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My Partner Doesn’t Want My Niece At Our Wedding

What if she steals the show?

Q: Dear APW,

When we were discussing our guest list, we said no kids to minimize the number since we are paying for it (mostly) ourselves. Our wedding party consists of my brother, who is my best man, and three young boys as junior groomsmen that my fiancx has babysat for many years.
My brother has a six year old daughter. He is recently divorced and unfortunately his daughter lives in a different state that takes a flight to get to. When the subject of no kids at the wedding was first brought up, my brother was okay with it, and said it wasn’t a problem. After we put up a wedding website and had the junior groomsmen listed he was very upset, and said that he was bringing her to the wedding.

My fiancx has been against it from day one because my family is all about my niece when she is in town and feels it will take away from our day, and I agree with her. My fiancx also doesn’t want a little girl running around while she is getting ready since my brother will be with the groomsmen and myself. My fiancx also asked who will be taking care of her during the rest of the day, ceremony, and so on. I don’t want my niece to be tired right after dinner and have my brother and/or parents have to leave for the evening.

I understand my fiancx’s point and want the day to be about us, but is it wrong that I also see my brother’s side since we have junior groomsmen? My brother has already said that he is at the point of just being there for the ceremony, doing his best man speech, and then leaving right after. How do I let him know nicely that this day is not about him and his daughter and I need him there for me and my fiancx? I don’t want this to cause a rift between us.

—Anonymous

A:Dear Anonymous,

It sounds like your brother is being really difficult and belligerent about a decision you made with thought and care. But, it’s clear that is because he’s hurt. Other kids warrant an exception, but his flesh and blood (your flesh and blood) doesn’t?

You could explain it to him. Be clear that your concerns were entirely logistical. Bringing his daughter along sounds like it complicates the day for him, between a flight, someone to keep an eye on her, yada yada. Of course (“of course”) you’d love to have her, it’s just that it all sounds like a lot of practical, logistical concerns.

You could explain all of that. But it sort of sounds like that ship has sailed, and he’s pinning a lot of hurt and emotional meaning to this that you won’t easily undo.

So invite her. Allowing this to become a rift is just silly. There isn’t any one good, solid reason for excluding her, just a handful of teeny half-hearted ones. Your brother might be the one being the jerk here, but it would be equally jerk-y to stand firm on something that it sounds like you, yourself, aren’t even fully committed to. Why is your partner so against your niece coming, by the way? I can understand your brother’s perspective (he’s hurt!), but your partner’s is a bit harder for me to see. You mention that the niece will steal attention, but it’s truly hard to outshine a wedding, even when factoring in the usual family dynamic.

People might chime in that you can’t control your brother, that catering to his demands is not your responsibility, that if there’s a rift, it’s only because he made one. All of that is true. But six years from now, when your brother is skipping Thanksgiving and someone asks why, will you feel comfortable saying, “Because he was pissed we didn’t invite his daughter to our wedding”? It’s not a cute look.

I love a no kids wedding, but when it comes to close family, always err on the side of inclusion. Especially if the babysat kids make the cut.

—Liz Moorhead

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