There are all kinds of legitimate reasons why you might not want to invite someone to your wedding. Maybe your great-aunt is horrifically, outspokenly racist. Maybe your work colleague gets violent when drunk. Maybe your mean cousin is guaranteed to make snide remarks about your dress, the décor and your choice of partner from the moment she arrives.
But when it’s your 15-year-old disabled niece, the decision to leave her off your wedding guest list becomes significantly harder to justify.
A teenager has spoken on social media about her sadness and anger at not being invited to a family wedding because of her physical disability.
In a post on reddit, the teenager – known under the pseudonym Zinogirl – wrote: “I’m just very upset now because my aunt’s wedding is soon and I learned that I can’t go for the wedding because she didn’t invite me.”
Zinogirl explained that her parents and brothers had been invited to the event, but she was informed that because she needs crutches – and the venue wasn’t “friendly and comfortable” – her aunt had decided not to include her on the guest list.
While she didn’t reveal exactly what form her disability takes, Zinogirl made clear that she can “handle [her]self”, and questioned whether the only reason for her aunt leaving her off the invitation was that she didn’t think she could cope in the venue.
“If that’s the only reason, isn’t that something I should decide?” she wrote. “Maybe I can handle myself in that venue. Maybe my brother and dad will help me if I needed help [sic]. She excluded me because I have a disability.”
She said that she had tried to speak to her parents about the problem, but that they told her that she had to respect her aunt’s decision. Her brothers, meanwhile, had said that they would boycott the wedding if she wasn’t included on the invite list.
In a later post, the teenager revealed that the aunt had said that her decision wasn’t based on “pity, it’s genuine concern for my well-being. She doesn’t want me [to] see other girls my age do the things I can’t do and feel jealous and inadequate.”
Again, that seems like the kind of judgement call that Zinogirl should have been able to make herself.
Research by disability charity Scope suggests that the majority of physically disabled people have experienced social exclusion. So while it can be difficult to figure out how to accommodate everyone’s different needs at a wedding, it seems deeply sad that that sense of exclusion should come directly from a family member.