Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Friend's destination wedding - do I have to go?

June 2011

I'm in a sticky situation, and I hope you all can give me some advice. My best friend and her boyfriend are talking about getting engaged and she has discussed wanting to have a destination wedding in Hawaii, possibly this winter. She has repeatedly asked me if I could come and although I said yes once, I have beyond that been pretty evasive. I don't want to string her along, but in reality I really don't want to go. I looked up trips to Hawaii, and it would cost minimum $1,000 for flight and hotel for only two and a half days. Adding in food and misc costs, I could easily spend $1,500 to go to this wedding. My husband and I are ok financially and technically I could afford it (and she knows this), but we have made a recent commitment to start saving for a potential baby, and that is very important to us. Honestly, the whole situation with her choosing a destination wedding leaves me pretty upset in that I feel forced to spend money to go somewhere and do something I really don't want to.

To make things more complicated, my friend and I both went to another friend's destination wedding in St. Thomas last summer and I'm afraid she would be hurt that I went to another friend's destination wedding but not hers. She is very sensitive and my closest friend, and I don't want to ruin this friendship. Should I just bite the bullet and go to her wedding because she is my best friend? If not, what can I say to her without damaging our friendship? conflicted maid of honor

Your lack of enthusiasm is what I noticed more than anything. This is your closest friend? I'd think you'd be thrilled to be there for this big event in her life.Maybe you don't approve of the fiance?

I'm in one of my oldest friend's black tie wedding this summer in the Hamptons (they live in CA, but all their family is back east). So we're paying for flights for my whole family, hotels, car rental, the dress, shoes, tux, etc.'s a hunk of change and yes, there is a huge list of things we should spend that $$$ on. However, she's my best friend and so I am putting on that satin floor- length lavender mermaid dress in 100 degree heat & I'm going to suck it up, because I love her. When I got married 2 years, she was there for me (though she was broke and in the middle of a break-up, etc.) and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Honestly, if you have the money to go, you should go. If you don't have the money, you should talk to her about that. Perhaps she can help with the expenses as part of the wedding budget. I think if a couple chooses a destination wedding, they should understand that if they want certain people to be there, they should offer to help a bit. But, if this is your closest friend, then you should ask yourself why you don't want to go... anon

My best advice to you -- as a woman who also has a very sensitive best friend -- is to suck it up and go. You said she is your closest friend. Money is replaceable, and although a good for you! is in order for saving for a child up front, I gather you are not pregnant right now. Don't miss out. You will have a great time, and it means a lot to her. When times get tough, and they inevitably will in any family, you will be so happy to have a close girlfriend to turn to.

Also, I completely understand the resentment over her planning a wedding in an expensive, exotic place, but it is her wedding, her day, and hopefully this will be her one and only marriage ceremony. Every woman needs a best friend

Honesty is the best policy. I would share your feelings with her, especially the reason why you are having reservations. But tell her now and not later when the planning is really under way because your initial availability might affect her plans.

I felt compelled to reply with a post to you because I was the maid of honor in a wedding with a best friend and we're not even friends anymore. We had a big falling out and we don't even speak anymore. Also, I was a bridesmaid for another best friend and after kids we have totally lost touch. I guess what I'm saying is, in the end it is your decision and you should not have regrets about it. Follow your gut.

It would be a sad situation if you spent the money against your better judgement and then didn't have a good attitude about it and couldn't be there 100% for your friend. That would be a lose-lose for everyone. Be honest with your closest friend. She might react, but then again she might surprise you with an understanding response. good luck!

You can afford to go to your best friends' wedding in Hawaii? I'd go. Start now putting some money away every month to go towards the trip. And maybe she will decide not to go to Hawaii for her wedding. It IS many months away. With all you describe, I don't think you can justify not going because you just don't want to spend money going to her destination wedding. anon

There is really no way to get out of it without hurting her feelings and damaging the friendship. I think you should just suck it up and go, unless you really don't mind creating a rift between you. That said, I find destination weddings totally annoying. In fact, I'm not crazy about weddings period!!! I eloped!

If she's your best friend, and you can afford it, you should go. Is it worth losing your friendship over? Or is there something else going on? Maybe you are not as close as you think. anon

I would go to the wedding. It is a short time, but maybe you could extend it for a few days and make it a romantic trip with you and your husband (and even start trying for that baby you want...) Then the cost of the airline ticket will feel a little more worth it to you. You say she's your best friend. Would she do it for you? Is this a friendship you value and want to keep for the long term? If yes, I would as you say ''bite the bullet'' and go. -Wish I had an excuse to go to Hawaii!!!

The short answer is no, you don't have to go. And when I first read the title of your question, I was ready to tell you about the wedding in Europe of a couple of our best friends, to which we didn't go. But the circumstances were very different. We could not afford to go, at all. And they chose Europe to be with family there. So we wished them well, and celebrated at their California reception.

But your situation is different. Maid of Honor? Oh dear, that would be hard to back out of without sending a very strong message. And you just went to St. Thomas? Oh dear. Precedent. I think if I were in your shoes, I'd bite the bullet and go.

Why? Because weddings are symbolic as well as logistical. Your friend set the bar pretty high in the logistics department. But it's the symbolic that will last you both a life time. Act the way you want to be remembered. anonymous

Yikes - this does sound complicated. I think a decision sooner rather than later is better.

Personally, I believe in following your gut with regard to money. It sounds like you might have enough money in the bank for the trip, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you have enough money for childcare until school, afterschool care, college, retirement, etc. If you actually have money for all that and you just don't feel like going, part of me thinks you should just go for the friendship. (but that's a pretty big threshold and part of me doesn't think so) Being ''conventional'' is putting a lot of people in less than ideal financial situations.

And I think that you'd have to explain why things are different for you now than they were a year ago. And I think it would be nice to host some kind of party for her here (bridal shower or a bachelorette etc) And give a nice gift.

For me, It would be pretty awkward to say these things if I wasn't also following a generally frugal path in other ways. .good luck. not a fan of convention

It seems to me that your friend has been asking you repeatedly b/c she is looking for assurance that you will be able to attend if she chooses this option. You have the perfect opportunity to kindly say NOW something like ''You know how me and insert hubby name have been wanting to have a baby and we really need to save right now. I REALLY want to be with you at your wedding but couldn't go to Hawaii if you decide to do it there BUT I also want you to have the wedding you want so I fully support whatever decision you make. I love you and want you to be happy and if you get married there, we will just have to have a great big night out to celebrate after you come back and you'd better take lots of pics.''

If you hedge around and let her think you can go b/c you have no backbone to tell the truth to YOUR FRIEND, and then she decides to have it there , you have only yourself to blame when she's pissed off later. hello honesty?

I hate destination weddings too! It seems very self- centered to ask people to spend so much money to prove they love you enough to go to your wedding.

I would tell your friend that you and your husband are going to start trying for a baby and since you don't know what the future holds, you can't commit to going to her destination wedding. Anon

Just suck it up and go. Once you have a baby you'll have all the excuses (and reasons) not to travel anywhere, so if you're planning to start trying for a baby soon (that's the impression I had, anyway) your freewheeling days are numbered!

And for comparison and context: one of my close friends and her soon-to-be fiance came to my destination wedding abroad; 18 months later I did not go to her wedding across the U.S. -- because it was the morning after my grad school graduation, my parents had flown in from another country to be with me, and I had an 8-month- old baby. But still, I think that decision -- she was kind of sad and annoyed -- was a bit of a death blow to the friendship. We didn't have a falling out of any sort, but she faded away and I did too and now we're basically no longer in touch. And it's really too bad, because she and her husband were great friends of ours.

So, yes, you'll probably get replies telling you your friend needs to toughen up, but if you want to keep the friendship, go.

How much flexibility do you have on vacation time? Can you get airline tickets on Can you fly in or out on a cheaper day? Do you have to stay at the wedding hotel? (I'm assuming it's a pricey one and that jacks up your cost estimate). There are a lot of ways to squeeze more out of a destination wedding trip. Been there and regrettably didn't do it

You're not OBLIGATED but it's not clear why you are so negative about an opportunity to be present at one of life's most significant moments with people who matter to you.

Should you skip the wedding and alienate your friend by your coldness & rather lame excuses, or go grumpily, pretending to be happy for her, inside seething at how selfish she is and how hard it's going to be to have a baby?

I'd say skip both options if your goal is keeping this friend. Ordinarily I would just say, she's your friend, so be honest and say you can't afford it. But your posting hints that there is something else going on with you, and you should sort that out ASAP first.

--You don't want to go because you want to start saving for a baby but it's not as if you have to choose between the wedding and the baby, is it? Is the wedding that significant a roadblock to your own plans?

--You went to another, more expensive destination wedding but it's not clear why that one was fine with you and this one is not. And you know your friend will think that, too.

So I have the impression you're upset about something beyond the destination wedding. Write it and sort it out as best as possible, then be honest with your friend, and soon.

P.S. We have been to 2 destination events in Hawaii when we were completely broke & unemployed. Totally worth it, IMHO. --No Complaints

I hate destination weddings. I think they are the ultimate in selfishness. The idea that your friends and family will spend huge sums of money, use vacation time, deal with childcare issues (for people with kids) for your wedding is ridiculously self centered and insensitive. No one really has an extra 2,000 (or more if you are bringing your spouse) laying around, especially in this economy and people want to plan their own vacations if they can afford to take one. I feel the same way about ''destination'' bridal showers.

That being said, this is your closest friend and that really makes it difficult. I don't think I would be able to go through all the planning and wedding discussions with her, much less the actual wedding, without being resentful. I would talk to her about my feelings in the most sensitive way possible. There is a Buddhist rule for right speech - is it true, is it kind, and is it necessary. Using these three factors - is it necessary to talk to her about this to keep your friendship honest and free from resentment? If so, talk to her in a way that is honest and kind (to yourself and her).

The short answer is (IMHO) - no, you don't have to go, but whatever you do, do it in a way that honors your friendship and your own feelings.

Good Luck. Antidestination wedding

If you can afford it right now, go. There's no way to refuse to go without hurting her feelings. You are going to need her support when the baby comes, so look at it as an investment. Besides, HI is awsome and I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time. anon

I really hate destination weddings and the dilemma that they force on potential attendees. The bride and groom are being selfish by making such a choice!

My husband's business partner had an out of the country destination wedding at a very expensive resort. We spent more than $2,500 on plane tickets, 4 nights at the resort, meals, etc. Not to mention, in our case, we had to arrange childcare for our son for several days, which was no small feat (in the end, we had to fly my mom out and she looked after him in our house).

I was resentful of being put in this situation, even though we could afford it, because I felt like we were obligated to attend and that they were dictating to us how to spend our money! Not attending simply wasn't an option given the professional connection that my husband had to his partner. With the possible exception of my best friend or a close relative, as a rule, I would never attend a destination wedding. And if it was someone I was close to, I would attend only begrudgingly, again not wanting to feel forced into paying a lot of money to see my friend get married.

But in your situation, as this is your best friend, I feel like you really should attend if you can swing it financially AND if you care about keeping this person in your life. Not going will hurt your friendship. If it was anyone but a best friend or close relative, I would completely support you not attending. (I also say this because you referenced going to another friend's wedding last year in St Thomas.)

My final advice to people who think destination weddings are cool: please be more considerate to your guests. Even those who can afford to go, might be saving for something else or may wish to go somewhere else. You will almost certainly cause resentment among some friends and family, even if they don't show it. Been there, done that

I really don't understand destination weddings. Why would anyone want to make it so difficult for a friends to attend? The tradition of a honeymoon, going someplace AFTER the wedding, makes more sense to me.

So you say that your friend has asked you repeatedly about this wedding. Seems to me that she is trying to get at the truth, and you are withholding it. Your friendship is being hurt by the lack of honesty. If you can't be honest with her about it, are you really friends? Just tell her the truth. Due to budget considerations, you prefer not to go on an expensive trip. If that damages your friendship, there is something wrong with the relationship. anon

I think you should go. This is your best friend, and she is (hopefully) getting married only once. Although there is a somewhat selfish component to holding a destination wedding and expecting people to go, you are not just ''people'' - you are her closest friend. If your sibling were getting married, you would go where you needed to go and be there for him/her, unless the cost were a totally insurmountable obstacle (which it's not in this case). There's a short list of people in your life that you need to make this level of commitment to, but I would put a best friend on that list. You have to decide if you would, as well, but I can't imagine that you could say no to this without it hurting your friendship.

This may put it into perspective: we are going to a wedding in my husband's family this summer. It is in the mainland US, not a destination wedding, but in another city because that's where the bride's family lives. So, not ''selfish'' in terms of location, but still far away and expensive. We will probably spend at least as much as you will to go to Hawaii. My point is, you might have spent that much to go to her or other friends'/family members' weddings if they were in other cities. But we are paying it, and temporarily postponing other financial priorities, because it is family and we need to be there. Again, the list of people we would spend this much money on is not long, but when the time comes, we need to spend it.

One issue though: it's a bit concerning that you're not able to talk to her about this directly. Why is she your best friend if you can't confide in her, or at least ask her more questions about her plans? If she's not even engaged yet, nothing is finalized about the wedding plans. You should at least try to have an open conversation with her if you can. (How set is Hawaii? Why Hawaii? How many guests does she expect to have? What role would you play, if any?)

Saving money (for your future child) is a worthy goal, but so is maintaining adult relationships that you'll rely on for the rest of your life. Friend

First - if you really can't afford, don't want to spend the money -- You have to be honest and just tell her that you would love to go, but that you and your husband have a financial agreement/budget plan and no room for additional expenses and then buy her a nice gift.

But I will tell you that I go to Hawaii often and do not spend the amounts you are speaking of...but it is still cash out the door.

I have fare alerts set up with travel websites and buy my tickets when I get an airfare alert below $350 RT. Or I use Priceline which I love and bid about $250-$300 RT.

Second. I either use priceline for my hotels ($90 a night waterfront 3* hotels) or ($70 not waterfront 3 or 4*). These are the rates I typically get....

Or I use VRBO and rent a condo or apt. for much less. My last trip to Maui I stayed one block from the beach in a master bedroom suite for $65 a night. Basically it was a vacation beach house split into two apartments with separate parking and entrances. The room also had a mini fridge and microwave and king bed with access use of nice backyard and BBQ.

So for me and my husband we had a 4 night trip to Hawaii for about $1000 total.

If you have never tried Priceline, check the website Biddingfortravel which trains people how to use Priceline if they are timid about trying it.

I could not have traveled to Europe twice and Australia twice without Priceline. Myst

yes you have to go. She's your best friend. a simple answer

No, you don't have to go, but you give up the maid of honor thing and you have to tell her the truth, it's too expensive for two days. Tell her sooner than later. I didn't go to my cousin's wedding in Mexico. My husband doesn't get paid vacation so between the 4 days total(1 day for travel each way and two days at the wedding) airfare, couples only resort and loss of income would have been about $7500. I sent our regrets and dropped about $250 on her wedding gift off her registry. No guilt. not a fan of destination events...

Best friends are hard to come by. I say go to her wedding. friends are nice

I think you should bite the bullet and go to the wedding. Your friend will be really hurt if you don't, esp since you went to your other friend's wedding in St Thomas. I didn't invite certain people to my wedding, and they never forgave me, and in retrospect I wish i had. I think you need to just do this for your friend-and maybe think about you'd feel if it were reversed? Would you be upset if she didn't come to your wedding? Some things, like weddings and funerals, are just really important events, which people remember forever. anon

What were the circumstances of your wedding? Did you friend spend above a thousand dollars to get there, and be a part of it? Plus, the present? Plus, the dress? If you had a low key wedding, and she didn't have to shell that much out, then maybe you could have a heart to heart with her. I mean, with this economy, it's understandable that you would want to save to have a baby. However, if your friend shelled out a ton of dough for your wedding, then maybe you had better suck it up, and go. Evelyn

If she really is your closest friend, I think you have to go. 10 or 20 years from now are you really going to miss that $1500 (you said you could afford it)? If you had not gone to that other destination wedding you would have a reason saying no, but since you went to your other friend's wedding it makes hers seem less important. If that's how she sees it that could really hurt your friendship.

I had a destination wedding, but didn't tell anyone until I got home (we eloped). Maybe you could convince her to do the same. We liked the intimacy of our wedding being only about us. But I know others choose destination weddings for the exclusivity, knowing that only the people they are closest to will attend. That makes your attendance all the more important.

I say this as someone in my early forties, who has slowly drifted away from my closest friends. Marriage, babies, being on the other side of the country, all have taken a toll on my friendships. We still speak on the phone, but we don't have the freedom to just hop on a plane and do something impulsive and life-changing together like in our 20s. This time of your life is special. Spend your money with your girlfriends while you can. There will be plenty of time to spend it on babies.

I have a friend who hopped on a plane to come visit me and cheer me up when she heard I had broken up with my college boyfriend. That was expensive for her at the time, but it was the most generous thing anybody has ever done for me and pulled me out of a dark place. She will forever be someone I consider my truest friend, even though I hardly see her anymore. The money she spent on that trip is a gift I will carry the rest of my life! (plus she brought me a gift, which was so not needed, because to me SHE was the gift) So yes, sometimes a trip is more than a trip, and you might not know at the time how important it is. anon

How much is your friendship worth? Seems since you went to St. Thomas for a lesser friend it is hard to not go to Hawaii. See if you can't find some package deal to stay at a cheaper hotel with air included. Could be by Fall the wedding plan will change so don't get stuck with tickets. If it were me and I had the $1500 I would just go and enjoy the time in Hawaii as a romantic get away if nothing else-maybe start on the baby plan while there?? We got married in Hawaii and it was a lot of fun. anon

She's your closest friend, and your best friend, and you can afford it, and you went to St. Thomas last year, and... what? You hate Hawaii?

Yes, of course you have to go. And you have to enjoy yourself. You can go to Hawaii on vacation this year, what a great thing to do to support your best friend. Seriously, I hope she doesn't read this.

You'll have fun, come on. Do some bargain hunting for flights and places to stay. You CAN do it for less than $1500.

Are you this way with all your friends? No, just with your best friend, right?

If you genuinely think the $1K or $1.5 K is going to kill your opportunity to save for a baby, you might as well shoot yourself now, because you'll need to have a vacation after the baby too. And honestly, you'll have more fun with it now, pre-baby. Seriously. I suppose you can ask her if she really wants to have it in Hawaii, if she is your best friend. Or if you're really her best friend (do I sound doubtful?), you could tell her that of course you will go to her wedding. You would rather go to her wedding here in California, but you will go and have a great time, and you're wondering why you spent that money on that other friend in St. THomas, you would have skipped that had you known that your best friend was about to get married in Hawaii. Your best friend wants you there. Figure out a way to be there.

I would say go to the wedding if the friendship is important to you.

I also think you can travel for less money and go to the weddign but also save some moeny. I'm pretty sure you can get a ticket for about $250-$300 if you get it well in advance (I just traveled Honolulu San Francisco in March for $360, but only bought 2 weeks ahead of time). If you sign up with Hawaiian airlines, they send you offers all the time. You can also stay at a decent hotel like Queen Kapiolani at the end of Waikiki (a little more quiet than in the center of Waikiki) for about $100 or if you want to stay in a less crowded place, you can go to the Windwards side and stay in a vrbo. There are places for couples starting at 99p/n too. So, the total for flight and hotel could be about $500 for 2 nights, and then try to be conservative with the meals and miscellaneous spending. If you go to a vrbo that sleeps 4 with another couple and has a kitchen, you may be able to stay within a $700-$750 budget for your whole trip... If you go this route remember to bring your Safeway card (the other supermarkets, Foodland and Times, are local).

You may also want to stay 2 more days and make a vacation out of this, Waikiki is a busy place (I still like it, though, the waves are awesome for newbie surfers), but there are awesome places to visit in Oahu (Turtle Bay, Kailua, Sandy Beach, North Shore/Haleiwa, the Botanical Garden in Kaneohe... and in Honolulu there are cool places to go like the Bishop Museum, Shangri-La,and the museum of Modern Art). Good luck! Hawaii lover

Since your friend is not even engaged yet, NOW is the time to backpedal about what she may have heard as your commitment to attend her hypothetical wedding in Hawaii. Just start saying, ''it might be too expensive for us, we'll have to see, and hey, have you looked at some nice places in Oakland?'' (j/k) The bottom line is, if your ''best''friend has a destination wedding and you don't go, the friendship will be damaged. (Speaking from experience on both sides, I know that a friend who doesn't attend your wedding - regardless of what they consider to be a very good reason - falls much lower in your esteem. Weddings are a very big deal to the two main players.)

If you bluntly say you need to save money for your hypothetical baby, she will be hurt that you are choosing a nonexistent person over her (which you are, of course). It sounds to me like you may not value this friendship as much as you once did, which is okay... people change. Just realize if you don't go, the friendship will likely be over. Personally, I would go, stay longer, and make it my annual vacation. What's so bad about an excuse to go to Hawaii?! I WANT to be invited to a destination wedding!

I know you got a lot of advice, but I was surprised by the number of people who said you should go if you wanted your friendship to last. I don't think that way at all. I have missed the weddings of many close friends because at the time I didn't have the money to fly to her or his wedding, my work schedule wouldn't allow it, or I'd just had a child. I also made it to the weddings of other friends. Looking over my current friendships I find no correlation between how close I am to a friend and whether I was present at her or his wedding and I am shocked that so many people think that way. Weddings are nice and fun to attend, but they should not be considered obligatory. Many of my friends are now having destination 40th birthday parties and I am missing many of these too. If it doesn't fit your budget or work for your family I urge you not to stress about not attending. Talk to your friend -- if she is a good friend, she will understand. like to save my travel for vacations

i'm posting from the perspective of a person who HAD a destination wedding. the short answer is: no, you don't have to go, but you better tell her soon! i should note that i'm not a wedding-obsessed person, perhaps even unconventional by some. i refused to allow my now-hubby waste his money on an engagement ring, paid $55 each for our wedding rings, got married in sport sandals on a beach, etc... however, the wedding was very, very classy, approved by our formal/traditional parents.

to all the haters of destination weddings, i had one because my hubby and i lived in two different cities (LA and SF bay) while our families lived near sacramento area and NY, with my brother in chicago. since at least half the family and friends had to travel anyway, we decided to have a destination wedding in hawaii. we also specifically stated in the invitation that we understood if they couldn't come. we did not want anyone to experience huge financial burdens.

i asked my closest female friend to perform the ceremony, and she was happy to do it. (i played the piano at hers, btw.) besides not alerting people in advance far enough, i unfortunately booked our wedding during peak travel time, so the flight cost was outrageous. since making a family vacation for 4 out of the wedding was expensive for her esp when her family was in hawaii the year before, she decided that only she'd fly out for a few days. (btw, they're financially successful.) i told her that while i truly appreciate her effort to be at the wedding, i do not want my wedding to be a burden on her in anyway. given that she's one of my best friends, why would i ever want to inconvenience her so much? so i ended up talking her out of coming, and my hubby's sister performed the ceremony instead.

our wedding had maybe 35 people, most of them family members. yes, it was inconvenient and expensive for attendees, and i faced lots of grumbles. however, everyone ultimately had an awesome hawaiian vacation on many levels that i won't get into here. sure, maybe it would've been nicer if a few more of our best friends made it, but a wedding is really a family affair while many guests are there for obligatory reasons. (be honest - i know many of you moaned about having to attend another wedding.)

if your friendship is as strong as your claim, you should be able to speak to her honestly about your hesitations. i guess there's a chance that she's in full bridezilla mode, but if your friendship ended by this episode, perhaps you two weren't as close and solid as you assumed. if you're willing to suck it up and go, enjoy it but don't be resentful. make a fun vacation out of it. otherwise, talk to her. quickly. - aloha bride

Slightly different situation, as mine was not a ''destination'' wedding, but I have friends from far flung places. Those that made the trek mean a lot more to now than those that didn't. I know this is mean and petty, but there's something about not going to wedding of a best friend that puts this friendship on dry ice. I offered to pay their way, so perhaps that is a bit different, but it still seems crazy not to go to a best friend's wedding. (It's one of the most important days of their lives).

That said, you MUST be honest with your friend about your hesitation. It's a lot of money to spend and while you will bite the bullet if she insists on destination wedding, if most of her family and friends are in one place, and she cares about having them at the wedding then she think about this. Been there

I know you already got a ton of responses, but there was an aspect of your post that didn't seem to draw much attention that I wanted to comment on. You say that you went to a destination wedding just last summer (of someone less close to you than your best friend), and that you are financially fairly stable. What has changed is your recent commitment to start preparing to have a baby. Of course this is a huge milestone for you and your husband. On an emotional level, it may feel to you as if going to this wedding will get in the way of you having a baby, or as if your friend is asking you to choose between her and your future child. Neither of these things are actually true. It's great that you and your husband are thinking about how you can be as financially ready as possible to start a family, but you don't have to put your entire life on hold--in fact, doing so might just stress you out. If you can afford it, I would encourage you to go ahead and be a part of your friend's wedding in Hawaii (she is your best friend after all) and have a great time: maybe you'll get pregnant while you're there, a lot of people do conceive while they're on vacation!

Wedding invitation doesn't mention my husband or child

Sept 2009

I recently received a wedding invitation from a good friend/ex coworker. She had mentioned in the past how hard it was to think about who she could invite due to financial concerns. My question is the invitation was addressed to me only, I do have a husband and child so does this exclude them? I'm fine with it one way or the other because I certainly don't want to stress her out financially. I'm just not sure about the rules of the invitation and I don't want to ask her because I don't want her to feel uncomfortable. Help!

The invitation was only addressed to you, so only you should attend the wedding. anon

For formal occasions (weddings, bar mitzvah, etc) the people invited = the people addressed on the envelope. If your children are not listed, it means they are not invited. I do believe it is proper, when inviting an adult, to include their significant other or a guest. But, if your friend is financially strapped, I would just let it go. If you ask, she will probably feel bad and offer to let you bring a guest. t

I am a wedding photographer and am fairly familiar with wedding etiquette. This is what I found on The Knot about the subject: ''Most guests will understand that without ''and Guest'' or another name on the invitation, it's meant for them alone. Especially if you are having a small wedding, you probably aren't going to invite everyone to bring an escort, unless it's a fiance(e) and/or a serious significant other...'' Since you have a family, I would give her a call to confirm, because most couples do not leave off a spouse from the invitation, only boyfriends/girlfriends if there isn't enough space for extra people. Hope this helps :) Angela

If the invitation is addressed to you only, it is probably meant for you only. Your co worker sounds like she needs to limit her guest list for financial reasons, as she mentioned. This was probably her way of saying, ''I wish I could invite your family, but unfortunately I can't afford to.'' She probably would be mortified if you asked her about it. If you feel like you would be comfortable there without your family, go. If you don't, rsvp that you're sorry you can't make it, and send a gift. Please look at it this way- it's nice that she wanted to include you. I know How She Feels!

If yours is the only name on the invitation, then you are the only one invited. I think she was probably trying to warn you of this in your earlier conversations. Up to you whether you want to go as a single or not. Stephanie

Emily Post says: '' Respect your invitation. Do not ask your host or hostess if you can bring a date or your children. The invitation will be addressed to the people invited. If you may bring a guest, your invitation will read Mr. John Phelps and guest. If your children are invited, they will either receive their own personal invitations or their names will be listed under yours on the envelope. This is not the time to question your host's decision, to argue or to beg for an exception. And, please, do not add their names to a reply card or show up with them anyway!'' -A Posting from Post

How are they requesting RSVPs? Simply reply with ''1 person attending'', or ''I'll be there solo!'' Nice of you to be considerate of her finances. Ellen

Invited to the shower, but probably not to the wedding

Sept 2006

I was very recently invited to a wedding shower for a woman who I know, like and admire, but we're definitely not yet ''friends''. I was invited by someone who works for her. The bride-to-be founded and directs a non-profit for which I've been doing a bit of volunteer work. Being clueless about wedding showers, except for a couple I attended in my early 20's (eons ago), I looked up online the etiquette behind them and saw freqeuntly mentioned that they're really for folks who will most likely be invited to the wedding. Well I know I won't be invited to the wedding and I have absolutely no problem with that at all. The primary reason I declined was that I didn't want to feel awkward as I really don't yet feel part of that social circle and I didn't want her to feel awkward as we're not friends. No doubt this probably sounds pretty neurotic and I'm definitely feeling that way about it, besides being on the shy side. What would others have done? Kind of second-guessing myself.

No need to second guess yourself. Your decision was reasonable. The guest of honor won't even hear about your declining the invitation, at least assuming the hostess has reasonable judgment. I don't like awkward situations either

I would say that I already have plans on that day (eg: mom's 75th birthday or some other compelling family function) but I would get a gift and give it to the person that invited you, and ask her/him to give it to the bride at the shower. anon

It is not good etiquette to invite people to a shower who will not be invited to a wedding. You should not feel bad about declining any invitation to a shower you don't feel comfortable attending, or that you cannot attend because you have plans. Respectively say, ''good luck'' and ''thank you for including me but I'm afraid I can't make it'' and leave it at that. I wouldn't attend a shower where I wasn't invited to the wedding unless it was very special circumstances. You are under no obligation to attend that or anything anyone invites you to unless you want to anon

I think wedding showers are totally obnoxious and refuse to go to them. So I don't think you are rude at all! (BTW, I have totally different feelings about baby showers, as long as it is for the first child only.) anonymous

the primary reason for wedding and baby showers is to give presents to the bride/mother. Unfortunately. I personally don't believe in it, and would feel uncomfortable having a shower for that purpose, but that's reallly the purpose, particularly if you barely know the person. I would have done the same thing. There is a school of thought that says an invitation obligates you to give a gift, which also annoys me, but if you want to meet that etiquette in a way that doesn't break your budget, you can either just decline the invitation, and don't worry about it, or if you would like to give a gift, you can do so, or you can ask the host if there is a group gift. Then you can give whatever you feel comfortable with. Sometimes in those awkward situations I think what you did is best. Definitely don't go if you feel uncomfortable. Frankly, for people I don't know at all, I think it's annoying to receive such an invitation, although it may be that they're just inviting everybody at work and everybody is pretty chummy. But you'd know if that was true for you

Well, what you say about it being for people who will be invited to the wedding may have originally been true, but nowadays, friends from work often give a shower to congratulate a co-worker, even if they know they will not be invited to the wedding. So this may have been a secondary shower to the one with life- long friends, relatives, etc. If that is true, probably a lot of the other guests would have a similar relationship to the bride-to-be. If it's not a ''hey we'll invite all the girls from the office'' thing, then the bride is usually consulted about who she wants to have invited, so she may have thought of you especially. Either way, you would have fit in, I am sure. It sounds like you are downplaying your relationship with this person. She probably likes and admires you, too. At the times in my life when I was lucky enough to be the guest of honor (wedding and baby showers) I definitely felt like my relationships with some friends were deepened, just because it was an occasion to bring us together. This is how friendships are made! But don't feel bad about declining! People decline invites for all kinds of reasons. I trust you told the hostess that you had a prior engagement and not ''I don't really think I'm friends with her''! anon

This may sound rude but I personally don't go to wedding showers if I'm not invited to the wedding. I think it happens because the person throwing the shower hasn't gone over the guest list with the bride. For that reason I wouldn't feel bad about not going. You could just send a card to the bride that says something like 'Sorry I missed the bridal shower. Congratulations on your wedding.' You can be invited to the wedding but not the shower but not the other way around. Don't feel bad at all. anon

If you are correct in your assessment that you would not be invited to the wedding, then it sounds like the woman you work with (who I'm sure made up the guest list) was using the shower as a way to reach out socially to some people she likes and would like to know better--perhaps a lapse of good judgement on her part, but you might as well take the underlying, positive message that ''she likes you''. There's nothing wrong with declining to attend the shower, but if you'd like to cultivate a friendship with her, maybe you can find an opportunity to do something social together at another time. It's always nice to make new friends!

Should I invite my estranged family to my wedding?

August 2006

I have experienced physical, emotional, and verbal abuse since I was young. This was mostly carried out by my two alcoholic stepfathers, however my mother is also responsible. These stepfathers are out of the picture now but my mother and sister are the issue here.

Last year, my younger sister (20), who is unemployed and high school educated, moved in with her boyfriend of 4 months. She showed no sense of responsibility (drinking herself to sickness, drugs, leaving home for days without notice, driving without a license, and accruing $200+ phone bills for my mother to pay, etc.). A few months later she became pregnant and married a week later.

When I expressed concern over my sister\x92s situation (alcohol & drugs a month prior to becoming pregnant), my mother only questioned why I wasn\x92t married yet (I am 27). My mother had me at a very young age (followed by 5 other kids, poverty, abuse, etc.) and I am concerned that my sister is repeating the cycle. I am a college graduate with a stable income, yet my mother said I was \x93not nothing\x94 compared to my sister\x92s decisions. I tried for years to get along with my family but it is simply not worth the pain. I separated myself from them in order to keep my sanity and have been much happier as a result.

I don\x92t want to invite my family to my wedding. They have not made a positive contribution to my life and I see no reason for them to be present on my special day. However, my future father-in-law strongly advised me to not \x91close any doors\x92. My fianc\xe9e\x92s parents would like to meet my family, even if just once (my fianc\xe9e\x92s has a big family and they are very family- oriented). I have shared with them the abuse that has occurred and my reasoning behind not inviting them but they still insist that I give it more thought. I have a lot of respect for my future in-laws and so their opinions hold a lot of weight for me. While they have told me they will respect whatever choice I make, I feel very pressured to do as they suggest.

And, if I don\x92t invite my family, I\x92m afraid I\x92ll be asked where my family is on my wedding day. How do I deal with this question (which is a complicated and painful topic) without it spoiling my day? anon

I think there is wisdom in your statement about not wanting your family there because they haven't made a positive contribution to your life (and, in fact, a quite negative one). I don't think you are closing doors by not inviting them because a wedding is only 1 event on 1 day - it's not forever. If people ask why they are not there you can say something simple like ''we're not close.'' No doubt you'll have some sad feelings about it but I think being upfront about it is better than dodging it as if it's something shameful. Weddings can be stressful and I question whether that would be the day to add more stress. If you want to be in touch with them later and it feels right then you'll make that choice. I get that your in-laws are caring people whom you admire but perhaps they are seeing the wedding day as too important when it comes to your difficult family situation. I can imagine they do want to meet your family and perhaps they will someday when it feels right to you. Good luck! anon

The simple answer: No. My take is as follows. This day is about you and your future husband and the joy of finding one another and beginning a new married life together. It is not about your family and it sounds like the cost of their meeting one another on this days outweighs the positives of their participation and presence. I'd throw a smaller party that would satisfy the need to have them meet one another while not running the risk (likelihood) of having them detract from your wedding day. And at your wedding day, I'd come up with some simple way to handle the inevitable questions without a lot of information (''We're having another private reception for family- only at a later date''... or something of the sort). Our daughter's Bat Mitzvah takes place in November and - while certainly not the same as a wedding - it is an important life cycle ritual loaded with sentiment and meaning. I've made the difficult choice of not inviting my dad for a set of reasons perhaps equally as painful as yours. If he were to come, he'd no doubt make the event about him. He's played no positive role in my daughter's life, couldn't pick her out of a crowd, and in fact has not even met five of his nine grandchildren. He's deeply narcissistic and has caused a great deal of sorrow among his four adult children. My three sibs are coming from far and wide for this event, and I'm choosing to protect their feelings and - more importantly - allow this day to be about my daughter's significant life passage. My dad, sadly, has not earned an invitation to this special event. It would seem the same can be said of your family. You seem very well put together and have transcended a lot of grief and tough circumstances. Here's to a happy wedding and a long and wonderful married life. Wishing you well, Deborah

I can understand why you don't want to invite your family on your special day. I can also see why your future inlaws want to meet them. Why not get everybody together for an ''engagement party'' so they can meet each other. Then, have a small wedding, and only invite those people who know about your family situation, so you can avoid questions about why they are not there. annonymommy

Sounds like a very difficult situation. There were things I was adamant about for my wedding too, but an older friend reminded me that a wedding is a charged time, and even small decisions can seem big made for a wedding. He urged me to leave room for other people's feelings. I made some changes to include my family more, and now am very glad I did. But I can certainly understand your not wanting to have the joy of your wedding disrupted by difficult family relationships. Can you strike some kind of compromise? Can you have your wedding as you envision it, and then a later reception of some kind at which you include your family? You could just say that it was a small private wedding, but that you wanted to share your joy with them. Your in-laws sound really great. And speaking from experience, there is much healing to be had in those relationships. Congratulations to you

Here is my advice: Don't invite them. If you invite them, you're opening the door for them to hurt you again. The same thing happened to me when I got married. My wife's family insisted that I invite my family so that I not close any doors. Some of my friends also said the same thing. I was told that ''I should be the bigger person'' and that ''I would have bad karma'' if I didn't invite them. I was told that I should ''forgive and forget'' and ''let bygones be bygones''. I gave in and I'm sorry I did. When my estranged family showed up, they put on a smoke and mirrors show pretending they were a loving family. Also, one of my relatives got on the microphone during the reception and said things I would have rather not have had said at my wedding. Finally, some of my friends and members of my wife's family questioned my integrity after the wedding. Because of the smoke and mirrors show my estranged family put on, some people thought I had made up how during my childhood I had endured physical, verbal, and emotional abuse and alcoholism. Also, my mother-in-law suddenly wanted to get closer to my parents despite my wishes and this became a problem. My advice is for you to tell your in-laws and fiancee's family that you understand their curiosity, but since it's your special day and you were the one who was abused as a child, not them, you don't want your family there. Period. Don't let anyone guilt trip you or use ''spiritual reasoning'' to manipulate you. There's a reason you separated from your family. Don't let them back in Sorry I Invited My Family

Wow. Tough situation. I can appreciate that your future-in-laws' opinions hold weight with you as I'm the same way. I can also see your point of view. I say this - plan on inviting your mom and sister and just move on. Enjoy your wedding planning (no need to include them) and focus on the happy future ahead of you. Plan on getting dressed with other women in your family/future family that you treasure. Just send them an invitation in the mail, order a corsage for your mother and call it a day.

I was upset at an aunt during my wedding planning and got very pissy about her attitude possibly ruining ''my day'' but in the end she could not have ruined my day if she tried -- it is such a busy day and when you are surrounded by people you love all the BS just slips away. Really. I'm glad I didn't do anything drastic like uninvite her (I was tempted to). My sister's friend uninvited a mutual lifelong friend of theirs because of who knows what (''don't want her to ruin MY day!'') and she really regrets it and she realizes that she was just swept up in the stressful throes of wedding planning which magnified everything 10-fold.

This is not to minimize all that you have suffered. You have some major wounds and your mom's reaction to your sister's pregnancy? Priceless. But I agree with your future father-in-law -- do not close any doors. People can change. Your sister may get her act together five years from now and want to have a relationship with you in the future. Unfortunately, exclusion from once-in-lifetime events is hard to get over. If you exclude your mom and sister then you should consider that door 99.9% officially closed. Not sure if you really want that. Good luck! Tries to see the big picture

First, don't you dare make this decision based on what you think would please your future in-laws. You know your family better than they do and you are in the best position to make this decision. I had a similar situation when I remarried. My family was very upset that my ex-husband and I divorced and were very resentful of my new husband. We were barely speaking when I got married and my future father-in-law spent much time trying to convince me to do whatever it would take to get them to come to the wedding. My husband likewise came from a big family and believes that family is the most important thing. What you need to keep in mind to make your decision is this: it is your day - what would make it enjoyable for you? it is your family - how likely are they to show out and embarass you on your day? You cannot let this decision be made based on concern for whether your in-laws may be disappointed. You need to heal the scars of your past in your time; don't force it and create additional stress on what is supposed to be your happiest day. It could create an even bigger wedge in your relationship that truly will permanently burn a bridge.

Ultimately, my parents didn't come to my wedding, and it was a great time. Months later, we we able to have the very serious talks, etc. that we needed to heal and have begun to rebuild a new relationship. Why don't you set up another occasion in advance of the wedding to allow your future in-laws to meet your family (not a good idea to have such an important day be their first meeting)? That way you can use it as a test run. But make it clear to everyone in advance that you will be the one to ultimately decide whether or not your family attends. I did a lot of soul-searching and excessive prayer over this issue before I reached my decision. My father-in-law later realized that I know my parents better than he does and that my way was best. Yours will, too. Best of luck no matter what you decided - and I'll keep you in my prayers Been there

I strongly advise you against inviting your family to the wedding. Your instincts are right here. I was just at a big family event, not a wedding, and I saw how such high stress events can bring out the worst in people. You should be able to enjoy your wedding as much as possible. Your in-laws may be wonderful, but they should respect YOU on this. If you feel inclined, perhaps you could set up a dinner at a more neutral time and place. My best wishes to you Elizabeth

This is your decision to make, and there isn't a right or wrong answer. Keep in mind, though, that a wedding isn't just your special day and about what you want, or about the private commitment between you and your husband. A wedding is a public celebration, and about your friends, family and community coming together to witness and acknowledge your commitment, and (hopefully) to support it. It's really as much for your community as it is for yourselves. Otherwise you could just elope, or throw a party. So I think any decision to exclude your family is a big one--not just because it's a big event, but because of the very nature of the event. So I think the question to ask yourself is not ''do I want them there?'' (clearly you don't), but ''are they my family?''. If you really can't forgive them and don't consider them to be your family anymore, then don't invite them, and be prepared to accept the consequences of that. But if not, you should invite them, because they're your family. Forgiveness is always a good thing to try for. easier said than done

Inviting your family seems so uncomfortable to you, and you even said clearly that you don't want to, so don't do it! Please! It's stressful enough. Work w/ your future inlaws on alternatives. Maybe have a get-together now, if it comes down to it, so they can see how awful it would be. Or just tell them how much you respect them and would like to please them, but you can't find any way to feel comfortable w/ your family at the wedding. Your in-laws are probably healthy enough that they just don't understand what it would be like to need to cut off a family member. Keep in mind that if you were much older, this would not even be a question-either that it's your decision or that it's the right thing to do. I have a friend who recently married at 50+, and she has been trying all her adult life to have a decent relationship w/ her mother, who in my opinion is just plain awful to her, and I can tell you I was relieved that she didn't invite her mother to her wedding. She did invite family members who would have no problem being happy for HER and her spouse, on their special day. So if you have family members that you'd feel comfortable with, and that you know would be happy for you, invite them, or invite them to meet your inlaws. Try to imagine individuals in your family, and how they would truly react to your invitation, and to being there, and if it just doesn't feel good, then don't do it. Go with your gut. I'm sorry for you that it's not the Norman Rockwell kind of family you've got, but please be assured that there are more of us out there! Find love and nurture it. Do give it more thought. If you can find that w/ your family in some way, go for it. If you can't, then go with your gut, and sit down with your inlaws and ask them to help you through your difficult decision, if that seems right. Don't worry about answering questions at the wedding. Just say your family couldn't be here today. Most people know the score anyway, and hopefully most of them won't be rude enough to ask. Be good, be strong

Your wedding day is supposed to be about you. You should be surrounded by people how love you and who are happy for you. It would be cruel to put yourself in a siutation where you cannot celebrate the glorious present (being in love, making a new family, joining a wonderful family) and start to plan for the future because you have to deal with a painful and difficult past.

If your future in-laws could discretely share that your family won't be there because your history with them would make the celebration more difficult, you shouldn't get too many questions (your friends already know, right?) You have a right to have your wedding reflect who you are, who you choose to be, and how you are choosing to plan your future. I know the sense of obligation pulls hard on people during these critical events, but in modern society, weddings are no longer about the families exchanging property and making ties--they are about the couple, how they have chosen one another, and a celebration of the commitment the two are making to one another. ANY suggestion about your wedding celebration that doesn't contribute to that in a positive way should be eyed with suspicion. You have a right to draw a line across this point in time and say, ''This is who I am and how I choose to live.'' Surround yourself with people who support that. --Making future family count

As I began to read your letter, my first reaction was, don't invite your estranged family. They are estranged for a reason, and I fully support you in maintaining a distance. On the other hand, I did attend a friend's wedding just this past weekend and even though the groom's mom has not been kind to the bride, she was invited and included in the family acknowledgement section. The bride even said to the mom-in-law publicly, ''I want the best for you, and your son.''

The thing is, who you do and don't invite to a wedding has the tendency to polarize all relationships. It makes the people you invite feel extra close to you, and those you don't invite feel extra estranged. Therefore, the result of not inviting your family will be to cement the distance between you (which you might want to do) and the result of inviting them is that you leave the door open. There may be a wedding miracle that opens everyone's hearts, or even if it just goes OK, inviting them doesn't cause further alienation. Elon Bartlett D.C. elonb [at]

The way you feel about them leads me to agree with you that you probably shouldn't invite them to the wedding. The day is stressful and crazy enough without having to deal with people you'd rather not see. But maybe you can have a small reception later that would be more inclusive of your family so your husband can interact with them etc. This would be easier to structure on terms you can live with than the wedding itself. -Anon

Perhaps your in-laws are in the fortunate positon of being members of a truly loving family group, and therefore cannot completely comprehend how disfunctional (to put it politely) some families can be.

One solution would be to have a frank sit-down discussion beforehand with your in-laws about your concerns, and together work up a short answer ready to use when wedding guests and friends ask that tiresome question, ''And where is YOUR family today?'' For example, everyone in the family goup can be prepared to say ''Oh yes, we are also so sorry they couldn't make it, but we hope to see them soon.'' Then change the subject by suggesting a glass of champagne, or some other diversion.

Hope you enjoy your wedding! Don't let anyone talk you into something you don't want. It's your day. anonymous

Just because someone is related to you doesn't mean that you have to keep them in your life. Your wedding day is supposed to be a happy day for you, and you get to choose who will be there with you. Surround yourself with people who will love you and treat you with respect. Judging by the way your family has treated you, I don't think you owe anyone an excuse. Been There

You are the final judge of your family situation, and you shouldn't invite them to your wedding just to please your future FIL. He's probably a good guy, but it sounds like he's being a little hard-headed on this issue, albeit with the best intentions. If you decide not to have your family at your wedding (which seems like a perfectly valid choice, given what you describe--it should be a day when you are happy, not tense and freaked out), just let him know it was a hard choice for you and you are sad that your family situation is not better BUT you are so grateful to be joining through marriage his loving, supportive, healthy family. Hopefully that will get him off your case!

It is your wedding. You want to have fun and minimize stress. You will already likely be a little bit stressed. You might have alcohol there. Don't ivite your mother or sister. Tell your in-laws that you thought about it a long time, and that you want to have a joyous occaision. You can have a smaller family get together with your immeadiate inlaws and your mother and sister if you REALLY want to, but that doesn't need to happen at your wedding. DOn't worry about people asking where your family is. You are forming a new family. Every person getting married is allowed to do the wedding the way they want it done. You sound wonderful and accomplished and together and your in laws sound fantastic. You are celebrating joining a new family. Congratulations! You don't need your mother and sister at your wedding. Mom who did it my way

My wife wasn't included in my brother's wedding party

Feb 2004

My brother is getting married this summer and I'm in the wedding party, along with my Dad and my sister's husband. My brother's wife-to-be has included my sister in the wedding party, but not my wife (her future sister in law). While my brother and his fiance have a closer relationship with my sister and her husband than we do, our relationship is solid and I can't for the life of me understand the snub, but need to find out. My question is, how do I confront my brother on this? Is it okay to leave a future sister-in-law out of the equation, but include a future brother-in-law? I don't want to force him to include my wife, but he does need to understand how disrespectful their decision is to us(unless of course, there is a legitimate reason, which I can't see). anon

From what I remember, the groom ususally has more say over the men in the wedding and the bride over the women. For this reason, the men in the groom's family and the women in the bride's family are more likely to be included in the wedding party (which would explain why you, your father and your brother-in-law --all men related to your brother-- are all involed). Sometimes the bride will also include the groom's sister etc. but this also means she may have to include one less friend of her own or family member of her own, so this might explain why your sister is in the wedding party, but not your wife, who is her fiance's brother's wife, and so less of a close relation to her than, say, her own sister, or her brother's wife. It seems to me that she may already be acknowledging her closeness to your family by including your sister among her bridesmaids (or whatever) --which is by no means a given, even if the families are close!-- to include your wife would be highly unusual. When I got married a couple of years ago, my brother's wife was one of my bridesmaids, but my husband's sister was not (even though we get along very well). Also, my brother was not one of the groomsmen, but my brother-in-law (my husband's brother) was. You get the picture. No one, to my knowledge was offended. There are only a certain amount of people that can be in a wedding without it becoming a circus! I say be happy for the couple and don't mention it to them! Wedding Vetran

wedding party etiquette is always challenging for the couple getting married. ultimately, as it is their wedding, it is their decision as to whom is in the wedding party. perhaps the bride and groom want to keep the numbers even on either side and the bride to be has some close friends she would like to include. approaching your brother in a friendly, non- confrontational manner would be good just to simply ask why your wife wasn't included in the wedding party. please remember that planning a wedding can be a high stress time in one's life and trying to include everyone sometimes just isn't feasible for a variety of reasons. best of luck. kristy

Just a quick response from someone who got married a few years ago. It is a very difficult process to decide who will be in your wedding party -- especially if you prescribe to the idea of having ''even'' numbers on each side. Additionally, I guess I feel like no one should ''expect'' to be in someone's wedding party, regardless of who else is chosen. It is an honor to be asked but it surely is not a dishonor not to be asked. So the fact that your brother chose to honor your sister's husband does not in any way mean your soon to be sister in law is somehow dishonoring your wife. There are a zillion reasons that your wife might not have been included, none of them having to do with you, or your wife (but more having to do with other relationships that the bride really wanted to honor by asking them to stand at her side). If it was me, I would go to the wedding, celebrate the couple fully, and not say another word about this. It is THEIR day -- the focus is not you or your wife. It sounds like the wedding party is small, and I am sure it was very difficult for the bride to be to choose who would stand by her. There are no rules about this -- I really encourage you and your wife to try to support the couple as fully as possible.

PS-The fact that you have chosen to see this as disrespectful makes me wonder if you don't have other unspoken business with your brother. I see no disrespect whatsoever in it. The disrespect would be if you were to make a big deal about it and put a dark cloud over their wedding day. If your wife really wants to support/contribute to that day, then maybe you could say ''hey I would love to think of a way that [my wife] could help out on your wedding day, because she would love to be included and to support you both.'' But if you express a sense of entitlement to her being included in the wedding party I think you are way off base. Family is forever

I don't think it was meant to be a snub. Choosing one's attendants for a wedding is a VERY personal decision. You didn't mention whom else your brother's fiance choose in stead of your wife. It sounds to me like she chose the people that she's closest to and your brother chose the people he's closest to. When I got married my best friend was my matron of honor, not my sister. Because at that time, my best friend was the one who had been there for me,particularly supporting my relationship with my husband to be, not my sister. Would you suggest that your brother's fiance ''snub'' her sister..or best friend or whomever she chose over your wife, simply because she is married to you? Of course these are delicate issues, but I think you are the one that needs to show some respect for their decisions, not the otherway around. This is after all, their wedding. They have the right to have their wedding as they want it, and I am sure they didn't come to the decisions they did lightheartedly. Be happy that they honored you to be a part of it, but most of all, be happy for them. anon

I'm not sure if I understand this, but here goes: your fiancee's feelings are hurt because she wasn't included in your brother's wedding?

Short answer: it is your brother's fiancee's (and your brother's) wedding. She should be thinking of who SHE is close to, who SHE wants to stand by her side. YOUR fiancee is not technically even a relative of hers at this point. There is basically no reason on God's green earth why your fiancee should be in her wedding party (other than real feelings of closeness). Period.

IMHO you should be very leery of getting in the middle of something like this, particularly now, before anybody's even married! This type of thing sets a precedent for everybody starting out offended at one another! You don't want to live in one another's house or on one another's lap. Let your brother and sister in law plan their marriage in peace, for heaven's sake! Nobody owes your fiancee anything. This isn't her wedding. Nobody has to bow to her, include her as a ''specially close person,'' or so forth. This event is NOT ABOUT HER. You should both go to the wedding, give them your love, and hope that they have a productive, happy, and healthy life. And you know what? Your fiancee doesn't have to have her new sister in law in her wedding party! Or, if she wants to get awards for generosity and diplomacy at HER WEDDING, she can. Whatever.

Catch this stuff now, or your marriage will consist of YEARS of ''she didn't do this and should have's'' and you, my friend, will be utterly miserable. seen a lot of weddings

My husband and I work in the wedding business and I see this happen A LOT. I would advise that you keep quiet. It may not be thoughtful or kind or diplomatic of her to leave out your wife but it is your future sister-in-law's wedding and her bridal party and she can do whatever she wants and her decisions should be respected. Perhaps she is trying to send a message to your wife by not choosing her but in my opinion it is more likely that her choice of bridesmaids (and one cannot ask everyone to be a bridesmaid) simply shows that she is closer to your brother's wife (or is it fiancee?) right now. But that does not mean that in the future she won't become closer to your wife or that she dislikes your wife. I am sure it hurts your wife's feelings and it stinks. But keep in mind that there are probably college roommates, cousins, and lots of other women close to the bride who were not asked either. Been a bride, a bridesmaid, and just a guest

Why do so many people in our culture look for ways to be upset about things that don't really involve them at all! Your brother and his fiancee have to make choices around their wedding, including who and how family and friends participate. Please be realistic and more understanding. Are you more committed to starting a fight than supporting and celebrating the wedding day of your brother? Your wife is a grown woman, who I am sure planned her own wedding and was faced with similar choices -- though they may be not identical choices. If she, or you feel insulted, that is because you are choosing to look at the situation that way. My advice is cut your brother and his fiancee some slack, show up, be supportive, and have a great time. That would be the best gift of all for them, and for you and your wife -- now and forever. Kathleen

Is there a legitimate reason? YesIit's the bride and groom's wedding and they can do what they want. It's their day, not yours and not your wife's. Maybe to keep the number of groomsmen & bridesmaids even your wife didn't make the cut. Or, as you say yourself, your brother and his fiancee have a closer relationship with your sister's husband than with your wife. Wedding participants are often based on closeness to the bride and groom, not on ''six degrees of separation'' based on who's married to who's sibling.

While I empathize with your wife's desire to be in the wedding because some people interprete being in a wedding as a person's ''importance'' to the marrying couple, it's ultimately their wedding. It's not a snub, and yes it's okay to leave a future sister-in-law out of the equation, but include a future brother-in-law.

And you don't need to confront your brother. Instead just ask ''say, my wife had hoped to be included in your wedding party'' and see what he says. Maybe your wife can fulfill another important and honorable roll in the wedding: usher, wedding day coordinator (which is actually a huge help), etc. anon

Don't think of it as a snub. You yourself have said it that your brother is closer to your sister and her husband, so it would be natural for them to be a part of the party. I've been excluded out of my sister-in-law's and brother-in-law's weddings and it wasn't because of anything personal. My now husband was part of their wedding parties which at first made it seem a little awkward. I realized that the bride chooses her bridesmaids for a reason, they're close personal friends that she could not imagine that day without them and that's what's really immportant (or unmarried cousins that were forced on her). My husband knew I was feeling a little left out though, so instead of sitting with the wedding party he sat with me which his sister understood. During his brother's wedding, he was expected to sit at the table with the bridal party which he did, taking the last seat of the bridal table to be able to sit next to me at one of the ''regular'' guests' table. I also realized that during both weddings I was glad I didn't have to subject myself to those goofy bridesmaid dresses and buy shoes I'd probably only wear once. Also, I found myself seated with a GREAT group of people that I wouldn't have been able to chat with otherwise. We had the best time that evening! I felt a lot more comfortable with my mother-in-law and some cousins we hadn't seen in a while than with the (quite literally) kids at the bridal table.

If this doesn't help, then just bring it up to your brother. Everyone always says this is the bride's day, but it is in fact the groom's as well (just ask my husband). Be honest with him and just tell him how you feel. At least you'll know then what their reasons were for not including your wife. In both instances my husband did include me at the rehearsal dinner. It worked out, no awful bridesmaid dresses and a free meal! Left out and loving it

I wish I could have been excluded from my husband's three sisters's weddings. You can't believe how much money it cost me for everything involved (dress, shoes, hair & makeup, etc). Owner of 3 butt-ugly bridesmaid dresses

I doubt there has ever been a wedding in history where someone didn't feel left out or snubbed. My advice would be to drop it. Maybe the bride and groom do feel closer to other family, and they chose the wedding party based on that rather than a sense of familial equity. I doubt it was intended to hurt your wife, and making a big deal over it is unlikely to have a happy result for anyone involved. People have too much to worry about as it is with wedding planning, and perhaps you could focus on the fact that they honored you by asking you to be part of the wedding party, rather than the perceived dishonor to your wife. It is their wedding, after all. happy ex-bride

Snub?! You are taking this too personally. This is not your wedding--it is your brother's and his fiancee's. It's not about your wife. This special day is about THEM. Anything you can do to support and recognize that would probably be greatly appreciated by your brother and his wife-to-be.

I was in a similar position... when I got married, I asked my husband's sister (with whom I had zero-relationship) to be in the wedding, yet I did not ask my sister's husband (with whom I had a great, 12-year relationship). The only reason was because of numbers--we already had all of the ''positions'' filled, with other family members and close friends. When I mentioned to my sister that I was sorry we didn't really have anything for her husband to do in the wedding, she said something like, ''oh, that's sweet of you to think of him, but don't worry about it, we didn't even think about it,'' and she was completely sincere. I thought that was the nicest, and most supportive thing she could have said. You have to remember that your brother and his fiancee have a million decisions to make in planning a wedding, and it's easy to get caught up in the whirl. They may not even realize that your wife's and your feelings have been hurt. But then they shouldn't have to, because they have made their decisions based on what feels right to them. Don't spoil this for them. been there

Choosing members of the wedding party is entirely up to the bride and groom, and really shouldn't be the cause of resentment or hurt feelings. The reason that your sister's husband was asked may be as simple as their needing another man and not another woman. You don't ''need'' to find out, nor do you need to consider it a snub, and a confrontation is not going to make anyone happy. It's very stressful to plan a wedding and the last thing they need is more pressure on them.

Relax- it's their day, not your's or your wife's. Adjust your attitude, enjoy the event, give them your blessings, and let go of your resentment. Your wife can take the money that she would have spent on a dress that she didn't choose and that she would only wear for one day, and treat herself to something special! anon

I wish people wouldn't jump to the conclusion that he/she is getting snubbed if he/she is not invited to be part of a wedding party. My husband and I got married 2 years ago and did not include every member of our immediate families in the party, mainly because we had a small wedding but also because we wanted to have only the people we truly felt close to. Closeness doesn't always equate with family. It's your brother's wedding, so why not just drop this subject and let him and his wife-to-be choose how they want to have their wedding - hopefully it will be the only one they will have, and if it is, then they are entitled to having it the way they want it, without anyone pressuring them about what is PC/kosher. You mentioned that your brother and his fiance are closer to your sister - that's exactly why she is in the wedding party. Hopefully with time, your wife will be as close, but I wouldn't push this issue. anon

There is a really simple answer to your question, if you are willing to accept it: Its their wedding, they get to include who they want. Assuming that your wife is being ''snubbed'' is making a mountain out of someone else's molehill, and serves no positive purpose. Better to assume no injury is intended, and have a fun time at the wedding/reception.

If your wife is upset, perhaps SHE can go ask if there is something she can do to help with the wedding -- brides often need someone to oversee the guest book, or hand out favors -- or do something REALLY helpful, like host a shower or address invitations, etc.

I think you should let this go. If you think she's feeling slighted, you could offer to spend a few hundred bucks on a dress and shoes for her for the wedding that she might wear again someday. Good luck. Heather

As far as I know, it is up to the bride to decide who is going to be in her wedding party. Possibly there is a limit to the number of people who can be attendants (financial, space, or other reason). I still remember how stressed out I was when we planned our wedding, and it was relatively small and modest. If my selfish brother came whining to me about how he feels disprespected because his wife wasn't included in the party, I'd flip my lid. Seriously. I wouldn't mention it, because you may end up causing even more problems. JMHO. Let it lie

My advice to you is to drop it. While it may feel this way to you, I doubt their intention was to ''snub'' you wife. Nothing good will come from stirring this pot. Focus on your relationship with them as a whole rather than this one event and assume that their intentions toward you and your wife are as good as they always have been.

Often couples are trying to have an equal number of men and women on each side of the wedding party. Sometimes a wedding party is expected to perform certain tasks in the planning of the wedding and for one reason or another that may rule some people out. There are probably a number of reasons for why they chose to ask who they did.

It is possible to play an important part in the wedding process without being involved in the wedding party. For many people planning a wedding is an extremely emotional experience with family members often making requests that add to the tension and stress. Try to be one of the few relatives who says ''How can we help- just let us know what we can do.'' and really mean it. heather

While the situation you describe *is* a bit awkward, your brother's fiancee has done nothing technically wrong. Both the bride and the groom are entitled to choose the people to whom they feel closest as their wedding attendants, and there is no rule that the bride's party ''match'' the groom's in number, gender, relationship type, or anything else. It sounds as if both bride and groom in this instance have decided to be attended by only those of their own sex; it is possible that for some reason they want the same number of attendants on each ''side'', and the bride simply has a greater number of siblings and/or close friends to include and thus less ''room'' among her attendants for future in-laws. While this may indicate limited thinking by the couple, it can't really be considered disrespectful.

Depending on the nature of your relationship with your brother and his bride, you may be able to indicate to him or them that your wife is feeling a bit hurt by her exclusion, and see what develops. But try to be nice about it -- any couple planning their wedding is subjected to all sorts of different demands and agendas from all comers, and it's impossible to please everyone. Whatever their reasoning, what possible purpose could be served by your ''forcing'' your brother to feel bad about it?

And remember that the fact that your wife is not in the official wedding party does not mean that she'll be left out of the festivities; as your spouse, she must be invited to the same pre- wedding events you are (such as a rehearsal dinner) and included in at least some of the family photos. Many people in her position would feel rather relieved *not* to be asked -- she won't have to wear a dress she wouldn't have chosen, she won't be obligated to assist with wedding-related chores nor to co- host a shower, etc. Look on the bright side and enjoy the wedding. Holly

Well this is all my opinion, so obviously, take it or leave it as you see fit. As I understand it, the bride chooses who she would like to have for her bride's maids and the groom gets to choose his groom's men. The criteria used is up to the bride and/or groom. That is my short answer. For the longer version, read on.

When we got married my husband chose to includethe people we were closest with in our wedding party, but gave other important roles in the wedding to our relatives. He chose his brothers as his groom's men because those were the men he was closest to. I chose friends to be my bride's maids, I didn't really know his sisters, and he didn't ask me to include them. When his brothers and sisters were married, he was sometimes included in the wedding party, and sometimes not. I was never a part of the wedding party. Once I was included in the ceremony in another role. Otherwise I was just a guest.

My brother is getting married this summer. His fiance felt that they had to have their siblings in the wedding party, so I was asked to be a bride's maid and he was compelled to ask her brother. This expectation caused quite a bit of consternation for him because he felt that she had chosen his groom's men for him, except for his best man, and that he would offend his friends if he chose one from among them to fill that role. My husband was not included on the list of required wedding party members, although my brother did eventually decide to ask him to be the best man.

Personally, based on all of the different variations I have seen on the theme I think that the bride and groom should make their choices on their own. Those who are chosen can be honored to be included. Those who are not chosen, should not take it personally. It is hard enough to make decisions about a wedding, without worrying about pleasing everyone on both sides of the family, and friends to boot. I also think that there are some people who feel more strongly about their family obligations than others. For the ''duty bound'' there are lots of ''shoulds'' that are considered, but not everyone thinks that way, and it is hard to remember. Try not to be offended, perhaps you could gently hint that your wife would like to be able to do something for their wedding and ask if there is a job she could do... maybe a reading. Then look on the bright side, at least she won't have to buy an aweful bride's maid dress. thankfully almost never a bride's maid

Children not Invited to out-of-town Family Wedding

September 2002

My niece is getting married in suburban New York in Sept. Enthusiastic about attending another family wedding with our 3 and 5 year old girls (my husband's brother was married last year and we and the girls had a ball at his wedding) and also about visiting NYC where my husband and I lived for over a decade, we made plans to attend - plane tickets, hotel reservations (through Expedia so not refundable). Now we find out that the children are not invited - via e-mail my sister indicated that only older children were invited as it is an evening (6:15) wedding. I replied to her and her daughter that we were looking forward to attending the ceremony, but would be unable to attend the reception as the children would be with us. My neice really wants my husband and I to ''boogie'' with her and asked her mother to line up a sitter. Well, my sister did that but indicated that the children would be sequestered in the women's locker room for the duration of the reception (clearly she does not like little children!!).

My husband and I don't feel right about it and I can't promise that they won't find a way to the reception - they love to dance - which would clearly be disruptive to my sister. I am leaning toward our previous plan of just going to the ceremony, but I would also like to go the reception... Any good ideas out there. A Torn Mother/Sister

Been there, and it's a hard call. One thing to remember - it is the BRIDE & GROOM's choice as to whether or not children (small or ''older'') are to be included on the guestlist; it is YOUR choice as to how to handle it.

In our case, my husband's brother-in-law was having a ''no kids'' wedding and reception. When my mother-in-law informed me of this, I told her that of course I respected the couple's request, but they had to understand that I would not be traveling 3000 miles to the wedding, just so our 5yearold and 21-month old could spend the time with an unknown babysitter. They had to respect our choice, as well.

As it turned out, my husband and 5 year old attended the wedding, and the baby & I stayed home. (My MIL made a special request that our 5yo attend, and the bride/groom agreed... As it turned out, she was THE YOUNGEST attendee, but was *very* well behaved, and everyone had a wonderful time.)

In the end, this was the best solution. You may be disappointed at not ''boogie''ing with your niece, but you have to consider your children and their feelings/situation. Good luck. anon

We have hired sitters at/through the hotels we stayed at and that worked fine for us. These kind of sitters generally bring toys and games, and maybe your room will have a vcr and you can bring a favorite video. Kids will be safe, you don't have to worry. Lisa

Before I had kids, I cound not understand why anyone would bring their children to a wedding and I would be a little annoyed if a child made even one peep during the ceremony.

But after I had kids, I viewed marriage as a ''life ritual'' that of course children ought to be a part of. I mistakenly assumed my children were always invited to anything I was invited to, even if their names were not on the invitation! I thought it was touching when a child injected a little noise into the ceremony, (although I would stand with mine in the back and take them out if they made noise.) But I thought it was inconsiderate of friends and family members to have a wedding and not invite the kids, considering how big a part of my life they were.

But when my kids got older, I began to appreciate the fun of going to an adult party without the kids. After all, a lot of weddings are really just big parties for grownups to have fun and celebrate the marriage. I love going to a wedding where I get to dress up, do a little dancing, etc. and how much fun am I going to have if I have to spend the whole time keeping the baby out of the cake? So now I only take the kids if they are explicitly invited and it's the wedding of someone they are close to and it's important for the bride/groom that they be there. Otherwise I treat it as an adult party. I have been to weddings where even though kids are invited, people leave theirs at home anyway so they can have an adult day/evening out. Also it occurs to me that a couple of really cute little girls in party dresses might steal the thunder from the bride a little bit, so that might be another reason to not bring them.

Therefore, I would say, use the sitter, go without the kids and have fun! Do you have a cell phone or beeper so you can tell them (or the sitter) to call if they need to talk to you while you're at the reception? Line up some special activities for them - maybe bring some new arts supplies or some other activity they can do anywhere (even the women's locker room.) They'll be fine. Ginger

It's too bad you had already made the arrangements for travel, etc. What you didn't indicate on your question was, did she specify ''no children'' or ''11 year old children and up only'' on the wedding invitation? If she did, well, oops... If she didn't, then unfortunately she made a serious faux pas when it came to you and your family, and other guests that might consider bringing young children.

Anyway, having just gone through the whole thing last year, I have to admit that I, too, didn't want small children at my ceremony. It's not because I don't love them - I do very much - but there are some events that are just not appropriate for small children, and I felt that the children wouldn't be comfortable, and the guests might not be comfortable around them, either.

It sounds like you aren't angry with her, and that's good - I would hate to see bad feelings like that spoil her wedding day. I guess the thing to remember, now, is that this is her and her husband's day, and to respect their wishes - without judgement - would be the best thing for everyone. Getting a babysitter for the evening would be money well-spent, and everyone will be more at ease. Hope this helps... Kristen

Your sister probably doesn't *dislike* little children but has just forgotten what they're really like. (At least, you can tell yourself this, it might help.) Anyway, given that you plan to make the trip regardless, I think your choices are (1) hire your own babysitter, with some help from your sister or some other local relation, who can keep the kids in your hotel room, rather than in a locker room(!), (2) persuade your sister that a locker room is inappropriate and get her to reserve a better childcare room at the reception site -- and, in the same conversation, get a sense of whether and how much your niece would be upset by the kidlets showing up for a couple dances, or (3) stick to your guns on just not attending the reception. Or perhaps you go to the reception (or part of it, anyway) while your husband stays with the kids. By the way, are your kids capable of sitting quietly through the ceremony? Usually it's actually the *ceremony* that people would prefer kids don't attend, whereas nobody cares about a little extra noise and activity at the reception -- or at least, not during the ''boogie- ing'' part of it. Holly

We also requested that no children attend our wedding. I have a gigantic extended family and have been to many weddings with small children. My experience is that they have a hard time sitting through the whole dinner, toasts, etc. while waiting for the fun stuff to start. If you want your children to be able to share in the dancing, which for a 6:15 wedding might not be until almost 10:00, maybe you could work something out that includes letting them stay with a sitter for the ''grown-up'' part of the wedding. Maybe your sister envisioned being able to have a lot of fun with you, and when your kids are there your attention is divided (naturally). Joan

I believe you should graciously accept the offer of a babysitter for your two young children. The fact that they went out of their way to secure a sitter for your children (in the midst of planning a wedding) is testament to their character and desire to have you and your husband part of the festivities. The fact that the bride and groom do not desire small children (which your children clearly are) is their choice. It's their wedding, their celebration, their day/night. Would you take your kids to a cocktail party?? It is not right for you to invoke the ''fact'' that your kids would have so much fun at the reception -- it's not about them! and it's not about you! Accept with graciousness the babysitter, and go and enjoy and celebrate your niece's wedding. Anon.

Having an ''adult only'' wedding seems to be a growing trend. We had to leave my sister-in-law's wedding early so I could get back to my breastfeeding baby. I find the symbolism of excluding children from wedding celebrations disturbing. My bias stated, I think you should attend the reception, even if you have to go without your husband and kids.

It was incredibly inconsiderate of your niece and her mother to let you make reservations before explaining the policy about kids -- that info should have been on the invitation. And ideally, your niece would recognize the inconvenience she is causing her guests, and relax the rules. At minimum, they should help you find a suitable location for the sitter to watch your children -- your hotel room? your sister's house? Any of these solutions would be better than you having to attend alone, and you could tell them so if you like, but it won't change the fact that you WANT to be there. If you''d regret missing it, then it's best not to stir things up now. Anon

Just get a babysitter, and keep the kids at the hotel or someone's house. Then your mom can attend the wedding, and the kids can have a night with a sitter.

Sure, it's a drag, and you wish your sister were more open-minded. But it will really be more fun for everyone if you comply with the bride's wishes.

We took our kids (then 8 and 11) cross-country to their cousin's wedding and were a bit miffed that they weren't invited to the evening party, even though some other young nephews were invited. They enjoyed the ceremony, were babysat in the evening, and don't remember being excluded at all. OK so I remember occasionally, but it's not big. Good luck M.S.

It sounds like you may have been so excited to go this wedding that you didn't check to see if your kids would be included. I hate to say this but, since they're your kids, it's your responsibility, not the bride's or her mother's, to confirm whether your kids were to be included in the festivities. Especially if you made travel arrangements before the invitation came (addressed to you and your husband and not ''The Jones Family'').

This is not a personal affront to you and your husband or to your children. In fact, the bride and groom may be thinking some parents would like a night out without their kids (many parents at our wedding took the evening as an opportunity for a romantic get away for the night). I also don't think the decision has anything to do with anyone's feelings toward children. Instead, it sounds like this is the arrangement that works best for the bride and groom, and that's who this is all about. If it was articulated to you that your kids would be sequestered, please try to remember that wedding planning is stressful and can make people act funny.

I say go, make the trip and use the sitter. Lining up the sitter demonstrates how much your neice wants you there. If you make the trip special and don't make a big deal about them not being able to go, then the kids will be fine with it. In addition, try to arrange some time with family members before and after the wedding so the little ones can be with their relatives.

Incidentally, I struggled with the same issue a year ago when planning my wedding. We wouldn't say no kids at all because my husband has two daughters and because we LOVE kids. I asked my 2 1/2 year old neice to be my flower girl. She did and stole the show. But guess what? After the ceremony, she went off with the sitter, who also took my maid of honor's one year old and 5 year old. No one worried about melt downs and the kids had a good time. Have fun! Anon

I read the first round of responses to this and didn't see what was a big issue when I did not invite children to my wedding. Cost. Hotels and other reception sites charge per head, whether the head is 2 years old or 20. And the price per head is usually at least $100, not counting alcohol. Your niece may just be trying to keep the cost of her wedding to a level she and her finace can afford, and you shouldn't be angry with her about that. It's understandable.

Ettiquette dictates that a wedding invitation should list all invitees. So if your chidren's names were not on the invitation, they were not invited. I don't think you can fault your niece for that. I have never seen a wedding invitation that says explicitly ''no kids.'' I think THAT would be poor etiquette.

I'm a mom now and I generally don't plan to bring my child to weddings. You can't depend on a child aged 3 to be quiet during a ceremony, or hold still during a sit-down dinner. Perhaps the child would enjoy the dancing, but my experience has been that the music is generally too loud and the dance floor too crowded for their safety.

Enjoy the grown-up only event as a grown-up and don't be mean to the bride about your own dissatisfactions. It's not about you or your kids, and she has enough to worry about. mom

I've been reading this thread with some amusement, as I'm planning a wedding right now. We had a different problem -- kids are not an issue, we love them and want them there -- but there are some people who have acquired recent boyfriends or girlfriends (or worse, just think they should bring a date). We explictly invited the single friend, and many people have added the uninvited person on the RSVP. It's not that we don't like these people, they are just not people we are close to. Anyhow, it's amazing how many people don't know how to read the invitation. For one, it's a matter of cost and space. For another, we want to include the people for whom our marriage is important, and those who are important to our marriage. And yes, this is our day, and we have planned it the way we want it. Try explaining this to someone who has clearly already included an adult who is a romantic interest!

Incidentally, I was surprised how many parents have volunteered to leave their young ones at home in favor of a date night out. A bride and groom who could care less about being upstaged!

I am SO surprised with the kind of advice you are receiving!

First of all, we are talking of a wedding, not a business luncheon. It is a family gathering, because a new person gets admitted to your family; two families get together to become one extended family. There is no way children can be deliberately excluded!

Are we talking about inconvenience? Children making noises during the ceremony? What about the elderly people with shaky hands or relatives whose wheelchair makes unpleasant noises? Would you exclude them too? A little girl stealing attention from the bride? You people watch too much TV! It's not about images, for heaven's sake - the meaning and beauty of a wedding is way more profound than this.

It is just crazy to commercialize everything in the popular culture. Children are not property or pets, and so it is profoundly wrong to ever say ''no chilren allowed''. Not at a family celebration! You don't make them a part of your family life now, and you'll find yourself in a retirement place, not a home when they make their choices later. They'll discard you then just the same way you discard them now: because you occasionally make unpleasant noises.

Now, I do not advocate mandatory participation of children in all family weddings, but the chilren's parents are the only ones qualified to make this choice regarding their children's attendance. Simply because these children are part of them.

Don't think you can do it just because your children won't even notice. They'll get the message all right. I was once excluded from a big family event when I was a child. I did not understand it at the time, but was deeply offended when I analysed the situation a few years later. It's been hurting for 20 years now, and I could never again relate to the person who initiated this. . .

Your sister will still be your sister after all, did I mention? She stands for her daughter's whims. But who will stand for your children's feelings? It's your call! MK

I see that someone finally mentioned the cost of having children at a wedding and wanted to chime in about that as well. We paid for our own wedding. I got married relatively late in the game and nearly all of my friends had kids of various ages already. We initially intended to include them, but when we did the math, discovered that there were so many that we simply couldn't afford it. We had to make the difficult decision to not invite them, as it wouldn't have been fair to allow some, but not others. As a side note, the children in our families were all relatively grown and so that wasn't really an issue. We did have our two nieces and one cousin, all in the younger set, as members of the wedding and they did stay at the reception, but they were about 8 and 10 at the time. Finally, I never assume that my daughter is invited to a wedding. The invitation was just to my husband and me and that is what I always check as that dictates who is invited. I would go with the idea of using a sitter and you enjoying the wedding. anonymous please

I hope it's not too late to add one more message to the fascinating brew that is ''Children Not Invited to Family Wedding.'' Roughly speaking, there seem to be two camps: couples who want a more formal affair and those who prefer a family celebration. I count myself among the latter, although I can understand the point of view of the grown-ups-only crew. Both are valid and if you're paying for it, you should get what you want. Just remember (1) that family feeling is more important than ego and (2) that important occasions don't have to be ''perfect.''

I was also very glad to see the remarks about guests who insist on bringing their latest flames. (Long-time companions are a different matter.) Weddings are not cocktail parties. (Incidentally, for intelligent advice about weddings, see almost any of Miss Manner's books: fascinating bedside stuff, especially if you enjoy reading about the depths to which humans can sink in their quest for ego gratification, status, and gifts.) Melanie