Do I Have to Invite My 12-Year-Old Cousin to the Wedding?

boy's wedding suit and tie

Photo: Jessica Craig-Martin

Guests lists are tough—and often the source of more than a few wedding spats. Our experts weigh in on whether it's OK to cut second cousins, ex-coworkers, and more, in our daily wedding etiquette post.

Lionel, my 12-year-old cousin, is an incurable practical joker—he ruined his brother's wedding by setting off a stink bomb in the church. Do I have to invite him?

The problem with barring Lionel from the wedding isn't whether you'll hurt his feelings, but whether you'll hurt those of his parents. If you think that excluding him would cause a family rupture, you have a couple of options. First, you could consider a small wedding—in a faraway location, perhaps—that excludes uncles, aunts, and cousins. Too radical? Then think about an adults-only affair—if nobody else under 18 is invited, Lionel's parents won't feel bad. But if you want a large wedding with every relative under the sun, you may have to try reverse psychology: Make Lionel such an important part of the day (a junior usher, for example), that he'll care too much about its success to pull any pranks. If you decide on the last option, let Lionel know that you'll be carrying his naked baby pictures with you in case he acts up.

You Might Also Like:
Find your perfect wedding invitation
Chic Wedding Attire for Children
10 Must-Haves for the Kids' Table

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift

Get personalized planning advice, exclusive offers and must-read wedding news.

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from