We Gave My Stepson $3K and He Uninvited Us from the Wedding


They didn't want us involved to begin with

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

wedding party outside at the reception

Q: My stepson and his fiancée invited my husband and me to their wedding. They didn’t want us to pay for anything because they didn’t want our names to be associated with any of the items from the wedding, i.e. paying for the rehearsal dinner, the alcohol for the bar, etc. The divorce between my husband and his ex-wife was not good. The strained relationship has been an issue for their wedding because they’re concerned that the ex’s family will not be kind to my husband or me. Therefore we decided to be generous in our gifts to them. We gave them $3,000 worth of gifts for the wedding and the shower. Now they’ve decided to dis-invite us to the wedding after they received all of our gifts. Do you think they should return the gifts? Do you think they should at least give us the money back that we spent on the gift if they wish to keep the gifts? I also personally paid $400 for gifts for the guests of the shower that was given by my stepson’s fiancé’s mother. I believe she should return that to me as well. Curious what you think.

—Anonymous

A: Dear Anonymous,

Nope nope nope.

You don’t get to expect gifts back once they’ve been given. Maybe they’re being rude by canceling your invitation, but that’s not solved by sending the gifts back. And you certainly shouldn’t ask for them.

It sounds just a bit like you were trying to buy yourself some good will. Family dynamics can be weird anyway, and then you add in a wedding and some past divorces, and sure. It can get hairy. But you don’t smooth that over by throwing money at them. Based on your email, it sounds like this couple specifically said they didn’t want to further complicate things by involving your money. Rather than hearing that and respecting it, you decided to try to heap piles of cash onto the mess and expect that to fix everything. That’s just not how it works.

I stand pretty firmly in the “no uninviting” camp, but who knows what’s going on over there. (All I’ve got is some deets about your presents.) Assuming that they’re just revoking the invitation for no good reason, that’s terrible! It’s rude and it’s disappointing. But you can’t control other people’s bad choices. And asking for the gifts back would be your own bad choice.

There are things money just can’t solve, as you found out. It certainly didn’t help you buy your way into good standing with family. And now, having it returned to you isn’t going to fix the fact that you’re not invited, or any of the deeper issues the uninviting represents.

Forget about the gifts (I know, I know. Three grand isn’t easy to overlook). Focus on this invitation and why your stepson suddenly finds it important that you not attend his wedding, now that you already took out your checkbook.

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

Liz Moorhead

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

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  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    Mom’s side of the family is mean, so they disinvite Dad’s side? Is that the only reason they gave? I get that the LW’s question was about the etiquette on retuning gifts and not solving the family dynamic, but at face value this sounds like a super weird situation.

    • Ashlah

      I have a feeling there’s a lot more going on, about which the letter writer is either oblivious, or choosing not to share with us.

      • Lisa

        Yes, this was my thought as well.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        This is exactly what I was implying, but couldn’t think of a way to say as much without sounding like I was attacking the LW. I am super curious about what’s going on!

      • up_at_Dawn

        Perhaps that the LW and her husband’s relationship is the reason for the not-so-congenial divorce of the groom’s parents?

        Throwing money at it (or asking for gifts back) probably isn’t going to improve the situation.

        • z

          Indeed. The LW’s omission of any explanation is telling. And you can’t really enter a family via infidelity and then start playing Rules of Etiquette cards when you don’t get a warm reception.

          • up_at_Dawn

            The LW also seems less than concerned about her husband’s relationship with his CHILD. Which you think would be the priority here.

          • K.

            There are LOTS of reasons for acrimonious divorces. We don’t really have any evidence that LW’s relationship with her husband began as an affair.

        • Amy March

          Wow. That’s a huge leap from the letter.

          • up_at_Dawn

            You’re right. There were very little details present and could be many reasons for a less than congenial divorce between the groom to be’s parents.

    • Eenie

      The family dynamics of this situation is really weird (I agree), but the gift etiquette is very straightforward – and Liz nailed it.

      I hope the stepson decides to change his mind, and not asking for the gifts back keeps that possibility in play. If not in an invitation to the wedding, to a future reconciliation at some point.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        Agreed. Gifts are given, and then they’re gone.

  • If the wedding is called off it’s rather rude for the couple to keep wedding gifts. ‘Pretty sure that’s the etiquette thing to do…but guests still can’t ask for their gift back.

    It’s probably also the etiquette-wise thing to do for this couple to return the gifts to the stepparents, but two wrongs don’t make a right and you can’t ask for gifts back. ‘Just give them a considerable amount of side eye in the future and be a little more fiscally conservative with any future gifts to them…

    • Ashlyn

      No one said the wedding was called off… rather, the dad and step-mom were uninvited.

      • Totch

        I think byov was just drawing a parallel to another situation where people would be uninvited. Even in the event of a cancellation where it’s expected that you return gifts, asking for a gift back would be impolite.

        • toomanybooks

          Yes – and that would mean gifts were given in celebration of something that never ended up happening. The wedding is still happening, they just aren’t invited – but it seems like they kind of knew they were giving the gifts to curry favor and it didn’t work out that way.

      • Totch is right, I was drawing a parallel between an as-close-as-possible comparable event. It’s a somewhat similar situation, dealing with gifts and guests being uninvited.

  • Lisa

    Wow. It sounds like you took the money you would have spent on the wedding on gifts for the couple favors for the shower in a way to make up for the face that your stepson and fiancé didn’t want to deal with the family politics of you contributing directly to the wedding. Maybe they knew all along that they were planning to uninvite you, and maybe they didn’t. Maybe your presents played a role. Or maybe they didn’t. Now is the time for your husband (not you) to have an honest conversation with his son and find out what can be done to repair the relationship on both sides. (And I wouldn’t throw anymore money at this problem. Clearly that’s not something the couple is going to respond well to.)

    • toomanybooks

      I get the feeling that the son’s mom and dad had a hard divorce (and that maybe the dad was at fault) and the son mostly lived with/is closer to his mom, and that his mom wasn’t excited about being at the wedding with the dad and the son probably knew that but not to the extent that he later found out/realized/decided it was a dealbreaker and it really would be too uncomfortable to have both the mom and the dad in the same place. Which is why they didn’t want any money tying them to the wedding to begin with and why they aren’t invited now. (I almost wonder, even, if invitations hadn’t gone out yet but everyone assumed the LW and husband would be at the wedding because they’re family, only to have it made clear later that they weren’t invited at all.) But I can kind of see how a messy family situation can lead to an uninvited situation. It makes a lot more sense to me than something like “I sent this friend a save the date but now we don’t really hang out anymore so I don’t want to send her an invitation.”

      • Lisa

        I was wondering this, too. It would make sense that maybe the couple was trying to sort out the odd dynamic prior to sending out the invitations and decided to handle it this way without having a follow-up conversation with the father/stepmother to let them know why. Poor communication abounds.

      • GpedJane

        Yes, but these are the times as the parent you need to suck it up and put on your adult pants and be in the same room as your ex, whoever’s fault it is. There will be many occasions moving forward past the wedding where these situations are going to continue to come up.

        • Amy March

          Sure. But if the other parent didn’t, in this circumstance, that still doesn’t mean the couple have to return the gifts.

          • GpedJane

            I think they should offer them back, I don’t think that she should ask for them back. They should at least open up communication about the situation instead of just leaving them hanging.

          • Amy March

            There is no situation. They aren’t hanging. When you give a gift it is gone. That’s how gifts work, and it is the essential quality which differentiates them from loans.

          • clarkesara

            YAAASSSSSS

            It really sucks to be the “kid” in this situation, because you’re really just trying to live as a normal person in the world, and do something everybody else gets to do (get married), while your family battles over your head and now YOU’RE the one who doesn’t get a gift, or who has to not invite someone you otherwise like, or has to smooth over other people’s feelings, or return something that turned out to have strings attached, or let your wedding be pretty far from what you would have otherwise chosen because of what will work for your feuding parents. So, yeah, the best thing to do if you’re in the parent role is to put on your big girl/boy pants and let it go so that the bride and groom can maybe have a sliver of a chance of enjoying themselves. Not everything is about you and how much you hate your ex.

          • z

            Exactly. It’s not the child’s obligation to run around trying to compensate for the complexities of divorce, on top of everything else children and adult children of divorce have to go through. Planning a wedding is difficult enough already.

            Now that I’m thinking about it, the LW’s lack of empathy for her stepson and fiancee kind of jumps out at me. There isn’t anything about how difficult it must be to grow up in this kind of circumstance, or how unpleasant and complicated it is to have to mediate between one’s parents, or how tough it is for the fiancee to be thrown into a complicated situation. It’s all about LW and what she feels she is owed.

        • z

          It sounds to me like the couple was trying to manage a difficult family dynamic, but then threw up their hands and disinvited the dad and stepmom for reasons we don’t know, but may be related to the perceived boundary-pushing and string-attaching of the gifts, or perhaps the omissions in the LW’s account.

          My divorced parents are both difficult, and people always tell me they should be adults about it, but what good is that advice to me? They won’t change their behavior, so sometimes I have to choose between them, and I often choose whichever one is being less of a pain in the ass at the moment.

        • Notreallytrevor

          Where can you buy adult pants? I need some for FM&FIL, 20 years post divorce. Still so hard!

          • Pidge

            On the one hand, I must acknowledge that not all divorces are finalized quickly… my parents were in court renegotiating the terms of child support until my sister graduated from college, some 17 years after the initial separation in 1998. They haven’t been able to move past that until the last year or so.

            On the other hand, I absolutely made it clear to my dad that he was going to have to find some grownup pants if he wants to participate in my adult life. If I have a kid, I’m not doing two of everything (holidays, birthdays, milestones) to keep my parents apart like they did for everything in my life. I think it startled him to think beyond the wedding to the marriage (and potential grandchildren) and realize that he would miss out on a lot if he continued to prioritize his resentment of my mother over his relationship with me. I have a slight advantage, being the only child who wants to have children, so ymmv with a similar approach, but it definitely worked for me (so far).

      • Well…if you’re invited to the showers, it’s heavily implied that you will be invited to the wedding.

        • Violet

          Yeah, but just so, so many question marks as to whether LW even technically invited to the shower. I can totally see a scenario unfolding where fiance’s mom is planning it, LW reaches out to say, “How can I help? Here, I’ll buy this and that!” and fiance’s mom, not knowing any differently about the family dynamics, accepts the help and LW gets a de facto “co-host” role. Not anything malicious, mind you, but I could see it playing out that way. We just don’t know. Sure, maybe she was invited to the shower too, but maybe not.

    • S

      I agree that spending a lot of money on gifts sounds fairly innocent to me with the limited context we have. Everyone is saying, “But you were asked not to do that!” No, they were asked not to financially contribute to the wedding. Seems fair, lots of reasons for that – maybe they didn’t want Step-Mom and Dad to buy a say, maybe they’re avoiding hurt feelings from Mom, etc, etc. But they didn’t contribute to the wedding. They decided to gift generously. If I were in a similar position, I might do something similar – I’d feel guilty that I couldn’t contribute to my child’s wedding, I would want to take the financial pressure off what is an expensive time for my child, and I’d give them the money I was prepared to give them for the wedding in a different way. The problem isn’t that they gave gifts. They were never asked not to and theoretically I think it’s perfectly logical and generous. The problem is that Stepson and Fiance clearly picked up on what all us letter-readers are picking up on – that these gifts aren’t just gifts, they’re a giant red flag, a way to make someone else “owe” you something. NOPE. Not how presents work.

      • Violet

        Yes. The LW and her husband were following the “letter of the law” by not financially contributing to the wedding, but clearly were not following the “spirit of the law,” because what ended up happening is clearly what stepson and fiance were trying to avoid- money/items of significant monetary value being used as pawns in what is ultimately a problematic relationship. The relationship needs to be worked on, and no amount of money or gifts was going to fix it. As LW is now observing.

        • S

          Oh, totally agree that Stepson was trying to rightly avoid this exact scenario. I really think it’s just too hard to judge exactly what’s happened here without more information. I just think that it’s possible Stepson didn’t articulate exactly what he meant or minced his words a little to sound nicer (i.e very likely he said something along the lines of, “We don’t want you to give us money towards the wedding because of tricky relationships! You get it!”, instead of what he meant, i.e “We have grave concerns about how are trying to insert yourself into this wedding by throwing things at us and making us feel like we owe you, which has been a pattern of yours for many years”) and LW and husband truly thought they were playing by his rules. If that’s the case, the fact that LW and husband are now being lousy by wanting the presents back AFTER they were uninvited is irrelevant to whether they did anything wrong in the first place by gifting them. Stepson didn’t know they were going to want the gifts back when he uninvited them for giving him some fancy blenders or whatever, which is totally their right to do. (Again, we need more information about what happened. I would very likely completely disagree with everything I just typed if we had more context.)

  • Amy March

    So agree with Liz. They told you no, you did it anyway, and now they are mad. And the fact that you are even contemplating asking the brides mother for money back? Disturbing.

    • Totch

      The bride’s mother part is really interesting. I agree that no matter what, asking for money back is the wrong play.

      But were these guest gifts offered by letter writer out of the blue, or did she actively coordinate the party with the bride’s mother? Was she a guest at the party, treated like a cohost, uninvited from that too?

      I can understand a bit more if you expected to cohost an event and were then uninvited , because then the $400 is more ‘operating budget’ than gift. But I think the message LW received from the start is that the bride and groom didn’t want LW to contribute to the event budget, so she was warned.

      • Amy March

        Sounds to me like that shower has come and gone.

        • z

          Yeah, it’s over. You can’t expect to be reimbursed for gifts TO OTHER PEOPLE that the fiancee maybe didn’t even want or ask for or even have advance notice of. She doesn’t even have those gifts anymore. They’re gone. Don’t give gifts to shower guests if you’re going to be like that about it!

      • Yeah, I find the shower thing weird. Did they cohost? Did the MOB ask the LW to contribute to the party by providing gifts for the guests*? Or did LW come to the party with gifts without having been asked? If they cohosted, I can see how LW might view it as part of the budget, and be frustrated by the financial loss, but those gifts were for showers guests, shower guests attended, shower guests took them away. All social expectations were fulfilled by the guests receiving those gifts. Unless MOB took such offence at the shower gifts that she was the one to demand LW be uninvited, she’s not really part of the whole issue.

        *also, is this a thing? We don’t have showers in the UK, but the impression I always got was gifts were going to the Bride, not the other way around. It’s one thing to have a few prizes or a goodie bag (though it’s a little bit children’s birthday party if you’re giving everyone a balloon and a slice of cake to take away) but $400 seems like a lot to spend unless it was a huge event.

  • Mrrpaderp

    This letter took a really unexpected turn. If my kid (step or otherwise) uninvited me from his wedding, the last thing on my mind would be, “But the presents!” It seems like LW is focusing all her hurt and pain on some tangible “right” instead of addressing the really messy emotional stuff. Let the money/gifts go and try to figure out how to bridge this rift with son, which will probably include a lot of apologizing and absolutely zero blame-shifting. Your relationship with him is worth far more than $3k.

    • louise danger

      my mom deals with conflicts and big, problem emotions in a similar way. it’s really hurtful and i’m still, several years later, not over it despite professional assistance and other steps taken. (mom reaction to my engagement ending: “what will my friends think/say?!” dad reaction: “well, i’m very sorry to hear that. and i know your mom is upset. let me call the store for you so you don’t have to, and see if we can get some of the money back.” mom continued reaction a month later: “do you think you can make it work?”)

      money is money. you only get one [specific child].

      • Jess

        This sounds like a set of conversations my parents would have with me. (I’m not over it either, several years, two emotional breakdowns, and many therapists later)

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    • clarkesara

      I’ve seen this a lot with step parents of adult children, where they had no hand in raising the person in question and may not have an in-person relationship at all beyond having met a few times or once a year for the holidays or the like. The situation as a whole is about way more than money, but from this person’s perspective, that’s really their only involvement. Which is why this stuff gets so hairy.

      • That, and if you’re a RULES PERSON, having someone hurt you and then break THE RULES is an extra intense experience.

        • Violet

          I think LW is genuinely hurt, and she’s displacing her hurt feelings onto whether or not the couple is breaking any etiquette rules. Which, anyone can debate that, but what really needs to happen is for the relationship to be worked on. Which definitely ain’t gonna happen if she starts asking for gifts/money back. No way.

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            Pain manifests in all sorts of weird ways. Sometimes it’s anger, sometimes it’s hyper focus on etiquette.

  • Eenie

    Putting a plug in here for parents deciding how much is within their means to contribute, and just giving it to the couple no strings attached several months before the actual wedding as their gift. Both of our parents did this, and it was such a wonderful gift. Nobody but us knows who contributed what amount of money.

    • Totch

      My folks did the same, said it was because of the wedding but we could use it on. Whatever we wanted (and specified that that included student loans – it didn’t need to be for fun or for something tangible).

      It was greatly appreciated. We’ve put my savings, fiance’s savings, and parent contributions in one pot, and it means that we don’t need to agonize about moving money around so that theirs is only spent on the wedding vs. the honeymoon vs. student loans (we decided all wedding surplus is going to loans).

    • Sosuli

      Yep, both our sets of parents did this too (MIL had specific things she wanted it to toward, but wasn’t pushy about choosing) and neither knew what the other put in – turned out to be pretty much the same figure!

    • penguin

      This is what I wish my future in-laws would do. When we got engaged they immediately offered to pay/help pay, which is fantastic. They said they would get back to us with a number, but now they are saying that we should plan the wedding we want, and then come talk to them about the cost. Any time we try to talk to them about it, they say this whole thing about how they don’t want us to stress and they want us to have our ideal wedding. I think they are trying to be helpful, but it’s actually MORE stressful because we can’t plan around what they are/might be contributing.

      • Eenie

        I honestly wouldn’t plan on their contributions coming through. Plan based on what you feel comfortable with spending of your own money. Sometimes people really want to contribute money, but they don’t have as much as they would like to be able to contribute. But they don’t want to say that, so they over promise and never deliver. So, stop talking to them about the money. Assume the contribution is zero.

        Then, if any money comes in from the future in laws, you can move whatever money you had set aside to your emergency fund, vacation fund, future child fund, or whatever. Or maybe the will want to pay for something specific, and you’ll choose to let them do that because it makes them happy (rehearsal, upgraded bar, etc).

        • penguin

          Yep that’s our plan. It’s funny because I think they want/expect us to plan this big lavish thing, which we can’t afford if we’re funding it 100% on our own (hey student loans). So we’ll plan something small-ish and simple, and I’m fully expecting them to come back at some point and give us a hard time about it. If they want it fancier, they’d have to pitch in a concrete number.

          • Eenie

            Yup, we were in the same position! If you wanted a more lavish affair if they contributed, it might be worthwhile to try one last time and be very upfront. Tell them you’re not going to be spending beyond your means, but if they were still wanting to contribute you need to know exactly how much before everything gets set in stone. And perhaps you SO can have this talk alone? Money is weird and maybe they don’t want to be as transparent with you there. Good luck! It can be so frustrating sometimes.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        This was the exact conversation I had with my mom. “Well how much does a wedding cost? What do they cost per head?” No, you don’t understand, I am not planning a damned thing until I know what my budget is, and we will squish all of the heads into that budget.

        • penguin

          Yep we went around in circles on this for a bit. My fiancé has had multiple conversations with them about the budget trying to get a straight answer, and they are still being vague. My favorite was when they said we should plan, then come to them and talk through everything and they’ll see what they can contribute. I talked to my fiancé and we very firmly NOPED out of having to discuss every detail with them and “get permission” or whatever before they put any money in (if they ever do).

  • lamarsh

    This reminds me of the old therapy maxim that monetary gifts are not the same as emotional support. It feels like the stepson and his fiancee could have used the latter here, and not the former.

  • Jane

    Agree with the advice in general, but wanted to point out that you especislly can’t expect money back from your step-son’s fiance’s mother. Nothing you’ve said has suggested she was involved in the decision to uninvite you. Or that she asked you to pay for the gifts for her guests in the first place.

    I’m also curious about the cause and effect here. They said we don’t want your money because money complicates things and these relationships are strained, “so” you decided to give them really expensive presents?

    And was the decision not to invite you and your husband related to the gifts? Or did something else happen? Because you don’t seem to have a problem with them uninviting you if they would return the gifts. Maybe you just see the revoked invitation as final and out of your control?

    Where is your husband on all of this? Does he want the gifts back? Is he mostly hurt about the lack of invitation or the lack of gratitude that the uninviting suggests?

    It sounds like, in addition to the relationship between your husband and his ex being strained, the relationship between your husband and his son is strained. And it’s not clear if you have a relationship with your step-son at all. But your relationship, presumably, will continue with this couple long after the wedding. So, I’d think about what your goal for that relationship is and how you can get there.

    • Jane

      Also – not trying to dump on the LW here. I’ve got some extended family that try to use money to control and this definitely struck a nerve.

      • Jess

        Same. My mom tries to buy love/forgiveness with presents, which has made me feel incredibly icky about big presents from all people.

  • laddibugg

    I’d put money on his other set of parents saying that they wouldn’t pay anymore if LW and her husband were invited.

    • K.

      I mean, yeah, maybe? I think this is one of those letters that’s so, so easy to project your own biases on. Mostly because the information presented feels hole-ridden, to say the least, and it’s in our natures’ to fill them in with our own preconceived notions about these kinds of conflicts. I think each reader’s own experiences makes it more or less likely to assume things about either the couple, Mom’s side of the family, and/or the LW and her husband themselves.

      • toomanybooks

        Yeah, but to be fair, at the same time there is some information presented even though it doesn’t put the LW & husband in the best light, like she did admit that her husband had had a bad divorce with her stepson’s mother and that the engaged couple specifically told them they didn’t want to take money from them and get entangled in the politics there. Which makes me really inclined to say that no, she does not get her money back (of course).

      • laddibugg

        Oh, I definitely agree about biases…and assumptions.

        The fact that they were initially invited, spent money between the space between that and being uninvited, is what made me wonder if there was an ultimatum given at some point. We don’t know what happened in that space at all.

        • K.

          Yeah, TBH, my response was originally going to be more about my thoughts on the LW and husband’s actions, when I realized it was toooootal conjecture so I erased it and wrote the above!

          I actually like the conversations that these kinds of letters can bring up, but they can also be frustrating in the lack of definitive answers (and, maybe more compassionately, it’s also easier to forget that a real person wrote it sometimes). Overall, the etiquette advice is spot on, but the dynamics stuff is both complex, difficult and ultimately incomplete.

      • Violet

        You’re so right. I’m projecting all over this letter, because there are so many question marks.

  • As much as that totally sucks, I agree: gifts are gifts. You don’t return the jewelry an ex bought you after you break up, it’s not something you only get to have as long as you’re dating—otherwise, that’s just like a prettier form of blackmail.

    I totally understand that I don’t totally understand the situation, and I do think it’s pretty crazy they’ve extended and invitation and now taken it away…but what would make them want to do that? I do think the focus should be on repairing the relationship and having some honest talks to figure that out, since it’s a drastic move that they clearly felt was best for their big day.

    Good luck <3

    • Actually, it’s not exactly how gift etiquette works. The couple does not get to imply that certain guests are invited, accept gifts from those guests, and then not invite those guests. It is quite rude for them to imply that you’re invited, when you’re not, and get gifts from being misleading. However, in this case, the “we don’t want your money” thing might be implying that the father+stepmom is not invited/wanted…but then why would the fiancee’s mother take shower gift money? It’s ambiguous who was lead on here.

      If you accept wedding gifts and then your wedding is cancelled, the proper thing to do is to return all those wedding gifts to the givers. However, it’s pretty damn rude to *ask* for the gift you gave to be returned in this situation (two wrongs do not make a right). My main point being here: wedding/shower gifts are not the same thing as a person-to-person gift exchange. It’s contingent on a particular event happening.

      • I suppose the way I see it is that a wedding gift and a wedding invitation don’t depend on one another. Personally, I don’t expect everyone I’m inviting to get me a gift—and giving me a gift to say “yay you’re getting married!” doesn’t lock in an invite to my wedding. Of course, this particular situation is hairy because LW was *already* under the impression she was going to the wedding…but the event is still happening…it just seems that maybe LW was uninvited due to going against the bride + grooms wishes (?) or whatever other underlying issues there may be.

        I do totally agree with you though—definitely poor form to invite someone (anyone) and then un-invite them to a wedding. And I can’t even begin to imagine how hurtful this must be to LW and her husband. But I also agree with Liz’s response that the returning of the gifted money should be low on the totem pole compared to figuring out *why* LW was uninvited and trying to repair that relationship.

        • Violet

          I’m with you, in that I see giving a gift and being invited as highly correlated, but not always directly linked. My coworkers threw me a lovely little office shower and got me a gift, and they never once thought they were invited. I would not expect all our guests to give us gifts, because going to a wedding does not obligate one to also give a gift. Do being invited and giving a gift often go hand-in-hand? Yes. Must they? No.

  • Sarah

    Am I the only one who thinks the bride and groom definitely should return the money. If they can’t do it right away, they should definitely come up with a payment plan with the parents to do so. Honestly, if there was someone I had a rocky relationship with, I would feel uncomfortable accepting that kind of money. And if they gave it anyway, I wouldn’t spend it until after the wedding was over.

    I feel like this is sort of like an engagement ring. If the relationship falls apart, etiquette says I return it. Same with the wedding gifts. I’m pretty sure the letter writer gave that money thinking that they would be invited to the wedding. I don’t know if they can ask for it back, but it certainly would be appropriate for the couple to return it.

    It honestly doesn’t matter if the LW is completely innocent, or if she completely deserves to be uninvited.

    • Lisa

      What the couple should do is separate from what the LW can request them to do. Once a gift is given, it’s gone and not hers to request back. She can’t ask for compensation now without causing a deeper rift between her husband and his child.

    • Anon

      I think the polite thing would be to return the money (if that was the gift), or the gifts themselves. But the letter was about what the gift giver could do, and etiquette certainly sides on, nothing you can do once the gift is given.

      • Eenie

        I seriously question this “return the gifts mentality” though. Have you ever returned a gift to someone? I was quite concerned that either of our parents would want to contribute beyond their means to our weddings. We have a great relationship with both, and I failed to come up with a scenario that was not extremely rude. Add in some family drama, and I can see this from the perspective of returning the gifts would be rude.

        It’s not unusual to get gifts from people not invited to the wedding. Often this is what showers are for (letting people who love you but don’t make the invite cut show you they care) depending on regional norms.

    • Sarah

      The 2 questions in the letter are “Do you think they should return the gifts? Do you think they should at least give us the money back that we spent on the gift if they wish to keep the gifts?” No where does it say, “Do you think I should ask for the gifts back?”

      So my answer is, yes, they should return the gifts.

    • Amy March

      I don’t think so. They were given wedding gifts, and they got married or are getting married. They get to keep those gifts. That, to me, is what makes them gifts at all. If you should return them if the relationship changes, even if doing so would require you to set up a payment plan, it wasn’t a gift at all. Particularly since this couple explicitly refused financial assistance for the wedding I think it’s ridiculous to put them on the hook to return gifts. People have all sorts of expectations about relationships, but a gift doesn’t entitle you to have those met or get your gift back.

      • GpedJane

        but then they shouldn’t have accepted them.

        • Eenie

          It’s been mentioned elsewhere, but when you specifically tell someone to not contribute money to the wedding and then they give you expensive gifts instead, trying to “not accept” a gift is going to be pointless and extremely rude.

          • Totch

            Exactly. Having been put in this situation before (not related to a wedding, but we’d made it clear we didn’t want financial help), at some point you give in. Sometimes because you feel rude refusing, sometimes because you go “Well, fuck it. They know the score and are still offering, might as well.”

          • Laura C

            Yes, repeatedly rejecting offers of gifts — even (especially?) when you feel like there are strings attached — can just make you feel like a jerk. When I have to do it, it makes me feel like I’m being a really negative person … even when it’s just giving a consistent answer to a repeated question. And then I feel resentful of being put in that position.

          • GpedJane

            But uninviting them to the wedding after accepting the gifts is not extremely rude?

          • Lisa

            We don’t know all of the family dynamics in play. Perhaps they were never explicitly told they were invited to the wedding but assumed they were until told otherwise. I’d agree that uninviting is generally rude and relationship-ending, but we really don’t have enough information to make the determination here.

          • GpedJane

            It’s true we don’t know but they were included in other events such as a shower therefore I think it’s safe to assume that they were invited.

          • Eenie

            I didn’t say that. We actually don’t know if the LW was invited or not. There’s no doubt that some bigger family dynamics are going on. There’s lots of rudeness going on, but that doesn’t mean LW gets carte blanche to be rude as well.

          • Amy March

            Uninviting them to the wedding is extremely rude. Full stop. It has nothing to do with the gifts.

          • Violet

            I think I remember something from Kindergarten about two wrongs not making a right…

          • Yeah, Eenie’s right on this. It seems like the couple tried to tell LW, quite explicitly, not to spend money on them…and father+stepmom did anyways. The couple didn’t really mislead too much.

            The weird thing is the fiancee’s mother accepting money for the shower. But maybe she was separate from all this drama. Or maybe the LW was extra pushy about doing this. Who knows.

          • S

            Without more context, I completely disagree. They were asked not to financially contribute to the wedding. They didn’t. They gave gifts. When I go to my friend’s wedding with a toaster or whatever, I don’t consider myself to have helped pay for the wedding, and still wouldn’t if I had bought, like, 30 toasters. Gifts given at/for the wedding don’t pay for the wedding to happen, even if the gifts were worth like 100k. I can’t pay a DJ with an expensive punch bowl. (Unless I return it? But there’s no reason AT ALL to think the LW and her husband gave these gifts expecting their step/son to go return them and use the money for the wedding.) Did they give these gifts with strings attached? Yes, which is a cruddy thing to do, as is wanting them back (gross) and Son has every right to be like, “Nope, sorry, none of this.” But giving LW and husband the benefit of the doubt, they did nothing they were asked not to do. If I asked my parents not to contribute to my wedding, you know what they would do? Turn around and give me the money they were GOING to give me for my wedding to put towards a house, or something else (hey, maybe like gifts!) so they could help out in a different way. Parents often like helping/spoiling their kids, and there’s nothing wrong with THAT aspect of this equation. (Or rather, there might be – there’s just no reason to assume so with the information we have at this time.)

          • Lexipedia

            Also, I think it’s weird to return gifts to parents. Distant relatives or friends? Maybe… but parents play a special role in supporting their kids. LW seems like she was trying to buy “wedding access” with her presents, which is rude in itself. They gave the gifts to bless a marriage, which is going to occur either way. This isn’t like a couple who broke it off – then there is no marriage be blessed with a gift. Would people be offended if they sent a wedding gift and then found out that a couple had decided to elope? I wouldn’t. You are celebrating a UNION, not a WEDDING.

            Yes, uninviting someone is rude (though we don’t know the dynamics) but it’s pretty f-ed up for a parent/someone who loves the couple to be so petty about this.

    • Liz

      Part of my perspective is that often returning a gift is just insult-to-injury. If you go through a break-up, and then you leave a box of the mixtapes he made you on his doorstep, it’s an extra dig! Not a gentle, “Things have ended, you might like this back.” If these kids suddenly can’t invite dad and stepmom for whatever weird familial reason, that’s one thing. But to say, “You’re not invited! And here’s your dumb gifts, too!” would be AWFUL.

      Another thing- I think if we knew HOW the money was given or in what way (did they hand over a check for $3k? Or just pick up a tab here and there? Or buy some actual from-the-registry-wrapped-in-paper gifts?) it would also affect what we’d think.

      • Abby

        Since she asks about whether the couple should return the money spent on the gifts if not the gifts themselves, I assumed it wasn’t just a straight-up check. And if that’s the case, it’s possible that the couple has zero clue how much the gifts cost– they might just be like, “ok, Dad & Stepmom sent us this crazy non-registry [piece of furniture/knife set/whathaveyou]” and have no idea of what that meant/cost from the giving side.

        • Liz

          Good point! I think the included mention of the shower misled me, you’re right.

      • Violet

        Gotta say, I completely agree with you on the insult-to-injury thing here. I returned a gift once, and it was *absolutely* to send a strong message that the relationship was over. If any commenter has ever had a gift they gave returned back to them and felt good about it, I would be curious to hear.

        • GpedJane

          I find this point curious though. I would think not inviting a parent to a wedding where the other parents are all invited, would be an end to the relationship. That is why I feel like the “right” thing to do was to not accept the gifts or put them aside to return them after. I don’t think the LW should ask for them back as that is in poor taste.

    • Totch

      There’s a lot we don’t know here, and I’m inclined to agree with you that the couple should return without needing to be asked, but one thing gives me pause.

      The couple asked not to be given money to contribute to the wedding. It seems like they’ve been working on setting barriers with LW and husband.

      If I’d been setting up barriers and still received a large gift, I’d probably read it as manipulation and return it regardless of invitation. But you could also read it as “well, we’ve been throwing up signals and they chose to give us these gifts anyway, it’ll only make it worse if we refuse.” Or maybe they took it as a show of love that went beyond the actual wedding?

      • Liz

        “But you could also read it as “well, we’ve been throwing up signals and they chose to give us these gifts anyway, it’ll only make it worse if we refuse.” ”

        Yeah, exactly. If we’re trying to answer “what should the marrying couple do?” there are a whole lot of missing facts, dynamics, feelings that we don’t have to base that on.

        So, should the LW expect the gifts back? No.

        • Totch

          I was about to comment on yours as well! The insult to injury thing seems like it could be a big driver.

      • Totch

        I should say: this probably isn’t a hypothetical for us. We’ve declined to tell one of our parents when the wedding is at all. If they find out and send us a gift, we’ll have to decide what to do with it (and we don’t see eye to eye).

      • Yeah, I suspect if the couple dis-invited them AND returned the gifts, we’d be reading a similar letter but about how hurtful it was that the couple had returned the gifts…

        • Violet

          Thank you!

    • GpedJane

      I am with you. I feel as though they just shouldn’t have accepted the gifts in the first place if this is how they were going to be.

      • toomanybooks

        I could see their not accepting gifts being taken really badly by the LW too though.

        • GpedJane

          It would most certainly but I don’t think you should accept a gift as well donations to a shower when you were on the fence about them being at the Wedding in the first place. It’s at least being honest about the situation.

          • lamarsh

            I think the donations to the shower are in a separate category as (1) it is unlikely that the bride knows how her shower was paid for — I certainly don’t have any idea how people are dividing up the costs for my showers, and (2) given the few facts we know, it is unlikely that the MOB is the reason LW was uninvited from the wedding, and possibly did not know the bride was planning to un-invite the LW.

          • Laura C

            As lamarsh said, we don’t know if the bride knows how the shower was paid for. For that matter, we don’t know if the bride’s mother asked for or wanted LW to pay for those shower gifts. We just don’t know, and it’s not unheard of for party favors to show up unexpectedly.

      • Amy March

        I don’t see why you’d assume that when they accepted the gifts they knew this would happen. There’s a lot of unknowns in between those two.

        • Jane

          Yeah – I feel like there is an incident or some turning point we aren’t not hearing about.

        • GpedJane

          I just feel like they were probably on the fence about it to begin with to avoid drama with the mother. My mom creates drama out of nothing and conspiracy theories when she doesn’t like someone. Not saying that is what happened but it’s my interpretation. The LW seems hurt about the situation because while you can’t buy love, I feel like they did it to help out.

    • toomanybooks

      Nah… I might think that if it was straight up money that the LW had given to the stepson and the stepson accepted to use on the wedding while saying the LW was invited, and then used it for the wedding reception budget and suddenly uninvited LW. But the stepson and fiancée specifically said they didn’t want anything from LW. And it was gifts, not like, a check. You give someone a wedding gift to celebrate their wedding, not to bribe them.

      • Yeah, the part that’s screwing LW here is that the couple specifically requested they not spend a bunch of money on them. ‘Sounds like some ignored boundaries to me.

    • Ooh, engagement rings are super interesting, historically and legally. US law varies by state, but most treat them as conditional gifts, whereas UK law says brides are entitled to keep the ring if the engagement is broken off (whether a modern bride would want to is another question!).

      Historically, no matter who broke off the engagement the bride would be worse off, because a broken off engagement would damage her future prospects (partly because most people assumed once you were engaged you were probably shagging*). The ring acted as compensation. Giving it back would have been a breach of etiquette because it suggested (a) you’d been the reason the engagement failed and (b) you’d already lined up another possible husband.

      This doesn’t really stand in the UK today – etiquette leans towards giving it back, but not as strongly as it seems to in the US – but the law still sees the fiancee as the injured party unless the groom can prove the engagement was conditional (and frankly, if someone proposes with “but I get it back if we break up” you probably don’t want to accept that ring in the first place!).

      *the idea people used to be virgins on their wedding night is blown out of the water when you compare wedding dates and birth dates, unless you’re willing to believe pregnancies used to be a lot shorter!

  • Kelly

    For me the part that makes this murky is that LW and Dad were invited intitally, and then after receiving gifts the bride and groom uninvited them. It’s one thing if they knew from the get go that they wouldn’t be asked to attend, but that’s where it feels more complicated.

    • laddibugg

      Right? it’s one thing to never have been invited in the first place, and another thing to disinvite someone.

      • clarkesara

        On the other hand, it’s also hard to know what “invited initially” means.

        Did the father and stepmother want to be invited despite otherwise having no role in the son’s life thus far, and sent a bunch of presents prematurely, before finding out they didn’t make the guest list?

        Did the father and stepmother assume they would be invited, and sent gifts/contributed as if it were a fait accompli, but then didn’t get invited after all?

        Did the father and stepmother receive a Save The Date, but then a minor faux pas was committed when Mom blew a gasket about Dad being invited and they decided to ultimately not invite him to keep the peace?

        Or, did all of this go down within a couple of months of the wedding, after the father and stepmother received their invitation in the mail, and after they shopped for and shipped wedding gifts which the couple took delivery of? It sounds pretty unlikely that you would be invited to a wedding and then uninvited in the immediate run-up to the event, after you’d already mailed gifts. That’s a “FINE THEN DON’T COME SEE IF I CARE” situation, not a “Well I declare, a grave social faux pas has been committed” situation.

  • toomanybooks

    I think the son kind of always knew that involving the dad’s side of the family was going to be uncomfortable, maybe to the point where they weren’t invited but that would be the extreme, and that’s why he was so clear about not wanting money from them. LW seemed fairly clear that they gave gifts to try to win people over but it didn’t work. At any rate, the bottom line is that a gift is a gift, the son told the LW/dad not to give them money, and now they want the monetary value of their gifts back. (I wonder why the son didn’t want to get their money involved in the first place…. maybe because he knew it would come with strings?)

    So yeah, I agree that you can’t ask for the money back, and ESPECIALLY don’t want to involve the fiancée’s mom who probably had nothing to do with the whole family-politics thing.

  • Totch

    Question for the LW: What’s your goal moving forward? Do you want to maintain or expand this relationship with your stepson?

    To some extent, the phrasing of the letter feels like you feel that being disinvited is a deal breaker. Like your stepson is the one choosing to end the relationship. Is that the vibe you got when disinvited?

    If not, what would asking for gifts back do to advance or put a hold on your goals?

  • clarkesara

    As a bride with acrimoniously divorced parents, this is all so, so complicated.

    The first thing I will say is that anytime I’m on the internet and I see the second wife or stepmother in any divorced/blended/unconventional family setup weighing in on something — especially if it’s a slight or faux pas of some kind — I worry a little bit. I sympathize. I really do. I’m actually really close to my stepmother, to the point where my own wedding is complicated by having competing mom figures. But the reality is that everyone in these stories has their own perspective, and a lot of times the stepmom’s perspective is the one that is the least connected to the overall picture, or the one that doesn’t have a complete picture of all of the facts.

    And, yeah, weddings and divorced families. This is the single most stressful thing about my own wedding. People keep talking to me like the problem is deciding what color napkins to get, or some nebulous “wedding planning is so stressful, amirite?” When yeah, guys, from my end wedding planning is fucking great. My family are the turds, because of exactly this question. Every dime my mom spends triggers an issue with my dad. If I tell my mom anything about what my dad is paying for, I have to manage her feelings about it, and meanwhile my stepmother (who again, I adore) is caught in the crossfire like “Let me know if I can do anything! I want to help! You just let me know!” and it’s enough to drive a woman to elope. I have absolutely been tempted to uninvite family members (not my dad/stepmom) over this shit because honestly my life would be easier if they just weren’t involved on any level, even as a guest. It hasn’t gotten there, yet, but the only reason for it is my own sense of guilt and duty and family peacemaking. If this was my fiance’s stepmother’s perspective? All bets are fucking off.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      PADude’s family is a divorced-and-remarried situation, and his grandmother primarily raised him, not his mom or later stepmom. At some point pretty early on we had a talk about first dances, and he kinda panicked about who he would dance with if we did a groom/mom dance. Ultimately I think we’re going to just skip the parent dances. And your post is making me kinda glad that for the most part his family isn’t able to contribute financially.

      • clarkesara

        We are not doing any of the traditional dances, because no. Just no. Not even touching that can of worms. I relented on my dad even walking me down the aisle at the last minute.

        I desperately wish we had not taken money/gifts/help from anyone, and that I had just hurt everyone’s feeling from the very beginning. At this point there are absolutely people involved who I’m only on speaking terms with at all because they contributed to the wedding.

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          I wish you…luck? strength? Whatever it takes to navigate what you’re going through.

    • Ugh, that sounds awful :( I do not have divorced parents, but I do understand the whole wedding-planning-is-awesome-but-pleasing-those-who-are-contributing-is-the-stressful-part.

    • E.

      last week my dad called and asked me to not invite his ex-wife, who is also my godmother. um…no!

      • MTM

        I’m still trying to figure out the logistics on this. Did your dad marry (and subsequently) your godmother after he and your mother were no longer together? Presumably your mom’s friend/family also if she was your godparent first?

        • MTM

          oops, *subsequently divorce

        • E.

          Ha, yes my family is history is rather complicated. My mom (an out lesbian) married my dad to have a family. When I was born they asked my mom’s best friend from college to be my godmother. They got divorced when I was 5 and my mom married my now stepmom. 5 years later my dad married my godmother, and they divorced a couple years after that. There are a couple more layers, but that’s the gist.

          • MTM

            This should be a post all on its own.

    • nutbrownrose

      Dude. I get you. So far they’re being as good as I could expect. There’s no more than the usual amount of bullshit-I-can’t-please-her from my evil stepmother–lady has hated me since I was 7 and hated her when she was pretty clearly the reason (in my eyes) my dad left my mom–but thank god he did! My dad seems to be trying to buy my love and/or spend the last money he’s planning to on me, since weird patriarchy, but you know, that’s my dad. I keep expecting something terrible to happen, but when you just assume narcissists will be narcissists and keep the expectations low, sometimes they throw money at you and you’re broke and know it’s the last you’ll see so you take it.

      TL;DR My relationship with my dad and stepmom is uber weird. And when you throw in a MIL who doesn’t want to overstep her bounds, and a mom with an absurd amount of family members, it gets even fucking weirder.

    • Abbey

      Amen to this. I get the same feeling when I read these things from step-parents. Most of the step-parents I know (including my own) are actually wonderful and trying very hard, but by definition they are coming into a story partway through and hearing only one side, and there is no way they can have the whole picture. Sometimes there are very good reasons why everyone doesn’t get along and things are awful, and money is actually just code for power and all kinds of other stuff.

      • brooksienne

        OMG, this! My stepmother has been really great, but she and my dad did not raise me. And neither one has ever bothered to ask me about MY experience with the divorce and subsequent fall out. As a result I get to occasionally hear about how my mother shut out my father (um, he’s a grown up, he could get in his damn car and come see us; he could write more often then my birthday and Christmas). And, on the flip side, there’s my mom who will point all of Dad’s faults (in her defense, as an adult I can see she’s right), but I really don’t need to keep hearing it all. So what do I do? I limit the info I share about each side. It’s annoying that I have to be a de facto referee in all of this.

        At least everyone is behaving wrt to the wedding.

    • Anna

      Ahhh this makes me feel sad! I’m about to become a “second wife” (although its my first marriage, so to me it doesn’t feel “second!”) and step-mom to two wonderful kiddos, who are lucky that their divorced parents separated amicably, so of course a different situation. For me becoming a step-parent at 30 has been a huge adjustment and a major shift in the expectations that I had for my adult life, and even though I’ve become good friends with my fiancee’s ex and have a great relationship with their kids, there are still times when I struggle to feel a part of that family that already exists. This is all to say that step-parents might not have the full story of family life before we arrived, but we are often trying our best to re-shape our needs and our futures to fit with those existing situations, and that can be really really hard. We often make mistakes as we’re finding our way through complex family dynamics, but we really do want to be connected to “the overall picture.” We’re trying. :)

      I’ll add that the needs of the step-parent should NEVER eclipse the needs of the kids in a divorce, and I don’t mean to center my feelings here rather than those of a child of divorced parents–just to say that step-parents often have very good intentions and are just trying to be active parts of a family.

      • AMcCRead

        I got married for the first time five years ago to a man with a lovely 11-year old son, so I really can relate. We have had a sometimes-good/sometimes-frustrating relationship with my stepson’s mom (which was a continuation of my husband’s relationship with her for the 10 years prior to our marriage).
        Anyways, given all that, I thought you might appreciate just a bit of encouragement as you start on your new journey.
        1) Be patient — with yourself, with your husband, with your step-kids and with their mom. And even when you feel like you’ve exhausted all the patience in your body….take one more deep breath and be patient just a little longer. This a workout for your psyche and soon you’ll have built up the endurance for all the patience you need but it does take a little practice in the beginning. For me, I think I needed just to build up the patience for having a family after living as a single, 20-something for so long.
        2) Be kind to yourself. You must remember this! This is new to you! Be easy on yourself! Cut yourself a break and remind yourself that you’re learning and growing and trying….if you’re being kind to yourself it will give you the energy you need to…
        3) Be kind to your husband, your step-kids and their mom. Remember this an adjustment for everyone and the kinder everyone can be will make this transition so much better.
        4) Remember it is OK — it is OK to get upset, it is OK to need a break, it is OK to get frustrated, it OK to have your own boundaries.
        This is your family now too. Enjoy it! Bring your own brilliance and love and personality to the mix and make it your own. Good luck and congratulations on your (almost) new roles as wife and step-mom!

        • Mainer

          This is absolutely superb advice! Gosh I wish there were more sane content on the internet for new stepmoms, especially young ones, especially ones without their own biological children. Thank you!

  • Pidge

    The first song I learned to play when I started taking piano lessons was the Beatles song “Can’t Buy Me Love” – and the refrain “I don’t care too much for money / Money can’t buy me love” is also my personal philosophy, even though I acknowledge that gift-giving is a legitimate love language. My dad is the buy-love type and attaches strings to all of his gifts (and obligations too). It’s put a serious strain on our relationship, and every gift widens the rift… well, not the gifts – it’s the sense of entitlement. For example, he lost his second wife during my engagement, and when I told him that I expected him to fly solo at the wedding (like everyone else who didn’t have a spouse or SO), he replied that he could bring two or three dates if he wanted to, because he had contributed financially to my upbringing and therefore could do whatever he wanted, even though he said in the same breath that he wouldn’t contribute a dime towards the wedding. This was part of the fight that caused me to kick him out of my life for a period of about five months and put him on serious probation vis à vis his participation in my wedding. I don’t know what happened to lead the LW’s stepson to delete her from his guest list, but based on her letter it seems like she tried to do what my dad does – so I have to agree with Liz that her priorities are off, and I suspect that the stepson feels the same way.

    • anon

      It seems a little cruel to make a recent widower come alone. Although
      if you were already inviting his family members and/or close friends,
      then he shouldn’t have needed an extra date.

      • Pidge

        My family members accounted for fully half of our guest list, and I would say at least 20% of the list was from my dad’s side. He would have been more alone with my late and unlamented stepmother as his guest, because everyone hated her (and I honestly doubted that she would have attended, had she lived, because the hatred was mutual). I had less than no reason to break my guest list rules, especially for an entitled, unappreciative asshole with whom I was barely in contact.

  • idkmybffjill

    Oof. I’m on board with this advice for the LW, but if it were to the stepson instead I’d be like… ew what is wrong with you return those gifts. And also explain to your family why only now you’re not inviting them.

    • Pidge

      The LW doesn’t say that the stepson didn’t explain why she was removed from the guest list – she just doesn’t give the reason. Having been in a position not dissimilar from the stepson’s, I seriously doubt that he and his FW reached the decision to remove a set of his parents from the guest list without a great deal of discussion between themselves and with the LW and her husband. The deliberate omission is more likely due to denial or guilt on the LW’s part.

      • idkmybffjill

        Oh hmm – that totally makes sense.

  • Ally Lowe

    I have an unpopular opinion about stuff like this. No one asked them to pay 3k. It was pretty specifically stated that they were actually asked NOT to pay for anything. If you take it upon yourself to do stuff like that, no one owes you anything in return. It’s polite, sure, but not required. You just have to shrug it off and go “well that sucked. Guess we’ll think twice about volunteering large sums of money to so-and-so again in the future”. If they asked you to kick in, and you did, and then they uninvited you with no explanation, that’s different. But ya’ll took it upon yourselves, which is great and generous to be sure. I wish I had relations like them LOL.