"We're getting married! Kristin -- you've shared in passing several times that you and Jenny invited people to your wedding that may be uncomfortable coming, saying no hard feelings if they opted not to come. Could you elaborate? Got any tips or things you would have done differently? How, in the world, does one actually have that conversation, especially with people you talk to infrequently?"
- Question submitted by anonymous
Oh my gosh first of all congratulaaaaaaations! You’re getting married! Woo!
You are correct, I sent an email out to all of my relatives (on my mom’s side) after Jenny and I got engaged. I come from a pretty Catholic extended family, and my feeling on the matter was that I did not want anyone at our wedding who would either feel uncomfortable or who didn’t want to be there! Our wedding day was a celebration of our LOVE, you know?
I am going to share the whole dang letter with you, because I think that it might help a bit with what you are pondering. Here is what I sent:
Hello to my wonderful family.
Did you know that there are 63 of us now?! I saw Grandma a few days ago and she was ready as always with her family facts and data.
I am writing this to all 62 of you (even the babies!), because I love you and I know how much love we all have for each other.
It is safe to assume that our family telephone chain has alerted you all to the fact that I am engaged to get married to my girlfriend of almost three years. Many of you have met Jenny somewhere along the journey, and during that time she has come to occupy a space that fills my entire heart. It’s a pretty big heart, too – so filling it up is an impressive feat.
I have a few things to say to all of you lovely people about this future wedding of mine before I get busy (read: get my mom busy) with save-the-dates and other such activities. Here are those things:
#1: I am so very happy. I know how differently we all walk through this life, and I know that we all have varying beliefs when it comes to love and marriage. I also know, however, that my happiness is something that you all value on some level – just as I value yours. So hooray, at the very least, for being happy!!
#2: I know that for some of you, attending my wedding is reflexive, definite, and without hesitation. I know that for others, it is a point of deep thought and reflection as you weigh your faith alongside your value of family. I also know that for some of you, it is completely impossible for you to be present at the ceremony or reception because of your beliefs.
I need all of you to know that – no matter where your heart falls in that spectrum – I love you, and I respect those beliefs.
One of the strongest grounding principals of my own faith is that, if I expect to be respected and valued as a person, I must always extend that respect to those around me. Our family’s deep commitment to faith and family is something that has shaped me, and I hold that so dear. Please know this!
#3 There are a bunch of things about my life that might be confusing, unclear, or unknown to you. That may be something you are completely at peace with – or it might be something that you wish to talk about further. If you have any questions, any thoughts, or any confusion – please, please talk with me! I understand that we all walk this path very differently, and I value the ability we have as human beings to talk about those differences.
So! There we have it – and here is what I would love from all of you:
Send me an email, give me a call, write me a Facebook message, send a text – whatever is easiest and best for you – and let me know how you are feeling about this wedding of mine.
Some responses might look like:
“As long as you force Patrick to lipsync to Grease Lightning, I am so there.”
“Honey, I love you, but I know this isn’t something that I can attend.”
“Can we talk a little more as I figure out how I feel?”
“WILL THERE BE OPEN BAR??”
No matter your response, I won’t ever think that you don’t love me (unless your response is ‘I don’t love you’), and I will always respect and value your beliefs and your place in my life.
Normal save-the-date and invitation activity will commence once I figure out a date and a place, and once I hear from all of you. You can, of course, talk to me on behalf of your families – but I would love to hear from you individually if possible, since we are all so very different.
I love you!
Thanks for reading!
Now, all of us have very varied and complex relationships with our families, so some of this might really resonate with you, and some of it might not be quite how you want to handle the conversation! I was really, really happy with how this letter was received, and I did have many meaningful, and sometimes super difficult, conversations with my family after I sent this out. Many of them responded with incredible support. Many responded with questions. Some of them let me know that they loved me but they couldn’t be there because of their beliefs.
I felt, at the end of the day, that I had opened the doors to many of them who might otherwise have simply sat in silence or been torn up by conflicting feelings and guilt. I was happier having opened those doors. That was my path, and it certainly does not need to be yours.
Do what feels right to you, and at the center of your focus, put your partnership with this beautiful, amazing person you are soon to marry. Your wedding is about the two of you, and the love and happiness you bring each other.