Sage Advice: Furious Family Is Not "Saving the Date"

By Amy Dickinson | April 4th, 2019

Wedding invitations can be difficult to allocate


wedding strike Image

Dear Amy: My niece (my brother-in-law’s daughter) is getting married in the fall. She is having a destination wedding. My husband and I received a save-the-date card. Our two adult children did not, even though all of my children’s first cousins (six total) were invited to their weddings.

There have been some tensions between our two families; we’re not close but we are cordial. My husband and his brother are in business together.

My husband asked his brother if our children (plus one spouse) would be invited to the wedding. His brother said that they had to draw the line on guests and eliminate cousins.

The bride only has two first cousins … my children! In fact, we are the only relatives on his side of the family.

We are expected to pay for our own travel and lodging, so my brother-in-law’s “draw the line” excuse makes no sense. It would only cost him three additional meals.

He said that we will all be invited to a local after-the-wedding reception.

My husband and I will not attend the wedding because our children were excluded.

Should we tell them why we are choosing not to attend? Even if they changed their minds regarding inviting my children, I wouldn’t attend!

The damage has been done. My children have told me that they feel excluded.

Are we wrong to not attend the local reception, also? If my children are not important enough to invite to the actual wedding, but important enough to invite to the local reception, what kind of a message is that sending us? I feel like it’s just a gift grab.

– Furious

Dear Furious: I can certainly see why there is tension between your two families.

Congratulations! Your behavior now guarantees to keep that going, probably through to another generation.

It is not your job to make a head count of this other couple’s wedding party in order to declare who should be included.

Nor is it necessary for you to advocate for your adult children. As adults, they can express themselves to their cousin.

If you don’t want to go to this wedding (you declare that you won’t go under any circumstances), then cordially decline the invitation without conditions.

I can’t imagine why you would also turn down the opportunity to congratulate the couple at a local reception (at no cost or inconvenience to you) – other than to continue to punish these relatives. They are likely hosting a local reception in order to include people they weren’t able to include (for example, first cousins) in their destination wedding.

I can’t comment on your relative’s behavior, but yours seems particularly petty. It is definitely not “cordial.”


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2019 by Amy Dickinson

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