Wedding Etiquette Forum

FMIL / Rehearsal Dinner

My future mother-in-law is both traditional and frugal.  She feels strongly about hosting the rehearsal dinner.  That's fine, except that she doesn't want to spend any money on it.  My fiance and I are not pretentious people, but she doesn't even want to provide the basics.

Initially, she wanted to order pizza at her house.  When I gave her the headcount (roughly 30 people), she complained that she couldn't afford that many people and asked me to start cutting people off the list.  Mind you, I only included those required to attend the rehearsal (plus spouses of the wedding party) and immediate family - the most essential people.
I told her it would be rude to tell folks you have to come to my rehearsal, but only a selection of you are invited to dinner.  I tried to offer some suggestions of nice but affordable restaurants or ways to cut costs (we even offered to chip in or ask my parents to co-host) rather than people off the list.

She ignored all my suggestions and became fixated on a second class restaurant that is a 45 minute drive from the church.  She now tells me that she's booked that restaurant and expects guests to pay for their drinks - not even soft drinks are provided.

I know that if she's hosting the dinner, I should just let her plan it, but I'm worried that people will associate the bad etiquette with my fiance and me.  We've already decided to provided gift certificates for dinner to our out of town guests, since my FMIL obviously will not invite them to dinner, and I feel bad not providing that since some are traveling up to 3,000 miles to spend the weekend with us.

Should I just keep my mouth shut?
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Re: FMIL / Rehearsal Dinner

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    How in the world is pizza more expensive than a restaurant?

    I agree that water, soda and coffee/tea should at least be provided, but these breeches in etiquette will reflect poorly on her, not you.
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    your fi will have to handle this...since you're not getting married until may, you have time.

    he will have to be direct with her and tell her that it is rude to expect guests to pay for ANYTHING at the rehearsal dinner and that he and you will NOT be a party to any rudeness....furthermore, the venue is much too far away.   too bad she went ahead and booked it without your ok so she'll just have to eat the loss...i'd book the place i wanted and pay for it myself....she sounds like a real prize...good luck!
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    I think you and your FI need to get together to come to a solution.  That could mean using the restaurant but paying for drinks or telling her that no, that's no way to honor your friends with a 45 minute drive.

    Where is your FI in this?
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    Does the church have a dining area that you could use after the rehearsal?  My IL's just used that area and decorated really nice and had food brought in from a restaurant.  It was actually really nice and people loved that they didn't have to drive anywhere extra.  Plus, there obviously is no alcohol allowed so providing regular drinks for everyone was sufficient and budget friendly. 
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    In Response to <a href="">Re: FMIL / Rehearsal Dinner</a>:
    [QUOTE]I think you and your FI need to get together to come to a solution.  That could mean using the restaurant but paying for drinks or telling her that no, that's no way to honor your friends with a 45 minute drive. Where is your FI in this?
    Posted by banana468[/QUOTE]

    Those are my thoughts too.  If you decide to stick with this plan of the restaurant 45 minutes away, you and your FI need to cover the drinks.  What does he think about all of this?
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    when you say immediate family you just mean brothers, sisters, parents, and grandparents right?

    If she refuses to budge can you and yoru fi pay for drinks??
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    edited January 2010

    I would initially say to just keep your mouth shut and accept her generosity graciously, even if you feel it isn't very generous.

    If you're that concerned about soft drinks at the 2nd rate restaurant, then call the manager and offer to pay for them yourselves and have them tell your FMIL that they've decided to include them for free. Or similarly, call a more local restaurant that you don't think is second rate and explain your situation and off to pay the difference of cost if they tell your FMIL that they'll give her a flat meal rate. IE, your FMIL pays $8 per person and you pay the difference without her knowing. It's sneaky, but if this is bothering you that much that might be a way to get what you want without breaking with your FMILS traditional side.

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    We did exactly what Stack did.  We had BBQ brought in to the fellowship hall for like, $8.50 a person, which included 2 meats, 3 veggies, bread, banana pudding, sweet tea, water, lemonade, plates, silverware, and servers.  The food was awesome; everyone went back for 2nds and 3rds.
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    I'm also interested to know where your FI stands in all of this.

    But I agree with PPs, to arrange to pay for drinks yourselves. Also to have FI talk to his mother and explain how grateful you both are that she wants to host & contribute, but that you are adhering to etiquette guidelines and paying for the guests drinks if she won't.
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    I'm also confused as to how pizza is more expensive than a restaurant.  That makes no sense.

    We had pizza and wings at our ceremony location.  We paid something like $10-$12 per pizza, and each pizza fed 3-5 people (depending on how much each wanted to eat), so that's WAY cheaper than any restaurant I've ever been to.  Add in the soda and lemonade we got for drinks, it still comes in under $10 per person.

    I agree with everyone else that you and your FI need to figure out how to make sure that the essential people are invited and are treated properly.
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    Agree with your FI on what you MUST provide, how far you are willing to ask people to drive, etc., and then have your FI talk to your FMIL. 
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    I also want to know what your FI thinks.

    If he's with you, I think it's time to say thanks for the offer, but we won't accept unless you are willing to adhere to minimum requirements of etiquette.  That means covering the drinks (even at your expense) and not asking guests to drive 45 minutes to a restaurant. 

    It certainly doesn't need to be a nice place, but it should be closer than that.  How about a pizza place?
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    I have an idea.  FI's parents are in a similar situation.  We're having a February wedding, so it is cold. We're having soups and bread at the church after the rehearsal.  It isn't fancy, but it isn't expensive and everyone gets fed. 
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    Not sure how you should handle the 45 minute drive issue but I think you can definitely tell FMIL that you and your FI will cover the cost of the drinks.  We are in a similar situation with FI's parents, and we'll be covering the bar tab for our RD (which we expect to be higher than the food cost, frankly).
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    This is a FI problem that needs a FI solution.  Not you.
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    Thanks for all the responses.

    My fiance completely agress with me, but says his mother has always been stringent.  He's not sure what to say to her, but recognizes her poor choices as just that.

    Stackeye - It's a Catholic church, so there's no dinner area.  I don't know if we would be permitted to use the rectory.  We've had get-togethers there before, and alcohol could be served.  I could ask.

    kkchisholm - Immediate family means my brother and his wife, my sister and her husband and son (the ringbearer); FI's sisters and one of them is married with kids; their daughter is the flowergirl; our parents; we didn't included grandparents.

    I'd be perfectly happy with paying for drinks.  It's a matter of whether or not she'll let us.  I'll see if my fiance can at least convince her to let us to do this much.

    As far as pizza being more expensive, trust me, I don't get it either!  That would have been fine with me.  At least everyone could have participated.  I think she decided her house was too small, and that's what made her decide to go with a restaurant.  FI and I suggested a pizza restaurant we love and go to all the time; they have a private room for parties.  But it all seems to fall on deaf ears.  :o/

    Thanks again for your responses and advice.
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    Honestly, I think you need to both look at the larger picture here.   Your FI sounds like he doesn't want to hurt his mother's feelings but what about ALL of the guests who will be there?  Is that how he wants them to be thanked?
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