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Wedding Wednesday – “I Better Be Invited.” Oh, really? Or Else What?

Hello! I am getting married next year and my fiancé and I want a small wedding. Unfortunately after family members and people we are obligated to invite the list has grown substantially. We are now at our max.

Over the past few months there have been situations that I do not know how to handle.

A parent of my brothers’ friend came over to our family home to pick up my brothers to take them to play with his sons.  A little background first. While I like the parents of my brothers friends, I’ve only had a couple conversations with them. They don’t come over as a family for dinner and we have never been to their home for dinner either. The arrangement is usually that a parent drops their children off at the other parents house then picks them up later.

When the father came into the house to pick up my brothers he asked me when the big day was so that he could mark his calendar as he was eager to celebrate with us. I was shocked because I didn’t know how to say, “You’re not invited, so sorry.” I was touched and that he felt they would be part of our big day. However even people I really like and interact with regularly are not all on my guest list due to space and budget restrictions.   I replied with the date and a thank you because I was caught of guard. I know it’s too late now to say anything and I’ll have to add 4 people to the maxed out list.

No, you do not need to add these people to your guest list.  You are under no obligation to invite people who are rude enough to assume they would be invited.  Often when people say these things, it can mean, “I’m awkward and don’t know what to say so I’ll express an interest in coming to your wedding when I really don’t.”  It’s a stupid way of making conversation.  These are the people that you invite out of some misplaced sense of obligation because they manipulated you into it and they never show up to the wedding.  

You respond to these questions with a vague answer.  “Oh, some time in May.”  And if they are audacious enough to ask to be invited, you smile slightly and promptly change the subject.

In another instance an acquaintance congratulated me on my engagement and asked, “When is the wedding? I better be invited.” I laughed nervously and said “Of course.”

A wide eyed, silent stare of horror as if you had just met the most presumptuous, boorish person on the planet would be a good response.   Some things don’t deserve an answer.

My question is, how do I respond in the future. I’m scared it will continue and I’ll have to elope. 0921-17

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  • BeachMum March 14, 2018, 8:25 am

    Years ago I heard the answer, “I’m sorry, it’s a small wedding/bat mitvah/party.” ‘Small’, in this case, means ‘too small to invite you’ and is relative. We threw a 200-person party for my daughter’s bat mitzvah this past weekend. However, there were people who hinted at invitations who didn’t get them. Some of my daughter’s friends asked about it and she gave them this answer too. You will never be able to invite everyone who wants to come, and some people who want to come you won’t want to invite.

    • EchoGirl March 14, 2018, 1:28 pm

      You want to talk rude…my mom invited about 15 people to my brother’s Bar Mitzvah three weeks out because she got more “no” RSVPs than she expected and it threw off the catering numbers (she had an attitude of “if I’m going to pay for it, *someone* should enjoy it). No one gave her a hard time, but I couldn’t help thinking “what, you think they don’t know what you’re up to?” Not inviting everyone you’ve ever met: not rude.

      Wasn’t the only faux pas at that Bar Mitzvah (I caught her yelling at the caterers for not providing high chairs that they had actually provided, and that’s the tip of the iceberg), but it was a doozy.

      • staceyizme March 14, 2018, 4:36 pm

        Three weeks shy of a major event is a bit close, but not unforgivable. And- yelling at vendors if you are stressed is also bad form, but again, not unheard of when planning a large, formal event. Her attitude that “someone” is going to enjoy it is permitted by etiquette experts and manners mavens alike, and while imperfect, such invitations are often understood or accepted. Picking a day for an event like a bar mitzvah, quinceanera or wedding is hard. At times, it turns out that the “nays” are depressingly high relative to the total list of invitees. Who wouldn’t rather “fill in” a bit if it can reasonably be done? In my view, your mom is guilty in this case of being a bit too human and nothing else.

        • CarolynM March 15, 2018, 8:31 am

          This! When I booked my wedding venue I had to guarantee a minimum number of people – when I had a few last minute changes from “yes” to “no” I told my siblings to invite some of their friends so long as they promised to have a great time and not bring a gift! I am so glad they were able to come – it’s not like their friends are strangers to me, but when I had to make some hard choices with the guest list, I couldn’t squeeze them in … but some of my favorite moments from that day include my sibs’ friends!

        • EchoGirl March 15, 2018, 2:58 pm

          Good to know…I’d always been under the impression that inviting people to cover the “no” RSVPs was tacky.

          As for the latter, I may be more sensitive to it because my mom has a habit in general of going off on people when she’s stressed. Not just things she’s hosting; she does it at other people’s events (usually at us, because she doesn’t want to be rude to the host), family vacations…she’s not always an easy person to be around, because she vents her frustration at the people around her and because she can’t handle it when things don’t work out like she expects.

          As far as tip of the iceberg…I’m talking the party in general, not my mom specifically. The most obvious example was my cousin (14…old enough to know better) pulling a chair out from underneath another kid during a game of musical chairs.

          • staceyizme March 15, 2018, 4:48 pm

            Most people show up as angry, depressed, sad or fearful when they are, essentially, anxious. It’s interesting that people lose their cool most often with their subordinates and their intimates. We somehow think that these people will forgive us or “understand” that we were having a bad moment, In reality, we’d all be wiser to be most careful in these contexts because it’s here that we have the most to lose.

  • kingsrings March 14, 2018, 8:32 am

    I hope these people don’t remember that they were “invited” by you, or else next they’ll be contacting you wondering where their invite is. I can understand how people can be thrown off guard by rude, nervy assumptions by others and say something they shouldn’t have out of shock. Lesson learned. OP can now be prepared should she run into any future boors asking these rude invite questions. Just answer with, “Oh, we’re not having a very big wedding” if asked that in the future.
    I’ve run into this situation online. A friend or acquaintance will post that they’ve just gotten engaged. The usual congrats responses follow. But there will also be a few responses thrown in that are, “Congrats! I’ll be sure to put that date on my calendar!”, or, “I can’t wait to get my invite!”. Um, do they know they’re getting invited? Especially if it was just announced?
    I know it probably mostly comes from a place of really wanting to attend the wedding. I know fully what it’s like to not be invited to attend a wedding I rt wanted to go to. Especially when most of your friends have been invited. But that’s the way it goes sometimes.

    • Dee March 14, 2018, 11:01 am

      There’s no need for OP to worry about the boors reminding her about their invitations. She needs to learn a set of phrases, practise them even, to trot out when these situations come up. “We haven’t finalized the guest list” – “We’re having a small affair” – “I’m not the one who’s handling that” – and so on. And if there are follow-up questions, probing for more details, then OP has the right to be honest – “We are only inviting very close family” and leave it at that. As in, LITERALLY leave the conversation. It’s not rude to avoid rude conversation.

      kingsrings, if your friends are posting their engagements and the wedding dates then they’re inviting comments regarding such. I don’t think those comments are rude, just a bit presumptuous. But if a person comes up to me, out of the blue, and announces their engagement and wedding date, at least some part of me is going to be seriously wondering if that means I’m being invited. If a person is not invited to a party then it is incumbent on the host to be as discreet about the event as possible when conversing with that person. That part seems to be missing from your friends, kingsrings.

      • kingsrings March 14, 2018, 2:34 pm

        I don’t think the fact that the communication is online makes it any less rude to make assumption comments about invites. And I would never automatically think that just because someone is telling me they’re engaged, that I’m now invited. I’ve even had people tell me in detail about their ceremony and reception plans even though I’m probably not invited.

        • Melissa March 15, 2018, 12:25 pm

          Agreeing with you, kingsrings! Announcing an engagement on social media is not the same as talking about a party in front of people who aren’t invited. Just like announcing what you’re having for lunch on social media doesn’t mean that you need to invite everyone you know to lunch with you, or that they’d have a reason to expect a lunch invitation.

          The people who make comments like that, expecting to be invited, are the same ones who will comment after the fact with a sarcastic “thanks for the invite” and that’s why the rest of us don’t like hanging out with “THAT guy” 🙂

      • Aleko March 15, 2018, 2:21 am

        Dee, one’s impending marriage is not like a dinner party! I simply don’t accept that one has any obligation to keep either the fact or the date of it dark. Nor is it even possible to announce the fact but conceal the date: people will routinely ask the when and where and how of it, even those with no expectation of being invited.

        And I don’t think it at all fair or true to describe a Facebook post as ‘coming up out of the blue to someone’ to announce anything: a Facebook post is public, pretty much as public as a notice in a newspaper. Assuming that because they have read it they must be invited is as unreasonable as it would be to make the same assumption on reading a newspaper notice.

        • Dee March 15, 2018, 12:19 pm

          I’m clearly basing my opinion on a concept that no longer holds any meaning. I never encountered people trying to invite themselves to my wedding; I never knew anyone else who had that problem, either. And that’s because we never, EVER, announced a party to anyone who wasn’t invited to it, as it was, and still is, very rude to do so.

          If someone told you about a party you assumed you were invited. End of story. You just didn’t encounter the kind of rudeness necessary for the alternative, or at least you didn’t keep those people as friends.

          And thus we never had this problem. To each his own, of course, but what is not understandable is a behaviour that incites an undesirable response and then complaining about that response. If you don’t like people inviting themselves to your party then don’t tell them about your party. It’s so common sense that it never needed to be said to my generation – or my kids’, for that matter. But complaining about others responding to your rudeness? That’s just mind-boggling.

          • InTheEther March 17, 2018, 9:55 pm

            Mentioning a major life event is happening is NOT the same as gushing about a party to people who aren’t invited.

            By your stated standards you can’t ever tell anyone when your kids are graduating school unless they’re invited to the ceremony, forget ever mentioning anything related to any holiday unless the person’s coming to your house to celebrate, no mentioning vacations to anyone not coming along, and I could probably go all day with this.

            You can casually mention things going on in your life without acting like you’re a CIA agent handling classified information. Or I guess you can be known as that weird shifty person who acts like their life is some huge secret.

            PS: Plus, you’re making the assumption that the OP posted along the lines of “Hey everybody, I’m getting married! It’s going to be at X time, and Y place, and there’ll be Z details…” which is definitely talking about a party others aren’t invited to, as opposed to a simple “Hey everyone, guess what? Boyfriend proposed and we’re getting married!” which is much more likely and may not even include a party or congregation or anything for people to be invited to.

  • Michelle March 14, 2018, 8:35 am

    I’ll never be able to understand why someone you barely know wants to come to something as personal as a wedding. I wonder if they are hoping for a lavish food spread and free alcohol? Or do they feel the need to be part of a couple’s special day? Do they feel being invited makes the important?

    I’m in my forties and I’ve been to 4 weddings. I was a flower girl in my cousin’s wedding and a guest at 3 others (aunt, 2 friends). 2 were rather large weddings and 2 were smaller weddings. Although I enjoyed being with my family and friends on their wedding day, I’m not big on traveling and spending 8+ hours in dress clothes. I most certainly would not expect to be invited to my the wedding of my child’s friend’s sister or the someone I barely know.

    • Soop March 14, 2018, 9:17 am

      I am now getting to point of when the nieces and nephews are old enough to get married. We don’t have a lot of money, or a car (Mr Soop’s nieces and nephews all live 2+ hours away), so when I heard of one of them getting engaged, I immediately started doing the math of whether we could afford to go (luckily it will be long engagement, so we don’t have to think about it yet).

      I wouldn’t want to give even the smallest hint that I wanted to go to a non-close-friend or family member’s wedding for fear they would invite me. Yes, yes, I know I can say no.

    • Zhaleh March 14, 2018, 12:13 pm

      I agree Michelle, and while a lavish spread of food and alcohol can be nice, when you’re at a wedding of someone you barely know, it just isn’t nice enough.
      To sit through toasts and games and what I always thought odd, the first dance (I know it can be charming, I still find it odd) is just not worth a nice meal and a few drinks.
      Why not just order out and have a bottle of wine at home?

      Remember my comment refers to people who barely know the couple.

    • Bea March 14, 2018, 1:12 pm

      I’ve learned some people simply adore weddings on their own levels. They basically view them as spectacular parties, not necessarily for free food or alcohol but simply the festivities.

      I am more of a person who hates the concept and plan on going to a justice of the peace when we make our union a legal binding contract. God will see it and he already knows about our pledge so I don’t need the flashy ceremony personally.

      I’ve been to two weddings. One was my cousin and it was sweaty and boring as a teenager. Then as an adult a nice ceremony and banquet hall set up for a friend. I adored the couple and very much appreciated celebrating in a fashion they enjoyed with dinner and dancing. Otherwise I’m from an old family,everyone was married long before I came along. My parents wedding was held in their front room with immediate family and small circle of friends. You can only fit a dozen people in a double wide living room LOL the pictures are sweet, they’re been married 35 years now and still have that living room.

  • ladyv21454 March 14, 2018, 9:05 am

    What bothers me about this submission almost more than the rudeness of people who assume they’re invited is the fact that OP refers to her guest list including “people we are obligated to invite”. Obligated by who? And for what reason? I suspect the parents are paying for the wedding and that these people are ones the PARENTS feel should be there. It’s a shame that the couple has to cut out their own friends because of someone else’s sense of “obligation”. Personally, I would rather pay for my own wedding and invite the people I truly wanted to be there, rather than have someone else control the guest list.

    Side note: if I had gotten married at a younger age than I did, there were friends of my parents that WOULD have been invited to the wedding – but only because they were important to me as well.

    • Anony Mouse March 14, 2018, 3:13 pm

      I’ll admit to feeling hurt that I wasn’t invited to a close friends wedding last year (I know, I know, I’m not entitled to an invite. Doesn’t stop feeling hurt though). Then I found out that after the brides parents took over the wedding planning (they were paying and from the sounds of it are impossible to deal with) and suddenly the happy couple were only able to invite TWO of their friends. Her parents had invited 100+ community members, including the local butcher, and left no room for people the couple actually knew.

      Personally I wouldn’t have put up with this but I guess that’s easier to say when you don’t have to actually do it and haven’t grown up with parents who assume you’ll do everything your told.

      • NostalgicGal March 19, 2018, 11:44 pm

        If I had been half of that ‘happy couple’ I think ‘eloping’ would have happened.

    • Louise March 15, 2018, 3:27 am

      I assumed the people the OP was obligated to invite were potentially family members and/or partners of family members/close friends. I am not at all close to either of my cousins, who I barely saw once a year as kids and now barely speak to due to distance. But obviously I had to invite them to my wedding, because I had to invite my aunts and uncles. This meant inviting my cousins partners and children too. I don’t regret having them there, because they were family, but really I wouldn’t have minded if they hadn’t come.

    • DancerDiva March 15, 2018, 9:58 pm

      I hear this from my fiance constantly…basically, I’m told that I have to have a much bigger wedding than I’d ever want because HIS family expects it and “it isn’t about what the bride & groom want…the wedding is for the family”. Now, I suspect that because his mother passed, the wedding has taken on more significance than it would otherwise. But I do not want a big wedding, and decided that if he wants this, he can plan it and pay for it. Of course, I know that he is thinking that I will plan this wedding that I don’t want because I’m good at it. But he is mistaken. You really don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. This whole thing is basically saying that what I want doesn’t matter, and I don’t agree to that.

      • staceyizme March 17, 2018, 9:11 pm

        I’m so sorry for the loss to you and to your fiance of his mother. You are right to think that this may make the wedding take on a kind of “larger than life” aspect. But- there should be a middle ground somewhere in between “he has to plan it and pay for it” and “he expects me to plan it”. Losing a parent can shake up even those in their fifth, sixth or seventh decade. I guess what I’m saying here is that perhaps you can have a series of conversations with your fiance that clarify what you are and aren’t able to do and leave the door open for what he and his family may wish to do. It’s kind of you, in my estimation, to leave a little wiggle room for other expectations. But only if you don’t let him get hit upside the head with your hard limits. You might consider how it’s possible to compromise. Or postpone the wedding until you’re on the same page.

  • Aleko March 14, 2018, 9:07 am

    Apart from the good suggestions EHellDame has offered, when people mention your wedding you could always put on a harassed face and say ‘Oh dear! There are so many people we have somehow found ourselves obligated to invite, we’re having to leave even close friends out in the cold. It’s very upsetting.’ People who are aware they do not count as close friends will realise that an invitation is not on the cards, and people who are delusional enough to believe that they *are* among your best mates will at least not feel they are not being specifically snubbed.

  • jokergirl129 March 14, 2018, 10:46 am

    I know you don’t want to come across as rude and that you were caught off guard the first two times but if anyone asks about when your wedding is/ask about being invited just tell them the truth. Tell them that you are having a small wedding and that you’ve already invited the max number of people and can’t invite anymore. It might be hard but in this case it’s better then accidentally inviting more people and potentially having those same people question you about their invitation later one. Hopefully the first two people won’t ask about them but just in case keep an ear out for it.

    And by some chance if they do ask then you’ll probably have to explain that you were caught off guard when they asked the first time and explain that you’re really sorry but you can’t invite anyone else to the wedding since you’ve already reach the max number of people you can have.

  • lakey March 14, 2018, 10:58 am

    Hosting weddings is very expensive. In the future simply say that you have to limit the guest list.
    As for the people who have already been rude enough to back you into a corner, if you want, you could tell them that you have finalized the guest list, and you had to limit the size.

  • Liz March 14, 2018, 11:16 am

    I’ve also never understood people who think they are entitled to be invited to every event they hear about, weddings included. I’ve never felt that way, and have been invited to some I didn’t think I would be invited to, and others I thought maybe I would be, I wasn’t. In each case, I’ve either attended, or in the case of those I wasn’t invited to, congratulated them and so on.

    One that I wasn’t invited to was a fairly good friend, yet one I hadn’t seen in quite some time. Another mutual friend, who I met the BTB through, was a bridesmaid. While I would have liked to have been invited, I figured they had a limited list, and I wasn’t close enough to her to make the cut. I was however, very excited for her, and eager to see pictures etc. but in anything I posted on FB I was very careful to word it that way, and not in a way that would show I was upset about not making the list, or fishing for an invite.

  • JD March 14, 2018, 11:57 am

    My daughter had so, so many people inviting themselves to her wedding. We had already discussed the responses so she was ready — “It’s a small wedding,” and “The church is really small, so we have to keep the wedding small,” and both were actually true. She invited 125 people. However, some uninvited people still showed up, meaning some of the invited people had to stand throughout the ceremony, because the poor ushers had no way to know who was family, who was an invited friend, and who was a complete boor.
    OP, don’t agree to invite these people! Don’t add them to your list even if you said, “Of course.” Let it drop. If they ask later about where that invitation is, just smile regretfully and say the wedding is going to be small, and your guest list will be mostly family. You don’t have to add, “Plus all the friends I actually WANT there.”

    • Anonymous March 14, 2018, 1:38 pm

      Actually, some churches don’t exclude the public from wedding ceremonies–you can book your wedding at the church, with the understanding that other people may show up. The reception part is private, and if it’s at the church, they make it clear that it’s private, by having it in a closed room, or behind a retractable wall, or by taking names at the door, but the ceremony is fair game to anyone. So, in some cases, “complete boors” might just be, people following the customs of the church. It crosses the line into boorish when they try to get into the reception without an invitation.

      • staceyizme March 14, 2018, 4:45 pm

        This point is an interesting one that has been discussed fairly extensively on this site: it appears that there are some very diverse rules in place as to whether uninvited folk may “show up” to view a wedding without having received a personal invitation. I have to say that I, too, wonder why anyone would do so? And to intrude on a wedding when you have clearly usurped a seat intended for an invited guest is rude, in my view, even if that particular church or institution permits open attendance. I hope than anyplace that doesn’t agree to restrict attendees to those invited at least does not charge the couple for use of the space. It would seem unjust to ask for cleaning fees, use fees and other funds from those not granted exclusive right of access during their event.

        • lakey March 14, 2018, 10:38 pm

          In the Catholic Church anyone could come in to a wedding ceremony, but that has nothing to do with whether the couple pays any fees. It is because the ceremony is a sacrament, the parish is the church community, and because people are not supposed to be barred from a church building. As a matter of fact, I don’t know what current policy is, but about twenty years ago, when my siblings and cousins were getting married, there was no charge to use the church. It was traditional to offer a stipend to the priest, but you didn’t even need to do that if you were low income or something.

          The thing is, almost no one in the parish goes to weddings they aren’t invited to anymore. When I was younger it was only a few older people who did that, and the churches were so large that it wasn’t noticeable. I do agree with you that in a small church with limited seating, considerate people would not take up seats that were necessary for the bride and grooms guests.

        • Aleko March 15, 2018, 7:17 am

          In England and Wales a wedding venue, whether religious or secular, must be open to the public during the ceremony – in fact, the doors must *literally* be open* – or the marriage is not legally valid. Till 2012 you could not legally get married during the hours of darkness, either: the idea being that society as a whole has a right to know who’s getting married to whom, and lodge an objection if they have one.

          • Margo March 16, 2018, 9:08 am

            It is correct that in England & Wales the ceremony is public .

            It is not correct that there is (or has ever been) any *legal* requirement for the doors to be open, although of course it is possible that a venue may mistakenly believe that to be the case and/or impose that requirement themselves.

            The requirement is that the location must be ‘freely open to the public’, and it only applies to the specific room where the marriage takes place, and the legal aspect of the ceremony.

        • Redblues March 15, 2018, 9:40 am

          I have attended the church wedding ceremony of friends despite not being invited to the wedding. It is not at all rude or boorish. I attended for the same reason anyone attends a friend’s wedding, because I was happy for them and wished them well. I certainly wasn’t fishing for an invitation to the reception. After the ceremony I congratulated them and went home. Nobody was offended. They were happy to see me. Showing up for a reception to which one has not been invited is boorish. Wedding ceremonies in public churches are public. Marriage bans are posted in the church bulletin ahead of time and the entire congregation is welcome to witness. Nowadays people don’t go to just the services if they are not invited to the reception very often, but it used to be quite common. A church that is too small to hold more than the invited guests should have some kind of system to make sure that there is enough seating for stragglers or have a system for ensuring that the invited guests are seated and those who were not must stand. That still is not the fault of the people who showed up to witness the services.

      • JD March 15, 2018, 8:59 am

        Our church opened the invitation to all church members during services in the week leading up to the wedding, but only the members who received invitations came, because they knew seating would be tight. The boors I am talking about had asked to be invited, were told the wedding was small, family large, church small, sorry we can’t invite you, all that, and came anyway, because while the ushers didn’t know who they were, the bride and I sure did, as she and I had done those invitations. Of course we weren’t going to turn anyone away at the door, but it aggravated me that my own nephew, who drove four hours each way to be there, and my other daughter’s boyfriend of 2 years all had to stand, along with several other invited guests, while Mr. and Ms. uninvited filled the pews. This church had a seating capacity of 100. The ushers counted 122 people in attendance. We had invited 75. I guess I should be pleased that my daughter and son-in-law were so popular, but I sure wasn’t pleased at the time.
        As we were members, no, we did not have to pay for the church for the service or reception. The wedding reception was in the church’s hall, and it was crammed to overflowing, thanks to the same uninvited guests.

        • JD March 15, 2018, 9:00 am

          I said earlier that we invited 125. That was about how many came — I had forgotten that, until I started thinking about this wedding more. We invited 75.

        • staceyizme March 15, 2018, 12:16 pm

          It’s perfectly acceptable to escort the uninvited out of the reception with “the reception is private…”. A five minute sweep of the room by the hosts and a few close associates should have covered it. No one should have to be told that eating and drinking without having been invited to do so is rude. If they are so brash as to show up without a specific invitation, they deserve the poke on the shoulder and the walk of shame to the door. I do have to wonder how seating for these extra people would have been found? Tables are often assigned to families and seats to specific guests. Not every reception is a plated, sit down affair, but it would still have been noticeable to encounter 50 additional attendees at a reception scaled for 75.

          • admin March 15, 2018, 2:29 pm

            The best way of dealing with uninvited guests is to have a seating chart with place name cards. Uninvited guests will have to look on the seating chart and will discover there is no table assignment for them and no place card. This happened at my daughter’s wedding and that moment when the uninvited guest realized there was no place for her was inadvertently caught on camera.

    • NostalgicGal March 16, 2018, 8:04 am

      I was a senior in highschool and a slightly younger friend in an advanced class with me had an older sister get married. In a very large church… and she played piano beautifully (she could play a Joplin Rag solo). She invited several of us to come to listen to her play before and during the wedding. Just that. Fine, I made macramé commercially (stocked a couple of gift shops in the area-I can make the D-ring owl towel holders in my sleep YET) and picked out something and wrapped it, dressed nice, showed, and sat in the back on the bride’s side. There was plenty of room in the church. My friend played beautifully, her sister looked glowing, the wedding was nice. Then I went home. I had not been invited to the reception by anyone and unless it had been a proper invitation even that long ago I knew it wasn’t right to show. I was the only one of the ‘come to listens’ though that brought a gift I found out much later… and the bride had to ask her sister who the macramé was from, not knowing my name. I received a thank you card too and fairly timely. In this case, it worked out.

  • Kheldarson March 14, 2018, 1:20 pm

    A post of my husband’s insistent friend got posted a while back; to sum, hubs had a work friend who thought they were BFFs and often imposed himself on my hubs, including trying to invite himself to our wedding (we’d drive him down, of course, right?) and to my parents’ house as a crash pad (it’s just one more person!)

    You tell folks like this: no. No, you’re not invited. No, you’re not riding with us. I’m sorry but we don’t have space for everyone and their brother.

    No is a complete sentence.

  • Anonymous March 14, 2018, 1:28 pm

    I might say something like, “we’re having trouble narrowing down our guest list–Partner has a big family, and the wedding venue is very strict about numbers because of the fire code,” or something like that–whatever works for your situation. It’s not accusatory, but it makes it clear that inviting this person isn’t going to be possible. Then I’d follow up with a bean-dipping sentence, like, “How are your boys liking hockey this season?”; as if the wedding issue is closed, because of course, only rude people push to be invited to things they’re not invited to, and surely the other person isn’t a rude person, right? Another thing you can do is to suggest a different engagement that you’d be happy with, that’s separate from the wedding, to let them know that you’re not cutting them off; you just can’t invite them to the wedding. For example, if you’re having a (non-gift-soliciting) open house after the wedding, you could invite their whole family. Then it’d be more like you’re inviting the kids, and the parents are just there as part of the “social unit” in that context, because an open house is an event that it’s common to invite whole families to.

  • EchoGirl March 14, 2018, 1:44 pm

    OK, so this may be as good a place to ask as any. What is the etiquette regarding a wedding (to which you’ve been invited) for someone you don’t know very well?

    My boyfriend and I have been invited to a wedding in September that fits this description. I’ve only met the couple once; my boyfriend I think has met the bride a few more times, but they’re not especially close; I suspect we’ve been invited at the behest of the bride’s mother and stepfather, who we do know decently well (the stepfather works with my boyfriend’s dad). Obviously, it wouldn’t be verboten to accept since we *have* been invited, but I don’t want to feel like I’m imposing based on an invitation the couple probably didn’t initiate. Any EHellions have thoughts on the subject?

    • Teapot March 14, 2018, 3:15 pm

      There’s nothing worse than sitting at a wedding reception and knowing absolutely no one else there. I was once invited to a wedding where the only person I knew was the bride and I didn’t even have a plus-one to bring along.

      In your situation I think it would be perfectly fine to RSVP your regrets and just send a card and maybe a small gift, but only if that’s not going to hurt your budget.

      • Liz March 15, 2018, 9:42 am

        Agreed. In my younger days I was invited to several weddings of people my age, who I knew, but really were not at all close to, and i only knew one of the HC, and had never even met the other. I suspect I was invited out of obligation as it really it was the parents that were close to my own parents; they had been friends for years and years. In both cases I declined to attend, or even send a gift, as I really didn’t know the HC all that well.

        I’ve also been to weddings of the same type, but where I did know the HC, but really no one else, and was relegated to the “odd relative” table. My mom’s BFF’s two daughters weddings were like that, but at the first, my BF at the time wsa with me, but the second was the odd relative table. While I adore the BTB and get along with her very well, i knew no one else aside from my parent’s friends, who all sat together, so really did not have a very good time at all.

      • Redblues March 15, 2018, 9:54 am

        Really?! How hard is it to find nice people to talk to at a wedding reception? If you can chat with a stranger in an airport, you should be able to do it at a banquet, without needing a random date as if it was a nightclub.

        • admin March 15, 2018, 10:51 am

          Several friends of mine met their future husbands at weddings, including me. I was the maid of honor, he was playing bass guitar for the ceremony music. He saw me processing down the aisle and thought, “Hmmm, she’s cuter than the bride.” I saw him and thought, “Nope, doesn’t look like he can grow facial hair.”

        • EchoGirl March 15, 2018, 3:59 pm

          “If you can chat with a stranger in an airport…”

          And if you can’t? Many people can’t. I can’t, nor do I really want to start a random conversation in an airport. I know people who do, but it’s not universal.

          This isn’t to say anyone should go demanding a plus-one, of course. I’m just saying, don’t start from an assumption that everyone is a “socializer” (to borrow a term from my favorite business book). Lots of people aren’t comfortable chatting with strangers no matter what the venue is.

          • Redblues March 19, 2018, 7:49 pm

            It still isn’t the B&G’s responsibility to invite a plus 1 to entertain the socially awkward guest who doesn’t like to talk to strangers. If it is that difficult for you, stay home. If you do go anyway, make the best of it. Really, every adult should learn how to make polite conversation in social situations. Not everyone enjoys it, but everyone has to do it at one point or another. I don’t understand people who complain that they can’t bring a date to a banquet they are not paying for.

        • Margo March 16, 2018, 9:13 am

          I think that depends on the other guests, too. If you don’t know anyone but [one of] the happy couple, and the majority of other guests are close friends and family then it can feel very awkward,. Even if people try to be friendly (and not everyone makes polite conversation or tries to include the stranger) being the stranger in a group of people who know one another well can be very awkward.

          OP, an invitation is just that. There is no obligation to accept, so simply respond with regrets. You don’t then need to do anything further, but you are free to send a card or gift if you wish.

    • ladyv21454 March 14, 2018, 3:24 pm

      And THIS is why the bride and groom should have complete control of the guest list. I suspect that if they’re decent people, the happy couple would be mortified that someone they barely know was invited to the wedding. As stated earlier, it’s one thing if the parents’ friends are close to the bride and/or groom; quite another if the parents expect them to be invited just because the invitees are THEIR friends. I would decline (with regrets, of course) and perhaps send a nice card to the happy couple – even though they may well read the signatures and say “Who ARE these people?”

      • Dee March 14, 2018, 5:45 pm

        If you want to go, go. If you don’t want to go, don’t go. That’s what an invitation is, a request for your attendance. It’s not a demand. In fact, any decent host would much prefer people NOT attend if they don’t really want to be there.

      • EchoGirl March 15, 2018, 3:21 pm

        I mean, they’d know my boyfriend by name…his family name is uncommon enough, and I think the bride is better acquainted with my boyfriend’s immediate family than with him. It’s possible the bride and groom *did* invite us, if only because they didn’t want to come off as deliberately excluding us by inviting my BF’s parents and (minor) sister but not him (inviting me, in that case, is the “don’t invite only half a couple” rule…BF and I have been together more than long enough to qualify).

        If we really didn’t want to go, I’d have no problem with sending regrets. I don’t see it as a command performance. The reason we’re considering it is largely because we’re not 100% sure we don’t want to. The bride seems like someone who *could* become a friend, even if she isn’t yet, so it might be a nice thing to do. But the last thing I want is to make *her* uncomfortable.

        • Margo March 16, 2018, 9:17 am

          In that case, accept. If she is being put under pressure by others to invite people she isn’t close to you are probably not the only ones.. You have no reason to think that they are going to be made uncomfortable by you being there.

          That said, a wedding is unlikely to be a good place to make friends with the bride and groom, as they will be busy, so if you want to keep open the possibility of advancing the friendship, send your regrets now, send them a nice cad for the day and consider inviting them to your next BBQ or other large event, or asking them to dinner some time after the wedding, or any of the other things you’d do to get to know people you think might be friends.

      • staceyizme March 16, 2018, 4:47 pm

        Who controls the guest list is determined by who is hosting the wedding. If the parents are paying (either set or both), then they naturally have considerable say over who attends. The Happy Couple moves to the place of honorees and the guest list will not look the same as if the prospective bride and groom did all of the inviting. That’s not actually bad form at all, it’s just not the norm today. It appears to be more common for the couple to pay for everything themselves or to pay for a significant part of it with a set amount gifted towards the event by the parents. Those wishing to arrange all of the details of their reception and to retain sole control of the guest list, catering, venue and decor must be prepared to pay for the event, as hosts of any event must be prepared to do. It’s no good, in my view, saying “but it’s OUR day” or other similar objections. It strikes me that in some cases, there is a tad too much of that sort of posturing by couples who still expect parents to pay for the whole affair.

  • NostalgicGal March 14, 2018, 4:27 pm

    Short term, elope. People will be upset but invitations snarls will be expunged. Hold a reception later.

    Next step up; sit down, do a hard pare of the guest list if invites haven’t gone out yet. STICK TO IT NO MATTER WHO WHEEDLES WHINES BEGS FISHES OR TOSSES A FIT. Look in a mirror and practice “I’m terribly sorry but we’re limited on the number of invitations and as much as I’d like to invite more, we must stick with the limits we have. (so sorry if I indicated earlier you may be getting an invitation, we’re having to exclude some close friends and family–very hard choices.) We hope you will understand.” then beandip.

    Give up, find a different venue and be prepared to have it escalate.

    One on here, the couple wanted to get married in a small wedding. The HC was paying and wanted like 60 guests. MOB and MOG got together and returned an invite list of 700 ‘that just HAVE TO BE invited’ and started shopping for a large venue, which the HC could NOT afford in wildest dreams. They went to the courthouse to ‘check on the requirements for the marriage license’, took two friends, eloped, bought plane tickets OUT of there for the upcoming long weekend holiday and called both mothers while at their destination to tell them they eloped. Those two ladies weren’t happy was an understatement but it got the point across.

    • ladyv21454 March 14, 2018, 5:27 pm

      What a perfect solution! I tend to be of the mind that even if parents are paying for the wedding, that doesn’t give them full rights to choose who will be invited. And if the HC is paying, the parents have NO rights whatsoever – other than perhaps to suggest one or two people that might be hurt if not invited. But 700 people??? Insane.

    • lakey March 14, 2018, 10:46 pm

      I can’t even imagine the cost to hire a venue that holds 700 guests, and then the cost of feeding all those people. The couple was smart to dodge that bullet.

      • NostalgicGal March 16, 2018, 8:14 am

        Even if you had the usual RSVP declines I could guess that it might be 450-500 guests. Unless I had won the lottery for half a billion I certainly wouldn’t be able to pay a bill like that. I’m wondering how many of those ‘must invites’ were relatives that were on the fringes and no way would they be coming. So maybe on low end, 300-350 guests or about half… (shakes head). I dodged several things myself over my wedding and still glad to this day I didn’t put anyone into debt to get married.

  • staceyizme March 14, 2018, 4:29 pm

    OP, it sounds like you aren’t quite sure how to say “no” to would-be self-invitees. You can ignore most such remarks without needing to be heavy handed. No need for facial expressions that hearken back to the days of silent film a century ago. Anyone who presses you can be met with any noncommittal answer of your choice, short of actual rudeness. Anyone who HAS pressed you and follows up later with “we never did get an invitation” can be met with “of course, we thought you were joking! ” By the way, congratulations!

  • nora March 14, 2018, 6:06 pm

    When my husband and I announced our engagement we were very careful to control the message going out to all potential guests – we wanted a small and intimate ceremony with only immediate family and close friends, but we would be having a larger, more casual reception later on. That seemed to work out well for all involved. The people we were close to had a wonderful time. The people we like but are less close to still got to party with us. Being clear with everyone from the beginning avoided a lot of hurt feelings.

  • Hannah March 14, 2018, 6:18 pm

    Not really a comment upon the etiquette situation, but a bit of help from someone in the wedding industry: If you feel obligated to invite people you’d rather not actually have there, get married on a week day. Not only will you save a ton of money on vendors and a venue, but those who don’t have a deep relationship with you are far less likely to attend. Or yeah, you could elope. Or you could lie and say you’re going to elope. That’s what my sister did to avoid inviting co-workers, lol. But I also agree with the admin. Simply saying its a small, intimate affair is usually enough to dissuade people.

    • Vicki March 15, 2018, 7:37 am

      The problem with that is you’ll also eliminate people you do want there. It filters for caring a lot, but also for age and geography: the second cousin who lives nearby may take a half day off and atttend, while someone you love can’t come in from another city. Or, your father’s old fishing buddy or your retired great-aunt can make it, and your cousin brings her school-aged children, but a close friend your own age has to cover a shift at the hospital.

      Friends of mine got married on a weekday (for reasons to do with the venue, I think). Some people they’re closer to than I am didn’t make it, because they couldn’t manage the travel from the other coast, and I think timing was part of it: the midweek wedding would have made them take more time off from work than a weekend one. (I think one or two friends got there for part or all of the reception, but missed the actual ceremony: the invitations were for 5 p.m.)

  • Sarahdoll March 14, 2018, 6:27 pm

    It seems to me either of the OP’s examples could easily be jokes, especially the second. I mean its so absurd to imagine a mere acquaintance expects to be invited they were probably just cracking wise. I think both could simply be met with a chuckle and some bean dip.

    • ladyv21454 March 15, 2018, 9:55 am

      I have no difficulty at all in believing the second example really happened. There’s been plenty of examples on EH of Person A thinking of Person B as an acquaintance, and Person B thinking of Person A as a close friend. (See Kheldarson’s post above.)

  • T March 14, 2018, 6:35 pm

    This reminds me of an awkward situation years ago. I met the sister of a friend at a party and, knowing she was getting married in a few months, congratulated her and said she must be excited about it. She spent the next several minutes talking about how it would be a small ceremony and reception, nothing but family and very few friends, and how she wasn’t even inviting so and so even though they were very close, etc. etc. It made me very uncomfortable to realise she thought I was fishing for an invitation – which I most certainly wasn’t as this is someone I see maybe once a year. If anything, I was glad they were saving me the trouble of RSVPing in the negative. I wanted to say the thought of being invited had never crossed my mind, but decided it would make the situation worse so I tried to change the subject a couple of times, but she’d go back to her tiny, miniscule, almost non-existant guest list. She wasn’t obnoxious about it, more like overly apologetic, but I must confess at the time I was slightly annoyed at her for making that assumption and putting me in an embarrassing situation.

    • staceyizme March 15, 2018, 12:35 pm

      It is awkward to be bludgeoned for an offense that you didn’t commit. One could either drone on about being busy, SO busy…! Or let them stumble through and kind of hang themselves. After all, you did nothing more than congratulate them. Their presumption of ill intent isn’t your issue.

  • pennywit March 14, 2018, 7:04 pm

    I don’t suppose it would be worth making these extras compete in the Thunderdome for an invite? No?

    • ladyv21454 March 15, 2018, 9:56 am

      Pepsi out the nose on this one – I love it!

  • Maggie March 15, 2018, 12:11 am

    I never knew that I could invite myself to some almost-stranger’s wedding. Wow! Oh wait… I can’t.

    I don’t know why the OP thinks anyone who mentions an invitation automatically gets one. Seems bizarre.

  • kgg March 15, 2018, 6:31 am

    I just realized: regarding the brothers’ friend’s father, if he is closer with the bride’s parents and sees them often, it’s very likely the parents talk about the wedding quite a bit and keep him updated, and that interaction may have made him think he’ll be included in the festivities. This happened a lot with my mother (updating co-workers) and my grandmother (updating church friends and neighbors).

    A co-worker of mine recently got engaged. We’ve worked together for 1.5 years and get along really well. We hang out after work and I’ve met her fiance a bunch of times. I also helped her go wedding dress shopping. Still, they are having a smallish destination wedding so I assumed NOTHING. She recently made a comment about me being there, but I’ll still take that with a grain of salt just in case.

    • staceyizme March 15, 2018, 12:40 pm

      This, to me, is the other side of the proverbial “coin”. Nobody needs regular updates about your plans for a major milestone event unless they are either helping to host or are very close to you. If they are close enough for regular updates, they should certainly be on the guest list, in my view. Church friends and business connections presumably have other things to discuss than what colors have been selected as candidates for the “signature” tablescape and whether or not the venue has a backup plan in case of rain.

      • kgg March 15, 2018, 7:44 pm

        True. But they booked the place like five minutes after they got engaged. So when she told people about the engagement, it included the when and where of the wedding, as well. And she mentioned it will be smaller, so I took that as, “Don’t expect to be invited,” which I didn’t mind. If it were going to be local and I wasn’t invited despite getting updates and participating, then I would be hurt, but I still wouldn’t press.

  • Redblues March 15, 2018, 9:48 am

    Rule number one of saying no to presumptuous requests: don’t explain. If you have no obligation to them, you do not owe them any explanation. Presumptuous people believe that an explanation is a debate, and they will argue. Don’t give them the chance.
    As Kheldarson says, “no” is a complete sentence.

  • mm March 15, 2018, 11:15 am

    I write for a small web site and my fellow writers and I chat on Slack pretty much every day. One of our editors happened to mention that he and his boyfriend/fiance (they never formally got engaged but have been together over 10 years) were stepping up their wedding plans. Still no date, but just talking more seriously about it.

    Suddenly everyone was talking as if they were invited. Mind you, few of us have actually met in person. We all know each other through Slack, Twitter, Facebook. So I direct messaged the editor who is getting married privately saying “it makes me really uncomfortable when people invite themselves to a wedding.” He agreed, saying that he has a small budget and can’t accommodate everyone from the site. I told him that even if he had an endless budget, he’s not obligated to invite people he’s never actually met in real life.

    I just think it is really presumptuous to invite yourself to anything. Usually when I do get invited, I try to thank the guests of honor for inviting me in the card.

  • bopper May 1, 2018, 4:02 pm

    tell your brother to tell his friend that his parents asked for an invitation to your wedding but unfortunately you are at your limit of guests.

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