Do you invite family to a same-sex wedding if they don't support your union?

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December 17, 2013|By Douglas Nivens II, For The Baltimore Sun

All weddings must confront the inevitable: Who do you invite? Ever since our engagement in November 2013, my fiancé and I have received dozens of requests to come to our wedding. But as the future wedded couple, we are bound by money and space. Our friends and family expect invitations, an open bar and free entertainment. 

 Sure, I would love to have a big party where I invite everyone I know, but this is a wedding, not a barbeque. Deciding who may come and if they may bring a guest inevitably becomes a priority list of who’s close to your heart. We have some standards of who is on “the list” — people in our inner circle of friends and close relatives; those who invited us to their weddings; and colleagues we promised long ago that they would have a seat at the ceremony.

Complicating this list is the question of family.  We may choose our friends, but we’re born into our families and not all families will celebrate the union of two men or women.  What should you do when you have family that may oppose your union? Should you invite them or should you leave them out?

I have read on other blogs how couples handle this particular issue. There are those who urge inviting one’s potentially unwelcoming guests. Their attendance may be more valuable than their personal views. The wedding could also expand the guests’ mindset on same-sex marriage. If President Obama “evolved,” then maybe the same applies to other people. 

On the other hand, there are those who argue that the wedding should include only the supportive, not the disdainful. It would be ironic to share your celebration with someone who would have denied it.

This tug of war has played out in my mind many times. Coming out to my family was a hard, dramatic process that left many wounds. I was 17 when I yelled out loud, “Yes, I’m gay,” in an argument with my mother. She blamed my declaration on having too much freedom. I was first punished, then ridiculed and later ignored. To keep the peace, I didn’t talk about my dates or boyfriends.  I rarely spoke about my social life.  Even after I moved out of my parent’s house, I still kept the distance.  My family was in one box, everything else in another. 

Next year will mark 10 years since coming out, and its effects still linger. I’ve never introduced my fiancé to my family. I’ve never disclosed to them my wedding plans. Indeed, there are large portions of my life that they don’t know.

In contrast, my fiancé’s kinship will have two tables at our wedding. His mother already told me, “Soon, you’ll be another son of mine.”  She and her sisters are looking forward to this wedding as much as my friends.

And, ultimately, that is what I want most – guests who look forward to seeing me and my fiancé say, “I do.”  This is a commemoration of love and promises for the future, not a chance to heal a 10-year-old wound in 5 hours.  I love my family deeply and want to move on.  One day, we may begin to reconcile the fissures of our past, but my wedding day shouldn’t be it.

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