Dear Heather

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Dear Heather…

My sister is getting married this summer, and we are in the process of mailing out invitations. While helping her do this, I discovered that she is planning to invite two of her ex-boyfriends! They are still good friends, but I think it is inappropriate for her to invite them to the wedding (for their sake and the groom’s). She refuses to change her mind, though. What can I say to make her reconsider?

Flora, Chicago

Dear Flora:

No doubt there are a few wedding-etiquette experts out there who would agree with you, but I believe these things must be decided on an individual basis, not by some blanket rule. If your sister is still good friends with these men, and if she wishes to have them attend her special day, then she should certainly invite them.

The groom’s feelings are certainly one consideration, but no doubt your sister has already given that careful thought. You didn’t mention whether he had any problem with her exes attending; are you just assuming that he does, or do you know for certain? Decent men don’t mind if their wives have male friends, even if they are ex-boyfriends. One would hope that your sister and her future hubby have a trusting relationship and that he doesn’t mind the invitation at all. Perhaps he is even inviting a few exes of his own. In that case, there is no issue and she should invite anyone she likes.

If he does have a problem with these friendships, it is likely there is a lack of trust in the relationship. In that case, the guest list is the least of their problems. Regardless of how your future brother-in-law views the situation, however, ultimately it is up to your sister whether she wants to remain friends with these guys. Her husband may not like it, but she has the right to be friends with whomever she chooses. It’s a good idea for her to assert that right from the very beginning, especially if her fiancé is the jealous type. If her groom is pressuring her to drop her former boyfriends from the guest list and she does so, she will have established a precedent that she may regret later.

The feelings of the ex-boyfriends themselves is another issue. If they still have feelings for her, they are likely to be hurt to learn that she is marrying someone else. After all, there would be nothing worse than watching the one you love walk down the aisle with someone else. However, your sister is still friends with these guys, so they already know about the wedding and it’s likely that they would be more hurt if they weren’t invited at all. Furthermore, your sister almost certainly knows whether these guys are truly over her, and has taken that into account in her decision. And in the end, it is up to them whether they choose to attend the ceremony anyway; they can always decline if they’re uncomfortable with it.

This is the wedding of your sister and her fiancé, and nobody has the right to tell them what they should do. No doubt they have given careful thought to whom they will and will not invite. I’m sure your sister values your opinion and is grateful that you are trying to help. However, if she disagrees with your suggestions, it is up to you to back down and go along with whatever she thinks best. She knows her friends and her fiancé better than anyone else, and her understanding of their relationships is the best guide for what should be done in this situation.

I wish your sister and her husband many happy years.


E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. Heather is an AU student offering objective advice to her peers; she is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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