I have read your site for 12 years or so and am a firm believer in following etiquette rules.
I am getting married next year. My fiancé and I are paying for the wedding and we decided on a medium-sized, elegant wedding. His family wanted us to throw a huge bash with 500+ guests and we made the responsible decision to pay for what we can afford – a beautiful location with 120 guests.
I have a dilemma, however. My fiancé has 11 nieces and nephews, so there will be children at the wedding, but we do not wish to have very many children there. This is for a few reasons – the first being we don’t have enough space, the second being the cost, the third being that we want this to be an elegant affair.
An example of our dilemma: I have about 10 co-workers I will be inviting to the wedding. Most of them are single with no children, but I have a few friends that have spouses and multiple children. I have worked with these co-workers for 7+ years, but have never laid eyes on their children. I will be inviting them and their spouse, but do not wish to invite their 4+ children, whom I don’t even know. How do I handle conveying that message without being rude?
I know that most etiquette books say to list the guests names specifically on the RSVP card, but I’ve also read that most guests do not pay any attention to such details, assume the whole family is invited, and bring the children to the wedding.
The location we have reserved allows you to reserve the location at half the price if you keep the guest count under 120. We will be right at the limit and if it exceeds 120 guests, they will charge us the full price of the venue (several thousand more dollars). If everyone I am inviting does not understand that their children are not invited guests to the wedding and bring their children, we will be far over the 120 allowed guest count and we will end up paying thousands of extra dollars for children that I have never even met.
I’ve read everything I can get my hands on about how to handle it, but none of it seems quite right. I truly trust your opinion more than even Martha Stewart! Please help! 0827-13
I am assuming you want the 11 nieces and nephews in attendance but not the children of the co-workers.
At least in my sphere of weddings people do not automatically assume children are invited when the invitation is addressed only to the parents. So, you may be working yourself up about something that is not as likely to happen. It’s far more likely a guest will bring along another adult guest…that I have seen too many times.
A question I often ask couples intending to invite co-workers is, “Do you socialize outside of the work place with them?” If no, why are they on the guest list to perhaps the single biggest personal event of your life? If you have never met these people’s spouses or children, just how closely intimate are they to be worthy of an invitation to a particularly non-work related, personal event? You have chosen to have a small wedding and with that comes a more stringent criteria for who is invited and who is not and maybe you need to re-evaluate the choice to invite co-workers and spouses.
Assuming you go forward with your current guest list, the best you can hope for is that they indicate on the RSVP card that they are bringing children which means you’ll need to have an awkward conversation prior to the wedding to apprise them of the fact that the children were not invited.
The second tactic is to have assigned seating with a seating chart. It becomes glaringly obvious if there are unwanted guests in attendance when there is no seat reserved for them at an assigned table. There was a wedding crasher at my daughter’s small wedding. The poor woman was an added guest of a male usher and she apparently had no idea she had not actually been invited. The moment she realized this was inadvertently caught on video when the camera was left running while focused on the reception entrance. You can see her scanning the table seating chart several times, realizes she is nowhere on it and makes a tearful exit with the usher following after her. This did not prevent the both of them wiggling her into his table, btw.