Should You Invite Your Ex to Your Wedding?

Your wedding day is all about celebrating you and your partner's love for each other—so how does an ex fit into that situation?
by Ivy Jacobson
Broken hearts
photo by iStock

When you think about your wedding day, you likely envision floating down the aisle to your partner, gorgeous blush peony centerpieces, your photographer taking photos of you in your dream dress—but wait, who's that? Oh, it's just your ex dancing to "Uptown Funk" on the dance floor with your family members. If this scenario is already giving you heart palpitations, read no farther. But if this sounds like it could be a reality, take a moment to think about how adding your ex to your guest list could affect your wedding day. You don't need us to reiterate this to you, but we will anyway: Your wedding is a celebration of the love that you and your partner have for one another. The day is focused on just the two of you—and any blasts from the past may not be the best addition to your joyful, drama-free affair. Let's take a deep dive, shall we?

Invite Your Ex If: 

It was more of a childhood/middle school/high school relationship and it's 100 percent laughable, done with and drama-free now.

Mostly everyone has had a more juvenile relationship—like a fifth grade boyfriend or a prom date they had a crush on—that's so far removed from actual present life that the idea of it is totally laughable and cute. If that person is still in your life and you're good friends, we think it's okay to invite them to your wedding—just as long as...

...everyone is 100 percent comfortable with it.

An easy way to judge this is to think about how all key players will react to this person being at your nuptials—you, your partner, your parents, your partner's parents, your wedding party and closest friends and family members. Put yourself in all of their shoes and imagine any negative feelings they could have. If you have even the tiniest fear they'll upset someone or that a guest (or your fiancé) may be distracted by their presence, cut them from the guest list—they'll likely understand why. 

Your ex is a former spouse and you have children together who will be at the wedding.

This is a tricky one—on one hand, the day is about embracing you and your partner as a newlyweds. But on the other hand, if your children are still feeling nervous about the wedding, and you and your ex are on extremely good terms and you both feel it's good to have both parents there to reaffirm and support that this is a good thing, go ahead. But again—make sure everyone is totally comfortable with it. Will both sets of parents be okay celebrating a new relationship in front of this person?

Don't Invite Your Ex If:

Everyone is not 100 percent comfortable with it.

This is because of said reasons above, and because the day is all about you and your partner—so if you don't want your guests' eyebrows to be raised the whole evening as to why your former boyfriend/girlfriend is present, don't invite them. You may be in a good, friendly spot with your ex now, but chances are, the ones who know them will only focus on that time they cheated on you, yelled at you drunkenly outside of a bar, made you cry—the list could go on and on. 

You'll be worried about how they'll act.

Ask yourself these questions: Can your ex be trusted to politely and respectfully enjoy the evening without any supervision? Is your ex delightful as can be sober, but a totally different person drunk? Absolutely avoid any potential sad, nostalgic tears, or even worse, aggressive parking lot fights at the after-party. 

You'll be worried how their date will act.

If you invite your ex, you'll need to give them a plus-one for obvious reasons (you don't want them asking to dance with you, do you?). But as their ex, you can't exactly dictate who they'll bring—so if they have a new girlfriend or boyfriend you've never met or you're not crazy about, err on the side of caution and scratch them both. 

You'll have trouble introducing them. 

If the thought of saying, "This is my friend Mike," to your grandmother feels weird and unnatural, don't invite your ex. If the only way you think of them is as your ex, it's going to be awkward for everyone involved—and definitely not the day to do it. 

Now it's your turn to weigh in:

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