Dear Wendy: “Will My Brother’s Obnoxious Fiancée Ruin My Graduation Party?

I’m graduating from college in June. I’ve had a lot of setbacks and ups and downs that I had to deal with in order to get to where I am now, so I’m planning a party to celebrate my accomplishment. The problem is I do not want my older brother’s fiancée to attend. We do not get along and have a mutual understanding to keep out of each other’s way. The times that we do have to be around each other she always has something negative to say or a backhanded comment; and I just don’t want to be around that at my party. I have tried being nice to her, but after she insulted our mother and disrespected me, I’ve given up on that route. She has constantly manipulated my brother into canceling plans that he and I have, causing us not to be as close as we once were (we barely talk now). I have a feeling that she’ll want to come just to make a good impression on our family (which has nothing to do with me or my party). As I prepare to send out invitations, I was wondering if I should just invite my brother (even though we aren’t very close) or should I invite him and his fiancée? If I just invite my brother; how can I tell him and/or her that I would rather she not come? I should also mention that the party I’m planning is a small one with just close friends and family, and since she is neither (yet) I do not feel the need to invite her. — Drama Free Party Planner

It’s your party and completely your prerogative whether you want to invite your brother’s fiancée or not, but keep in mind that any decision you make is going to have consequences and you need to weigh those potential consequences very carefully before making your decision. If you do invite this woman, what’s the worst that will happen? Maybe she’ll make a negative comment or act generally surly? Sure, that’s possible, but remember: this will be your party. Not only will she look like the ass, but you’re the one who will be surrounded by your nearest and dearest. You’ll have all the “protection” you need from this woman and chances are you’ll be having such a great time, you won’t notice any negativity coming from her. And my guess is she’ll feel so honored to be included in your small gathering that any comments you hear coming from her will be positive.

Now, let’s consider the worst that may happen if you don’t invite her. For one thing, you’ll hurt your brother’s feelings and put him in an awkward position of deciding whether to go to your party and slight his fiancée or skip the party and slight his sister. You may not be close to your brother now, but dissing his fiancée will cause an even bigger rift with him. Is that something you want? And let’s not forget that the guest list for this party may be your choice, but some time in the future if you brother really marries this woman, she is going to be (at least partly) in charge of a guest list that includes your family: a holiday get-together, a birthday party, even her and your brother’s wedding. Are you willing to risk being left out of those occasions as payback for leaving her out of yours?

In the end, your college graduation and subsequent party will be jam-packed with happy memories. The chance of tarnishing them with drama is much higher if you decide not to invite your brother’s fiancée than if you suck it up, be the bigger person, include her on the invitation and have a great time in spite of her presence. If you decide, however, to only include your brother, I’m afraid there really isn’t a tactful way to let him know his fiancée is not invited to join him. The fact is there just isn’t a polite way to offend someone, and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing if you invite your brother to your party but tell him you’d rather he leave his wife-to-be at home. Don’t want drama? Take the path of least resistance — invite the fiancée, enjoy your party, and let your family see how grown-up and mature you are now that you’re a college grad.

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