Monday, July 8, 2013

How Do I Keep the Size of My Wedding Under Control?

Dear Jocelyn,
My 
fiancé and I are getting married in June. I come from a family of divorce and both my parents are remarried. My fiance's mother passed away when he was a child and his father is now remarried. This makes both of our families rather large. I am trying to keep our guest list to 175. I decided that all guests under 21, unless married or living together, do not get a plus one.

My 
fiancé's stepsister, who is 18, has been with her boyfriend on again, off again for 3 years. I have decided not to invite him. Not only may they not be together when we get married but I feel that they are young and I would rather use his spot for one of my friends. His stepmother is very upset about this. Should I go back on my decision? My stepbrother who is the same age is not getting a plus one - and neither are any of our cousins who are all around the same age. I felt like this was such a small issue but now it has escalated into a larger issue than it needs to be.
-Confused

Dear Confused,
You are right, this is a small issue; however, judging from the amount of mail I get about this, a surprising number of people don't seem to feel the same way! If she were the only young person with a boyfriend, I might say just make an exception just to keep the peace. However, with so many other teens attending, it would not be fair to make an exception just for her.  The only way to let her bring someone without letting others is to perhaps change the rule to allow immediate family members (such as her and your stepbrother) bring a date - however, you would have to decide if this would be worth the trouble, or if you would just be opening a can of worms.

To keep this from getting out of control (and to attempt to preserve your relationships with your new in-laws!), try first to talk to your fiancé's stepsister, face to face, and tell her your reason for not inviting her boyfriend. Gently say, "I'm so sorry, but I need to keep this wedding under 175 because we simply can't afford any more. I've already told everyone else (list a few people by name) that they cannot have dates, and it would be unfair of me to let you bring someone, and not them." As for his stepmother, let your fiancé explain the reasoning to her.  He knows her best, and can hopefully reason with her. If neither of them are understanding about this, then it might be time to accept that you are likely to have a rocky relationship with them in the future.  As I have written before, marriage is just the beginning for these kinds of difficult relationships.  Whether the issue is wedding guests, where to go for Thanksgiving, or how to raise your children, you are likely to have disagreements with family members. It it wise to learn early on how to handle these issues gracefully, but firmly.
-Jocelyn

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