Inviting Exes to the Wedding

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So you and your fiancé(e) have picked out the date, the reception location, the decorations, the floral arrangements, and the catering, leaving you with a tricky situation to still decide on.  Should you invite your exes? 

When many brides  or grooms  are asked if they are willing to invite  their ex to the wedding, they are usually all for it!  But when asked if they would mind their partner's ex at their wedding, the story suddenly changes.  This question has become less of a hypothetical and more of a realistic conversation for engaged couples, especially when children are involved or a strong bond of friendship has developed from a prior romantic relationship.  Though this may be a situation unique to each individual, we are here to guide you through this decision making process in order to create a happy wedding for everyone involved.

On One Hand...

  • Romantic feelings: Some experts believe that once two people are involved in an intimate relationship, they can never truly be "just friends."  The connection between a couple changes when sex  is involved and though you may be putting on a good show, the bond could still be there.  If you still feel strongly connected to your ex, then your problems may be greater than just whether or not to invite them to your wedding.  
  • Children: People also believe that if you have children with your ex, inviting this person to the wedding can cause some feelings of confusion for the kids.  It is healthy for them to see you fully involved with your new partner, as they can then distinguish the development of a new family unit.  Though they know that you and your ex are both still their parents, it's important for them to know that there are now two separate families going on. 
  • Divorce: It can also be tricky to invite an ex-wife or ex-husband to the wedding, even if you are the best of friends.  Some say that it is awkward for your guests to really showcase their congratulatory feelings of happiness towards you when there is an ex present with whom things did not previously work out.

On the Other Hand...

  • Close friendships: Some experts believe that maintaining a close relationship with your ex can be beneficial and healthy for you and your relationship.  If your ex is truly a good friend, there is no reason for him or her not to be there... but please do make sure that your ex really is an ex.  Even if it is completely over on your end and you feel that the two of you have moved on, you don't want any surprises from your former flame during the "speak now or forever hold your peace" portion of the ceremony.   
  • Children:  Another school of thought believes that if you have children with your ex, inviting them to the wedding can provide some comforting emotions.  Be sure to act like "grown ups" and show your kids that it is ok in society today to have more than one meaning of family.  Having your ex there will also serve as an extra support system to your children, who will already be full of a range of emotions on the big day.  

The Dos and Don'ts of Inviting Your Ex 

If you have chosen to invite your ex to your wedding, and the invitation has been accepted,  there are a few etiquette guidelines to follow.

  • DO:
    • Invite your ex with a guest.  By doing this, he or she won't feel alone. 
    • Greet your ex on the receiving line.  You should treat him or her the same way that you do every other guest at your wedding.
    • Introduce your ex.  When making introductions, simply refer to him or her as an "old friend" or the father/mother of your children.
    • Seat your ex with people that he or she knows.  Arrange the seating so that you ex will sit  with other guests that he or she feels comfortable with and vice versa.
    • Limit the conversation.  When making your rounds to your guests at the tables , keep your conversation with your ex to a minimum.  You don't want to draw too much attention.
  • DON'T: 
    • Don't dance with your ex.  You don't want to become the centre of gossip at your own wedding and you certainly don't want to upset your new wife or husband.
    • Don't introduce him or her as "my ex" to anyone.  Without lying, there is no need to give a history of your past together to guests who may not even know about it to begin with.  If it is a person who knows about your relationship, there is no need to bring up the past anyway. 
    • Don't spend a lot of time chatting with your ex.  This is your special day and you don't want this person to monopolise your time.  Plus, who knows what you might say to him or her after you have had all of that champagne ?  It's better to keep it to a minimum. 

Related Guides

Check out some of our guides to help you further plan this wedding! 

Creating a Wedding Guest List

Kids and Weddings

Dealing with Wedding Stress

Wedding Invitations

Ceremony and Reception Seating