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Rachel
Expert June 2022

Navigating the guest list...

Rachel, on October 21, 2020 at 12:03 PM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 10
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Hi, Everyone -

My fiancé and I have ran into another roadblock (once again, instigated by my MIL). Like I've said in previous posts, we anticipate having between 40-50 people attend our wedding. Much of the guest list consists of our closest family and friends. We have our list pretty much finalized. Here is where it gets messy. My MIL was talking with my fiancé and I on a group text message conversation about some of our wedding visions, etc. and we touched on the guestlist. My MIL asked my fiancé if he planned to invite her brother/his uncle (he only talks to him about a couple times a year, and they are not close at all). My fiancé was honest and responded with, "I didn't really think about it." In other words, he was trying to be gentle with his reply and give her a polite "no". She then responded with "It's your wedding, there's no obligation, I was just wondering." So we both assumed the conversation was done and there were no issues.

Fast forward to the next day...my MIL gives me a call (again, instead of going to her son and addressing this, she calls me). She tells me: "Dan (her husband, my fiance's stepdad) and I were talking and we were thinking that we'd like you to invite these 4 people (she lists off the names, one being her brother/my fiance's uncle from the conversation the day before), because there are going to be so many people from your side and Ryan's (my fiancé) Dad's side and Dan and I are going to look a little pathetic because we don't have anyone from our side of the family there, etc. etc. etc."

I didn't give her any straightforward answer because again, this was something that needed to be discussed with my fiancé and I wasn't going to speak for him. While we understand where she is coming from, the reason why we didn't have anyone from her side/her husband's side of the family is because of one simple thing - we are not close with them. My fiancé said the same thing, the people he has down on our guestlist to invite are the people that he has been the closest with, both past and present. We think that this once again has to do more with her feelings and her being concerned about their image (hence the "we're going to look pathetic" comment) at our wedding. My fiancé was also irritated at the fact that she had just told him the day before that there was no obligation to invite anyone from her side and it's our wedding. Why the sudden change?

Anyways, I know that the guestlist should ultimately be up to the bride and groom. I myself am not inviting anyone from my Dad's side of the family, either for the same reason of not being close to them. I am still cordial whenever someone from my Dad's side calls or visits (which is very rare) but I am not going to invite them to our wedding because I'd rather have closer family and friends there instead. We are not trying to shun anyone or make anyone feel bad, but my fiancé is upset that his mom/my MIL is once again trying to tell us what to do. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to navigate this?

10 Comments

Latest activity by Rachel, on October 22, 2020 at 12:23 PM
  • Sarah
    VIP September 2019
    Sarah ·
    • Flag
    I would stop trying to be subtle. If your FH doesn’t want to invite his uncle, that’s his choice, but he should have just told his mom he isn’t inviting him. Saying he didn’t think about it leaves her an opening to say “well you should” or “now you can think about it and invite him”. It sounds like your FH needs to set boundaries with his mom around the wedding and stick to them.
    • Reply
  • Rachel
    Expert June 2022
    Rachel ·
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    Yes, I agree! Luckily, they had a pretty tough conversation after this incident and he told her pretty much directly to stop getting her hands in our planning process. It was probably difficult for her to hear, but it was necessary. Now just comes the difficult task of choosing not to invite them if that’s what he wants to do (he’s a people pleaser, so letting people down is hard for him sometimes). I’ve made it clear that this is our wedding and he should have the right to pick and choose who attends.
    • Reply
  • M
    Super January 2019
    Maggie ·
    • Flag

    "Does anyone have any suggestions on how to navigate this?"

    Practice saying, "Thanks for the suggestion." And then change the subject. And intentionally limit wedding planning discussions with her from here on out. No more group chats, don't initiate any wedding talk when you are with them or talking on the phone. Find the subject she cannot resist talking about (her grandchildren, her hobbies, whatever) and ask her about that whenever she brings up the wedding.

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  • Meghan
    Rockstar October 2019
    Meghan ·
    • Flag

    Is your FMIL helping financially with your wedding? If she is not, I would bluntly tell her (or have your fiancé bluntly tell her) that the guest list is completely up to you two. Tell her you will consider her input, but only when asked for.

    If she is helping financially, I think she should be able to request a few guests she would like added to the list.

    • Reply
  • Margaret
    Master October 2020
    Margaret ·
    • Flag

    HOnestly, the easiest way to avoid these conversations is say, you know our wedding isn't until 2022, we have at the very least 10 months before we have to worry about our guest list. Let's revisit this at that time. End.of.discussion. If you don't put your foot down now, you'll never move forward peacefully.

    • Reply
  • J
    Master 0000
    Judith ·
    • Flag
    As we explained before, Dear FMIL, we are inviting only people we have seen and done things with repeatedly over the last few years. Which means none of these people will be invited. But you remind us of something we have talked about. There are a lot of people we have not seen much of since living with out parents, and after we get married, it would be nice to have a party as a reunion, one for each side. So we can catch up and talk, as we ( B & G) will have no chance to do at our wedding. Perhaps next year?
    • Reply
  • M
    Super October 2022
    Michele ·
    • Flag
    Tell your fiance about the call from his mother and the pressure she put on you. You both give her a firm 'no and end of discussion'. Do not let anyone guilt trip you into anything.
    • Reply
  • Rachel
    Expert June 2022
    Rachel ·
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    Exactly! I went to my fiancé immediately afterwards and just said something like, “Your mother is asking we do x, y, z...”. He did not take it well and put her in her place. Hopefully she knows better going forward but we have a lot of time to go between now and our wedding date. Oh, boy!
    • Reply
  • CountryBride
    Expert April 2022
    CountryBride ·
    • Flag

    Unless your MIL is paying for the wedding I don't think she should have a say. it's up to you and Your FH

    • Reply
  • Rachel
    Expert June 2022
    Rachel ·
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    I agree with you 100%, the only thing that she’s offered to help with is the rehearsal dinner as that’s custom for the groom’s side to help with. But this has my fiancé nervous as well because if she does end up helping with that piece, she may look at that as her opportunity to make dictations in other areas of the wedding planning, and then use that as her in for the guest list requests
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