Wedding invitation from estranged family

Well, kudos to your nephew who was NOT afraid to reach out and connect with family he hasn’t really had contact with in a while. That’s not easy to do.

First of all, let’s see if it IS a wedding invite - and what that means, where it is, etc.

Who knows maybe it’s a baby shower!?!! :wink:

But seriously, I think someone should go and represent your family. Maybe your son or sons if not you. Or maybe the potential would be there to go to the wedding but not the reception. Cause, wow, your nephew reached out! He did not need to do that!

I don’t think I’d go to the wedding but I would definitely invite the nephew and finance to share a meal before hand, and then send a nice gift for the wedding. It’s sweet they are trying to reconnect.

I had last seen them at a family funeral about 12 years prior to my wedding. I called a cousin to ask if they were at the same address (they were) and to tell this cousin “I’m so excited about our wedding on XYZ date” (it wasn’t the style back then to send "save the dates) and figured she’d put two and two together and realize the aunt and uncle on the “outs” were going to be at the wedding.

Everyone behaved beautifully BTW.

I don’t think you’ll be judged- and if you are- it will be along the lines of “what a gracious thing to do” or “how lovely that everyone has put their differences aside for the sake of the bride and groom”.

I’ve been at lots of functions where there are “factions” and for the most part, everyone understands the code of wedding behavior. You give an air kiss to the person you’re on the outs with, tell her she looks stunning or tell him he looks terrific, and move on. It just seems pointless to refuse the invite if your nephew is trying to do the right thing here. Or actually- you’d be making a point, but why? What’s he done in this drama? For all you know, he’s been begging his mom to apologize for the last few years… and this is his way of doing right by you.

I’ve made a point of going to cousin’s kids bar/bat mitzvahs and especially weddings. Over the past few years, I’ve grown closer to the “young” cousins. More importantly, so has my son and his wife. One cousin has 3 boys. My son and I have gone to their special events. The younger son has not participated.

So, my cousin calls me to ask why I didn’t respond to the “save the date” for wedding of his youngest. I said never received it. (Nor did my sister nor son). In a week or 2, I got the wedding invite. At the time I spoke to my cousin, I expressed my regrets but my boss’s daughter was getting married that same night, and I had been part of the planning for a year.

So I sent a card and a check. The check was cashed quickly, but it has been months with no thank u note. This young cousin doesn’t know me, only asked me cuz of his father, and clearly had no expectations that anyone from my family would attend. Frankly, I think he should have ripped up the checks from my sister, son, and myself .

Not sure I agree. In a lot of families, that would cause even bigger issues? “Why did he not cash my check? What message is he sending? Did they not get the check?” etc., etc.

I think if you didn’t want to send the check, don’t send the check.

@bookworm Why do you think he would invite you if he had " no expectations" you would attend?

To the OP- it sounds very nice that your nephew has reached out to you. Consider embracing that opportunity.

I suggest you contact nephew sooner, and if he is local, invite him to meet you for coffee or dinner.

Bride and groom are so busy at their wedding, it might be nice to meet up beforehand, break the long silence with some generic catching up conversation.

I relate. I have not had contact with my sister who is 4 years older in 7 years. I receive an email from her every 2 years or so. The last started with “You are my blood sister”.
I did not respond. If her kid or grandkids lived in my city then I would host them at a restaurant or our home. I would definitely give them the cousins address and let my kids know that it would be totally ok if they attended. I would not attend and I would sent a lovely gift.
A few months ago a nephew and his wife stayed with us for a few nights. Then the brother and other nearby relatives came for a brunch. The father of the two nephews and I have not spoken in 5 years due to his rude and unacceptable behavior towards myself and one of these sons during a visit. I totally enjoyed seeing the family without the father and it was not awkward at all. But I am not attending the niece’s wedding as I still choose not to be around her father.
I feel totally at peace with this situation.

My mother and her siblings didn’t get along very well so I lost touch with my cousins years ago. Our generation reconnected at her memorial service because my siblings and I reached out to the aunt (ex-SIL) who was left to let her know. My cousins flew in from all over the country for the service. We decided at the reception that whatever squabbles the older generation had were over long ago and we had no intention of resurrecting them. It’s been over a decade and we’ve all kept our word. They’re amazing people. It’s too bad we missed so many years.

If the nephew is living in your city reach out. Invite him and his fiancé to dinner. It is possible to have a relationship with your nephew independently from his mother. It might be really nice for the cousins to be able to have their own adult relationship.

Maybe your sister is reaching out via a wedding invitation? Maybe this is a precursor to her wanting to reconcile. Be open to possibilities. Remember you can be cordial with her without being close/involved.

Good luck. These situations are challenging.

My brother has been estranged from the family for years. Decades actually. We invite him and his wife to family events (weddings, etc) and they never come. I didn’t bother to send a holiday card this year. He did apparently attend thanksgiving at a cousins this year (they live very near each other and my cousin ran into my brother at a drugstore and invited him) and I sent a box of things there that were his (that I ran across in a box) that were meaningful to him. I went to a lot of trouble to get all of it sent there and enclosed a nice note. Never heard a word. Not a thank you- nothing. I don’t miss my brother. He was always mean to me. Things don’t change.

If there is an invitation forthcoming, perhaps first if he lives in your town, take them out to dinner and get to know the fiancée. You can decide from there if you wish to attend, but establishing a relationship is separate from the wedding. Good luck.

I am such a cynic. I immediately thought to myself, “I bet Aunt @conmama has a reputation as an excellent and generous giver of gifts, and these folks are just gift grabbing.” ?

I do hope a more positive scenario is at work behind the scenes - for everyone involved. I love the idea that the nephew is taking a stand against mom and wanting to include his Aunt. @conmama - I would trust your instincts about what to do as this plays out. And keep your boundaries. You know the backstory - we don’t.

I had wondered about an invite from you AHEAD of the wedding. Since your son now has contact, could you text nephew with, “Just learned from ds that you are now living in our city with your bride-to-be! Would love to have the two of you to dinner and meet her!”

Hmmm, I think the nephew has fond memories of his aunt and is sad for the estrangement. And he probably knows how his mom is. He has to live with it. (I have a sibling who can be difficult, the kids know).

I think reaching out beforehand is a good idea. The kid had nothing to do with the drama and is missing his cousins also.

The thing that makes me most sad about the Harry and Meghan situation is that their son won’t have a relationship with his cousins.

I know that my kids would never invite a relative just because they want a generous gift. They would invite them because they wanted them to be a part of their day.

@conmama, you haven’t received a invitation yet, the cousin has reached out to your kid. If you want to reach out, do. Don’t wait for an invitation especially since the kid lives in your city.

I think you’re all jumping the gun here and considering what the nephew is going to do before you have any idea about the facts. I’d just sit tight and see what happens.

I’d also remind everyone that seven years (I think that was the timeframe --) is a long time, and it’s possible that OP’s sister has mellowed in that time. I think OP should be open to possibilities.

If it does turn out that you’re going to be invited to the wedding and if you are free that day or evening, I’d go. You never know what’s going to happen, but you know for certain that the estrangement will continue if you don’t go.

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If the nephew is 30, I seriously doubt the mother of the groom is in charge of the invite list. My son recently got married and the guest list was determined by the bride and groom. He asked me for some addresses, and asked for my opinion regarding some cousins he was estranged from (he decided not to invite them) but if you receive an invitation to the wedding, I would presume it is from your nephew, not your sister. He may have told his mom he was inviting you, but I doubt she is calling the shots.

@bookworm I have not received a thank you note from two of the weddings that I have attended in the past five years (both checks cashed within a week of the wedding). I’m not estranged from either of the families - I think some people just don’t know any better!

I sent wedding invitations to a number of friends of the family that I was pretty sure wouldn’t come to the wedding, (the wedding was on the opposite coast), but I would have been thrilled to have them. You never know, I was in Germany when a friend of mine got married in NY. It happened to coincide with a planned trip back to the States, so I arranged my schedule so I could attend her wedding. I’m glad she didn’t assume I couldn’t attend. @bookworm I certainly would never expect someone to rip up a check I sent them!

In any event I feel like the OP are jumping the gun here. There may be no wedding. Maybe your nephew just wants to get together now that you are in the same town. If it were me, I’d be proactive and invite him for dinner. Be the grown up.

If this results in a wedding invitation, I likely would attend. I would probably send the estranged sister a note ahead of time saying that my family was coming to support the nephew. If things get awkward, you can always leave. I would only hesitate if this were a very small wedding or some kind of destination event where I would be required to interact closely with the estranged sister. I also agree with those who say to reach out ahead of time to the nephew for dinner.

That being said, I don’t know the family dynamics. It sounds like some of the extended family may have taken your sister’s side and you are estranged from more than just the sister. In that case, it would take some real courage to attend.

Hopefully, at this point, nephew is reaching out for a get together with fiance that lives in your area and you can start there to figure this all out.

Oh don’t do that :slight_smile: The “why i was mad at your…” letter will never go well, it just takes a way the pure joy of otherwise a good gesture. Leave the drama out of your nephew’s wedding.

Go or don’t go. But let your son(s) go if they want to.

I’m also in the “invite them to dinner” camp. I can see not attending the wedding if you think your sister would be uncomfortable (or maybe going to the wedding itself, but not the reception, if they are in different places). I would definitely, definitely send a nice gift.

I have a large extended family, and there is always some kind of beef going on between someone and someone else. Part of maintaining a large family is working around those situations, keeping the scope of the dispute to a minimum, making certain there are lots of potential avenues of communication, and always leaving the door open to some sort of reconciliation in the future.

My wife has been estranged from one of her sisters periodically over the last 40 years. Different temperaments, different life styles and choices, different “sides” in their parents’ divorce, money disputes, and a childless woman’s discomfort at spending time with a family whose life revolved around young children. Nevertheless, as our children reached adulthood, they developed their own relationships with this aunt, which have held up remarkably well even when the sisters weren’t speaking to one another.

It has been healthy for the sisters’ relationship, too. Even when they weren’t talking, the sister could rant to our daughter about whatever was bothering her, and know perfectly well that the message would get through, and at the same time our daughter could say, “You know, you are making me uncomfortable, and I think you are making some wrong assumptions about my mom,” and that would get heard, too.