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My Future SIL Is The Only One Not Following The Rules

It's the newest type of pre-wedding family drama

Q: Hey APW,
I’m riddled with anxiety, and I need to know if I’m wrong here… We are having a COVID-conscious wedding in about two months, after delaying our original pandemic-delayed plans. With increasing cases and this most recent drop of the travel mask restrictions, I’m worried about what’s coming. But my real conundrum is a family issue.

My fiancé’s sister & her kids are all unvaccinated. They’ve all had Covid (a few of them twice). I have a family member who has cancer and is in treatment, and we have a few friends with babies who can’t be vaxxed yet. Despite this, my future SIL refuses to get any of her family vaccinated.

Here’s the kicker… my fiancé and I are footing the bill to fly them to our wedding, and for their lodging, because she couldn’t afford it (this is fine and was a choice we made). What I am not feeling okay with is that they are the only non-vaccinated people coming to our entire wedding. My fiancé doesn’t have a ton of family and is super defensive of them when it comes to our wedding plans, which I’m trying to understand. But, I feel conflicted and worried, and I truly have no idea what to do at this point… I need help.

—Stressed Out Sister-In-Law

A: Hey Sister,

First of all, I’ll say what I always say… I see you, and I’m sorry. It’s not been super common for folks in the past to need to stress quite this much, in quite this way, about how to enjoy their wedding while also keeping the people they love safe from a virus. This is, despite being two years in, still pretty uncharted territory.

The other thing at play here is the parts that are sort of always at play in wedding planning… new family dynamics, hard (read: impossible) conversations with your soon-to-be-spouse. My hunch is that if it weren’t their vaccination statuses we were talking about, your new family might be causing you some strife in another way (like difficulty around the travel you’re paying for, or strong opinions about your invite list, or something else annoying).

So… now some advice light. I doubt I have anything to say that you haven’t heard, thought of, or tried by now, but I’ll try. First stop, a serious conversation with your partner.  It’s high time you get down to brass tacks about your fears, concerns for your family and friends, and how bending your comfort and wedding ‘rules’ for his handful of family members is causing you serious stress about your day and the aftermath. If your partner hasn’t already, it might be time they have a very serious heart-to-heart with their sister, and try once more to ask for her to compromise. Then, overall, you and your partner will need to decide what your firm boundaries are because right now it seems that you have boundaries set up for your wedding, and then they’re being dismantled for a few people.

Perhaps it’s that you demand that SIL and her kiddos have PCR testing done when they get to town, perhaps it’s that SIL and her family need to wear masks indoors at your wedding… whatever it is, it’s up to you and your fiancé to set those boundaries and hold them. It’s the worst, and I’m sorry you’re having to do it. Keep breathing, be gentle with yourself and your partner, and know that nothing you’re feeling is wrong.

Hugs, and good luck.

—Alyssa

What do you think, APW? How would you handle a stubborn SIL, a constant feeling of worry, and a quickly approaching wedding? Stressed Out Sister-In-Law could use all the help she can get. 

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