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Very long story but my future son-in-law confronted his parents about ongoing emotional abuse around Christmas. He tried to lay out boundries and they flipped out on him, demeaning and belittling him (yet again).  Then they went to the priest who was handling the marriage preparation and led him to refuse to marry the couple. FSIL cut ties with them in January, moved parishes and set a new wedding date. He refuses to invite his family to the wedding.

I am not surprised and support him in this decision (he keeps having panic attacks when he thinks of dealing with them) He is in therapy and has begun treatment for PTSD.

Has any one been to a wedding or held a wedding in these kind of circumstances?  What did you do about family pictures?  What if the groom's family shows up uninvited?  Any advice? Suggestions?

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If the wedding is still many months out, emotions may cool enough that even if parents are not invited, they are less likely to crash it.  If you really think they may crash the wedding, hire a security guard. 

For family photos I would encourage the groom to have photos with people who have been important to him - his chosen family. Have people seated across both sides of the aisle no matter whose "side" they represent. I think you should talk a lot about how happy you are to have him be part of your family when you speak at the reception. I know that would mean a lot. You can just drop the "groom and his mother" dance altogether. My stepfather could not physically dance and we just didn't do it.

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The two times I've known people in very difficult situations with family, they chose not to invite any family to the wedding at all, even family they loved and were not upset with. In both cases, that turned out to be a very good decision, even if some people felt a little hurt. In one case, a series of family parties to celebrate the marriage were held instead and the couple had enough money to cater and host those in ways that made the family happy without having to bring people together for a wedding, which seemed like it was just going to be particularly fraught.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this. I hope it works out for the best, whatever that may turn out to be. And I hope your FSIL finds the sort of family love and support he needs with your dd and family.

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9 hours ago, NorthwestMom said:

If the wedding is still many months out, emotions may cool enough that even if parents are not invited, they are less likely to crash it.  If you really think they may crash the wedding, hire a security guard. 

For family photos I would encourage the groom to have photos with people who have been important to him - his chosen family. Have people seated across both sides of the aisle no matter whose "side" they represent. I think you should talk a lot about how happy you are to have him be part of your family when you speak at the reception. I know that would mean a lot. You can just drop the "groom and his mother" dance altogether. My stepfather could not physically dance and we just didn't do it.

The wedding is in June. Frankly, I am hoping that the EMDR helps enough the he is willing to at least invite his parents to the wedding. I don't hold any particular love for them but I think that they need to be invited if there is any hope of a future relationship.  I don't feel like we owe anyone relationship, especially if they abused us, but his father has Parkinson's and he has 6 younger siblings and he may want to be part of their lives some day.

For the photos, I think that are just going to focus on the "new family" aspect and not do "the bride with her family" photos.  Maybe some bode and mom or bride and dad or siblings photos, but the main focus will be the new enlarged family.

they had decided long before he estrangement that they were not going to do the "brides side" seating and "grooms side" seating.  Our FSIL came from our homeschooling group and the families had many mutual friends, so they were trying to avoid making hem choose.

They were also only doing a first dance, skipping the bride and dad and groom and mom. My husband (brides dad) is not a dancer and is shy and being the center of that much attention would be really hard for him. He would do it if my daughter really wanted it but she knows her dad and opted to skip that.

I just can't figure out of there are any other details that we need to think of.

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9 hours ago, Farrar said:

The two times I've known people in very difficult situations with family, they chose not to invite any family to the wedding at all, even family they loved and were not upset with. In both cases, that turned out to be a very good decision, even if some people felt a little hurt. In one case, a series of family parties to celebrate the marriage were held instead and the couple had enough money to cater and host those in ways that made the family happy without having to bring people together for a wedding, which seemed like it was just going to be particularly fraught.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this. I hope it works out for the best, whatever that may turn out to be. And I hope your FSIL finds the sort of family love and support he needs with your dd and family.

Do you mean, not even invite the bride's family?  

We have a great relationship with my FSIL. He actually lives with us. He was a 5th year senior in college when COVID struck and college students had to return home. He is the 4th child out of 11 and his parents literally had no room at home. My daughter had moved out so we had a spare room and he moved in with us.  He didn't get an apartment right away because he is Army reservist, he graduated from college in May and then left in July for 5 months of army training. When he got back from training he had 5 months until the wedding. we live in NOVA (just outside the beltway) and no where rents month to month and it seemed silly to pay for an apartment that he wasn't living in for 5 months.

Even though he is close to us, we cannot replace his family.

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Are both of the parents emotionally abusive?  And has this been going on for a long time?  Are either of his parents open to change?

You mentioned that his dad has Parkinson's.  Is it possible that his meds are causing some of his behavior?  (My dad had Parkinson's and we realized that some of his meds were causing some of his behavior.)  He was a very different person after his doctor changed his meds -- this is when we realized how much the previous meds were affecting him.

I'm sorry that this family is so broken.  I hope that things change and your daughter and FSIL can have good relationships with them someday.

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I have quite a few situations like that in my family.  My step-brothers who cut off all contact with their abusive bio mom. My dad who cut off all contact with his abusive father. My maternal grandfather whose father was cut off from all of the kids because he was abusive. When they cut contact, they cut contact all the way. No invitations to weddings, holidays, graduations, baby showers, funerals, etc.  No updates sent to them about life events of their adult children.  Nothing.  We're talking abusive parents, not difficult parents. 

 One of them was my former sister-in-law was emotionally and spiritually abusive to her daughters that have ongoing PTSD issues from it. (She had another child by a previous marriage who cut off all contact with her when he became an adult 15sih years before my nieces did.) No, former sister-in-law was not invited to either of their weddings, baby showers, holidays celebrations, etc.  There is no managing that dynamic in a wedding setting without it sucking the life and joy out of the adult child. When nieces cut off contact, they cut off all contact.  Anyone who has earned cut off contact from an adult child is not entitled to invitations for celebratory life events or holidays because they have spent years demonstrating they are unwilling or unable to uphold standards of the most basic decent behavior in interacting with family members they claim to love- behavior that normal people wouldn't do to their enemies. 

Invitations for celebratory life events and holidays should only come after an abusive parent has demonstrated repentance with:

1. confession that they were abusive
2. articulating some understanding of how and why it was so damaging, a willingness to change and be held accountable
3. demonstrating a consistent pattern of changed behavior/attitude over a long period of time-as in at least a couple of years

Until all of the above 3 criteria have been met, no invitations should be issued.

Only invite people who are on board with saying nothing about the event to the abusive parent and are willing to completely disengage from the abusive parent the way the adult child does.   It's common for people in those situations to have very small weddings so they can be sure their celebratory event stays celebratory.  Yes, there may be collateral cuts to guest lists for the sake of fairness if it becomes too complex to pick and choose from concentric circles of relations. If anyone wants to be angry about that reality, they should direct their anger to the abusive parent that caused the complexity.

Anyone still stuck in an antiquated mindset of weddings being about established (as opposed to selected) community, relationship status, wealth status, social payback, traditionalism, etc. should be immediately eliminated from the guest list.  They're not people in a mindset to support the abused adult child because they prioritize the wrong things. Adult children of abusers bear huge internal psychological burdens that take years of specialized therapy to adequately address, so life event celebrations and holidays are potential flashpoints if they don't carefully cull people around them who might add to their ongoing internal struggles caused by the abusive parent.

I attended a church where uninvited abusive parents of the bride were removed by law enforcement when they showed up. The staff was notified of the potential problem and was watching for them.  They were asked to leave.  They didn't.  The police were called to remove them. ( I wasn't invited to that wedding, one of the musicians was a friend of mine who told be about what she witnessed.)

My only issue with that scenario was the bride and groom choosing to be married at the church they regularly attended. All of that scene and stress could have been avoided if they simply chose to get married at another church or other location they didn't regularly attend. (You can still have a very religious wedding in a location other than a church.)  The pastor understood the potential problem and could've probably made arrangements with other churches in the general of the same denomination. And I suspect word got out through the guests when and where.  You have to give on something if you don't want the drama.  Give on guests of necessary and location and enjoy some much deserved peace or as close to peace as an adult child with PTSD can come to.

 Just take pictures with the supportive family that's been invited and attends. You make family.  The world is full of adoptive, step, and non-genetic family that people have made because family isn't DNA-it's behavior and attitudes of a commitment to loving support and care for each other. Usually people who share DNA are a real family like that but sometimes they're not, they' sick twisted versions of cruel saboteurs and traitors that don't deserve the status of family, so they don't get the perks of being in the family pictures at family events.

I have built family that isn't DNA related with step-family and adopting my youngest. I have a sister-in-law who has never been married to any of my brothers. She and her husband are such close family friends, they're family.  Their kids call me aunt. We don't share DNA.  They're in our family pictures with my bio-brother and his wife and kids, my step-brothers and their wives and kids, my step-sister and her finance and their kids, my husband and kids, and my mom and step-dad.  

I have 2 dads.  My step-dad who I lived with from the time I was 3-20 who is my dad.  There's no legal adoption, because I also have an engaged and loving bio-dad with standard visitation from a 1974 divorce and my adult relationship with him,  but they're both my dads, just the same.  DNA doesn't matter in this situation; I'm my step-dad's daughter the same as his bio daughter (he thinks, but might not be his because of his ex-wife's objectively confirmed ongoing adulterous at the time-he doesn't want to know if she's not his biologically because she's his daughter either way, but the courts wouldn't have taken that view during the divorce if she wasn't. ) He's my dad the same as by bio-dad because life isn't as simple as some people want it to be.

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10 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

I have quite a few situations like that in my family.  My step-brothers who cut off all contact with their abusive bio mom. My dad who cut off all contact with his abusive father. My maternal grandfather whose father was cut off from all of the kids because he was abusive. When they cut contact, they cut contact all the way. No invitations to weddings, holidays, graduations, baby showers, funerals, etc.  No updates sent to them about life events of their adult children.  Nothing.  We're talking abusive parents, not difficult parents. 

 One of them was my former sister-in-law was emotionally and spiritually abusive to her daughters that have ongoing PTSD issues from it. (She had another child by a previous marriage who cut off all contact with her when he became an adult 15sih years before my nieces did.) No, former sister-in-law was not invited to either of their weddings, baby showers, holidays celebrations, etc.  There is no managing that dynamic in a wedding setting without it sucking the life and joy out of the adult child. When nieces cut off contact, they cut off all contact.  Anyone who has earned cut off contact from an adult child is not entitled to invitations for celebratory life events or holidays because they have spent years demonstrating they are unwilling or unable to uphold standards of the most basic decent behavior in interacting with family members they claim to love- behavior that normal people wouldn't do to their enemies. 

Invitations for celebratory life events and holidays should only come after an abusive parent has demonstrated repentance with:

1. confession that they were abusive
2. articulating some understanding of how and why it was so damaging, a willingness to change and be held accountable
3. demonstrating a consistent pattern of changed behavior/attitude over a long period of time-as in at least a couple of years

Until all of the above 3 criteria have been met, no invitations should be issued.

Only invite people who are on board with saying nothing about the event to the abusive parent and are willing to completely disengage from the abusive parent the way the adult child does.   It's common for people in those situations to have very small weddings so they can be sure their celebratory event stays celebratory.  Yes, there may be collateral cuts to guest lists for the sake of fairness if it becomes too complex to pick and choose from concentric circles of relations. If anyone wants to be angry about that reality, they should direct their anger to the abusive parent that caused the complexity.

Anyone still stuck in an antiquated mindset of weddings being about established (as opposed to selected) community, relationship status, wealth status, social payback, traditionalism, etc. should be immediately eliminated from the guest list.  They're not people in a mindset to support the abused adult child because they prioritize the wrong things. Adult children of abusers bear huge internal psychological burdens that take years of specialized therapy to adequately address, so life event celebrations and holidays are potential flashpoints if they don't carefully cull people around them who might add to their ongoing internal struggles caused by the abusive parent.

I attended a church where uninvited abusive parents of the bride were removed by law enforcement when they showed up. The staff was notified of the potential problem and was watching for them.  They were asked to leave.  They didn't.  The police were called to remove them. ( I wasn't invited to that wedding, one of the musicians was a friend of mine who told be about what she witnessed.)

My only issue with that scenario was the bride and groom choosing to be married at the church they regularly attended. All of that scene and stress could have been avoided if they simply chose to get married at another church or other location they didn't regularly attend. (You can still have a very religious wedding in a location other than a church.)  The pastor understood the potential problem and could've probably made arrangements with other churches in the general of the same denomination. And I suspect word got out through the guests when and where.  You have to give on something if you don't want the drama.  Give on guests of necessary and location and enjoy some much deserved peace or as close to peace as an adult child with PTSD can come to.

 Just take pictures with the supportive family that's been invited and attends. You make family.  The world is full of adoptive, step, and non-genetic family that people have made because family isn't DNA-it's behavior and attitudes of a commitment to loving support and care for each other. Usually people who share DNA are a real family like that but sometimes they're not, they' sick twisted versions of cruel saboteurs and traitors that don't deserve the status of family, so they don't get the perks of being in the family pictures at family events.

I have built family that isn't DNA related with step-family and adopting my youngest. I have a sister-in-law who has never been married to any of my brothers. She and her husband are such close family friends, they're family.  Their kids call me aunt. We don't share DNA.  They're in our family pictures with my bio-brother and his wife and kids, my step-brothers and their wives and kids, my step-sister and her finance and their kids, my husband and kids, and my mom and step-dad.  

I have 2 dads.  My step-dad who I lived with from the time I was 3-20 who is my dad.  There's no legal adoption, because I also have an engaged and loving bio-dad with standard visitation from a 1974 divorce and my adult relationship with him,  but they're both my dads, just the same.  DNA doesn't matter in this situation; I'm my step-dad's daughter the same as his bio daughter (he thinks, but might not be his because of his ex-wife's objectively confirmed ongoing adulterous at the time-he doesn't want to know if she's not his biologically because she's his daughter either way, but the courts wouldn't have taken that view during the divorce if she wasn't. ) He's my dad the same as by bio-dad because life isn't as simple as some people want it to be.

Very wise words here.

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50 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

I have quite a few situations like that in my family.  My step-brothers who cut off all contact with their abusive bio mom. My dad who cut off all contact with his abusive father. My maternal grandfather whose father was cut off from all of the kids because he was abusive. When they cut contact, they cut contact all the way. No invitations to weddings, holidays, graduations, baby showers, funerals, etc.  No updates sent to them about life events of their adult children.  Nothing.  We're talking abusive parents, not difficult parents. 

 One of them was my former sister-in-law was emotionally and spiritually abusive to her daughters that have ongoing PTSD issues from it. (She had another child by a previous marriage who cut off all contact with her when he became an adult 15sih years before my nieces did.) No, former sister-in-law was not invited to either of their weddings, baby showers, holidays celebrations, etc.  There is no managing that dynamic in a wedding setting without it sucking the life and joy out of the adult child. When nieces cut off contact, they cut off all contact.  Anyone who has earned cut off contact from an adult child is not entitled to invitations for celebratory life events or holidays because they have spent years demonstrating they are unwilling or unable to uphold standards of the most basic decent behavior in interacting with family members they claim to love- behavior that normal people wouldn't do to their enemies. 

Invitations for celebratory life events and holidays should only come after an abusive parent has demonstrated repentance with:

1. confession that they were abusive
2. articulating some understanding of how and why it was so damaging, a willingness to change and be held accountable
3. demonstrating a consistent pattern of changed behavior/attitude over a long period of time-as in at least a couple of years

Until all of the above 3 criteria have been met, no invitations should be issued.

Only invite people who are on board with saying nothing about the event to the abusive parent and are willing to completely disengage from the abusive parent the way the adult child does.   It's common for people in those situations to have very small weddings so they can be sure their celebratory event stays celebratory.  Yes, there may be collateral cuts to guest lists for the sake of fairness if it becomes too complex to pick and choose from concentric circles of relations. If anyone wants to be angry about that reality, they should direct their anger to the abusive parent that caused the complexity.

Anyone still stuck in an antiquated mindset of weddings being about established (as opposed to selected) community, relationship status, wealth status, social payback, traditionalism, etc. should be immediately eliminated from the guest list.  They're not people in a mindset to support the abused adult child because they prioritize the wrong things. Adult children of abusers bear huge internal psychological burdens that take years of specialized therapy to adequately address, so life event celebrations and holidays are potential flashpoints if they don't carefully cull people around them who might add to their ongoing internal struggles caused by the abusive parent.

I attended a church where uninvited abusive parents of the bride were removed by law enforcement when they showed up. The staff was notified of the potential problem and was watching for them.  They were asked to leave.  They didn't.  The police were called to remove them. ( I wasn't invited to that wedding, one of the musicians was a friend of mine who told be about what she witnessed.)

My only issue with that scenario was the bride and groom choosing to be married at the church they regularly attended. All of that scene and stress could have been avoided if they simply chose to get married at another church or other location they didn't regularly attend. (You can still have a very religious wedding in a location other than a church.)  The pastor understood the potential problem and could've probably made arrangements with other churches in the general of the same denomination. And I suspect word got out through the guests when and where.  You have to give on something if you don't want the drama.  Give on guests of necessary and location and enjoy some much deserved peace or as close to peace as an adult child with PTSD can come to.

 Just take pictures with the supportive family that's been invited and attends. You make family.  The world is full of adoptive, step, and non-genetic family that people have made because family isn't DNA-it's behavior and attitudes of a commitment to loving support and care for each other. Usually people who share DNA are a real family like that but sometimes they're not, they' sick twisted versions of cruel saboteurs and traitors that don't deserve the status of family, so they don't get the perks of being in the family pictures at family events.

I have built family that isn't DNA related with step-family and adopting my youngest. I have a sister-in-law who has never been married to any of my brothers. She and her husband are such close family friends, they're family.  Their kids call me aunt. We don't share DNA.  They're in our family pictures with my bio-brother and his wife and kids, my step-brothers and their wives and kids, my step-sister and her finance and their kids, my husband and kids, and my mom and step-dad.  

I have 2 dads.  My step-dad who I lived with from the time I was 3-20 who is my dad.  There's no legal adoption, because I also have an engaged and loving bio-dad with standard visitation from a 1974 divorce and my adult relationship with him,  but they're both my dads, just the same.  DNA doesn't matter in this situation; I'm my step-dad's daughter the same as his bio daughter (he thinks, but might not be his because of his ex-wife's objectively confirmed ongoing adulterous at the time-he doesn't want to know if she's not his biologically because she's his daughter either way, but the courts wouldn't have taken that view during the divorce if she wasn't. ) He's my dad the same as by bio-dad because life isn't as simple as some people want it to be.

Thank You, this is exactly what we have all been feeling. Your guidelines for an invitation are exactly what my FSIL has articulated. The reality is that they will never happen. His mom is the main abuser and the dad is, frankly, a hostage that has given in to the whims of his wife.  When son tried to set out very simple boundries is December, "If you begin to yell at me, I will hang up until we can talk calmly". They refused.  They lay all blame on my daughter and claim that she is emotionally manipulating their son. They banned her from their home. He hasn't spoken to them since.

We do have a new venue for the ceremony. No one has told the parents, when or where the wedding will be, but I am sure that word will get to them from guests who do not understand the severity of the situation. The mom is well-loved and respected in our community. She hides the things occurring at her house very well.

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Maybe what I am not articulating well, is how to make SIL feel better on the day of the wedding?  He made the choices he made and they are the right choices (he currently has PTSD from his treatment and has panic attacks when he thinks about his family) but he still misses his family, especially his younger siblings.  I'm trying to figure out how to make the absence of one entire side of the wedding party less obvious on the day of the wedding.

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When son tried to set out very simple boundaries is December, "If you begin to yell at me, I will hang up until we can talk calmly". They refused.  They lay all blame on my daughter and claim that she is emotionally manipulating their son. They banned her from their home. He hasn't spoken to them since.

 

That is extremely typical.

Definitely hire security for this event, and as much as possible cull the guest list to people who understand the concept of "need to know" and how it applies in abuse situations.

Your daughter and your son-in-law would also be well advised to speak to their employers about not giving out information to anybody who asks, because it's very possible that these people will try to keep tabs on them via their employers. Likewise, if they live in an apartment they should see if the building manager can remind all tenants not to let people in, etc.

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I'm trying to figure out how to make the absence of one entire side of the wedding party less obvious on the day of the wedding.

I don't think you can. I'm sorry, but if he misses his siblings and they can't come because of all this, you can't hide that fact - and trying might actively sound like you're trying to paper over the pain rather than help him authentically celebrate.

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3 hours ago, retiredHSmom said:

Maybe what I am not articulating well, is how to make SIL feel better on the day of the wedding?  He made the choices he made and they are the right choices (he currently has PTSD from his treatment and has panic attacks when he thinks about his family) but he still misses his family, especially his younger siblings.  I'm trying to figure out how to make the absence of one entire side of the wedding party less obvious on the day of the wedding.

The youngest siblings is a tough one.  My first cousin, Al, has a daughter who was engaged to a man from a homeschooled, abused, isolated community situation.  He was one of the younger ones. Several of his older brothers were estranged from his parents and the remaining children at home. When he came of age they made contact with each other.  There's only so much a person can do when their parents are abusers. They ended their engagement for reasons I don't know about.

A lot of abuse surviving involves grieving losses of all kinds, like loss of contact with minor aged siblings.  It's a grueling process. The other thing that I think is worth mentioning is that trauma is developmental, so you and your daughter should understand that as future son-in-law moves through the same stages of life as anyone else would, he'll reprocess that trauma from different perspectives.  If they decide to be parents, it's probably going to be very intense for him because he's going to make very different parenting decisions with dramatically different motivations, priorities, and values than his parents did, and he's probably going to have a lot of feelings about that and how it affected him as a child and as an adult.

If he's still in the same community as they are, it wouldn't surprise me to hear a therapist encourage him to consider relocating farther away if at all possible.  Cleaner breaks and further distances can be helpful in many situations-there's just so much stuff to sort out that being in an environment that isn't full of childhood memory triggers can help provide much needed bandwidth for therapy.

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8 hours ago, retiredHSmom said:

Do you mean, not even invite the bride's family?  

 

Yep, though it was the other way around. So not even the groom's wonderful family or the parts of the family that were close to the bride. They just decided it wasn't worth the drama and keeping it even was best for all. And it worked out fine.

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4 hours ago, Farrar said:

Yep, though it was the other way around. So not even the groom's wonderful family or the parts of the family that were close to the bride. They just decided it wasn't worth the drama and keeping it even was best for all. And it worked out fine.

Definitely a valid option for anyone in this kind of situation. Seriously, always keep in mind that people with PTSD have little if any extra bandwidth and are usually surrounded by triggers that go off any time-it's psychologically exhausting.

All the stress related to trying to keep the parents away by avoiding the abusive parents' spies (sometimes they have family and friend spies trying to "keep the family together" and avoid making waves with the parents,) all the stress of the wedding itself on top of all the internal trauma bubbling up with the abusive parents' manipulative voices in the adult child's head, the trying to relocate after the wedding because the abusive parents are slandering the adult child's new spouse as the enemy, the abusive parents' campaign to convince the community the abusive parents are the victims in all this, etc. is more than anyone can bear.  If you thought it was a real possibility you would have to have your abusive parents dragged away by security or law enforcement at your wedding, how motivated would be to have a wedding? It wouldn't just be more trauma, it would be public trauma on what's supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. Eloping and having only two witnesses that are staff or the photographer and host of the little wedding venue can be a great strategy.

My oldest did that for her wedding ceremony.  First she invited us, but then her MIL went ballistic about the fairness of it (she was across the country and couldn't travel.) So daughter asked us not to come to the ceremony after all because it was just too freaking much stress to navigate and she just wanted to be married without anything hanging over her head. I told her we'd happily do whatever she decided was best for the two of them in their situation.  She wanted it just to be the two of them with no one else to think about. I fully supported her decision. She asked us to come for dinner after. We did.  We drove the 12 hours and hosted them at a very elegant French restaurant for dinner after the short simple ceremony at the officiant's house (a beautiful back yard with woodland views) with just the two of them, the officiant, and a photographer/witness friend of daughter's. Photographer friend was invited to dinner with us.

My middle daughter and her husband didn't invite anyone to the ceremony either because of her MIL and my mother. It was a secular ceremony and there are wings of very fundamentalist extended family that absolutely would cause a fuss about the secular ceremony and her MIL goes into rages over anything and nothing all the time.  All the friends and family and extended family were invited to a backyard reception afterward. Yes, there were relatives that complained because they didn't read the invitation carefully and didn't notice it was an invitation to a reception celebrating the marriage of daughter and son in law. Oh well. Picking and choosing guests for the ceremony would've created all kinds of resentment between different factions on both sides and son-in-law's relationship with his mother has been barely hanging on by a thread and daughter has no relationship with my mother anymore either.

Meanwhile we've been playing the long game by being the most reasonable, flexible, supportive side who don't get offended and are always sympathetic.  We moved across the country shortly after and daughter and son-in-law happily followed, choosing to live 20 minutes from us. A couple of years later other daughter and son-in-law moved to the area when work dried up 12 hours away.  Now we get together on a weekly basis because we all like to be together and feel supported and loved.  Did I attend their wedding ceremonies?  Nope.  Do I have Sunday lunch and board game afternoons on a weekly basis?  Yep.  Almost every week.  Play the long game and you'll win.

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9 hours ago, retiredHSmom said:

Maybe what I am not articulating well, is how to make SIL feel better on the day of the wedding?  He made the choices he made and they are the right choices (he currently has PTSD from his treatment and has panic attacks when he thinks about his family) but he still misses his family, especially his younger siblings.  I'm trying to figure out how to make the absence of one entire side of the wedding party less obvious on the day of the wedding.

My best advice is to have a small, private ceremony or elope. Seriously. Like, a handful of people.

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I was gonna say .... have they considered a very small destination wedding and then a later, more casual "celebration" (not reception) with friends and family - one where there are fewer "traditions" that put the absences in th spotlight (ditch the assigned family dances, cake cutting, etc at the celebration) ? 

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15 hours ago, retiredHSmom said:

Maybe what I am not articulating well, is how to make SIL feel better on the day of the wedding?  He made the choices he made and they are the right choices (he currently has PTSD from his treatment and has panic attacks when he thinks about his family) but he still misses his family, especially his younger siblings.  I'm trying to figure out how to make the absence of one entire side of the wedding party less obvious on the day of the wedding.

I don't think you can "make it less obvious". Less obvious to whom? SIL? The other guests?  SIL is going to know his relatives aren't there. 

At my first wedding, my (now ex) husband's family did not attend; he was estranged from most of them. 

My advice would be to not focus on "traditions".  You aren't working with 2 traditional families, so trying to make everything fit to tradition won't work or feel right. 

Do pictures of just the bride and groom. If the bride wants photos with extended family, do those before the ceremony. I did all my wedding pics prior to the ceremony because I wanted to have fun at the reception, and not be dragged off for pictures. I kept the bridal party small (my 2 siblings, ex-DH's best friend, my favorite uncle).  Everyone was told to sit where ever, and not stick to "bride's side/groom's side".  We did not have wedding programs. (Everyone attending already knew who we were, lol. We did not need a formal brochure explaining ourselves). 

I kept the father-daughter dance, because my dad wanted it. My ex-dh asked my grandma to dance later on, which made her very happy. 🙂 I skipped the bouquet and garter toss because I think those things are kind of awful and all the single women attending were under 18, so just...no.  I gave my bouquet to my mom as a keepsake, instead.  No speeches or toasts. We took pictures, got married, danced, and ate food. 

And it was fine. The marriage was a train wreck, the planning of the wedding was awful because my stepmother hijacked so many details, but the actual order of events at the wedding and reception? It was fine and no one (other than my stepmother) was clutching their pearls because something was not done according to "tradition". 

Or...do like I did for my second marriage: elope.  No regrets! 

 

Edited by MissLemon
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So, my situation at the time wasn’t as... severe. But I did make my wedding a small, fairly private, not-so-traditional/formal event because of it. It didn’t make sense to me to spend the day noticing, or thinking about others noticing, a glaring omission from a typical event.  So it was atypical, focused on the real purpose, and deviated from so many traditions that the one big omission wasn’t a factor.

 

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We basically eloped — we got married in front of a justice-of-the-peace with my Dad and Step-Mom in attendance.

There were other things going on and it wasn’t exactly a planned elopement.  
 

But I didn’t really know at the time how difficult my ILs were and what my husband’s actual situation was in high school.  
 

Unfortunately I can say my ILs would have really made things stressful for my husband.


But he is not someone who cares a lot about weddings and our wedding was fine with me, too.  It worked out well for us.  We actually had a really cool wedding/honeymoon in Denmark and Germany, because my husband was stationed in Germany and couldn’t get leave (long enough for the US), so we did a package tour/wedding thing.  

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I will add — there is a lot of shame involved sometimes with not coming from a “nice family.”

I’m sorry I don’t have recommendations to make it nicer for the new son-in-law.  But I think it is so worthwhile to make an effort to make it less obvious that he does not have “a nice family” at the wedding.  

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20 hours ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:



All the stress related to trying to keep the parents away by avoiding the abusive parents' spies (sometimes they have family and friend spies trying to "keep the family together" and avoid making waves with the parents,) all the stress of the wedding itself on top of all the internal trauma bubbling up with the abusive parents' manipulative voices in the adult child's head, the trying to relocate after the wedding because the abusive parents are slandering the adult child's new spouse as the enemy, the abusive parents' campaign to convince the community the abusive parents are the victims in all this, etc. is more than anyone can bear.  If you thought it was a real possibility you would have to have your abusive parents dragged away by security or law enforcement at your wedding, how motivated would be to have a wedding? It wouldn't just be more trauma, it would be public trauma on what's supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. Eloping and having only two witnesses that are staff or the photographer and host of the little wedding venue can be a great strategy.

 Play the long game and you'll win.

My family is very conversant with trauma and PTSD. One of my daughters has PTSD from an emotionally/sexually abusive relationship. She was tremendously helped by EMDR therapy and her therapist got my SIL in with a tremendous EMDR therapist who isn't actually accepting new clients. So we are all hopeful on that front.

My husband and I suggested a private, small wedding and were informed by the groom that wasn't an option. He views a wedding as a community event. A public announcement of his love and commitment to his wife. He has been very active in the planning of the wedding and has informed us in no uncertain terms that it will happen.  He is also furious that his mother caused to develop PTSD and refuses to "let her take this from him too"

So a wedding is happening.

18 hours ago, Farrar said:

And instead of making a big deal out of it, blame Covid.

They are doing this and uninviting any guests that are not supportive of him.  Will there be "spies"? Possibly, but we live in a major metro area. (12 miles south of the pentagon) so there are a lot of communities to choose from.

18 hours ago, theelfqueen said:

I was gonna say .... have they considered a very small destination wedding and then a later, more casual "celebration" (not reception) with friends and family - one where there are fewer "traditions" that put the absences in th spotlight (ditch the assigned family dances, cake cutting, etc at the celebration) ? 

They are skipping many of the "traditions". They love to dance together so there will be a first dance but they are skipping assigned family dances.  They are skipping speeches. Our state still has pretty severe gathering limits in place so most guests are getting a "reception-to-go"package and a very small group are going to restaurant for a celebratory dinner. They bought out the restaurant for the night so we will be the only guests there.

16 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

Restraining order?

We looked into it. But they don't have grounds for one as the abuse toward him has been all emotional and they have not trespassed or chased him down once he cut contact.  My daughter and I work a private school and she spoke to our security officer today and they are hiring him for event security for the day.  He will be outside looking for uninvited guests and will call law enforcement if needed.

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16 hours ago, retiredHSmom said:

My family is very conversant with trauma and PTSD. One of my daughters has PTSD from an emotionally/sexually abusive relationship. She was tremendously helped by EMDR therapy and her therapist got my SIL in with a tremendous EMDR therapist who isn't actually accepting new clients. So we are all hopeful on that front.

My husband and I suggested a private, small wedding and were informed by the groom that wasn't an option. He views a wedding as a community event. A public announcement of his love and commitment to his wife. He has been very active in the planning of the wedding and has informed us in no uncertain terms that it will happen.  He is also furious that his mother caused to develop PTSD and refuses to "let her take this from him too"

OK, well I really hope they don't show up even more because if they get thrown out in a visible way, that's all the guests will remember about their wedding and it could result in really mixed emotions for the couple about the wedding day for the rest of their lives. I hope he really understands the potential risk and long term consequences and that he and your daughter are truly fine with them if it comes to that.

I've only seen this from the bride's point of view in a handful of instances and only one of them was willing to risk it and had mom thrown out as I described upthread.  I have no way of knowing if her perspective has changed long term about whether or not it was worth it. People are different. Everyone has different values, priorities, and perspectives. Maybe it was.

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3 hours ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

OK, well I really hope they don't show up even more because if they get thrown out in a visible way, that's all the guests will remember about their wedding and it could result in really mixed emotions for the couple about the wedding day for the rest of their lives. I hope he really understands the potential risk and long term consequences and that he and your daughter are truly fine with them if it comes to that.

I've only seen this from the bride's point of view in a handful of instances and only one of them was willing to risk it and had mom thrown out as I described upthread.  I have no way of knowing if her perspective has changed long term about whether or not it was worth it. People are different. Everyone has different values, priorities, and perspectives. Maybe it was.

Good security is like an experienced wedding coordinator - if something goes wrong, the bride and groom don’t find out until long after the event. 
 

OP, maybe make sure they have more than one security guard and that the guards are to fully expect a confrontation. As in, all entrances and exits covered. 

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