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Wedding Wednesday – Those Pesky Added Guests

My hubby and I got married over two years ago at a beautiful destination about 4 hours away from our home city but I am still suffering from this faux pas. We had a smaller than normal wedding for our culture (our wedding was about 120 people, the guest list would have been 500+ if left to the parents). We invited our closest family (big families on both sides) and friends. And knowing that our older relatives could not make it, we also had a traditional ceremony (where his parents would have bought me off my parents for a few pigs, a goat and maybe a pair of chickens) at my parents home. No official invites went out for this event but there was ample notice, and was planned after our invites went out.

The above is the background information, here is where it will get a bit muddy. After the wedding invites went out, my then future SiL texted my fiance and asked if she can invite some friends she hadn’t seen in over ten years to our wedding since they lived in the city we were getting married in. Without batting a lash he told her no, the wedding venue is small and space is limited (he did not mention to her that he had no intention of paying for the dinner of people we don’t even know and felt it was really rude of her to even ask). When he told me her request I said that as a compromise, her friends were more than welcome to come after the dinner for some drinks and party with us. I also told him that I don’t mind her friends coming and it was met with a resounding no, he did not want them there. This was strike 1 with SiL.

So of all the guests there were only about 20 of our friends and their partners/children there and the single ones all knew that we weren’t including plus ones if it weren’t a serious relationship (I had an acquaintance assume an invite was coming her way and asked if there would be hot single fellows to hook up with and if not she was going to bring an escort lest she be alone which prompted conversations with other good friends). On that note, our invitations made it very clear who was included on the invite, our custom usually includes open ended invites where it is not uncommon for an invited family to RSVP for other people (example: their in laws) so this was necessary to prevent that. SiL married young so had two boys similar in age to my fiance, they were both invited but I verbally told both boys their girlfriends were not invited (my fiance’s decision but he’s not very tactful). The older nephew and his then girlfriend fought and broke up constantly and at the time I spoke to him about his plus one, he was calling her a “crazy donkey mother of a canine” so it was okay to not invite her. The younger nephew is notoriously anti-social with his family and until well after our wedding, his partner was nothing more than a “friend” (I met her briefly for about 5 minutes and still only see her max twice a year). I knew SiL was still miffed about her friends not being on the guest list and didn’t want any friction with her or anyone else in my fiance’s family so I consulted my family and my future MiL and she said don’t bother inviting the girfriend and “friend” because it’s a waste of money and the boys probably won’t go anyways. However, this was strike 2 with SiL.

As an answer to our strikes against her, SiL opted out of both of our celebrations. Her husband let slip that they had plans during the first celebration, they stayed home and watched T.V. SiL and her whole family opted out of our formal wedding celebrations at the later date, again to stay home and watch T.V., my hubby’s older nephew did send his regrets as he could not get time off, the younger nephew sent word via his mother that he didn’t feel like socializing so opted out. The day before we left for our wedding, SiL left a gift for us with MiL but never bothered to make contact. I felt uncomfortable accepting the gift but fiance said we’ll take her out to dinner at a later date as a thank you.

To this day, SiL is still mad at me and what was once a decently fun relationship is now awkward and I constantly get the cold shoulder. I still feel bad about not inviting her friends or her children’s girlfriends but hubby is adamant we did the right thing. We have yet to take her out to dinner because hubby is still upset his sister never showed up for the wedding and has treated me poorly since the whole wedding fiasco. I keep reminding him and he just says “oh yeah we’ll do it later” but never does.

On a brighter side, after a recent health scare where we went to the hospital to visit a couple times and I made food, the relationship seems to be thawing a bit! 1124-17

Wedding guests, usually extended family members, wanting to abuse your hospitality by inviting friends you or the parents have never met (or have no interest in meeting) is one of the more common yet annoying faux pas.   Too lazy to extend their own personal hospitality, they want to steal your hospitality (and the money necessary to host such events) to feed and entertain friends they allege to like yet couldn’t be bothered to entertain on their own dime and time. My favorite is when in-laws want to turn your wedding into their family reunion and invite people you have no connection to other than some distant marriage.    Dear OP,  you need to strengthen your polite spine which means not feeling bad for declining to invite “guests” neither you nor your husband have any relationship with.  Your Sil was (and probably still is ) primed to be offended by something else even if you had invited her friends.   That’s what petty people do.

{ 24 comments }
{ 24 comments… add one }
  • TracyX March 7, 2018, 7:38 am

    OP and DH sound like a perfect combination. He has the spine and she has the tact. Use your powers well!

  • Mames March 7, 2018, 8:21 am

    Two years is a long time to live with guilt over strangers.
    Your SIL sounds petty and manipulative, your husband kinda set the stage to deal with any future issues. You should thank him.

  • Liz March 7, 2018, 8:55 am

    If SIL is still mad, so be it. You can’t control how other people think or act, only how YOU respond to them. Sounds like you and your DH were fine. And BTW I’m loving the description of nephew’s GF. that made me chuckle.

    I have a family member who is a people pleaser. She wants to make everyone happy, even at the expense of her own “happiness” or emotions. Her SIL can be quite the queen bee, and takes offense at pretty much anything, at any given moment. Most of which is pretty ridiculous. I have a pretty thick skin, and a low tolerance for BS and drama. So Family member works in a hospital, and her SIL happened to be a patient. Note this is a huge institution, and FM works in a clinic attached, not on the med or surgical floors. SIL was a patient and apparently (according to FM) got miffed when FM didn’t come visit her!

    What was the problem you ask? FM had no clue SIL was there! and agonized over it for weeks! I told her look, you KNOW SIL is prone to drama and getting offended, that’s her issue, not yours. you told her oh had I known, i would have come to see you, but you didn’t. And you didn’t know because SIL didn’t TELL anyone. I just kept telling FM stop worrying about it; she will forget all about it, and that’s that.

    • AngelS March 7, 2018, 3:04 pm

      I wonder if many (if not most) families have that one relative whose only hobby appears to be Mining for Drama. They are out there every day, nitpicking with pickaxes, all in the hopes that today’s efforts will yield yet another 24 karat nugget of pure, unadulterated drama.

  • Semperviren March 7, 2018, 9:16 am

    I agree with admin. If it hadn’t been the wedding guest thing, it would have been something else; that is simply SIL’s personality.

  • jokergirl129 March 7, 2018, 9:46 am

    OP you have nothing to feel guilty over. SIL still being upset that she couldn’t invite her friends to your wedding two years later shows just how petty she can be and that chances are she would have gotten offended at something else. Plus your husband was right in that because of lack of space you couldn’t invite extra people and I don’t blame him on not wanting to spend more money on people he barely knew. And not inviting your nephew’s girlfriends also makes sense because neither of them were in serious relationships at the time and lots of people follow this rule when it comes to invites.

    I would just not worry about it anymore and move on. You did nothing wrong and your husband made a good point so I would listen to him and trust that it was the right thing to do.

  • AMC March 7, 2018, 11:01 am

    My dad asked me to invite one of his colleagues to my small (under 100 guests) wedding. I had blood-relatives I didn’t invite, and he wanted me to include a person I’d had exactly one conversation with?? I gently and politely told him no. My husband and I felt that our wedding should be treated as an intimate moment and shared only with family and close friends, not as a spectacle open to the public.

  • PJ March 7, 2018, 11:18 am

    I think Admin’s comment “Your Sil was (and probably still is ) primed to be offended by something else even if you had invited her friends. That’s what petty people do.” is spot-on.

    She couldn’t invite her own friends to someone else’s wedding, so she skipped. her brother’s. wedding.

    So she makes unreasonable demands and gives out over-the-top punishments to those who don’t fall in line.

    If you had caved in and added strangers to your wedding, she would have been happy for a short time. It probably would have lasted until you didn’t allow her to have an hour of the photographer’s time (on your dime) for her own personal photo-shoot– with those uninvited strangers she brought along. If you caved to that, she’d be happy only until you refused to allow her to keep the leftover wedding cake for herself and her sons’ girlfriends. If you caved to that, she’d be happy only until you refused to give in to … well, you get the idea.

    With this SIL you weren’t going to avoid her coldness by giving in just this once. You’d either be facing her attitude for the rest of her life, or you’d be giving in to everything to keep her happy. It seems that your husband (who knows her) knows that.

    Her behavior is the problem, and not your responsibility. Don’t believe the lie that giving in to her “just this once” would ever fix it.

  • JD March 7, 2018, 11:51 am

    Why is SiL mad at OP? OP’s husband clearly stated his boundaries about the friend invites — is she mad at him, too?
    This is a long time for SiL to hold a grudge. OP and her husband did nothing wrong, but SiL sure did. I think, OP, that you should just continue to ignore her cold shoulders and continue to be happy that you, in comparison to so many letter-writers we see, have a husband with a spine when it comes to his family.

    • Anon March 13, 2018, 1:41 pm

      Some people like to blame it all on the other person rather than their family member. I would bet she thought it was all OPs idea and not the husband’s.

  • NostalgicGal March 7, 2018, 11:54 am

    OP, you do realize that things like your SIL tried to do, which was bring her own little group to surround herself with AND blow the invite numbers you could afford into a mess; is something you rightfully shouldn’t have given in to. And your DH didn’t. Just because SIL couldn’t bring her entourage then cause drama, she snubbed you. So? Either she gets over it or she doesn’t. Not your problem if this is the road she took.

    My mom was famous for silent treatment of the one she was ticked off at. For a few things that happened at my wedding and I had had enough and walked home from the church basement bit, she gave me three months of silent treatment. (her previous record had been three weeks). And I just didn’t care. She finally gave in when it became clear it didn’t matter one bit to me (unlike my poor dad who was the usual recipient, that would react which is what she wanted) and I wasn’t going to react to her being a big toddler about it.

    Same for your SIL. The only one looking silly over it is her. Good that things seem to be thawing now, but. Not your problem. Your DH has your back, you’re good. You yourself did nothing wrong.

  • ladyv21454 March 7, 2018, 12:33 pm

    I just don’t understand the thinking of people who think it’s perfectly fine to ask if they can bring multiple guests to a formal occasion. It’s one thing if someone is having, say, a Fourth of July cookout where a few extra people can be easily accommodated. I think Ms. Jeanne hit the nail squarely on the head when she said people like this want to entertain THEIR friends on YOUR dime.

    At least this isn’t quite as bad as the total cretins that show up at a wedding, dinner party, etc. with extra people – having apparently assumed that the whole family was invited, or that “of course” the invitation included “plus ones”. How difficult is it to understand that the ONLY people invited are those whose names are actually on the invitation?

  • Bea March 7, 2018, 1:16 pm

    I’ll put it this way, your husband knows his sister best and you were just the messenger. You are kind to act as buffer between him and others but if you’re at risk of taking in stress from doing so, you can let him do the dirty work. Again, she knows her brother is not going to pad his response with pleasantries, so why protect her in these cases?

    Now if he is the driving force behind denying your family or friends, then step in and make things known in your way of communicating because they do not know him well enough and may be confused and hurt.

  • Dee March 7, 2018, 1:53 pm

    Too many details in the story – it all boils down to a fairly simple thing: There is an event, the rules are established, and guests want to change those rules for their own convenience. The answer and solution is a simple “no”. No explanation, no explaining, just “no”. If you’ve considered the request and if you’ve come to the conclusion that denying the request will not exclude anyone unnecessarily, or cause anyone unnecessary pain, then “no” is a reasonable answer. And that’s it.

    As far as the “thank you” for SIL’s wedding gift, since when does that require a dinner out? I hope you’ve sent thank you notes, OP and hubby, and if you have then that issue is closed. Invite SIL out to dinner if you want to actually do so, but do not do it as a “thank you”. That’s ridiculous, and unless you intend to take all the other guests out to dinner, too, as their “thank you”, then you’re trying to buy off SIL to appease her and her family. Which never fixes the problem, in the end.

    • ladyv21454 March 7, 2018, 5:59 pm

      Not only does it not fix the problem, it will probably make it worse. SIL sounds like a “give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” type – and the more you try to appease her, the more demanding she’ll be. As Ms. Jeanne would say, “No.” is a complete sentence.

  • AngelS March 7, 2018, 2:13 pm

    I never cease to be amazed at how generous people are…when it’s not their money being spent. OP, you and your husband make a good team, and that bodes well for the future. Good luck!

  • Rose March 7, 2018, 4:34 pm

    You’re Desi, aren’t you?

    Pretty brave to totally buck tradition like that, but I believe when parents raise their children in foreign cultures they are going to have to expect that their kids might just adopt that culture. It’s not that you did anything abnormal for a western style wedding, but you have to acknowledge that it was definitely out of the norm for wedding in your culture, where people do invite friends, cousins, in-laws, next-door-neighbours and anyone else that wants to come.

  • Rebecca March 7, 2018, 11:12 pm

    Wants to invite other friends to a wedding? Who does that? Who even considers asking if that’d be OK? Yeah, no. You have nothing to feel bad about.

  • Lori March 8, 2018, 5:16 am

    Why do you feel bad that you didn’t invite extra people who SIL tried to push into YOUR WEDDING DAY, people you don’t even know? You feel bad for not adding her friends to the guest list? Let that go, there is absolutely nothing to feel bad about. She’s the one who should feel bad for displaying such abominable chutzpah. Guests do not invite other people to weddings!!!

  • Aleko March 8, 2018, 7:15 am

    Just to say that people tend to be emotionally invested in The Right Way To Do Weddings more than in any other type of social event, and trying to diverge from people’s cultural assumptions, eg as here by not inviting people very loosely connected to the family and not at all to you, is always going to cause upset. with some. Some people swallow their upset; others voice it angrily; some bear it as a grudge for years. All anyone can do is handle it as best they can, which you and your husband did. You don’t have to hang on to the issue just because your SIL does. Don’t give it another thought.

  • Sara March 8, 2018, 11:29 am

    She is not giving the gift as an exchange for a free meal. You don’t owe her a dinner just because she gave you a gift. Not to mention she opted out of the celebration on her own will.

  • lf March 8, 2018, 1:21 pm

    I felt obligated to invite the parents of all my high school girlfriends (not that I didn’t want to, just added quite a few people to the list I would’ve been happy to keep smaller, but); and in one case it turned into “where does it end…” —friend, her divorced parents, her three sisters, oldest sister’s husband and two kids… then middle sister RSVP’d for her boyfriend we’d never met and the mom emailed about 5 days before the wedding to ask if she could bring a friend who happened to be in town that weekend. I could feel my blood pressure going up. Also had an elderly relative say that she needed her daughter and son-in-law to accompany her, we agreed… and none of them showed up with no explanation.

  • NicoleK March 8, 2018, 1:26 pm

    If your husband is the one who said no, why is she blaming you? Do you think he pulled a “I would but I don’t want to upset LW”?

  • Shannon March 9, 2018, 3:01 pm

    Giant weddings with an extended guest list is definitely a thing in some cultures, but it’s ultimately up to the couple to decide who will be there.

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