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Author Topic: The Bridesmaid's In-laws  (Read 12573 times)

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caverat

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The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« on: February 16, 2015, 11:31:52 AM »
I used to read things on here and say to myself "thank goodness no one I knows would act like that for my wedding."  Now that I'm planning it, I'm discovering I'm wrong, though.  So I reached a point with my bridesmaid (best friend of more than 20 years) where we agreed that neither of us understood the other's perspective but she would respect my POV as the bride.  For curiosity's sake, E-hellion's, please tell me which of us is "off" here.

This starts with the BM having a family reunion the week before my wedding.  It's halfway between her home and mine, approximately (and I'm 2000 miles from her).  Her hubby was a little irritated at having to do both so soon together and she resolved it by having her in-laws come out as well, so they could turn my wedding into a sort of family vacation.  I was under the impression that the vacation part would be occurring on days the wedding events were not happening.  Because the reception venue is in the same place as the cabin rentals we're doing, I had already resigned myself to asking them to the dinner, which is a bbq, simply because they would be around anyway and I'd feel rude leaving them out.  The ceremony will be elsewhere and at a very different time of day.  I don't know them and they aren't invited (I met them once, at her wedding 8 years ago).

So today I was chatting with her on the phone and told her how amused I was that a couple of my friends had already assumed their +1 and were planning as such.  Lucky for them, I was going to offer a +1 anyway as I hate being single at weddings and if they have a friend close enough to go all that distance, they probably count as an SO anyway.  To which she replied "and after all, my in-laws are coming" and I answered "yeah, but not to the ceremony!".  Cue mild awkwardness. Turns out they were all expecting to come to that as well, in part to keep her kids entertained, it seems.  (Bear in mind we're talking a very short ceremony, I'm sure hubby can handle them (1 and 5) for that amount of time).  I pointed out that with so few people coming anyway (we invited about 60 but many won't make it due to location), I'd feel very weird having complete strangers attending my (small, distant, outdoor) wedding ceremony.  She thinks it's totally normal as some showed up at her (decent-sized, local, church) wedding who knew her mother.

In all honesty I don't want them at my reception either, just feel obligated due to proximity.  I did not tell her that.  As I said above, we agreed to disagree and as far as I know, she will respect my wishes, but I think she has some explaining to do to the in-laws now.  What do you guys think?
(If location matters to anyone, this is taking place about 3 hours from our home, 2000 miles from my side of the family and 1000 from his side.)

menley

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2015, 11:36:05 AM »
I have never been invited to a wedding reception without also being invited to the ceremony. Is it common in your region to be only invited to the reception? If it is, then perhaps your bridesmaid overstepped, but I would be very surprised to find that I was welcomed to a reception but not to the ceremony.

Yvaine

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2015, 11:51:53 AM »
I have never been invited to a wedding reception without also being invited to the ceremony. Is it common in your region to be only invited to the reception? If it is, then perhaps your bridesmaid overstepped, but I would be very surprised to find that I was welcomed to a reception but not to the ceremony.

I'm not sure the in-laws had even been invited to the reception yet, though! Caverat says she was planning on it, but I'm not sure this had even happened yet before the bridesmaid started assuming.

I also think "reception, but not ceremony" is more acceptable than "ceremony, but not reception," IMO. I think it's because going to the ceremony is supposed to be a favor the guests do for the couple, while the reception is hospitality the couple gives to the guests. So you can give someone "extra" hospitality, but not ask for a favor without offering the hospitality.

Aunt4God

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2015, 11:53:13 AM »
It's your wedding, your choice.  My stepsister only had a select few at the ceremony, but invited tons of people to the reception.  Was it weird, kinda......but I have a feeling some of it was due to seating/size restrictions at the place the ceremony was held.  So it's not common, but it is done at times.  I think it's more common when the ceremony isn't being held in a big church or hall that can accommodate the bigger number of guests.

Kiwipinball

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2015, 11:59:47 AM »
I have never been invited to a wedding reception without also being invited to the ceremony. Is it common in your region to be only invited to the reception? If it is, then perhaps your bridesmaid overstepped, but I would be very surprised to find that I was welcomed to a reception but not to the ceremony.

I haven't either although I've heard of it happening. But I do think it's a bit different when it's clear the only reason they'd be invited is because they're going to be there anyway. If I was tagging along somewhere, I wouldn't expect to be invited to either and it wouldn't seem as odd to only be invited to one. But I'd also be kind of happy to get out of having to go to a stranger's ceremony.

caverat

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2015, 12:20:32 PM »
Correct, the in-laws haven't been invited anywhere yet.  I am not sending a special invitation to them at all - they are only coming because she wanted to make it a little family vacation.  I was planning something far more casual like "Oh hi, glad you all made it safely, by the way we'll be doing dinner at blank o'clock if you'd like to come by for a bit."  The invite to the reception is not because I want them there, but because they'll be right next to it and I'd feel like a jerk if I didn't mention they should swing by.  The ceremony, if all goes as planned, is about a half hour away and probably 8 hour earlier in the day.  Among other things, and I suppose this is a little selfish, I'm visualizing my photographs of the ceremony with people in the background that I don't know or particularly care about, as opposed to the people I love.
Now that I think about it, I wonder if she thought they'd be coming to the rehearsal dinner as well.  I hope the in-laws themselves at least are thinking of other plans, like getting dinner in town or cooking something in their cabin.

Lynn2000

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2015, 12:24:29 PM »
I think according to etiquette here, it's fine to invite people to the reception (the party afterwards, where they are given food and drink) but not to the wedding (the official occasion, which may have rules about who can witness it and/or limited space, and is more the part where the guest is doing the host a favor in a sense). However, I can see how the bridesmaid got the impression her parents were invited to both, as in my experience, it's much more usual for everyone to be invited to both events. I'm guessing the in-laws are the only people invited to the reception but not the ceremony, as opposed to it being a situation where generally there's a "small" wedding followed by a "large" reception.

So I don't think the OP is being rude to stick to this boundary, but I can see how it was a surprise to the bridesmaid. It would probably have been better to not invite them to the reception or any other part at all. This invitation was what involved them in the wedding events, it seems, when before they were completely out of them. ETA: If you haven't issued the invitation yet, I think it's totally fine to change your mind. And I would also clarify with Bridesmaid ASAP that they are not coming to the rehearsal dinner, etc.. There is nothing rude about this, and in fact it could be considered polite to let them know unambiguously well in advance so they can make other plans themselves.

But, it's certainly an awkward situation, with the bridesmaid inviting her in-laws to be generally around the reception venue when the bridesmaid has wedding stuff to attend to. She seems to be trying to achieve two goals with one trip--family vacation plus wedding duties. I'm sure many, many people have managed to do so successfully, but she is not starting off well with her assumptions. In fact in her shoes I might have declined the reception invitation on my in-laws' behalf, just because *I* would want a very clear separation between the two activities I was involved with, and I would be alert to making the bride feel like she was obligated to include my in-laws.

On the topic of having strangers or not at your wedding, I think that really depends on which strangers, and why they're there. Total uninvited crashers, who are tagging along because they happen to be physically nearby? Not cool. But your BFF's spouse, whom due to time and distance you haven't had the opportunity to really meet? Obligated to an invitation under the social unit rule (if you invite BFF).

Also if you give out a generic +1, I don't think you get to control who that person is--you can ask for their name (like if you're doing a seating chart) and expect that another person will not be substituted after that, but if you're expecting it to be your cousin's longtime girlfriend and he surprises you with a different name, of his new girlfriend, I think you're just stuck. I think you can veto known negatives, like his roommate who was rude to you, but that's it.
~Lynn2000

Hmmmmm

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2015, 01:30:07 PM »
I find your BM's actions odd. Is the plan to have rehearsal dinner on Friday, ceremony Saturday morning and then a dinner on Saturday evening? When is she and her In Laws arriving at the resort/campground? Are they all traveling from the family reunion directly to the wedding site to stay?

Anyway, I don't think you'd be required to invite her ancillary guests to ceremony or reception. I could see her and her DH thinking "Great the grandparents can babysit Friday night for the rehearsal dinner and Saturday morning during the ceremony" and then hoping you'd invite them to join the bbq dinner that sounds casual. But I don't think she can just assume to increase guests to your wedding.

PastryGoddess

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2015, 02:04:44 PM »
To me, her decision to have her in laws travel with her have nothing to do with your wedding.  Just because her inlaws are going to be in the same area doesn't mean they're automatically invited to the wedding.  Her arrangements with her family are what she needs to do to come to your wedding. 

She can't just add people to your wedding without your permission, that's really rude.  BM or not.  If she got them to come along by saying they were invited to the wedding, then she's wrong for doing that.

You and your hubby need to decided if you want the inlaws there or not.  Either way you need to let her know so she can pass that information along.

mime

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2015, 02:15:39 PM »
respectfully snipped:
So today I was chatting with her on the phone and told her how amused I was that a couple of my friends had already assumed their +1 and were planning as such.  Lucky for them, I was going to offer a +1 anyway as I hate being single at weddings and if they have a friend close enough to go all that distance, they probably count as an SO anyway.  To which she replied "and after all, my in-laws are coming" and I answered "yeah, but not to the ceremony!".  Cue mild awkwardness. Turns out they were all expecting to come to that as well, in part to keep her kids entertained, it seems.  (Bear in mind we're talking a very short ceremony, I'm sure hubby can handle them (1 and 5) for that amount of time).  I pointed out that with so few people coming anyway (we invited about 60 but many won't make it due to location), I'd feel very weird having complete strangers attending my (small, distant, outdoor) wedding ceremony.  She thinks it's totally normal as some showed up at her (decent-sized, local, church) wedding who knew her mother.

A comment on the bolded: many churches allow uninvited attendees to weddings. I think it has something to do with the idea that the "doors are always open". While this is a common allowance for churches to have, it is not necessarily a well-known thing. It could be a familiar tradition to your friend who had a church wedding, though.

That said, I assume your wedding ceremony (not being at such a church) is a private event. One should only attend if they have an invitation. They don't get to put together some string of reasoning about travel, relationships, etc, to justify their crashing your wedding.

Reika

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2015, 02:36:57 PM »
I  really  don't  see why you should be put into  the  position to invite  people you don't  know  to your reception.Since it's a camping area I'm sure there's  other groups that  have things going on that are private. I'd suggest nipping  this in the  bud now.

VorFemme

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2015, 02:46:33 PM »
Churches may have to be open (at least to church members) most of the time, if not all of the time.

But this is not a church, this is a public campground.  The BM is welcome to add her husband's relatives to their camping group. 

She is not permitted by etiquette to add them to the happy couple's wedding or the reception, rehearsal dinner, and or wedding breakfast the next morning.

The public campground events are "open" to all who are there.  The wedding is private.  If her ILs are there to keep their grandkids amused, then they can amuse them at the campground or take them into town or to a play area without taking them anywhere near the private wedding & reception area.

But inviting them to someone else's wedding?  Ah...just not "good form" to quote Captain James Hook.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2015, 04:09:43 PM by VorFemme »
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I explain?

Oh Joy

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2015, 03:15:30 PM »
Of course it's in poor form for her to invite others to your wedding, and you're under no obligation to invite your bridesmaid's in-laws just because they'll be in town.

That said, let's see if I have this straight: your best friend of more than 20 years and her husband are traveling 2000 miles with their two small children to be a part of your wedding.  They're missing his family reunion, I presume due to restraints on time and money not allowing them to do both.  His parents are traveling 1000 miles to join them on vacation in lieu of attending their own reunion.  If I were in the host's shoes, I personally wouldn't think twice before inviting the in-laws to the same extent I would their children even though they are strangers to me.

Best wishes.

lmyrs

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2015, 03:33:38 PM »
When you say her "ILs" do you mean just her parents? Or do you mean more than that? I don't think you should feel you have to invite them to anything, but if it's just 2 extra people, I would probably do it. Not because it's required, at all. Just because I wouldn't find it that big of a deal. It doesn't mean I think you're wrong for finding it a big deal. I totally get that. Just explaining that you MoH may see it like I do and be confused about why it's such a deal breaker to you.

If it is more than just 2 people though, I'd give a flat out no to any of it.

caverat

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Re: The Bridesmaid's In-laws
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2015, 03:38:56 PM »
Of course it's in poor form for her to invite others to your wedding, and you're under no obligation to invite your bridesmaid's in-laws just because they'll be in town.

That said, let's see if I have this straight: your best friend of more than 20 years and her husband are traveling 2000 miles with their two small children to be a part of your wedding.  They're missing his family reunion, I presume due to restraints on time and money not allowing them to do both.  His parents are traveling 1000 miles to join them on vacation in lieu of attending their own reunion.  If I were in the host's shoes, I personally wouldn't think twice before inviting the in-laws to the same extent I would their children even though they are strangers to me.

Best wishes.

Just to clarify:  They are not missing the family reunion at all, they are simply traveling here from said reunion (which, btw, happens every single year and is a week-long event).  The reason the in-laws are coming at all is that her husband was starting to suggest that she come alone and he stay with the kids, an option neither she nor I liked (and frankly surprised me - my fiance traveled across the entire country for their wedding).  Apparently this was the compromise they made - his parents would come too, and they'd make a small vacation of it.  I don't think the kids will be as hard to manage as she is expecting, she seems to think the older one has worse behavior than she actually does (mild paranoia - before she had kids, she always worried her house was messy when it looked fine.  I think it's just a thing with her), and the younger is far too young to do anything but sit in his carseat or on dad's lap.

We have since emailed a little and have come to the conclusion that our wires got crossed when the whole thing began.  She said they'd make it a family vacation and thought "with us all at the wedding and events" and I thought "so they'll have things to do with the grandparents when they're free from the wedding constraints."  Neither of us felt the need to clarify until it suddenly popped up that we had completely different plans for how things would go.  She's not thrilled, but she'll make do.

When you say her "ILs" do you mean just her parents? Or do you mean more than that? I don't think you should feel you have to invite them to anything, but if it's just 2 extra people, I would probably do it. Not because it's required, at all. Just because I wouldn't find it that big of a deal. It doesn't mean I think you're wrong for finding it a big deal. I totally get that. Just explaining that you MoH may see it like I do and be confused about why it's such a deal breaker to you.

If it is more than just 2 people though, I'd give a flat out no to any of it.

And no it is not her parents.  I did invite her mother, who has declined because she doesn't want to travel alone.  The people coming along are her in-laws, people I have met once, 8 years ago.  My wedding is our closest (6) friends and our family.  Although I get what you're saying, it doesn't make any kind of sense for them to tag along to an event like that.  Personally I'd feel horribly awkward, were I them.  Bridesmaid has also indicated in her last email that she doubts they care one way or the other, so they aren't likely to be hurt.