Stepparents: Are Stepparents Included in Wedding Invitation Wording?
Q: My husband and I are paying $20K for his 27-year-old daughter's wedding. Her mother, with whom she lives, is helping her plan and organize, but she's not contributing financially. Yesterday the bride-to-be showed up with her wedding invitations, which she hadn't consulted us on, and they read "Mr. T. VanHill and Ms. E. VanHill request the pleasure...." I was quite upset when I saw them; they did not include me at all, but more importantly they list my husband and his ex on the same line (she uses his last name). Am I overreacting? What would have been the right way to handle it? Please help -- I feel so embarrassed and insulted.
A: You are right, your husband and his ex-wife's names on the same line is unusual, but it's possible that your stepdaughter's mom simply thought this was the traditional way to do it, and it didn't occur to her to explore other options. Or perhaps she and your stepdaughter figured that it didn't matter since she and your husband have been divorced for so long (doesn't make it right, but...). Then again, it's also highly likely that the decision not to put your name on the invites has something to do with your stepdaughter's mother wanting to have her day with her daughter. You may never figure out their exact motivation, and it's difficult not to take it personally, but the invitations are done, and you can't change them now. What you can do is sit down and talk to your stepdaughter to let her know how you're feeling. She most likely didn't mean to make you feel slighted; she's probably caught between how she feels about you and her dad and how she feels about her mom, and is trying to please everybody. The key is to try not to act too "wronged" and defensive, even if that's how you feel. Also keep in mind that the names on the invitation don't necessarily point to who's paying for the wedding -- a couple paying for their own wedding might still put the bride's parents' names at the top. Basically, you should try to rise above it. You are justified in being upset but the longer you harp on the issue the more upset everyone involved may become -- a nasty spiral! Express your disappointment to your stepdaughter, accept her response or explanation, and then move on to enjoying the wedding!