Should I Cut The Wedding Guest Who’s Making An Ultimatum?

We just don't want kids at our wedding

Q: We are getting married and both have large families. We decided to trim the guest list by inviting only the four children who are my first cousins, and are all ages eleven to thirteen. We didn’t invite the children of any other guests, and told one of my cousins and one of my fiancé’s cousins that they could not bring their infants to the wedding.

Then, another one of my fiancé’s cousins called him up to say that he had assumed he could bring his two kids (ages eight and ten), and would not come to the wedding unless we allow them to come as well. He claims that they have never been left with anyone for a full weekend, and he’s unwilling to do it now.

I would say no without hesitation—and my parents (who are contributing a lot financially) would like me to say no—except for two things: 1) This cousin was set to help us out with a specific wedding tradition that is important to my fiancé, and 2) many of fiancé’s family members are not making the trip to my hometown for the wedding, so I am reluctant to cut that number down even further. Help!

—Anonymous

A: I’m wondering why your first instinct is to say no. Is it because you don’t want to wiggle your rules? Because of the expense? Because you’re annoyed that he asked?

You could read this as an ultimatum, as a, “I’m not coming unless you cave to my wishes.” Or you could read it as this cousin leveling with you, letting you know that he really can’t come unless his kids can. That first one is annoying. The second is just plain, frank logistics.

You haven’t mentioned at all how your partner feels about this, and it’s his family. He picked this cousin to help with a specific tradition, which I’m assuming means he’s important to him. Your partner probably has an opinion. These aren’t decisions that are made according to stark black lines or holding folks up to politeness standards; they’re made with respect to honoring your relationships. Does your partner really want this guy there? And this guy can only be there if his kids can come? Then let the kids come. There’s something about kids that makes everyone freak out a little bit. As if, by letting one middle schooler sneak past, you’ll accidentally find yourself with a ballroom full of screaming toddlers. And you guys already have other kids coming!

Think about it the way you would other prohibitive wedding logistics. If a really important person can only be there if you pay her way, you do what you can to pay her way. It doesn’t mean you have to change the rules for everyone else, that you’re being unfair to all the guests whose trip you didn’t cover. It means that you’re not squeezing your relationships into wedding day boxes that don’t fit.

If this cousin is important to your partner, do what you can to make sure he can be at your wedding.

And guys, we’ve already covered how I feel about excluding infants.

—Liz Moorhead

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