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Wedding Etiquette: Must We Play at ‘Happy Families’ With Exes, Abusers and Junkies?

It should be the happiest day of a woman’s life, her wedding day. The day she glows with love and beauty. Her one day to be the belle of the ball. Cinderella for a day. The BRIDE.

But what if the bride has the misfortune to be born into a broken family chockablock with users, abusers, rapists, junkies and their victims? What then?

Must the victims put aside their feelings to play at ‘happy families just for today’ to make the bride happy? Is being a bride a one-day pass to pretend you come from a loving happy home where everyone is the best of friends? Must the guests pose and smile next to their vindictive ex, tweaking junkie cousin….even their childhood rapist?

These questions are rearing their ugly head as Rhys’ cousin blissfully plans her dream wedding to the man who, after much nagging, cajoling, BJs and giving him two children, she has finally inveigled into popping the question.

The reception promises to be a bleeding nightmare. Smiling happyily at one table will be Rhys’ aunt, the one who raped him repeatedly when he was a little boy. At the next table will be Rhys’ grandfather, the one who raped his daughter, who then raped Rhys.

On the other side of the hall will be Rhys’ son, the one who married Rhys’ ex girlfriend, despite everyone’s cries of ‘incest!’

Also in attendance, we are told, will be Rhys’ first wife and the mother of his five children. The very same woman who carried on a torrid affair while married to Rhys before divorcing him, alienating and abusing his children and driving him to the brink of suicide. Doubtless, her man-of-the-moment will be in attendance as well.

Then there’s me. The ‘evil’ step-mother. The ready scapegoat. The caregiver fighting for the health and wellness of the man everyone else seems to wish dead.

What do we do? Do we wrap our arms around all of these abusers and exes, junkies and rapists and smile through gritted teeth for the wedding photographer?

I say ‘No!’

Debrett’s may disagree but a wedding doesn’t alter reality. Being a bride does not give one carte blanche to ignore reality. If anything, Cinderella-for-a-day should be more sensitive to the feelings of her guests on the day she becomes a wife…not less.

Personally, I wouldn’t want ‘bad people’ who have chosen to do bad things at my wedding. Had I known about all the rape, incest and drug abuse prior to my wedding with Rhys, the guest list would’ve been slashed to the bone.

Instead, our wedding album is lousy with photos of abusers and abusees. Photo after photo makes me cringe, horrified at the horrible faux pas I committed by inviting everyone with no knowledge and thus no sensitivity to their feelings.

Everyone smiled and played at ‘happy families’ and I, poor daft sod, believed them. It wasn’t until Rhys and I had been married for several years that the truth came out.

One hears so often about ‘bridezillas’ with their outrageous demands. It’s as though there’s an assumption that being a bride gives you the right to be princess for a day and have all your wishes granted.

Well, it doesn’t work that way. I believe a bride should take into account the feelings of her guests. Although you may be very fond of Grandpapa, nothing can change the fact that he’s an unrepentant paedophile. So don’t invite the old paedo even if he does give generous wedding gifts. What do you value more? Your pocketbook or the feelings of his victims? Who’s to say he won’t have his way with another child during the dance when everyone is hammered and distracted.

If you’re a bride, make your wedding a safe place for victims, for the abused, for little children. Had I to do all over again, abusers, rapists, paedophiles and even junkies would not have been invited. They should’ve considered the implications to their family before they committed those acts.

Don’t feel guilty for purging the guest list.

Photo by elliotharmon

Wedding Etiquette: Must We Play at ‘Happy Families’ With Exes, Abusers and Junkies?

Ivy Blonwyn

Ivy Blonwyn is a Welsh freelance writer and photographer. She and her husband have been trying, unsuccessfully, to start a family for several years. Ivy can relate to the pain, confusion, jealousy and sense of injustice that accompanies infertility. But she also knows the pain of being a step-mother to children who’s vindictive birth mother has systematically employed Parental Alienation to distance them from their birth-father, Ivy’s husband, Rhys. Her articles, often illustrated with her photos, are intended to validate and comfort those who suffer from infertility, Parental Alienation and the pain of sexual abuse. She finds solace in indulging her passion for plein air photography during long tramps with her husband through the fields, hills and castles of Cardiff. Follow Ivy on Facebook at or contact her at

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APA Reference
Blonwyn, I. (2020). Wedding Etiquette: Must We Play at ‘Happy Families’ With Exes, Abusers and Junkies?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Feb 2020
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