Monday, July 8, 2013

Can I Uninvite My Dad?

Dear ESB,

First, I would like to say thank you for bringing humor and snark to the wedding planning process. I probably shouldn't admit that I read around 7 wedding blogs a day but yours is always the first. I'm hoping that you will have some advice for me. 

My dad left when I was young, stopped paying child support and overall just kind of sucked at the whole being a dad thing. I was angry with him for most of my teens and early twenties but I decided that the anger was really only hurting me and that I needed to accept him for who he is if I'm going to have him as part of my life. Since doing that our relationship is okay, not great. Long before I was ever engaged I decided that I would have my mom (who is awesome) walk me down the aisle for my wedding but I always dreaded having to tell my dad. However, when the time came I pulled up my big girl pants and we went to lunch and I told him how I felt. It was a good talk and he was supportive of my decision and even offered to give me a small(ish) amount of money to help with the wedding. He also asked for a father daughter dance and I agreed. 

Fast forward 8 months later, my wedding is only 2 months away and he has given me a quarter of the money that he promised and has overall been avoiding me and flaking out on any plans. I confronted him about it and he apologized but said that my grandmother (his mom) and my stepmom are "pissed" about the wedding and that is why he hasn't given me the money and has been avoiding me. We had lunch shortly after and he explained that my stepmom basically doesn't think that I deserve any money from him (I guess that's why he never paid child support). At this lunch he told me that we would have dinner with my stepmom to work things out that that he would definitely give me the money. 

Now it's two weeks later and nothing has happened and he's basically avoiding me again. It really isn't (and never was) about the money but now I sort of feel like I keep giving him chances because we really could use the extra money for the wedding. My sister and my mom want me to cut all ties with him and uninvite them to the wedding and my fiance is starting to be on the same page. I'm torn, can I just uninvite my dad to my wedding?

Daddy Issues?

P.S. The amount of money is basically enough to cover the cost of attendance for the 6 members of his family. 


Do you want to sever all ties?

Do you want your dad out of your life FOREVER?

He's clearly not the one holding the checkbook, and also he is a complete wuss, and that sucks.

But if you rescind their invitation to the wedding you will just be validating what your stepmother has told him all along: you don't deserve the money.

TAVI by Petra Collins via Pamela Love


  1. I think ESB's advice is spot on. Figure out how to move forward without his financial help and stop trying to nail him down, and don't uninvte him. It will just be another wound that will have to be healed at some point.

    And for the future I have some unsolicited advice. I too have a Dad that cannot be counted on. I did accept his offers to help (and planned on him following through) for my wedding. He didn't come through and it sucked for a number of emotional and practical reasons. Since then, I've manage similar situations by accepting his offers for help and never planning on the actual help. You're helping us move? Awesome! Sending money to help with the down payment? Great! But I never actually plan on him coming through. When he does, it's helpful and when he doesn't it doesn't mess anything up because his helping was always plan B, not plan A. It took me a long time to get to this point, and continues to save me a lot of frustration, anger and heartache.

    1. This. Why does it have to be all or nothing, keep pursuing the same course or cut him out completely? What about trying accept who he is and what he actually has to offer (some occasionally nice sentiments but ultimately not a lot of real help)?

    2. yup, this right here.

    3. This is how my daughter's father will be. I hope she handles is with as much grace.

  2. You know how much I love to talk things out, but I feel like this one is just broken, and the more you wade into trying to fix it (it being your dad following through on anything ever), the more emotionally invested you become and, ultimately, the more hurt you end up. I think the way forward is to detach as much as possible, with as little drama as possible. Trying to hash out the money situation is you trying to fix it (stop giving him any more chances; he's going to continue to be a disappointment, as shitty as that is) and uninviting him, especially this close to the wedding, is going to lead to a lot of drama, which is kind of a secret way of staying invested in something that is fucked up.

    Rather than talk this out, I think you need to prepare a brief declarative statement and then move on. Tell your dad that while you are disappointed, you no longer need the money from him or want to play these games with his wife.(Maybe you're not up for the father-daughter dance anymore? That makes sense. Make it clear that has nothing to do with $$.)

    Then call your therapist and spend a few sessions letting go of the whole shitty thing. And then have an awesome time at your wedding.

    1. "Tell your dad that while you are disappointed, you no longer need the money from him or want to play these games with his wife."

      Yes. This.

      ESB's right--if you aren't ready to 100% cut ties with him, don't disinvite him. But let the money go. It sucks, but it's not worth the hassle and heartache.

    2. Ms K's point that doing something you know will create drama is a "sneaky way of staying invested in something..." is spot on.

      I don't really have any advice for OP, just wanted to acknowledge that Ms K articulated something I've known to be true, but never seen/heard hashed out so succinctly. Thanks, lady

    3. yeah, i need a way to bookmark that particular quote from Ms K. a lot of wisdom there.

  3. If it were me, I'd uninvite him. I mean, your mom and sister don't want him there, your stepmother and grandmother don't support it, and in the end, it's causing you stress. If you remove him from the equation, there's nothing for anyone to worry about. I realize it's a tough and, as ESB pointed out, probably a permanent decision, but no amount of money (money you don't even really need if he doesn't come, as you pointed out) is worth all this confusion.

    Unfortunately, he's made it clear to you (through not being there physically and monetarily for you growing up) that you aren't a priority. I wouldn't make him one, either.

  4. I'd uninvite him. But I am bringing my own baggage to this conversation.

    I guess my advice to you is to stop waiting for your (biological) father to become your Dad. Ain't never gonna happen.

  5. Usually I'm not "an eye for an eye" kind of gal, but your story is making me think twice.

    I have a friend who told me once that he considers his friends to be his real family, because his friends have always been there for him and he can count on them, whereas his biological family basically sucks at life. He's one of the best friends anyone could ever ask for–probably because he values his friendships very deeply and puts a lot of energy into them, much like how most people treat their family members.

    You should be putting your time and energy into the people who value you back. And your wedding is a chance to honor those in your life who have been there for you. If it were me, I would probably uninvite shitty dad and stepmom.

  6. Hey there. I'm in the same situation except my dad didn't even offer financial help with the wedding (or ever). I am not inviting him to the wedding because I think it will make me feel very emotional and sad to see him there. He's missed most of my life events anyway; what's one more. Everyone else I truly care about will be there.

  7. As I was reading this I was amazed at how similar our situations are. I am having almost the exact same issues with including my dad in my wedding in various ways, and it has caused a ridiculous amount of stress and anxiety. My mom and sister also got very upset with me for including my dad in certain aspects of the wedding, but ultimately, here was my thought: Do I want to look back one day down the road, when he's old/sick/gone, not have memories of him at my wedding? Will I regret excluding him? I decided it would be more likely that I would regret excluding him than including him. Our relationships with our dads are just that, OUR relationships. Whatever issues other family members project on the situation, try not to feel pressured one way or the other, and just go with your gut. Sending love...I know exactly what you're going through, and it is so, so crappy.

  8. I stopped seeing my dad when I was 15. A few times over the 11 years since I've reached out a few times and yeah it seems fine at first but then he whips out his fucking crazy cards again and I remember why I am estranged from him. I haven't spoken to him at all in 3 years, he had no notice or anything of my wedding and I walked myself down the aisle. I do not regret that at all.

  9. I am in the exact same situation. My stepdad has been there for my entire life (been with my mom since elementary school) and my father has been absentee for about ten years. We have had an on and off relationship but we literally haven't spoken in two years, since he told me via text message he was divorcing my stepmother and had twins on the way with a girl two years older than me. Yeah.

    It didn't even cross my mind to invite him. I just assumed I'd have either my mom or stepdad (who I call 'Dad') walk me down the aisle, etc. However, I am extremely close with my father's family and I want his mother to officiate my wedding, so everyone feels it would be 'appropriate' to invite my biological father. His family is wonderful and I don't want to cause awkwardness by not inviting him, but it seems like a waste of an invitation that could be given to friends that have actually been there for me, or a member of my fiancé's family. (We are having an intimate wedding of under 100 guests due to budgetary concerns.) Sigh.

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  11. Sorry I'm late to the game but I wanted to add my two cents as someone who dis-invited her parents to her wedding.

    Uninviting my parents to my wedding was the precursor to me disowning them altogether. In part, because I couldn't see how I didn't want them at such an important event but did want them in my life? No, I didn't want them, period. The wedding just helped me see that they no longer made me feel anything but bad.

    Not having your dad at your wedding doesn't mean you've cut ties or are dis-owning him. But unless you seriously can't fathom your day being pleasant with him there, take a moment to think about this - especially because others (and sorry, but you need to tell your mom and sister to back the eff off.) are trying to dictate to you how it should be FOR THEIR SAKES. Think of yourself here, be selfish. That's the best advice I could give you. Make the decision you think will get you closest to happy/content.

  12. This really sucks but I think at a certain age we need to adjust our expectations of our parents...especially if they were always a bit flaky. This is who he is and he's your dad but don't expect him to be the doting father if never really was. Take it as it comes...invite him, hope that he's there, hope you have a nice dance, but if not, you're looking after yourself now, don't let him bring this beautiful moment down because he can't get it together.


  13. ESB is spot on. I get the sinking suspicion you will regret not inviting him and also regret severing ties. Invite him as a guest (as you would a distant aunt), find a way to pay for his family's meals, SIT YOUR MOM'S SIDE OF THE FAMILY AS FAR AWAY FROM HIS FAMILY AS YOU CAN, and you'll be so busy the day of your wedding you won't be able to get too bogged down in the emotion.

    It also shows your c-bag stepmom that you are the better person to still want to have him in your life in spite of her bullshit, which is another win.

  14. i'd just like to add --

    who gives a SHIT about 'validating' evil stepmom and grandma ... two people you will probably never EVER see again.

    best wishes for a glorious wedding. <3

  15. give him back his money, have his seating card say Dad Lastname & Guest,, and put his whole table of 6 miserable c-bags (love that @anon 621) in the corner furthest from your Mom & sister.
    in all reality - you will prob have very little to do with him and his ilk in the future, as you are obv marrying into an awesome fam, and have some kick-ass ladies in your life already.
    all you really have to do is 'do the right thing' - and stop expecting anything (financially or emotionally) from him. also, nix the dance as a fuck you. he deserves that.

  16. you dont need his money, he hasnt been there for you (because of his wife, or really because of him?). No need to create drama, but expect that he and his family wont come, or maybe itll just be him. My dad sucks, his new wife is a WHOLE bag of crazy, and rather than thinking our relationship will be how it used to just sets me up for disappointment, so I don't talk to him. Being an ocean away helps. Focus on your wedding and marriage, and let him do what he does.