Ask Miriam | Invite Etiquette Stumps Reader


Dear Miriam,

I am getting married soon, and I’m having a hard time with the guest list because of a complicated cousin situation. I have a ton of second cousins on my dad’s side, but I am only close with one of them. The only cousins from this group who have gotten married haven’t invited me, and besides the one with whom I am close, I haven’t seen or spoken to the others in years. All of my dad’s first cousins will be invited, so they would know that only one out of all of their children received an invitation, but I assume they must also know that she and I are friends, not just cousins. Does inviting her mean I’m obligated to invite all of the other second cousins with whom I have no relationship?


So Many Second Cousins

Dear Cousins,

If you’re not close with a person, presumably you don’t care about seeing her get married. Additionally, if you’re not close with someone — whether a relative or not — you probably don’t want an invitation that, at least conventionally, means you’re expected to purchase a gift. In these cases, not being invited to an extended family member’s wedding is a relief, not a snub.

However, I realize not everyone views it that way. The best way to approach this is by talking to your dad. Ask what he thinks about the family relationships at play and who should be included. Depending on his relationships with his cousins, he may be able to gauge who’s expecting an invitation and whether people are likely to be insulted. Also, if your parents are contributing financially, they may have a greater stake in the guest list.

Since you’re actually friends with the one second cousin, you could also ask her opinion. Will her siblings be offended? Does she have a sense as to whether the other cousins will be? Has she been invited to cousin weddings where you haven’t been included? As helpful as I hope your dad will be, talking to someone in your generation may provide an additional valuable perspective.

Then, after you do whatever perspective gathering you are able to do, you’ll need to make a decision that works for you and your fiance. You’re not obligated to invite anyone to your wedding that you don’t want to be there, no matter who the person is or how you might be related. Your wedding should include the people who are important to you, and only you know who’s on that list.

Be well,



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