1. Tessie

    My fiancee and I are having an adult wedding in DC at a fairly small venue (60) and family offered to fill in and send our invitations. This will be a brunch wedding with alcohol and is not a child friendly event. We are also having a reception in CA which will be family friendly.

    In order to ensure people did not bring a guest we did not know or small children, I designed the RSVP cards to state ” __ of ___ will be attending” and asked that the second blank be filled in with the correct number of adults (1 or 2). We have not even seen the invitations as they were sent directly to family in CA, who filled in and mailed the cards.

    I am now getting my invitations back and in some the second blank has been left empty and in others, those with small children, the total family (4-5) has been filled in to reflect all family members are invited. Even though the invitation address only lists the name or names of the adults invited. (I have also had single adults ask if they can bring a guest).

    So I have been completely stressed out that last few days. Thankfully so far those with children have declined, but what is the etiquette on how to handle this when the mistake is obviously the fault of the wedding party.

    Do I just wait until someone responds positively with all family included? I had already told my friends with children that this was an adult only wedding. But they may believe we changed our minds. Most of my friends on the west coast with kids were going to attend the reception in California over the wedding in DC anyway. So this may just be a mute point, but I am still upset about this mix-up.

    Any help on how to proceed on this would be wonderful. I don’t want to “borrow trouble”, but I also want to head off any potential mistake. Thank you

    • Elizabeth

      I’m surprised that you would delegate such a crucial task – the postage costs the same no matter where it is sent from!

      At this point, though, there’s nothing to be done until you receive a response card with more people filled in than were actually invited. At that point, you have to do the adult thing which is to call the family or person who RSVP’d, explain that there has been a misunderstanding and that unfortunately no children (or plus-ones) can be accommodated. You have a good excuse – you can blame your mother or whoever sent the invitations and filled them out incorrectly. Do not delegate this task to anyone other than your fiance (if it’s someone on his side)! Apologize for the confusion and ask whether they can still make it. Offer to give them some time to think about it, investigate childcare options, but that you need to know by X date. Tell them how much you look forward to seeing them, and that you hope they can still come.

      That’s it. It’s an awkward call to make, to be sure, but you will sort out the mess in no time if you deal with it head on.

      • Tessie

        Thank you. My mother offered to help and relieve some of the stress. But she allowed others to help her and they did not follow instructions and here we have a colossal mess. I am more stressed then if I had just done it myself, but it sounded good at the time.

        • Elizabeth

          Don’t stress too much! It’s just a potential colossal mess at the moment, and it’s really pretty easily dealt with if it does come up. If you end up having to make one of those phone calls, practice with your fiance ahead of time so you know just what to say.

    • Cyra

      Hi Tessie,

      I agree with Elizabeth, except that I wouldn’t try to pass the blame on to anyone. If you receive an RSVP that includes more than the invited guests and I would simply call that person and state, “I’m so sorry for the mis-communication, but we are unable to accommodate children/guests. I hope you can still make it!”

      And definitely do not delegate those phone calls (except to your fiance)!

      Best wishes!

    • Chocobo

      I agree with Elizabeth and Cyra, but have one thing to add: I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It sounds like you are pretty far away from family if many of them are in California and you are in D.C. My guess is that very few, if any, guests would attend a wedding that far from their home without their children.

  2. Christi

    My mother-in-law-to-be has generously planned and hosted our rehearsal dinner. However, I recently found out that she has invited several of her friends to the dinner who are not invited to the wedding (and haven’t been for the year and a half we’ve all been planning the wedding). How am I supposed to address this issue? I don’t think saying anything to my mother-in-law will do any good, as the dinner is this Friday and these people have already responded and are, in fact, coming.

    I am very taken aback by this new information. I simply do not know how to handle this now, prior to the event, during the event, or after the event. What am I supposed to say to all of these people who will not be attending my wedding? To other guests at the rehearsal dinner when they ask about these people who will not be there?

    Please help!

    • Alicia

      Yikes! First your fiancee should say something to his mother. The rehearsal dinner should be much closer and smaller then the wedding. Then at the dinner you and your fiancee should still greet these people and treat them like guests. If either of you are asked about why they do not have info for the wedding reception you can say that you are so happy to see them but did not know they were going to be here and the wedding and reception have been planned for so long. That you are so grateful for their support and good wishes and then leave it at that. That will communicate that you and your husband to be are gracious and the miscommunication lies with the host and hostess of the evening ie your in laws.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree, it is highly irregular. However, I would go in to it assuming that these people know that they’re not invited to the wedding. They haven’t been sent an invitation, they haven’t RSVP’d, so I highly doubt they’re expecting a last-minute invite. Rather, I’m sure your MIL just thought that she could include her friends in some aspect of the celebration (the part that she controls by virtue of hosting it). In all likelihood, they will be excited and happy for you, and will offer you their well-wishes. You and your fiance should simply graciously accept them, and that’s it.

      On the off chance that they do inquire about attending the wedding, Alicia’s advice is perfect.

    • Chocobo

      This is your mother-in-law’s problem. The rehearsal dinner is her party and therefore she may invite whom she pleases, awkward as it may be. If anyone asks about it, you can say “I’m so pleased you could be here, I had no idea you were coming tonight! What a lovely surprise!” or if the other guests ask who they are, tell the truth: “They’re a few of my mother-in-law’s friends.” If you don’t take ownership, then the faux pas — and the explanation — fall to your mother-in-law.

      But more likely, I predict that these friends already know they are not attending the wedding and are just going to support their friend in her happiness. In all likelihood, you won’t have to deal with it at all. Just relax and enjoy, if this is the biggest slip-up of your wedding you are doing very well.

  3. Becky

    My fiance and I are in our 40’s and marrying for the second time. (yes, it’s me again!) We have a well equipped household and by word of mouth (only!) are letting folks know that we do not wish to receive gifts. I still have quite a few folks ask where we are registered and what we’d like. Even after I explain our wishes some still insist. I try to be gracious and suggest that if they’d like to make some gesture, that perhaps they’d consider their favorite charity or the Cancer Society (since we have both lost a parent to cancer). Or joke that we should have registered at the local wine shop. That has worked most of the time because they have something to do if they choose.

    Now I’m being encouraged to register a few small things anyway for those closest to us who really want to do something more personal. I’ve refused because it seems hypocritical, and some may actually have their feelings hurt if they honored our request only to find out we registered anyway. (as if they were being set up to be the ‘rude’ guest that didn’t give a gift.) I don’t want to play a game with guests that if they press me enough I’ll tell them where we are registered (unlike the game you might play with your parents when you “insist” on picking up the dinner tab!). I also don’t want to be ungrateful that they care about us and want to express it with a gift. I do have some small gift suggestions I’ve shared with family and the rest of the wedding party (all 2 of them) in the hopes that they can help field some of the inquiries. (i.e. I won’t have anything with my new monogram, we’ll have plenty of minor “honey do” jobs and trips to the hardware store in our future), but that seems a little much coming from me. “we don’t want anything and aren’t registered, but here are a bunch of things you can do…” Any other tips or suggestions when we are directly pressed?

    • Elizabeth

      I think you’re doing everything right. I think your instincts are correct that you should not register after you’ve told people you wouldn’t be. It’s kind of funny – if close family wants to do something “more personal,” shouldn’t they buy you a gift that they pick out themselves that they know you’ll enjoy?? I find the registry to be the opposite of personal! But I like your suggestions of donating to a favorite charity or bringing you a favorite bottle of wine. The monogram suggestion is also good. They can pick out anything from towels to a nice canvas beach bag to a picture frame. I think you’ve done just fine giving people ideas!

      • Becky

        Horrible to say, but if only I could ask that no one give a picture frame! We’ve already received 5 and the wedding is 6 months away. They are all very lovely and thoughtful, but it is easy to get maxed out very quickly with this “go to” gift idea. And bless them, they were trying to only do a “little something” knowing we’d asked for no gifts. I know I’m striking it from my gift giving in the future except in the most rare circumstances.

    • Cyra

      Hi Becky,

      I agree, it sounds like you’re handling this perfectly! I wouldn’t register just to satisfy people. You’ve told them you have no wish for gifts, you’ve told them you don’t have a registry, and if they’re still pressing you (which, frankly, is their rudeness and therefore not your problem!), it’s perfectly fine to say something along the lines of “Well, we do have some projects around the house we want to get done, so I suppose a gift card to X would come in handy” or even “You’re so sweet to want to bless us in this way, I’m sure we’ll love whatever you choose.”

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