Dear Amy: Is there a way that a wedding invitation addressed to my wife and me and our 40-year-old single son could be changed to a “plus one” invitation so my son could bring his serious girlfriend of two-plus years to the wedding?
The groom is the eldest son of our closest family friend.
My son will likely not want to travel from one coast to the other for the April wedding without his girlfriend.
Including our son was probably prompted by the groom’s dad, as he has played a role like a godfather to our son.
If my son were to get engaged in the next month or two (the wedding is in 10 weeks from now), does that alter the situation and your reply?
Simply put, is there any situation where an invitee can ask if they can bring their romantic partner?
— Determined Dad
Dear Dad: It is appropriate to include a long-term serious romantic partner in a wedding invitation.
However, if this family is as close to your son as you state, then presumably they would know about this almost-fiancé in your son’s life. Furthermore, if your son isn’t invested enough in this wedding to consider going with you (without his girlfriend), then that is another clue that — even if you and the parents are extremely close, he and the marrying couple are not first-tier friends. And it’s their wedding.
You can’t just change a wedding invitation. You can, however, gingerly and respectfully ask if they might have room for a “plus-one.”
When I got married, a couple of people did this, and it was fine. (Worse were those we’d set a place for who accepted the invitation, didn’t show up, and didn’t let us know in advance — and that seems to happen at every wedding.)
And yes, if your son got engaged before the wedding, the marrying couple might be embarrassed if they learned about it later and hadn’t included the fiance in the invitation.
But that is almost the worst reason in the world to rush an engagement.
Dear Amy: I know three nice older women in relationships that haven’t led to marriage because the men’s children won’t accept these women into the family.
I was wondering if there are people in that situation where the man has said, “This is my choice and I want you to accept it and her.”
I’m just a bystander, but I am curious.
Dear Alice: Yes, I do believe that this whole issue of adult children not accepting a new partner is something of a phenomenon.
“Wicked stepmother” tropes aside, I think this complex control issue has to do partly with how these entitled children were raised, how the marriage between their parents ended (whether through death or divorce), and how rapidly the children might believe their parent has moved into new relationships.
I will say this — as a daughter, mother, and very happy stepmother: If you give people power and control over your life, they will happily take it and run with it.
Children who don’t respect a parent’s right to make choices — even poor ones — are assuming control over the relationship. Sometimes they will even shamelessly use access to grandchildren as the anvil dangling over a parent’s head.
And parents who let their children do this have failed in their own responsibility to assert their own rights and command respect.
Yes — sometimes parents do push back against this kind of control. Doing so while recognizing their children’s points of view, addressing their concerns, and moving at an appropriate and determined pace can help everyone to adjust.
Dear Amy: I read a lot of the letters regarding weddings and it makes me shake my head.
When I was younger and my cousins (who were mostly older than me) were getting married, it was a time of great joy.
We had bridal showers at nice venues with a nice lunch.
There were parties for the attendants.
Absolutely EVERYONE was invited to the wedding and reception.
Family squabbles or not, the whole family was invited: Babies, teenagers, exes — you name it. And we had a ball.
We all pitched in on babysitting so parents could dance. If there was a major conflict, it got settled in the parking lot.
It seems to me that the wedding is about making your vows to each other before God, and sharing your joy with those who love you, those people you love, and the people they love.
— Just my Opinion
Dear JMO: Beautifully put. Thank you.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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