New York – Like so many brides, Itamar Conner put a lot of thought into the guest list for her wedding last year.
Some guests clearly made the cut: her and her husband’s immediate family; friends they each had known since school; an inner circle of new friends they socialized with as a couple. But other possibilities required more thought, especially two men Conner had dated previously whom she still considered friends.
“Before we met each other, we had both been out in the dating scene, having fun, being 21-year-olds,” she said. “But for our wedding day, something we treasured so much, we didn’t want it to be tainted with our past. We didn’t want to see a picture of my exes in the wedding photos.”
We don’t live in a world where people marry their first kisses, said Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert based in San Antonio. “Lots of people date lots of people these days,” she said. “We might have dated people at one time or another and now they are our neighbours, our dentists, our friends.” Online dating and the fact that people are marrying older have only added to this reality.
What this means for couples getting married is that when it comes time to drawing up the guest list, more people have to decide whether they will include past relationships or hookups in their festivities.
This can be a tricky, sensitive issue for both the couple and the past partner, according to Gottsman. “There really aren’t any definites,” she said. “It is subjective based on the feelings of the couple and the circumstances.”
Rachel Sussman, a marriage and relationship therapist in New York, said a good test for deciding whether an ex should be invited is whether that person has been part of the life of the couple.
“Most couples when they get engaged, they’ve been dating for two, three or four years,” she said. “If someone all of a sudden says, ‘I want to invite this person to my wedding,’ and their fiancé hasn’t met him or her, that’s weird to me.”
While couples shouldn’t invite an ex to their wedding just because he or she may feel left out, there are some motivations that are more respectful and more kind than others.
“Are you all friends now and the bride or groom is just jealous? If that’s the case, that is a sign of bigger problems to come. That person is going to be jealous of co-workers and family members down the line,” Gottsman said. “If you’re making a declaration that this is a fresh start for us, we are keeping it limited to close family and friends, that is different.”
The New York Times