Pre-wedding Parties
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Rehearsal dinner drama

For the rehearsal dinner, we have some head-butting going on and I am hoping for some advice...

I would like the rehearsal dinner to be very intimate-- just our bridal party, which is already 10 people large, plus their significant others, our parents, and the pastor and his wife. That brings up the count to 28 people. My FI and I are planning to make a few speeches thanking our parents and BP for all they done and presenting them with thank you gifts, so I wanted to keep it to just those people. On top of that, I usually get pretty stressed out with larger parties, especially if I'm supposed to be the center of attention, and usually end up trying so hard to be cheerful and schmoozy that I end up giving myself a tension headache and eventually throwing up, things I do not want to do the night before our wedding. In addition, we are having a very formal, traditional ceremony and reception the next evening and so I was hoping the rehearsal dinner could be very casual (backyard BBQ type thing) where we can spend some quality, relaxed time with those we love most and then have an early night so that we aren't exhausted the next day.

My FMIL, however, really wants to have this huge sit-down dinner and invite all of our out-of-town guests (which is a hugenumber, especially since we are having all the festivities in my parents' hometown, which is about a two-hour drive from FI's relatives...  Of our 200 person guest list, including out-of-towners would mean inviting close to 110 people to the rehearsal dinner). She is especially making a huge deal about inviting her sister, who is her only close relative, but who is also married to a HUGE tool of a 2nd husband (he's a perv and a pompous windbag who won't shut up or let anyone else speak while he's telling his racist, derogatory slur-infested stories). She's very passive-aggressive about the whole thing so, even though I have shared with her the reasons I'd like a more intimate affair, she acts like I'm exluding her sister and others from the whole darn wedding! Even if she doesn't invite all out-of-town guests, that still leaves room for a whole lot of snowball effect (if FI's aunt and uncle are invited, I have four aunts and uncles in-town that we would have to invite, plus he has another aunt and cousin not involved in the BP but who should also be invited if we are opening it up to parents' siblings). FMIL really wants to have this huge affair that I fear will turn into a late-night party that will leave us all exhausted for the big day. I keep saying that we are having the big, formal, 200 person party the next day so I'd like to keep things low-key for the rehearsal, but I think that she feels she has something to prove with the rehearsal dinner since my parents are paying for the big, formal affair the following night (she is very into appearances and etiquite and formality).

My FI doesn't care either way but the poor man is stuck between the two of us (and, of course, doesn't think like a woman, so he told his mom that I wanted a smaller affair and didn't want to invite her sister, which makes me look like a bitchy bridezilla of a FDIL).

I don't really know what to do... We were thinking of perhaps inviting parents of the bridal party, which would include her sister, but would also include people with whom neither of us are close and would bring the head count up to nearly 40 people (which is a pretty big number, IMO). To complicate it, his parents are paying for this dinner so technically they can invite whomever they want. But, don't we have a say in who is invited to our rehearsal dinner or what kind of rehearsal dinner we have? Or should I just grin and bear it so I come out looking like the gracious new DIL, though it may mean a tension headache and me feeling miserable all night and ragged on the big day? Thoughts? Advice?

Re: Rehearsal dinner drama

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    trix1223trix1223 member
    5 Love Its Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_pre-wedding-parties_rehearsal-dinner-drama?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:32Discussion:883d0ba4-48c5-4a51-9f4f-499e6800bf28Post:f99a82e4-bf2a-49bd-9eab-f5ac1375227b">Rehearsal dinner drama</a>:
    [QUOTE] To complicate it, his parents are paying for this dinner so technically they can invite whomever they want. But, don't we have a say in who is invited to our rehearsal dinner or what kind of rehearsal dinner we have? Or should I just grin and bear it so I come out looking like the gracious new DIL? Thoughts? Advice?
    Posted by amatadei[/QUOTE]


    Since they're paying....it's really their say.  Your best option is to thank them for their generosity, but tell them you're going to pay for the RD yourself.

    As long as you accept FIL's $$, you are pretty well obligated to accept the strings that come with the $$.
    "Trix, it's what they/our parents wanted. Why so judgemental? And why is your wedding date over a year and a half ago? And why do you not have a groom's name? And why have you posted over 12,000 posts? And why do you always say mean things to brides?" palegirl146
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    banana468banana468 member
    First Answer First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Ditto Trix.  If they're paying and hosting then they really get to throw the party that they want.

    And think of it this way:
    1) You'll be prepared for the big party the following day this way.

    2) Your friends and family will be prepared for ways to handle the windbag.
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    edited December 2011
    My parents are adamant about the same thing. They feel that it is an expectation for us to entertain our out of town guests the night before because that's what is almost always done at other weddings they have been to. They have often been quite elaborate or decadent cocktail parties that make the wedding feel like it's 2 days long and it's not what we wanted at all.
    When you add up the out of town guests, family and the bridal party, it would leave about 20 people on our guest list of 120 that wouldn't be invited to the night before dinner.
    We thought that was insane.

    My fiance and I wanted a more intimate rehearsal dinner with just our immediate families and the bridal party.

    We have been arguing about it for weeks. In the end, this is the only thing my parents are being adamant about thus far. So we've come up with a compromise.
    We will have the rehearsal on Friday (it's easier at the venue anyway) and host a rehearsal dinner at our house with take-out from our favourite restaurant for just the bridal party, my parents and our siblings. 
    On Saturday night we will have a catered barbecue in the yard of our best man's home, which is large enough to allow for a tent. It will be casual dress, casual buffet-style food, beer and wine only, and an early end to the evening.
    We are getting married Sunday afternoon.

    It is far more than we wanted to do but hopefully will be relaxed and fun, and nothing that will compete with the wedding itself in form or function.
    BabyFruit Ticker Me: 37 DH: 40 Married: 7/31/2011 TTC since September 2011 BFP: Nov. 22, 2012 EDD: July 29, 2013
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    edited December 2011
    Ditto Trix

    They are paying for and hosting the RD, so they get to do it their way.
                       
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    amatadeiamatadei member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Sigh.... this makes me sad.... When did a wedding become an excuse for everyone to have it "their way?" I realize that, in my FI and I joining our lives, we are actually joining two families and everyone close to us has hopes and dreams for our big day and our future, but seriously, I'm so frustrated with the battles and the drama of our wishes, expectations, and wants for the big day vs everyone else's wishes, expectations, and wants. Is there a subtle or respectful way to point out to people that this is supposed to be a celebration of us and therefore, our wants should be taken into consideration and respected?

    I mean, take this situation as a prime example. I do not dislike FMIL's sister... She is wonderful and I enjoy a close relationship with her. However, she is not directly involved in the bridal party and I do not see why she has to be involved. I am very close with some of my aunts and uncles and people who have been like aunts and uncles to me, even if they are not blood related but they respect the fact that the rehearsal dinner is supposed to be for those involved in the rehearsal. They are not offended that I don't want to invite them. They know that there is a lot going on at that point and they are more than happy to take a back seat and party it up with me the next day AND, might I add, at the Sunday brunch we are hosting at my parents' house the day after the wedding in order to see everyone again, celebrate some more with them, and thank them for coming. So, I do not understand why FMIL is insisting that I am slighting her sister somehow if she is not invited to a dinner in which she has no actual role/responsibility. When did a wedding become more than the celebration of two people's love for one another and the joining of their lives?!
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    banana468banana468 member
    First Answer First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I think it became this way when throwing some celebrations started to take on a "keeping up with the Jonses" sort of feel.  Many people feel that you need to invite certain people to the RD because "This is how it's done".  And it is frustrating when you can express your wish for a party to be a certain way but the hostess ignores that wish.

    BUT, the hostess gets to throw the party the way she wants to.  You don't get to tell her how to throw the party if you accept her offer to do it.  It's frustrating but you need to grin and bear it.
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    lisalou402lisalou402 member
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011

    amatadei...banana is right.  The minute you accept an offer to pay, then it becomes that person's party.  End of story. 

    Someone once told me that a true definition of a Host or Hostess is someone who is trying to make their guests feel as comfortable as possible.  In this case, it just sounds like your FMIL is trying to make the OOT guests comfortable and included.

    Personally, I think adding OOT guests opens a BIG can of worms for RD. 

    Is there a way you guys can take control and pay for RD?

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    dianenjnjdianenjnj member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    if they are paying, let them have it their way....

    however, you also can feel free to leave early if you think things are running too late...
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    awolfe2awolfe2 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I would just be up-front with your FMIL about the anxiety and illness you may get during this event.
    "FMIL, we really appreciate you throwing this RD, but because it is the night before the wedding and I have a history of X illness, we will stay for the meal and thank yous but will have to leave to get our rest after that." or however long you're able to stay.
    You can't control her actions, but you can still do whatever you can to avoid getting sick and feeling like crap the night before.
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_pre-wedding-parties_rehearsal-dinner-drama?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special Topic Wedding BoardsForum:32Discussion:883d0ba4-48c5-4a51-9f4f-499e6800bf28Post:196abef4-c930-4385-bfcd-8ea27b3c054e">Re: Rehearsal dinner drama</a>:
    [QUOTE]if they are paying, let them have it their way.... however, you also can feel free to leave early if you think things are running too late...
    Posted by dianenjnj[/QUOTE]

    I was thinking along these lines too.  Let them party it up the night before, but I think people would understand if the bride made a gracious early exit in order to be well rested the next day.  That is what I plan to do.
    Vicki & Ali - 3/5/11 Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    edited December 2011
    eh, just plan on having an extra glass of wine that evening and all will be fine.

    But yes. Tell them your opinion if you feel comfortable but if they want to host a big RD and they are paying for it, you don't really have any veto power.
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    kwelder1kwelder1 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    why not compromise? Let your FMIL invite whom ever she wishes, but instead of doing a formal sit down dinner, do a backyard BBQ. That way she is happy with everyone being there, and if you feel like crap because of all the people and chaos, then you can go to a quiet place(a spare bedroom or bathroom) and lock yourself in :)
    BabyFetus Ticker
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    edited December 2011
    You can't change it.  Your fiance could, if he could stand up to his mother and say, "Mom, this is what I want."  Since he didn't do that, and since she is paying, she gets to have the party she wants.

    That being said...you do not have to stay.  You and your bridal party go for the dinner, a few toasts, pass out the BP gifts and then leave.  Be cheerful!  Say something like, "We need to be fresh and pretty tomorrow because it's a big day for us, so we'll be saying goodnight!  See y'all tomorrow!"
    My baby girl is a married woman...and now my baby girl HAS a baby girl. Time unfolds in such an amazing way. I've been blessed!
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    amatadeiamatadei member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Both FI and I have told her we'd like to have a smaller affair (after his original blunder, he spoke to her and said that we had talked about it and blah blah blah....), but she really wants to invite her sister and her db of a 2nd husband at the very least and, because of ettiquite, that means adding more people than just them to the guest list. I think we've elimiated the thought of her inviting all out-of-towners, but she really thinks that her sis (as she calls her, "all she has," which baffles me b/c she has a husband, two children, and a soon-to-be DIL, all of whom are a part of the rehearsal process and therefore, will definitely be at the rehearsal dinner) has to be there. She also wants her sis to have a corsage for our wedding, but again, that means that we have to give flowers to all my aunts and uncles, too (there will be between 8-12 of my aunts and uncles in attendance).

    Is there anyone who has been in her situation who could perhaps illuminate this thought process to me? I realize that she is close with her sister and I am so happy to be joining such a tight-knit family, coming from one myself. But I do not understand why she feels the need to include her sister in all of her son's wedding festivities. Obviously she will be invited to the wedding and the Sunday brunch the next day, but why is she so adamant about including her in the rehearsal dinner (when she is not involved in the rehearsal) and giving her a flower, etc etc?

    Also, can anyone explain to me the thought process of knowing the wishes of the bride and groom but insisting on having it "your way" anyway? I'd really like to understand so that I can find some common ground with her because, to my way of thinking, this is absurd that the people for whom all of this craziness is happening (FI and I) have voiced their opinions on the matter, yet they seem not to matter. It's the same thing with traditions we weren't planning on observing, such as registering at more than one place (I lost my job two days after we got engaged so we registered at BedBathandBeyond for a large number of items and hoping people who can't find anything they wish to purchase there will give us money), groom's family paying for flowers (my parents told FILs that they could easily pay for flowers and perhaps FILs should gift us the money set aside for the flowers for our HM, since, again, I'm unemployed and we're paying for HM ourselves, but FMIL wants to do flowers b/c that's what's expected), and engagement party (we didn't want to have one and my parents suggested that they use that $, again, toward us in the form of an HM donation but FMIL insisted). What is with people insisting on having it their way or the way they would have done it at their wedding when it's our wedding?!
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    RebeccaB88RebeccaB88 member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    Have dinner, stay for a toast or two, then go on your way.  If the party isn't really for you (just for her), why stay there?  I'd make sure your FI is fully behind you on this and leaves with you, though.  
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