Wedding Etiquette Question

This is more of an opinion hunt, so I thought this would be the best forum.

My parents have gotten over the initial shock of my engagement and are even comfortable enough to invite their work friends to the ceremony. This is a big deal. When I first told them about my comming marriage, they were ashamed to even bring it up with family. But that’s a whole other issue.

The problem now is, their group of friends brings the reception party to least at 50 people, more than double the number my fiance and I were going to invite. My mom would like to bring more. Also, my parents aren’t in the best state financially. Not like me and my fiance are any better. So, our original plans of treating everyone a to $40/plate dinner are completely screwed. I’ve asked my parents if they could maybe cover half the dinner costs, but there’s no way.

What should I do? Tell them to invite fewer? Ask the guests to chip in a bit in leu of a wedding gift? Take everyone to Denny’s? We’ve thought of having a BBQ reception since the ceremony is at the beach anyway. Anyone been to one of these? Did it come off as totally stupid or hick?


Your wedding, your dime, your guest list.

If you want to allow your parents to hijack your day, go right ahead (I’m being slightly snarky here, but you see my point), but if they’re spending your money, that’s the height of bad manners.

If you don’t have a problem with that, you should still by all means remember that this is your day and you are entitled to celebrate it as you and your fiance choose. And if I were your friend, I’d be so happy for you that it could be at a tractor pull and I wouldn’t care, and anyone who would care that it was at a tractor pull is missing the spirit of the day.
In conclusion, if you’re going to accept the large guest list, go whereever you want that will accommodate the crowd and your budget. Your day,

And congratulations.

Heh, lucky for you that my copy of Miss Manners on (Painfully Proper) Weddings came in today.

Do you really want your parents’ co-workers there? Do you know them and consider them to be friends? If so, you will have to reduce the per-plate cost of the wedding. If not, you are not in the wrong to exclude those with whom you do not have a social relationship.

BTW, I think a BBQ reception at the beach would be just lovely. Make sure you tell people what to wear - no fair fooling people into wearing high heeled pumps to the beach.

What should I do? Tell them to invite fewer?
Yes. Ideally you would have originally told them they could invite X number of people, but that ship has sailed. Hopefully they have not already actually invited their hordes and you can tell (not ask) them to cut back to a reasonable number.

Ask the guests to chip in a bit in leu of a wedding gift?
Good Lord, absolutely not! This would be the height of bad taste.

Take everyone to Denny’s?
If that would please you, but it sounds like it wouldn’t. If you end up allowing your parents to invite so many people, you may need to do a simple appetizer or cake-and-punch reception instead.

Thanks for the advice, everyone. My parents are weird. My dad is pretty close with his work friends, but I’ve only met a couple of them. My mom has a history of random behavior, so he was afraid to bring them home. I think I’m warming up to the BBQ idea. I’m not exactly certain how to tell them how to deal with inviting some of their closer friends but excluding some of the others.

We did the BBQ thing. Summer wedding in a park. It went over like gangbusters. Had the best man flipping burgers in a tux while I tossed the beer around.

Actually, I read an article a few weeks ago ( I think it was in the local paper, so no link) that stated it is a growing trend to ask guests to contribute financially to the wedding or honeymoon. One of the grooms featured in the story stated that, as the average wedding costs something like $40,000, the guests should contribute because they “need to be aware of the expense”. :smack:

Here’s a similar, but not the same, article:

Then it is a growing trend that is in bad taste. The only legitimate expense for a wedding is whatever the marriage license costs. Everything else is frill. Don’t throw a wedding party that you can’t afford.

From the cited article:

That’s not an invitation, it’s a shakedown. How incredibly rude.

“Hi, everybody, welcome to our wedding. We’re really happy you’re here. Before we get started, we’d just like to explain something so there isn’t any confusion. We didn’t have a lot of money for the ceremony and the reception, so we wanted to keep the guest list small. However, our families know a lot of people, and thought it was important to share this event, so we decided to compromise, and instead reduced the per-person expense in order to have everybody here. After the ceremony has concluded, please go see Steve — wave, Steve, so they know who you are — see Steve to receive your stick of gum. Okay, let’s get started.”

Hijack: Scarlett67, I’ve often seen you dispensing etiquette advice on this board, and have always agreed with you. Thank goodness that there is still someone out there who won’t wear black to a wedding or include registry information on an invitation. Way to fight ignorance!

Pullett, in case you’re wondering, the proper way to tell somebody that they are not invited to the wedding (if they ask, that is) is to say that it’s a very small wedding with only close family and a few intimate friends attending. Again, according to Miss Manners, you could be inviting everyone in the state except for that one person, and it would still be a ‘small wedding’.

Cervaise, that is perfect!

I vote for either BBQ or what my sister did-- sandwiches. The caterer had all sorts of delicious breads and yummy fixings, plus salads galore to choose from. Sounds a bit odd but it went over quite well, there wasn’t a single person who couldn’t find something they liked. Then she got the biggest most delicious cakes ever (which is why I think she was really getting married in the first place).

My parents had a very affordable, nice afternoon tea and sandwiches sort of thing. I’m sensing a trend in my family… Anyway, they never once regretted not spending a bazillion bucks, Mom said it was much better to get the marriage off to a good start, not worrying about being in debt.

Thanks again everyone. Talked about it, some more, with the fiance. We’ll go with the BBQ idea. Food in this part of town seems to be cheaper than normal, so we can easily feed 50 people for about $300. The inability to contribute to the wedding has been a real hit to my dad’s pride. He’s in a depression already for a variety of things. Add on being unable to throw a big shindig when your only child ties the knot… So I’m trying to minimize the Disappointments Pile for him. Anyway, the BBQ solves it. I was just worried that it might be as tasteless as asking people to chip in. Thanks for the input!

I agree with “your wedding, your expense, your way.” I don’t even understand why your parents would be inviting all their work friends to your wedding. I didn’t even invite my work friends to my wedding.

The bbq on the beach sounds wonderful. Weddings are becoming less formal (but you still don’t ask the guests for money - that will never stop being tacky), and more of a party than a stuffy affair.

Do what feels right for you and your fiance. We had to tell my sister her kids were not invited to our adult reception - you just tell them, flat out.

The BBQ on the beach sounds fantastic. Way better than yet another catered dinner.

But I’ll echo the question–why is your dad inviting his work friends? My parents have a ton of friends, but I just didn’t want a great big wedding. So we chose on the basis of who were closer to me. One group I had grown up with. They’re like my aunts and uncles, so of course they were invited. Another group were folks my parents had gotten to know around the time I left for college, so while I certainly knew them, I didn’t have an emotional attachment to them, so we left them out. (They weren’t offended, AFAIK)

If you’re talking a total of 50 people, then what percentage of the group will be people you don’t know and don’t care about–and who your dad obviously doesn’t feel all that comfortable around. If your parents feel “ashamed” of you and/or your fiancee and/or your marriage around these people, then they’re going to start making subtle or not-so-subtle demands to change things to be less embarrassing to them.

As for what to tell them, follow what Mithril said–“it’s a small wedding.” If they protest, your parents can just do the “kids today :rolleyes:” thing. To press it further would be the height of rudeness.

And I’ll take the bait (you guys are so polite!): Exactly why do/did your parents disapprove?

IMHO, your father wasn’t thoughtful inviting people you don’t know, not only because you have to foot the bill, but because then these people, who don’t know you, will feel obliged to buy wedding gifts. If I had been invited, my thought would be “Great - now I either have to hurt the father’s feelings by declining his invitation, or spring for a weddinggift for someone I don’t even know”.

The barbeque sounds like a great idea, no matter the number of guests - especially for a beach wedding. Enjoy yourselves!


Hold up a second. From past experience when the wedding invitations are sent out, there is normally a separate card stating “reception to follow at zyx at timeframe”. **Not all wedding guests were invited to the reception party. **

If your parents want people to attend the wedding that is fine, however they can’t just invite someone to a reception without costs involved. Receptions are normally for family and friends or close family ties, not for anyone and everyone from someone else’s office. I would tell your parents they can invite people to the wedding but the reception is offlimits due to budget restraints. Unless they want to pony up the funds to cover their “co-workers” meals.

Provided there is enough seating at the place of the “vows”, there normally isn’t a charge associated, so let them come to the wedding. I would explain to your parents that the reception has a 25 person limit which has been reached and no others will be allowed in.

Happy Scrappy Hero Pup the intriguing idea of a wedding/tractor pull is almost enough to make me wanna get married. :smiley:

Pullet if you’re cool with your father’s co-workers being there and can swing it with the bbq, then go for it. It sounds like a great idea following a beach wedding. Best wishes to the both of ya!

My fiance and I met when I was 15. He’s 9 years older than me. In retrospect, it is damned creepy. Parents objected strongly and I can’t say I blame them. However, we’ve been the most stable couple I’ve ever met. We’ve been dating for 8 years and living together for the last 5 with nary a complaint. We’re eachother’s best friends and are exceedingly happy together. I’m the first person he’s ever dated and he’s my first boyfriend. So, it’s not your typical preditory situation.

The parents have gradually gotten more comfortable once they saw that I wasn’t shirking my education, slipping into a life of drugs or alcohol, or leaning on them for cash.

So, things are looking up.

The BBQ’s looking good. Some of the extra 30 people my parents would like to bring are old friends of the family that they haven’t seen in years who are flying in especially. We moved away from their home town when I was little and there hasn’t been a good reason for either side to spend all the money to visit often. I’d feel rotten telling them they had to find somewhere else for dinner.

The guys from work probably would know me better if my mom wasn’t so unpredictable. Sometimes she totally minunderstands and overreacts in social situations. It can be deeply mortifying, moreso for my dad with his strong sense of propriety. After years of this, my dad has gotten more and more gun shy about mixing home and work. This BBQ, being much more casual than a sit-down dinner, could be a good oppertunity for my dad to relearn how to relax when home and work meet. Especially as my mom has finally decided to seek professional help.

I think I just got caught up in all the Wedding Planning claptrap. See, the wedding is in Hawaii. Our families are there. Our original plan was to take everyone to a dinner/luau after the ceremony with fire dancers and everything. Next to this, a BBQ just seemed so mundane. But, BBQ’s really more in our style anyway. That’s the last time I read People magazine’s wedding issue.

Maybe I am in the minority, but I never go to these things (weddings/anniversary/graduation parties) to eat.
I usually eat before I go, or make plans to eat on the way home.
Maybe that is just me.

That said, nobody says you have to lay out a spread that will feed 50 lumberjacks.

I personally would go for some light food…do a nifty cake, have a stack of sandwiches arranged nicely on a few plates, do some colorful simple salads.
End of story.
If anyone has the gall to bitch about not getting a filet, you are at the beach so hand them a fishing pole and tell them happy angling.

It is your day. Do it right, but don’t worry about Uncle Earl getting a belly full of food and a beer buzz.

It is all about YOU!

And congratulations!!!