One of the best things about having in-laws is that you gain “new” family members you can become close to (sometimes as close as your “real” relatives). For instance, my mother and her sister-in-law has such a great relationship, everyone was sure they were related by blood. However, things may get sticky once in-laws become your out-laws.
Dear Wedding Guru: “My brother died almost eight years ago. We were close to him, of course, but were also close to his wife. My mom and I both just received invitations to my former sister-in-law’s wedding. Do we have to accept the invitation and attend? It will be painful for us to do so.”
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Dear Wedding Guest: I understand how painful this must be for both you and your mom. This is not really an etiquette question, because there aren’t really any “rules” that apply to such an invitation. It’s more a matter of the heart. If you were close to your former sister-in-law and have remained close, then I would suggest you make every effort to attend. If it makes it easier for you, consider attending just the ceremony and not the party. If your brother and his wife had children and you’ve remained close to your nieces/nephews, then you should attend for their sakes. I’m sure they would want their aunt and grandmother as a support system, because they lost a father.
However, if you haven’t remained close to your former sister-in-law and her children after your brother’s death, then you may turn down the invitation. It would a classy thing to send a personal note wishing her happiness.