Q: My wedding is weeks away, and we have just started receiving response cards. I was astonished to open one to see that a couple included their daughter and live-in exchange student on the reply. The invitation was addressed to only the parents, and we did not want their child and exchange student to attend. (We did not invite any children to our wedding.) We do not wish to ruin the friendship over this, but how do we clear things up as firmly as possible?
A: Along with your goal to clear things up “firmly,” I’ll add “pronto.” The longer you wait to address the situation, the more awkward it can become. You, or the host of the wedding, will need to speak to this couple directly, either in person or on the phone and not by e-mail or text. It’s amazing how many invitation recipients don’t understand that an invitation is intended only for those whose names are on the envelope. That’s it: it is often no dates, no friends, no kids, no pets. Whoever calls the couple should make a big effort to overlook their cluelessness. Use a calm, friendly and understanding tone, and stick to the facts: “We’re delighted you can join us at our wedding. But there seems to be a mix-up, since your response card includes the names of your daughter and exchange student. Sorry, but we cannot accommodate any extras, as our guest list is very tight. I hope you understand.” Be prepared for any possible reply. The invitees might graciously accept the reality. (Phew — a happy ending for all.) Or they might become huffy. Some even try to bully the wedding hosts into inviting their children. In such a case, you can go the extra mile by explaining that, even though little Susie is a peach and you’d like to meet the exchange student sometime, you’re not inviting any children and you cannot make an exception. It wouldn’t be fair to other guests who also have children. If they take the ultimate umbrage by becoming angry and threatening not to come at all, so be it. The rudeness would be theirs, not yours.
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