Marrying a Widower Question: Need some advice. Marrying a widower in 8 weeks. His former in-laws (deceased wife’s parents) are deceased. The guest list includes her aunts, uncles, cousins. I’m thinking this is a bit extreme as he is not inviting the same for his blood family. Is there proper etiquette regarding this topic? HELP. Invites need to go out very soon
In the world of etiquette, we usually say that exes, including ex-wives, ex-husbands and ex-family members, should not be invited unless both the bride and groom both approve. It’s usually best not to invite ex-in-laws for a number of reasons:
1. bride could feel uncomfortable.
2. ex-in-laws could feel uncomfortable (and, in the case of a deaths as with this widower, seeing the groom marry someone new could cause emotional distress for the in-laws).
3. children could feel torn between an allegiance toward the deceased family and the new family.
My advice would be to sit down and have a good heart-to-heart with your groom, explain why you may not want to invite all of this extended family.
here is a good article about inviting an ex to a wedding which could provide more insight, even though it’s not referring to death or widowers.
I’d love it if you would return to let me know how this works out for you. I wish you well.
Dr. Meredith Hansen, Clinical Psychologist & Relationship Expert
Helping engaged and newlywed couples build lasting marriages.
That is a difficult situation. It seems as though your fiance has a strong tie to these people, however, I can see how it would make you uncomfortable. I am curious about the relationship he currently has with this group of people. Does he plan to continue a relationship with them once you are married? Have they been involved in your life since you’ve been a couple? Do you have a relationship with them?
The guest list of your wedding should focus on gathering people in both of your lives who support you as a couple now, and will continue to help make your marriage stronger over the years. Sometimes people get caught up in the celebratory aspect of a wedding and forget that the guest list will become the community of people who witnessed your vows. This community will support you, guide you, and be there for you in good times and bad. I would explain this to your fiance. Let him know it’s important to keep you guest list focused on people who will play a significant role in the future of your marriage. Best of luck.
Rebecca Black, Etiquette Consultant, Etiquette Now
I agree with all this excellent advice. As hosts, both of you would want your guests to feel comfortable. And, they may feel as uncomfortable as you during the wedding.
Alyssa Johnson, The Smart Way to Re-Do Your “I Do”
I agree 100% with Dr. Hansen. It’s important that you both talk about this wedding as being a combining of your previous lives as well as a way of welcoming people into this new life.
Yvonne Kelly, MSW, RSW, Certified Stepfamily Counsellor and Coach, Co-Founder and Director of the Step and Blended Family Institute
I would agree with the advice given as well. My additional insight comes from having been married to a man who had lost his wife in an accident and who stayed very close to his past wife’s family largely for the children’s sake. We did have much involvement with them for this reason and continue to, although less over the years as the girls have grown up. However, we kept our wedding to those who were important to both of us and didn’t include the ex-family members for many of the reasons stated. They would have been uncomfortable and I know I certainly wouldn’t have wanted them there. Not because I disliked them, but because this was our day looking forward, not a day to look backwards. I’ve never regretted that decision.
One thing that might be on your mind is if he is attached to his previous in-laws has he been able to move on from the life he had with his first wife. Don’t assume anything from his intention to invite them as he is probably just doing what he has always done and is not thinking of what this could mean for you. He may also be thinking they expect invitations and may not realize they don’t necessarily even want to be there. I think if you talk with him in a way that emphasizes your desire to have this day for just yourselves, then hopefully he will understand. In my case, my husband needed nudging on various occasions, as he had always been in mode with his wife’s family, they had been part of everything and that was just the norm – he didn’t know any other way. But he did understand how we needed boundaries to give our relationship the chance to grow and thrive just as any other relationship needs.