Monday, December 19, 2011

Do I have to invite the pill-popper??

Dear ESB,

I have a guest list dilemma.

My late father's second wife and widow--I guess she's technically my ex-stepmother--is a problem. Frankly, she's an alcohol-abusing, pill-addled, semi-incoherent train wreck who has behaved outrageously and dressed provocatively at family events in the past, including funerals. I hate to make light of what is actually a sad situation, but I'm extremely uncomfortable around her and always have been. My stepfather (he raised me, and he's paying) is quite proper, as is my fiance's family. My dad's relatives can't stand her. My fiance hasn't met her. I don't live in the city where I grew up, and I avoid her when I'm in town.

But, they had a son together, my (half) brother, who is now in his late teens and living at home with her. My dad's sister actually tried to get custody of him when our dad died because of this woman's craziness. Though I'm way older and we didn't grow up together, we keep in touch and have a friendly relationship, he's a sweet kid, and of course I want him to be there. He's the only reason I've had to interact with her. But I've never told him I have a problem with his mom. They both know I'm engaged. And the wedding's going to be in my hometown. But he has a car, a cell phone, and his own life.

Is there any way I can somehow not invite her? If I have to, what do I do with her? 

-Out of step


Here's how you don't invite your stepmonster: Don't send her an invitation.

Send one to your brother, then call him and explain all of the above. (I suspect none of it will come as a shock.)

Photo by Aram Bedrossian for Lovecat via Charles Hall via Fashionising


  1. Not to be all Royal Wedding on here (sorrrrrrrryyyy ESB!) but! Fergie didn't make the cut but her daughters were invited... so, you know, you can always claim there's an etiquette precedent for not inviting crazy relatives.

    And aside from that, if you never see her, have no intention of trying to keep your relationship with her going, and it won't hurt anyone else's feelings in your family, not inviting her seems a-okay.

  2. I TOTALLY agree with ESB!! You DO NOT have to invite anyone you don't want to--feelings hurt or not. Invite your lil bro and be prepared to answer questions, but leave it at that.

    We've sent out save the dates to family members whom we felt obligated to invite as to not hurt feelings. We regret it. But, of course, being super eager to send out our cute save the dates, we jumped the gun. Should have been reading ESB more. Ah well....

    If you must invite her, you stick her next to some of your cool friends who will have a good time with her and help keep it light.

    Good luck.

  3. Totally in agreement with ESB here - I'm on great terms with my ex-stepmother (ex by divorce, but still) but I'm sure she completely understood why we couldn't invite her- way too awkward. Her son, my half brother, was obviously invited. No questions were asked.

  4. Kid sounds old enough to learn a little truth about the world. Do exactly as ESB has decreed.

  5. I too agree with this advice, particularly the "I suspect none of it will come as a shock." part. I'm sure he is more acutely aware of his mother's unsettling behavior than anyone else is.

  6. Um, no. You don't have to invite her. And you can still invite him. But, yeah, a convo with him would prolly be a good idea.

  7. No don't invite her. Yes invite him. Explain that his mom isn't, but you don't have to trot out the whole history to explain it. A simple " FYI, your mom isn't invited as I'm not close to her, but I can't wait to see you!" will prob suffice.. Here's the thing about having shitty parents--hearing about it from other ppl gets old.

  8. i like esb's idea in theory, but unfortunately that puts a lot of responsibility on a kid in his late teens. yikes! piss off mother or go to half-sister's wedding? i think you have to have a sit down with both of them for his sake. but sit down with her and tell her; you're not welcome, but he is. don't be a bitch about it.

  9. Send her an invite with the wrong date and location.

  10. If she's that crazy I don't think she requires an explanation. It's your wedding invite who you want.

  11. ESB, don't be absurd. Her half brother is a minor, the woman in question is his mother. If the bride wants her step brother, she gets his mother as well. And under no circumstances should she call this young man and burden him by telling him all his mother's flaws and unseemly behavior that renders her so "uninvitable." This blog is funny usually, but there's no way you should be flip about discussing the details and consequences of addiction with someone's child.