(Closed) Big Engagement Party or Post-Wedding Celebration

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
1696 posts
Bumble bee

I think first of all, that you need to be careful not to sacrifice the approval of your own friends and family, and your fiance’s family, in order to gain the approval of a bunch of strangers on internet wedding boards. Wedding boards give advice on “wedding etiquette” written for brides, by other brides, who got their ideas from wedding boards and who often have no foundation in standard formal etiquette. Except for a few quixotic old ladies tilting against the windmill that is The Wedding Industry, non-brides aren’t haunting wedding boards and don’t hear those strange “wedding etiquette” ideas.

What your friends and family DO know, are their own family customs, local practices, and ethnic traditions. A few of them at least can also be expected to know standard formal etiquette (to whit, the etiquette practiced by your head of state and consular service) which is useful, since weddings inherently join two different families and hence may involve conflicting local and ethnic customs. Standard etiquette is a useful fallback to address such conflicts. In short: your mother and your future mother-in-law know their own family standards better than you do, and FAR better than the internet does. If the two ladies agree, take their advice. If they don’t agree, try to find a compromise: resort to standard etiquette if necessary. The purpose of standard etiquette is to provide ways of simplifying your life, not of making it more awkward.

Secondly, I think that while greed for material goods — what you call “a gift-grab” — is an ugly characteristic in a bride, so is greed for control over everyone else’s social plans. If your mother-in-law wants to hold a dinner-dance for her friends and extended family, she is not only completely entitled to do so, but formal etiquette will consider it a generous act of hospitality. By formal standard etiquette, if a hostess invites you as guest of honour to a party, you should make every effort to accept. To decline the invitation categorically may create an irreconcilable rift in the relationship. A wise bride does not create irreconcilable rifts with her groom’s family. Nor is it in good taste for a guest of honour to accept conditionally, or to try to change her hostess’s arrangements. A guest of honour is still a guest. A good guest-of-honour’s lines are “thank-you, that is so generous of you” and “whatever you think best: I trust your judgement.”

And that in turn means that little problems like coordinating around your cousin-in-law’s affair, and deciding how to word the invitations, are your future mother-in-law’s concern, and your whole dilemma goes away — or at least becomes her problem, not yours.

Post # 4
6123 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

@amandasue:  Etiquettely speaking in the US, engagement parties are typically for wedding guests only, or nearest and dearest only as most people don’t have their wedding guest list made up by then.  But marriage celebration parties can be afterwards for any and all.  It’s not typically associted with the wedding events (engagement party, brideal shower, wedding, wedding reception).  The reception is what is immediately after the wedding to thank the guests.  So a post wedding celebration – a celebration of marriage – can include others.  Even though it’s called an “at home reception” that is kind of a misnomer.  It can be fancy, it can be casual – whatever you want!  But if your Mother-In-Law wants to throw it for you and pay for it, she probably gets the most say in what it’s going to look like.  If you are paying for it you get to have the most say.

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