“I Don’t Want to Be in My Brother’s Wedding”


This question comes from POPSUGAR’s Group Therapy community. A woman has had a fraught relationship with her brother, and now that his wedding is coming up, there are weird family dynamics and obligations that she is trying to wade through. What would you tell her?

I’m not mean, my brother is 22 years old ( I am 27). I’m very happy that he is getting married. His soon to be wife was hidden from the family for the entire time that they (3 years) were together. He just told our family that he was going to get married … his soon to be wife is 19 years old and has a five-year-old year and he was scared that we were going to judge him.

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My brother and I aren’t close, we have had a lot of conflicts over the years and although we have made up and put the past in the past, I still feel as if he resents me for mistreating him when we were kids. He constantly belittles me, and makes fun of me in front of my boyfriend and family, and he puts me down. I’m much older now so I don’t stoop to his level.

He doesn’t even have my phone number saved and deliberately ignores my texts messages. For Christmas and birthdays he throws money at me and says he wishes he didn’t have to get me anything.

I get the fact that he really dislikes me and it hurts a lot. There’s not much more then I can do. I would do his college schedule for him as a favor and it’s been a while since I graduated, and somehow or another that got messed up. He blamed me and accused me for making his school time period longer but truly I thought the best way was how I was doing it (was the best way). I graduated over five years ago, so it’s been a while.

I have even gone to the point of inviting his future wife out but she also shows hostility to me and refuses each offer. He wants me to be in his wedding because my mother said it’s important but I feel as if he feels as if he is obligated to have me in his wedding. At this point in time, I’m starting to just forget that he exists to say that I have 2 brothers instead of 3.

I have attempted to talk to him about this and try to make amends but to no avail, the problem just remains. He refuses to talk about things and walks away or leaves the house. I have decided that maybe it’s time to just let him go, to just allow him to be who he wants to be. With that, I am contemplating whether or not I should even be in his wedding. I’m really thinking about this thoroughly because I know once I go through with this there is no coming back.

What are your suggestions?


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  1. wellokaythen says:

    For me, it would depend on 1) what “being in the wedding” means and 2) how much it means to your mother.

    If being in the wedding just means sitting on the groom’s side with everyone else, drinking when everyone else drinks after the toast at the reception, and eating some overpriced food at the family table, then that seems like a small commitment of a few hours, assuming you live nearby. If it’s a couple of hours and there’s not a lot of attention on you and you can sit daydreaming through most of it, then that doesn’t seem so bad.

    If being in the wedding means you pay for a plane ticket, spend a whole day traveling, pay for an ugly bridesmaid’s dress, have to make a toast, have to smile for an endless parade of photos, and have to put up with snarky, aggressive comments by the groom all day, then that’s a whole other story. If everyone’s going to be watching you like a hawk, then that’s an effed-up family dynamic right there. If your very presence there would be distracting or disruptive, then it’s probably best not to go, so that the attention can be on the bride and groom.

    If you went, you might do so as a gesture to your mother. In some ways, a wedding isn’t really his day or his wife’s day, it’s the families’ day. And, you might be the better person (and get the moral high ground) by going to his wedding to wish him well *despite* what an ass he’s been. It would be a mature, generous gesture on your part, precisely because he may not really deserve it. You may have to rise above the fact that you may be a better sibling than he is. Twenty-two is in many ways very young, and he sounds quite immature, so you would be cutting him some slack for acting like a child.

    If you do attend, keep your expectations low. Don’t assume they’ll be appreciative or grateful. Don’t use it as part of a running tally of all the good things you’ve done and all the bad things he’s done. You would go out of the goodness of your heart. To expect some sort of reciprocity would just keep the sick sibling relationship going, when what you need to do is break out of it.

    And hey, whether you go or not, there’s a good chance he’ll have another wedding someday, so if whatever you decide to do winds up being a disaster, you can just do the opposite next time.

  2. It sounds like you’ve made the decision—and I would say you shouldn’t be in the wedding. You know what a toxic environment you’ll be in and I think it would a good idea for you to decline. It would be best for you. Do it gently. Do it without drama or fanfare and you’ll be just fine.

    • Agree with Ryan.

      What is your governing value here?
      Mine would be, “I do not participate in social events with people who treat me badly and act in ways that make me feel unwelcome”.
      Doesn’t matter who it is.
      I’d send him a nice card and letter expressing your feeling, your good wishes, and your love for him as your brother. Maybe a gift card to a therapist ;^)
      But, don’t subject yourself to something if everything about it violates your basic laws of right and wrong.
      No drama…no fanfare…just you sticking to your guns.


  3. I essentially went through a similar situation with my brother (mine being older, but a lot of similarities in the relationship). When he got married, we were not on speaking terms. He asked me indirectly (through my mother) to fly out to Vegas for his wedding (mostly due to my mother’s pressuring). It took a lot of time to really come to a decision. I knew that even though he was asking me to be there, he didn’t really want me there. However, I also knew that not going would put a rift in the family that I couldn’t take back. Ultimately, I ended up going. I brought my son with me (who was 2 at the time) and used him to give me an excuse for not participating in most of the events leading up to the wedding. I can understand you not wanting to be in the wedding. In that situation, I wouldn’t want to either. My advice, would be to gently decline the offer to be “in” the wedding (perhaps you just won’t have the time to take part in all the pre-wedding hooplah)… while assuring him that you are looking forward to attending the wedding, as a guest. Or, take part in a lesser role (a reading at the ceremony or something to that effect). Mom could be a great person to facilitate this change. Most people would just say to suck it up. But, after years and years of abuse from my brother, I know that putting yourself in that position is just asking for trouble and no one needs to open themselves up to being abused.

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