Wedding Etiquette Forum

What to do when the bride retracts an invitation?

My sister-in-law is getting married this September.  When my parents who live abroad said they wanted to come and visit us in September, my husband asked his sister if it would be ok to invite my parents to their wedding.  We told them there was no pressure, it was just to figure out if we should tell my parents to avoid the weekend of their wedding, or to come at the same time of the wedding.  The bride said it would be no problem for my parents to come, so they went ahead and booked their flight so that their stay would include the weekend of the wedding.  A couple of months later, the bride started to get stressed out about the number of invitations she is having to send out, and has now told my husband she is having second thoughts about whether it's ok for my parents to come or not.  She said she will decide last minute.  My parents keep asking us what present they should buy, and what hotel they should book for the wedding (the wedding will not be in our town).

I am pretty upset about this situation, because we asked her in advance if it would be a problem - we asked before my parents booked their flight and before we made plans.  My husband doesn't know what to say to his sister, but I also really don't know what to say to my parents.  Who is in the right here?  How should we proceed?  I feel sort of insulted by this situation and I am considering not going to the wedding anymore.  I see my parents only a few times per year, and don't want to miss out a weekend with them while they are here.  If they are no longer invited to the wedding, I would prefer to spend the weekend with them and miss the wedding.  But I know if I don't go to the wedding, my husband will be pretty upset.  What should I do?
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Re: What to do when the bride retracts an invitation?

  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    So, I'm not going to focus too much on this, because what's done is done, but in your shoes, I would have asked my parents to visit a different weekend. However, I don't know you and your schedule in September might be hella crazy, or the other weekends might have been very inconvenient for your parents. Either way, they've already booked their flights, and they're coming that weekend.

    I understand that your sister-in-law is very stressed. It sounds like the wedding is now bigger than she wanted and can afford (presumably her husband-to-be feels the same way?). And when you have to cut the guest list, you start with the people you are the least close to--like your sister-in-law's parents.

    HOWEVER: By telling you and your husband that it was okay to invite your parents, your sister-in-law effectively put them in the same category as people who receive save-the-dates. Getting a save-the-date means that, if you plan to attend, you can start saving up for transportation/hotels, you can start booking flights, whatever. It's done with the assumption that you will get an invitation, and that's why it's VERY rude to send a save-the-date and not invite the person to the wedding.

    So yes, your sister-in-law is being rude. First of all, why hasn't she ALREADY sent the invitations? Second of all, deciding last minute might be more helpful for her, but it's even more of an inconvenience for you and your parents. So they won't know till the last minute if they should book a hotel in the town of the wedding? So they won't know till the last minute if they should try to cancel their flight? That's honestly ruder than just uninviting them.

    Things your husband can say to his sister: "I'm really sorry that this is such a source of stress for you. I can't wait till your wedding because you'll finally be able to relax and celebrate! However, fnsio's parents have already booked their flight. I know that you no longer want to invite them, but they're coming and it's too late to change that. You don't have to worry about managing them--fnsio and I will make sure they have a nice time. Meanwhile, they're excited to celebrate and they want to know if there's any particular gift you would like."

    If she says yes, you can call her and say, "[Sister-in-law], I want to thank you for letting my parents come to the wedding. I know it's a huge stress for you. After the wedding/honeymoon, I'd love to take you on a spa day, my treat, to make up for all the anxiety!"

    Things you can say to your husband if his sister says no: "[Husband], I know that it's not your fault that this happened, and that you can't force [sister] to follow wedding etiquette. That's okay. The problem now is that my parents are in town to see us, and even if the weekend can't proceed as planned, I really want to spend time with them since I rarely see them. Let's sit down and work out a plan so that I can spend as much time with them as possible."

    I mean, can you skip the rehearsal dinner? Leave the reception after dancing starts? Not go to any morning after brunch? Don't worry so much about being rude: if your sister-in-law breaks the rules, then you're going to have to as well. Just be polite about it. And do not be petty. You're not skipping out on wedding stuff to teach her a lesson. You're missing some of the festivities because your parents are in town and you need to spend time with them.
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  • If I could take it back, I would definitely never have asked.  Actually, if I had the option, I would skip the wedding myself.  It's just the timing of the wedding that was bad, because we wanted to be able to have my parents over around the same time.  Had I foreseen this, I would have made different plans.  But from the original discussion we had with the bride, we had not understood that it was going to be such a burden.

    I now feel really bad for my parents, who still think they are invited, and are thinking about what they should get as a present, and looking forward to seeing my husband's parents.  It's going to be tough to uninvite them to the wedding.  I actually think that offering to pay for my parents could be taken as an insult (cultural difference), but I almost want to do it.  The money side of things don't bother me at all, and I would be happy to cover the expense.  It's more the fact of them inviting, and uninviting which is the problem for me.  I'll see what my husband thinks of the idea.
  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    scribe95 said:
    I would just be honest with the bride. "So after you so graciously said they could come my parents booked flights and have been looking forward to your wedding. I understand now you are worried about the extra invites and wanted to offer to cover their costs. We don't want this to stress you out."
    I like this. I think that the husband should be the one to talk to his sister, though.
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  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
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    scribe95 said:
    I would just be honest with the bride. "So after you so graciously said they could come my parents booked flights and have been looking forward to your wedding. I understand now you are worried about the extra invites and wanted to offer to cover their costs. We don't want this to stress you out."
    All of this.  Your husband needs to tell his sister ASAP that your parents already made travel arrangements because they think they are invited.
  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    I wanted to add that if his sister keeps saying, "I'm not sure, I'm going to make a decision last minute," that's not something that's going to work. "Last minute" is not going to make things any more convenient for anyone.
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  • A verbal invitation is an invitation so to retract it is horribly rude. Your husband needs to explain the situation to his sister and let her know that they have planned this trip around her wedding and her word. Personally I would not attend if she says they can't go.
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  • edited August 2013
    You were both rude but what's done is done. The best thing to do moving forward: I agree with scribe's suggestion of offering to cover their costs and I agree with phira that you should have your husband handle this....it's HIS sister. They can be more candid with each other.
    Blue_BirdOjitosVerdes
  • Why can't your parents just go out and do something else on the evening of the wedding? I think that you were rude to ask they be invited to the wedding and rude to think the wedding should have taken into consideration the timing of their visit. Treat them to a dinner and a movie while you are attending the wedding and move on....this isn't that big of a deal.
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  • Wow, awkward to have the bride "un-invite" your parents after previously having verbally agreed to it.  But until her guest list is finalized she has a right to change her mind about extraneous guests based on her budget and venue, even if it's inconvenient or awkward for you. 

    You invited your parents to someone else's event, before the guest list was finalized, and before invitations went out.  They based their travel plans on an event without having first received an official invitation.  This is understandable given the situation, but technically an etiquette misstep.

    No matter what happens, I think you need to be honest with your parents.  They're your parents, the responsibility falls mostly on you.  Tell them that unfortunately they won't be invited after all, because the bride had to cut the guest list due to space issues, and apologize profusely.  Hopefully they will understand and not be offended too badly. 

    As far as what to do with your parents during the wedding, you can:

    (a) neither of you attend the wedding and spend it with your parents because it's the bride who changed her mind.  This runs the risk of upsetting your husband's family, or once SIL sees that her change of mind might mean her brother won't attend, maybe she'll change her mind again. 

    (b) Suggest your husband attend without you, send your regrets, while you spend some one on one time with your parents.  This will probably upset your husband a little, but it's a fair solution.

    (c) both of you attend the wedding, and send your parents to the movies, a show, or nice dinner - your treat.  They might be a little resentful at being left out after they came all that way to see you, or they may enjoy themselves.  Either way, it's just for a few hours, they're adults and shouldn't "need" to be entertained 24/7.

    (d) You and/or your husband attend the ceremony, then skip the reception in order to take your parents out to dinner or a night on the town (Hey, you'll already be dressed up).  You will have fulfilled your family obligation to both families and will save your SIL a little extra on reception costs.

    (e) See if your parents can change their travel plans, and offer to pay the extra to change their flights.

     

    *IMO, options d and e are the most practical and fair.  Someone already suggested that you ask the bride if they could still be invited if you pay for the extra 2 guests dinner/reception bill.  That is a possibility if the only issue is the extra guests to pay for.  But IMO, it's not very polite to interfere in someone else's event and guest list, and SIL is probably already stressed enough.

    PrettyGirlLost
  • Blue_BirdBlue_Bird Bawlmer member
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 500 Comments First Answer
    edited August 2013
    You should have your husband apologize to his sister for putting her in such an awkward situation in the first place, and then apologize to your parents for your etiquette misstep. Ask if they can come another weekend in September, and pay for their flight change. I honestly don't know why they would have any interest in attending the wedding of virtual strangers.

    You and your husband need to attend the wedding.
    AlexisA01PrettyGirlLostNYCBride2013NYCMercedes
  • Blue_Bird said:
    You should have your husband apologize to his sister for putting her in such an awkward situation in the first place, and then apologize to your parents for your etiquette misstep. Ask if they can come another weekend in September, and pay for their flight change. I honestly don't know why they would have any interest in attending the wedding of virtual strangers.

    You and your husband need to attend the wedding.
    All of the above. I'm horrified that you put the bride in this situation. How awkward for her. And now she's obviously regretting her decision and is honestly probably hoping that you and your DH will say "You know what, don't worry about it - they don't need to come." But instead you've but her in the position of having to invite people she doesn't want too. In addition, you keep saying you don't even want to go now. She's your SIL. Stop making HER wedding all about you and your visit with your family. Your behavior is out of line here, not the brides. 
    AlexisA01PrettyGirlLost
  • scribe95 said:
    I also don't understand why your parents can't be alone on one night.
    agreed.
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  • While both sides are at fault here, you for having your husband ask his sister if your parents can come, and the bride for retracting her invitation. I also have to say your parents are a little at fault as well. I would never make flight arrangements without having an actual invitation.

    There's not much you can do now. I agree with some of the PPs and see if they can transfer their flights to another weekend, or have your parents do something while you are at the wedding. It's probably not the best idea to skip the wedding, and you certainly shouldn't have H skip it since it's his sister's wedding and I'm sure he'd never hear the end of it from his own parents.

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  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers

    While both sides are at fault here, you for having your husband ask his sister if your parents can come, and the bride for retracting her invitation. I also have to say your parents are a little at fault as well. I would never make flight arrangements without having an actual invitation.

    There's not much you can do now. I agree with some of the PPs and see if they can transfer their flights to another weekend, or have your parents do something while you are at the wedding. It's probably not the best idea to skip the wedding, and you certainly shouldn't have H skip it since it's his sister's wedding and I'm sure he'd never hear the end of it from his own parents.

    I agree with this.  If your parents can't change their travel plans, I'd at least find out if there is something they can do while you and your FI attend the wedding (I think you should attend with your FI).
  • Wow, I'm so surprised at some of the remarks.  My parents have spent a few thousand dollars to come and visit me from overseas.  A wedding dinner for 2 probably costs a couple of hundred dollars.  I think the financial burden is definitely on their part.  I made the initial misstep in etiquette, I agree.  But I did it thinking that we all got along, and that it wouldn't be a big deal.  My parents really like my husband's family, they get along with my in-laws and would be happy to share this special moment with the family.  And when my husband initially talked to his sister, she sounded like it wasn't a big deal.  But now apparently it is.

    I'm a bit stunned at some of the responses on this forum.  It seems that some people think that brides have the right to everything, regardless of how it makes people feel.  Weddings are not only about the bride and groom, they are also about uniting two families and two lives.  One of the most enjoyable moments of my wedding was to see so many people from different parts of our lives come together to share the special day with us.  It wasn't only about us, it was about all of the people in our lives.  During our wedding we also had some friend's of friends attend, because they tagged along on the trip (some friends came from overseas and brought along a +1).  We were happy to see them there.  It added to the festivities.  It seems like not everyone feels the same way though.  

    What I have realized from this discussion however is that perhaps my parents won't be all that disappointed.  They do know the bride and groom, and my husband's parents, but maybe they will be more understanding than I expect.  It is only a wedding after all.   And some brides are more gracious than others, that's all....
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    fnsio said:
    Wow, I'm so surprised at some of the remarks.  My parents have spent a few thousand dollars to come and visit me from overseas.  A wedding dinner for 2 probably costs a couple of hundred dollars.  I think the financial burden is definitely on their part.  I made the initial misstep in etiquette, I agree.  But I did it thinking that we all got along, and that it wouldn't be a big deal.  My parents really like my husband's family, they get along with my in-laws and would be happy to share this special moment with the family.  And when my husband initially talked to his sister, she sounded like it wasn't a big deal.  But now apparently it is.

    I'm a bit stunned at some of the responses on this forum.  It seems that some people think that brides have the right to everything, regardless of how it makes people feel.  Weddings are not only about the bride and groom, they are also about uniting two families and two lives.  One of the most enjoyable moments of my wedding was to see so many people from different parts of our lives come together to share the special day with us.  It wasn't only about us, it was about all of the people in our lives.  During our wedding we also had some friend's of friends attend, because they tagged along on the trip (some friends came from overseas and brought along a +1).  We were happy to see them there.  It added to the festivities.  It seems like not everyone feels the same way though.  

    What I have realized from this discussion however is that perhaps my parents won't be all that disappointed.  They do know the bride and groom, and my husband's parents, but maybe they will be more understanding than I expect.  It is only a wedding after all.   And some brides are more gracious than others, that's all....
    Your parents spent money because you put the bride on the spot by asking her to invite two people who weren't on her original guest list.  What gave you the right to do that?  It wasn't the fact that your parents live abroad or are planning an expensive visit.  The fact is, you had no right to expect her to invite them or even be "understanding" just because they were planning to travel overseas.  It wasn't up to you who she invited to her wedding.
    AlexisA01[Deleted User]NYCMercedesPrettyGirlLost
  • SKPMSKPM member
    250 Love Its 100 Comments Second Anniversary First Answer
    edited August 2013
    OP, I agree with the majority of PPs above, in that you did (inadvertently) bring this on yourself and it would have been simpler, in hind sight, to pick a different week to entertain your parents.

    That said, your generalities about "brides having the right to everything, regardless of effect on other's feelings" is way off base. For example, had your SIL (as the bride) brought the same factual situation here ("I agreed to invite my brother's in-laws at my SIL's request, now money is tight and the wedding is in a month and I don't want to invite them anymore"), I guarantee you that posters here would be telling her that she needs to suck it up and follow through with her verbal invitation. That yes, it was rude for them to request invites for her parents, but that the bride agreed and would be rude to cut guests at this point.

    Etiquette is about the comfort if others. Since you asked, people are considering the bride's "comfort", and had the bride had asked, people would be considering the guest's position.

    Edited to add: that is, etiquette is about how YOU can best respond to a situation with as little rudeness as possible to others. You can't control how the bride handles the situation, only how you react, so the advice given was with regard to your actions. Please don't take PPs recommendations as code for "the bride is in the right"

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  • fnsio said:
    Wow, I'm so surprised at some of the remarks.  My parents have spent a few thousand dollars to come and visit me from overseas.  A wedding dinner for 2 probably costs a couple of hundred dollars.  I think the financial burden is definitely on their part.  I made the initial misstep in etiquette, I agree.  But I did it thinking that we all got along, and that it wouldn't be a big deal.  My parents really like my husband's family, they get along with my in-laws and would be happy to share this special moment with the family.  And when my husband initially talked to his sister, she sounded like it wasn't a big deal.  But now apparently it is.

    I'm a bit stunned at some of the responses on this forum.  It seems that some people think that brides have the right to everything, regardless of how it makes people feel.  Weddings are not only about the bride and groom, they are also about uniting two families and two lives.  One of the most enjoyable moments of my wedding was to see so many people from different parts of our lives come together to share the special day with us.  It wasn't only about us, it was about all of the people in our lives.  During our wedding we also had some friend's of friends attend, because they tagged along on the trip (some friends came from overseas and brought along a +1).  We were happy to see them there.  It added to the festivities.  It seems like not everyone feels the same way though.  

    What I have realized from this discussion however is that perhaps my parents won't be all that disappointed.  They do know the bride and groom, and my husband's parents, but maybe they will be more understanding than I expect.  It is only a wedding after all.   And some brides are more gracious than others, that's all....
    To the bolded...that really is great that they get along so well; however, I'm sure there are plenty of other people that "would be happy to share this special moment" that the bride and groom were unable to invite.  Also, perhaps inviting your parents caused some inadvertent stressors with other non direct family members...
  • Wow, looks like my comment struck a chord there, seeing all the angry responses.

    Thanks for the "support". 
  • fnsio said:

    Wow, looks like my comment struck a chord there, seeing all the angry responses.

    Thanks for the "support". 

    Supporting someone doesn't mean blindly agreeing with them or validating their ideas and feelings.

    People gave you some advice and food for thought. No one here turned you away or said you were a bad person.
    That's more "support" than others have given you off these forums, I'll bet.

    As someone said, we can only advise You on what You can possibly do to rectify the situation because You were the one that posted. Had the bride posted here, we'd have to try to help her the best we can.

    You are in a sucky and awkward situation. Make the best of it or wallow in it. We'd rather support you in ways that help you make the best of it.
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  • fnsio said:
    Wow, I'm so surprised at some of the remarks.  My parents have spent a few thousand dollars to come and visit me from overseas.  A wedding dinner for 2 probably costs a couple of hundred dollars.  I think the financial burden is definitely on their part.  I made the initial misstep in etiquette, I agree.  But I did it thinking that we all got along, and that it wouldn't be a big deal.  My parents really like my husband's family, they get along with my in-laws and would be happy to share this special moment with the family.  And when my husband initially talked to his sister, she sounded like it wasn't a big deal.  But now apparently it is.

    I'm a bit stunned at some of the responses on this forum.  It seems that some people think that brides have the right to everything, regardless of how it makes people feel.  Weddings are not only about the bride and groom, they are also about uniting two families and two lives.  One of the most enjoyable moments of my wedding was to see so many people from different parts of our lives come together to share the special day with us.  It wasn't only about us, it was about all of the people in our lives.  During our wedding we also had some friend's of friends attend, because they tagged along on the trip (some friends came from overseas and brought along a +1).  We were happy to see them there.  It added to the festivities.  It seems like not everyone feels the same way though.  

    What I have realized from this discussion however is that perhaps my parents won't be all that disappointed.  They do know the bride and groom, and my husband's parents, but maybe they will be more understanding than I expect.  It is only a wedding after all.   And some brides are more gracious than others, that's all....
    I agree with what the others have said here.  You are the one who created this mess by putting your FSIL on the spot.  By nature, (most) people try to be accommodating and polite when they are put on the spot.  It just got worse when she first said yes, then retracted.  She probably got it down to "I will make the decision at the last minute" because of RSVP issues and plans that were made that you infringed upon.

    My 4th DD just set her wedding date last week so this isn't my first rodeo.  I bolded a line in your response because it rubbed me wrong.  Your parents are choosing to come see you and it is costing them a lot of money.  That has NOTHING to do with the wedding.  Your casual statement that "A wedding dinner for 2 probably costs a couple of hundred dollars" is incredibly rude.

    Yeah, it's a couple of hundred dollars.  That is a LOT of money!  And your parents trip and that wedding have nothing to do with each other so the idea that your parents are taking the financial burden in this is ridiculous.  If one of my  DD's guests were to see my money for this wedding in such a light I would not be happy.

    You put this train in motion.  Apologize to  her, offer to pay for your parents dinners, or have them do something else while you are at the wedding.
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  • SKPMSKPM member
    250 Love Its 100 Comments Second Anniversary First Answer
    fnsio said:

    Wow, looks like my comment struck a chord there, seeing all the angry responses.

    Thanks for the "support". 

    Your OP literally ended with "what should I do?" And people gave you numerous recommendations. Sounds like some struck a chord with you, as no one sounded angry but you.

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  • fnsio said:
    Wow, looks like my comment struck a chord there, seeing all the angry responses.

    Thanks for the "support". 
    Angry responses? I didn't see one single angry response. In fact, these ladies were very nice and offered helpful advice. Both you and the bride were in the wrong, but two wrongs don't make a right. You can't force her to allow your parents to attend, even if that is the right thing for her to do. You can only work with what you've been given, which is the fact that your parents are now uninvited. Make some fun plans for them while you're at the ceremony with your FH, and then either leave after the ceremony or after dinner to meet with them. I guess I don't see the big deal about your parents spending a few hours without you.

    After 6 years and 2 boys, finally tying the knot on October 27th, 2013!

    PrettyGirlLost
  • fnsio said:
    Wow, I'm so surprised at some of the remarks.  My parents have spent a few thousand dollars to come and visit me from overseas.  A wedding dinner for 2 probably costs a couple of hundred dollars.  I think the financial burden is definitely on their part.  I made the initial misstep in etiquette, I agree.  But I did it thinking that we all got along, and that it wouldn't be a big deal.  My parents really like my husband's family, they get along with my in-laws and would be happy to share this special moment with the family.  And when my husband initially talked to his sister, she sounded like it wasn't a big deal.  But now apparently it is.

    I'm a bit stunned at some of the responses on this forum.  It seems that some people think that brides have the right to everything, regardless of how it makes people feel.  Weddings are not only about the bride and groom, they are also about uniting two families and two lives.  One of the most enjoyable moments of my wedding was to see so many people from different parts of our lives come together to share the special day with us.  It wasn't only about us, it was about all of the people in our lives.  During our wedding we also had some friend's of friends attend, because they tagged along on the trip (some friends came from overseas and brought along a +1).  We were happy to see them there.  It added to the festivities.  It seems like not everyone feels the same way though.  

    What I have realized from this discussion however is that perhaps my parents won't be all that disappointed.  They do know the bride and groom, and my husband's parents, but maybe they will be more understanding than I expect.  It is only a wedding after all.   And some brides are more gracious than others, that's all....
    You do realize that YOUR family (your parents) are not at all part of the "two families" that are joining? Like... not even a little bit. I agree that the Bride should hold up her end of the bargain. But it seems clear that you guys put her in an awkward position. Since she did "verbally" invite your parents you can be pains about it and let her know how excited your parents are, and how their travel is already booked, AND you could even arrange for your parents and you and your DH to send your gifts ahead of time to really seal the deal. Or, you could be considerate and tell the Bride that you understand the guest list is tight and if it'll make things easier your parents don't have to come.
    PrettyGirlLostSimply Fated
  • edited August 2013
    fnsio said:
    Wow, looks like my comment struck a chord there, seeing all the angry responses.

    Thanks for the "support". 
    That's what crutches are for...
    image

    On the real, OP. You asked people what you should do. Obviously it's rude to ask someone if you can invite extra people to their wedding when they weren't planning on inviting those people. And obviously it's rude to retract a verbal invitation. And obviously the bride is freaking out about wedding costs as many brides do. So offer to pay for your parents and get it over with.
    *********************************************************************************

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