Should You Invite an Ex to Your Wedding?

Ask yourself (and your fiancé) the following questions to decide whether or not a former flame should be present at your big day.

Photo Credit: Kingdom Wedding Photography

Your guest list is filled with friends, family, colleagues, bosses…but what if there’s someone on the list who’s seen you naked (and is not your gynecologist)? Whenever a bride or groom is thinking about inviting an ex to their nuptials, it can stir up all kinds of wedding stress-fueled anxieties:

  • The bride may think, "I don’t want her at the wedding…she’s slept with my groom!"
  • The groom may be the one who objects: "What if he still loves my bride?" Or, "I’ve been undoing the damage this guy caused for years. No way am I going to feed him a lobster."

You can be the most mature, well-adjusted, secure partner in the world and still get rattled by your fiancé's plans to invite "He/She Who Came Before Me." (Nevermind that The Ex has a wife, four kids and is now a minister…your groom still isn’t okay with him being there on the wedding day!)

Your wedding day is supposed to be a celebration that includes all of the people who support your marriage—a happy time when you walk together hand-in-hand into the future. If there’s a huge reminder of your past sitting at Table Six, isn’t it going to take some of the shine away from it all?

Here are some considerations before you add an old flame to the guest list:

1. Is it that important that your ex be present at your big day?
If your partner is really coming unglued, if you’re fighting about it, or if you’re showing more loyalty to Mr. Would-Have-Been than to your intended, then you have to think about one of the big words in the vows: Honor. That doesn’t start when you take your vows…it begins now.

If your fiancé is adamant about not including your old boyfriend on the guest list, since it would be really painful to see him there, perhaps it’s best to honor your partner’s “No, I’m just not comfortable with that" feeling (no matter what the history or current friendship entails).

2. What kind of ex is it?
Was it a full-on 7-year relationship with the first man who gave you an engagement ring? That kind of blast from the past can be really jarring—not just for the groom but also for your family, who likely has strong feelings about the guy either way. If he was an almost-spouse, maybe it’s best just to stay Facebook Friends.

If the ex in question was a casual relationship, a friendship you tried to push into dating zone, or maybe even someone you never went to bed with, simply explain the details to your partner. Reassure him that he is The Only One, and don’t turn this into a battle. Smile and say, “He was a space saver so that I was single and available for you.”

(Photo at right courtesy of Tanja Lippert Photography)

3. How do you feel towards them? Be honest!
When you look at that ex, do you subconsciously feel a magnetic pull back to your most romantic times? It doesn’t mean you’re in love with him, but that kind of energy doesn’t have a place on your wedding day.

4. Would it be good for the kids?
Some exes are ex-spouses and the father or mother of your children. And yes, some really well-adjusted family groups do feel comfortable with their former wife or husband being at the wedding, since the parting was amicable and the kids would be far happier with the show of friendliness than having Mom or Dad "left out." Decide with both your ex-spouse and your fiancé if this is the right scenario for you.


Sharon Naylor is the author of over 35 wedding books, including The Bride's Diplomacy GuideShe has been featured as a wedding expert on top shows such as Good Morning America, ABC News, Primetime and more. Visit for more wedding tips and advice.