I have been wrestling with this problem in my mind, and I figured it would be best to ask the etiquette maven, herself.
Due to having most of our extended families far away in different states, my fiance and I decided on a destination wedding. Due to the fact that not everyone can make it, my mother has been encouraging me to warm up to the idea of having a shower of some kind to give people something wedding-related they can attend, hosted by my future sister-in-law (FSIL) and/or future mother-in-law (FMIL). They have offered to host this, and, after some initial trepidation (I don’t want people to feel obligated to buy us gifts, and I certainly don’t want to spend time during the party opening them in front of people- both are implied by “shower”), I agreed.
Part of the debate is over what to call this party- perhaps this is a separate issue? My fiance wants to call it an engagement party (but it is two months before the wedding, 10 months after we got engaged, so quite late for that, in my opinion), FSIL wants to call it our at-home reception (which I don’t want, because it is before the wedding, and because if it were a reception, I would be planning it myself), and FMIL and I are struggling with alternative, more appropriate names.
But on to the actual etiquette dilemma. FMIL wants us to invite anyone and everyone we like, which is very generous of her, but when I expressed that I think it would be rude to invite those who aren’t invited to the wedding itself, both she and my parents protested, saying that we should invite “everyone” (meaning people from work, neighbors, etc). These are people who would never fly across the ocean for our very intimate wedding, but if we were getting married locally, would come. Both sets of parents are saying it would be more rude not to invite Mrs. So-and-so from down the block to our yet-to-be-named party.
What do you think? Should we invite people who we weren’t planning on inviting to the wedding? Should we then invite them to the wedding itself? As I said, I can’t imagine any of these people would fly to Europe for our wedding, so perhaps it would be weird to even invite them. I could use your advice on this one, and, if you are on my side about trimming the list to those invited to the wedding, how to talk to them about it. The “etiquette dictates” approach has already failed. 0924-13
I began twitching right at the first paragraph. What this party is named does matter as it will direct the guests as to what to expect and what is expected of them. Call it a shower and they will bring gifts. One NEVER invites people to any wedding related function that has an expectation of gifts being given when those same guests will NOT be invited to the actual wedding. Inviting supposed friends to a shower but not the wedding screams, “Your presents are appreciated but your presence at the wedding is not.”
Inviting people to an engagement party but not the wedding is deceptive in that it misleads them into believing they will be invited to the wedding. And in your case, the celebration of the engagement that occurred 10 months earlier is a bit late and gives rise to speculation that this is yet another material asset acquisition scheme under the guise of wanting neighbors and friends to “share the joy”. Let’s be real….if you *really* wanted them to “share the joy” and be a part of witnessing the wedding vows, these guests would be invited to the wedding. What your parents are suggesting is offering these neighbors and friends a mere taste of the wedding festivities.
I detect some double mindedness on the issue of what type of wedding to have and how many guests that vision of your wedding involves. Whether a wedding is “intimate” is irrelevant to the actual location it is held. To have a purposely intimate wedding with a limited guest list or a destination wedding that will restrict the guest list by virtue of being too expensive/too far for guests to travel means that you have decided to similarly limit the size of the events closely associated with a wedding. It’s as if your families want the trappings (and benefits) of a large wedding yet are constrained by your desire for a destination wedding to Europe.
Since you appear to have intractable family members who have no consideration for your perspective, you don’t have many good options that will be easy.
Option 1: Change your destination wedding to one local to your home. My daughter’s wedding was intimately small yet all the family traveled from Arizona, New York and Kentucky for it.
Option 2: I suggest you invite every one of these shower/engagement/at-home “guests” to your destination wedding and let the chips fall where they may as to who actually attends or not. At least you will have extended a sincere invitation to *really* join you and your fiance in witnessing your marriage vows.
Option 3: Appeal to family to host this party after you are married as this would be the most appropriate time to celebrate a marriage with people who were not invited to the wedding itself.