(Closed) I want a small wedding but my fiance has a HUGE family

posted 10 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
508 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

This is a tricky one!  My husband has a large extended family, so we drew the line at first cousins, which kept the list manageable for our very small wedding.  Unless you’re limiting the list to immediate family only, it’s hard to invite some and not others.  What does your Fiance think?

Post # 4
508 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

If you end up with your small wedding, would your Future Mother-In-Law be interested in throwing a more informal reception for the extended family?  We did this for our larger circle of friends and it worked really well.  We were able to reuse many decorations and put together a slide show of ceremony pictures.

Post # 5
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

I second missm – your Future Mother-In-Law is quite welcome to have a second reception, or a nice open house, and invite all her family that she would like to see.  Unless you are asking her to pay for your wedding and reception, she doesn’t get to decide the details.

Now, what you can’t do is invite your uncles and aunts, just because there are only a few of them, and not invited your FI’s.  That would not be fair.  But if you want to limit the guest list to immediate family (mom and dad, grandparents, siblings and spouses) and very close friends only, that is your choice.

We had the same issue but in reverse – his family is very small, mine very large (mom has 7 brothers and 2 sisters…).  Our original plan was immediate family and close friends only.  My mom was quite sad about that, and after talking with my dad she approached us and let us know that she would really love to be able to invite at least the aunts and uncles, and possibly first cousins, and that she and dad would of course be happy to pay for the entire reception either way.  After some discussion, we gave in – mostly because she was so nice about it, and clearly respected our wishes – and partly because the offer of the money was not just a way to convince us to let her have her way – and also because my parents can afford it (without a loan).  I’m sure that we would not have changed our minds if they either couldn’t really afford it (which it sounds like your Future Mother-In-Law can’t) or if they were just trying to get their own way (which it sounds like your Future Mother-In-Law is).

I would encourage you and your Fiance to decide, together, what you really want.  Then let your Future Mother-In-Law know what you will be doing.  And be sure to tell her that you’re sorry to disappoint her, but that your minds are made up.  And other than suggesting that perhaps she have a nice open house at a later date and invite her family (which shouldn’t require her to take out a loan) don’t discuss it any further with her.

Post # 6
7 posts
  • Wedding: January 2011

I agree with suzanno and missm.  this is YOUR wedding — you s hould invite who YOU want, not what OTHERS want.   Especially if your fiance’s extended family doesn’t even treat you well (after 8 years!). 

The food is important to you — you don’t want o downgrade to hor d’eurvres unless you don’t want to have a real reception or one that makes you and your guests happy.  don’t do it unless you plan on having the reception in the early afternoon and plan to end the thing by 6 so people can go home and eat a real meal. 

 sorry to sound so annoyed, but I just think that this is YOUR day and that your family should be supportive no matter what.  I wasn’t invited to a couple relatives’ weddings, but I understood — because this day and age, weddings dont cost what they used to. 

 for me, we’re keeping ours smaller and we’re sticking to it.  Been with my fiance for 7 years, and my mom has come to terms that we’re not inviting extended family (and i have a huge family).  Just close family and friends.  50 – 75 max.  If my mom had it her way, i think she’d invite 200-300 people. i think your Future Mother-In-Law will come around and she’ll be happy she won’t get into debt over it too.  And the rest of the family will get over it too.  I hope it works out!

Post # 7
88 posts
Worker bee

This is a question of mother control!

My fiance’s mother AND father have like 10 siblings each, but they are not all great, supportive people, according to him (I don’t know them all). We did not draw the line according to familial relationships… we drew it according to LOVE. Who was going to support us and love us and who was going to be there just to be there, or be there with bad vibes or bad intentions? So we only invited a few of his aunts and uncles (and all of mine). His mom is upset but we just told her to tell her other siblings that she has no control over the wedding, it is very small and she does not know anything about the guest list. And she is fine with that.

Let your fiance handle it so she is not mad at you… and get that Mother-In-Law under control!! haha 

Post # 8
443 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

We’re having a small wedding too (max list is 70). My fiance and I are paying for evrything, and frankly I dont care if people are upset with me for not inviting them. You cant EVER please everyone. It’s our day, I dont want people that i dont feel comfortable around or close to there to spoil it. They take up spaces of the important people I could invite. I invited my aunts and cousins because we’ve always been close (all my aunts & mom were single mothers each raising 2 kids so they stuck together) but my entire family totals about 20 people. I asked my fiance who he wanted to invite and he stated "my family is my mom and dad, my sisters, and my niece and nephew. period." He’s not inviting family he hasnt talked to in 10 years or 3rd cousins he’s never met just because they’re "family". The rest on the list are our close friends who have been there for us over the years. I hate when people (especially family) try to bully you into doing what they think is right/standard. Do what you want. It’s your wedding.

Our guest list is perfect for us and I cant wait to say "I do" in front of the people that mean the most to us! It’s sure to be an emotional day.

Post # 10
3331 posts
Sugar bee

I’m in the same boat and had a similarly unhappy Future Mother-In-Law. My finace and I are paying for everything, but my Future Mother-In-Law freaked out when she realized the limits we had to put on the guest list.  And she wasn’t upset about family members, these were business associates and aquaintances!  My fiance suggested that they throw a reception/party for us in their hometown after the wedding where they could invite anyone they wanted. That seemed to make her happy.  However, I’m dreading when we actually get to the time when we’re sending out invitations and she tries to pull something else.

The bottom line is exactly like you said–you’re paying for it and you get to make the final decisions!  Stick to your guns!

Post # 11
2 posts

I am the one in my situation with the big family… my dad is the 4th oldest of 16 kids, and my FH is one of 7, but with such a small extended family. We are only inviting the aunts and uncles from my dad’s side (ie my dad’s siblings and their spouses)– NO cousins, NO kids, etc. This is the general understanding within my gargantuan family for all weddings. 


I hope everything works out for you! 

Post # 12
14 posts
  • Wedding: November 2008

My family is huge — more than 20 aunts & uncles plus more than 35 first cousins who, with spouses and kids, really total more than SEVENTY! My fiance’s family is smal, and none of his very few aunts or uncles could comel. 

Our solution was to invite only aunts and uncles on my side and explain that while we’d like to invite everyone, our venue size (and our budget) simply didn’t allow it, as much as we would love to have them. First cousins would be invited after aunts & uncles (and our must-invite friends) had had their chance to RSVP. I then issued a blanket invite to cousins (a little unorthodox, but what are you going to do?) once I heard back from aunts & uncles. As it turns out, none of the cousins can come anyway — it was a late invite and I live in NEw York, and they all live in the Midwest.  It’s a bummer none of my cousins can make it, but I thought it was the most fair way to go. No one seemed upset, and we are going back to the midwest for a holiday party or reunion next year. 

One solution could be to pick a venue that only seats XX amount of people and explain that’s all you can afford — then even if someone WANTS to add 100 family members to the roster, they can’t. 

good luck! 

Post # 13
11 posts
  • Wedding: October 2009

Elope. Or, have a "surprise" wedding. Invite your closest friends and immediate family over for an "engagement party", then, when everyone is gathered, whip out the celebrant and start the processional! (my dad actually saw that happen once!)

in more practical terms, who is paying for the wedding? if you two are covering the whole thing yourselves, or if your parents are paying, then your Future Mother-In-Law doesn’t really have much say. Your side gets X number of invites, and his side gets Y number of invites. Future Mother-In-Law can dole out her portion of invites as she sees fit. It’s the only fair way to do it. 

Post # 14
3 posts

Have a small wedding now. Let Future Mother-In-Law pay for cocktail reception later

Post # 15
11 posts
  • Wedding: May 2009

It’s your special day.  You and your fiance need to do what will make YOU happy and comfortable on such a day.  You will be starting your life together, and from that moment on, all decisions are yours and yours alone, as a family.  Who makes you feel like family?  Who do you consider your family?  Your favorite people in the whole world?

I am truly sorry that you are having to deal with such stress.  Weddings are stressful enough as they are, without others adding to that stress.  Even if parents/relatives do extend financial assistance, does that give them the right to assume control of your day?  Or is it a gift?  This topic was too confusing to my Fiance and I that we just assumed all costs, to avoid confusion… and it still upset certain people.

I agree:  you are not going to please everyone all of the time… on your wedding day, you should only worry about pleasing each other.

Sorry about the long comment, but I am feeling your pain here! Not with my Future Mother-In-Law, but with my own MOTHER… ugh.

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