Tuesday, November 29, 2011

C'mon, Mom. Isn't an invite to the wedding enough??

Dear ESB,

Your blog is rad. I need your help although I'm afraid of what you might say. This is hard to confine to a couple of paragraphs but here's the deal.

I'm having a big damn wedding in NYC. My parents are paying for the reception venue and we are paying for everything else. I'm having a sweet rehearsal dinner and I want my close friends to get to experience it. I have too many guests for the dinner, though. My dad is one of four kids, and my mom is one of six kids. We are relatively close to my dad's siblings and all are invited, along with their kids. I talk to these people. I see them at holidays. My mom's family is more...complicated. Due to a crapload of drama you don't want to hear about, only two of my mom's siblings are invited, along with their kids and the spouses of those kids.  All from both sides would be traveling out of state to attend the wedding.

I would rather invite close family friends (my godparents, for example) to my rehearsal dinner instead of my mom's siblings and their kids. This stuff is getting expensive and crowded. I don't want another wedding the night before my wedding. The last time I spoke to any of that side of the family was years ago at my grandpa's funeral. The two invited siblings are nice people with nice families, but I'm just not very close to them. Isn't an invite to the wedding enough? My mom doesn't seem to think so...

Am I an A$$hole?


Basically, what you're telling your mom is "I don't like your family." 

Do you want to tell your mom that? No. No, you don't.

Photo: Stella Maxwell via Stockholm Streetstyle


  1. I have to say I heartily disagree with this advice. The rehearsal dinner is for the parents of the bride and groom and the wedding party. It takes place after the REHEARSAL hence the name. If they aren't at your wedding rehearsal they aren't invited. otherwise, the writer is correct, it's just another wedding the night before the wedding.

  2. I feel like this is easy. If you are paying for your own wedding then you say to your parents, if you would like me to invite your siblings will you chip in for their meal. I know you are paying for the venue but things are getting expensive.

    That way your mom can have her sisters and you can have your friends. It shouldn't be too much for her to offer up. She's just paying for the "per head" count. I'm sure she'll understand and offer the extra $300, or whatever it ends up being.

  3. I get what you're going through. I also had my wedding in New York, so I understand the price issue. The handful of my high school/college friends that were willing to foot the bill to come to my wedding were not invited to the rehearsal dinner, which I wasn't completely okay with, but my in-laws put the thing on, and after I got done explaining exactly how many aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings with families of their own I needed her to invite, it didn't seem fair to tack on a few friends as well.

    I don't think you can just tell your mom that relatives that you are reasonably close with aren't invited. (Because the relationship you described? That's basically EVERYONE's relationship with their aunts and uncles when they don't live down the street.)

    Since it sounds like you are in charge of this event financially, is there a way you can change the festivities (for a cheaper option) so you can afford to invite more people? Pizza, a pasta party, a BBQ -- these are all low-budget ways to feed people that are still a lot of fun. If you're concerned about it being too informal (which you shouldn't be), just dress things up with the decor and ambiance (music, a defined color palette, pretty lighting, etc.). I think there's a way for you to please everyone here. Just don't put so much pressure on the rehearsal. Like you said, you have a WEDDING the next day. That's what they will really remember.

    Hope it works out!

    ~Stop Me if You've Heard This One

  4. I like britliggett's idea. If you're paying for the rehearsal dinner, then it's totally reasonable to ask your mom to kick in some extra money to cover her family. And ESB is right about the whole "I don't like your family" thing. If you have this chat with your mom, make it about the cost, not about whether or not you want these people at the dinner.

  5. i don't think there are a lot of "have to's" in the world, but I think it'd be a jerk move (esp to your mom) to not invite them.

    if i was your friend, and I was cut from the rehearsal so your FAMILY could attend, i'd understand. and I'd fine room in the budget for your Godparents.

  6. why are you inviting all of your family to the rehearsal dinner? the rehearsal dinner is for bride/groom's parents and the wedding party. seems like you are making it bigger and more complicated then it has to be.

    and if you really want to see loads of people who are travelling in for it, meet up for drinks after?!

  7. I like the "go cheaper, more people" option, but I get the sense that you want the smaller event. And if you're paying, it's your call.

    I had pretty much the same scenario, and solved it by having the rehearsal my fiance and I wanted (~20 people), followed by a "welcome party" at which everyone was invited (so 20-30 more people showed up). Of course, this is totally dependent on venue. We were at a B&B type place for the whole weekend, so it worked.

  8. Jack took the words right out of my mouth. Have dinner with the bridal party and then cocktails for everyone else--especially the out-of-towners who have paid a great deal and travelled to celebrate with you. In general, no one EXPECTS to be invited to a rehearsal if they're not directly involved in the ceremony. I also have to wonder --what is so sweet about this dinner that you think it's going to be the social event of the season?

  9. that would be JB who took the words out of my mouth. But Jack makes a good point, too.

  10. I also got married in NYC and also paid for most of it, including the rehearsal dinner. We struggled for a while about wanting to invite more out-of-towners, and even really good friends who live in NYC but weren't in the wedding party, but we just couldn't do it. We went with the option of only the wedding party and parents at the dinner, then more people invited for drinks afterwards, and it worked out perfectly.

    It's true that no one expects to be invited to a rehearsal dinner if they're not actually in the wedding, even if they've traveled across the world. I speak from experience, having gone to a wedding in Sydney where I wasn't invited to the rehearsal dinner. Totally fine.

    Also, for a bunch of mom's siblings plus their families, we're talking a lot more than $300. Just sayin'. Even at $300, I don't like the idea of asking mom to pay for her family. Like dad doesn't have to pay for his family because you like them, but mom does have to pay for hers? I feel like that could cause some problems.

    Whatever you decide, good luck! Planning a wedding in NYC is not easy.

  11. Sorry but I was always taught that out of state relatives get invited to the rehearsal dinner. You are their hosts for the weekend. They traveled across the country to see you, are you going to just tell them to go eat at the hotel bar or something?

    Don't be a snot, the day isn't just about you.

  12. We had a destination wedding of sorts, and nearly everyone had to fly in for it. Instead of a super-expensive rehearsal dinner, we did a night-before-the-wedding dessert party for everyone. It was a nice welcome party for everyone, didn't leave anyone out, and it was hella cheaper than a full-on dinner. It was at 8pm, and we made it clear that it was a dessert party so everyone knew to take care of dinner beforehand.

  13. Invite who you want. The end.
    It only happens once (both the wedding and the rehearsal dinner) and you want to be around people you're stoked on being around.
    I know we hurt some feelings by only asking my parents and my husband's mom to dinner the night before but it was perfect, just what we wanted, and two years later, we have absolutely no regrets.

    Of the zillion weddings we've been to in the past few 12 months, it's been so refreshing to not have to commit to yet another activity outside of the wedding itself. what is so wrong about providing favorite local spots for your friends & family to check out the night before?
    so over this familial obligation/play by the rules/guilt stuff!

  14. Your mom already knows you don't like her family. Don't invite them. However, it sounds like your rehearsal dinner is already getting out of hand.

  15. We only invited people in the wedding, their significant others, our priest, and immediate family.

    You don't need to invite extended family.

  16. I'm with appleadayproject and JB all the way. Wtf at inviting non-wedding party people. It's only okay if it's like the flower girl's parents, or bridesmaids husband.

    Don't invite the people you don't keep in contact with. But if you feel like you're leaving people out, I agree with Jack. Have a dinner strictly for wedding party only, and cocktail reception for non-wedding party to welcome family/friends/out-of-town guests. Find a way to balance the budget with the two, it's very possible. Even try to do it at someone's home, or the bar of the hotel the majority of guests are staying at.

  17. Isn't it a rule for sane wedding planning that when things start getting unnecessarily stressful CHANGE YOUR PLAN?

    NYC is a city of cool bars and after hours hang outs. The Dinner for the Wedding Party and Cocktails Afterwards with Whomever plan sounds best. Just be sure to plan an early dinner and choose a place nearby for the drinks afterwards. If the place has food, you could even buy a few rounds of appetizers if you want to be especially accommodating.

    PS- I, um, pretty much told my dad that I didn't like his family and didn't even invite them to my wedding. So, if anybody is an asshole, I am. I took to heart ESB's wonderful advice of "only invite the best people" and I don't regret it one bit.

  18. Wow, I was not aware that if people traveled to your wedding you were honour-bound to entertain them for the duration of their stay. That seems hella presumptuous, and guests who can't find something to do in New York City can just stay in their hotel rooms and watch TBS all night - they don't automatically get an invite to the rehearsal dinner, or any other non wedding/reception event, just because they're blood.

  19. I also like the rehearsal dinner + cocktails afterwards plan. Especially if you frame it as, "We're going to be at X bar from 7:30 to 9:30 (or whenever). Stop by! We'd love to see you." Let people buy their own drinks! My guess is that they're not looking for more free food and handouts so much as hoping for a chance to celebrate with you. Don't fret about "hosting" anything and just enjoy their company. And then go home and go to bed and get a reasonable amount of sleep.

    I had a very relaxed cookout type welcome dinner for out of town guests (family and friends) who'd already made the trip in. I was so grateful for the extra time to visit with everyone, and it made me feel less pressure on the day of the wedding to talk to every. single. person.

  20. bridal party + both sets of parents= done.

  21. Can we talk about this girl's EYELINER, hair, and everything for a sec?

  22. @wool&misc I hope you want to talk about how terrible the eyeliner is.

  23. 10-year olds always get their eyeliner wrong.

  24. Fuck rehearsal dinners already. What a waste of cash! And while we're at it eff the eyeliner too.

  25. As someone from a "complicated" family, my advice is not to invite anyone you don't want to invite to any event. I am somewhat estranged from much of my mother's family and didn't invite any of them to my rehearsal dinner. A few pouted, but I am happy with that decision as it gave me time with close friends and family I do like to release stress before the big day.