There are days when planning a wedding feels more like running for office than flexing your creative muscles. There’s so much negotiating to be done, especially when it comes to who you’ll invite and where they’ll get to sit. One situation that can get sticky fast? Inviting friends who used to date. If you’ve stayed close with both halves of the former couple, can they both be added to the guest list? Our experts weigh in.
Deciding not to invite your own ex to your wedding is easy, but choosing between friends when they’re not a couple anymore? Not so much.
If the split was amicable and you and your partner are still friends with both halves of the former couple, you just might be able to swing it. First, check in with each friend to see if they’d be comfortable with it. Even if they’re alright running into each other at a bar, there’s a chance one (or both!) of them could be hiding some hurt feelings, so get the scoop on the situation before you put invitations in the mail. Checking in with your friends also lets them know that their ex will be invited, allowing them to decide whether or not they’re comfortable attending and avoiding any unpleasant surprises when they get to your ceremony.
If they are both happy to have the other person attend, go ahead and invite them both! Just make sure they’re treated equally to avoid looking like you’ve chosen sides or are playing favorites. Either invite them both with a plus-one, or invite them each alone. Seat them at separate tables, but both with friends they already know and enjoy; don’t relegate one of them to the half-filled table that’s a mishmash of random cousins.
Of course, totally amicable breakups are uncommon. There’s a good chance someone did something and that you or your partner have had to choose sides. If that’s the case, invite the friend you’re closest with and leave the ex off of the list. This will most likely be the person you were friends with before the relationship even began, and you will probably avoid any hard feelings.
Even if you do decide to invite both halves of a former couple, know that they may not both come. Depending on how serious the relationship was, even if they are friendly, attending a wedding that their ex will be at could be hard, and some people may choose to stay home instead of voluntarily heading into an awkward situation.
And of course, there’s always the chance that a couple splits up after you’ve sent invitations but before your wedding date arrives. So what’s a bride to do? Again, reach out to the invited friends to see how they’d like to handle it. One ex may decide to stay home (especially if you’re closer with one person than the other), or they may both be heartbroken and choose to both sit this one out.
While it’s usually poor form for a guest to change his or her RSVP close to the wedding date, this is definitely an exception. Keep your caterer’s deadline in mind, and reach out to each of the friends individually to let them know that you’d love to have them still come but want them to do whatever will make them comfortable. There’s no need to get too involved as a middleman, but let each person know what you find out about his or her ex’s attendance so they can both make informed decisions. Be prepared to do a little seating-chart shuffling if needed—you know, so your BFF and her ex aren’t sitting at the same table!