Post # 1
My fiance’s father is taking care of our rehearsal dinner (planning and paying for it. whew! thankful for that help!) The wedding will be near my hometown. I have a very small family – small on mom’s side, and no father’s side at all- and they are all local. My fiance’s family is very large, and they live spread out over the states.
Just to clarify, the invitation list for the wedding is about 25% mine and 75% his. It’s a little uncomfortable imagining my wedding day among mostly strangers, but obviously it is what it is.
My fiance’s father insists on inviting every single out-of-towner to the rehearsal. I understand that’s etiquette. But that means almost the WHOLE guest list will also be at the rehearsal dinner, excluding my little family except for my immediate family because they are local. So we’re looking at a rehearsal dinner where there’s 10 of my family members and 100 of his. My fiance and I already talked to his father and expressed that we wanted it to be more intimate. He couldn’t accept the idea of not inviting everyone.
I barely care about the rehearsal dinner, to be honest. We could have done something small and simple, with just our immediate family and wedding party, and I would’ve been so happy. While I’m appreciative for the planning and financial help, I’m bummed thinking about yet another event among strangers. I have social anxiety and I can already imagine the feeling of overwhelming discomfort.
The only possible solution I’ve thought of so far is to invite MORE of my own family to the dinner. But I already don’t like how many people will be there in the first place.
I’ll be honest – I don’t go to many weddings, none of my friends have gotten married yet, and my family is small. I’m inexperienced with this. Any advice would be amazing. Is it more important to be hospitable? Am I over-valuing my own preference? What would you do in this situation?
Post # 2
I personally think you should push for a rehearsal dinner of just your bridal party and immediate family. i am not a fan of when the rehearsal dinner turns into a second wedding. it’s a dinner for the people who need to attend the wedding rehearsal, not everyone in the world. in today’s world, most people don’t necessarily marry someone from their same hometown, or even stay in their hometown as an adult. there are usually a substantial amount of guests from out of town. i don’t think they all need to be invited.
Post # 3
We invited everyone to the rehearsal dinner, and I really enjoyed it. It gave me a chance to meet people I did not know already.
If you think you can handle it, I would invite everybody and focus your time talking to his family so you feel more comfortable the next day.
Post # 4
As a compromise, can your FH ask his Dad to host a traditional rehearsal dinner limited to the wedding party, their SO’s and immediate family, then open it up to all the OOT’s to join you for either drinks or cofee and dessert?
Post # 5
I hate the idea of inviting all out of town people. I get the idea from olden-days when it was only a *few* people coming from afar, but now that everyone is so spread out it gets cumbersome to invite 100+ people to a REHEARSAL dinner.
Anyways. I like julies idea. Look for a compromise first. If he really won’t budge, I’d say thanks but no thanks. We will host a traditional rehearsal dinner (and pay for it), and you can do whatever you like afterwards.
Post # 6
We had a large rehearsal/out of towner party for my daughter’s wedding because so many people came from a long way away. Frankly I don’t see any problem with that, it was great and everyone really appreciated it and had a good time. It was a great way to meet people from the “other side” in a more relaxed format than the wedding. It’s just one night, not the rest of your life, and you’re not paying for it. I pick my battles and this isn’t one I would choose.
Post # 7
I’m personally not a fan of large rehearsal dinners because I don’t see the point in having basically a mini wedding before the wedding and the next day is already jam-packed with formalities that I prefer a more low-key affair that allows everyone to get on with what they need to do since they are devoting practically the entire next day for the wedding. But that’s really neither here nor there.
There is nothing requiring inviting out-of-town guests nor is it against etiquette to not invite them. The dinner is a thank you to your rehearsal participants and their SOs for taking time out of their lives to be in your wedding and rehearse for it before hand. That’s it and they are the only ones required to be invited to dinner.
HOWEVER, your Father-In-Law is not only funding it, he is hosting. He is paying, planning, and inviting – he’s the host. It’s not like he wrote you a check and said “use this as you please”. This is his party, not yours at this stage – you’re just a featured attraction. The way to have control of the party is to fund and host it yourselves and politely decline his offer to do so.
So if you are not prepared to do that, then I would look on the bright side or find a silver lining or at least reframe it as an opportunity. You said you were uncomfortable having your wedding amongst mostly strangers and now this is your opportunity to become acquainted beforehand so they are not strangers at your wedding. The only way they stop being strangers is by making the effort to meet and become acquainted and this affords you the chance to do that. That should be of interest to you since these are people who you will now be related to through marriage for the length of your marriage and/or life and aren’t going away from your life after this one event.
Post # 8
I really wish people wouldn’t say “I invited everyone to my rehearsal dinner and I loved it, so therefore, you should love it too.” People are different, and not everyone is an extrovert who enjoys socializing with a large crowd of strangers. Yes, it’s just one night, but it also happens to be the night before the OP’s wedding. She shouldn’t have to deal with so much stress and anxiety the night before her wedding. Then she would have to gear up to do it all over again the next day.
It’s great that some people would enjoy that kind of event, but the OP has made it clear that she would not enjoy it and it would be a real struggle for her.
For what it’s worth, I had the same issue with my parents insisting on paying for the rehearsal dinner and then insisting on inviting everyone. I didn’t want that, for the same reasons as you. So we said “No thanks, we’ll pay for the rehearsal dinner ourselves and invite the wedding party and immediate family only.” We told my parents they could host a huge dinner for everyone if they really wanted to, but my fiance and I would not be there, as we would be attending the small, intimate rehearsal dinner we’d already planned with the wedding party. Of course that pissed them off, but since they were showing such blatant disregard for our feelings, I didn’t really care. I was determined that they weren’t going to force my fiance and I to participate in the rehearsal dinner from hell. We didn’t need them to pay for the rehearsal dinner that badly.
Post # 9
Most of our guests had a good 2-ish hour drive to our wedding – so, not super far but still out of town. Instead of trying to incorporate everyone who had to travel for us, we had our intimate dinner with just the bridal party and immediately family, then met everyone for “welcome drinks” at the bar of the hotel our room block was at. It was a hit – tons of guests came out and it was a great opportunity to great people we don’t usually get to see instead of struggling to give everyone their special time during the reception.
Post # 10
Thanks so much for this thoughtful response. I want to avoid acting out of selfishness, but do feel like I should be able to outline what I can and can’t handle in terms of anxiety.
Kudos to you for having the courage to be clear with your parents and do what you envisioned. I think unfortunately I’m past the point where I can do that – he’s already visited and reserved a winery for the dinner. Before that, my fiance and I both told him that we’d prefer a smaller event and pointed out that almost all of the attendees would also be at the rehearsal. It feels like it’s more important to him that he looks hospitable to his extended family than the couple’s wishes.
I know someone said that if he’s paying for it, then it’s his event. I don’t agree. It’s our wedding, and regardless of who’s paying for it, it’s an extra layer of stress and something that doesn’t fit our vision. It would be a party his extended family could attend, but not my own. Of course I’m interested in meeting everyone, but on our wedding day as planned. It’s okay to have boundaries.
Post # 11
I don’t think it’s out of line for you to ask to invite additional family members, considering the disparity. Many people do invite out of towners if they can afford to these days but that isn’t obligatory or contrary to your OP, etiquette.
As host it is your future father in law’s prerogative to invite anyone he wants. It might even help to meet people ahead of the wedding and he’s really the one responsible for the hosting duties. But if you don’t want a rehearsal dinner you don’t have to agree to one.
Post # 12
But he IS the host. So it’s his prerogative to invite his family to celebrate his son’s wedding. It sounds like that’s customary in his famity, as it’s customary in mine. You have 100 future family members traveling to celebrate with you. That’s amazing.
If you and your fiancé are not comfortable with that, have your fiancé tell his dad that you’ve mutually decided to host a small rehearsal dinner with the wedding party/immediate family only. And pay him back any out-of-pocket expenses he might have lost out on. And be prepared for possible resentment from your future in-laws.
Post # 13
“It feels like it’s more important to him that he looks hospitable to his extended family than the couple’s wishes.”
That’s exactly how my parents are. They really don’t care how we feel about our wedding; they’re more concerned with impressing their friends and family. Of course we want our guests to feel welcome, but we’re already having a Sunday morning brunch for the out-of-town guests and leaving welcome bags for them at the hotel block, and we’re providing free transportation between the airport and the hotel so they won’t have to rent a car. I think that’s enough to make out-of-town guests feel welcome. My parents keep insisting that all the out-of-town guests will expect to be invited to dinner the night before, but I told them that we invited these people to a wedding, not 3 days of hosted events.
I agree that it’s good to have boundaries, and parents should respect those boundaries. I think it’s a little mean when parents offer to pay for the wedding (or part of the wedding) and then use that as leverage against the couple. It’s like giving someone a birthday gift. I try to pick a gift that the recipient will like, not something that I like. It doesn’t make sense to give someone a gift they hate, and then say “Well, I paid for the gift, so it should be something I like.” What kind of gift is that?! If it’s not given in the spirit of generosity, then don’t bother.
I’m sorry you feel like it’s too late to push back with your fiance’s father. You did tell him beforehand that you wanted something small, so it was unfair of him to ignore your wishes. If you really feel that HIS rehearsal dinner (cuz let’s face it, he’s not doing this for you and your fiance) will be too much for you, you still have the option of declining and hosting a separate dinner just for the wedding party and any immediate family members who wish to attend. This will no doubt make your fiance’s parents angry, so it might not be feasible if they’re the type to retaliate. But what they’re doing is pretty selfish. Just because they want to pay for something doesn’t mean they can force you to participate.
Post # 14
Dear OP, saying ” l don’t agree it is his event” doesn’t make it so. He IS the host , like it or not and rather than merely his wanting to make an impression on extended family he may be genuinely hospitable. I can see that you really don’t want this event in its present form, but as pps have said, there is not a lot you can do and still remain gracious .
Your family will be there so that will be nice. Also, since you are not the host you won’t have to do anything except be pleasant and look good . I don’t think you even have to stay till the end, everyone knows what’s happening the next day and will appreciate your needing rest etc.
l reckon, fwiw, best just go along with this, it’s an event in your honour, even if not to your taste, and to refuse it would, l think, cause hurt and resentment . There will be other times, no doubt , where you can more reasonably take a stand if you don’t want what’s happening .
Post # 15
Hosting and paying are two different things. Often they are done by the same person but not necessarily. People aren’t saying that he gets to have the party his way necessarily because he is paying, they’re saying it because he is hosting. A host is someone who receives and entertains party guests. They are the party Giver. By virtue of him having control over the cost, location, guest list, party details, and being the one who is receiving these individuals as his guests, he is the host of this party. You are his guests of honor.
Sometimes money has strings. In this case the strings were that he is the host of the party and gets to make the decisions. Then it was up to you to decide whether or not you accept or reject his offer based on those conditions. Had he chosen to give money unconditionally and say he will simply give you a sum of money free and clear for you to decide, organize, and invite as you please and he was going to merely stay in the background as a guest who was the party benefactor, that would make you the hosts of this party even though he would be paying for it. And then at that point most of our advice would be that it might be nice for you to give him some consideration on an item or two if he had any special requests just by virtue of his kindness in paying, it would ultimately be your decision and you wouldn’t have to.
Yes, it would have been nice if he had taken your wishes more into consideration given that it is a dinner related to your wedding, but ultimately as the host it is his prerogative.