Was It Racist to Take Family Photos at a Wedding Without Me and My Wife?

My wife and I attended my nephew’s wedding 18 months ago. He and his wife are now expecting a baby, and I was looking forward to meeting my newest relative. The problem: At their wedding, group pictures of our extended family were taken before my wife and I realized it. When we asked the photographer why we had been overlooked, he only reiterated that pictures had already been taken. My wife, a woman of color, believes that racism may be the reason for our exclusion. She wants nothing to do with my nephew or his family again. I understand her feelings, but I’d like to restart these relationships. My wife doesn’t want me to broach the subject. Thoughts?


In the absence of meaningful context here, I would probably defer to your wife’s assessment. (In all likelihood, she has more experience with racist episodes than you do.) At the same time, I am thoroughly unpersuaded by your investigation. It sounds as if you spoke to the wrong person: a wedding photographer who had little incentive to assemble your entire family for group photographs.

In my experience, the photographer (or a member of the wedding party) makes an announcement about family photographs after the ceremony. Could you have missed it? Or does your wife’s experience with your family make it seem likely that they would engineer her exclusion because of race? You provide no back story, but your wife may be better equipped to answer these questions.

What seems unjust to me, though, is your willingness to rely on a single conversation with a busy service provider to determine the future of family relationships. I wish you had spoken to your nephew 17 months ago! Since you didn’t, the best you can do now is ask your wife to suspend judgment if this was a novel experience with your family. If it wasn’t, I respect her decision. And then the question becomes: Do you want an independent relationship with these relatives?

Credit…Miguel Porlan

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My wife and I treat our children and their spouses when we go out to dinner. We are well off compared with other family members. But one of our children’s spouses always orders the most expensive item on the menu — and sometimes two items, just to try different things. (They don’t do that when they are paying for themselves!) Should we ignore this, or is there a nice way to speak up? The last thing we want is to be petty when it’s not a financial issue.

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