Should I cancel my wedding?

I already wrote about this matter in my diary (my personal diary, not the one on here) but it hasn't helped much. I really need other people's advice because I can't figure it out on my own.

So my fiancé and I are supposed to get married in august. I've been doubtful about it from the beginning. Not about getting married - that was my idea. but I never wanted a wedding, but he insisted on it.

the thing is, we are so different. He grew up normally, without any trauma or major problems. My family is a mess and always has been.

My mum and my oldest sister aren't speaking to my dad. My oldest sister isn't speaking to my two other sisters either. She moved abroad and I barely hear from her anymore. It's not really a relationship we have now. She's excited about the wedding though and promised she'd come.

Anyway, so from the start, I was worried about getting my family together. At my fiancé's birthday party, my dad got extremely drunk and had a breakdown. A massive one. He was screaming and crying and saying that he didn't want to live anymore and I was so scared, I almost called an ambulance for him.

He's tried to get in touch with my mum, to apologize for what happened in the past and to try and be on good terms for our family's sake. She's blocked his number.

My oldest sister, let's call her Marie, doesn't reply to his messages either. She claims he's not her dad anyway (which might be true, though my mum swears it's not. still, he raised her and did so much for her, so is IS her father).

I was worried my dad might have a breakdown at my wedding again because of my mum and Marie.

Well, then we found out he has cancer and is dying.

I didn't want to tell my mum and Marie, they don't have a right to know after how they've been treating him. My mum even refused to call him our father for years, she kept calling him our "begetter" and when he visited her mother once, she threw a fit and yelled at my sisters and me for allowing "our begetter to contaminate her turf".
Lily, my other sister, is really sentimental and insisted on telling my mum about the cancer. My therapist insisted on me telling Marie as well, even though I refused to for a while. Eventually, I gave in and texted her literally this "my therapist insists I tell you that our father has cancer". She just said thank you for the info. Neither her nor my mum have asked about him in the last couple of months. Not only that, my mum has blocked his number on her new phone again, after he tried to get in touch with her.

I'm so mad at them. In our family, we don't talk about things, so I've acted normal. But I can feel my suppressed anger harming my relationship with my mum. Her behavior towards me hasn't changed, but I feel distanced from her somehow, like she's a stranger.

My dad has been through so much in the last couple of years.

First, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease which left him unable to work. Then he lost his job. Then his girlfriend of about 8 years broke up with him. Then he lost his house because he couldn't afford it anymore. He lives off social welfare now in a tiny apartment far away from the rest of us (it was the only one he could afford).
Then he was diagnosed with cancer. And the diagnosis was way too late. He'd been complaining about a belly ache for a long time, but given his situation his doctors thought it's a mental thing.

Now, I don't know what to do. He might die today, or in a couple of months. He might die right before my wedding, which would destroy the whole thing anyway.

Neither my mum nor Marie have responded to his attempts to make things right. I find that unforgivable. The man's dying and his last wish is to make things right with his oldest daughter and her mum, and they refuse to.

And he doesn't deserve that. Yes, he used to be an alcoholic, yes, he slapped us a couple of times. But my mum was more abusive towards me than he was. And despite a couple of incidents between him and Marie, he was always there for her, he took care of her horses and her garden when she was at work. He has done nothing that would justify how they treat him.

I don't even know if they'll come to his funeral. They probably won't. And the thing is: even if I tell myself it's their right and it's none of my business, I don't think I can ever forgive them that. Even if I want to, I can feel it eating me up inside and already I feel like my relationship with my mum and Marie is unfixable.

All I want now is to move abroad. I feel like once my dad is dead, there's nothing for me here.

There were days when I felt excited about my wedding from time to time, but now I honestly don't know what to do.

And the couple of friends I have don't seem very interested in my life anymore. Covid has really destroyed most of my friendships. Why should I want someone at my wedding who I haven't seen in a year?

All these issues just make me realize more and more that this wedding is for my fiancé and his family - not for me. He keeps saying that I will enjoy it and that it will be good for me, but I don't know if he's right.

And even though he's the one who wanted the wedding, I'm left with planning the whole thing.

I really need advice from a neutral perspective because my feelings are all over the place. I can't sleep, I'm angry and sad but most of the time just empty.

What should I do?


Do you want a marriage or a wedding would be the first question to answer.

Because it sounds as though this is all about the stress of one day. Rather than living in a marriage for the rest of your life. Separate the two out

There are many ways to have a wedding.
Doesn't have to be one way.
You get to invite who you want. And you get to not invite who you want.
You get to say: fiance if you want this wedding then you need to arrange it or we arrange it together.
.you don't need to be the saviour to everyone and everything.
You can't save you family's relationships with each other.
You can't save situations that occur because of other people's behaviours.
You don't need to make sure your fiance has the wedding he wants at the expense of yourself, particularly if he isn't organising it.

Do you want to be in a marriage?
And of so, what type of wedding do you want?
And how do you want that organised?

Re your friendships being destroyed by covid. I think it might be worth examine that because friendships survive a pandemic. None of us have been able to see people the way we want. But that doesn't mean people don't care.

I had a civil partnership. 2 witnesses. No drama. Over in 5 minutes. Piles of laughter. No stress. No massive expense. People said we would regret it because no hair and make up and no photographer etc etc etc. But those people had their values and I had mine. Don't regret it at all. Would do the same again.


I totally agree with what @Movingforward10 said. When I got married, it cost us about $250 (US) and $60 of that was for the license. We were going to just do it at the courthouse but some friends insisted we get married in their yard. She and her daughters baked a cake & made sandwiches. It was perfect. Nothing much planned, not much could go wrong, no stress and a lot of fun. If by "wedding" you mean one of those big, fancy, formal affairs...... I think that's great if it's something you really want but otherwise? WAY more trouble than it's worth.

As far as your family goes, you know what these people are like. I suspect you're totally right about how people are likely to behave. I guess I'd ask your fiancée if they're up for that kind of drama. (And it's beyond my comprehension that anyone WOULD be!) Maybe, having grown up in a different kind of family, they don't realize what's possible? I think a lot of people expect others to suck it up and act "normal" in social settings and that' not always realistic.

You could have a small, private ceremony and then plan to get together with the various people however they get along with each other later. Think a series of reception type get-to-gathers. Be creative.

But I don't think it's a good idea to think that you're going to fix the family mess. There's a good chance that's the role you were "assigned" growing up and it's reasonable that you'd feel that way. But, if it was going to work, I think it would have worked a long time ago. I've got 'a situation' in my own family. It's different than yours but what's similar is the feeling, deep down inside, that I should, somehow, be able to set things right. (And that if I don't I'm "the bad guy".) I've talked about this with my T several times. The most recent time, he said something to the effect that he understands the feeling. That's the way things work out on all the TV shows where the "expert" gathers everyone together and they speak their piece, reach an understanding, all all hug at the end of the show. He says that's not the way things generally work in real life. Sad but true.

Make the best of the relationships you have with each of these people and don't worry about their relationships with each other. Your mother didn't have the relationship with your father that you've had. Neither did your sisters. It's pretty hard to know, from the outside, what's "right" or what's "fair". (My brother's description of our mother and mine would be so totally different you'd never realize it was the same person. In a way, it wasn't.) Good luck with the new relationship, I hope it goes forward and works perfectly!


this sounds a bit like what i went through with my wedding in 1980. i'm pretty sure i saw my hubby's family in a "leave it to beaver" episode. prime time is still not ready for my family. me neither. fast forward a few decades and you will find hubs and i sighing often, "between us there is balance." if i had waited for an "appropriate" time for my birth family, we'd still be "living in sin." if we had let his mother have his way, princess diane's wedding would have looked shabby.

i don't believe how my wedding worked out is important to your decision. the important detail is that our 42nd anniversary is around the corner and we summarize our secret in three words, "customize, customize, customize."

come from the heart if you want it to work. it's YOUR marriage and no one else's.
I definitely want the marriage... what I pictured was that we wouldn't even tell anyone. It's something sacred to me and I wanted to share it just with him. I never wanted the party.

But the thing is: I know what I want but I don't know why I want it. I have social phobia and hate being the center of attention, so I never would have chosen an actual wedding party. There's so much that could go wrong and some people can laugh about things like that, but I know myself and I know that even a little thing going wrong could ruin the whole thing for me. And I'm not talking about material stuff, I don't picture an American dream wedding. I'm just worried about someone not liking something and making a negative comment, or about people not getting along - things like that.

So the thing is: I know what I want but I want no wedding party because of my fear of it going wrong. And I don't know if my fiancé is right that I should just do it and not worry too much and that my anxiety should not be holding me back all the time.

I guess after everything that happened in my life I'm not sure I can even make reasonable decisions anymore. And also: of course my feelings are valid, but aren't my fiancé's feelings just as valid? And if he wants that wedding party, who am I to deny him that?

Anyway I just got news today: my dad was at the hospital and apparently, the cancer has spread to his lungs now and one of his kidneys has completely shut down. So he'll definitely die soon.

My sister visited me today and she asked me if I wanted to move the wedding to as soon as possible, so that my dad can be there. Now I'm even more confused.

My perfect idea of a wedding party (if I was going to have one) would be with as few people as possible, like scout, in a yard somewhere with not too much money spent.
Currently, we have 68 people on our guest list.


Compromise and communicate. For the relationship to work, it's going to be essential.

The wedding party is important to your fiance. But there's elements to it, in its current form, that simply aren't going to work for you (starting with the concept that social anxiety is something that you can just shrug off and relax). Neither of you are right or wrong - you just have different needs and priorities with this particular event.

Your family? Don't need to be there. That's your call. Everyone who has demonstrated to you in the past that they can't be trusted to behave like responsible adults at parties like this? Nup. I can't see any logical reason you'd invite them. If they've already been invited, but that's a terrible idea? Uninvite them. Seriously. "We've replanned, and it's going to be a much smaller, private occasion".

If 68 guests is too many for you to cope with (because, surely having the wedding is more important than having the wedding with 68 guests), what's a number you can feasibly cope with?

Compromise and communicate. This isn't the first big deal you'll have to find a way to manage as a couple. But if you're ready to get married? The communication and compromise should be absolutely doable.


I think it's very normal to be scared of a wedding party, let alone when people have shown they create explosions. Even without social anxiety it would be a nightmare to manage.

The problem with the wedding parties is that they're kinda supposed to demonstrate that things still are functional and I guess, it's just my guess perhaps I'm projecting a bit, a big part of the fear is also: if they don't get invited and you're gonna spend a long time married, the invitation question might be a topic that crawls up over and over in the family dramas.

When I had the idea of getting married and having a wedding the situation was different because both our families were f*cked up and also distant so there wasn't so much of opportunities to create a criticality accident. We eventually found that a small party with friends and around 30 people big max would be more than enough. No parents since from both sides we had a pattern of criticality incidents like the meltdown of your dad. I'm sorry you're through this it's real though,

Perhaps something that could be done is a family wedding and a friends wedding. The problem with families is that more often than not you get full clusters of people and the second cousin nobody knows because he's the foster son of someone who has some influence on another family member, and if you invite the unknown cousin then you also sorta have to invite a befriended coworker and their partner, and here you go and end up with 200 people before you could do anything.

Perhaps a deal would be, keep it close and keep it simple. It's understandable your fiance is super enthusiastic and it might overwhelm you in sociability and feeling defective and you don't want to feel that way during your own wedding.

A wedding a guess is about forming endearing memories to go ahead. The whole question is how to have a good strategy to create that momentum in a way that is comfortable and secure for both of you.

Also it doesn't sound right to me that you end up having to plan the whole thing it pressures you in that kind of stress and getting jarred about failing.

At the end of the day the nicest wedding I witnessed was the one of my ex and it happened in my garage. His family also was a huge hot mess but the way we organised it (my partner was his best friend) was to choose a venue that is close to everyone (so anyone who freaks out can be expelled and anyone who feels overwhelmed can escape), with very few people, no formal dinner, a basic external catering but some of the arrangements organised by good friends or allies who know the situation and can handle it for you because they aren't so emotionally invested.

Also it's important that family people don't get to be too few if you decide to mix family and friends. Actually a small amount of strangers probably can be a good deterrent for people to behave. And you place the tables in a way everyone buffers and cancel each other. Like surrounding your dad with nice people from your fiancé's family and letting your mom and sisters in another island and buffer the two with friends and ensure that there always is some catering passing between the two to create a busy barrier.

Sorry I don't mean to vomit advice especially but I organised lots of events in my life and these are the kinds of things we actually did to prevent bad things to happen. I don't think I'd be so serene about my own wedding. But just to let you know that there are ways to deflect that kind of problems and anything beyond that is just people meeting each other and it might work or not, but as long as everyone remains civilized and overall cheerful it's good.

Covid restrictions also might play in your favour since if you have to reduce the number of invitees and having a larger place for less people you also reduce the potential of bad interactions. You need a certain closeness of interaction and some idea of discretion to have a meltdown. Large areas where everyone can see you and having to walk around to find everyone can be used as deterrent against pickering and fights. A certain formalism also can work. It really depends on you and what you want to create but there are many ways to solve this type of conundrum.

At my ex's wedding his mom started to have a meltdown and we called a taxi to send her home. Then his brother kind of started to make a scene but we went and distracted him then he eventually left. So it wasn't full perfect but still at the end every person who was there has an endearing memory so it did what it was supposed to do.

I hope you'll feel better and also can talk to your fiancé and your friends about it so everyone can sort of team work on it. Not nice and very stressful to be alone in those moments. Everyone's friendships have been affected by the pandemic but people still do care and I think are quite adamant to show it if given the opportunity.


Have you asked your fiancé to share more with you about what the wedding party means to him? What would make it his "dream day"? I'm just curious - because I think step one is you and he taking the time and space to get to know each other more through this. Odds are, there's a compromise to be found - but it's important to get there together. If the conversations have consisted of him trying to ease your general anxiety over being the center of attention, or your anxiety about your family dynamic...then he's not really getting a chance to talk about what matters to him in all this.

And that might also help you get clarity on your own perspective.


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My husband met my family. So when I told him I did not want a wedding, I did not need to convince him! Also I absolutely abhor being the centre of attention - I would rather drink gasoline!

However, I have seen few weddings where one invited only one family and I think you have couple choices from where I sit:
Stand on your ground and express to your fiancé the situation from your mental health perspective and hope they get it and understand and agree to elope!
honestly, have a wedding without your family. I see absolutely nothing wrong with this - they will be just as they are no matter what so what difference does it make? Maybe they can start to complain about this for the rest of your life rather than all the other issues!
do not have a wedding - it is a choice- maybe even the most peaceful.

At the end of the day, it seems like you are looking at the wedding from solo view. It takes two to make a wedding and it is really important to have your fiancé support you 100% in this situation for whatever you both decide is better than just you looking for solution.

I hope you start your marriage journey with a decision you both decide together.

I feel your ambivalence though!
thank you all for the replies! I haven't been able to make a decision yet but I appreciate your tips and ideas. I hadn't even planned on replying yet but it's 2.30 am and as usual I can't sleep. And I don't know if it's just my anxiety acting out but now I'm starting to have doubts about the marriage itself.

I mean I know I want to be with my fiancé for the rest of my life, so I guess it doesn't even matter if we're married or not - might ass well do it.

But after the last couple of years (they were really rough for me) at the beginning of this year I just really wanted and needed something to look forward to. So I asked boyfriend if he wanted to get married. And it felt exhilarating at first.

And then right before we sent out the save the date cards, I got the news about my dad.

And I guess I can't really give you an update on what I'm going to do now, because I'm really at a low point right now. I haven't slept properly in weeks, I've been drowning my sorrows in alcohol, and I don't think I've ever been more confused in my life.

I guess that's what therapy is for, but the truth is, I'm so confused about my feelings, I can't even explain them to my therapist.

I don't know if I've just been gaslighting myself for so long, but at this point I don't even trust myself anymore. My emotions are all over the place and I've just been lying in bed next to my fiancé, thinking about all the things that I don't like about our relationship, and now I'm doubting the whole thing.

The thing is: he's so perfect - or rather he has seemed so perfect to me for such a long time. And I know for a fact that I'd have a hard time finding anyone better (and I don't want to try, I love him so much) but there are things that really make me feel insecure. He's definitely the "in good times"- kind of partner, but he's never really seemed all in during the bad times. I mean when we had the car accident and I got the PTSD, he showed so little interest in me and my feelings, it almost broke us apart.
And now, with me having such a hard time, it's the same thing again. He never asks me how I'm doing and he gives me the same amount of attention as if I were doing well. Like I can be sitting on the couch, drowning my sorrows in alcohol, and he just walks by and spends his time playing video games.

I know some people make their partners soup and tea when they're sick - and I don't even expect that much, but when I was staying home in bed with a fever, boyfriend's reactions was "oh you're staying home, great, so you can walk the dog instead of me". And so I did walk our dog even with a fever and feeling dizzy to the point of fainting.

I don't know if he's really so insensitive or just slow in some ways, but I can't do this thing without his support.

I'm so overwhelmed right now and I know I'm not in the right state to make any big decisions, so I won't.

And I know 100% that I want to be with him, but I'm beginning to wonder if we need couple's therapy because it just doesn't work that way.

Also that might sound really petty, but I'm really annoyed about how the whole engagement thing went down. I never expected a proposal, I don't believe in things like that. I believe in two people discussing marriage after having been together for a reasonable amount of time and then making a decision together.

But when we decided to get married, he insisted he wanted to propose to me and do it "right".

We ended up picking a cheap ring together at some market stand - and that was months ago. I don't need a proposal but he said he'd do it and I've been expecting it, but it never came.

A couple days ago I found the ring we'd bought lying around in his messy room. And maybe it's because I've been stressed out lately, but it annoyed me so much. He didn't even bother hiding it from me or putting it somewhere safe until the proposal and I'm just so done with the whole thing. Fiancé has a habit of making me look forward to things I hadn't even expected or wanted - only to disappoint me in the end.

Maybe these are all just signs that now is not the right time.
I guess I'll just put off the planning until I get my feelings in order.
Sorry for the rant.


No need to apologize for the "rant". This is a pretty good place to toss out thoughts and get help sorting through them.
The thing is: he's so perfect - or rather he has seemed so perfect to me for such a long time.
Nobody is actually "perfect". I think one of the most important things in relationships is how the imperfections land. My ex-husband lied. A lot. Ironically, I told him before we got married that I basically had only one deal breaker and it was being lied to...... Took me several years to realize how often he lied because he was that good at it. But, other people in his life didn't have a problem with it because they thought of it as him "telling stories". I've been in one actual "good" relationship in my life. He had some quirks in his personality that drove other people nuts. I thought they were kind of amusing. I've got a bunch of quirks of my own, but he seemed to think they were "cute". I don't know..... Anyway, I think it's pretty important to consider both the pluses and minuses when considering a long term relationship and it doesn't hurt at ALL to talk about that kind of thing. (Personally, I think it's important that you CAN talk about that sort of thing.) I also think it's important to avoid making major decisions when you're sleep deprived and stressed out. It can be pretty helpful to have an objective third party (like a therapist) help sort through this stuff. How much does your partner actually know about PTSD and what you're dealing with?
Thank you!
I've grown to know him quite well in the 8 years of our relationships, and still I tend to misinterpret his behavior sometimes. He has such a good heart but he can be a bit slow and is easily overwhelmed. Also he forgets a lot of things. But he's also lazy. And even after all those years I find it hard to tell these things apart. Like if I'm stressed out and he doesn't do his chores, I think it's because he's lazy and then I get mad at him. But quite often it's simply because he forgot about them.
Or if we're both in a stressful situation - like shopping in a crowded supermarket - we react differently. I'm in survival mode and want to rush through the shelves to get out as fast as possible. He on the other hand gets completely frozen and can't think straight. And the more I rush him, the more confused he gets which in turn stresses me out even more.
Just this morning I found an empty bottle in the fridge and I got mad about it, but then I remembered that he was tired the night before and probably simply didn't realize it was empty and so he put it back instead of throwing it out.

About the PTSD: he really never showed much interest. I used to think he doesn't care, but that's obviously not true. I know now that he cares a lot about my well-being. I think he gets overwhelmed when talking about things like that, but I don't really know why. Maybe he thinks I expect him to help me somehow, which puts pressure on him. Maybe talking about feelings triggers something in him like anxiety and then he shuts down. Often when I was trying to address a serious topic, he would change the subject or take out his phone. I know now that he doesn't intend to be rude, I think it's just because he gets so nervous. But it's hard for me to talk about feelings too and I've been working on it so much and making progress. I don't expect him to change just like that, but I do expect him to work on his communication and listening skills- I can't be the one to always do all the emotional labor.

Two days ago he triggered me with a comment about a movie about r*pe. We were sitting at the dinner table with a friend, and he started talking about that movie. I was already in a bad mood and I absolutely didn't need this, so I told him that I didn't want to hear about it. But he just went on and made it even worse, so I got mad and told him again to please shut up because I absolutely didn't need to hear this. The thing is: judging by his face he had absolutely no idea why I reacted that way. He knows my story, but I guess he doesn't know how things can be triggering. Sometimes I expect too much from him because I think it's obvious. But I guess with him I really need to spell everything out clearly - which is hard because I'm bad at talking about things like that.
I've tried sending him links to articles about PTSD or stuff like that, but he doesn't understand that it's important to me and tends to just read the first paragraph or so. I guess that's something I need to spell out for him as well.

This post has already become much longer than I intended, but I do need to leave a positive note about the wedding:
Lily, my other sister, has taken it upon her to try and "fix" our family. I'm extremely grateful for that because I wouldn't have the energy or patience.
She first contacted Marie and clearly told her our dad is dying soon and Marie's reaction was a huge surprise. She did in fact contact my dad and has been in touch with him since! Which I know means the world to him.
Lily also called our mom and told her what is going on. I thought I'd made it clear enough a couple of months ago when I'd told her about the cancer, but maybe my communication skills suck more than I thought. Apparently, mom hadn't understood the full extent of the situation and she started crying and saying that she felt sorry for my dad and that he didn't deserve this.
I don't know if she'll get in touch with him too, but I'm so relieved to know she's not entirely indifferent to what's happening. That means I don't need to be mad at her or Marie and we can get through this as a family <3