Help with wedding invite etiquette


#1

I am seeking some guidance on the best way to handle inviting people to a wedding. I'm really excited about getting married in the Catholic Church. However, there has been some tension on my side of the family with who's coming and who's not. There is a budget as I simply cannot afford to invite everyone. The parents are splitting what they can on their part but also have a budget as well. My fiancee and I are willing and able to pay for any extras beyond what the parents agreed to provide.

My question is if there's anything wrong with:

Not inviting 3rd cousins that I really don't know too well? We are really trying not to offend anyone because if I did have my choice, I would invite everyone. Everyone else in close relation Ie. aunts, uncles, first cousins, second cousins and immediate family are already included. Is this proper etiquette?

Also, I'm having some problems with Guests. Ie. I have a first cousin that had a child out of wedlock. They have been living together for about a year and the family pretty much approves them as as good as married. Although recently I just heard that he left her and is fighting over who gets to keep the baby or not. They might be back together now but I really don't know. It sounds very unstable to me but I kinda have a feeling that unless I invite him (since the family considers him family) I will take heat for this.

Also, the guest problem does go a little deeper. My mom thinks I should have everyone have a guest to the wedding even if I don't personally know them. She says its proper etiquette. I don't know my first cousins boyfriends or girlfriends. She says not to worry because no one will trash the wedding and it's only 4 hrs and then everyone goes home. But I have some members that don't have a date per say and I know for the sake of showing off will try to find one. It feels a little weird to me as if they would be just bring a guest along for a night out. Ie. 2 of my groomsmen already told me that they are thinking about inviting a girlfriend if they can find a girlfriend to come. There's so many mix matches with my family and friends having not so stable relationships. Am I wrong about any of this? Does everyone deserve a guest regardless of age or who that guest is they will bring? I can see married couples or established relationships that I clearly know of.

I personally don't want any clowning around when it comes to the Lord at the Church. I have great reverence for what God is allow to happen and the priest. Most of the members attending the nuptial mass are either fallen away Catholics or have religion at all. I do feel stressed. Almost as if I need to tell the whole bridal party to please try be respectful at the Church and my wedding. I can see how some act in public Ie. immoral jokes sexual jokes or comments. My sister claims that my one cousin 21yrs old might laugh while reading the prayer of the faithful :eek: It's unfortunate that my side used to be mainly Catholics and now its as if it doesn't matter much what you are. Any advise here will help.

Other then this, I really, truthfully and honestly want to do things God's way in the Catholic Church and the marriage.


#2

Well, since you have others helping to pay for the wedding, some of the control is not in your hands when it comes to invites. We paid for our own (though my dad would have paid for everything) just to avoid everyone telling us what to do and who to invite. Yes, we couldn’t afford to invite everyone I would have had my dad paid but we invited those we see often and since most are married, the +guest wasn’t needed and those who are single did not receive a +guest. No cousins questioned why their children couldn’t come while other children were there (only nieces, nephews and children of the wedding party were invited). But they also knew we were paying for it ourselves and that frankly I didn’t want nor cared about their opinions of my wedding.

As far as the ceremony itself (the MOST IMPORTANT part), my fallen away Catholic family was fine. In fact I was shocked at how many attended knowing that the ceremony was going to be longer than normal because of all the traditions we threw into the ceremony (my husband is Mexican so there are godparents of the couple traditions as part of the ceremony). They were all reverent. In fact, two days later at my brother’s surprise birthday party everyone in my family came up to me saying how they had a great time, loved the ceremony, loved the food, and have never attended such a relaxed wedding and reception. I still receive compliments almost a year later. And when anyone in my family has dinner at the restaurant where the reception was held (it’s a bit of a drive for everyone) they tell me (I should get a discount for bringing in new customers :smiley: ). In total, we had about 130 people at the reception. Had I invited everyone in all my extended family plus any dates, the number would have been over 300.

Since your parents are helping to pay, you will probably have to put +guest on the invitation. If it was you and your soon-to-be-husband only paying for it, then I’d say forget inviting +guest.


#3

Invite them all, if the caterers and the rest are killing you for charges, set the number for them to expect at what you can afford and divide what they have among them, it’s not the set up, food, etc. that counts, it’s the people you hold close to you that matter, and simply add, if the guests want to bring something with them to help out the the festivities, they are more then welcome to. do NOT let money be the underlying theme of who you do, or do not invite to this most blessed occasion. !!! Remember when Jesus attended one on a budget, they ran out,yet He provided just fine, in fact better so then what they could possibly imagine. Set this marriage in a positive manner, not worldly, which is what you are fretting over, have faith sister, all I have to say, have faith, your needs will be addressed, just know, he tends to do stuff at the last second. :slight_smile:


#4

(1) There is no etiquette rule dictating which family members you must invite. You are certainly being generous inviting second cousins. My husband and I cut it off at first cousins. We had immediate family, aunts, uncles, first cousins, and then friends invited.

(2) Regarding "and guest," the answer to the question of whether it is required etiquette to allow everyone who is single to bring a guest, the answer is no. The opposite is true in fact. Each guest should be addressed by name. So, if Cousin A has been dating Boyfriend A for a year, each should receive an invitation. You should get Boyfriend A's address from Cousin A if necessary.

"And guest" is used only in the situation where someone has a newly established steady significant other whom you do not know. It is a nice gesture on your part to include this unknown person. "And guest" should not be used so that every person who is single goes out and gets a Tom, Dick, or Harry to come to your wedding with them. That is totally inappropriate.

(3) As for the living together situation, etiquette would dictate inviting them both on one invitation, but that is somewhat modified etiquette for the modern time. I would say 100 years ago, such a person would not have been invited at all as they are living scandalously. If the live-in is presently a live-out, simply invite the woman and do not include anything such as "and guest" on her invitation. Include only her name and the child's name on the inside envelope.

Stand your ground. And, pick up a copy of Crane's Blue Book. I got one used at Half Price Books. Crane's will give you answers to all these tricky etiquette questions as well as assist you in the wording for the invitation and reception, addressing the envelopes (inside and outside), etc.


#5

Exactly what she said! We’ve had 2 daughters’ weddings within the last 6 years and Crane’s Blue Book was terrifically helpful. Third cousins are, indeed, pushing it.

If someone has a “steady” boyfriend or girlfriend, or a fiance, then they should be invited. If not, then the guest can certainly make it through a couple hours without a date; they will likely know other folks there anyway. (Frankly, I wouldn’t want to go as a “guest” of someone I have known only briefly, to a wedding where I would know no one else!)

Best wishes and best of luck with the planning.


#6

quote="1ke, post:4, topic:200884" There is no etiquette rule dictating which family members you must invite. You are certainly being generous inviting second cousins. My husband and I cut it off at first cousins. We had immediate family, aunts, uncles, first cousins, and then friends invited.

(2) Regarding "and guest," the answer to the question of whether it is required etiquette to allow everyone who is single to bring a guest, the answer is no. The opposite is true in fact. Each guest should be addressed by name. So, if Cousin A has been dating Boyfriend A for a year, each should receive an invitation. You should get Boyfriend A's address from Cousin A if necessary.

"And guest" is used only in the situation where someone has a newly established steady significant other whom you do not know. It is a nice gesture on your part to include this unknown person. "And guest" should not be used so that every person who is single goes out and gets a Tom, Dick, or Harry to come to your wedding with them. That is totally inappropriate.

(3) As for the living together situation, etiquette would dictate inviting them both on one invitation, but that is somewhat modified etiquette for the modern time. I would say 100 years ago, such a person would not have been invited at all as they are living scandalously. If the live-in is presently a live-out, simply invite the woman and do not include anything such as "and guest" on her invitation. Include only her name and the child's name on the inside envelope.

Stand your ground. And, pick up a copy of Crane's Blue Book. I got one used at Half Price Books. Crane's will give you answers to all these tricky etiquette questions as well as assist you in the wording for the invitation and reception, addressing the envelopes (inside and outside), etc.

[/quote]

This has all been extremely helpful and I really appreciate your time and effort explaining things. Btw I'm a male... :o


#7

If you truly want to invite everyone you think you ought to invite, there are a few ways to cut costs…

  1. Invite everyone to the church and have a cake and punch reception (perhaps in the parish hall?). Later that day/evening, you, your new spouse, your immediate families, and anyone else you are particularly close to can enjoy a meal at a restaurant.

  2. Look around for a less expensive reception venue, if possible.

  3. Consider scaling down the reception…reduce or eliminate the amount of alcohol you’ll have available, opt for less expensive appetizers and entrees, or even consider cutting a dinner course and seeing if the caterer will credit you that amount.

  4. Make sure you’re maximizing all of your local connections. Some vendors may be willing to offer a discount or throw in a complimentary extra if they hear that you are related to a particular family, an employee if a certain company, member of this parish…it never hurts to ask if there’s a way to trim costs.


#8

I would go based on what your cousin wants. If he is living with her, and their relationship is “on,” then I’d invite him based on the fact that he is important to her (and to the family). If he’s not with her, then I don’t think she’d want him to go, and that would be more important than what another family member thinks. For me, this issue is not about their scandalous relationship, or about how much “like family” he is, but about your cousin. If it’s not obvious which she’d prefer, can you call your cousin, let her know that you’re trying to address the invitations so as to make her comfortable, and just ask her?


#9

Nothing wrong at all with cutting the guest list off at third cousins. Especially if you don’t know them very well. Now, if Mom or Dad have a third cousin that they’re super close with perhaps make an exception or two for these people but there doesn’t need to be a blanket invite to this branch of the family.

Ettiquette dictates that if you’re inviting your first cousin you also need to invite the person that is living with her or in a long term relationship with her. If they aren’t together then she’ll simply not pass along the invitation to him.

If any of these people are in a long-term relationship then their significant other needs to be given an invite. However, you don’t need to add ‘and guest’ to the single people. If they don’t currently have a significant other then they can go stag to the wedding.

Honestly, you don’t really have any control over this so I’d recommend putting your worrying in other directions. Most people will respect the ceremony and the actions during it and for those that don’t, they’ll single themselves out for admonishment by others. Focus on the things you can change and enjoy your day. Congratulations!


#10

You've received good responses above, especially from 1ke. I'll just add a few thoughts and suggestions from the experience my wife and I had getting married last year.

  1. Third cousins does seem to be pushing it, especially if you do not know them well. My wife and I invited our first cousins, and I invited one second cousin who I have always known especially well. No one seems to have been offended by these decisions.

  2. Keep in mind the relative size of your families. I have a very large extended family, while my wife's family is much smaller. As a result, we invited a wider swath of her relatives, but the guest list from my side was still larger. If your parents and your fiance's parents are splitting the costs, you probably want to keep the guest list fairly balanced between the two sides.

Since you, your parents, and your fiance's parents seem to be spliting the costs of the wedding, pehaps you could collectively establish some baseline invitation guidelines (i.e. first cousins and second cousins yes, third cousins no). Then, if someone wants to invite people from further out on the family tree, they can cover the added costs.

  1. I obviously don't know the details of your family tree, but in my family and my wife's family I have noticed that people tend to invite "up" the family tree more than "down" or "out" the family tree. This may be especially true when the parents are footing the bill for the reception, and want to invite their peers to the wedding. For example, I have a cousin who is getting married this year, and he is inviting all of his aunts and uncles (his dad's brothers and sisters), but only a few cousins. We invited some of my wife's parents cousins (who her parents are close to) but not their kids (who we do not know).

If you and your parents are having a conflict over inviting distant cousins, it may be because they would not find it unusual to be invited to those people's weddings (if they are close to their parents). On the other hand, you might find it unusual to be invited to their wedding.

  1. Regarding "guests of guests" anyone who is in a serious dating relationship with someone should have their "significant other" invited, by name. We may have had the etiquette incorrect, but we simply addressed the exterior envelope to the friend/relative and then wrote the name of both individuals on the inside envelope. When my wife and I were dating/engaged we received several wedding invitations addressed in similar fashion. Perhaps this is more accepted here locally than it is elsewhere.

  2. I have some cousins who I see rather infrequently, and I was not sure if they were dating anyone. In general, we only invited relatives with a guest/date if we had met the person and could therefore invite them by name. We were a bit more liberal about inviting some single friends to bring a date, if they chose. Again, this may not have been proper etiquette, but it's how we handled it.

You might consider looking at your guest list (once you include guests who have a signficant other to invite by name) and determine how many more invitations you can issue. Then decide who else should be invite to bring a guest.


#11

One other thing, if a distant cousin (once or twice removed) is not invited, I really don't think they'd be offended. Maybe because I'm from a large family, but there is always a sense of relief and a subtle thank you when by a person who may not be invited because there is ALWAYS something going on, some type of party and it gets to be real expensive real fast. However, we're all really excited and happy for the person even if we weren't included. And this goes for other occasions as well (I will not attend a birthday party for cousins' children beyond the first birthday, but I will attend sacrament milestones). So, why you may be worried about offending, the one not receiving the invitation may breath a sigh of relief at there being one less event (that is, if your family is as big as I'm imagining). I would also agree about making the lists about even if the expenses will be evenly split.


#12

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