Who Should I Invite from This Love Triangle?


Who gets kicked off the guest list?

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

woman holding wedding rings

Q: My fiancé and I met through two mutual married friends, one of whom has been my best friend for many years. This couple (let’s call them Jason and Alison) has had their fair share of ups and downs, to say the least. They have been volatile from the very start and Alison had made it clear that she was not completely over her ex-boyfriend even before she decided to marry Jason, who is the person I consider one of my best friends.

Less than two years into their relationship, Alison cheated on Jason with her ex-boyfriend. Of course Jason found out and it almost killed him. Literally. He got so drunk in his despair that he ended up driving on the wrong side of the highway. Luckily, he hurt no one (including himself), but was taken to jail that night and struggled for quite some time to come to terms with his wife seeking out her ex to sleep with him (she is the one who initiated the encounter).

For various reasons that I will never understand, Jason chose to stay with Alison, and it actually seems like their relationship has improved in the year since then. But (and here’s where my fiancé and I come in) Alison’s ex also happens to be a friend of my fiancé. And he’s invited to the wedding. As are Jason and Alison.

I know Jason is not completely over what happened and I hate to be the source of a reminder of a time in his marriage that he’d rather forget. I’ve discussed this with my fiancé, and he does not feel that he should not invite this friend, even though he acknowledges that what he did with Alison was wrong. But my fiancé blames Alison more for what happened, and Jason for staying with her. Which I get, but it frustrates me that he is still inviting this friend when even my fiancé admits that they are not super close anymore. The issue for my fiancé is that this friend is an integral part of a larger group of friends that my fiancé is still close with, and he doesn’t feel that he can invite the rest of them without inviting this guy.

Moreover, our wedding venue is not particularly large as we are only expecting a hundred people, so it’s not going to be super easy for Alison and Jason to avoid her ex. I’m doing seating charts, but I’m not sure how much that will help.

I’m just stressing over unnecessary drama on my wedding day. I’m not sure if Jason realizes that Alison’s ex is being invited, and I worry if I tell him he will choose not to attend our wedding, which would devastate me.

So my question (or questions) is/are: Should I try to convince my fiancé not to invite this friend given that they are not that close and we would risk hurting someone that we (especially me) are close to? If this friend gets invited, should I tell Jason and risk him choosing not to come (which I honestly think would cause me to feel some type of way toward my fiancé)? Should I not say anything and hope that either this friend doesn’t show or everyone behaves on my wedding day? Please help!

—Anonymous

A: Dear Anonymous,

For the most part, yeah. All you really can do is hope everyone behaves. Invite them, give them the opportunity to be adults. Hopefully, in working to move past the cheating, your friends have also planned for what happens when they run into this guy.

But, you’re right that you should give your BFF a heads up that he’ll be there. It’s true that Jason might choose not to come, but more likely, he’ll just need to mentally prepare himself. Ask yourself, is the chance that he may not come really a worse outcome than him being at your wedding, but being emotionally wrecked the whole time? Is that better for him? For you?

That’s the answer about your guest list. Invite folks, trust them to behave, but also give your bud a bit of a warning. And then stop worrying about it. This isn’t your problem. These three are in this mess and figuring their way through it, and you don’t need to be involved.

I just want to real quick mention something on that note. A lot of stuff happens within a marriage that doesn’t make sense to the folks outside of it. It’s easy to hear snippets and assume you have the whole picture, but the reality is that you don’t. It sounds like both you and your partner are doing a bit of judging here, and I’m surprised to see you’re pinning a good share of the blame to Jason. Honestly, we’re all human, we all make judgy side-eye at things that don’t concern us, I get that (believe me, I get it). Just make sure your bias about what you think should or shouldn’t have happened isn’t impacting how you treat your friends. Reading over this letter, I have to wonder if your partner is standing firm on inviting this inconsequential acquaintance only because he thinks Jason is at fault for sticking around, and somehow deserves to be stuck in a room with the people who hurt him. And if that’s the case, it’s not cool.

Invite them. Give your friend the info he needs to prepare himself. And then back away, quit the worrying (and while you’re at it, try your best to quit the judging).

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Liz Moorhead

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

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  • Ashlah

    Does anyone else sort of feel like fiance shouldn’t invite his friend/the ex? Assuming the LW is being honest about (and is fully aware of) the level of friendship (or lack thereof) between them, this guy, who has the potential to cause pain/drama to people with whom the couple do remain close, is only being invited because he’s part of a larger friend group? I get that justification normally, but also? This is one scenario where he and the larger friend group would prooobably understand him not getting an invite. Am I way off base?

    • Lisa

      I am with you on this. It’s not worth the potential drama to invite this not-so-close friend, and I really don’t understand why the fiancé has chosen this as The Hill to Die On. Friend groups change and evolve. If the friend has any idea that this couple is friends with Jason and Alison, he’ll know why he’s not being invited and probably won’t be terribly upset about it.

      • Spot

        I sense that this is LW’s partner’s way of demanding “Can’t they can all just get over it so we don’t have to deal with it anymore and things can go back to normal?”

        On one hand, its not the couples’ responsibility to play mediator via their wedding. On the other hand, you can realistically expect some negative social repercussions when you decide to have an affair with a married ex whose husband is friends with your friends. If you’re going to risk fueling some chaos and misery in your social life then you’re going to risk not getting to hang out with the people who bore the brunt of it.

        In Jason’s shoes I’d be confused why this dude is invited to my BFF’s wedding when he seems barely on the fringes of the couple’s social life. I understand the ‘let them figure it out’ approach but I don’t think LW will be at peace with that if her best friend declines to attend because he’s deeply uncomfortable around Chadley.

    • AmandaBee

      My guess is fiance doesn’t want to rock the boat with his friend group, which is understandable. But given that the alternative is hurting someone LW is actually close to, I agree.

      • Lisa

        I have to wonder if the friend group knows about this situation or not. If they know what’s going on, they probably won’t question the friend not being invited. If not, that’s a bit trickier.

        Story time: I have a friend group from high school that still meets up about once a year when we go home for the holidays. One of the other women and I used to be best friends but had a major falling out during the last few months of senior year. We now have a polite but distant relationship within the friend group. I was not surprised when all of our other friends were invited to her wedding, and I was the only one left out. I know the story, my friends know the story, and her wedding wasn’t the time or place to hash out those feelings again.

        It’s not completely analogous to the LW’s situation, but that’s why I lean towards not inviting the not-so-close friend for the sake of protecting your best friends’ feelings.

        • rg223

          I’m wondering if the friend group knows about the situation too. If it’s common knowledge among all these friends, it seems like it would be easier to not invite Alison’s ex, because theoretically everyone in the friend group would understand why it’s happening (even if they don’t agree with LW making that choice). The friend group not understanding it and questioning it would make the whole situation more difficult.

          And TBH, I think your situation was very different, because the person you had a falling out with didn’t invite you to HER wedding, and everyone understood why. It would be more similar one of your mutual friends had a wedding and didn’t invite you to make it more comfortable for your ex-BFF (I’m assuming that didn’t happen). LW’s scenario has an element of choosing sides/playing friend favorites by people otherwise uninvolved in the conflict. That’s what makes it more problematic than your situation, in my opinion.

          • savannnah

            I agree with this added complexity. Two of my very close friends had a huge falling out 2-3 years ago and everyone knows some of their story. I made a very conscious choice to have both of them as my bridesmaids- and I took into account the power play/choosing sides elements that are inherent when its not your thing, but mutual friends issue.

          • idkmybffjill

            Yes, I really agree with this added nuance. My ex was actually not invited to a wedding once (I was invited without him), in what turned out to be a misunderstanding – but appeared to be because he’d dated one of the bridesmaids briefly and she hadn’t taken the breakup well (years before). It really hurt both of us, to be honest.

            It actually truly was a misunderstanding, but coming from a place of thinking that was what was happening really hurt me.

    • Antonia

      Totally agree. My gut reaction while reading the letter was “Don’t invite the ex!”

    • Amy March

      I’m generally team “friend group” is a toxic concept, but if it’s really important to her fiancé, I can also see his side really easily. Jason is still married to Alison, but you’re telling me he needs to be shielded from the guy she slept with?

      • AmandaBee

        I mean, that’s fundamentally the argument, yes. Ex-dude did something shitty to Jason, and his attendance at the wedding will either be a major source of stress for Jason and the bride, or will prevent Jason from coming, which would also hurt the bride. Jason is a more important friendship. So, consequence-wise, it makes sense to leave ex-dude out. The fact that Jason chose to stay with his wife – a choice that could be informed by any number of things – doesn’t factor into it at all to me. I’d say the same thing if Jason had left his wife.

        • Amy March

          Or it won’t, because Jason is an adult who has chosen to move on with his marriage and can choose to attend the wedding drama free if he wants.

          • AmandaBee

            As nice as it would be to live in a world where all adults are perfect at regulating their emotions and behaviors, that’s not the world I’ve found myself living in. I can’t imagine any normal human being drama-free about this scenario.

            Sure, Jason should be expected to behave appropriately no matter what happens, but realistically this is going to cause him pain and, since he’s close to the bride, will likely impact her emotions that day too. And for what? Etiquette? Not rocking the casual-friend boat? Making a point about Jason staying with his wife? We all have different priorities, but I’d prioritize a close friendship over any of that.

          • Amy March

            For what? For the feelings of her fiancé, who adamantly wants to be able to invite his friend, because in his judgment not to do so would impact his other friendships. I honestly cannot see at all how being with the woman who cheated on him is fine, but being invited to be in a room with 99 people and the guy she slept with a year ago is so insurmountably difficult that it’s just too bad so sad for fiancé

          • idkmybffjill

            To be honest I could actually see more of an argument for not inviting him if, say… Jason had left Alison, and she was no longer in the picture (or even dating Ex again?).

            In my opinion, because they’ve chosen to move on with their marriage with this, they’ve made a choice that absolves their friends from managing their feelings.

          • Amy March

            I completely agree! If Jason were sitting around shattered by a traumatic divorce, I’d be much more inclined to treat him with kid gloves.

          • idkmybffjill

            Right! If their marriage is doing great despite this happening, they’ve figured it out. Let them figure this out too. Also it sounds like the LW has smallish circles, no need to make waves and put her fiance in an uncomfortable spot for something that essentially victimless.

            They worked it out! Not their friends job to manage them.

          • AmandaBee

            People choose to stay with cheating spouses for lots of reasons, and I don’t really see the logic in insisting that Jason MUST be fine with the man who slept with his wife just because he’s currently trying to make things work with Alison. The situation doesn’t become non-traumatic just because he’s decided to stay for now. If this had been 10 years ago and they were now solid in their marriage, sure – Jason will need to move on eventually. But given that this happened within the past year, I think it’s realistic to assume that Jason (and Alison, for that matter) is still working his way through it emotionally. And it may very well be that his marriage doesn’t actually recover – it’s not uncommon for things to unravel after trying to make it work.

          • idkmybffjill

            I just don’t see at what point it becomes the LW & Fiance’s job to handle these feelings. You may well be right, but it’s not LW’s job to manage her friends’ marraige.

            Fiance had an existing relationship with Ex. Presumably, Alison & Jason know that. Jason and Alison probably have dealt with something like this before, as it seems they all run in a relatively small social circle.

            It seems outrageous to me that Fiance would have to risk feeling super weird around his friend group over a situation he had nothing to do with! He is the groom, and the groom should get to invite people he wants at his wedding to his wedding.

            From what the LW has said, Jason & Alison are now very happy and all is good. I say all she needs to do is give a heads up that Ex will be invited and let the grown ups make their grown up decisions, as they’ve been doing.

          • rg223

            Yeah, just want to second the comment that the friendship circles seem to overlap a bit, so this might not be the first or last time ex, Alison and Jason are all going to attend an event together. No one needs to be managing their feelings this much!

          • AmandaBee

            Nobody is managing anyone else’s marriage, but realistically LW is going to deal with the fallout if her best friend is upset or doesn’t come to her wedding over this. If he’s truly moved on and has no emotions over it – great! But if not, then LW now has to deal with a lot of hurt over something that she also didn’t cause. The reality is that fiance’s choice of who to invite to “his” (their) wedding is going to affect them both, so it needs to be a joint decision. While I don’t think that disinviting ex is the only solution, I do think it’s a valid option and one they should consider.

          • idkmybffjill

            But what if Jason’s hurt that someone was excluded because of him? What if he’s hurt because he feels like LW took it upon herself to protect him, and it embarrasses him that after he got through a tough time, people are still treating him with kid gloves? (This is how I would feel if I were Jason….)

            Jason and Alison have chosen to stay married. Publicly, that is saying, “we’ve worked or are working through this, please continue treating us socially as you would any other married couple.” All Jason is owed here is a heads up.

          • AmandaBee

            Sure, LW should talk to Jason before making this choice. But if Jason is still recovering or still working through things with his wife, I think it’s valid to make choices to exclude someone (particularly someone non-important) based on that. I don’t agree that staying married means everyone decides to pretend nothing ever happened and no one was hurt though.

          • Cleo

            But why can’t JASON make that choice? Why do the LW and fiance have to make that choice for him beforehand, negatively impacting one of fiance’s friendships (and possibly multiple because of the friend group) in the process?

            Also, this isn’t a small dinner party or a even good size housewarming party (in which case, I’m on board with you 110%) where there will be 30-ish people chilling, having a few drinks, chatting together, with the LW and fiance mingling at their leisure, this is a wedding. And 100 people, while just over the “intimate” threshold for weddings, is a lot of people. And the bride and groom won’t be able to have in-depth intimate chats with all their guests. They will probably be dancing or pulled aside by great-Aunt Muriel or trying to eat their dinners as quickly as possible. And the guests will be similarly ensconced in their own bubbles of people they knew and came there with.

            I was at a 100 person wedding and my ex and his new fiance were there. My ex and I had a bad break-up (nothing like this though) and hadn’t spoken in years. He clearly had a lot of feelings about it still, to the point where he would about-face and walk the other way when I was going on the dance floor or walking near him. We made it the whole 5 hours without eye contact because he wanted it that way. And funny enough, I was the ONLY one who noticed it. Drama-free avoidance can be done!

          • I was at an approx. 100-person event six weeks after my now-ex-husband left me for another woman, and and he and his new girlfriend were both there. I knew they would be there in advance, and that made all the difference. I was able to prepare myself, as best I could anyway. A friend went with me and promised not to leave me alone. (I was scared about the possibility of running into my husband’s girlfriend in the bathroom, for example.) I was worried I might throw up. (I had been regularly throwing up in those weeks because I would cry so hard and I guess my body was having a hard time processing it all. My head sure hadn’t gotten to processing it yet.) But I made it through. It was a pretty awful experience, but I survived (without throwing up, having any drama or crying)… In my case though, people noticed that we were all there because everyone knew about it and most were mutual friends or acquaintances… Thankfully people were kind to me.

          • idkmybffjill

            But you’re forgetting that it isn’t the LW deciding the guest list all by herself. If that were her question, if Ex were part of HER friend group I’d say, no question – if you think it’ll be weird just don’t invite him. But her fiance wants to invite him! I think it’s super unfair that her fiance is ultimately the one who has to take a social blow because of the actions of Jason’s wife……that Jason has at least publicly forgiven her for by staying married to her.

          • AmandaBee

            I’m not forgetting that LW’s fiance is involved – I’ve mentioned in several other parts of this thread that she clearly needs to better understand his feelings on the matter. But I don’t think that all reasons for wanting to invite someone are equally valid, and I don’t think that “I want to invite this person” is the end of the conversation. If Ex is more important to fiance than LW realizes, that shifts the equation. If fiance is just trying to avoid drama on his end, not realizing how it could negatively impact LW and her friend? Then I think it’s valid for her to push back. Having a discussion about the pros/cons of each choice, looping Jason in if possible, seems like the logical next step. Assuming everyone gets invited because that’s fiance’s preference seems to entirely disregard LW’s perspective though.

          • idkmybffjill

            I guess it’s just super hard to say without knowing more. Has LW already talked to Jason about this? Does fiance already know all there is to know and still wants to invite his friends? That’s what it sounded like to me, but we don’t know. I feel like there’s an assumption that inviting Ex will have devastating effects not only on Jason, but on his relationship with the LW… and it didn’t seem clear to me that that was the case.

            Again, to present the other side of it – if I were Jason I would be MORTIFIED that she spent one second stressing about this. Mortified. I have been cheated on and been in similar circumstances, and if I found out my friend was fighting with her husband about whether to invite the person my Partner at the time had cheated on me with I would be mortified. If someone was excluded because of me and I knew all their friends new it I would be MORTIFIED.

            It’s also possible he’ll just not care because they’ve worked it out, or he’ll be totally devastated.

            If this letter writer wrote, “my friend Jason has told me he will absolutely not be able to come and feel entirely betrayed if Ex is invited”, then I would feel a lot differently. But I think LW is taking it upon herself to assume she knows how Jason feels, and assume she knows the best way to fix the problem.

          • AmandaBee

            I would agree with all of that – LW needs to address this with Jason before they start making decisions based on his assumed mental state. Like, does he feel like he can avoid the guy and that’s fine? Would seeing this guy still be extremely difficult emotionally? Would it potentially prevent him from coming? That’s probably an awkward convo to have, but it gives LW and her fiance a more concrete sense of the potential outcome, which they can then weigh against fiance’s reasons for wanting to invite Ex.

          • idkmybffjill

            For sure. Also if this IS a situation where Jason would no way no how attend, and that would SUPER hurt LW, whereas it would only kind of bother Fiance if Ex didn’t get invited… it’s way easier to sort that out at this point, than to sort it out after invitations have already been sent. And it’s much easier for LW to say to Fiance, “Jason has told me he absolutely won’t attend if Ex is there.”, than it is for her to say “this might hurt Jason’s feelings.”

            Trying to make the decision on behalf of Jason seems like… a bad idea. And if LW is uncomfortable talking to Jason about it, I’d err on the side of ‘invite all the grown ups and assume they’ll act like grown ups’.

          • S

            I mean, when you love someone and you’re cheated on, sometimes you stay. Because you love them. And enjoy their company. And what to be with them. That’s why it’s “fine” to be with the woman (aka probably the love of your life) who cheated on you. That has nothing to with not wanting to be around with someone who isn’t a member of your family and who is basically a stranger, who has brought a lot of pain into your life. Some people just don’t want to be around people who will cause them to feel super shitty, I know, it’s radical. Honestly, I’m sick of all this judgement of people who stay in relationships where someone has cheated. It’s not just coming from you but from lots of people and it’s really gross. There are women in the APW discussion boards who have stayed with a husband through infidelity, and APW is not really an understanding place for them today.

          • Kelly

            I get where you’re coming from re: judgement, but I think the comment about being “fine” is about Jason’s own perspective/decision, not about whether we, as readers, get to decide whether or not staying with a partner is “fine.” Also, Amy specifically said, “Jason is an adult who has chosen to move on with his marriage” and he can choose for himself what he’d like to do. This seems in line with what you’re saying, no?

          • Amy March

            I’m not judging Jason for staying in this relationship, or anyone who decides to stay in a marriage post infidelity. I just don’t think it’s at all fair to do so and then also expect your emotional needs to control your friends wedding invite lists.

          • Cleo

            But what if the groom’s good friends in that group are pissed at him because he didn’t invite the ex? Wouldn’t that impact the groom’s emotions on the wedding day?

            Invite people. Give everyone a heads up after RSVP’s come in, and hope they behave like adults. And put someone on Jason duty and someone on ex duty just in case things come to a head.

          • Lmba

            Totally painful for Jason. I think it’s probably unreasonable to expect that he’s moved on to the point that he is completely unfazed by ex’s presence. But… Jason’s gotta look after Jason. (And… his wife needs to look after him a bit here too, sheesh.) So LW gives him the heads up and communicates that she understands it sucks for him, she will make sure they are seated on opposite ends of the reception space, and she thanks him in advance for handling the situation graciously for the sake of her fiance, for whom it is important that his whole friend group be invited to the wedding. This is not a party for Jason, after all. It’s unpleasant for him, but sometimes we gotta do unpleasant things for the people we love. If it’s too much for him, that’s not on LW, and it’s up to Jason to make that call and graciously bow out early or find some strategy to deal. Ultimately, the issue is not with ex, it’s with J+A’s marriage, and they will need to find a solution from within their own marriage, not from LW+fiance making changes to their wedding.

          • AmandaBee

            I agree that Jason has to make the call about whether he’s willing to attend with Ex there, but I don’t agree that LW is locked in to inviting Ex just because her fiance wants to and I’d also push back on the tendency I see here to disregard her feelings or her agency. Ultimately, wedding invitations are joint decisions, not individual ones, so LW and her fiance need to sit down and figure out how their choice of who to invite could impact them both, then go from there.

            My concern is that LW has made it clear that she will be devastated if Jason can’t make it. It seems like the focus is on how her fiance or Jason feel, but LW is also one of the people getting married. So fiance’s decision to invite Ex is not just a decision impacting fiance, just as Jason’s decision to attend is not just a decision impacting Jason. Both decisions will have a very real impact on LW’s enjoyment of her wedding day.

            While she can’t control everyone’s decisions, clearly, I think it’s fine for her ask for more explanation from her fiance, to talk to Jason about whether Ex would impact his attendance, and if necessary to advocate for the person she wants there with her on her wedding day. That isn’t making the party about Jason, but it is respecting LW’s desire to have the people closest to her there. If fiance refuses to provide explanation or to budge on his own preferences, regardless of the impact on LW, I would question whether he is being respectful of LW’s feelings or agency.

          • I’d say it’d be easier to attend the wedding without any major external drama, but as far as internal pain/stress/anxiety at seeing the person who slept with your spouse? In my experience, that’s hard to avoid.

            Though if I were in Jason’s shoes I’d probably just prepare myself for a really hard day and do it out of love for my friend who was getting married… (And honestly, I’d also have some fear about what could happen if I weren’t there, given what had previously happened…)

          • idkmybffjill

            I feel like it’s sort of impossible to look at this situation with totally clear eyes if you’ve experienced infidelity. For me, personally – I was VERY adamant that the person my then partner cheated with never be excluded for my benefit, because I felt like it publicly made a show that she was a threat to me and that I was not okay. It felt like an affront to our relationship saying, “even though you guys moved on, you obviously can’t deal with something that happened in the past.”

            It’s sort of an impossible decision for LW to make on Jason’s behalf without talking to Jason, because for all those would be super hurt by the ex being invited, there are also those who would be extremely embarassed for him to be excluded. We don’t know which person Jason is.

          • yeah I’m not really understanding the whole “everyone behave like adults” theme that is permeating this discussion. Because adults are just supposed to set aside their feelings over one of the most devastating things that can happen in a relationship and be okay with it? Lives and love are messy, who are we to tell someone else how they should feel or behave? The ex is not that good of a friend of either bride or fiance, but is getting an invite because of social graces–I don’t see how that trumps the best friend. Especially knowing what turmoil this will cause the bride if her best friend decides not to show up.

        • idkmybffjill

          I mean… I’d argue that Ex-dude didn’t do anything to Jason. He wasn’t Jason’s friend. He didn’t initiate the situation – who knows how Alison presented it.

          I honestly really don’t think Ex will come, but I don’t think it’s very nice to blame him for what was ultimately Allison’s act of betrayal, which Jason chose to forgive her for.

      • sofar

        Yeah, I’m so divided on this one. It’s a choice I had to make, too. I chose to just invite everyone and expect them to act like adults. As a result, my godmother didn’t come (her horrible, but not abusive, ex was there, but was invited because he is a close, long-time family friend AND has custody of my cousin whom I’m close to). We also invited TWO other love-triangles, and all parties showed up and had a good time.

        It sucked not having my godmother there, and the relationship is still strained afterward. But… at the end of the day, she DID chose to stay home.

        Life is messy. Wedding guest lists are about inviting your community, and you don’t always get to choose your community.

        I agree with Liz — give Jason a heads-up and maybe soften the blow by emphasizing that your fiance is the one inviting his friend.

    • penguin

      Agreed, I was a little surprised to see the advice in the letter. I might understand more if the ex was someone the bride/groom were really close to, but the groom isn’t even that close with this guy by his own admission. I’d be wondering why he’s invited in the first place, and then with all this drama? It seems like it would be really easy to just cross him off the list.

      • Lmba

        I thought the advice was bang on! :)

      • Violet

        It just doesn’t seem like that solution is easy to LW’s fiance. Who, unless is some totally unreasonable guy, has an opinion that should be considered. If this were LW’s not-close friend, not inviting would be the easy solution. But it’s about compromising with your partner, which is why it’s hard. This is a great letter, to me, because it shows how hard it is to compromise with your partner when you see a situation really differently.

      • In my experience, men really, really, really hate social/emotional confrontation that might leave them feeling uncomfortable or having to deal with other people’s …like, I am regularly stunned by the lengths they will go to to do avoid talking to a friend about a shitty thing a friend (or family member) did. It’s wild and illogical and incredibly toxic, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that’s what’s motivating the fiancé here. He doesn’t want there to be “drama” in his friend group if he doesn’t invite the friend, doesn’t want to have to have that conversation with the friend, etc. And #notallmen obviously, but like…that refusal to do this kind of emotional labor is something I have witnessed again and again and it blows my mind every time. It’s shocking to me the number of things (from microaggressions to openly sexist/racist comments to, like, actual crime) that men will straight-up REFUSE to confront.

        • S

          Yup, I agree. Also one thing I despise is the assumption/stereotype that women just love drama, gossiping, meddling, etc…in reality, often we get involved because the men in our life won’t confront things or emotionally engage with things. Every time in my life I can think of in which I might have been called dramatic, difficult, meddling, gossipy, etc…it almost always comes down to a dude’s poorly-handed business. (It’s a very similar trope to the crazy ex thing. Yes, I was crazy and dramatic after one particular breakup. That’s what happens when someone chronically lies to you throughout your relationship to avoid confrontation, cheats on you, tells you he’s in love with you, breaks up with you then texts you for nudes. Yes, I tend to go off the walls when I have no idea what’s going on and you cannot be straight with me about what you want. I guess I’m just a typical crazy woman.)

        • rg223

          Yeah, but you can also look at it from the flip side of LW is being “a woman” and taking on more emotional labor than is necessary.

          • Yes, I would agree…I think she’s taking on the emotional work that her fiancé doesn’t want to do.

          • idkmybffjill

            I think part of this is also possibly ask vs. guess culture. There have been assumptions galore about how Jason would actually feel – but my sense is that LW doesn’t want to ruffle feathers by asking him. This is, in my opinion, a very female trait – she’s doing the emotional labor on behalf of Jason more than anyone here, but I don’t see any evidence that she’s actually spoken to Jason about what he would want. Because there are different alternatives to what Jason might want, it seems sort of ridiculous to start a whole thing with her fiance to solve a problem that either 1) might not be the problem for Jason they think it is or 2) might cause Jason more problems than if they just invited everyone.

          • rg223

            Hmm, well I’m on team “invite them all and let it be,” so the only emotional work that needs doing in my mind is for LW to do, in giving Jason a heads up about ex being there. I think not inviting ex to manage Jason’s feelings (when LW apparently doesn’t know his feelings on it) is LW taking on more emotional work than is necessary.

        • Jenny

          YES! My husband is currently stressing about about dealing with a perfectly non stressful social situation. He’s a co best man planning the bachelor party. The groom wants to just invite groomsmen. They have a mutual friend who has made some comments like can’t wait for the bachelor party (this friend is not a groomsman, and it’s not weird that he’s not). And my husband is like, uggh, not looking forward to this, it’s going to be so awkward. Etc. and I’m like dude, you are planning a party for the groom who wants this to be groomsman only. Easiest let down ever. Hey man, N has decided that he wants to keep this to groomsman only, so D and I are planning the bachelor party for that group. Can’t wait to see you can hang out at the wedding. And I know his friend, who will totally not be mad (because he’s not socially inept). I was like you need to stop avoiding talking to your friend because you have some “bad” news.

    • idkmybffjill

      To be honest, I would imagine that this friend wouldn’t come…. especially assuming he is aware of the bride’s relationship with the Jason. Maybe that’s being too presumptuous – but I really feel like this will end up being a non-issue.

      • rg223

        Yeah, I too think there’s a really good chance that ex just won’t come.

    • Sarah

      That was my first reaction, but really the wedding and the guest list is about the people getting married, not the people attending. If Fiance wants to invite his friend, he should. The only person it would bother is a fellow guest. Well, sorry guests, I guess you all have to deal with your own shit. Why can’t they invite who they want to invite without worrying about someone else’s drama? Sure as good friends they should give the cheated-on-friend a heads-up, but beyond that I don’t think they should be considering this triangle when deciding their guest list. They should be looking at who they want witnessing their marriage. Maybe there’s not that great of a reason to invite the guy, but if but for this situation he’d otherwise be invited, then I think he should still be invited.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        My thoughts exactly. The couple are not responsible for managing their friends’ social lives.

    • Lmba

      Disagree. What happened within the triangle is the business of the members of the triangle. LW and fiance are not involved in this issue at all. A discreet heads up to those involved that the others are invited is all that’s required. The only situation I see this differently is if there were a situation of past abuse – in which case, excluding an abuser (even one that the couple maintains a relationship with otherwise) for the sake of the victim is definitely the right move. These are adults, the partakers in the affair were consenting, and the fallout within J+A’s marriage is their own business.

    • toomanybooks

      Yeah, it is ooobbbbbbvious to me that the ex should not be invited, and feels like a case of “the groom or less-actively-planning-partner” being a bit unaware of the thought that needs to go into invites and social events.

      background: my wife wanted to invite everyone she met while I was whittling my list down to most important to squeeze into our venue, my wife also tried to seat her dad (who left when she was 5) at the same table as her mom and stepdad (and maternal grandfather, who I think tried to punch the dad once). I expressed concern, she said it was fine, then texted her mom who was like “obviously that is not fine.” What I’m saying is regardless of whether the coupling is a heterosexual one, there is often one person who isn’t doing as much of the planning and just.doesnt.get the social nuances

    • I had the exact same thought reading this, especially “This is one scenario where he and the larger friend group would prooobably understand him not getting an invite.” Like ???? You were knowingly involved with a married human; there…might be some social consequences to that? Not getting invited to a wedding seems like a SUPER minor one. I don’t totally get why LW’s fiancé is being so stubborn about it. Unless it was a mega best friend or, like, a sibling, this seems like a no-brainer to me.

      I think the bride should ask Jason how he feels about all of this and give him the space to be truly honest. But if he says that it would be rough for him or a dealbreaker, I just don’t see the case for inviting the friend.

  • AmandaBee

    What a tricky situation. I will say that although I generally agree with Liz, in this case I think there’s an argument that closeness trumps fairness. If someone’s relatively recent actions deeply hurt my best friend, and I wasn’t all that close to that person, I would probably not invite them to my wedding.

    It’s probably bad etiquette, but so is sleeping with someone else’s spouse. I’m assuming this not-close friend understands what he did and will also understand why he’s not invited if he doesn’t receive an invitation.

    • Antonia

      “It’s probably bad etiquette, but so is sleeping with someone else’s spouse.”
      Bingo.

      • idkmybffjill

        Oh man! This is a big one people disagree on. I wonder how much this effects how people see the situation.

        In my opinion – infidelity is between the married people, not the other people who get involved. Especially when one of the married people is the one seeking out the infidelity. Who knows how she presented it to the ex! He could’ve thought they were separated, or any number of things. He didn’t take any vows with anyone, so in my opinion – this grievance is not on him.

        • Mrrpaderp

          I don’t think the two positions are necessarily inconsistent. Yes, infidelity happens between a couple, not some random third party. And yes, sleeping with someone who you know is married – especially when you’re in the same friend group or connected by 1-2 degrees of separation – is in poor form/bad etiquette/drama-inviting/however you want to put it. It’s nowhere near the same level of bad as cheating on a spouse, but it’s still not an awesome thing to do. I take your point that we dk what Allison told her ex but… idk man. If you know your ex has always been pining after you, got married, and now she’s clamoring at your door claiming she’s separated yet you mysteriously haven’t heard that through the grapevine… c’mon. You know better.

          If LW and her fiance were BOTH on board with not inviting the ex, I don’t think the ex could claim that he’s some innocent bystander who’s unfairly getting scapegoated. But fiance isn’t on board with excluding the guy so that’s a moot point.

          • idkmybffjill

            I mean, I’d never encourage a friend to get involved in someone else’s marriage. And when I had a friend who knowingly did so I was pretty darn judgmental of her, so yeah – I totally agree it’s not a cool move.

            I mostly just don’t think we have all the information here. Like, I can see a scenario where Ex & Alison broke up, but each of them always thought they’d get back together, then BOOM Alison got married…. but then 2 years later, Alison crawls back and is like, “it’s not working, it’s always been you.”… idk man! I just can see a scenario where Ex didn’t do anything wrong (or is maybe even pretty hurt? and this would hurt him more? And maybe this is why Fiance wants to invite him?)…. there are just endless possibilities for feelings and scenarios!

  • Amy March

    If Jason, who chose to marry someone who wasn’t over her ex, chose to drive drunk, and chose to stay with his wife after she cheated on him, decides not to attend your wedding, I don’t think it’s your husband who you should be feeling some kind of way about.

    I completely agree with Liz. Invite who you want to invite. Expect them to behave appropriately. Accept that people can both love you and not attend your wedding.

    • Violet

      That’s another reason to invite all and let the cards fall: This is an issue between the three parties (the invitees). If LW starts using it as a way to decide who to invite, then it becomes an issue between her and her fiance (the inviters). But inherently, it’s not about them. Even thinking about doing this has LW starting to get upset with her partner, and he didn’t even DO anything!

      • emmers

        Exactly. This way, you don’t have to take sides, you don’t really have to know all the nitty gritty details, and you just get to let the guests work out whatever works best for them. It’s a kindness to let Jason know that the ex will also be invited, but other than that, you don’t have to be involved.

        • A single sarah

          This. Also, I’d let ex know Allison and Jason are invited. I can imagine he feels some kind of way about this situation too.

      • penguin

        I hadn’t really thought about this – good point.

      • AmandaBee

        I see no scenario in which this is not an issue between LW and her fiance, or doesn’t come across as “taking sides”. Realistically, this choice is likely to cause stress in one friendship or another, so I’d lean towards addressing that head-on rather than trying to stay neutral.

        • Violet

          They’re not trying to be neutral by inviting all three, though, LW stays true to her friend, her partner to his. What would “addressing this head-on” look like other than making it a huge fight between LW and her fiance, which will ultimately coming down to their differing judgments of the actions of the three players, based on their pre-conceived affections for each party? I’m all for hashing things out, but there is no real “fixing” this.

          • BSM

            Also, as Liz alluded to, it’s not really their place to pass judgment here. They don’t have all the details, nor should they.

          • AmandaBee

            I agree that a friendship will likely be impacted one way or the other. It’s a crappy situation and one that unfortunately forces them to make a choice that will probably read as taking sides one way or the other. So then the question becomes, which friendship do you care about more?

          • Violet

            Since LW cares more about Jason and her fiance cares more about ex, why shouldn’t they both get to care, as much as they want, and invite both? Why does it have to be such a zero sum game? Especially when the whole point of LW and her fiance arguing about this is to spare a third party (ie, Jason) from experiencing an unpleasant emotion.

          • AmandaBee

            Because if inviting one means the other can’t attend (obviously, an assumption that needs to be confirmed), then you’re stuck choosing one or the other whether that’s fair or not. You can physically send invitations to both, of course. But if ex is a deal breaker for Jason, then inviting both excludes him.

            I don’t think the argument centers on Jason’s emotions. It seems to me like LW is afraid that her friend won’t be able to be there on her wedding day if ex is invited. And given the circumstances, that’s a valid concern. Is fiance really hearing that concern, or is he more concerned about his own friend group? It’s hard to tell, but I’d imagine that LW may be hurt if she feels like her needs are being disregarded.

          • Violet

            I don’t think inviting both means one won’t attend. It’s like game theory- if you invite both, why wouldn’t both come or neither come? Why are we so sure only one half will back out? And if one half decides not to come, how is that LW and her fiance choosing sides? The person who decided not to attend was the one choosing,

            Guests aren’t always there physically or emotionally on the wedding day for a whole host of reasons. One commenter here had her friend have a seizure during the reception. My husband’s dad was thrown in jail two days before. Things happen. Discussing this with Jason first means it’s most likely he’ll be able to come and it’ll be fine. But if it’s not, it’s not. I don’t get why fiance has to miss out on his guest being there because other people decided to make their lives emotionally complicated.

            I could not agree with you more that if this is about LW not feeling heard, it’s on her fiance to explain where he’s coming from after really hearing her out. We don’t have his “side” so I’m just guessing. But they need to talk this out, together, so they both feel validated.

          • AmandaBee

            We can abstract this all we want and that’s fun, but the reality is this: if Jason can’t be in a room with ex while maintaining his sanity, and he makes this known, inviting ex excludes Jason. You could send invites to both and tell yourself that it’s not up to you, and obviously plenty of people will side with you on that. But that’s unlikely to comfort LW when she doesn’t have her friend with her on her wedding day.

          • Violet

            I agree that this would be a sad outcome for LW. It’s just worrying to me, on the relationship level, that she is saying she would feel “some type of way towards [her] fiance” for Jason not being able to handle his feelings. As a parallel that is not abstract, my MIL can get histrionic. I suppose my partner *could* give in and make us change a lot of plans/do things differently because he doesn’t want her (and then by extension, himself) upset. But at some point you realize that catering to other people’s emotional needs above and beyond yours is not a good long-term strategy. Yes, this is Jason’s marriage that he’s upset about (and rightfully so), but it’s LW and her fiance’s marriage. Why do Jason’s needs get more priority in their relationship than their own? So I get that it seems mainly abstract, but letting other people’s emotional reactions strongly affect your choices does have pretty concrete consequences.

          • AmandaBee

            So when fiance wants a casual friend at their wedding we assume that it represents “their” needs as a couple, but when LW wants to make sure her closest friend is at the wedding, we assume it’s about Jason’s needs? We seem to do be doing some serious logic acrobatics here to make this an issue between two men, but I wouldn’t be so fast to erase LW as a person with valid needs and desires.

            If LWs fiance isn’t willing to consider his fiance’s concerns and close friendships when deciding who they’re inviting to their wedding, I don’t blame her for feeling angry toward him – because if that’s the case, it shows lack of care and respect for her as a human who has other important relationships.

          • A single sarah

            I’m curious at what point LW told finance about Jason’s priority on the guest list. If Jason was one of the people who you confirmed the date with before signing the venue contract then I’m more okay with taking steps to continue to ensure his attendance. If he’s not, well there’s all sorts of reasons why people miss weddings. Even of their best friends.

      • rg223

        Yeah, this is ultimately my feeling too (although I have to say this is a particularly sticky situation!). LW and fiance should stay out of it as much as possible, and the best way to do that is follow Liz’s advice.

    • Her Lindsayship

      I totally agree with Liz’s advice, but it was difficult for me to understand the “you’re pinning a good share of the blame to Jason” bit. It sounds like LW doesn’t blame Jason at all and in fact doesn’t even want to think about potentially blaming him for not attending her wedding over something he’s supposedly able to move past with his wife. LW sounds judgey of Alison to me, but very much not pinning the blame to Jason.

      • Ha, to me the LW sounded most excessively judge-y of the ex, with the way she referenced how her husband blamed Allison more than him. I think this letter is a bit of a sympathy/values rorschach…

        • rg223

          To me, I thought LW and fiance were judging EVERYONE, but in different ways at different times, which is another reason they should not get involved.

        • AP

          “I think this letter is a bit of a sympathy/values rorschach…”

          Lol to this, wonder what it says about me that my gut reaction to the whole letter was “get new friends.”

          • Katharine Parker

            Lol, same.

      • When you put it that way, I can definitely see that! What made me feel like Jason was taking the heat is the way she sort of was like, “NOT SURE WHY HE’S STILL WITH HER!” combined with partner saying Jason’s to blame for sticking around.

  • Violet

    Eh, I agree with Liz. These are three adults, all of whom made decisions that contributed to this current predicament. (And no, I don’t mean Jason did something to get himself cheated on, but that he has subsequently decided to stay married to the woman who cheated.)
    Imagine for a moment these weren’t friends, but you know, parents and a stepparent. Children of parents where there was infidelity and then subsequent marriage to the affair partner have to deal with a scenario that is very similar. Ultimately, you hear that what is most common is to invite all parties and hope that they behave appropriately.
    Sure, your fiancé might not be as close to the ex as you are to Jason. But if this incident hadn’t happened, the ex would clearly be in invited, since he’s part of the friend group. (While our wedding was smaller than yours, we still had our share of, “Well, we gotta invite this person,” moments.) If the ex is then not invited, only two reasons can be posited for the non-invite: 1. he’s being “punished” for the affair (when Alison is not) or 2. to “protect” Jason’s feelings (a guy who lives every day with one half of the affair, so ya know, he can handle himself). Since neither of these make sense as reasons to not invite, then I think invite is the way to go.

    • Lisa

      I don’t see not inviting him so much as a punishment as an acknowledgement of the situation and being realistic about it.

      If the LW and her fiancé do decide to invite all three and everyone attends, I do agree that they should be expected to not make the couple’s wedding about them and to handle themselves responsibly.

      • Violet

        But then if ex isn’t invited as an “acknowledgment,” then neither should the couple be. It’s sending the message that one person is not allowed to be there because of the actions of three people, so that one person becomes the scapegoat. Clearly LW’s fiance doesn’t agree with that message, and it’s his wedding.

        • Amy March

          Yeah that’s what I think is missing from the conversation. Obviously not inviting other dude would be easier, but it’s not what fiancé wants, and it is also his wedding. And I don’t see this as a situation that’s just so bad his views don’t get to count.

          • Violet

            Yeah, I think not inviting ex would be easier in a world where fiance has no opinion. But, he does! It might be based on different things than LW’s feelings, but he cares, has his reasons, and they make just not inviting ex no longer the “easy” solution. If ex was abusive, then I’d override fiance’s opinion. But these are three adults who have had agency in their lives up until now. They can continue making their choices as they see fit when they get their invites in the mail.

        • AmandaBee

          “It’s sending the message that one person is not allowed to be there because of the actions of three people, so that one person becomes the scapegoat.”

          I don’t really agree. I think it just sends the message that ex isn’t a really important friendship, and Jason is. So if sides must be chosen (and I’d argue that they’re realistically going to be chosen), might as well choose the person you’re closer to.

          • Violet

            But, fiance isn’t closer to Jason, LW is. So then it’s about LW’s needs trumping fiance’s, when they should both get their way since they did nothing wrong. They just have friends who kind of made a mess. And are now getting dragged into it!

          • penguin

            I’d agree with you if part of the couple was just as close with the ex as with Jason/Allison, but the fiancé said that he just isn’t that close with the ex anyway, and is only going to invite him because that guy is part of a group of other friends that fiancé wants there. I don’t think it would be a tragedy to just invite all three and let them work it out, but I see why the LW doesn’t want to invite the ex. It sounds to me like he was on the list as an “eh whatever, he’ll know this group of people” more so than a “I can’t wait to see so-and-so” kinda thing.

          • Katharine Parker

            I think this is where the friend group thing makes it complicated, though. If the ex were a friend of the fiancé but not integrated into his other friends, he could be excluded from the guest list with the classic, “it’s a small wedding” kind of reasoning. But if he’s part of a group of 8 friends and he’s the only one not invited, it becomes clear to everyone in that group that he wasn’t invited because of the thing with Alison and Jason, not for any other reason. So it is taking sides.

            It also feels a little bit unfair to be like, fiancé isn’t even close to this guy! When at least some of that is from LW’s biased opinion. The fiancé wants to invite this guy… that should count for something.

          • penguin

            I don’t think it’s unfair, it’s literally what the fiancé said (admittedly that is according to the LW). In the end I don’t think it’s a big deal to invite all three people, but I see why the LW would at least want to have a conversation with her fiancé about it (and write in about it).

          • Katharine Parker

            I think we don’t know exactly what the fiancé said. We might get a different impression of the relationship between Jason and the LW had we heard about this from the fiancé–relationships always look different from the outside. The fiancé wants to invite him, whatever their level of closeness.

          • Violet

            FWIW, I’m on team invite all three while letting Jason know, and I STILL totally feel for LW and see why she’s writing in. And should talk to her fiance about it. I just got wary when I saw she was ready to put any of her feelings of disappointment if Jason chooses not to come on her fiance.

          • AmandaBee

            “The fiancé wants to invite this guy… that should count for something.”

            Not disagreeing with this at all. Clearly LW and fiance need to keep talking about the relative importance of these friendships, and LW needs to better understand fiance’s reasoning for wanting to invite his friend. But if this really, truly isn’t a close friend? I would certainly weigh friendship closeness as part of the decision, because not all friendships are equally important.

          • Katharine Parker

            It seems like the LW is discounting the fiancé’s reasons for wanting to invite the ex by making closeness the most important thing, though, and determining that the LW is closer to Jason than the fiancé is to the ex. But friendships have different meanings to different people–there are people that my fiancé considered really important to invite that I would not have thought he was close to and vice versa–judging on closeness seems like a set of parameters that the LW has already determined will win out in favor of the outcome that they want.

          • Jessica

            exactly!

          • AmandaBee

            That’s fair – I’m taking LW somewhat at face value when she says that fiance is not close to this friend. I do think they clear need to have a conversation about *why* it’s important to each of them that their respective friends are there. If anything, that conversation may help her better understand how he approaches friendship and vice versa. I know with my husband, we treated our invite list as a joint decision-making process, rather than a “his” and “hers” process where each person makes independent decisions about who to invite. My now-husband invited some people I wouldn’t have, as did I, but it was still ultimately an “us” decision in that we both signed off on everyone before invitations went out. I think trying to treat them independently, as if fiance and LW have no say on who the other person invites, is biased in favor of the fiance in this scenario and is particularly unfair when one person’s invitees do impact another’s.

          • Violet

            “judging on closeness seems like a set of parameters that the LW has already determined.” Right. I honestly think that LW being closer to Jason than fiance is to ex is not the one and only fact here. Yes, it’s important, but it’s SO not the only deciding factor.

          • Violet

            If “How close I am to someone” was the one and only way to make invitation decisions, I’d get your point. But people invite people to their wedding based on WAY more criteria than just “how close they feel.” We invited people we didn’t feel close to because they are part of the family, or an invite that my MIL wanted, or on and on. LW cares more about Jason than fiance cares about ex equals ex doesn’t get invited is a simple equation, but to me, it’s overly simplistic. Fiance has his reasons. They might not be the reasons most important to you or LW, but “not wanting to blatantly exclude only one member of an established social group” is a pretty common reason to extend an invite to a wedding. I don’t know why it counts “less” than Jason’s feelings.

          • AmandaBee

            If fiance was just as close to ex as LW is to Jason, I’d agree. But at least from LW’s point of view, that isn’t the case. My suspicion is this is more about fiance wanting to avoid drama with his friend group than about the importance of the actual friendship with ex.

          • Jessica

            Yeah, that doesn’t need to happen. People can be friends with varying folks that never see each other. This couple should plan their wedding, invite who they want to be there, and hope for the best. If things get out of hand, make sure someone who is assertive is ready to tell them to leave.

            It is possible to be friends with 2 people who used to date, and for those 2 people to be mature enough to not care about it.

          • AmandaBee

            If this was just about people who used to date, I’d agree. Or if it was an affair that was long in the past, sure. But this is someone who recently slept with LW’s best friend’s wife. To me, that’s a whole other scenario, and I wouldn’t really call someone immature for being upset about it.

          • Jessica

            Who is upset here? That’s what I’m curious about.

            True story: My husband recently had an affair. I’m still with him. I don’t really want to see the woman he slept with, but I would to celebrate a friend’s wedding. And if I wasn’t OK with possibly seeing her, I would hope that the engaged couple would understand my “regrets” and enjoy the gift I send.

            This is not the LW’s problem to solve.

          • AmandaBee

            I think there are some unsolvable disagreements here, but I think if the situation could impact LW’s friendship or the likelihood that her best friend is at the wedding, is in part her problem. Maybe she needs to have a discussion with Jason and see how he reacts. If he’s okay with it or at least feels like he’ll still attend, great! But if not, then having a discussion of whether they want to invite this casual friend despite ramifications for a close friendship seems valid to me. I also would not assume that because you personally could handle an emotionally difficult situation, it’s fair to expect other people to handle it in the same way.

          • Jessica

            I expect people to be honest about reality. The reality is that it sounds like LW is making some assumptions here, but that everyone involved is able to make their own choices. If it’s Jason’s choice to not attend the wedding, then that is what is right for him and his wife. If Jason chooses to attend and then can’t handle seeing Ex there, I would expect him to be honest about it rather than start a scene or act like a child.

            Weddings are fraught with tough decisions. In my opinion, LW should not take on this added stress, invite all 3, and understand that someone may not be at the wedding–but that they may still have a blast.

          • AmandaBee

            The reality is also that Jason choosing not to attend will really hurt LW on her wedding day, and I think it’s valid for her to want to head that off if possible, especially given that ex is not a close friend. It may be that Jason would come anyway, or it may be that fiance would be equally hurt by not inviting ex, and all of that needs to be discussed with the relevant parties. I just don’t see “invite everyone” as the neutral or stress-free option for LW, given what she’s said about her relationship with Jason and how she would feel if he couldn’t make it. I think we’re allowed to prioritize people close to us on our wedding days.

          • Jessica

            I agree with that, but it is Fiance who wants Ex at the wedding. In my experience, men are less inclined to call friends “best friends” or whatever, but who knows how close Fiance and Ex actually are as friends–or how often they see each other (like, do they work together? Are they part of the same Frisbee League? Do they play Dungeons & Dragons together twice a month?) It could lead to broken friendships to exclude ex because LW might be overthinking things.

            Or LW isn’t overthinking things, the Ex is a rando friend they only see on occasion, and a discussion with Jason and Fiance AND Alison will lead to the exact right suggestion for what to do about invitations.

            I just don’t like it when people are treated like they don’t have a choice in their own behavior. It’s infantilizing and hurtful.

          • AmandaBee

            I think we all fundamentally agree that LW needs to understand her fiance’s reasoning some more. And she probably needs to feel out how Jason feels about the situation before assuming he couldn’t handle it. I would not argue with any of those points.

            I think where I disagree with some folks here is that if fiance wants Ex there because he’s someone they “should” invite (versus, say, a close friend), and Jason doesn’t feel he could handle attending with Ex there, I still think it’s valid to exclude Ex so that LW can have her best friend at her wedding. I get that not everyone agrees with this, and that’s fine, because it’s a messy and crappy situation with a bunch of moving parts. I just wouldn’t invalidate LW’s desire to have her best friend there or Jason’s (potential/unconfirmed) desire not to see the person his spouse slept with while he may still be working things out with her. Those feelings are just as valid to me as the desire to invite everyone in a particular friend group.

          • S

            I think this also comes down to people all having different brains, ways of feeling feelings, etc. I personally would be very much hurt if I was in a position of having to choose whether to go to my BEST FRIEND’S wedding because someone who hurt me very much, who I very much do not want to be around, was invited, despite them not being that close to the couple and despite my best friend knowing how much this person hurt me. Now, Jason might not feel the same way as me. He might feel the same as you, like he’s an adult and doesn’t want to be protected by his friends. I just don’t think either way is the “right” way to feel. I didn’t get to choose my brain. I get to choose my actions, sure, and if I were put in the situation I just outlined, I would choose to act like an adult about it, same as you. But I can’t choose how I feel. And how I would feel, put in a situation where I was having to choose whether I was emotionally up for attending my best friend’s wedding because they chose to invite someone they’re not that good friends with because, like, “If Sam and Ben and Chad and Mike are invited then we should probably invite Josh” or whatever…how I’d feel would be pretty devastated. And on the flip side, I would NEVER want to risk hurting my best friend or risking them not attending my wedding because my fiancé didn’t want things to be weird with some guy he only barely cares about. My wedding day doesn’t mean I don’t give a shit about my best friend’s feels. My finance’s feels don’t necessarily trump my best friend’s feels just because it’s his wedding day, if my finance’s feels = not wanting to make things with an old friend he never sees a bit awks and my best friend’s feels = devastated and still healing. Basically: people are different. Know your people. Don’t ever make an assumption that someone else has the same brain as you. My way of feeling isn’t the right one, neither is yours, neither is LW’s. We feel how we feel. Talk to Jason.

          • CA

            Yeah, I think having an honest chat with Jason is the clear way forward here before making any final decisions. LW and Jason are good friends, right? So I feel like it shouldn’t be a big deal to bring it up next time they are together. “Hey, so I think we’re going to be inviting so-and-so to our wedding, how weird is that going to be for you? I really want you to be able to have a good time with us, I hope that’s not going to be too problematic”. There is zero point in speculating about how Jason will take it or if he might decide not to come if LW doesn’t actually know how he’s going to respond. If it does turn out that he’s really freaked out and struggling, then at that point LW and fiance can have a hard conversation about what their priorities are.

          • I agree. It would be one thing to just preemptively not invite the ex if the husband didn’t really care, but since that isn’t the case I feel like finding out just how big an issue this is actually going to be for Jason is the clear next step here?

          • idkmybffjill

            This is great advice!

  • Katharine Parker

    I would invite all three, let them know ahead of time that you plan on inviting all three (will the ex want to be at the wedding with Alison and her husband? He deserves to be prepared for that, too, as does Alison), and let them deal with it. They’re adults, who seem to all still live in the same town, who have decided on ways to deal with what happened. They can figure out how to deal with your wedding. This isn’t worth fighting with your fiancé over.

    • Violet

      Jason decided to stay with her, and accept all future emotional fallout from said decision. Putting the consequences of his choice on LW’s fiance seems… unfair.

      • idkmybffjill

        I really like how you put this. Well done.

  • idkmybffjill

    I had a similar situation arise at my wedding! All of the drama happened before I even knew my friend, but essentially: I became very close friends with a girl I’ll call Jamie. Jamie used to date Eric way back in the day, who has been dating my less close (but longer time) friend, Kelly, for several years. Come to find out, Eric actually dumped Jamie to be with Kelly. (I actually don’t think Kelly was aware of this, but that’s none of my business).

    I simply gave Jamie a heads up that Kelly & Eric were invited, and because at first she wasn’t seeing anyone, I reiterated that she was definitely welcome to bring a date or a friend as a buffer for the awkwardness.

    As it happened – Eric couldn’t make it, so Kelly & Jamie were the only ones in attendance – and they have no beef with each other.

    It was stressful because I felt like… poor Kelly doesn’t even know about this and I don’t want to not invite her for seemingly no reason, and I’m not going to invite one half of a couple! But it all worked out. Hopefully it will all work out well for you too!

    • sofar

      Yes, the heads-up is KEY. I invited a former couple to my wedding and, when I told my friend her ex would be there, she straight-up said, “I want to be seated on the opposite side of the room as him. I am willing to be seated at the unattached-randos’ table, as long as it’s nowhere near him.”

      I was happy to oblige. Turns out, she ended up getting a new job and couldn’t get time off for the wedding anyway.

      • Jessica

        This is a good way to handle that, as one of the guests–a totally reasonable request!

  • Beth E

    I think this sounds like it could use more discussion between the couple getting married. Maybe they can talk about the different likely scenarios and see if each person is still comfortable inviting everyone. What happens if Jason freaks out? What happen if Allison makes out with ex? Is that the kind of drama you want to risk at your wedding? I’m not inviting one of my aunts that I haven’t seen in years because she is an extreme drama – causer, and that’s not something we choose to invite to our celebration. It helps that she hasn’t made an effort to be in contact in a very long time, but I’m inviting people I miss that aren’t in great contact. It sounds like the LW and her fiancé aren’t totally in the same page, but they will both be subject to the consequences of this choice, whatever they turn out to be. And if all three are invited, I’d warn Jason for sure so that he can make an informed choice.

  • Jessica

    I think if I were not invited to my friend’s wedding because my ex and his new wife didn’t want me to be there, it would be a big signal to me that the couple doesn’t really want to be friends with me and I would stop putting any energy into maintaining a friendship beyond casual politeness.

    If I found out that the woman who my husband was unfaithful to me with was going to a wedding we were invited to, I would probably set some ground rules with him and ask that they don’t dance together (for example). If it turned out I was getting upset at seeing her there, I would make some polite excuse and leave with my spouse after wishing the happy newlyweds the best.

    • idkmybffjill

      This is how to be a grown up.
      Nailed it!

      • Jessica

        Turns out I’m in charge of my own behavior! Imagine that.

        I really don’t understand why this is a problem. I also don’t understand the idea of “taking sides” when it appears that no one has assaulted another person in any way or introduced toxic behavior into the friendships of the LW and Fiance.

        • idkmybffjill

          Pahahahaha, imagine that – indeed.

          And I completely agree.

          I also want to add – if I were Jason in this situation, I honestly would be mortified to think a person was being excluded because of me. Maybe that’s an uncommon feeling, but when I was cheated on in the past… that was between my partner and I. Was I besties with the girl he cheated with? Obviously, no… but if I found out she was being excluded from a mutual friends’ event because I would maybe feel sensitive about it? I’d be mortified and also think that all my friends must think I’m so completely fragile and unable to be an adult. That would hurt WAY more than her being invited.

          • This is a great point… And in addition to assuming a level of fragility that may not be there, not inviting someone who is connected to a lot of other people attending could also have the effect of airing his laundry or socially forefronting an issue he’d rather be putting behind him.

          • sofar

            Great point! I’d much prefer my friends assume I can act like an adult. Jason may be really embarrassed at his drunk-driving behavior and this would be another kick in the stomach to realize his friends don’t think he can behave appropriately at their wedding.

  • Nicole

    Okay, on one hand, I am totally on team “invite all adults and then expect them to behave as adults.” On the other hand, I have personal experience that might be relevant and serves as devil’s advocate. Because the truth is: not all adults act like adults all the time. Some adults do terrible things to each other, and for good and complicated reasons, you keep loving them and wanting them at your major life events anyway.

    Here is the scenario from my dramatic personal history that MIGHT be worth considering. Or not. It’s gonna be wordy so bear with me.

    Unspecified number of years ago: my fiancee (let’s call her Erin) had an emotional affair and freaked out about getting married. We broke off our engagement, broke up, and moved out of the house we lived in together. Erin had fallen for “April,” who she met through our three very good friends, who had been Erin’s roommates before she and I moved in together…and who April CURRENTLY lived with at the time. [Yes, this story is true.]

    Four months later, one of those other roommates (let’s call her Diane) was getting married, and all of us were obviously on the original invite list.

    And my friend Diane handled it BRILLIANTLY. I felt all kinds of ways about that wedding, everything from “i don’t want this to become about me” to “I really want to see Diane get married” to “I cannot be there if they are there (they were instantly a couple after we ended things)” to “I can’t ask my friend to rearrange her wedding for me but I don’t see any other way” blah blah blah. What Diane ended up doing (for which I will always be grateful,) was the following: April and Erin attended the rehearsal dinner (it was one of those big open ones everyone is invited to) and I attended the wedding. To my knowledge, they were largely okay with this. This was a good solution during a terrible time and in a ROUGH-ASS scenario for our friends to be in.

    I know this is not the same setup as yours, LW – I was more of a “victim” in this scenario than any one of the three people in your situation – but if you choose to take a more proactive role in regulating the drama, there is precedent for it working out alright. Good luck!!!

    • idkmybffjill

      I’m curious to know how Diane handled this? Did she just talk to you all separately?

      • penguin

        Also – were the roommates all invited to the wedding? Assuming yes, but curious. Did anyone comment on April and Erin not being invited, or was it just a non-issue?

        • Nicole

          Yes, definitely. These were all from a small, tight-knit group of friends from college. They were all also kind of relieved that April and Erin weren’t at the wedding itself.

      • Nicole

        Yes, she did. And it was actually her (and probably her fiancé’s) idea – I didn’t request that she handled it that way. I emphatically wanted her to decide what would be right for the two of them as the people getting married.

        • idkmybffjill

          Good for all of you for acting like grown ups!

  • Sara

    To me, It sounds like you really just want permission to push against your fiance’s desire to invite the ex. I would caution against that. Sure, it’s the easiest solution to your problem, but Jason is probably very aware that you’re going to invite this guy. He knows who your fiance’s friends are if you guys met through his and his wife’s social circles. I would still give him a heads up and reiterate how important he is to you, but he can make his own choice whether he wants to be there.
    If Allison is/was part of the Ex’s social circle (and I assume, your fiance’s social circle), it might be more awkward that Ex wasn’t invited and she’s at the wedding. And that’ll cause your fiance grief as well.

    Invite everyone, give everyone a heads up and then let them figure out what they want to do.

    • idkmybffjill

      Yes! This!!! When we make other people’s emotional decisions for them, we’re putting ourself in the middle of things that we don’t necessarily know everything about. Are the friends who got invited going to be super rude to Jason and Alison because they know she’s the reason Ex wasn’t invited? Is Jason going to be more embarrassed because he knows everyone there thinks this guy was excluded for his protection?

      Not LWs job.

  • BSM

    I think people are hashing out LW’s options much more thoroughly than I could in other comments, but I will say that 100 people is a pretty large group. I think if everyone comes, it won’t be that hard for them to avoid each other, if that’s something they’re interested in doing.

    • rg223

      This is a very key point for me. It’s not like this is a 10 person guestlist and ex and Jason HAVE to interact. I’ve been to smaller wedding than LW’s where I saw little of my friends (aka people I WANTED to see) just because we were seated at different tables.

      • BSM

        Yeah, there were 75 people at my wedding, and I, the bride, was able to avoid someone I didn’t want to deal with for the entirety of the event.

    • idkmybffjill

      This this this this this. And if (as it sounds like), these people really are in close social circles – they’re honestly pretty adept at navigating this specific avoidance.

    • A single sarah

      Heck, even with 10 people two people who don’t want to talk can avoid each other.

  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    Small but important point: The OP’s letter both says that everybody IS invited, and then talks about whether they all SHOULD BE invited. It’s not clear whether they’ve already been mailed/emailed/attached to a carrier pigeon and set aflight, but if you’ve already sent invites to all three people, it’s too late to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

    • idkmybffjill

      Ahhhh yes. This is excruciatingly important. If they’re invited it’s time to close your eyes and hope the Ex declines and this becomes moot!

  • Anon for this

    In a world where everyone on the planet has really strong mental health and is also able to control their emotions and behavior at all times, I would agree with Liz. And sure, I think if all three people involved are generally well behaved individuals, then sure! But IMO, there is too much missing information for one to declare which is the right path here. How does Jason typically handle stress (I assume not well, considering the DUI)? What are his feelings about the situation and the ex now? Where is he placing his anger, if there is still any? How is his overall mental health? How are he and his wife communicating about this?

    Story: I was Jason a while back. My ex-husband cheated on me a few times, with a few different women, and it took us a couple of years to actually break up. My mental health was not good, and while I think now I could handle being near one of the “other” women without it triggering a meltdown, that wasn’t the case back then. I know this because I once had to leave a Christmas party after I realized one of the women was present (they worked together), and then I went home and had a panic attack. There were additional contributing factors to this reaction (eg, my ex was a dick about the whole thing, etc), but the fact remained that I wasn’t super capable of dealing the way everyone here would hope for.

    Now, obviously my mental health is my own thing to manage. And of course it mortifies me to think that others would have had to walk on eggshells about this. But, I’m also incredibly close with my best friend, and would want to do anything to be at her wedding. And I would have been really, really hurt if I were in Jason’s position, and she had seen an obvious potential trigger for me, and decided to let things play out anyway without intervention. Because then I’d either have to skip the wedding or try not to have a breakdown all night.

    So, I guess all I’m saying is that I think there is just so much more nuance to be taken into account here, and both LW and fiancé should consider that nuance.

  • anon

    Firstly I should say that I believe:
    (1) they are all grown-ups and what happened between them is up to them to solve, specially between the married couple.
    (2) The infidelity is definitely Allison’s fault, since she was the one that promised to be faithful to Jason.

    BUT

    An affair is a terrible thing and has very negative consequences. Clearly this affected Jason very deeply (as we can guess considering his behaviour). If the affair happened around a year ago, I am sure Jason is still dealing with this and the couple is still working on their marriage. (I should also say that I admire Jason not only for forgiving but for being willing to work in the relationship).
    I treasure friendship a lot and I can assure you that I would do everything in my power not to hurt my best friend more than she has already been hurt. This means I would talk with fiance first and see what are the options and then talk to Jason to see how ok he is with facing Allison’s ex.

    If the ex is not a very close friend to fiance anymore, I would treasure my deep friendship with Jason. LW, please keep in mind while the ex didn’t do anything to you, he slept with your best friend’s wife. I believe people make choices and have to deal with the consequences of their choices.

    In the end, if your fiance is really keen on inviting his not-so-close-friend, he should, as we are talking about his wedding, but LW should be aware that Jason might feel uncomfortable/hurt/”betrayed” with this decision.

    (I wrote this comment based on my relationship with my best friend and how we would react and feel in these circumstances)

  • Mrrpaderp

    I feel for LW. Couple of thoughts in no particular order. 1) Stuff like this is the price of having a large-ish friend group. These groups tend to be pretty incestuous. That means not taking a position in other people’s interpersonal drama, even pretty awful things like infidelity, barring abuse*. 2) Fiance’s preference about the guest list trumps Jason’s preference about the guest list, again barring abuse. Sorry LW but you gotta be team fiance here. 3) Jason is an adult, not a passive victim. LW’s description of the drunk driving incident really highlighted the fact that she seems to see Jason as this poor sap who can’t control his own destiny. He’s not, he has agency and can make his own decisions. Let him do so.

    *Abuse is pretty much the only time you can (and should, imo) take a position on someone’s relationship. When one friend abuses the other, the friend group can’t sit back and be all, “We’ll just invite everyone and let them figure out their own shit!” That approach excludes the victim. You just can’t be a friend to a domestic violence survivor if you’re still friends with their abuser.

    • Yes on large-ish incestuous friend groups. Reading this I really felt for everyone involved, because having all your drama bouncing around a bunch of interconnected players can be the very worst.

      I disagree a little on taking positions on other people’s relationship. I have definitely had situations where I’ve become uninterested in staying friends or even being particularly friendly with someone based on how they treated people I care about — I stay polite and adult but “staying Switzerland” is an option, not a hard and fast obligation. However I DO agree involving yourself in other people’s drama is a fast track to mayhem & that fiance’s preference > Jason’s preference.

  • I think advice is spot on. If I were in this position I’d probably want to have a heart to heart (with my partner) with both sides here, separately. So LW + fiance + Jason + Alison, and then another chat with LW + fiance + ex.

    It’s nice to not only give the heads up, but to be like, “Hey, this is our special day and we’d really appreciate it if you could keep it chill for this day. We’ll do everything we can to keep you separated and enjoying yourselves, but we are also counting on you to be adults and not cause drama. It would mean a lot to us because we love you.” I think that could be extra motivation for both parties to be on their best behavior, and gives them time to mentally prep for the day.

  • Honestly, if you knowingly fuck a married person and the worst consequence you suffer is not getting to attend a not-even-that-close friend’s wedding and maybe some shame that your whole friend group knows that the affair is the reason, I’m…fine with that? Like, yeah, Alison owns the betrayal but…come on. I can’t imagine the friend would be *that* hurt by not getting invited, and even if he were, like…that’s not a defensible position to take. “Can you believe this shit?! I fucked this guy’s wife a year ago, and now the guy’s best friend doesn’t really want me at her wedding!” Like…no. Come on. Again, I cannot imagine the friend would say that (assuming he’s a somewhat reasonable adult human) but if he did, that’s just not a reaction that should be treated as valid.

  • Jennifer

    So I’m the LW with the love triangle dilemma. It’s the first time I’ve written into APW so I really appreciate all the feedback! I do want to be clear because I think some may have thought that I was considering UNinviting Alison’s ex to the wedding. No one has been invited at this time. Invitations have been ordered and will be mailed out in about a month which is what caused this conversation to happen between myself and my fiancé regarding his friend. We aren’t doing Save the Dates.

    I do think I am a little judgmental towards Alison. I’m not going to try to excuse it. I will say that there’s much more to her and Jason’s relationship that contributes to my perception of her that I won’t dive into as it’s not my business to spread their shit all over the Internet. I will say that Jason and Alison are not only working through this particular infidelity but over various kinds of betrayals. TBH, I will continue to judge Alison because I’ve seen firsthand the things that she’s done and said to Jason and I know Jason well enough (and for long enough) to have a feeling as to why he has chosen to stay in this particular issue which I would characterize as emotionally abusive, if not physically. If I had the option of not inviting Alison, I would, but they are married so it is what it is.

    But I also did partly feel that my fiancé was not considering my feelings on this matter. There is no question that he is not very close to this friend. They do not see each other outside of this group of friends and this friend (I’m going to call him Mark to make it easier) tends to flake out so my fiancé hasn’t seen him in several months. I could easily see him rsvp’ing to the wedding and then not showing up which is another thorn in my side… also it’s important to note that Jason is also the godfather to our baby. So while I’m closer to him as a friend, he’s still an important person to our family as a whole. (Alison is not the godmother)

    However, since I sent in this letter, my fiancé and I have discussed in detail and I think we see each other’s views a LITTLE more clearly. I do think the advice that I should talk to Jason and not assume how he will feel is sound advice. If he tells me that he’s going to feel some type of way if Mark is at our wedding and may not come, I think I need to have a deeper conversation with my fiancé.

    • MTM

      I think you should invite them all, but if I’m Jason, I’m going solo to this wedding and leaving Allison at home.

      • idkmybffjill

        oh ding ding ding!! didn’t even consider this!

  • eas56

    I feel like all this boils down to two simple questions:

    1- What is Jason’s reaction to the information that Alison’s ex is invited to the wedding?
    This is Jason’s problem, and he needs to decide how to handle it. Everyone agrees that the LW should give him a heads up about this situation. So tell him, let him talk with Alison, and ask him where he is on a scale of “whatevs, I just won’t talk to him if he attends” to “My mental health can’t take that right now.” If it’s anything close to the first, problem solved. If not….

    2- How important is it to LW that Jason attends and how much is she willing to fight for him? Is Jason one of LW’s few close friends? Does he have a role in the wedding?
    Now, and only now, does it becomes the LW’s turn to decide on a course of action. There isn’t a right answer, but there are many solutions that LW can pick after talking to her fiancee.

    • Jennifer

      LW here again. I did speak with Jason. And, like I anticipated, he told me that he would be incredibly uncomfortable with Alison’s ex (Mark) there. He said that it’s not like he wouldn’t come at all, but he would likely leave super early and it would be upsetting to him. He also informed me that part of his concern is that currently him and Alison are doing very well. However, they’ve never had a long period of time where things were just roses and daisies. The last streak they had where things were going well was right before Alison cheated on him. In fact, it was seeing Mark again at the home of another mutual friend that prompted Alison and Mark to begin communicating again which is what they had gone to a party where Alison’s ex was and that is what eventually led to the infidelity. So Jason is worried that that might happen again if Alison sees her ex at our wedding. That along with the fact that he’s head over heels in love with Alison and her cheating on him jacked him up for a really long time.
       
      My fiancé and I had a long talk about it after I had lunch with Jason. We both acknowledge that Jason is truly the only innocent party out of everyone involved and that we both care about him. My fiancé also acknowledges the fact that I would be devastated if Jason was upset by a reminder of his wife’s infidelity at our wedding and ended up leaving early. It would ruin the day for me. Which would in turn ruin the day for Jason.

      We both also agree that it’s incredibly unfair that this is decision that has been placed on us. I think that is what my fiancé is struggling with the most. He’s pissed at Alison for what he calls her “constant stream of piss poor decisions” which I get, I truly do… However, Alison did not cheat on Jason by herself. Mark also made the decision to knowingly enter into a sexual relationship with a married woman. In addition, he knew that Alison and him had mutual friends in common and would likely run into each other. Plus, he knew or should’ve known that I am really good friends with Jason and he still decided to participate in this mess. So I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him due to his shitty decision making.

      Anyway we haven’t come up with a final solution but I think that we are both leaning towards asking Mark not to come to the wedding.

  • Jennifer

    We decided to not invite the ex. I appreciate the advice given but I feel like it’s what I call “in a perfect world” and our reality is that inviting all 3 to the wedding would not work and would lead to the worst outcome. My fiancé feels much better about this decision once we talked about it pretty extensively.