Wedding etiquette issue


Oh, boy…I will be old and gray by the time that that dd gets married in 4 months.

Her future MIL is a very bullheaded, controlling, wealthy woman used to getting her own way (dd and future SIL do just fine standing up to her.) She was most upset that we “limited” their side of the guest list to 150 (same as ours side) and delayed for months getting the list to us. They had to cut her husband’s employees (60 total, including spouses) from the list to get to the 150. I found out today that she has decided to invite them to the rehearsal dinner instead, and have a gift table!!! I find this appallingly tacky; you just don’t invite to the rehearsal dinner (or showers, for that matter) anyone not invited to the wedding. I had suggested to her that, in order to accommodate these employees, she might consider a small party, after the honeymoon, to which the bride could wear her gown, etc. I know that this sort of thing has been done. I also mentioned that anyone who wishes could certainly come to the church - no problem with that at all.

Anyway…thoughts? I am horrified by this and hate for anyone to think I condone it. The thought of the gift table is really tacky…


I totally agree… Rehearsal dinner is for the people in the wedding and the bride and groom give the gifts in appreciation for their part in the celebration. A nice party after the honeymoon is totally appropriate, and yes I have seen this done too.

I know I am not the only one but I was offended by guests that didn’t show up at the church but came to the reception… the other way around is fine, and in fact, many people do invite people to the wedding but not the reception. When a friend got married their invitations for the church only people said something to the effect of, "We wish to share our celebration with you at the wedding, but we wish to limit the reception to family only. or something as such… there may have been something about the size of the facility accommodating only enough people to invite family and friends from out of town… I forget.


Miss Manners says you do not owe an explanation for people you are not inviting to the wedding, except an apologetic, “It’s just family, sorry.”

That said, yes, your daughter’s MIL is being tacky. However, the rehearsal dinner is her party. You can suggest and voice your opnion, but once she’ssent out the invitations, it’s her rudeness that sent out an invitaiton indiciating gifts were expected.


That is unbelieveable. However, I guess in her mind, since the parents are paying for the Rehearsal Dinner then they can invite whoever they want. Doesn’t make it right, though. And yes, that is extremely tacky. I think the people invited will realize that this is a major faux pas on the mother in law, and not your daughter and your family. Personally, I would be offended if I were only invited to the RD and not the wedding. I probably wouldn’t even attend!

The guest list is the hardest part of a wedding. When I got married, we had issues with the guest list as well. My MIL pretty much cut a lot of my DH’s friends so she could invite her own. My DH was pretty angry about that later on.


Well, first, it’s extremely wrong to invite your employees to your daughter’s wedding. It’s even MORE wrong to create the expectation that a gift is expected. This is coercion and could be part of a hostile work environment complaint.

That said, I thought rehearsal dinners were for the wedding party.


In some places, the rehearsal dinner is for all out of town guests, not just the wedding party. We went to one such dinner in Mississippi and it was a wonderful evening. If I was a mother of the groom and had the $$, I’d do the same.

If future MIL is hosting and paying for the event, she can do whatever she wants. I don’t think it will reflect on you.


We are in the south, as well, and it is indeed, customary to invite out of town GUESTS if the groom’s family wishes, and can afford it. But these are people NOT invited to the wedding because we are “limiting” the groom’s side to 150!!!

Ironically, my husband has worked at his place of employment just as long as has her husband; we are inviting a total of 3 work-related guests - long-time friends!

I am just so embarrassed to be associated with something like this; we try at all costs to avoid looking as if we are “fishing for gifts” and chose our own guest list very carefully. DD said her sweet fiance is just as appalled as we are, and will likely say something - oh boy!

Prayers, please…that I don’t strangle her :slight_smile:


It is her party, if she wants to invite the entire town and can afford it, smile and have a good time.

It seems your plans are already made - but, would another way to compromise to have been to invite many to the Mass (in fact, you cannot exclude people from a Mass), and have fewer invited to the reception?


I agree, it is VERY wrong to invite a parents employees. Most of the time they don’t want to attend anyway!!! Then they feel obligated to bring a gift. Even if this is a family business, most of them would rather not spend their weekend with their boss.

Also, the rehearsal dinner is for the wedding party only.

I will say that I am SOOOOO happy I had a small simple wedding. We were married in the Church, but we had pizza delivered for the rehearsal dinner, family and friends pitched in on the food, and we had a GREAT time. And to top it off, we bought a house (with all the money we saved) as a gift to ourselves :smiley:

IMHO large fancy weddings are over rated!!!

We did do a second reception about 2 months after our wedding, we were married in CO where my family is and moved to IN where his family is. It was mostly just a gathering of friends and family in IN that were unable to attend the wedding. Was very simple and nice also!


I understand, but if she’s paying, she can invite anyone she wants. Consider it a chance to practice radical charity!


I absolutely disagree with this - no one can do “whatever she wants” when it comes to someone else’s wedding, and I don’t care who is footing the bill. If the the happy couple don’t want it, it should not happen. PERIOD.

This is their opportunity to do that standing up to her that they do so well.

She is being a tacky and rude woman and thinks she can have her way because she has money. Well, if it were my wedding I’d tell her that the rehearsal dinner is not her concern and we will handle it ourselves, thank you very much.

I’d be darned if anyone is going to dictate to me what happens on my wedding day if it against our wishes. :mad: Man, nothing is worse than parentzillas - even bridezillas (well, in most cases anyway).



Another alternative is to see if future-MIL wants to PAY for these additional people to be included at the reception!

I understand limiting numbers for the sake of wedding costs… but if someone is willing to pay to have extra revelers at a celebration (a SACRAMENTAL celebration), then why not?

I think having them at the wedding reception (with HER paying) would be a lot less TACKY than her suggestion…
(and yes, inviting ONLY to the rehearsal dinner is TACKY)…


Good answer… Just tell her, sure you can invite them all if you are going to pay the $45 a head or what ever it is… and then smile sweetly and let her know when the cut off date is that you will need to know how many by and ask her to have a check ready for the overage of guests!!! So simple… Great plan EM…


Then it is still not up to the mother of the bride to tell her. It is up to the bride and groom, and it should go something like, “Thank you, but we will be sponsoring this ourselves.” And they sponsor their own rehearsal dinner, perhaps along the lines of the pizza suggestion of Thou.

I know you would never allow such a thing, Liza. You are true blue, 100%.:thumbsup:

After all this time, I still like BlestOne’s wedding, and mine.


The thing is…there is not enough room at the banquet hall to comfortably seat another 60 or so people, on top of the near-300 who will be there already - and this venue is as large as they come here for seated receptions (a rarity in this area, but something we find gracious and comfortable for guests, particularly older ones.) Additionally, dd and future sil don’t want more people; they know these employees only casually (and only some of them, at that…) and like things just the way we have planned, which is darn big enough anyway!

I have, of course, told FMIL that anyone who wishes can, of course, come to the church (I doubt any of the employees will.) She and her husband were baptized Catholic but never go to church (the Nuptial Mass will REALLY annoy them - “it’s so long!”) I told her I would gladly pay for wedding announcements which will go to all those she wanted on her list. We are sending none ourselves, as I regard those as a ploy for gifts.

Ironically, these employees (of a large physician’s office - the groom’s dad is a very successful oncologist) will be coming out of a sense of duty and/or intimidation, as this FMIL is feared by them. (I know this because both dd and fsil occasionally worked there.)

This is all such a shock to my system; our older daughter’s in-laws are the most delightful, easygoing folks in the world; they had a huge family but had no issues with keeping to the 150 people.

Our daughter is a sweetheart, and we are trying to do our best for her, though we keep costs well within reason (hence the parish banquet hall, complete with a chef, cutlery, glassware, flatware, china, tables and chairs - all for much less than elsewhere.)

I think that the FMIL is a sad, angry woman, resentful of her hard childhood, who has learned that people generally will bend to her because she now has money and makes life unpleasant if you cross her. She is obsessed with “how things look” but is oblivious to the fact that this will look really bad. I’ve stuck to my guns, and will. I am praying like crazy for patience and wisdom in this one!


To be honest, they would love to do this (we would have to pay, as they are college seniors, graduating this summer and have NO money…) The FMIL has already put down a non-refundable deposit on the club where the rehearsal dinner will be held, however. I also know that, looney as they are (and the whole bunch is dysfunctional, but that is another LONG post) my daughter doesn’t want to exacerbate tensions between her fiance and his family (his dad, especially, with whom he holds out hope of a decent relationship.)

I do have a wedding coordinator for the week of, and day of the wedding; perhaps she could introduce herself over the phone to the FMIL, chat about plans, ask about the rehearsal dinner, etc. and possibly suggest, gently, what is proper…hmmm, I hadn’t thought of that before.


Excellent idea! :thumbsup:

But whatever you do - don’t give into this woman’s controlling behavior. The deposit is her problem, not yours or your daughter’s.



You know, it might just be better to let the woman do what she wants.

Just remember at the rehearsal dinner, as the speeches and toasts are coming to a close, to have your daughter get up and thank everyone, and thank her FMIL, “who planned this whole night. It was more than I could ever imagine”




Now, that’s the best suggestion yet!!!


I know her history, as I volunteered with her briefly for an organization with whom we both have connections. When she “resigned” there was general rejoicing, as she was relentless and obsessive about any tasks, did things WAY above and beyond, etc., all clearly in order to bask in the glory. Ironically, people just thought she was, to quote several of them, “nuts.”

It took her months on end to get her list to me (passive aggressive) but when she wanted names for “our” list for the rehearsal dinner, it had to be done NOW! You can be sure I kept it to the bare minimum - our immediate family and the bridesmaids, readers, - as she would heave a big sigh whenever a name was suggested.

She doesn’t scare me, which I think is what really annoys her; she always gets her way, and couldn’t this time, hence her “end around” play with the tacky rehearsal dinner thing.

I may have to take up drinking, in addition to the praying.


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