Curating a wedding guest list forces you and your SO to do a mental inventory of everyone in your life important enough to witness one of your most exciting days. Depending on your situation and past, it’s possible that an old flame will cross your mind. Inviting an ex to your wedding probably sounds like a terrible idea—it might be!
That said, not all relationships end badly and, yes, we even believe that friendships can persist post-breakup. However, even if you’re on decent terms, this situation requires a full analysis. Here’s how to decide if you should invite your ex to your wedding.
Unless you and your SO decide to absolutely bar all past romantic relationships (not an unlikely or ridiculous request), technically you can invite your ex to your wedding. It doesn’t always mean you should, though. Here are some considerations to ponder first.
Not all exes are the same. That person you spent three years with probably weighs much differently to your partner than someone you dated for a few weeks. Think seriously about the relationship you shared and also about what your partner knows about it. Inviting a good friend from college that you kind-of-sort-of dated could feel casual to you but could be uncomfortable to your partner. Be sure to really consider each relationship as it relates to you and your partner.
For whatever reason, some exes stay in our lives. If your ex or your SO’s ex is still heavily involved in your life—as in you run in the same crowd and are still good friends—then it makes sense to invite them. However, if your partner has never met your ex before and the first time they’re hearing of your ex is when the guest list discussion comes up, then, well, you might want to reconsider that invitation.
Take a minute to really think about why you want this person to attend your wedding. Is it because you want them to see how happy you are without them? Or is it because you have children together and you want your ex there to keep the familial peace? Take the time to really decipher your motivation behind the invitation. Sometimes it’s purely logistical, but sometimes it’s all emotional.
Another way to approach the scenario is to consider if your ex would be surprised—pleasantly or unpleasantly—if an invite to your wedding showed up in their mailbox. For example, an ex who you haven’t spoken to in years might be wondering why you invited them and not even care to see you get married. Alternatively, your ex could be surprised because he or she has genuinely moved on and you two don’t really communicate anymore. If you feel like that’s the case, maybe forgo the invitation.
Whether you want to invite your ex or your partner wants to invite his or hers, you need to be on the same page. This may require a few conversations overtime. It should be noted, though, that if you feel deeply uncomfortable or awkward raising the issue with your partner, maybe that’s a sign that inviting your ex to your wedding isn’t worth the discomfort for either of you. If you do progress with the conversation, here’s how to navigate the situation with as little drama as possible.
If either of you feels weird about hosting someone specific at your wedding then definitely chime up. Burying those feelings will only make it worse as wedding planning goes on and you run the risk of letting them bubble up at an unsavory time. It’s not worth it to be chill about the situation just to have it boil up later. Open communication is everything, right? So be open and feel free to air your feelings about the situation in a collected way.
On the other hand, if you’re the one who wants to invite the ex, be crystal clear about your reasoning and be prepared to be shut down regardless.
There’s a reason why you or your partner want this ex to be at the wedding. There’s also a reason why the other person doesn’t. This is a tricky place to be in so try your best to see it from the other person’s point of view without jumping to conclusions or into a fight. Don’t assume your partner doesn’t want your ex there for any reason other than this person is your ex and from your past. That’s good enough. You would likely want and expect the same reaction if you didn’t want your partner’s ex there. Empathy is the way.
If you talk it out and decide that, for specific reasons, that one of your exes will attend the wedding, there are ways to take the edge off. In the event that you haven’t met him or her, you should try to do that sooner rather than later. Sometimes it’s nice to meet IRL to get a sense of a person and feel more confident about the situation. This is likely helpful in instances where the ex shares something significant with your partner, such as children or even a close friend group.
We can’t stress enough, though, that you don’t need to meet anyone you don’t feel comfortable meeting. If there isn’t a real legitimate need to include this ex in the wedding, it’s time to have another conversation and nip it in the bud.
At the end of the day, your wedding is exactly that—it’s yours. Your wedding is about celebrating you and your partner’s relationship so you should try your best to prioritize each other’s wants and needs. Do not spend too much time worrying about whether you should invite your ex to your wedding.
If, after some thought and discussion, someone is still not 100% comfortable with the situation, then that’s that. Your ex or your partner’s ex isn’t getting an invite to your wedding. It's time to move on for good.