Caroline Moss is an author and host of the podcast "Gee Thanks, Just Bought It," which helps people find the products they need to make life easier, better and more productive. Now with this column, "Asking for a Friend," she's helping people with the advice they need to make life easier, better and more productive. To submit a question, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am the mother of three adult children. My youngest son and I are not as close, which I wish wasn't the case, but it is what it is. We've just learned he is engaged to get married this summer to a woman who has made our family feel "less than" because she knows we are not wealthy and she comes from money.
As the wedding date approaches, I realized that my other children nor I have received an invitation. When I mentioned it to my son, he said he'd remind his fiancée. Then radio silence. Do I ask him again? Do we just show up? Are we really not invited? I am asking for your advice and what the "manners" are here.
Thank you so much,
Mother of the Groom
Ack, that’s a hard one. I think there’s a few levels of issues here: 1) You’re already not very close with your child, and that is difficult to grapple with as they grow up and have an adult life of their own. 2) You don’t get great vibes from the woman he’s choosing to marry and 3) You might not be invited to the wedding.
As the mother of the groom — regardless of how close or not close you are — you shouldn't feel like you have to tiptoe around asking whether you’re invited to the wedding. I don’t suggest showing up unannounced or uninvited, and I also don’t suggest assuming you aren’t invited at all. If possible, I would try to meet in person rather than reach out over text. If that’s not possible, try to talk on the phone when both of you are available to give the conversation your time and full attention. (And maybe the fiancée isn’t around during this conversation.)
I don’t suggest showing up unannounced or uninvited, and I also don’t suggest assuming you aren’t invited at all.
I would definitely think about what you want from this conversation beforehand because it could go so many different ways. If your goal is to get invited to the wedding, then you may need to lower your expectations. Because your son is an adult, he has every right to not invite you or his siblings to his wedding.
Is that hurtful? Yes, absolutely.
Is it unforgivable? Up to you.
Is it going to create tension in your relationship and in your family dynamic? Probably.
You can use this conversation with him to explain how it would make you feel to not be invited. (First check and just make sure this wasn’t an invitation mishap or post office snafu, but because you mentioned that no one in your family received invitations, I am inclined to think something else is going on.) This doesn’t have to be about his fiancée or how wealthy her parents are or how wealthy you aren’t. This is superfluous, and not the real core issue. You are hurt that you're being left out of a major event in your child’s life, and the goal is to be present for that event because you love him and you want to celebrate this milestone event. If he reacts kindly to this conversation and you receive an invitation in any form to join them on their wedding day, accept it and be present.
If he declines to invite you even after you speak to him, respect and accept his choice no matter how much it stings. The relationship you wish to have with your son probably has underlying history that may require some long-term work, and it may not all come together before he says “I do.” If this results in you not being able to attend the wedding, there’s still an opportunity to rebuild your relationship for a more long-term goal of being in each other’s lives down the road.
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