Gowns and Guests
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Controversial: You Don’t Have to Invite Your Family to the Wedding

If you’ve been searching for permission to cut toxic family members from your wedding guest list, consider it granted. You don’t have to invite anyone who isn’t supportive of you and your future spouse. It should be as simple as that.

There are two types of people in this world: those who grew up with happy, loving families and those who did not. It can be difficult for the two groups to understand each other’s points of view. People who have healthy relationships with their families can’t imagine leaving loved ones off the guest list. For the other side of the fence, however, putting together a guest list can be a complicated–and emotionally exhausting–ordeal.

Unfortunately for people who struggle with toxic family members, there’s often quite a bit of judgment and pressure to invite parents, siblings, or other family members to major events such as a wedding. Here are a few tips to make the decision a little bit easier.

Set Boundaries Early

If you have a toxic family, then you might already keep them at arm’s length. However, once they get wind of your upcoming wedding–perhaps through social media–you might find yourself getting messages from an estranged family member. They might even recruit friends and family you still speak with to carry messages for them.

It’s important to set your boundaries early. Don’t let anyone convince you that your wedding should be the time to reconcile with your toxic family. There’s a reason you aren’t close with them. Remember that reason, respect your well-being (and that of your partner), and keep those walls up.

If your toxic family is likely to try pulling a run-around to infiltrate wedding planning or the ceremony itself, then have a conversation with the loved ones who are on your guest list. Let them know that this person isn’t welcome in your life and that they should not be given any details about your wedding.

You Don’t Owe Anyone an Explanation

Survivors of toxic families have all heard well-meaning people say, “But it’s your mom/dad/sister/brother/aunt/uncle/cousin/etc.” Remember that these people probably grew up with loving families and can’t understand cutting any of their loved ones out of their lives.

However, it is not your responsibility to explain why you don’t want a toxic person at your wedding. You aren’t obligated to share your pain, history of trauma, or any details that you’d prefer to keep private. You can be blunt and say that the person will not be attending your wedding. To be a little more diplomatic, you might use a script such as, “Not everyone will be able to attend, but we’re looking forward to celebrating our wedding with the people we love the most.”

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