Wedding Cards to Your New Mother and Father in-Law
Whilst I can't wait to marry my fiance, I can't stand his family. The idea of his parents being at our wedding makes me feels sick, and I haven't got a clue how I should be involving them.

Any ideas how we can include them in the wedding without making it seem contrived or forced? I understand they're his family, and he loves them, but does that really mean I have to?

-Anonymous

In a word: yes. When you marry your partner, you are marrying their family — even if you don't like them. These are the people who made the person you love, even if that just meant they gave your partner something to rebel against. Like it or not, these people are a part of the person you love, and they're going to be a part of your life.

So, that's the short answer: yes. Unless you and your partner are ready to write them off completely (which is a totally valid option), you should find a way to include them in the wedding, and bigger still: you have to learn how to include them in your life.

Find ways to include your in-laws in a few simple but meaningful ceremonial responsibilities. I asked my father-in-law to ring in our wedding ceremony with a large Tibetan bowl. I asked my mother-in-law to act as our “ring boy” and bring up our rings.

Not knowing much more about your wedding, it's hard to make suggestions … Could they pass out programs? Present the guestbook? Read a poem you selected? Be in charge of tossing some dried lavender as you exit the ceremony? Look for small but visible ways to feature them in your wedding day — it's important.

Your wedding is a metaphor … and these people are going to be a part of your family, so think of finding loving, simple, but meaningful ways to involve them in your wedding as the first steps toward finding loving, simple, but meaningful ways to involve them in your life.

Comments on Love the fiance, love the in-laws

  1. I think there needs to be a caveat on this post. It’s one thing if it’s just dislike but they’re still actively and regularly involved in your fiancé(e)’s life. It’s another thing if they’re horrible nasty people that you’re both better off without. I’m a big fan of reconciliation but every now and again estrangements happen for a valid and worthwhile reason.

  2. Anonymous, I totally agree with that — however in my experience, estrangement is the exception for in-law drama. This advice-seeker made it clear that her partner loves and is in touch with his family. It would have been a very different answer if the question had been “My husband is estranged from his family and hasn’t spoken to them in 2 years — do we have to involve them in the wedding?”

  3. This is a good post, Ariel. Thanks. I actually LOVE my in-laws, but I do think sometimes we forget that for some families, and in some traditions, weddings are seen as a big celebration of family, not just a joining of two people. I was shocked and not a little annoyed when my own parents had some extremely strong opinions about what should happen at our wedding, and then my mother in law started chiming in with her thoughts too. I had to take a deep breath and realize, “hey, this is about them too,” and really concentrate on what they were asking for and how I could incorporate them in meaningful ways that ensured that they felt included and loved and essential to the ritual of our wedding.
    I know this is not the case in every family, but I definitely realized that for our two families, the wedding is definitely not just about us, and also that playing my cards right at the wedding (in terms of involving and opinion asking and attitude) would be a great way to set myself up for future harmonious relations with my in laws!

  4. thanks for addressing this issue. My fiance also has a strained relationship with his family. they are coming to the wedding this Saturday and I am nervous! Being an Interracial couple adds to the stress. I got to know the Brother and sister and we get along fine. Yet, it can be difficult. This post helps put things in a proper perspective…

  5. I really only have the Mother In Law to deal with really (his dad buggered off when he was two and hasn’t seen him since, good riddance!), but me and the MIL get on like a house on fire! His uncles are nice to, though I don’t like the way they casually take the mick, but he just shrugs it off and gives it back!
    FH does get a bit ansy around my mum (who can be a bit much sometimes), but generally he gets on really well with my family. I’m really lucky actually!

  6. obviously they have to be invited, but traditionally it is the brides family who put on the wedding, hence invites saying Mr & Mrs Bride invite you to the wedding of their daughter ___ to ___

  7. I am a big believer in the power of the corsage. It’s just a small thing to wear, but it lets everyone know: “Hey there, I’m someone special–I’m related to the Groom!”

    We are also letting all immediate family on both sides walk down the aisle–that way everyone gets a moment to be noticed and included, but we the ceremony is just us and the officiant.

  8. Disagree that “you have to include them in your wedding.” I don’t dislike either of our families, but this is *our* day. I’ll be happy to have them there and celebrating with us, but I certainly feel 0 obligation to include them any more than pleases us.

    If either of our families was paying for the wedding of course, my views would be different.

  9. I think this is the kind of situation that makes the “this is my/our day” philosophy not make sense to me. I mean, yes, it totally is–but I think the subtext is “and my/our day only” which is only true if you’re eloping and never telling anybody about it. I mean, it’s your life, but that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want without any repercussions.

    I’d expand Ariel’s statement–“you have to include them in your wedding” IF you want to include them in your life, and you have to include them in your life IF you want to include your fiance in your life. Which you probably do, what with the marrying him bit.

  10. I agree with this, but what can you do when your future mother-in-law HATES YOU, and is completely and entirely phony and fake to you? I want to include my fiance’s mother in the wedding, but it is so obvious that she doesn’t like me, the plans we have for our wedding, or the fact that, partially due to geography, he and I are both very close with my parents, who love him very much. I think that just because you happen to dislike your fiance’s family for whatever reason doesn’t mean you have the right to cut them out of the wedding, but it’s pretty impossible to invite someone to participate when they clearly don’t like the fact that their son is marrying you, and that he’s doing it a thousand miles from where they live. I’ve tried everything I can, but it’s no use – she really, really hates me, and I can’t pretend to be someone else just so she likes me.

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