Do You Have to Invite Toxic Family Members to Your Wedding? Here’s Our Take

Here’s what to do if you’re dealing with a problem relative you don’t want at your wedding.
by Maggie Seaver
bride and groom walking away from camera
Eric Alves/Unsplash

Weddings have a funny way of bringing family drama to the surface (we promise, it’s not just you—it’s universal and pretty much inevitable). And while we’d usually insist relatives should get a wedding invite, there are definitely exceptions to this guest list rule—but it won’t always be so clear-cut. Here are a few (rare) cases when it makes sense to leave a toxic relative off the list.

If there’s no way to salvage the relationship (before or after your wedding).

The idea of celebrating your wedding with someone you sincerely dislike or haven’t spoken to in years isn’t a fun one, even if they’re family—but on the other hand, the thought of potentially ruining a relationship, possibly forever, by excluding a relative can be just as complicated. Ask yourself these questions: Is it worth leaving a toxic family member off your list, even if it hurts feelings? Is it possible—and do you want—to salvage the relationship in time for the wedding? If you’ll be seeing the person/people in question at future family functions, or if leaving them out will hurt another relative (like your parents), consider at least trying to mend wounds. Ultimately, before making any final decisions, think about the potential repercussions of crossing them off your list.

If having them at the wedding will make you (or other guests) uncomfortable.

In certain cases, talking it out or patching things up is out of the question (when you know, you know). At that point, it actually can be worth rubbing someone the wrong way to avoid drama at your wedding—sometimes your own peace of mind trumps catering to a relative who's only caused pain and unease for you and your family. You shouldn’t feel forced to invite a genuinely toxic person who makes you upset just because you share a little bit of DNA. This is your wedding day, so listen to your gut.

If you’re paying for the wedding.

Couples often feel pressured into inviting guests they’re not fond of because their parents are footing the bill and have more sway in the guest list. But if you and your partner are paying for the party—and you’re sure in your heart of hearts there’s no way to work things out—you’re far more justified in your decision not to invite someone.

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