Post # 1
My partner and I (together 3.5 years) got engaged a few weeks ago! We are starting to plan our wedding (hoping to have the wedding between winter and spring of 2023). We are both very shy, anxious and awkward people so we would like a smaller wedding. But we want more than just our immediate families there. So we don’t want a teeny tiny wedding with 20 people, but we also don’t want a large one with 100+ people. We are aiming for around 70 people. Both of our parents will be paying for the wedding, so money isn’t a big issue in that sense. BUT, if we have a less expensive wedding then our parents will contribute towards a downpayment for a house (and we would MUCH rather have a house than a large wedding). Plus, like I said we are both incredibly shy people with severe social anxiety, so a huge wedding is out of the question.
Anyways, our budget is between 15-20k and I believe we can have a beautiful wedding in that budget as long as we stick to around 70 or 75 people.
We are making the guest lists and… it’s VERY hard to cut people. So I’m wondering if there are “rules” on who to cut if you don’t want a massive wedding?
Here is an example: I have a second cousin (she’s married and has 2 kids). We see her and her elderly parents fairly frequently. Her parents are my dad’s first cousins. In non-COVID days, we would always go over for Christmas or Easter celebrations, my 2nd cousin use to babysit me when I was a kid, when I was younger I went to her wedding (and had a role in the wedding), and I see her / talk to her and her family more than my first cousins. But, she has a brother (who is married with 2 kids). Her brother lives about 8 hours away in the states (we live in Canada) and we rarely see him. We did go to his wedding years ago, though. In non-COVID times, we would see him and his family about once a year. But we are nowhere near as close with his family. But, he is the same relation to me (biologically speaking) as his sister. Would it be wrong to invite her and her family, but not him?
On my partner’s side of things, he is planning to invite his dad’s step brothers but he is not sure if he should invite the step brothers’ children (they’re all adult children with their own families… and there are a lot of them). Similar to me, these are people he sees once a year and never talks to when he does see them. But would it be wrong to invite his step uncles but not his step cousins?
We have a lot of these families members where we are not close at all to them, but other family members of the exact same relation we are closer to. But my mom said it would be rude to invite one sibling (for example) and not the other. Thoughts?
Not sure if it matters, but our ceremony and reception are all going to be at the same place.
Post # 2
Personally I think it’s fine to only invite those close to you, regardless of the level of relation. I have a REALLY big family (40 first cousins in all), and I have never felt left out when a cousin I’m not close to didn’t invite me to their event. Most people will understand or won’t care, and anyone who makes a fuss because someone they hardly see didn’t spend money to entertain them should be avoided anyhow. Just my two cents… Congratulations on your engagement! As a fellow socially anxious person, I think your plan for a smaller wedding sounds wonderful.
Post # 3
The typical etiquette advice is 1) make a list of people who deserve to be invited and only then choose a venue/plan an affair 2) make any cuts by category to avoid offending.
Sometimes that means you leave out someone you would otherwise have liked to invite. That said, if you have no real relationship with these similarly related potential guests, and it won’t cause significant backlash or drama or you don’t care, then you have to use your own judgment.
Post # 4
The standard rule is that if you invite one person from a group (e.g. cousins) then you must invite them all.
Even under those rules, it would be fine to invite uncles & aunts but not cousins, or siblings but not nephews & nieces. So your fiance is fine to invite his step-uncles but not his step-cousins, because they are in a different category.
Regarding whether it is acceptable to invite one cousin you are close to but not others – that’s a bit more tricky. Ultimately, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer as long as you’re happy with your decision and prepared to deal with any backlash. I think it is trickier to invite one cousin if you see ALL of your cousins regularly, but if there is a clear distinction between the ones you invite and the ones you don’t, I think it’s much less likely to cause offence.
I invited one of my mother’s sisters and her husband to our wedding, but not the other sister/husband. The aunt I invited is someone I speak to multiple times a year, used to see 3-4 times a year pre-Covid and she had met my OH half a dozen times before the wedding. The other aunt lives in the same town, but we only exchange Christmas cards. She has never met my OH and turned down an opportunity to be introduced to him shortly before we got engaged. So for us, it was an easy call – we only wanted people at our wedding that we both knew and had a close connection with. The uninvited aunt was a bit put-out, but has come round since. To be honest, I wouldn’t have been greatly bothered if she hadn’t – since we never see her, it wouldn’t really affect us if she was ‘not speaking’ to us or not!
Having said that, it was easy for us to make guest decisions because we were paying for 100% of the wedding ourselves. If your parents are paying for the wedding, it may be hard to leave out people that they want to be invited, since they are the ones footing the bill. If a small wedding is important to you, it may be worth considering having a simpler, cheaper event and paying for it yourselves.
Post # 5
In the situations you outlined I think you’re fine not inviting the other second cousin or the step-brothers children.
The step-brothers’ children are in a separate ‘category’ so to speak. And it doesn’t sound like they have much of a personal relationship.
For the second cousin I think it’s fine because of how rarely you see him. If you saw them both frequently, but were just emotionally closer to the other cousin it might be different. But it doesn’t sound like he’s really in your life.
An example from my own wedding: I’m family friends with this family of 5 siblings. I was close to the youngest girl when I was young, but in our 20s she (and 3 other siblings) moved out of province, so I hardly ever saw them for several years. BUT the brother stayed in province and I saw him at holidays and he was close friends with my cousins, so I invited only him to the wedding.
He was the only one still ‘in my life’ regularly, and the only one close enough for it to be somewhat convenient for him, so it made sense for us.
Also – people are a lot more understanding about selective invites these days because of COVID. This summer 2 of my sisters were invited to a wedding that my other sister and I weren’t and we didn’t bat an eye.