My fiance was married once before, and his wife died unexpectedly. This was about five years ago. They were married for less than two years (although they had lived together for about two years before that). My fiance was in his early-to-mid-twenties at the time, and his first wife was in her late thirties. She had two teenage boys already, and my fiance was a step-dad to the boys for a couple of years (although, since the boys were pretty much grown before he came into the picture, he was not really a "father figure" to them.)
Since his first wife's death, my fiance has had limited contact with the family. I met them several times in the beginning of our relationship, and they are very nice. However - my fiance does not spend much time with them - actually, he hasn't contacted them at all in about a year, and has not returned their few phone calls - because he just wants to move on. The teenage boys are now all grown, one moved to another state, and one has since been married, had two kids, and divorced. Some of the family have tried to stay in contact with my fiance off and on, but he has mostly tried to distance himself from them. It's not that he doesn't like/love them, but it brings up painful memories for him (both of his wife's death and his mother-in-law's death).
I have always told my fiance that I am completely okay with him maintaining ties with his in-laws, if he wants to. I have ties to some of my in-laws from my first marriage as well. It is my fiance's choice not to. It's a difficult situation, and I try to let him decide what he wants to do, and just support that.
So...the other day, my fiance and I got excited because it was exactly five months till our wedding, and he posted in on his Facebook page. His former step-son saw it, and posted a message asking if he would be invited. (Sort of like "Hey, that's great! Haven't seen you in a long time! So, we're invited, right?")
How do we handle this? We don't want to hurt their feelings, but my fiance doesn't want to invite his in-laws to our wedding. I would be okay with it if my fiance wanted to (in fact, I originally had planned on it), but he doesn't want to. It's a sad reminder on a day that should be happy. Plus, there's a vague uncomfortableness with having people from your first wedding see you getting remarried.
I don't feel right using the "we have limited space" theme, because they consider themselves to be family. I did post a reply that we are actually getting married in the Caribbean (we are), which sort of implies "no, you're not invited because we're eloping." However, we are having an at-home reception - which, if they hear about it, they will expect to be invited and be hurt if they're not.
If your FH make no move to invite any of his former in-laws or stepsons, then he has to realize that will be, essentially, the end of their relationship. The young men may be hurt, as they thought Step-Dad would be Step-Dad forever, but that's their issue to deal with.
It's totally FH's decision. If he decides not to invite them, then he's got to communicate that fact to them in definitive terms. It's best to be honest, straightforward and man-to-man.
"Joe, I've given a lot of thought to his. I have decided it would be inappropriate to have you at my wedding, thus you will not be invited."
Having said that, I do hope he changes his mind. As we get older, it's great to have young people involved in our lives. There's nothing wrong with his maintaining a positive relationship with these two guys. Younger people bring energy and life to the middle aged.
Thanks for the advice, AOTB. I talked to my fiance about it again when we met for lunch today, and he's leaning toward inviting them because "they only want what's best for me" as he put it. Although, he said we might need to warn the caterer that there won't be any leftovers from the buffet if this particular person is there.