Latino Weddings

HELP! Why won't my Hispanic inlaws return RSVPs?

I am a White American marrying a Mexican American, who came to the US when he was 10. His parents, aunts and uncles, and one set of grandparents have lived in Wisconsin for 15 years, but they are not "Americanized" at all and only the kids under 25 speak English. None of this is a problem for me and my family. I knew Spanish and lived in El Paso, TX for 3 years before I met my fiance, so I was already familiar with the culture. I eat the food, speak the language, listen to the music, dance.

I love my inlaws, their extended family, and their friends, and they get along great with my family.  Even though our cultures are different, our families recognize we all share the same values. My fiance and I are both trying to be very considerate about culture and we are having a mixed culture wedding. Our families have both been very supportive of this.

We are having a biligual Mass, both bridesmaids and padrinos, American dinner with Mexican appetizer and tres leches cake, bilingual dj, mixed music, ect. There is one thing I did not see coming...the invitations and RSVPs.

We sent out a completely bilingual save the date, and my fiance's family was a little confused, but we explained the concept and they thought that was great. We sent out a completely bilingual invitation with a bilingual RSVP. The RSVP was a stamped post card, so all you have to do is write down how many people and put it in the mail. I asked my fiance if his family would know what to do, and he said yes. He also told his mom you are supposed to fill out the post card and send it back. But none of his family has sent back the RSVP.

I realize there is a cultural difference. In the American culture, verbal word doesn't mean anything, but written word means everything. From what I observe, the Mexican culture seems to be the opposite. Also, his family celebrations (weddings, quiceaneras, birthday parties) tend to be in cheaper venues with buffet style meals, so needing an exact count for a meal or seating chart would seem silly. But our wedding is in a country club with a sit down meal and we need a close count.  How do I get his family to understand we need them to return the RSVP so we know how many tables and entrees are needed?

Re: HELP! Why won't my Hispanic inlaws return RSVPs?

  • tatydtatyd member
    First Comment
    Hi Stacia,

    In Latin America a couple generations ago, the guests used to first get an invitation card headed to each couple invited and in the card and indicative number of how many people they could bring. For example:

    Mr. and Mrs. Rojas & Family
    we are pleased to .... (bla bla)
    Spots ("Cupos" in spanish): 5

    The number included them & their children basically, and you would do this with each of your inlaws who are adults.

    After that about a week later they would get a call from the bride, bridesmaid or wedding planner, to ask them if they were coming and if they would be using all the spots assigned to them.

    Now the american concept is different, you invite them and ask them how many people they're bringing (which they think is already understood) - so it might be useful to just call them, or get somebody else to call them and confirm how many people are coming and trust their word :)
  • Nati05Nati05 member
    1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
    You're absolutely right, there is a cultural difference and unfortunately most in hispanic cultures don't take RSVPs half as seriously as american culture. And I hate to have to say it because I know it's not what you would have wanted, but if nothing changes after weeks/days of you insisting... I would probably cave, start calling your guests up and get verbal responses and their entree choices. My wedding is overseas and I knew absolutely no one would RSVP, and in fact none of them did! But beforehand I had decided, it's no big deal I would send them out anyway so it could give me a reason to call them up and get their answers and entrees. Sorry it's been tough, good luck! :)
  • Im spanish and my fiance is white and honestly im fearing the same thing with the rsvps. When I had my sweet 16 i had to hunt my family down because they wouldnt return the rsvps. You have be be honest with them. If you havent recieved them call them and make it a point to let them know that if they dont respond there will not be a seat for them at the wedding. I know it sounds rude but they are being rude by simply not doing their due diligence in sending back the rsvp.
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  • I think you'll definitely have to call them. I'm planning a wedding with my Ecuadorian fiance and am expecting a aimilar situation although we explained the concept individually ahead of time. My fiance plans to make calls regardless, however, for a couple of reasons. 1) Hispanic weddings are not typically pay-by-the-plate affairs. In Ecuadorian culture, if a guest is invited, that means they may also bring friends or other family members with them. As long as they come with someone who is invited, they are just as good as invited. 2) In Ecuadorian culture it is often considered rude to deny an invitation. It is not, however, considered rude to accept an invitation and then not show up. We obviously want to avoid any of these scenarios and need to call to reinforce the importance of the two issues in a wedding in this country. I would ask your future husband if tgese are issues that you will need to look out for as well.
    Jazzyliza
  • It's not only Mexicans but all latins are like this. I'm Puerto Rican american and NOBODY in my family will return my RSVPs EVER! It's just the way the culture is. They believe its understood, all you can really do is make sure with them but my experience is asking on the phone is ALOT more productive than waiting for their replies on cards that they probably hung on the fridge
  • Wow, I'm from Honduras and luckily have never had this issue! I fed ex'd invitations to Honduras and granted, they didn't send me the reply cards back, but ALL of them rsvp'd through the site within like 2 days! They were all so excited cuz it was different than what they're used to. What's funny is the site isn't even in Spanish!
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  • edited August 2012
    Assign your fiance/his parents to take charge. 
    We've sent out our invitations, and my mom's going to start making calls to our family next week just to make sure they understand the process [even though it's still a couple of weeks til the deadline]! 
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    Jazzyliza
  • ...and that was a super long introduction to a simple question! Cliff notes! 
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  • My FMIL is calling family in Puerto Rico to see if they are considering coming to buffalo. She saved me about 15 plates. She said her last 2 sons (she has 6 boys) who got married had about 3 empty tables so she took initiative this time.
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  • Being Puerto Rican and having dealt with similar situations for my sister, cousins and friends (which includes (Central Americans, South Americans, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans). With my sister's wedding we received no RSVPS we called all all the guests and 90% stated they would be in attendance, all were accounted for on the big day.This seems to be a univeral latino thing in my experience. Believe me you will need to call them and take a verbal count. This is very distinct difference for hispanics and make sure to ask who the plan to bring, as they like to think weddings are parties and the more the merrier.
  • When you send older Latinos invites, it is assumed they and whomever lives with them, will be in attendance.  Go and stop by and see them (make an excuse, maybe show photos flowers from the wedding or something wedding related) just to get their input.  Explain that you need to give the card to the folks at the venue, so they should fill it out and give it to you.  Don't make a deal of it - just explain how happy you are and how you are looking forward to dance and eat with everyone.  It will be okay!  Hang in there.  Your wedding sounds fabulous and you are very considerate and wonderful to bring in your hubby's culture into the event.
    Jazzyliza
  • OMG- I feel your pain! I am from the South where traditions are still quite formal and by-the-book. My fiance is from Venezuela. I haven't sent out the formal invitations but I am already mentally prepared for the RSVP hunt. Just suck it up and start making those phone calls!
  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    I'm white but my fiance is Mexican (born there but very Americanized) and his his brothers all happen to be married to Puerto Ricans.

    While talking about wedding planning with my future SILs, most were surprised by RSVP cards. Based on what I'm hearing, I'm assuming that we'll get card responses from my family and a lot of text messaging to his family.

    My FI suggested leaving them out for his family and only sending them to mine but it seems too rude. We'll see how it goes!
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