Author Topic: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.  (Read 3473 times)

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LadyL

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The thread about the stepmother who threw a snit because her children weren't invited to her step-childs wedding, even though the child has no relationship with the step-children, made me wonder about a minor issue with the guest list for my own wedding.

My father comes from a huge family (11 brothers and sisters) which has only grown since he married my stepmother. There are 45 people on our invite list just from that side of the family. My parents are divorced, and my mother comes from a small family (1 sister). The list of people we're inviting from her side of the family is around 10-12. I think my mother's lingering bitterness about the divorce and concerns about representation at the wedding are affecting her views about the wedding guest list.

Basically we decided to include family friends mostly of my mother (about 20 people for her, and only 4 friends of my father's)  in part to make sure she'd have a social group of her own at the wedding. There are several families that were there for me growing up almost on the level of aunts and uncles and I wanted them included in the wedding. That makes up about 14 of the 20 people on my "mom's friends" list.

We gave my mother free reign to invite 3 more couples of her choosing. Instead of inviting her best friend's adult children, who we were close with growing up (one of them even came on an international vacation with us), she wants to invite 6 of her cousins and cousin's children who I have no relationship with. I couldn't pick these people out of a lineup. I am admittedly a bit disappointed because her decision seems a bit based on stuff like "well I was invited to so-and-so's wedding" - *I* wasn't invited to that wedding, so I'm not sure why I now "owe" these people an invitation. I'm sure they are perfectly nice but I have no relationship with them. I have no idea of her best friend (of 50 years) will be hurt that her kids aren't included. I think my mother is the god parent of at least one of them.

This on it's own is not a hill to die on, we gave her free reign and she made her choice. However she did offer to contribute to the additional cost for the cousins if necessary. In a perfect world where no one's feelings would get hurt, I'd ask her to cover the cousin's costs and then invite her best friend's kids also. Is there a polite way to propose this arrangement? I was thinking something like "I'd really like to invite Best Friend's Kids and also Random Cousins, but to include both would go over our budget. You had offered to cover the costs for your list if necessary, and it looks like the total for that would be $X. Would you be ok with contributing that amount?"

I just feel a little bad because she is already paying for about 1/5th of the wedding plus my dress. She can afford it but I really hate that who we can and can't include is coming down to money and family politics rather than who we most want to have there because they've played a role in our lives.

Poppea

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Re: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2013, 12:31:36 PM »
The problem is that you gave her "free rein".  "Free Rein" means that she can do as she pleases (just like a horse off its reins).  I think you are stuck. 

Perfect Circle

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Re: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2013, 12:37:35 PM »
You can't really have it both ways. You gave your mother a free reign and you can't really change that now that her decision isn't one you would have personally made.
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Mikayla

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Re: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2013, 12:40:51 PM »
^^ Agreed.

On the issue of covering for additional guests, I'd think it depends on how she worded her offer.  If it was vague, she may have been thinking in terms of "helping" contribute, as opposed to "covering all costs".  If it's the former, it might be better to tell her the help would be appreciated and then ask her what kind of figure she had in mind. 

Elessarion

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Re: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2013, 12:41:48 PM »
I agree with the above posters. You gave your Mum free rein to choose 3 more couples that she wanted to and now you're upset because she didn't invite the people you would have? If you are so close to the children of her best friend then surely they'd have been on your guest list in the first place.

And yes, I think it would be rude to ask for additional costs just because she made a choice you would not have made. She offered to cover the costs of inviting the cousins "if necessary". But the way things stand, it is not necessary.

FOSTER

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Re: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2013, 12:51:32 PM »
If the wedding costs are getting out of your budget, maybe it's time to gather some financial cleverness and figure out a way to invite all the people that you want?

Hmmmmm

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Re: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2013, 07:37:12 PM »
You gave her free reign and she chose who she would like.

If you want the kids of her friend to attend, then you add them to your invite list.

Is your mom responsible for paying for all of her guests? Or did you indicate she could invite an "up to" number and past that number she needs to pay? I think you should stick to the financial arrangement you originally agreed to and not modify it because you are less than thrilled by her selection.

KenveeB

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Re: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2013, 07:43:39 PM »
If you wanted to invite Best Friend's Kids, then you should've. You gave your mom 3 open tickets instead, to use however she chose. She chose. I wouldn't ask her to contribute more money because you've second-guessed how you wanted the invites used.

LadyL

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Re: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2013, 09:49:30 PM »
Ok, that makes it easy since it appears to be unanimous! (watch, now 10 people will post with the opposite view - either way I was leaning towards letting sleeping dogs lie on this one so going with the current advice is fine by me).

CookieChica

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Re: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2013, 09:54:10 PM »
My mom also zagged when I thought she would zig with some of her invites - I ended up with some cousins I had previously never even heard of at the wedding! I rolled my eyes at the fact that my wedding was host to a mini family reunion but in the end, my husband or I knew and wanted 95% of the people there and their presence was of no impact.

And to be honest, they will come to hang with your mom. You stop by the table and say thanks for coming, few minutes of gracious small talk, and the next time you will see them is when they leave the reception.

Nemesis

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Re: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2013, 10:01:44 PM »
We gave my mother free reign to invite 3 more couples of her choosing.
Then you can't complain about who she invites, because they are there on her invitation (which you okayed)

Instead of inviting her best friend's adult children, who we were close with growing up (one of them even came on an international vacation with us), she wants to invite 6 of her cousins and cousin's children who I have no relationship with. I couldn't pick these people out of a lineup. I am admittedly a bit disappointed because her decision seems a bit based on stuff like "well I was invited to so-and-so's wedding" - *I* wasn't invited to that wedding, so I'm not sure why I now "owe" these people an invitation. I'm sure they are perfectly nice but I have no relationship with them. I have no idea of her best friend (of 50 years) will be hurt that her kids aren't included. I think my mother is the god parent of at least one of them.
You don't owe them an invitation, they are there as your mother's guests. Her decision not to include her best friend is hers to make, I'm not sure why you feel that you get to decide which relationship is more important to her.

This on it's own is not a hill to die on, we gave her free reign and she made her choice. However she did offer to contribute to the additional cost for the cousins if necessary. In a perfect world where no one's feelings would get hurt, I'd ask her to cover the cousin's costs and then invite her best friend's kids also. Is there a polite way to propose this arrangement?
Given that she's already helping you pay for your wedding, plus bought your Wedding dress, there is no way to say this without coming off like you're trying to bill her for more. You do have a right to say, "mom, we could allow for 3 couples, but you've invited more than 6 people and I can't afford that. Could I count on you to trim your number of guests?" Then leave it to her to either offer to pay for the additional guests, or to trim down the numbers.

I was thinking something like "I'd really like to invite Best Friend's Kids and also Random Cousins, but to include both would go over our budget. You had offered to cover the costs for your list if necessary, and it looks like the total for that would be $X. Would you be ok with contributing that amount?" If you would like to invite Best Friend's Kids, they are YOUR guests, not hers. They would fall under your list. You don't get to park them under your mom's list and then bill her for it. Especially not when she is already picking up the tab for 20% of your wedding plus 100% of your dress.

I just feel a little bad because she is already paying for about 1/5th of the wedding plus my dress. She can afford it but I really hate that who we can and can't include is coming down to money and family politics rather than who we most want to have there because they've played a role in our lives.
I am afraid that is the sort of decision that all brides must make - either a cheaper do where everyone can attend, or a more costly one where numbers have to be trimmed down. It is possible to invite everyone to a backyard bbq reception, or fewer people to a Buffet, or even fewer to a sit down, formal dinner. Whatever your decision is, you need to compromise and make the best of it.

lowspark

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Re: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2013, 01:38:31 PM »
Yeah, I'm on board with those who say that since you gave her free reign you're sort of stuck. And you certainly won't be the first or last to have people at your wedding that you don't know from Adam.

However, if I were in this situation with my own mother, I think this is how I would approach it. (Keep in mind that I had a great relationship with my mother so whether this would work for you or not depends.)

Mom, you know, thinking about it, I'd really like to invite best friend's adult children although they weren't on my original invitation list but the budget is at the limit. Is there any way you could contribute extra to the wedding so we could include them?

This is asking for a favor without bringing up the fact that you're not thrilled with the people she wants to invite.

But to look at it from a slightly different angle, I am wondering how many people we're talking about as far as the best friend's adult children go, six, right? When figuring your budget, are you figuring the cost per person of everyone you've invited, or of the total number who are likely to accept? There is always a certain percentage of people who will not attend and these six might not actually throw you over budget after all. Also consider the fact that the people who you don't know also don't know you, and are less likely to attend for that reason.

Lynn2000

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Re: s/o stepparent boundaries - inviting practical strangers to a wedding.
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2013, 05:03:53 PM »
Gotta go with the majority here. :) I do think that if you told her she could invite "three couples," aka 6 people, and now she wants to invite those three couples plus their children (I'm assuming actual minor children who live with them), you can tell her to either limit it to the 6 adults only or to pay extra to include the children (assuming you physically have room for the children). Or some other combination, but she only gets six "free" seats.

It may not have been who you thought she would invite, but since you let her choose, I don't think you can really change the names or ask her to pay for more people you hoped she would choose.

Unless someone has a tiny wedding I think almost everyone ends up with a few strangers, near-strangers, people they don't know well, people they aren't thrilled with, people they would have gladly traded for someone else... That's just part of organizing a large event with a not-unlimited budget. In terms of your actual interaction with all the guests, it will likely be quite small--it's not like you'll be stuck trying to make small talk with a total stranger for an hour or anything. And in terms of someone who doesn't get an invitation feeling hurt about that--well, hopefully they will be polite and mature and understand the difficult decisions you had to make. If it's someone that you truly would have liked to invite but couldn't, maybe take them out to lunch later or something--that will definitely be more one-on-one time than any of the actual wedding guests get with you! :)
~Lynn2000