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Teen Artist Sparks Drama After Throwing Away Handmade Wedding Invites That Her SIL Refused To Pay Her For

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No one should need to be reminded that artists should be properly compensated for their work.

Unfortunately, when the artist is young, or family is involved, recipients sometimes think they can somehow get around that whole payment part.

But one teen wasn’t having it on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit when Redditor aileeliz’s future sister-in-law (SIL) refused to pay for her handmade wedding invitations.

But the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she reacted poorly, so she asked: 

“AITA for throwing away all my sister-in-law’s wedding invitations?”

The OP started an artistic small business while still a teen. 

“So I (18[Female]) run a small business, where I do calligraphy. I make redbubble stickers and do wedding invitations.”

“It’s not a large source of income for me, but it is nice to have a few more dollars coming in. I do hope to expand it one day because I put a lot of work into my designs and spend a lot of money on supplies.”

The OP’s future sister-in-law asked her to create their wedding invitations. 

“My (25[Male]) brother got married to his (26[Female]) girlfriend before the world went to hell but there is an incident that she still is angry with me for and refuses to speak to me.”

“For her wedding, she asked me if I would do the invitations.”

“I was fine with doing them as a wedding gift, until I realized that she was having a 200+ person wedding and wanted handwritten menus, invitations, and name cards as well as table cards with facts about her and her fiance.”

“Of course, she picked the most expensive stationary and most elaborate designs that she could.”

The sister-in-law avoided discussing the logistics ahead of time. 

“I told her straightforward that I would not be able to finance this, me being a broke 17-year-old saving up for college, and that I could do it if I were paid, in which I would just give her a regular wedding gift.”

“I told her that I would heavily discount the price to where she would only be paying for supplies. She told me that ‘we would work out the details’ to which I assumed she meant the price/budget for supplies.”

But when she finished the invitations, the OP was in for a rude awakening. 

“Now I finish all the invitations. [It] took me a significant chunk of time, but they [were] ready to go.”

“I ask my SIL to reimburse me for the costs, and she flips her sh*t and refuses to pay me, saying that I’m taking advantage of her and that I should be nice to her since the rest of the wedding was extremely expensive and that I was doing this to purposely exclude her from her new family.”

The OP now wonders if her reaction went too far.

“Here’s where I might be TA.”

“At this point, I had spent a lot of money and time on them, and I realized that there was no way she was going to pay for the menus [and] table cards. So I threw away all the invitations I had made.”

“It hurt to see my work go down the drain, but I did use the designs I created for them as examples on my Etsy site.”

“By this time it was too late to hire someone to make new invitations so SIL basically had to send emails instead of invitations. She managed to get printed menus for cheap though.”

“SIL still won’t speak with me. Mom is on my side and my brother is pretty neutral, he just wants me to apologize to keep the peace.”


Fellow Redditors rated the OP’s scenario on the following scale:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some Redditors supported the OP and said she should have been paid. 

“NTA but in the future, get a contract and a deposit to at least cover supplies before doing all that work.”Stellaaahhhh

“Family pays upfront.”thingpaint

“This. HEALTHY family offers to pay upfront, and doesn’t wait until they’re asked by a 17-year-old.”kjimbro

“I’m a wedding planner and I don’t do friends or family weddings period”

“Edit: I definitely still give them advice and help out with details, I love what I do and it’s fun. But they’re not getting the tools, email reminders, etc I do for clients.”captainmcdee

A few joked and suggested how the OP could have reacted instead. 

“Yes, and be sure to craft a beautifully written ‘apology’ with plenty of resplendent calligraphy.”

“Really rub it in with an ornate note detailing exactly why you threw the invitations away and how you would do it again in a heartbeat. NTA.”Anonymotron42

“I can picture it now and it’s beautiful and petty all at once”Whenitrainsitpours86

“Yep, I image all kinds of fancy swirls around the large, capital letter ‘F’ that would undoubtedly begin the final rejoinder.”Anonymotron42

“honestly, sounds like a decent business plan: there are hundreds of people who can make calligraphic wedding invitations, but writing custom passive-aggressive non-apology letters? now that’s something I would pay good money for.”GooseTriedToKillMe

Other Redditors agreed and said the biggest AH in the situation was the OP’s brother. 

“But where is the brother in all of this? When SIL refused to pay, he should have insisted. This is his sister.”

“Not to mention that when someone becomes such a bridezilla I would take that as a huge warning sign for the future if I were him.”Laurelinn

“Honestly? SIL is definitely an a**hole, but brother brings it to another level by being so willing to not just fail to protect, but enable the abuse of, his little sister.”

“I have a sister who is about four years younger than me and I assure you if my fiancé EVER pulled half the level of this sh*t with my sister, we would have issues.”

“I cannot imagine doing something like that to my sister, especially not when she was so young and vulnerable.”

“At 17, even being able to buy a wedding gift for your brother/SIL is commendable.”kjimbro

“[The brother is] siding with SIL. By enabling her. And then forcing OP to apologize for ‘keeping the peace.'”Reigo_Vassal

“He’s being a wiener and is probably telling his new wife she’s in the right while avoiding conflict elsewhere.”

“Honestly, I just feel bad for OP. Being taken advantage of, especially as such a young person trying to get their business up and running, must feel terrible.”

“The fact she is now family with that person just adds salt to the wound.”kjimbro

It probably felt wasteful to throw all of that work away, but it’s true that an artist’s work should be respected.

“Working out the details” should not mean getting work for free when the person already said no. And it definitely shouldn’t mean guilting someone into gifting their work away.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit