(Closed) How to invite some family members but not others?

posted 5 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll: What should we do?
    Have the wedding you want, with the people you want : (14 votes)
    78 %
    Elope : (0 votes)
    Invite all of the aunt's and uncles : (4 votes)
    22 %
  • Post # 3
    1696 posts
    Bumble bee

    @JL4SM:  Hello, and welcome to the wWeddingbee! What an opportune question you ask. I think every hostess who plans a wedding party has similar questions, so no doubt many Bees are wondering the same thing. Fortunately, as This Time Around so aptly points out, etiquette has been around for a long time, and has stayed around precisely because it works, even to avoid problems that you might not have encountered yet, as well as to address the problems you have encountered. Etiquette is also NOT so black-and-white as you may read in some wedding-magazine columns and their related if ill-advised discussion-boards, so do not be put off by them nor be afraid of etiquette.

    The first thing you need to decide clearly, is who the hostess will be. The hostess is the one person who is responsible for the safety, comfort and entertainment of all her guests; and so has the final say on all related decisions including the actual content of the guest-list. Of course, she also has the responsibility to pay for any goods or services for which she contracts. But she can negotiate with friends or family members to help her out with that: etiquette does not concern itself with finances other than to say that nice people keep their finances strictly private. From what you have written, I assume that you will be the hostess.

    The first thing a lady should do when she agrees to host a wedding party, is call upon the senior lady from the other family — in your case, your dear fiance’s mother — taking with you your visiting-book (or its modern equivalent, your smartphone, tablet or laptop with your contact list). It is a good idea to start a fresh visiting-book (or contact list). Sit down together with the other lady and her contact-list/visiting-book and create a merged list containing ALL of BOTH sets of family members and social friends. If your mother were the hostess, she would be giving the new merged visiting-book to you as a wedding gift; but since she is not you should probably sit down with her, and get her personal contacts merged in as well. If nothing else, this will serve you in good stead when you take on the full responsibilities of a married lady, like sending Christmas cards and teaching your own children about their family tree. If any of the families are broken, you might have to meet with both sides of the broken family to get all the contacts. For each entry, try to get

    • the person’s relationship to you and your husband
    • their address, telephone and emai
    • their social title and the preferred form of their name

    Okay, that is a lot of up-front work, but it will save no end of trouble later on. Because that is the very last time that you discuss guest-lists with anyone. You are the hostess: you decide the guest list. You sit down with your fiance, and you make a guest list from the combined contacts list, starting with your nearest and dearest whom you absolutely must have, then the slightly-less near-and-dear, and so on, until you reach your limit. And you draw the line there.

    No rule exists that you must invite all of any “category” of guest. Guests are people, not elements of a Venn diagram. The only rules are that

    1) if you invite a person who is married or engaged (or must be presumed, because of the way they live their lives, to be married or engaged even if they have not made any official announcements), then you must invite both members of the couple.

    2) Every person must be invited by name with an invitation sent to his or her own address.

    3) you should not invite anyone unless you, or someone you trust, can vouch that they are the sort of person you don’t mind your other friends having to associate with.


    Post # 5
    1696 posts
    Bumble bee

    @JL4SM:  You may have misunderstood me. The point of sitting down with your mother and with your future mother-in-law is not to get their “input”. It is to get their contact list. That way you do not have to go back to them later when you have decided on your guest list, to get addresses or family information that you are missing. It is those later visits when you are actually in mid wedding-planning, that result in most of the drama.

    My advice stands. One way to proceed is to put all the contacts in a spreadsheet, and put a number next to each person on the contact-list representing how important it is to you to have them at your wedding: ’10’ if you cannot imagine getting married without them, ‘5’  if they are a dear old friend, ‘1’ if you haven’t seen them in decades and could not care less whether they are present or not, ‘0’ if you don’t even know who they are. Have your fiance do the same thing. Sum the two numbers, and then sort the spreadsheet from most important to least important. Take the top however-many you want to invite, and do not invite the rest. Do scan the list of non-invitees, of course, to consider whether any non-invitations would constitute major gaffes in the domain of family politics; but do not overthink it. “Private” weddings are perfectly proper, and most people understand that where they sit in terms of “closeness” to the bride and groom legitimately explains why they were not invited.

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