D is for Decisions (the hard ones)

 The AOW A-Z of Getting Married is a resource for brides (and grooms) to be.  It’s a welcome piece of sanity in an industry-saturated world where people are bombarded with what weddings they should have, what they should act like, and how a bride should feel.  Created by the team behind Any Other Woman, this A-Z is the first collaboration of its kind, bringing together posts from readers across the AOW community filled with advice, wisdom and experience from sane, smart, real women, many of whom have been there.  From wedding planning to family trials to breaking taboos, no topic is out of bounds.  We are honoured and excited to run each and every post, and we learn from each and every one of our readers.

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D is for Decisions (the hard ones), by Krista. 

 When we first got engaged my Nana gave me some great advice. She told me that people would try and get involved in our wedding and push their views on to us but that we should stand firm and do what we wanted to do as it was our day. She was completely right and I took her advice, but little did I know then that she would be the very person that I would have to stand my ground against.

Every Bride and Groom planning a wedding will encounter some hurdle that they will have to scramble over but I would put a fair amount of my annual salary against betting that 99% of the hurdles surround people. From the beginning I knew what my hurdle would be and I spent a long time staring at it, wondering exactly how I would negotiate it and contemplating what the impact would be once I’d decided to scramble over it. I will freely admit that I spent a lot of time ignoring it and desperately hoping that it would go away or magically resolve itself. It didn’t and my negotiation of said obstacle ended up with me being dragged over to the other side, landing in a huge heap on the floor looking like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards and feeling emotionally battered. I would not recommend it.

After that long winded introduction I suppose I should mention my hurdle (as you will notice I deliberately did not mention it in the first paragraph). Mine was my dad. I could win a gold medal waffling on about the pain and hurt he has caused me throughout the years but I won’t on the proviso that you trust me on this one! There was no question that he would not be giving me away but it was whether I should even invite him that was giving me sleepless nights. Looking back, it was the first thing that I thought about when we started planning the wedding and it was the white elephant in the room that I was desperately trying to avoid talking about.  But of course, these things always come up somehow and I was genuinely torn about what I would do for a very long time.

I worried about the effect it would have on my Mum and her partner, the other guests that had spent the last 20 years slagging him off who would have to engage in polite conversation and the fact that he would, undoubtedly, play the proud, doting father despite the fact he has had no influence in the person I have become.  However the most important factor, and the one I focused least on, was the fact that whenever I spend time with him I feel like a shadow of myself and I don’t recognise the person I become. I know now that this fact alone should have been enough to make my decision for me but I was more worried about the effect it would have on my Nana if I didn’t invite him. However, due to the advice she had given me all those months ago, I felt confident that she would support any decision I made.

I managed to avoid the conversation with my Nana until around 9 months before the wedding and I would have held out longer but she brought it up. I was honest and said that I hadn’t made up my mind but I hadn’t heard from him in five years, we only wanted really close friends and family at the wedding and I did not want an atmosphere. It was at this point our conversation turned. My 87 year old Nana issued her ultimatum and told me she would not come to our wedding unless my dad came too. The irony of her previous advice was not lost on me and I must admit I made my choice in that nanosecond. I told her I would not be held to ransom or emotionally blackmailed over our guest list. I am ashamed to admit that our conversation descended rapidly into a screaming match and I left her house in tears.

My hubby to be supported my choice completely and left the decision up to me but by that point I actually wanted to put myself first. I knew deep down that I would never regret not inviting him but I may well regret inviting him so the decision was made. I know that people thought I was selfish, especially my Nana, but I was being selfish to protect myself which I still feel was the right thing to do.

I felt that my Nana and I had discussed the issue and had moved on. We didn’t talk about the wedding as much as prior to the row but her outfit was discussed and plans were being made so I assumed that she was still coming. You know what they say about assuming…

After the invites went out and RSVPs started landing on our doormat I quickly realised that I hadn’t heard from my Nana or her sisters. My sister spoke to her and she confirmed she wasn’t coming as well as throwing in some spiteful comments about the extravagance of our wedding. She said the rest of her family were boycotting too. Ouch. I cannot write down how hurt I was but I cried, a lot, and it made me despise my Dad even more as he then got involved telling my Nana she was doing the right thing. It was the last thing I needed in the weeks leading up to the wedding and it pushed me over the edge. I decided that I couldn’t speak to her without being overly emotional, so I wrote her a letter. A really, really long letter. I told her why I felt the way I did and why I’d made the choices I made. I told her things I’d hidden from her before as I was trying to protect her from the truth, I spoke from the heart and told her how I felt.

Two days later I received her RSVP accepting the invite.

I felt funny about it to be honest. Hubby to be was furious she’d said the things she had and I was just hurt. Of course I wanted her there but, even now, the whole event fills me with sadness and I look at the pictures of us together and I wonder if she really wanted to be there.

Looking back, the choice I made has had an irreversible impact on our relationship and I am not sure that the fight was worth causing so much pain to me and my Nana. However despite that, I still stand by my decision  and accept that what I did was 110% selfish and hurt my family, I know without question that it was the right thing for me.

Categories: A-Z of Getting Married
7 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Sarah
    Posted September 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Well done for writing such an honest piece. A lot of this feels similar to the decisions I made. You made the right choice, if I had invited my dad, it would have upset my mum and he would have acted like ‘the proud doting dad’ you describe. It would have been worse for me in the long run, and no, ultimately my gran didn’t come.

  2. Jo S
    Posted September 11, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    What a lot of stress for you on the run up to your wedding day. So glad you made the right decision for you and although your Gran was there and gives you a painful reminder you at least stood your ground. I had an absent sibling from my wedding and it hurts me to the core when I see the photo’s and she wasn’t there, but the day was a more relaxed affair with her absence so I don’t regret her choice to stay away.

  3. Posted September 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    My goodness – a very honest piece. I think you are a very brave and open lady to have written your Nana that letter after an ultimatum like that. I do not think I would have been so gracious. The fact that she came is, at least, something which says that like you, she was always willing to behave graciously and support you in your day.

    L x

  4. Pickle
    Posted September 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Well done for standing up for yourself, I know from experience that it can be phenomenally hard to do with family. My dad and his mother didn’t come to my wedding, I did invite them both but they didn’t come for a variety of reasons.

    I hope you will come to love your wedding photos and be glad your Nana was there; I lost a beloved grandparent a few months before our wedding and although she would have hated all the family tensions at the time, I would have loved her to be there. I also hope you don’t feel guilty for the hurt around your wedding – it sounds like those emotional hurts were there long long before you got engaged/married and really are not your fault, it’s just a shame they resurfaced and hurt you (again).

  5. Peridot
    Posted September 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t it awful that weddings seem to throw up, magnify and exacerbate any family problems? It’s the ugly side of weddings that doesn’t really get spoken about but seems all too common.

    I too had no intention of inviting my father to my wedding – I have been estranged from him for nearly 8 years and we had a lousy relationship before that; he was not and never has been the father I would have loved to have.

    But I hear that he’s “outraged” I haven’t invited him. The man who told his new girlfriend that he had no children! His mother, my grandmother, stopped speaking to me when the estrangement occurred and I’m sad about that, but it was easier for me than for you, I think, as we didn’t have a very close relationship anyway. I can only imagine if the emotional blackmail is coming from someone you care about how hard that must be. Good for you for sticking to your principles and stating your case.

    I am hurt that one of my brothers isn’t coming to our wedding. But his current wife and I loathe one another so it may well be for the best. I could have been civil but I’d rather not see her on my day – and she can’t bear not to be the centre of attention so I think it would have been all kinds of torture for her. It may well be for the best but I wish he could at least pretend to be sorry he’s not coming.

    In summary: hurrah for friends.

  6. Katy
    Posted September 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    All I can say is wow at all of you with similar stories! It really makes you appreciate the members of your family (and your friends) who are generally awesome people.
    You must be very strong people.

  7. Posted September 12, 2012 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    This is such a great and honest post. I think the number of people who have family-centric wedding issues is huge, and you really do sound like you dealt with this awful situation as well as you could, despite the pain it caused you.

    My mother abandoned our family when I was six, and I’ve seen her 4 or 5 times since then. Luckily, she lives on the other side of the world, so her attendance at the wedding was never really a worry, but seeing the photos she plastered all over facebook (oh the joy of facebook, bringing estranged families back together since 2006!) with the captions ‘my beautiful daughter all grown up’ etc made me nauseated.

    In your situation, I would not have acted as graciously!

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