(Closed) Rehearsal dinner, destination wedding,hurt family feelings

posted 6 years ago in Family
Post # 3
3374 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

I think you need to define the guest list. I really wanted more people invited to my rehearsal dinner (at $8 a plate, I didn’t think it would break the bank to invite all out of town guests from my small wedding).

Rehearsal dinners pretty much have to invite: parents, grandparents, siblings (and their spouses), bridal party and their spouses and that’s it.

If you’re having trouble with the costs, maybe you can tell your son you’ll pay for $X amount instead of X amount of people.

Post # 4
857 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

If you are throwing the party, you are making the guest list. However, if you expect to stray from the “rules” (no extended family, other than grandparents) for your family members (sister), you have to allow the same rules to be broken for the other side of the family. Fair is fair. Stick to your guns, and whether that means telling Grandma or your DIL what the rules are (as long as they are fair to both sides) so be it. 

Post # 5
2183 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2011 - Florida Aquarium

I think it’s very nice of you to want to cover the costs of the rehearsal dinner. I think there are two main options: 1) Find a cheaper spot for dinner. I don’t where this is all taking place, but you could have a more casual get together for many people with catering delivered to a park or beach. That way, you could involve many of the guests for more of a “welcome dinner” at a better price than a sit down restaurant– and people would be more relaxed and appreciate the time together. The second option is to provide the bride and groom a certain amount and tell them they can invite who ever they want and hold it wherever they want. There’s nothing wrong with this. They may be upset because you’re “changing the game,” but the added guests changed the game for you, as well.

Regardless, please don’t stress over this. The rehearsal dinner is such a small part of their marriage. We only had our bridal party and parents and siblings at an upscale bowling alley with pizza, salad and fries. Would we have loved to include others? Sure, but with time and our budget, it really wasn’t an option. It was still a great night!

Post # 6
1659 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

I agree with the poster who mentioned keeping the guest list fair/balanced between sides, and also with choosing a less expensive spot.  I coordinated our rehearsal dinner on behalf of Father-In-Law at an upscale mexican restaurant – buffet dinner, open bar package, and a private room – $1200 for 30 people.  It wasn’t super formal, but it definitely served its purpose…plus the food and the drinks were awesome!

Post # 7
2103 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

Are the grandparents willing to contribute anything? That might be a nice compromise.

Post # 8
2775 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

I’m sorry that your generous offer to host a rehearsal dinner within your means is being met not with gratitude, but with so many people trying to bully you into breaking your budget.  As you are hosting the party, you get to define the parameters.  Everybody else needs to butt out of the planning. 

At a minimum, the rehearsal dinner must include wedding participants, parents of any child attendants, immediate families (of the bride and groom), and any spouses or fiances.  That’s it.  You are in no way obligated to host what sounds like essentially a second wedding reception for all of the extended family.

Sure, you might be able to find a less expensive venue to accommodate more people, but if you prefer a more intimate and more upscale dinner, there’s nothing wrong with that.  You’re doing the paying, so you get to do the planning.

The etiquette guideline that says it is thoughtful to include Out of Town guests in the rehearsal dinner does not apply when the entire guest list is Out of Town.

Post # 9
376 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

You HAVE to include the bride’s additional family if you include your sister and her kids. You are in charge of the guest list and what you can afford. Its easy for other people to say who should be included when they don’t have to pay for it 😛 And you shouldn’t feel guilty about having a budget! Budgets are good things!

I’m having a 24 person reherasal dinner for 500 dollars including tax and tip. Its at an Irish resturant. Its nothing fancy, but it fits the budget. I would have loved to have gone to some fabulous resturants for 1200 but its just not in the budget. I also didn’t include boyfriends/girlfriends- only spouses and FIs. 80% of my wedding guests are out of town- if I had included them I should just get married that night and call it a wedding! You don’t have to include ALL the out of town guests. And they can get together and socialize with other family that also arrived early, on their own bill, at a resturant of their choosing. Or they  might be tired and want to stay in and get some sleep before the big day.

You could also just include your sister and her husband and NOT allow her her children and same on the other side.

There are lots of ways to cut costs- you just have to decide if you want to cut people or the food/booze bill price. Also forgot to mention we are NOT including any booze and having a cash bar at our rehearsal dinner (Because the bar is already at the resturant) .

Whatever you decide just know that you are being reasonable in saying you have a budget and you have to stick to it!

If Grandma decides that sister’s whole family has to go- you could also ask her to foot that part of the bill AND the additional cost created for the bride’s family you have to then invite. If she doesn’t want to pay for it, then maybe she will be more understanding of financial limitations.

Post # 10
519 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

We had a very simple rehearsal dinner. It was in our back yard, was laid back, and allowed us to invite more people. But the rehearsal dinner wasn’t that important to us.

Post # 11
169 posts
Blushing bee

@JaneDomani:  This. Ask Grandma to pay up or shut up. Nicely, of course:)

To avoid drama and hurt feelings (in case you suspect Grandma is going to talk to your sister about how you’re refusing to invite her), you might also call your sister personally to say you would have loved to have her at the Rehearsal Dinner, but that you would then have had to invite aunts/uncles on the bride’s side, so it just wasn’t feasible in your budget. Perhaps you could do something else special with Grandma and your sister’s family during the wedding weekend – maybe a casual brunch the day after the wedding, or maybe you could suggest something free like window-shopping or a walk together on the beach. That type of activity would maybe give Grandma a little of what she wanted (time with her children together), even if its not a the Rehearsal Dinner.

Edited to add: If you’re having the Rehearsal Dinner with just the smallest group possible, and you can explain it to Grandma that it’s the bride’s wishes, and it’s her day (yay that the bride’s wishes coincide with your budget concerns!). To alleviate Grandma’s hurt feelings (and possibly sister’s, and FDIL’s aunts/uncles), maybe you could organize a dessert party for later that night, after the RD? And invite all of these extra out of town people? You could maybe do it on the super-cheap (pick up ice cream and toppings and plastic bowls and have it out on the pool deck of the hotel?), or meet at an ice cream parlor where everyone goes up to the counter and pays for their own. The whole thing would be casual, and a way to get together with out of town guests without hurting your budget or complicating the Rehearsal Dinner…

Post # 12
1141 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

My suggestion is look for a hall of some kind and then bring in food. Keep it casual. My daughters rehearsal dinner was for 50 and with the hall and food it was around 1000. That’s with no liquor. To save money on that you could serve a couple of signature drinks. Another way to go is bring in Mexican food and serve sangria( also affordable. Good luck!

Post # 13
4192 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: July 2012 - Baltimore Museum of Industry

When all else fails, go with Emily Post (see below). Aunts/uncles/cousins do not have to be invited- your sister is an adult and is certainly capable of finding another place to eat. Or- don’t do a rehearsal dinner, do a lunch or brunch instead. Or a low-cost BBQ/picnic.

“The guest list at a rehearsal dinner should include the members of the wedding party and their spouses,fiancé(e)s, or live-in partners; the officiant and his or her spouse or partner; the parents, stepparents, and grandparents of the bride and groom; and any siblings of the bride and groom who are not in the wedding party. If single members of the wedding party were invited to bring a date to the wedding, then it’s kind to include the date at the rehearsal dinner. Any children of the bride and groom from a previous marriage are invited, unless they are too young.  Parents of young attendants, such as a flower girl or ring bearer, are also included.”



Post # 15
13251 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Wow.  I think you need to talk to your son and FDIL and epxlain that the Rehearsal Dinner is your show to plan and host, and since you’re paying, you decide the guest list.

It sucks that they aren’t trying to incorporate grandparents as much as prior weddings, but it is her decision.  All you can do is mention that there are some hurt feelings and hope for the best.

Good luck!

Post # 16
1430 posts
Bumble bee

Sorry things have gotten so hectic, I am sure this is unneeded stress on the Bride and Grom as well. I think your mom is being the difficult one. It is not her day, your sister would have been fine getting dinner herself that night and now with your mom’s not coming just looks petty and I think she will regret not being at her granddaughters Rehearsal Dinner.  I had destination wedding as well, family not included were fine with it. It really only needs to be bridal party, immediate family. Aunts, uncles and cousins of the bride and groom don’t need to be there since this is a REHERSAL dinner (not a family reuinion) and they have no part of the ceremony that needs to be rehersed. Try not to stress, your not going to be able to make everyone happy here and don’t break the bank, it is just a dinner! good luck

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