Etiquette

His family is HUGE

I'm having a dilemma. Wedding background: my dream weeding would be small- 90ish people... this isn't exactly doable for us but with a VERY pared down guest list we are at 138. Fine. My parents are paying for the whole wedding, his parents are not offering any assistance other than the rehearsal dinner. Cost per person is pricey, $200/plate, my parents are ok with this as the guest list is much smaller than they would normally invite. (their idea of wedding invites, not necessarily mine). So my FI has a HUGE family, both parents are one of 5... large amounts of cousins. Their family guest list is significantly larger than my family's. (example I have 4 aunts and uncles total counting both sides) There was a bit of a discussion over where his cousins could bring their plus ones (whom are not married or engaged) his family felt strongly about including them so we agreed to add them to the list (this added 10 people). Now comes the child issue. Many of these cousins and their plus ones have children (young children- young elementary age). I'm saying no go on extending the invites to their children. I should note my FI does not have relationships with these children as they live in other parts of the country. HOWEVER, my three cousins and their husbands/wives do have children (young teen- college age) who are very present in my and my parents' lives. We do want them at the wedding and will be inviting them. Is this really a black and white tit for tat situation? If my few cousins are allowed to bring their children, must his? It's frustrating but super awkward at the imbalance already. Adding all the children on his side will be a significant cost difference. Thoughts?

Re: His family is HUGE

  • Same situation. My immediate & extended family is 16 lol. His is 80. We are only inviting nieces, nephews & his kids (he has 2 from his previous marriage).
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  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    I was invited to the wedding of someone who was, until then, a close friend -- by myself, without my then SO of three years because of a very hurtful "no ring, no bring" policy they instituted to cut their costs. I didn't attend the wedding because I felt as though he and his then-FI had slapped me in the face.

    It's very rude to invite people without their SOs simply because they're not married or engaged. Don't do that. It will only antagonize your guests who are invited alone, along with the uninvited SOs. (It is fair not to give plus ones to unattached singles.)

    As far as limiting guests otherwise goes, I think it is fair for your FI to let your FILs know that they will have to pay for any guests over a specified number. It would also be fair IMO not to invite children with whom your FI doesn't have a relationship. Their parents can get over it.
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  • redoryxredoryx member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer


    Look, I say this from the perspective of someone who had a child free wedding...

    From an etiquette standpoint, you do not have to invite FI's cousins' children. And at the same time, you can invite the kids who are present in your life. 

    From a relationships and family dynamic standpoint, however, you'd be inviting people to a cross country wedding and asking them to leave their kids at home. And then they get to the wedding to find out other people's kids were invited? And they spent hundreds, if not thousands, and had to make arrangements for their kids in order to attend? 

    I understand wanting to keep your wedding small. I understand FI's side isn't contributing and that these are his cousins. But it wasn't his fault he was born into a large family. 


    I agree. I get that it's within etiquette but it just doesn't sit right to me. 

    In my relationship, I'm the one with the huge family and we agreed we a) wanted something small and b) childfree. I have first cousins once removed over the age of 18 so I could have invited them and been well within the bounds of etiquette, but from a family dynamic, I would have felt terrible. So we are inviting our first cousins only, none of their kids. Even the ones over 18. 

    This is one of those situations that I think should be all or nothing. 
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  • I'm sorry if it came across as strictly a price issue; it is not. Yes we have a pricey venue, but are greatly cutting and saving in other areas. I work in decor so all decor will be handled by myself, we aren't doing flowers, again we are staying within a budget set and having it at a location that is very very very special and personal to us and surrounded by natural beauty that does not require expenses that might be incurred at other places. My job also allows for discounts with other venders. (Sorry I'm feeling a bit attacked on that issue- maybe I should have left price out completely... why am I even getting all this haha) The plus ones is a non-issue we have agreed to that (even for those not in relationships- this was what that discussion was over not for those with significant significant others.) I will keep it to an age issue/limit. Again, my cousins' children account for three children varying in age from 13-19 while adding his cousins' children would add the possibility of 26 children under the age of 10 being invited and showing up. (I meant it when I said they were a large family!!!) Maybe I should have gotten into number specifics prior. That amount of children will change the entire dynamic of the wedding of 138 and at any price point is something significant.
    Anyhoo, thank you for the constructive advice received. Consider me resolved.


  • I'm sorry if it came across as strictly a price issue; it is not. Yes we have a pricey venue, but are greatly cutting and saving in other areas. I work in decor so all decor will be handled by myself, we aren't doing flowers, again we are staying within a budget set and having it at a location that is very very very special and personal to us and surrounded by natural beauty that does not require expenses that might be incurred at other places. My job also allows for discounts with other venders. (Sorry I'm feeling a bit attacked on that issue- maybe I should have left price out completely... why am I even getting all this haha) The plus ones is a non-issue we have agreed to that (even for those not in relationships- this was what that discussion was over not for those with significant significant others.) I will keep it to an age issue/limit. Again, my cousins' children account for three children varying in age from 13-19 while adding his cousins' children would add the possibility of 26 children under the age of 10 being invited and showing up. (I meant it when I said they were a large family!!!) Maybe I should have gotten into number specifics prior. That amount of children will change the entire dynamic of the wedding of 138 and at any price point is something significant.
    Anyhoo, thank you for the constructive advice received. Consider me resolved.


    Be careful about this--anyone in a relationship isn't getting a "plus one", you are inviting the couple. It is incredibly rude to write "Joe Smith and guest" when Joe has a significant other who's name you either know or can easily find out. Only people who are truly single should get "...and guest" on their invites.
    OurWildKingdomInLoveInQueensLadyCatherineDB
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers


    I'm sorry if it came across as strictly a price issue; it is not. Yes we have a pricey venue, but are greatly cutting and saving in other areas. I work in decor so all decor will be handled by myself, we aren't doing flowers, again we are staying within a budget set and having it at a location that is very very very special and personal to us and surrounded by natural beauty that does not require expenses that might be incurred at other places. My job also allows for discounts with other venders. (Sorry I'm feeling a bit attacked on that issue- maybe I should have left price out completely... why am I even getting all this haha) The plus ones is a non-issue we have agreed to that (even for those not in relationships- this was what that discussion was over not for those with significant significant others.) I will keep it to an age issue/limit. Again, my cousins' children account for three children varying in age from 13-19 while adding his cousins' children would add the possibility of 26 children under the age of 10 being invited and showing up. (I meant it when I said they were a large family!!!) Maybe I should have gotten into number specifics prior. That amount of children will change the entire dynamic of the wedding of 138 and at any price point is something significant.
    Anyhoo, thank you for the constructive advice received. Consider me resolved.

    It is not your job to decide who a significant significant other is. If they consider themselves in a relationship, however long, it is significant to them. I know multiple ladies on here who got engaged after 3-4 months of dating. I am glad you are inviting everyone, but as PP mentioned definitely give your guests the courtesy of finding out the SOs' names.

    I am okay with you inviting 3 teens but not younger children. If I had little kids (I do) and none of my other cousins' kids were invited, and I knew your FI wasn't close to my kids, I would get that. But there may still be some with hurt feelings. It's not against etiquette to do what you propose, and I understand how it changes the dynamic of the wedding, but that won't stop a few people from feeling hurt. That's all people are asking you to consider.

    However, do not give an age limit. There may be one implied if just teens from your side show up, but I would actually be more annoyed if I saw my cousins' teenagers present and knew your FI was exactly as close with them as he was with my kids - because then it seems totally arbitrary, and not about closeness. I understand not inviting people you aren't close to. I won't understand why 13 year olds who aren't close to the couple can come while 11 year olds can't.

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  • I think since the kids in your family are all technically teenagers and the kids in his family are all younger, you could use age as a cut-off. But ditto PPs who said not to mention child free or "no young children" or anything like that anywhere on wedding-related things. 

    BUT the other thing to consider is that it sounds like his family would mostly be traveling from around the country, correct? In that case, you're asking people to make a long trip without their kids, or leave their children in a place they don't know with a babysitter they don't know. You may have a number of declines for that reason. If cost is an issue, most caterers charge less for children's meals, and some have fairly high age cutoffs. It does sound a bit like you're putting your vision ahead of your guests' comfort; try to keep in mind that after the wedding your FI's family will be your family as well and treat them as you'd treat your own.
    OurWildKingdomInLoveInQueensDrillSergeantCat
  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    First, you are the one who made the mistake in choosing a venue that is $200/plate.  Start there as where your problem is.  ALWAYS do "Ceremony type, Guest list, budget", and THEN look at venues.  

    IMO - "Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander" is your best way to approach this without hurt feelings, especially from FI.  Next, check in to whether there'd be a "Children's meal" discount for those <12.  ASK!  Keep the "rules" equal for both sides.  
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