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Should we or Shouldn't attend the wedding

16 years ago

A dilemma and not sure what to do.

Relationship with brother and sister-in-law is essentially non existent.

Never was close to my brother and any attempts I have made over the years has been met with being ignored.

I had been very close to my sister and her children up until several years ago, when our mother died. Now that is non existent as well and not by my choice.

So now my hubby and I have received an invitation to my brother's daughter's wedding. A big formal evening wedding and reception. Neither of our children, ages 29 and 24 have been invited. The oldest lives out of state, the younger one, the last they new was still living at home, but working full time.

We have seen my niece once when she was a year old and then when my mother died. So we really don't know her.

There has been no communication between my brother or my sister since our mother died, but nor for my lack of trying. I'm just ignored, phone calls not returned, e-mails not answered, letters not answered etc.

I can't figure out why we got the invitation at all and both my hubby and I are ambivalent about attending this wedding and formal adult reception only, which is about an hour away from where we live.

Part of me wants to go as my mother, where she alive, would be hysterical if we did not attend. So i would be going for her memory and what she would have wanted me to do.

Part of me wants to go as we believe that the invitation was sent as part of proper protocol, but we aren't expected to attend and it would shock my brother and sister-in-law.

part of me wishes that this is my brother's attempt to make contact and begin a relationship. But that isn't really going to happen at a huge formal wedding. Besides if that was what he was trying to to, he would have called me when his daughter got engaged. We found out about it a year later when we received one of those reserve the date announcements.

Part of me wants to go to see the lavish absurdity that my brother and sister-in-law are paying for. 400 people, men are wearing tails, women long dresses, and instructions for guests is "you decide what is appropriate to wear."

That requires both hubby and myself to buy clothes to wear to this wedding.

On the other side of the feelings not to attend.

My hubby is furious that our 24 year old daughter was not invited, even though she doesn't know her first cousin and only met her at her beloved grandmother's funeral. And he is not pleased that our 29 year old son was not invited either and he doesn't know the bride either.

He believes that I should call my brother, out of the blue, and either ask if she can come as well or find out why she didn't receive an invitation. We have had the invite for a week now, so I don't think my kids invites are coming at all.

I don't agree with the phone call idea, but do resent the lack of courtesy to our children. Especially when we received an invite and there is no relationship with them.

We have assumed that my sister, who lives out of state, has been invited and probably both of her adult children as well. There is or at least was a relationship there after my mother died, but don't know if it still exists as my sister chose to no longer have a relationship with us and we don't know why.

If we attend the wedding, other than my sister and her children, we will know no one at the wedding or reception, and will certainly feel uncomfortable if seated with my sister and see that her kids where invited and ours left out.

My hubby is not sure he could even be civil to my sister now, after having spent 6 years supporting her and her children after she left an abusive husband.

To add to all of this, I have not been well for the last several years. I had spinal surgery a year ago, and though recovered as best as can be expected, the 1 hour drive will be difficult for me. Also the sitting for long periods of time, IE wedding and formal sit down reception will also be difficult as I can only sit or stand for about 30-40 minutes without having to get up and move around for a while, or sit down for a while.

At the present time, I am having some back problems again and have to see the doc this week to find out if it is just damaged muscles causing the pain or there is more going on.

Both my hubby and my daughter are concerned about my being able to physically tolerate going as well, but I'm sure I could figure out things to accommodate my problems and deal with them. Though wearing a dress, long or short will not be possible as I need the waist of pants to keep either a heat patch or a cold patch on me to attend.

So I was thinking that a very fancy pant suit would be fine to wear.

I'd like some opinions on what any of you think is the appropriate thing to do.

It has been suggested to me that we decline the invitation. Send a letter to both my niece and my brother and sister-in-law declining the invitation, saying something that "circumstances are such, that we just can not attend" and then offer " after the wedding and return from honeymoon, that we could get together, maybe for dinner an a weekend and catch up and hear all about the wedding."

I don't know what the right thing is to do. Oh, yes, my daughter was very hurt to not receive an invite, and did say that if she where the one getting married, she would send her aunt and uncle and invitation along with both of their adult children.

Thanks for any input.

Comments (15)

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It is not at all unusual to not invite cousins you have only seen once or twice in your whole life. In fact, to invite relatives you have only really met at a single family funeral would probably be seen as gift grubbing.

    If you still really have hopes of enough relationship with your brother to at least exchange Christmas cards, do your best to attend the wedding. A pant suit would be fine for you. A simple one with added jewelry might be most practical. The jewelry could be borrowed from a friend or something sparkly, but fake, like prom time. Your husband would be just fine in a dark suit.

    If you decline the invite, I like the after the wedding get together idea. After the wedding follow it up with an additional invite which includes a couple of real dates as well as Thanksgiving. A vague "we will have to get together sometime" is less likely to actually happen than if you give a couple specific day options.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I hope you decide to go.

    I hear your concerns. But I think that if, after all is said and done, you really didn't want to go, you would just have sent your regrets and that would have been that; your asking the question, here on this forum and evidently with others, seems to me to indicate that you have issues and concerns, but you do want to go. The only other reason would be if you wanted to decline but felt guilty about it and were looking for support for a decision you knew was wrong. But your post didn't sound like that.

    Certainly I think accepting the invitation (or, second best, suggesting another meeting) will keep the door open better to restoring your family relationships than simply declining. My heart breaks for you, and I hope that things will improve. It is never too late.

    But -- the wedding is NOT the time or place to be hashing these things out in conversations with your siblings and other relatives, or for acting out your resentments by making a scene or showing your disapproval of or contempt for their arrangements -- i.e., no references to "lavish absurdity," etc. Do not go unless you can be a gracious guest, just like anyone else, and do your part to make everything succeed, not criticize the hosts, no matter what feelings you have about other things. I am sure you can do that.

    I agree with all of duckie's comments, too. Don't get bent out of shape about their not having invited your children; as duckie points out, they could very well have been agonizing over that decision and in the end fearing it would have looked like asking for more gifts, as the cousins don't know each other. You don't know the bride all that well, either -- but you do know your brother. And the wedding may be big, but for all you know, most of the guests are the couple's friends or the groom's enormous family or something like that. There could be a lot of explantions, but even if they were wrong not to invite your children, don't immediately assume the worst motives. Try to give them the benefit of the doubt. You and they will all need to do a lot of that as you try to repair your relationship, so you may as well start now. Just be the bigger person.

    You said that your mother would have wanted you to attend. I don't know how you felt about your mother, and I don't presume to ask or assume. But if you respected her viewpoint and find it useful when making big decisions to ask yourself what she would have hoped you would decide -- not to please her, but to be the best person you can be -- maybe this is a good time to think of that.

    Yes, a dressy pant suit with would be just fine for you (I have often worn that to dressy weddings). You and your husband don't have to spend a lot to dress for this wedding; as duckie points out, you can borrow stuff and he can perfectly properly wear a dark suit with a white shirt. If he doesn't already own one, it's a good investment anyway, for lots of occasions, not just weddings.

    Will there be other relatives or old family friends there that you would enjoy catching up with? You said there will be no one else there you would know, but are there any other cousins you may have forgotten?

    Good luck with your decision.

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  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I agree with the above posts. if it were me, I would go in the hope that this is your brother's way (or his daughter's) of wanting to reconnect with your family.

    If you feel that you will be physically unable to sit through the reception, you might attend the ceremony only and then invite your brother and family to visit you after the wedding. If you respond to the RSVP by indicating that you have some health issues and therefore cannot attend the entire event, that may give your brother and his family added incentive to want to reconnect with you.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks so much for your advise.

    It does look like that the decision may very well have been taken out of my hands by my spinal doctor on Monday.

    I did do some damage to the lower back muscles. Actually I over did activity and tore one of the muscles in my lower back.
    Yes the pain is horrible and am on percocet for the pain, limited exercises, can only sit for about 10 minutes and will start physical therapy again next week for 6 weeks. The doc is hoping that a very slow physical therapy regiment, along with ultra sound therapy will heal the muscle. If not, I will be facing arthroscopic surgery to repair the muscle with 3 stitches. Surgery would prevent me from attending the wedding as it would be done the end of Sept.

    Believe me, I didn't do this on purpose to avoid the wedding.

    I did discuss the physical aspects of attending the wedding and his opinion was that it will be very difficult for me, physically, especially after this problem is added to the picture.
    According to him, even if the muscle is beginning to heal on it's own, my ability to sit for more than 20-30 minutes is not going to happen. I would have to get up and move around on my feet for at least 10 minutes or I just might not be able to get up at all from where I was sitting. He asked if this was going to be a buffet type reception, which would make it much easier for me, and of course I had to tell him that it was a very formal wedding.

    He wouldn't outright say "no, my medical advise is not to go at all", but did say that it isn't going to be a pleasant experience or much enjoyment for me and I could pay for it in pain for several days afterwards. He did say that if surgery is necessary, then he would say, "no way in hell should I go."

    So, now I really feel like I'm caught between a rock and a hard place in making a decision as to what I should do. I don't want to make things worse for myself physically, or create any further problems than I already have. On the other hand, there is the thought of maybe the possibility of a future relationship with my brother and his family could be possible by attending.

    Right now I am not making any decision for at least another 2 weeks. The acceptance needs to be received before Sept. 24th, so I have a bit of time to at least see if the PT is going to help.

    As for any other old friends or family attending that I could catch up with, the answer is no.

    My mother was an only child, my parents divorced when I was 12, my brother was 9 and my sister was 5. We have not seen him since he moved out, by his choice. The only possible friend to be there would have been my best friend of over 40 years brother. He and my brother where best friends when they where in elementary school. They went there separate ways after that.

    I am very close to the brother of my best friend and somehow my brother tract him down and got his address in California and sent him an invitation. Trust me, his mouth fell open in shock. He has already sent his regrets and is not going. So there is really no one else that would be there.

    I do have another question for you though.

    If I have to decline the invitation because of my health, what is the proper and best way to do this? I have the formal RSVP to send in the mail. Should it be sent as is and also send a written letter with the formal reasons, should I try and call my brother and sister-in-law and explain the medical reasons, should I send a separate note as well to my niece as well?
    What would all of you suggest?

    Also, I do want to send a gift. They are registered at several different stores and it's posted on them if you don't know what to get, they "do love gift cards". Would it be best to send something from one of the registries or would a check be OK? My hubby thought that if we didn't attend, we should send a card and a check.

    Hubby didn't like the gift I wanted to send through one of the stores, but my 24 year old daughter thought it was a good idea.

    All from the same store. They want a punch bowl, which is about $20. I didn't think that it was enough to send since it is my niece. So I was going to add a few small things on the list as well. Little things like the measuring spoons, measuring cups, wooden cooking spoons. Things like that.
    We all know that you never have enough measuring spoons and cups and wooden spoons, so if someone already got them some from another registry, it wouldn't be too many.

    Thanks again for your suggestions and support on this and the answers to the above questions.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'd probably just send regrets right now. You can say that due to medical issues your doctor does not recommend you go. He didn't say, "yes, no problem" after all. No need to go into great detail. In fact, keep the physical info to little more than "torn muscle in my back." Focus mostly on your heartbreak at missing the wedding. They likely care more about how you emotionally deal with not attending the wedding than your physical ailments. A letter to your neice and either a phone call or letter to your brother would be be good. Send in the RSVP card as well. Many brides use those to help keep track of things.

    Registry, gift card, check, and/or extra kitchen odd bits would all be fine. However, I would try to hook up family memories and connection if possible. Do you have something that was your mother's you could give the bride? You could even give something as mundane as grandma's coffee cup and a note about how much you think your mom would have liked to be there. Then write a little bit about grandma and the trinket. If you don't have a trinket, a photo (ideally a wedding photo) of grandma and a written memory would be nice. The kitchen utensils and one of grandma's recipes might be a good combo. By adding a family connection focus, you will help to re-build the relationship.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    First you need to decide whether you will go if your health permits it; everyone has already given you their thoughts on that.

    If you don't want to go, then you send your regrets. If you like, you can say that unfortunately your back surgery will prevent you from attending but that you look forward to getting together soon, or something like that.

    If your decision is that you would like to go but won't know for a while whether your health will permit it, then write to them and explain that -- now, not on the 24th. (Those "deadlines" on response cards are misleading anyway -- you should always answer an invitation as promptly as possible.) Don't worry about the 24th, but do let them know PROMPTLY when you do know, or if there is further information that can be useful to them. For example, our family was invited to a wedding of a close friend. Our son wouldn't know for a few weeks whether he would be able to come into town. I didn't wait to find out; I wrote the response right away that my husband and I would be there, our daughter couldn't, that our son was still trying to work out arrangements, and we would let them know ASAP. Hosts may not need to give the caterer a final count until the last week or so, but they do need to know how many tables and hotel rooms, start planning their seating, figure out how much space they will need at other events, etc. So give them as much info as you can as soon as you can, and update promptly.

    I do think that in your circumstances I would send a letter or make a phone call, not just scribble "will not attend due to back troubles" on the response card. You don't have to go into excruciating detail about your back, but do let them know that you asked your doctor, because you really want to attend, but he advised against it. (I am trying to avoid a response of "Hey, we all have bad backs -- if she really wanted to come, she wouldn't make up a flimsy excuse like that" or something from some ungenerous soul! People do think that their weddings are so important to others that they should come even if they are in an iron lung.) Duckie is right that you should focus more on your disappointment on missing the wedding and your wishes for their happiness, anyway.

    I love duckie's gift ideas. A niece is special, even if you aren't close, so the gift should be special, too, especially if it's special because it's a personal family item -- no one else can give them that. Imagine 15 years into the future, and somehow or other the rift in the family has been repaired. What would you like to visualize in their home as their wedding gift from Aunt Littleoneofb?

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    By the power invested in me (by nobody in particular) I hereby allow you to allow yourself to say "Screw it" to the whole uncomfortable mess. Send a polite regret and FORGET it. Some relationships are not worth trying forever to salvage. Just because we accidentally share the same genetic pool doesn't mean we have to jump through a million hoops trying to preserve and repair what is basically not worth the the trouble.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    IF you ar hoping that your going will be ther first step towards a family reconcilliation... then I think I would call and explain you have a medical problem and are unsure if the doctor will clear you in time, but if possible you'd love to attend... but that you my not know for sure you can until very close to the date... this does opens up lines of communication and gives them the option to say... oh I hope you'll be able to come and we'll plan on you, if you end up unable, just let us know so we can update the caterer...

    as for gifts... I think the family tie in is lovely.... maybe even somthing as simple as "several of grandma's favorite recipes that I have"

    If you're going solely becuase you thinmk it's the right thing to do... I say screw that and stay home... send your regrets and leave it at that...

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Scarlett, thanks for "allowing me to say "screw it". That about sums up how my hubby and kids feel as well as me. At least a good part of me feels.

    I've tried my best to change the relationship for over 20 years and gotten no where. I continued to try because my mother was alive and continued to want me to. No matter what I did, it never changed.

    On the other hand, it would be nice for it to, but at this point I don't forsee it happening.
    My daughter asked me yesterday, if the situation changed, would you ever be able to believe in or trust the change or would you be looking for the "underlying reason and what they are up to". I told her I didn't know and she said she would never trust them after all these years.

    When I told her that I didn't like her attitude and her taking sides or being caught in the middle between the parents on both sides, her comment was "we have been, both of your kids, because you have been trying so hard for so many years and keep getting shot down and we see how it has affected you. You gave custom handmade graduation gifts to both of my cousins along with graduation cards and only got 1 thank you note from one of your nieces, and both of you kids didn't even get an acknowledgement on either their HS of college graduations. You sent them pics of us from graduations and you got nothing. When grandma died, they wiped out her apartment of almost everything before you and dad got there at the time you where told to meet them there.
    When we got there, there was nothing left for us to take and everything my brother and I gave our grandmother was gone. When we said something about the stuff, your brother and sister-in-law told us we where lying that their kids gave grandma everything and we gave them nothing. All my brother and I have is a coffee mug we each gave her one year that says "worlds best grandma". They took everything else. So how can you say we aren't caught in the middle. You didn't put us in the middle, they did."

    She's right about all she said, and I could add so many more things.

    The reasons for going to this wedding are really not the right reasons to go; because my mother would want me to, to spite them if that's the reason we where invited, ETC.

    One thing I've learned in the past few years of my health not being good is that life is to short and you never know when your health will be good or bad. Take the advantages of good health and enjoy them, deal with the bad when you have to, but don't torture yourself with what could have been and what you should have done and didn't do. You can't change that.

    I would love to add a family tie in to a wedding gift for my niece, but I don't have anything to give them. My mother left no will and they left me and my children with very little of anything of hers. As for recipes, well I sent them some after my mother died and was told not to send any more, they don't want them and through out what I sent them.

    I've spent quite a bit of time talking with my hubby, my kids and my best friend about what is the right thing to do and have pretty much decided, with all of them agreeing, that it's time to put this chapter of life to rest. My health, both physical and mental is far more important than any wedding to attend. I've been through several years of serious orthopedic and spinal health problems, several surgeries for them and am still trying to get back on me feet. Mentally, I'm just too drained from all that I've dealt with in the past couple of years to deal with the any more attempts to salvage something that no one who knows us and the situation believes is there to salvage. My family and friends have been through too much with me to see me suffer or be hurt or insulted again with this family situation. The words are "enough is enough, time to end the torture for yourself. Going to this wedding will be a physical strain on you that you shouldn't do, it may very well set back your recovery again, and you've had enough things happen to set you back that where beyond your control, but this one is."

    Being honest with myself, what they have said is true. My brother doesn't know anything about the health issues I've had or the spinal surgery, so I can't say anything negative about no contact with them over that. I never called him, nor did my hubby or kids. None of us saw any need to. The people that where important to us knew and where there to help me out with whatever help I needed for the past year and are still doing. I wouldn't expect my brother to have done anything.

    So, at this point in time, the invitation will be declined. I will send in the RSVP declined and the same day I mail that I will send a letter briefly explaining health issues that include spinal surgery and one set back after the other. I had hoped to be recovered enough to attend, but after seeing my spinal surgeon this past week, his advise is I am not medically or physically capable of attending the wedding or reception. I wish my niece the best and all the happiness in the world and when I am recovered enough, we would love to get together and catch up, see pics of the wedding etc. I will also send a note to my niece as well and will send a gift.

    It won't hurt to be the one to be courteous and polite. I was brought up that way, brought my children up that way as well.

    My daughter though, asked to have her name and her brothers included on the gift card when we send the gift and they will contribute to the gift.

    Again thanks for the advise. It is much appreciated.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Littleonefb, Sounds like you made the right decision.
    Hope you are feeling better very soon.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I just came across this thread today, and my response would be pretty much the same as Scarlett's. If I were you and even in the best of health, I wouldn't go.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ditto Scarlett2001. Blood doesn't cover the ground. Politely decline (they probably hope you do anyway) and send kind wishes via card. Don't do anything to antagonize but don't put yourself out either. Things are the way they are. No sense pretending they're otherwise. Their invitation was "nice". Your regrets and best wishes will be "nice".

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    can't figure out why we got the invitation at all

    As a nod to your family relationship, that's why you got the invite.

    Go if you want to (and if you can), or don't go.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think Talley Sue is right.

    You know, it just occurred to me that we had almost the same situation at our wedding 25 years ago. My mother-in-law has a brother who disappears for years on end (not due to a fight with anyone, but, I believe, hiding from ex-wife and/or creditors -- something like that). I've only ever met him one time in all these years. Anyway, when we got married, no one had seen him for many years -- not even at his mother's funeral. But he and his wife were invited to our wedding. I'm sure my mother-in-law was inviting them for the same reason that the OP was invited here. They didn't attend, but they did send a small gift. I assume the same happened a year later when my sister-in-law married. It's too bad they didn't attend. It would have been a great opportunity to reestablish the family bond; there are scarcely any other relatives. He's never even met his great-nieces and -nephews. No one was offended, but doesn't it seem like such a waste?

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks for all the advise. Sorry I didn't post sooner. As I said, medical problems are going on as well as the situation.

    At any rate, regrets where sent with the RSVP and and separate note to my niece and brother and sister-in-law several weeks ago (actually 3 weeks ago). Also chose a lovely gift of of one of her registries and had that sent, and hubby and I sent a card with an additional check.
    Reasons for regrets where my health, a brief reason and yes, I will be having more surgery in 2 1/2 weeks and that was mentioned as well as the fact that it can't be postponed.

    Notes did include wanting to get together after the new year and catch-up etc.

    As of this posting 3 weeks have gone by with no contact by them.

    Thanks again.

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