Wedding Etiquette Forum

Rehearsal Dinner Nightmare - What would you do?

drewisesupdrewisesup member
10 Comments First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper
edited August 2014 in Wedding Etiquette Forum
Brace yourselves. This is a long one, but it's a necessary vent. There are Etiquette elements to this issue, Wedding Woes/911 elements...it just needs to fit somewhere.

My fiance and I are getting married mid-November, and unfortunately these issues have just come to light. Overall, it would have been best for all involved if the issues had been addressed months ago, but we have to deal with what's at-hand now.

Background: Our wedding is sort of "non-traditional," in the sense that my FI's parents are paying for a lot of it. My parents are also paying for quite a bit (certainly nothing to scoff at) and giving their time and energy, but cannot afford to contribute quite as much as the FILs, as my parents ended up having to pay for the majority of my brother's wedding two months ago (long story). My FILs actually came to us and very generously offered to pay for all of the components that they are paying for (itemized down to the cent in an Excel spreadsheet so that there would be no budget confusion). We've stuck to it.

Earlier this year, my FI casually mentioned that his parents had decided to host the rehearsal dinner at a barbecue restaurant that I had never been to but that I had heard was kind of dive-y. It's also nowhere near our church or where any of our bridal party lives. I was initially upset because the FILs hadn't consulted us at all to see if it was even something that we would want (the place itself, or barbecue food in general). We went there for lunch one day, and it was fine for what it was (quick-service BBQ), but definitely not what I had in mind for our rehearsal dinner. I tried to keep a positive attitude and see the best in it, as they had already put down the deposit to reserve the entire restaurant (again, without our input -- not a small expense). It was at that point that I learned that they were planning to invite 45 people who are coming in from out of town for the wedding.

While I traditionally have only been part of rehearsal dinners that involve the bridal party and close family (and was hoping to have a more intimate rehearsal dinner for us), I definitely understand the desire to host/thank all of these people who are spending time and money to come into town to celebrate us. So while it wasn't ideal, I was okay with that -- we are grateful for everyone who is traveling to celebrate with us.

Fast-forward a few months to last night, when my FI and I are inserting Rehearsal Dinner response cards into specific invitations from a guest list that my future MIL had provided. I realized that my FILs had never let me know how many people my parents were going to be able to add to the list. So my fiance called his parents, and they let him know that they feel that the rehearsal dinner is "the groom's party" and since they're paying for it, they did not plan to include my family. No one from my family (aside from my brother, who is in the wedding party. Otherwise he wouldn't have been included). And yet, they had just sent an updated spreadsheet of their rehearsal dinner guests, who had grown to include their in-town friends (not even family). The FIL's extended circle of friends is now invited to the rehearsal dinner, for a grand total of 75 guests, when they haven't even considered making room for my parents or my grandmother.

I'm not even asking for anywhere near the representation of my FI's family -- it's essentially going to be a second reception/family reunion for his family -- I'm literally only asking for my parents, my grandmother, and a close aunt and uncle who will be doing readings during the ceremony. While I understand and respect that my FILs are paying for the rehearsal dinner, so they should have a say in the decisions, it seems wrong and disrespectful for my family to not even be acknowledged. After all, I am half of this wedding and their son's future wife. My family will become his too, and it's not like my family is not paying for ANYTHING with the wedding -- they are making a significant contribution. And our families have always gotten along without a problem in the past. It's also uncharacteristic of my future in-laws to completely disregard peoples' feelings and opinions (or maybe it's just more characteristic of them than we realized). I can't imagine sitting at our rehearsal dinner and trying to enjoy it without any of my family there. Am I supposed to just tell them to go home after rehearsal while everyone else heads to dinner?

My FI, thank goodness, is just as upset as I am about it. No matter how much we try to logically speak with the FILs, though, they seem more like they just want to win than consider another perspective. In my ideal scenario, they can host their party for the out-of-town guests the way that they want to (because it's clearly not about us/what we want, anyway), and I'd like to go with a small group of the bridal party and close relatives for an intimate rehearsal dinner at the restaurant where we had our first date (just pizza and wine in a cool, walk-able area of the city -- I'm not trying to get super fancy. Just a step up from quick-service BBQ and a circus of 75 people). We would likely end up paying for it. My fiance doesn't seem to think that this would be able to happen (not because we can't foot the bill, even though that wouldn't be great -- but because there's no way that the FILs would let it fly). FI is going to talk to them later this week about inviting my family to give them a few days to cool down. He's hoping that talking to them without me there will allow them to explain the situation more openly.

The worst part is that all I want to do is talk to my parents about it to get their opinion about what we should do, but I know they'd just be upset and hurt, and it would probably create a pretty big divide between our two families. I don't want to do that to anyone involved. It's just not productive -- we'd have to maneuver around everyone's hard feelings forever.

This is a situation in which it seems that no one will be happy, regardless of the solutions presented. But shouldn't it matter at all that FI and I are happy? And now we're getting close enough to where we have to finalize what the plan is and send out the invitations soon, but I don't see a good resolution on the horizon.

I truly didn't see this one coming and have no idea what to do. What would you do? Has anyone ever dealt with something like this?
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Re: Rehearsal Dinner Nightmare - What would you do?

  • drewisesupdrewisesup member
    10 Comments First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited August 2014
    Thank you for your thoughts and support!

    @martha1818 - That's a good idea. I would love to do that, and I'm going to talk to FI about it tonight. I'm a fairly non-confrontational person (youngest child, always the peacekeeper!), and the FILs know it, so maybe it's just easy to walk all over me if I let them. You present a great point, but I'm actually not concerned about them withdrawing funds. While they are fairly well-off, they are extremely specific about how they spend their money. Everything they're doing is tied up in contracts, so they'd just lose it all, and I don't think they'd go there. But you never know, right?

    @lyndausvi - I know. I told my FI that last night. As of today, at this moment, I am not going unless something changes. It's just rude and hurtful to handle. If this is how I feel now, I can't imagine how my family would feel.

    @misshart00 - I'm strongly in that same camp right about now. :)
    PrettyGirlLost
  • @southernbelle0915 - Thanks for your perspective. It honestly didn't even cross my mind that I could decline a party -- they just sort of forced it upon us, like "Oh, by the way, this is happening." It's helpful to look at this from the outside in. I feel like I'm so wrapped up in what is going to make everyone else happy that FI and I really have to remember that this should be for us. And the FILs could still have their big to-do, because they really seem to need that. Why shouldn't we be able to have what we want, also? Although, that may mean that FI's parents wouldn't attend our smaller dinner, which would upset him.
  • indianaalumindianaalum member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited August 2014
    Wow, I am really sorry this happening. What a tough situation for you.

    I guess I would try one last time. Perhaps offer to pay for your extra guests??

    If not, I would let them know you will be hosting your OWN "rehearsal dinner" for ALL the participants/SO from the rehearsal. If you go along with their party which excludes people who actually "rehearsed" then you will be breaing etiquette technically as etiquette says to feed all people invited to rehearsal. Do you think they could hear that??

    I guess the other alternative, though not ideal, is change your rehearsal to the night before, host your own dinner for those rehearse including his family if they rehearse, and then truly just make the BBQ a "night out with his family" so that way your family isn't offended. I know it's not ideal, but it also has potential to keep the peace possibly.

    Again, I am sorry this is happening to you
    drewisesupperdonami[Deleted User]
  • @indianaalum - FI has said that we WILL pay for the extra guests (he's insisting upon it, because he's so upset), but it's so bizarre because the FILs are refusing that because we have student loans, mortgage and car payments, etc. It doesn't make any sense. They have MORE than the means required to pay for a couple of extra guests at a BBQ place (a reminder that they literally reserved the entire restaurant for the night), and it's a buffet, which is a set cost per plate. They can definitely pay for it, and so can we, but they won't let us...and they don't want to. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills over here. Appreciate your sympathy and your suggestion -- we're going to try it! :)
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I would decline this event together with your FI and have your FI make clear to them that a "rehearsal dinner" is not a family reunion event for the groom's side only.

    Then I'd plan a dinner that you and your FI pay for that includes both sides.

    drewisesupperdonamiPrettyGirlLost
  • @Jen4948 I am seriously shocked (in a good way) at the multiple responses suggesting to "decline" the event. I didn't even know that was okay/something that people do. It's simultaneously a relief and terrifying, because I know the FIL's reaction would not be pretty. :)
  • Wow, this is mindblowing! It's incredibly rude and tacky of them to not invite your immediately family. Its not like you asking to invite 30 guests, all you want is five people, FIVE! I would organize a separate RD with your family and your BP. If anything, speak with your FILs in person and tell them how uncomfortable you feel about sending your family home after the rehearsal, and for that reason you are going to have an intimate dinner with them instead, but that you understand that they want to have a party with their OOT guests (that last part to smooth over the fact that you won't be attending). 

  • princessleia22princessleia22 Oceanfront Property in Arizona member
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer

    Yeah, that's just horrible. Anyone invited or involved in the rehearsal should be included in the rehearsal dinner.  It's not "a grooms party", it's a "rehearsal party".  I'm assuming your parents are included in the rehearsal, so they should be attending the dinner. And if aunt/uncle are doing a reading, they are likely going to be at the rehearsal, therefore should be at the "rehearsal dinner".  It would be horribly rude to leave the rehearsal and go to rehearsal dinner with his family, but exclude your family.  

    If they aren't able to see the light and invite everyone that is attending the rehearsal, I would probably decline their offer.  Maybe tell them that they are welcome to have their party for their family if they want, but you no longer want it tied to your rehearsal since they are unwilling to include all parties involved in the rehearsal. That may mean that one of your parties needs to move to a different time or day. Or you can have your rehearsal dinner at same time as their "family reunion", but you and groom won't be able to attend their party, as you will be busy properly hosting your rehearsal participants.

    Unfortunately, unless they are willing to bend and invite all rehearsal participants, there really aren't any good options that won't cause some sort of discourse. I hope it all works out for you.

    image 

    [Deleted User]djfiveninePrettyGirlLost
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    @Jen4948 I am seriously shocked (in a good way) at the multiple responses suggesting to "decline" the event. I didn't even know that was okay/something that people do. It's simultaneously a relief and terrifying, because I know the FIL's reaction would not be pretty. :)
    Yes, it's totally okay to decline to participate in something this rude and hurtful.  Don't worry about your FIL's reaction.  They're responsible for the consequences of their actions.
    perdonamiPrettyGirlLost
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I agree with PPs.  Also, kudos to your FI for standing up to his family. 
    PrettyGirlLost
  • Ditto PP's, yes you decline this party as a Rehearsal Dinner if it is not in fact a Rehearsal Dinner. Either they invite your parents, grandmother, and aunt and uncle or you two won't be attending.  Then take your WP/SO's and your family to a place you can afford. They can explain to their family why the bride and groom couldn't make it....we were rude and didn't invite her family. Rude people can only get away with rude crap if good people don't stand up to them. 
    rsbloom[Deleted User]PrettyGirlLost
  • Since they are having a grooms party no need to come to the brides party then you should uninvite them to the wedding. I'm kidding but my passive aggressive self would fantize about it if it were my future in laws. Rude they are setting a course for future events as well. Nip it in the butt. If you were to have children no joint parties? Or things like that. I've never heard of anyone ever doing that. How in all that's holy do they think that's ok on any type of planet. Even if I hate someone I wouldn't exclude them from a event they are involved with. Hell even grandma walks down the aisle
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited August 2014
    Brace yourselves. This is a long one, but it's a necessary vent. There are Etiquette elements to this issue, Wedding Woes/911 elements...it just needs to fit somewhere.

    My fiance and I are getting married mid-November, and unfortunately these issues have just come to light. Overall, it would have been best for all involved if the issues had been addressed months ago, but we have to deal with what's at-hand now.

    Background: Our wedding is sort of "non-traditional," in the sense that my FI's parents are paying for a lot of it. My parents are also paying for quite a bit (certainly nothing to scoff at) and giving their time and energy, but cannot afford to contribute quite as much as the FILs, as my parents ended up having to pay for the majority of my brother's wedding two months ago (long story). My FILs actually came to us and very generously offered to pay for all of the components that they are paying for (itemized down to the cent in an Excel spreadsheet so that there would be no budget confusion). We've stuck to it.

    Earlier this year, my FI casually mentioned that his parents had decided to host the rehearsal dinner at a barbecue restaurant that I had never been to but that I had heard was kind of dive-y. It's also nowhere near our church or where any of our bridal party lives. I was initially upset because the FILs hadn't consulted us at all to see if it was even something that we would want (the place itself, or barbecue food in general). We went there for lunch one day, and it was fine for what it was (quick-service BBQ), but definitely not what I had in mind for our rehearsal dinner. I tried to keep a positive attitude and see the best in it, as they had already put down the deposit to reserve the entire restaurant (again, without our input -- not a small expense). It was at that point that I learned that they were planning to invite 45 people who are coming in from out of town for the wedding.

    While I traditionally have only been part of rehearsal dinners that involve the bridal party and close family (and was hoping to have a more intimate rehearsal dinner for us), I definitely understand the desire to host/thank all of these people who are spending time and money to come into town to celebrate us. So while it wasn't ideal, I was okay with that -- we are grateful for everyone who is traveling to celebrate with us.

    Fast-forward a few months to last night, when my FI and I are inserting Rehearsal Dinner response cards into specific invitations from a guest list that my future MIL had provided. I realized that my FILs had never let me know how many people my parents were going to be able to add to the list. So my fiance called his parents, and they let him know that they feel that the rehearsal dinner is "the groom's party" and since they're paying for it, they did not plan to include my family. No one from my family (aside from my brother, who is in the wedding party. Otherwise he wouldn't have been included). And yet, they had just sent an updated spreadsheet of their rehearsal dinner guests, who had grown to include their in-town friends (not even family). The FIL's extended circle of friends is now invited to the rehearsal dinner, for a grand total of 75 guests, when they haven't even considered making room for my parents or my grandmother.

    I'm not even asking for anywhere near the representation of my FI's family -- it's essentially going to be a second reception/family reunion for his family -- I'm literally only asking for my parents, my grandmother, and a close aunt and uncle who will be doing readings during the ceremony. While I understand and respect that my FILs are paying for the rehearsal dinner, so they should have a say in the decisions, it seems wrong and disrespectful for my family to not even be acknowledged. After all, I am half of this wedding and their son's future wife. My family will become his too, and it's not like my family is not paying for ANYTHING with the wedding -- they are making a significant contribution. And our families have always gotten along without a problem in the past. It's also uncharacteristic of my future in-laws to completely disregard peoples' feelings and opinions (or maybe it's just more characteristic of them than we realized). I can't imagine sitting at our rehearsal dinner and trying to enjoy it without any of my family there. Am I supposed to just tell them to go home after rehearsal while everyone else heads to dinner?

    My FI, thank goodness, is just as upset as I am about it. No matter how much we try to logically speak with the FILs, though, they seem more like they just want to win than consider another perspective. In my ideal scenario, they can host their party for the out-of-town guests the way that they want to (because it's clearly not about us/what we want, anyway), and I'd like to go with a small group of the bridal party and close relatives for an intimate rehearsal dinner at the restaurant where we had our first date (just pizza and wine in a cool, walk-able area of the city -- I'm not trying to get super fancy. Just a step up from quick-service BBQ and a circus of 75 people). We would likely end up paying for it. My fiance doesn't seem to think that this would be able to happen (not because we can't foot the bill, even though that wouldn't be great -- but because there's no way that the FILs would let it fly). FI is going to talk to them later this week about inviting my family to give them a few days to cool down. He's hoping that talking to them without me there will allow them to explain the situation more openly.

    The worst part is that all I want to do is talk to my parents about it to get their opinion about what we should do, but I know they'd just be upset and hurt, and it would probably create a pretty big divide between our two families. I don't want to do that to anyone involved. It's just not productive -- we'd have to maneuver around everyone's hard feelings forever.

    This is a situation in which it seems that no one will be happy, regardless of the solutions presented. But shouldn't it matter at all that FI and I are happy? And now we're getting close enough to where we have to finalize what the plan is and send out the invitations soon, but I don't see a good resolution on the horizon.

    I truly didn't see this one coming and have no idea what to do. What would you do? Has anyone ever dealt with something like this?
    Tell them that this is NOT a rehearsal dinner. Rehearsal dinners are hosted for the people who just rehearsed. Assuming your dad is walking you down the aisle, he should be invited because he would have just rehearsed that with you.  Your aunt and uncle will have just rehearsed doing readings. And your mom should be invited because she is your dad's date SO. (And at our wedding, my mom rehearsed too because the pastor had specific instructions for the moms regarding learning the processional music so they could stand and so let the rest of the attendees know when to stand when the bride came in)

    Have your FI tell them it's incredibly rude to not invite the people who were rehearsing to the rehearsal dinner.

    PrettyGirlLost
  • This is so horrifying! I absolutely agree with PPs that there is no way I would attend this event if my most important guests weren't included... but I do have two questions:

    1. Yay for your FI for standing up for you, but if push comes to shove, is he willing to seriously infuriate his parents and not attended their party in favor of your more appropriate and inclusive rehearsal dinner? I'm just curious... for your sake I hope so, since it seems like that's what might end up needing to happen!

    2. Well I guess this isn't really a question so much as an observation... what does it say about your in laws that to them, including five people from your family takes something away from their vision of the night they wanted (especially when they have 75 of their own nearest and dearest present)? That is the truly troubling thing to me, and if I were in your shoes (and I'm probably a more confrontational person than you are, lol) I would have to ask them that straight up- "How, on the eve of our two families becoming one, does it affect you negatively to have my family present?" I just would really need to know the underlying reason for needing to make such a distinction between "our family and theirs".

    I really hope you get some answers and things work out for you! Keep us posted :).
    Racheldh83
  • I would decline the party. I wouldn't try to compromise or anything. I would just tell them that you would rather them not throw the party at all if your parents are included and if they insist on going through with their plans that you will not be attending
    PrettyGirlLost
  • And I thought my family was screwy! I am so very sorry that you FILs have decided to be so selfish and rude during a time that is meant to celebrate love, friendship, and family.

    I agree with PPs and advise you to skip out on this party your FILs are throwing for their family and explain that you will be spending the time with your family and other bridal party members. If they like, they may join you.

    At least this way you can pick a restaurant you and your FI like. It didn't seem like you were that keen on this BBQ pit anyway. 
  • that is bs the rehersal is for both sides of the family


    our rehersal 4 of my maids were coming from out of town because they were traveling with there parents and siblings we invited all of them as well.

    fi nephews were in the wedding and they were invited with their s/o my parents hosted the party as his mom as not really interested in the wedding at all  we were lucky to even get her to the wedding in the first place ( long story)


    his parents should be inviting your parents and your grandma if that was me i would just show up at the party with them and your aunt and uncle they cant turn them away in front of all those guests.


    its rude and you have every right to turn down the party and host your own
    perdonami
  • drewisesupdrewisesup member
    10 Comments First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited August 2014
    @hyechica81 - That's another good point. Most of my bridesmaids and their families are coming in from out of town. Based on my FIL's logic of only extending invites to out-of-town guests, MY out-of-town guests should also be invited. Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts and advice! FI is talking to his parents later this week, so hopefully I'll have a more positive update to provide.
    perdonamiPrettyGirlLost
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Apparently they don't understand the concept of a "rehearsal dinner". Give them a dictionary or etiquette book. I like the advice of other posters to plan your own true rehearsal with dinner afterward. Let this massive party be something separate from the wedding. If they're not including people from your side, it simply cannot be wedding related. It completely goes against the spirit of a wedding. Unbelievable!
    ________________________________


    [Deleted User]perdonamiPrettyGirlLostpolly212
  • This may have been pointed out already, but could FIL be resentful of the fact that they are essentially covering the costs that they feel your parents should be paying for?  The way you worded it, it seems as though they stepped in when they realized your parents weren't able to pay for as much.   Don't get me wrong, there's no way in hell this behavior is excusable, but it could be an answer for why they're doing this. 

    I, too, would decline and pay for my own RD if they continue this nonsense.  This is definitely a hill to die on.
    perdonami
  • Decline to attend their family reunion masquerading as rehearsal dinner.

    The point of the rehearsal dinner is to thank the people rehearsing for doing so. You may host your own.

    Your FILs sound awful. Start standing up to them now.

    image
    southernbelle0915PrettyGirlLost
  • Something else I just thought of that is kind of weird is how would this speak about you and your values involving family if you were to accept their decision to not include your family?

    To me it would appear as though you are not very family oriented and your FI's family seems to be very family based. As your FIL's I would be disappointed that you were not interested and having your close family members present. 

    This is all kinds of crazy and backwards. 
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Jen4948 said:
    @Jen4948 I am seriously shocked (in a good way) at the multiple responses suggesting to "decline" the event. I didn't even know that was okay/something that people do. It's simultaneously a relief and terrifying, because I know the FIL's reaction would not be pretty. :)
    Yes, it's totally okay to decline to participate in something this rude and hurtful.  Don't worry about your FIL's reaction.  They're responsible for the consequences of their actions.
    Yeah I doubt your FIL is willing to withdraw his financial support for your entire wedding this late in the game. . . as based on your contracts, he wold likely still have to pay for the majority of those contracts.

    I'd have your FI try and have a heart to heart with his family as was suggested, and if they still insist on being asshats, your FI should tell them that unfortunately he and you will not be able to attend this family reunion, pre-reception reception as you will be attending your rehearsal dinner with members of your wedding party and your parents and grandparents.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


    perdonami
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