Ask the Bride -- Dealing with Estranged Families

Question: My future husband has been estranged from his step-mother, who raised him, and we were wondering what would be the best way to inform her of our recent engagement other than by word of mouth.

Answer: Family problems can be the most difficult and confusing situations to deal with for a couple planning a wedding. However, it is almost always preferable and recommended that all the parents are told directly about the engagement. Finding out by word-of-mouth can often help make a bad situation worse.

Your fiance should at least call his stepmother, if it's not possible for him to visit her. Sometimes a visit to announce your engagement and the preparation for the wedding may help smooth over old family wounds. He can speak to her privately at first to gauge the situation, and if he thinks that it would work, you could visit her as a couple or invite her to the engagement party (if you have one).

Since these situations are tend to be very delicate and unique to each person, your best guide is your own common sense. Just be sure that you and your fiance make decisions based on common sense and an objective viewpoint and not guilt or spite. "The Everything Wedding Etiquette Book" says, "Do what you feel most comfortable with."


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Copyright 1996-2001, Michelle Nordblom Hottya. Created: July 7, 1996. Last Updated: April 12, 2001.