Let's be honest: Seeing your ex can be really weird. But seeing them walk down the aisle and say “I do” to someone else is, arguably, even weirder. That said, if you’ve maintained a positive relationship with your former boo, it’s not unusual for you to be included in their big day. But if you get invited to an ex’s wedding, there are certain factors you’ll need to consider first in order to determine whether or not it’s a good idea to attend.
According to etiquette and relationship expert April Masini, there are a few questions worth asking yourself before RSVPing, such as, “Do I still have feelings for this person?” If you do, Masini advises against going to the wedding as you may end up acting on your feelings (thanks, perhaps, to the steady stream of champagne) and regretting it later. More importantly, why would you want to put yourself through the emotional torture of seeing an ex you still have feelings for commit to a lifetime with someone else?
It’s not just lingering romantic feelings that you’ll need to contemplate, either. Masini asserts that if you’re still holding a grudge about how things ended with your ex, and secretly want revenge, then going to their wedding probably isn’t a good idea. A wedding is supposed to be a joyous celebration of love, not an opportunity to act on resentment.
Another factor that may weigh into your decision is whether or not they gave you a plus one to the wedding. If they didn’t, Masini recommends considering whether or not you’ll feel comfortable going stag. Only you know whether or not having a date by your side will make the experience more enjoyable. For some, having a date adds a layer of security because it reinforces the idea that you and your ex have both moved on. Plus, it can mean having a designated person to dance the night away with. On the other hand, if you don’t get a plus one, but you know that other close friends will be at the wedding, you may feel totally comfortable attending solo.
If you’re currently in a relationship, it’s important to factor bae’s feelings into your decision. That’s not to say that you should defer to them on whether or not you will attend. However, Masini advises having a conversation with them before you RSVP. This shows your current SO that their thoughts and feelings matter to you, even if you don’t base your decision solely on their opinion.
“If they don’t want you to go, and you want to go, you have to weigh your feelings about your current relationship,” says Masini. “Making a sacrifice for this new relationship may advance things. But if you really want to go to the wedding, not going and making that sacrifice may breed resentment. Try compromising. For instance, maybe go to the service but not the reception.”
Ultimately, the best way to figure out whether you should attend the wedding or not is to evaluate your specific relationship with your ex. If you consider your ex a close friend, then it’s obviously appropriate to be there on their big day. If you haven’t seen each other in years, Masini says skipping it and sending a gift is totally acceptable. Again, only you can know what feels right for you.
If you’re still not sure what to do, asking yourself, “What is my motivation in going to the wedding?” may be an effective way to determine whether you want to attend for the right reasons. If you’re going because you really want to show your support for their new relationship, and you genuinely think you’ll have a good time, then feel free to RSVP “yes.” But if you’re only going because you feel awkward declining the invitation, are harboring resentment, feel the need to flex on your ex, or are still secretly harboring feelings for them, it’s probably better to skip it.
According to Masini, if you have any real hesitance about attending, then you should listen to your gut instinct and opt out. You may also want to devise a backup plan in case you start feeling uncomfortable in any way. Have a buddy system with another friend or two who are attending, and let them know that when you say the designated “code word,” it’s time to bail on the reception and go resume the festivities elsewhere.
Inviting an ex to your wedding is not uncommon these days. Prince Harry did it. So did Justin Bieber and Angelina Jolie. As for how you handle the situation, it clearly depends a lot on your current relationship with and feelings toward your ex.
It’s next to impossible to know how you’ll feel seeing your former flame tying the knot, but getting real about your motivations and instincts around attending can certainly help you to make a sound decision. Remember: Your feelings are valid. So, rather than fretting about what your ex or their fiancé will think, focus on whether the wedding will be a positive or negative experience for you.