Dear Carolyn: I’m a single mom in my 40s. My longtime boyfriend and I are discussing marriage. The question is about timing and logistics. We have an existing issue of how well he and my children (9-15) can live together, given their loudness and his need for quiet.
The issue that has come up recently is about the actual wedding ceremony. He comes from a very small family. I have a very large family. His mother is agoraphobic with additional social anxiety and wouldn’t be comfortable even at a relatively small wedding or reception.
It will be his first wedding, so I’m totally willing to bow to his wishes and just have it be us and my daughters and a Justice of the Peace. But, would it be tacky or hurtful to have a wedding celebration party later, knowing that his mother can’t/won’t come? – Anonymous
I’m struggling to answer your specific question because all I want to do is ask you this:
Are you sure you’re ready to marry into the Control Family Robinson?
He needs silence and order, his mom needs to be protected from being included in celebrations and excluded from them, and is it even conceivable that’s all there is?
My unsolicited advice is to step back, way, enough to take in the whole scope of your life with this person, and decide whether the plainly social you really wants everything you’re about to sign up for.
I can’t imagine being the 9-to-15-year-old kid who gets served the crud sandwich of losing a boisterous family home to one where merely having friends over risks offending a high-maintenance stepparent’s sense of order.
You’re an adult, you can choose this for you, but choosing it for your children?
But that’s not what you asked me.
No, it’s neither tacky nor hurtful to host a celebration with and for your community after your little capitulation of a wedding. Just consider not calling it a reception, and do invite the mother, even expecting she’ll choose not to come.