We were at my brother-in-law's (my wife's non-JW brother) wedding yesterday. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her husband (and two young kids) are JWs and they were there too.
We were shunned the most by my sister-in-law, she wouldn't even look in the direction of my wife, she didn't even acknowledge the existence of our 12 week old son (who is, by all standards, absolutely gorgeous, so all the women say. People were making a big fuss of him all day) and at one point - in front of my non-JW father-in-law (who, until that point, did not believe us re. shunning), walked past my wife, shoulder to shoulder, and completely shunned her.
There had been an issue over whether or not we should attend the wedding reception or not. Obviously the two people who actually matter, the bride and groom, wanted us there. We were concerned about 'creating a scene' in that we arrive at the reception and all the JWs, including the groom's mother, get up and leave. My mother-in-law had actually asked us not to attend the reception, to just come to the dance at night instead. My wife had pointed out that, as we have a 12 week old baby, we wouldn't be lingering too long at the dance and that both us and our children were really looking forward to the reception. It was suggested that we send the children to the reception without us...
It was a difficult situation. The JW family members had explained their 'reasonable' position to the bride and groom; if we come to the reception they won't be there. It wouldn't be ideal for the mother-of-the-groom not to be at the wedding, so we decided to bow out.
However, my father-in-law spent 3 weeks pleading with us to come to the reception, that there won't be scene etc etc. We tried to explain, over and over, that we know the Witnesses better than he does, that they will shun us and they will cause a scene if need be and that if anything is said to them about this they will view it as persecution and thus confirmation that they are in the right. He consistently refused to believe us re. shunning, which was really frustrating as he clearly thought we were exaggerating and/or completely off our heads.
Our position was that we would go and see the ceremony, then leave quietly so as not to cause an issue for the JW guests. Obviously, this went completely against the grain as we, like them, were invited guests. However, my father-in-law sat in our home until midnight this Wednesday pleading with us to just come to reception, to turn up a bit later than everyone else and that there won't be a scene. Eventually we relented...
Yesterday arrived, we went to the ceremony, were roundly shunned by my sister-in-law, as already explained. Afterwards the guests walked down to the hotel while we lingered. We eventually arrived at the hotel, but by this time my wife felt it was a bit too upsetting to go into the hotel; she was stunned at how cold her sister was towards her - it really was above and beyond the call of JW duty, IMO. My father-in-law came outside to give us a 'pep talk' and we decided to sit outside the bar with the groom, the best man and a few other guests and have a drink. At the appointed time the guests were called into the reception. Again we lingered. My father-in-law gave us further assurance that his JW wife would not cause a scene if we came into the reception, however, we noticed my sister-in-law and her husband also lingering back. It became like a stand-off; we were waiting until they went upstairs and they were waiting to see if we were going to go upstairs.
My wife nipped off to the loo and my sister-in-law's JW husband (elder) came over to me, followed by my father-in-law, to ask if we were staying. I replied that I was leaving that decision up to my wife. He had a quick look about for her, then headed up to the reception. I asked my father-in-law if he heard what I was asked, and he said that he did. He was starting to look concerned.
My wife reappeared from the loo just as her JW sister was coming back downstairs. She passed shoulder to shoulder, shunned my wife, then turned around and asked if we were staying. My wife asked, "will you leave if we do?". She nodded and said yes. My wife immediately responded in a cheery voice, "that's ok, we'll just go." My father-in-law, sadly, was aghast. His two daughters can't even be in the same room at his son's wedding. How messed up is that? There was no protest from my sister-in-law. My oldest son was already upstairs at the reception, so we got our baby son and our 4 year old daughter, who burst into tears (got so upset she ended up with a nose bleed), and left.
My wife was very relieved that, at last, my father-in-law could see that we weren't lying about the harshness of the shunning policy. Unfortunately, it means that his family is destroyed. Whereas once it was a close family who shared holidays together, met up for meals regularly etc, that would never, ever be able to happen again.
We returned later in the evening for the dance. I was appalled that, at first, it looked like my sister-in-law and her family were actually going to stay! After about half-an-hour, though they left, but not before my 12 year old nephew and 10 year old niece shunning my wife and I several times. Once the JWs left, we actually had a quite a good time. Our kids had a ball and there was no scene from the petulant, persecuted JWs.