumed that my sisters and I were invited under that umbrella. I think we are some of the only people who broke out those families, where the older, independent cousins got their own invitations to the wedding. People whose permanent address was still their parents’ house were invited under the umbrella of “The X Family.”

      • CommaChick

        I’ve been the cousin’s girlfriend who was not invited. It sucked. My partner and I were in our last year of college and had been dating for two years. We didn’t live together yet but were thinking and talking about marriage, so we were definitely serious even though we fell into the “early 20’s non live in” situation that you describe. He and I are still together and are getting married next weekend. I’m still not as close to that cousin as I am to his other family members because I feel like his other family members treated me like family from day 1, but that cousin didn’t even recognize the existence of our relationship.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      This happened to me with a friend’s wedding. The invite came just to me, not to me + live-in-dude. Technically she hadn’t met him yet, but that was mostly due to her living abroad for a few years. Eventually I just asked her about it, whether “he should be keeping that date open as well,” and she apologized profusely, citing the marriage line and budget issues. (I get it, you have to draw a line somewhere, and I didn’t want to be a problem guest, but it bummed me out.) A couple months later she came back to me and told us that there were more people who weren’t able to make the wedding than anticipated, and that they would love for my guy to come. I appreciated the gesture, but by then he had already made other plans, and he doesn’t love going to weddings anyway (and may not have gone even if he was initially invited). Her wedding was the last time I saw her, and it was a couple years ago. We don’t live super close, but if I’m honest with myself, I haven’t prioritized getting together with her, and not inviting my partner to begin with is a bit of a shadow over our relationship.

  • Violet

    While everyone else discusses whether to invite the GF or not, I think I’ll focus on whether or not her presence will have a dramatic effect. Because this is where the ideas about not inviting her are coming from, yes? The assumption that her attendance will automatically make the situation demonstrably more awkward/uncomfortable for parents and LW than if she didn’t come.
    I’ll say this, LW. My parents are divorced, and it suuuuuucks. It sucks even though they are civil people. They have always been civil with each other in front of my sister and I. Does that make it easier? Sure, I’d rather that than them screaming or causing scenes. But am I *happy* about the situation? No, I am not. I suppose it’s possible that if Dad’s GF is there, your mom might be slightly less talkative, or you might be thinking about her feelings a little more. But then, those things might happen, anyway. The only thing that really thawed my parents out from their already fairly amicable starting point was time. Not the presence or absence of other people. Just time.
    By not having met the GF yet, I think it’s easy to imagine she is going to have an outsize effect on your mother, your father, or you; whether that effect manifests as behaviors, internal dialogue stuff during the wedding, or both. But, it really might not. Or, it might even be better! Both my sister and I agree our dad is WAY better married to his new wife than he was single. He’s less annoying, which then makes it easier for our mom to chill out around him.
    Anyway, two years divorced by the time you get married is not a lot of time. You’re still pretty new at navigating all the emotional grossness that comes from having divorced parents. And so are they. Sounds like everyone is trying their best and being patient. While I understand that might not be enough to equal a song-and-dance number, it’s definitely something to be proud of yourselves for.

    • heyqueen

      You make a really good point. LW has been labeled as rude for not wanting to invite the girlfriend, but what it she truly feels like it will dampen her wedding day? It’s a very tough call.

      • Amy March

        I don’t think any of us doubt that she truly feels like it will dampen her wedding day. I certainly don’t (although I’d hope she is wrong). I just think that means she needs to get a handle on her feelings (meet the girlfriend, talk to mom, enlist your BFF to difuse tension on the day) not that she gets a get out of jail free card on the rudeness of not inviting her.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          Lol yes. Lots of things may dampen a wedding day. You still gotta be human and treat folks with respect.

          • sara

            I guess maybe I just grew up with a different relationship with my parents than many. I cannot imagine my dad a) not wanting me to tell them about something that would dampen my wedding day and b) if I did, then him insisting on doing that thing anyway! Even once you’re an adult, you do get to have emotions around your parents being divorced and moving on with new partners. Respect comes in many forms, and in this case I can just as easily see the argument that the GF should bow out of attending the wedding out of respect for the couple and wanting the focus to be on the newly married couple instead of any potential (real or imagined) drama around her attendance. I would certainly never attend a wedding where there was a question of me-related drama derailing the day.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I see what you’re saying. Sort of. I just think on one hand that can’t be used as an excuse when it comes to treating people with respect. How this specific situation would play out in different families varies so I get what you’re saying re your dad and the possibility that maybe gf shouldn’t come. On my end, I wouldn’t expect my father to leave a person he is living with that he’s in a relationship with and who is his current partner. At a certain point everyone has to be a grown up.

    • LW

      Thanks. Thanks for understanding that I’m not out to hurt anyone and these are tough waters to navigate.

      • Eenie

        That was abundantly clear in your letter – you don’t want to hurt your mom or your dad, which put you in this whole predicament!

      • Violet

        Trust me, I get it. I wish I didn’t, but I do. Welcome to the club no one wants to be in. It gets better. Hugs LW.

      • tempy13

        Honestly LW, I think talking with your Dad is the first thing to do. Maybe he doesn’t want her to come? Maybe she doesn’t want to come? Maybe they don’t care? Maybe, as a couple, they want to do whatever is easiest for YOU and the family dynamics!
        We (well, certainly me with the help of my therapists after 30 years of an Irish Catholic family and their ideas of obligations and guilt) are learning that self-care and boundaries are positive goals to have firmly in place for ourselves as individuals. Sometimes those goals are at odds with the wants and expectations of others, but are very healthy for us as individuals. Regular days can be tough enough and wedding days combine a slew of what parents, family members, friends and everyone else expects from the bride and groom (but mostly the bride, let’s be honest) and it’s damn near impossible to please everyone. While kindness is a virtue to be exercised as often as possible, YOU are the one getting married and you deserve to have the least amount of drama possible around you (provided you’re not stirring it up, and it certainly sounds like you’re far from that type of person!) and sometimes self-care means putting yourself first and into the most comfortable position, given the facts that are in play. If you really don’t want to invite your Dad’s new gf, because it will exponentially increase your anxiety, fear over parent interaction, or because you just want to have this one day with your two parents without worrying about THEIR FEELINGS because you’re celebrating your wedding, then don’t invite her. Give yourself permission to do the best and easiest thing for yourself on your wedding day.
        I know this will be an unpopular suggestion, but I don’t think it’s fair for the LW to carry all the worry and possible negative emotions when she’s getting married. I would seriously hope her Dad would still attend and not even make it a question that he wouldn’t just because his gf isn’t invited. People can’t always invite everyone to their weddings, even if etiquette says that X, Y, and Z should be invited. The couple getting married have enough stress and obligations on their plate. Sometimes it’s up to the rest of us attending a wedding to be the bigger persons and cut the couple some slack. My best friend for 27 years decided to get married in a very small ceremony about a week before her first baby was due. I officiated the wedding. My fiancé has known her for over a decade. They know each other very well, he’s helped her move 6 times and during the week we (myself and her 2 other childhood friends) were busting ass to pull together her wedding, she told each of us that she didn’t want our partners to come. My parents helped raise her and she didn’t want them there either. It wasn’t a financial issue. I was irritated and the others were angry but at the end of the day, for whatever reason, that was what she wanted and all she could handle. And even though I could’ve easily been indignant and said I wasn’t attending (as well as the other girls who couldn’t bring their husband and partner), what would that have accomplished? I am a grown woman who can easily spend a day without my partner and that’s all my best friend could manage at that time- for whatever reason. Ending a friendship that spanned almost 3 decades over not having my fiancé invited was just not in my scope of what I wanted to burden her with that day. Sometimes people do the best they can do, and it’s flawed, it’s hugely imperfect and some people may get their feelings hurt. But weddings are about love and sometimes cutting the couple some slack if they’re somehow inconsiderate, possibly rude, or just ditching the social etiquette contract completely, is the most loving gift that we, as family and guests, can bestow upon them.

      • LucyPirates

        My fiances parents have recently started the process of separating and it is 2 months until our wedding day.
        MIL to be has initiated this, FIL is so unhappy, and whilst they really are being as amicable as possible, the first family event will be our wedding and everyone will be watching them both. The whole thing has been a shock and Fiance is sad and angry about the situation to the point where he is seriously considering not having his mum there due to the fact his dad is so hurt (I am insisting she is coming) but the man that she is considering being potentially romantically involved with? No way. She didn’t cheat and I know that time heals a lot of things but even in two years time, I don’t think his dad will ever be ok with seeing her with someone else. And we wouldn’t put his dad through that.
        So, I would say I am definitely on team look after your parents first and speak to your mum about what she is comfortable with. (Just to put into context, I am on good terms with my partner’s ex and completely agree that people just need to be grown ups and just get on but there are some situations where etiquette be damned)

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          YIKES. If there was ever a situation where specifically excluding Mom’s boyfriend was the best possible plan, this is one.

      • AmandaBee

        LW – I think even those of us who fall squarely in the “invite her” camp would acknowledge that it’s a tough situation. Divorce always brings up issues like this, and it’s especially difficult on people whose parents divorced after they were grown.

        You definitely sound like you’re trying to do what’s best for your family, I think what people here are pointing out is that leaving out dad’s GF could easily create more hurt/drama than including her, for a variety of reasons. Either way there will probably be some discomfort, and it’s a great idea to find someone neutral who you can talk it out with, be it friend or professional. Definitely talk with parents too so they know what’s going on, but I’d really look for someone neutral to be your emotional sounding board on this because that will probably be a hard role for your parents to play in this situation.

  • APlus

    I really feel for the letter writer. My mom is marrying her boyfriend of 6 months in a couple weeks, and it’s hard enough to feel excited about their wedding, let alone the emotional fall out I would feel of having this stranger at my wedding. It all falls under that banner of not exactly the vision we had for our lives, but we don’t get to control it. You probably do have to invite her, but I wouldn’t want to either.

  • Anna

    Does this change if the gf/wife in question is the woman with whom your dad cheated on your mom, ending their marriage? (wish I were asking for a friend…)

    • Amy March

      I don’t think it changes at all. Your dad is the bad actor here- he is the one who cheated. If you want him there, you invite him with his person, whoever she may be. If you can’t imagine her being there, he also doesn’t get an invite. The other woman didn’t end the marriage.

      • T.K.

        I agree that the dad would be one to blame, not the girlfriend, but the reason for inviting the girlfriend is to make the dad feel comfortable. If he’s the bad actor, why should his comfort be prioritized over the comfort of the mom, bride, and siblings?

        • Kelly

          Yeah to me it’s like sorry dad, you aren’t entitled to nice things like having gf at the wedding because of the effect your actions have on your family

          • Amy March

            She’s a person though. Not a cookie you’re taking away from him for being naughty.

          • z

            She’s a person who shouldn’t expect to be invited to a wedding under the circumstances. I invited my mom’s affair partner to keep the peace, but I don’t think he had any right to be there. My mom is my mom and her relationship with me is strong and important enough to outweigh the damage done by her choices. My relationship with her affair partner is not strong enough to outweigh the damage done by HIS choices. And the idea of having an affair and then trying to play Rules of Etiquette cards is, frankly, offensive to me. It’s just ridiculous to think you can behave with such selfishness and disregard for others, and then feel entitled to indulgence and consideration from them.

          • sara

            Totally agree here. How is the kid of a cheating parent somehow held to this incredibly high and emotionally difficult standard of etiquette, while a person who cheated gets off scott free? Isn’t it slightly against the rules of etiquette to cheat on your spouse??

        • Amy March

          If he’s the bad actor, why does he get to come but she gets ostracized? It’s not all about his comfort.

          • T.K.

            It’s not about ostracizing her to punish her or the dad. She gets excluded because she does not have an independent relationship with the couple, and because her presence would actively cause pain to the bride and the bride’s loved ones.

    • APlus

      :( offf. so awkward. I had this with another family member – not for my wedding but just life in general. At a certain point if that person proves to not be a flash in the pan, they kind of do have to be welcomed in. AWWWKWARDDDLY.

      • AmandaBee

        Ayup, having also been a witness to this situation I will say that it’s super uncomfortable but at some point when they’re looking like a long-term addition you do need to include them.

        • G.

          I think the key is “at some point.” The line is blurry, but a couple years after the affair/remarriage, nope. 10 years, yeah, time to let bygones be bygones and all that.

          • AmandaBee

            Eh, it’s a personal call, but 2 years seems like plenty enough time to me. My “at some point” is really more of a nod to the fact that sometimes the affair is really just a fling, and I see no reason to include someone 3 months later if they might not be around much longer than that. If they’re still around 2 years later, or they’ve remarried, I think it’s time to get used to the fact that they’re sticking around for a bit.

    • G.

      I think it’s different. Sure, dad is the bad actor in cheating and ending the marriage–blame is on him, not his new gf/wife. But I think this is why exceptions to rules exist. This is a time for a frank conversation: “Dad, I’d really like you to be at my wedding, but it’s equally important to me that Mom is there and comfortable. That’s unfortunately impossible if your gf/wife attends, given how your marriage to Mom ended. In taking responsibility for this, would you prefer that I invite you alone or not invite either of you?”

    • Kelly

      I couldn’t judge someone in your position if you chose not invite said person

    • Liz

      Oh, yikes. Sorry.

      I think it can depend on the dynamics of the situation. Sometimes more than just your mom has been hurt by the situation, and would be hurt by her presence.

      • Amy March

        For me, I think excluding the “other woman” but allowing dad is problematic, because blaming a woman for the failure of someone else’s marriage, but not punishing the man involved in the same way, is just plain sexist. I just don’t buy the classic story of an evil predatory woman looking to take someone else’s man and if it weren’t for her everything would be fine, which I think is too often an unspoken underpinning to the decision.

        • Anna

          Oh, my parent’s marriage definitely wouldn’t be fine. And there’s a reason why I see my dad only twice a year, talk to him roughly every three months on the phone about superficial topics, and generally give his opinions on my life and choices zero weight. But I have a relationship and history with him that far exceeds that with his wife, and for those reasons, rightly or wrongly, I want him present and not her.

          • Amy March

            Oh yeah, I completely get wanting him there, for all the other dad related reasons. That piece of the puzzle makes perfect sense.

        • Katharine Parker

          Having seen one of my best friends go through her parents splitting up over her father’s long-term affair, although after the friend’s wedding, I don’t know that this would be solely sexism and blaming the “other woman.” My friend has a lot of conflicted feelings, including loving both her parents. As she put it, “I can’t hate my father.”

          Whether that means inviting the girlfriend or not, this does strike me as an exceptional circumstance.

        • FM

          I don’t think there is an easy answer to this but I don’t think it’s fair to characterize a decision to exclude the wife but not the dad as a way of giving him a pass and blaming the “other woman”. The dad is the dad. Including him in the wedding and excluding his wife doesn’t have to be intended as a message as to a judgment of their actions.

        • Liz

          I get that, but I think I’d feel the same way if the gender dynamic was different, if we were excluding “the other man.”

        • sara

          But…the dad is the dad, and the woman in this situation is not actually related to the person getting married. Not getting invited to a wedding is not a “punishment.” Presumably in this situation if the mother had engaged in the same cheating behavior, the child would be asking about whether they can invite mom but not her new man (not, can I invite the new guy my mom cheated with and not my mom, since women are always to blame!) It’s not about gender, it’s about relationship to the person getting married.

      • Anna

        Yes, I’m thinking also about my younger sister, who had to spend a lot more time with my dad and wife post moving in together/marriage. We’re at the point that when my sister visits my dad (and when the two of us visit together) my dad’s wife will disappear – sometimes for several days – because their relationship is so negative. I do think my sister (and tangentially my mom) are not blameless as causes of the tension, but as APlus said below “:( offfff”

    • Mrrpaderp

      It really depends. The “right” answer is that mom needs to suck it up and put on a happy face for your sake. That’s what you commit to when you have children with someone – even if this person hurts me in ways that I never thought possible, I will continue to be a co-parent with them. Also, how do you want to define your relationship with your dad going forward? Are you going to be petty and spiteful to him, or are you going to act with the grace and maturity you wish he had shown when he decided his marriage to your mother was over (i.e., before he actually cheated)?

      But sometimes people don’t act like the adults we wish they would. If mom was deeply opposed to new GF being there, and you know your mom is likely to cause drama, then I would prioritize “reducing the likelihood of mom throwing a tantrum at my wedding” over “being polite to dad and his affair partner.” Though I fully appreciate that this is probably not the best way to go through life.

      • I think you’re right that it’s a time that will likely define the relationship going forward, but I would say that it’s not petty or spiteful if a child of a parent who cheated is still hurt and might not want to act like everything is a-okay. I think one aspect of maturity is about learning how to set boundaries and knowing how to protect yourself. I think it’s completely normal to feel betrayed and not “safe” after this kind of thing; it’s a traumatic thing to go through as a spouse or, as I’ve been told, as a child.

        I was trying to imagine myself in this situation…like if I had had a child with my ex and the child were getting married shortly after my ex left our marriage for another person. If it were in the first two years (maybe longer?), drama and tantrums wouldn’t have entered my mind because I’d have been too busy trying to hold it together (and not cry or vomit, especially in the earlier months) while avoiding the ex and his girlfriend….of course, all while trying to be there for my child and focus on my love for them and celebrating their happiness. But then again, I’m not the drama or tantrum type anyways. Tough situation for sure though….

        • z

          +1. There is a lot of pressure on adult children of divorce to pretend that all is well and that they don’t grieve what was lost. That was a hard burden for me to bear on my wedding day of all days. I didn’t let my mom’s affair partner be in the wedding party or photos and I don’t regret it. She accepted it as a consequence of her choices and I was proud that I stood up for my boundaries.

  • AmandaBee

    I’ve said a bit below but the following really stuck out at me:

    “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’m going to push you to really rethink this a bit. Your parents are both (a) your parents and (b) independent people who have identities and relationships of their own. That was presumably true both before and after they got divorced, but will probably become more clear to you both as you get older and your relationship with both of them evolves and as their divorce becomes less fresh. Your dad having someone who is significant to him there does not make him any less your dad. Your mom can be your mom without acting like she’s still married to your dad. The “parent hat” doesn’t have to mean a married parent hat, they can be both recently divorced AND your parents at the same time. And, in fact, that’s who they are. Asking them to be something else is probably going to end in disappointment and hurt all around.

    I realize I’m being very armchair psychologist right now, but if you haven’t already you might consider talking to someone (trusted friend, trained psychologist, whoever) who can hear you out about these thoughts but who isn’t directly related to the situation. It just seems like the issue here may not be entirely with how your parents will react, but with how you’re still processing the divorce and your changing relationships with your parents. And while your parents will try to be supportive I’m sure, that’s really on you to tackle for yourself.

    • raccooncity

      I totally agree with this view. The hardest thing about my parents being divorced, for me, was seeing them act a little teenager-y again. They were unhappy in their marriage for a long time and I think focused a lot of ignoring that into being active and involved parents. It was hard to see them become, frankly, quite self-centred again for a while. Which is actually healthy – we were all grown up at that point. It was just strange to see how different they were in new relationships, etc.

      Your parents will change a lot in new relationships or being single, and that’s hard. But it’s also not something you have any right to complain about. Focus on the parent part, for sure.

      Further point that’s less relevant to the wedding thing: yes, your parents’ partners might SUCK (my dad’s partner is one of the worst stepmoms and most insecure people I know and it makes life difficult sometimes, especially if I don’t keep strong boundaries.) but trust me as a person who helped my father through a debilitating long-term illness that required my being there 24/7 – if your parents have partners who care for them and make them happy, that’s truly going to make your life easier on the whole. I’m happy he has someone who can take on that role in future (and she has – she cares for him a lot).

      • Addie

        Isn’t it amazing how many people are overlooking that fact? If your parents don’t remarry or have someone significant in their lives, once they get sick it’s all on you.

        And think about what a double standard some have. They don’t want to invite the girlfriend, but they sure as hell would expect that same girlfriend to take care of their father if he gets sick.

        • z

          I don’t think it’s a double standard. Care when you’re sick is a normal part of relationships. The father would care for the girlfriend if she got sick, right? They are a couple and that’s the deal. It has nothing to do with the children

          • Amy March

            It’s obviously a double standard. You want to treat them as a couple by expecting them to care for each other if sick, but do not think they deserve to be treated as a couple by inviting them both to social events. Being invited to events together is also a normal part of relationships. That’s the deal.

          • z

            Let me put it this way, I anticipate (rather than expect) the care because it’s a social norm. I don’t think that her caring for him is owed *to me,* or that I somehow have to earn her caring for him by treating them as a couple. It’s between them.

      • z

        But +1 that you, LW, may be a LOT happier with him in a relationship, even if it doesn’t feel that way at the moment. It’s an adjustment but unless you want to really step up as a caregiver and handle all crises yourself, think about it.

        • raccooncity

          It took me a long time to get to this place, honestly, but I now also consider that my parents’ happiness as individuals isn’t something I can be responsible for either. It’s not just about the crisis times, but about the fact that day to day my parents need loving, romantic relationships as much as I do. That is their right as human beings. So I’m happy even just that my parents aren’t lonely. Sometimes I forget to call for a couple weeks and it’s nice to not feel guilty about it because i’m the only person in their lives.

  • Sosuli

    This is a rare case, but for once I don’t agree with Liz’s advice. I don’t think dad’s girlfriend should just get an automatic invite. At least not before some conversations with the parents have been had (as has been suggested below). My parents divorced two years ago and I got married this summer. I think people often underestimate how hard divorce is on adult children. Two years on and I still struggle with it, even though my parents have been mostly amicable. If I’m honest, I have to say I was relieved neither parent was seeing anyone around the time of our wedding. But during planning my mum joking about bringing any of her (inevitably short-lived) relationships really stressed me out. Not saying I absolutely would not have let either parent bring a plus one, but there would have been some dialogue first.

    What I’m saying is that the options aren’t just invite or don’t. Sounds like LW’s parents are supportive and can be adults. So they should hopefully be able to handle a conversation about any worries LW has and how her parents feel about it. And though LW here focuses on how her mom feels, I want to say – if you feel weird about it yourself, that’s a legitimate feeling. I don’t vent to my parents about it when it feels hard (because I know the whole thing has been harder for them than me) but sometimes my sisters and I have a rant together and others I still need to talk it out with my husband and allow myself to feel sad for a little while.

    • JC

      I completely agree that a lot of conversation needs to be had first, and the LW needs to meet her dad’s girlfriend. She deserves a lot of time and space to manage her feelings around her parents divorce and their future relationships, and this question of who to invite strikes me as being more about fixating on a small problem rather than the big, messy one. It’s borrowing trouble and anxiety. I do happen to think that she should invite the girlfriend, but this is a family question masked as an etiquette question. And as a master anxiety stirrer upper, I salute the LW for getting all of these other commenters riled up about how significant “significant other” has to be. I, too, revel in those types of distinctions when I don’t want to face certain other, bigger questions of discomfort. I hope the LW has people to talk to, like you do with your sisters and husband, and I hope you’re getting the support you need!

      • Sosuli

        Yeah I don’t really have an opinion on whether she should be invited or not because you just can’t get the whole situation through a letter. And I don’t think she should be judged for feeling iffy about it. I totally agree with you that this is a family question.

      • LW

        It is kind of a small problem, but based on the response, it maybe isn’t that small? Unfortunately the big messy problem of how to navigate my family after my parents divorce is an ongoing one that I will be solving and re-solving for a very long time, while the issue of who will be at my wedding is one with a timeline. I will be meeting the GF in a few weeks (if all goes according to plan this time) and hopefully that will make me feel a bit better about the whole thing.

        • JC

          I hope it does! You deserve to feel comfortable and loved on your wedding day! I just think that there are so many other things surrounding your dad’s relationship with her, and your relationship with your dad, that wondering whether to invite someone you haven’t met is a bit like being afraid you’ll be turned down for a job that you haven’t applied to yet. I hope, truly, that you come to appreciate this new woman in your life and that it makes your decision easier. And if that’s not the case, then I hope you get the opportunity to talk through your feelings with your family so that they understand. Take good care of yourself!

        • Sosuli

          I totally feel you on that and would have been reacting in the same way if either of my parents had been in a relationship in the run up to the wedding. Like JC said, take good care of yourself, whether you go for inviting her or not. And after the wedding give yourself time to deal with the rest of the messy stuff. And *Internet hugs* from someone who can relate.
          ETA: And I hope the GF meeting goes well. That in itself even without the wedding invite issue must be a bit weird at the least.

        • Liz

          “It is kind of a small problem, but based on the response, it maybe isn’t that small?”

          Hopefully small in all of the right ways. Not much is clear-cut post divorce, but maybe objective folks from the outside can make things more black-and-white and make it easier (as opposed to harder).

          Fingers crossed that meeting her goes well!

        • Jess

          I always feel better once an unknown becomes known. I hope that meeting helps you figure out what you really want!

    • Audrey

      I agree. Even with a significant other that my Dad had been with for many years before my wedding (and someone I had met multiple times), we still had conversations about whether she would come, how that would work, how my mom would feel, etcetera. She came, even sat at the same table as mom, but wasn’t in any of the family pictures.

      Fortunately for me the divorce was much farther in the past, and the wedding itself was much bigger – but I agree this is less straightforward than “you have to invite her”.

      • Sosuli

        That’s awesome that you talked about it and it all worked out. My friend’s dad very swiftly remarried post-divorce and when she asked to see him one-on-one before meeting the new partner had her dad tell her “She is my wife, there is no just you and me now. Get used to it.”

        • raccooncity

          My dad’s got that attitude as well, and while it spiders out into other behaviours that are hard (the no me and you thing includes not visiting my house because there are pictures of my mom in it), I think that if anyone invited me somewhere formal like a wedding without my husband I’d be like “no thanks then”…so, fair enough, dad.

          • Sosuli

            Ouch… yeah I didn’t mean that as directly relevant to inviting dad’s girlfriend or not – obviously a wedding is not one-on-one time with dad – but more as appreciation for parents who will have those conversations with their kids post-divorce because not all parents will (like your dad by the sound of it). Doesn’t mean that the conversation should end with dad doing whatever daughter wants, but even just talking about it with just her can go a long way.

        • Kate

          There’s such a big difference between “you have to invite my new wife to your wedding if you want me to come” and “you can’t ever meet with me unless I can bring my new wife.” Dont most children (adult or otherwise) do things with just their mom or dad sometimes (regardless of whether their parents are still married)?
          The idea that your friend can’t have ANY one-on-one time with her dad from now on is absurd. And, imho, really disrespectful to her lifelong relationship with her father. E.g. What if friend wants dad to give a speech at her wedding? She should clearly not have to let new wife give it with him.

      • E.

        Oh god, I hadn’t even thought about family photos yet. I’ve resigned myself to inviting my dad’s girlfriend, but what if he wants her in the photos?? Or assumes she will be? Oy.

        Divorced families are hard.

        • emilyg25

          Do a bunch of different groupings of people, some with her, some without. Then she isn’t excluded and you still have photos you’re happy with.

        • raccooncity

          I just told my parents they could each pick one photo ‘they’ wanted. So, for mom it was me and her together. For my dad it was me, new husband, dad’s gf and dad. That was all they got. They didn’t go in for pictures together though.

    • Hsak

      I’m dealing with this issue. I am the groom. My parents divorced 15 years ago. My mom has never dated and has sworn off men and continues to feel extremely hurt by the divorce. My dad has dated a lot, but has been in a relationship sit here his current girlfriend for 7 years and they are in the process of moving in together. I gave my mom a heads up that dad’s gf would be invited to the wedding. My mom gave a firm ultimatum: if dad’s gf goes to the wedding, my mom will not attend. I then talked to my dad and told him that though his gf is invited, he should know that her coming could mean that my mom won’t attend. Dad’s response was, that if his gf can’t go, he won’t go either. I’m stuck in the middle. My decision was to send out save dates to everyone, including dad and his gf. And I have not responded to my mom’s demands. I have said that everyone gets their invitation and decides whether or not to accept, but no one has any say over anyone else’s decision. Still it is killing me inside and putting a shadow over the event. Any advice?

  • Pidge

    I had this exact same question during my engagement, and it’s not always as cut-and-dried as “you should include people who are important to people who are important to you”. My dad was married at the beginning of my engagement in 2013, to a woman I loathed (and who loathed me in return). Basically my whole family hated her, actually, but I resigned myself to including her in my wedding because I knew I wasn’t going to have a choice (unless she skipped it like every other family function to stay home with her cats). And then she died, in a freak accident, and I crossed out her name on my guest list. I breathed a sigh of relief because it meant a lessening of tension between my parents, who haven’t been civil since 1999.

    My relationship with my dad had been rocky for years, but it came to a head six months after he was widowed, and we stopped speaking for a while. When I reopened lines of communication with him in the fall of 2014, he announced that he was dating again. I informed him that I would not invite his new lady friend to my wedding unless he met a few conditions: 1, I had to meet her, and 2, I had to like her, given his lousy track record with my late stepmother. He agreed, and brought his girlfriend to New York to meet me. In the end, I do like my dad’s new lady, and I happily danced at their wedding eight weeks after my own. But until the day we met, for all I knew he thought he could bring a Gorgon to my wedding and let her spoil it, and still have a relationship with me.

    Granted, the LW doesn’t appear to have a strained relationship with her dad, but that doesn’t mean his new lady automatically deserves an invite, sight unseen. Etiquette is important, but sometimes self-preservation is more important.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      Etiquette is important, but sometimes self-preservation is more important.“Worth emphasizing.

  • NolaJael

    Generally, I don’t think that it is the engaged couple’s responsibility to invite anyone and everyone to make other family members happy, but in this case this is obviously a family in transition. And “important social events” can be catalysts for inclusion / exclusion — where people size up another’s clan and rise to the challenge or shirk away. Not inviting the father’s girlfriend seems like living in denial of the divorce and the passage of time. So I would err on the side of inclusion for someone as important as LW’s father. Five years you might look back fondly as your wedding being the first important social gathering where your now beloved father’s second wife was included. Unfortunately, you can’t know that outcome now.

  • Pingback: Do I HAVE to Invite My Dad’s Girlfriend to the Wedding? - ADA Events Asia()

  • z

    Sigh. I do think the girlfriend should be invited, perhaps with the condition of a meeting first. There’s no “important enough to be invited to your wedding but not important enough to meet you otherwise” category of girlfriends. But with no affair or other wrongdoing, I think two years is enough. Maybe the mom would like to invite a close friend for moral support?

    Having said this, LW, I so understand that having divorced parents as an adult is incredibly hard. Welcome to the club
    There are a lot of us. It sucks, in very real and practical ways that people often don’t understand if they haven’t experienced it.

  • Juliet

    Here’s the rule we followed, which I think is the fair way to do it. If your guest were to bring a date, do you know who that person would be without asking your guest? Yes? Then that person’s name goes on the wedding invitation along with the guests name. It’s not fair for the marrying couple to decide which relationships are more valid or legitimate and therefore entitle a plus one.

    But if they aren’t in a relationship and their “and guest” would be a mystery? Yeah, they don’t need to bring someone. The exception being, though, is if they do not know other folks at the wedding besides the marrying couple. I think it’s courteous to allow people who may feel left out a guest, and to make it clear that that guest could be a friend and does not need to be a date.

    I think this most certainly applies to parents and other family like siblings. I would invite the girlfriend, and tell mom that she should feel free to bring a guest, even a close friend, for support if she feels like she’ll need it.

  • MrsRalphWaldo

    Ultimately what it comes down to is your happiness. My dad isn’t walking me down the aisle. He’s probably upset about that, but it would be more upsetting to me on my wedding day if he did. Which option will ultimately make you feel as if your wedding day is filled with more joy?

  • Hannah

    In my opinion, don’t bother to invite someone to your wedding without inviting the significant other they cohabitate with. It’s a major faux pas. Weddings are something you want to attend with your significant other, it would be insulting to suggest that someone should spend their time traveling to your wedding, getting dressed up, and being there being happy for you and your new spouse while they are sitting there alone with their own SO left at home. It’s disrespectful of someone else’s relationship on a day that’s all about celebrating relationships.

    The fact that your parents are only recently divorced and you’ve never met your father’s SO makes this a much more nuanced situation. I still think the above is true though.

  • Sofia

    I didn’t invite my Dad’s girlfriend, with whom he lives, to my wedding. I’m not on speaking terms with my Dad and honestly would have preferred for him to not be there at all. I decided that I nevertheless did want to be the person who invited him to my wedding, even if I was hoping he wouldn’t come, and no, I wasn’t willing to extend an invite to a woman I’ve never met (or walk down the aisle with him, or listen to him give any type of speech). I don’t think that in my case the “I have a relationship with this person and she is important to me so she gets an invite” could hold much water. My perspective was, I do not have a relationship with my Dad, so the transitive property totally fails from go. My brother took the same approach, and yes my Dad was super pissed in both cases. Nevertheless, one invite was as far as I was willing to go.

  • Sara

    Huh, I really disagree with this. I would say that almost everyone should have a live-in partner invited to a wedding (even if you’re not a huge fan/don’t know the live in partner well), but I think a parent is a different question. At least for my wedding, my parents were really there FOR ME, probably more so than any other guests. And really, they weren’t guests, they were hosts. I feel like your dad should be able to be there for you as your dad, not as someone who needs a date to hang out with. I think there should be room for you guys to sit down together and you to say — Look, I want to get to know girlfriend, we’ll make that happen on our own timeline, but I want to get married without this as a distraction/worry during the day. I think most non-self-centered parents would be able to respect that.

  • Kara e

    What conversation have you had with your dad about all this?

  • Cay

    Struggling with this same issue, except it’s different because his father cheated on his mother with the now girlfriend. They moved out of state and live together, but I don’t think we’re going to invite her to the wedding, one because we’re on a budget, so we’re keeping the guest list slim, and two, even though we know everybody involved will be adults about it, we don’t know her that well and we also don’t want that kind of tension at our wedding especially since this won’t be a totally dry wedding event. I know it’s probably not Miss Manners but eh.