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It sounds like you do have the basics covered, even a step above with lots of food and premium bar! I was in a wedding that went all out like that and had a great band, stocked party bus for the wedding party, and bottles of wine and candy as favors. Then they seated the wedding party at the head table, arranged like we were in front of the church (women on bride's side, men on groom's side) without our SOs/+1s and so even the one couple who were both in the wedding party couldn't sit next to each other. So don't do that.
If you have extra money you want to throw around, you could give every guest a +1, have welcome bags (or a welcome dinner/drinks) for out of town guests, have a shuttle or Uber/Lyft codes for guests, or have emergency kits in the bathroom (Band-Aids, safety pins, Bobby pins, feminine products, mouth wash, hair spray, Advil, etc.). But it looks like you're really good as it is!
First, I would think carefully about whether you really want to exclude her from the wedding. The best way to help her feel included is to actually include her. Living in a stepfamily is hard, and from the research I did before getting married, having a preteen girl makes it even more difficult. Having her buy in and excited about the wedding and marriage, rather than starting off on a bad note with her feeling excluded, will benefit you all in the long run.
That said, let's say you've considered that and decided this is the best way to start your stepfamily (or this next bit works even if she does come to the ceremony). Find a day after your wedding, but close to it, and designate it as your "family birthday". It's separate from your wedding day/anniversary, which you can keep to celebrate your couple relationship. On your family birthday, decide something fun and exciting to do together, have a great cake/dessert, get a family birthday present, and take time to celebrate coming together and becoming a family. It's a great way to make her feel important and included, while allowing you your wedding/anniversary to focus on your spouse. Make sure to get her input on what to do for the family birthday!
Oh, and I agree with PPs... There is no appropriate and "fun" way to tell your daughter that she is not welcome on one of the most important days of your life, and at one of the most life-changing events of her life. Tell her privately and compassionately, validate her feelings and be understanding when she is disappointed and upset
OurWildKingdom said:cowgirl8238 said:
I know you guys have changes your plans many times, so I'm happy to hear you are on the same page and ready to move forward. I would say:
1. Invite the FSD and/or do as much as you can to include her. I know this is tough with them being OOT...would skyping/facetiming with her be allowed if they refuse to attend, before, during, or after the ceremony?
2. Have a kick ass wedding/brunch and enjoy it! I'm guessing the backlash over cancelling your previous plans and then wanting something on a similar scale was one of the reason for this choice. I think 15 or so people is clearly different from your original list and should avoid any hurt feelings. As others have said just make sure you will both be happy with the plans
The question for you and FI is, is she and your relationship with her important enough to you to make sure she's there, or there something more important than her dictating your date?
Do any of your local friends have kids? Ask them for some names. Also, are any of your local friends around college age? Ask if they have friends that babysit. While you don't HAVE to give your guest recommendations, they asked and it would be nice of you to make a couple inquiries to see if you could get some recommendations
My first response would be to suggest no alcoholic drinks at all. There's no need for it, and I would say alcohol is less common at rehearsal dinners than at weddings. That would definitely respect your FILs need to manage costs and make sure guests are well hosted.
ETA: and just make sure the bar in that room is closed so you don't end up with a cash bar