Should I Invite my atheist brother to my wedding reception?

Question: My atheist brother refuses to come to my church wedding. I don’t want to create a scene, but should I invite him to the reception even though he has insulted me?

Although emotions always run high in wedding preparations, a wedding invitation is really just that: an invitation to your wedding. You are asking a person who is important to you to accompany you on an occasion that is important to you. Perhaps you are saddened that he does not share your religious faith. Perhaps that disagreement has left you feeling insulted. But he is your brother, and it is a very special day in your life. If you want him to celebrate with you, then invite him. That part is in your hands.

The response is in your brother’s hands. He may not be comfortable joining you at the church, but may be more than happy to toast you at your reception afterwards. If he starts to create a scene, that reflects on him; it only reflects on you if you play along. And your attention will be focused elsewhere, just as the attention of your other guests will be focused on you and your new spouse. Give him — and yourself — the opportunity to rise to the occasion. Years from now, when you leaf back through the pages of your wedding album, you will probably be delighted to see his smiling face in your photos and to remember that he was there.

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.