Post # 1
My FMIL has a huge extended family who i’ve never met/heard of, and her compromise to not have them double our wedding guest list, and force us to find a new reception site, is to throw an engagement party in Toronto, her hometown where they all live (we all live in NYC). How should the invites to this party be worded so the invitees understand that they are not going to be invited to our small wedding?
Post # 3
Ooh that’s a tough one! Usually when some people cannot be invited to the wedding, they hold a reception several days after the wedding, and the invitations say something like “We’re married! Come celebrate!”
In your case, maybe the invitations can have a note on the bottom saying “The couple will be holding an intimate wedding in NYC. Here’s your only chance to celebrate! Don’t miss!” … or something along those lines.
Post # 4
This sounds like a very nice offer by your future mother-in-law. Since she’s the one hosting the party, she should be sending out the invitations in her own name. In many older stable communities (especially the old families of “Upper Canada”), it’s the mother-in-law’s responsibility to introduce her son’s fiance to her side of the family by holding a party or reception in the girl’s honour, regardless of the wedding arrangements. Such a party is often held early in the engagement, but it isn’t techically an “engagement party” since your engagement has already been announced.
If your mother-in-law is planning a formal party the invitations are worded “Mrs John Doe/requests the pleasure of the company of /<guests’ names>/ at a reception (or “dinner” or “dance” or whatever it is) in honour of / Miss Kay Jay Winter/ on &tc…
If it’s an informal party the invitations are worded something like “please come and meet John Jr’s fiancee, Kay Winters, at …” But leave the details up to your fiance’s mother. She should already have a pretty good understanding of her family’s unwritten code of manners.
Contrary to popular misconception, being invited to one party does not guarantee anyone an invitation to every other party to be thrown between now and the honeymoon! A party is a pleasure, not an imposition that needs to be compensated by future invitations! There’s a new made-up rule that claims any wedding-related event demands a wedding gift, which must be reciprocated by a wedding invitation. There’s that nasty mercenary thinking again! The real rule says first, that NO GIFT should be given early in the engagement by any but the most intimate relatives, and even then it should be given privately; and second and more important, that no single party should have first-class and second-class guests, or have people invited to only part of it, or have people specifically dis-invited!
So to make this gracious and acceptable, it should be presented as being an event in its own right, and not as being a prequel to a wedding that the guests aren’t welcome at. You don’t mention the wedding plans at all. You especially don’t mention that you are planning not to invite people, any more than you’d want your five-year-old at kindergarten making a general announcement to her classmates that they can’t come to her birthday party. This is part of the Robert Fulgham “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten” school of etiquette.