I recently became engaged to a wonderful man, and we have just begun planning for the (affordable) wedding of our dreams. As far as I am aware, no faux pas have been committed as of yet, but in an effort to avoid one in the near future, I’m looking for an answer to my dilemma.
I grew up in a state about 9 hours from where I live now. Most of my extended family still lives there, but as we are a close family, I would love nothing more than to celebrate my wedding with them. I also have a few close friends who fall into this category. Unfortunately, due to the distance, finances, time constraints, and other issues, I am very aware that most of these people who are important to me will be unable to attend the wedding (which will be held near where I and my fiance live).
My mother suggested that after we have the ceremony here, we could make a trip there and host a celebration for those who I wanted at the ceremony but were unable to attend because of the distance. When I mentioned this idea to my fiance, his mother was adamant that this would be selfish to the extreme, and how could I even consider such an idea?
I promise, I do NOT want this celebration for the gifts. I only want to share my special day with my whole family. So here are my questions:
1) Who’s right? Is it appropriate to host a celebration for people who are unable to attend the ceremony, or does that have “gimme pig” written all over it?
2) I will be sending them invitations even though I know they will probably be unable to attend. So should I mention the second celebration in the original invitation, or wait until they respond in the negative and let them know what we are planning then?
3) If someone is able to come to the ceremony, would it still be appropriate to invite them to the celebration (thus celebrating with them twice) or not tell them about the second celebration (and risk “If I’d known you were planning that, I could have waited a few extra weeks to celebrate”)?
Please help! I don’t relish the thought of being cast into E-Hell!! 1221-12
The issue of appearing selfish and greedy can be eliminated merely by having your Mom/parents host the reception in their hometown. Your mother-in-law would be quite wrong were she to insist your mother had no right whatsoever to host a celebratory party in your honor.
You can further separate the expectation guests may have to bring a gift by calling this party something other than “wedding reception”. Do not re-enact your wedding or hint that it is a do-again in any way. Host a “Meet The Newlyweds” or a “Welcome to our family, Fiance!” party.
On the issue of wedding invitations, you should never assume someone will not attend and subsequently make the decision for them by not sending an invitation. Invite everyone you wish to be at the wedding and they will make their own decisions as to whether to travel or not. Inserting information into the wedding invitation about another party closer to them is to actually issue TWO invitations for two entirely different events. A wedding and reception is not going to be anything like the more informal affair your Mom could host, or at least they shouldn’t be similar. Some guests, like me, take the witnessing of wedding vows very seriously and if I am invited to attend the wedding, I do so as a show of my support for that union. Going to a fun party is not remotely equivalent in my opinion.
Invite every guest in your hometown to the informal party regardless of whether they attended the wedding or not. A wedding and this party are two completely separate events.
If you have photos or even a video of your wedding, it’s OK to show these in a discrete corner for those who missed the wedding. Your wedding dress on a sewing form or mannequin is a nice touch, too,for those guests who really enjoy seeing the bride’s gown. When I got married, my brother was scheduled to be married six weeks afterwards. We issued invitations to all the out of state relatives but quietly passed the word that if they could only attend one wedding, then go to my brother’s which was a larger wedding. At a family get together several months later, we showed our wedding video to all the family that had not attended. I don’t remember anyone giving us wedding gifts at this much more informal gathering.