Wedding invitation from estranged family

I have been estranged from my half sister for almost 7 years. It’s never been a good relationship, bad family dysfunction forever, she’s 8 years older. The last bad event, I decided I had enough mistreatment from her, it’s been that way my whole life with me sucking it up. I don’t miss her at all. The only thing I miss is when our families would get together.

I have 2 nephews, a few years older than my boys. I was always fond of them, and part of the reason I put up with her was so they could all be cousins. Of course, they were the collateral damage of the estrangement. One of my boys has been a little more vocal or sad about it, not a lot, but I can tell it effected him, I encouraged both boys to keep in touch with their cousins, as they are old enough to do so. I think they have through FB sporadically.

My oldest nephew, now 30, texted one son and asked for our address and phone number. Told my son he had a fiancé and was living in our city. Anyway, both my son and I think it might be a wedding invitation, what else could it be?

My son is already timidly asking if it is, would we go. I said that would be very awkward, not having reconciled with my sister. That weddings aren’t the place for that. I would be touched if it is a wedding invitation. I’m sure the estrangement hasn’t been easy on my nephews, either.

I really feel if there is no reaching out from my sister, that it would be inappropriate for us to attend. If that happens, I think a heartfelt letter explaining why and a generous gift should be enough. Your thoughts? I always felt great affection for this particular nephew.

I wouldn’t draw your nephews into the issues you and their mother have. Go or don’t go. Send a gift. If you feel like you can’t go (and weddings are usually big enough and busy enough to allow for minimal contact) perhaps your sons can go and represent the family. As you have said, they are old enough to have their own relationships with their cousins.


Your nephew and his fiancé live in your city. Maybe they want to reach out to you, as their aunt. Maybe they just would like to see you. That’s possible too.

If they do, I hope you will consider them when deciding what to do.

I’ve been to weddings where there were family members who were estranged for some reason, usually divorce. They were able to stay away from the estranged party (in your case, your sister) and celebrate the joyous occasion of the couple getting married.

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Hmmm, that’s a hard one.

Is there any way you could attend, give a generous gift and only stay a short while? It seems to me that you and your sister could ignore each other. I would think she would be busy with the wedding and it wouldn’t be hard to stay on the other side of the room.

It sounds like your boys would want to go.

Thanks @doschicos . I wasn’t going to mention the issues between my sister and I, but more that it seems it would make everyone be uncomfortable. But perhaps I just shouldn’t say anything like that at all. Maybe just a card with the gift letting him know how happy we all are for him and how much we’ve missed him, etc. Just sending a gift seems too cold.

One son doesn’t live in town. Maybe the other would go alone, but I highly doubt it. It will be interesting how this plays out.

I’d wait and see what happens. Maybe the invitation will be for your kids, and they could certainly go without you if they’re adults.

Maybe the invitation is only for your sons? Would you feel comfortable that your sister would behave if your sons attended without you?

I would think my nephew would have asked for my kid’s addresses, he knows one doesn’t even live in town. He also wanted our phone number. I’m almost certain it’s for the family. I thought it interesting he wanted our phone number.

My sister would be totally fine with the boys.

Definitely send a card with a note but keep it only positive. A wedding is something to be celebrated and good wishes given. Don’t “punish” the son with any negative thoughts for something his parent has done.

@deb922 and @thumper1 , thanks. It is so awkward. If we went, no matter how poorly my sister had treated me, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to make situations awkward for the principal players of the event. If it wa just some estranged guest, that would be different. It seems not nice since she’s the MOG.

Maybe an invitation is just a polite, sweet way of letting us all know. Perhaps if there is no reaching out by anyone other than that, maybe that’s all there is to it.

He’s grown, you like him, and he lives nearby. Why not get his number and invite him over for lunch?


If you like him, and he wants you at his wedding, why wouldn’t you go? Leave the issue of his parents out of it. Who knows, maybe the couple is paying part of the cost anyway.

I agree it’s a tough situation, but I’m going to play Devi’s advocate. Imagine he had words with his parents and informed them you were his aunt, and he wanted to invite you. He reaches out, and then you don’t come.
I’m not sure I could do it in your place, but I’d like to suggest that if it’s a wedding invitation, you go, with your kids, with the option of leaving if it gets uncomfortable. You might consider sending your sis a note that says you are planning to come, but you have no intention of doing anything disruptive and plan to keep your distance (said nicer than that, of course). It could be the start of a relationship with you and your nephew, on your own terms. It would also give your kids a chance to see their family, and maybe start their own relationship with the cousins.

@austinmshauri , that’s a nice idea. I like that.

A sad story about my nephews. My BIL worked from home a lot and was like a SAHD. He was so very close to his boys, including his 3 sons from his first marriage (who lived out of state). He stayed extremely close to them and made sure all 5 boys felt like they were truly brothers.

When my nephews were 13 and 11, his mother died after a long illness. He traveled out of state to attend the funeral with his father and brother, his only sibling.

On the way back from the funeral, he was driving himself and his Dad back to his Dad’s house. They think he had a heart attack. He slammed into an embankment and died instantly. His father died the next day. He was only 47. Isn’t that horrific? The remaining son lost all his family of origin within 3 days.

Anyway, that was an awful time. It was a great loss for our family. My sister and he hadn’t gotten along in years, so I don’t think she was particularly as devastated as a normal loving wife would be. Devastated, though, but in a different way.

Since the issue is between you and your sister, and you love your nephew, go. Keep your distance from your sister, but go to celebrate the marriage of your nephew.

I insisted on inviting an estranged uncle and aunt to my wedding. My parents had a fit, but I had decided that this was a hill I was willing to die on. I have a huge family by the way- as does my spouse- so it’s not as though the absence of a particular family member would have been noticed.

Almost 40 years later I am so glad I did. I maintained a relationship with them until they died, and I am frequently reminded that grudges can be forever but life is short. I never had an issue with them- it was one of these “if you’re not speaking to them I’m not speaking to them” situations but I was the next generation down and it had nothing to do with me.

Reach out to your nephew. Tell him you’d like to take him and his wife to dinner. You can then decide if you’d like to be a “funeral” relative to him and not a “wedding” relative to him. That’s your choice- if indeed he plans to invite you.

But you have issues with his mom- what does it have to do with him? He is an adult and unless you discover that he’s a drug dealer who sells meth to third graders, why would you not embrace the fact that he’s attempting a rapprochement of some kind?

I would not go, and I would send a card without a gift. Inside the card I would say I was sorry I couldn’t be there (you don’t owe anyone a reason or explanation), but I would extend a warm invite to nephew to come over for dinner so you could meet his new bride. A lovely dinner would then be my gift to the couple. It sounds like your sons are old enough to attend alone if they so choose, and I would encourage them to do so. It just doesn’t sound like it would be a fun evening for you.

@blossom , your “been there done that” situation is very helpful. Did you reach out to them or vice versa, before the wedding? How long had it been since you’d seen them?

Lots of food for thought from everyone.

@Groundwork2022 , I actually have thought how I would feel at the event if I did attend. Everyone has their own version, so I’m sure a lot of people there would see me in an unflattering light (completely undeserved and I 100% stand by that). But they don’t know that. How awkward for me to put myself in that situation. Selfish, yes. Being judged, no matter how falsely, is still very uncomfortable.