Wedding invitation advice

megansgramApril 23, 2007

I need some help. I received a wedding invitation that stated it was an adult only reception. I was wondering what age you thought would be considered an adult in this case. I asked a member of the wedding and they never responded. The bride failed to write names on the inside envelope so that's no help. Any suggestions?

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That would be 18-and-over.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 5:49PM
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I've never seen that on an invitation. I assume that children and adolescents wouldn't be included, but beyond that I'm not sure what to assume. If you have a teenager/young adult that's in question, I'd follow up again, perhaps w/ another member of the wedding or a parent?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 6:48PM
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If it's held where there is liqour it might be a 21 and over party only. You really need the bride or grooms family (or themselfs) to answer this for you. I'm shaking my rude to not be clear if you make a rule like this! (I used to cater and have seen some doozies!)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 8:06PM
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What did the outer envelope say? If there is no inner envelope, then the invitation is for whoever is addressed on the outer envelope. Inner envelopes are not required. In your case, if the outer envelope said: Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gram - then just you and your husband were invited. If the envelope said:

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gram
Master or Mr. John Gram

Then you, your husband and your son were invited. Your family can be invited if it reads:
Mr. and Mrs. Joe Grahm and Family
although it's always better to write out each individuals name.

It sound though that the envelope was addressed to you and your husband. So,just you and your husband were invited. I don't think the bride was trying to be unclear at all. I think she wants an adult only party and addressed the envelopes to the adults. If you are wondering if so and so is invited, I think the answer is no. His name would have been on the envelope.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 7:52AM
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I'm sure it states "adult only reception" on all the invitations, not just on one or two ;o) This means that if the envelope is addressed to Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, they are the only ones invited. There may be a "situation" where the bride or groom's family has experienced family/friends who bring their children to every occassion they are invited to, whether or not it's appropriate. It's perfectly acceptable to state "adult only reception" on an invitation, whether it be a wedding or dinner party. It's not a question of being rude or unclear, it's being diplomatic.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 8:47AM
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I agree, I don't think it's rude OR unclear. The invitation is extended to whomever it was addressed to. However, some people don't realize this and want to bring their kids, figuring whatever they are invited to, their kids must also be welcome. The bride and groom are apparently trying to avoid this misunderstanding by saying "no kids". In reality what they mean is, please don't assume it's ok to bring anyone not named on the envelope of this invitation.

So, to be blunt, it doesn't matter what age might be the cut off. What matters is that only invited guests are, well, invited.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 8:57AM
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If a name is not on the envelope, that person is not invited. What did the outer envelope say?

Just an aside, putting "adults only" on an invitation is not proper. It should be enough to just list who IS invited. However, hosts have had to resort to this because so people seem to think their kids should go everywhere and are just shocked (!) that they wouldn't be invited.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 11:08AM
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It's perfectly acceptable to state "adult only reception" on an invitation

Actually, it's not.

It *is* perfectly acceptable to only INVITE adults, It's not actually kosher to say, in print on the invite, who is NOT invited.

But sometimes it is necessary, because there are lots of people who either don't understand the "whose name is on the envelope" idea, or who don't care.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 5:07PM
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There are a lot of things that get done on invitations, about invitations, and, in response to invitations, that shouldn't. A lot of times, the reason that people feel the need to put Adults Only on invitations, is because, otherwise, respondents don't get it. They feel that "Mr.& Mrs. Pitt" has to mean the little Pitts can come too. I mean, what do they expect when they know I have children? And many think that their little darlings are well-behaved, so they should be able to bring them, right? Even though an invite may be addressed to "Grace Smith", with a blank on the RSVP card for Grace to mark with "1" for the # of people attending, Grace will mark "3" because she wants her sister and her sister's boyfriend to come with her. She thinks it's a fill in the blanks kind of card.
My friends threw an extremely expensive 25th anniversary party for their sister and her husband a couple of years ago. It probably cost as much as a wedding and they invited 200 people. On the invitations, the envelopes were addressed to the couple, "Mr.& Mrs. Ford" and they had an insert stating very kindly, that there would be no children at the party, that even though they would like to have them, there was no room. Well, they still had people call to ask if THEIR kids could come. It's unfortunate that these situations happen, but, there it is.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 6:46PM
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Unfortunately, because of the way many people interpret invitations, I stand by my original post. I believe that in this day and age it is perectly acceptable to state "adult only reception". Regardless of what the etiquette gurus say, this is real life. Most of us don't live in a hoity-toity poloity world. Most people are not 5th Avenue doyennes, old-money royalty, or country club regulars. I'm not saying that I agree with it, because people *should* have common sense and consideration, but the fact is they don't. You can lead a horse to water.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 2:52PM
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The point is that etiquette rules only work if both ends know and understand them. It's all well and good to follow ettiquette but when it comes down to it, if the person you're sending the invitation to doesn't get it, then you haven't actually succeeded in communicating, and to me, THAT'S bad ettiquette.

As mrsmarv points out, this is real life, and in our current society I can see the usefulness of ettiquite as a guidelne but not as a hard & fast rule. If you don't communicate clearly, you won't achieve the desired results, and all the ettiquette in the world won't help you when a two year old is screaming in the middle of your wedding or when three bored ten year olds are running around the dance floor keeping the adults from dancing.

Not to say that the OP is planning on bringing either a two year old or a ten yr old to this reception. So getting back to the original question.... what DOES the outer envelope say?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 4:01PM
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I don't understand where the confusion comes from. If your name is not on the invitation then you are not invited. It's not complicated.

Some people just refuse to accept that their precious darlings are not invited to everything. My sister is guilty of this. Her attitude is that they are a unit, invite all or invite none. Ridiculous, of course.

I honestly don't think "adults only" helps with those people. They mentally find ways to skirt around it. "They don't mean my children, they love my children". "They don't mean children of relatives, only friends and work associates". "And adult is anyone 18 or over". Etc.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 4:21PM
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I had to add to this thread because I now find myself in this situation and am at a loss.

My niece is getting married in 4 months and has told my mother that there will be no children at the wedding. Her sister's 2 children will be there (ages 4 and 7) because they're in the bridal party but no one elses. My son will be 3/12 at the time of the wedding. He is very, very close with his cousins as wel all live in the same town. I am more upset than I imagined. Part of that is because my niece told this to my mother, rather than telling me herself.

The kicker is that we have NO ONE that can watch our son. My husband will most likely be the one that stays home as this is my niece and I had promised her that I would move heaven and earth to attend her wedding since there were assorted, idiotic family dramatics after her engagement was announced. But I'm stunned. And hurt. Ever since she announced her engagement & wedding plans every member of the family had felt free to criticize, offer input, and tell her how "wrong" her ideas were and I've done nothing but be supportive. I can inderstand her reason for not wanting a tribe of children running unchecked through the reception. But I'm still hurt.

So, anyway, for an invitation stating adults only I would go by the names on the envelope. I'm waiting to see how the envelope with the invite to my niece's wedding is worded.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 10:17AM
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I can understand that you feel hurt, especially since she didn't tell you herself, but I still think that the best thing is to look at it from the bride's point of view. Yeah, her sister's kids will be there, but then if she also includes your son, who else will be hurt that their children weren't invited? And then you get into the old, if I invite Aunt Sigh's son, I better invite Uncle Bob's kids and DH-to-be's family's kids, and my friend's kids, and where do you draw the line? So the line has been drawn - kids who are part of the wedding party and no others. I would venture to guess that those two kids will not be at the reception - at that age, it's best to whisk them off to a babysitter as soon as the ceremony & pictures are over.

Do you really know no babysitters? Don't you and your husband go out sometimes without your son?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 11:58AM
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First of all ~ don't assume. She *may* make an exception where you are concerned, but if she does she runs the risk of alienating other family members/friends whose children are excluded. The fact that she has told her mother of her plans, but not you, is really not the issue. It is her mother, and thus they have a different family dynamic. The fact that her mother told you is up for discussion (I think she should have kept quiet and let her daughter deal with it).
Bottom line is this ~ if there are no children invited, except the ones in the bridal party, you will have to understand that this is her decision. You told her that you would move heaven and earth to attend, and so be it. I wouldn't approach the subject with her because that would only make her feel uncomfortable and/or obligated to invite your son. You mentioned that you have been the one to be supportive of her plans and ideas. Should the fact that she is (possibly) not including your son going to change how you feel about her plans and ideas? If it does, I would suggest your support was not as sincere as you might believe.
You have some time to see if there is someone you could find to babysit. Start now to see if there is anyone among your friends, neighbors, or members of your congregation who would be willing and available to help.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 12:03PM
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Lowspark- on the rare occasions that my husband and I do go out my SIL will watch our son. She's the mother of the bride and so will be at the wedding. We really don't go out without him. Aside from our not having a babysitter we both work full time & don't feel like we get to spend enough time together as a family so nights, weekends and holidays are spent as a threesome.

And her sister's children will definitely be at the reception.

Mrsmarv- My niece told MY mother that there would be no children invited to the reception. I'm sure that she told her own mother about this as well but it was my mother that told me so that I'd have time to let it sink in. I'm glad that Mom told me but why else would my niece have told my mother about the "no kids" decision if she didn't expect my mother to tell me?

As I said in my post I do understand her desire for a child free wedding. I had one, though mine was a much smaller affair with potentially far fewer children. It doesn't change my being hurt. I'm actually surprised by how upset I am by this. I don't expect her to make an exception for my son. Believe me, I wish that she would but I can definitely see a fiasco as lowspark has outlined it.

I just added to the discussion because I had been reading this thread earlier in the week & suddenly found myself involved in a similar situation. Perhaps my addition was out of place?


    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 12:24PM
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Hi Sigh - I'm going to suggest that you "move heaven and earth" so that both you and your husband can attend this wonderful family event. The wedding is your niece's day to shine, and she should shine. I'm absoulutely sure she wants both of you to attend on the one day in her life where it is so important to be surrounded by those that mean the most to you.

I understand that you don't have a babysitter set up, but it seems you have PLENTY of time to find one. May I suggest you find a preschool teacher from your son's daycare or a mom in the neighborhood who is looking for some extra cash. How about a local college student? Or even a highschool kid from the area whose mom or dad will be home. Find someone who you can trust. Of course, the wedding shouldn't be the first time the babysitter comes. Have her over with you in the house and pay her for the hour of her time. Then go out one night to a movie or dinner with your husband. Your child will not be the worse off for this experience, and you and your husband will be much better off! Then, when you know you have someone you can trust, and you feel comfortable with the babysitter, go to the wedding and have a blast!

Good luck working this out. It's hard to remember that you are not just your son's mom. You are a whole person beyond just that role. Go out and have some fun!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 12:43PM
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Boy, am I lucky, I think. My niece is getting married next month, and she is inviting all the cousins, including my 18 month old grandson. He will be a handful, since he doesn't sit still very long at that age. He can't color, he still tries to eat the crayons.

My DD and I will probably have to move to the back of the church fairly soon after we are seated so we can easily head out the door when he gets restless, and we'll probably be out there with other mothers and grandmothers and young cousins.

I'm thrilled he is invited, and my sister and niece are willing to deal with the unexpected challenges of having these kids there. My DD invited children to her wedding and reception, too. It was a short wedding in the church in the morning and the reception was mostly outside on the terrace, so the kids could move around easily.'s nice not to have that additional responsibility. I'm sure we won't see the wedding or most of the reception, we'll be too busy.

Find a good babysitter and go to the wedding and enjoy it.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 12:56PM
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Sigh ~ not at pertains to the same thing ;o) I will add that since your neice told your mother (my error), what I think your mother should have done was to tell your neice that she would not be acting as a go-between and that she (your neice) would have to be the one to pass along the information. When I've been put is a situation like that, I have asked the person why I was being given that particular information. I would let them know that the information was not going "outside the room". That puts an end to my being put in the middle of a very uncomfortable situation, and it makes the giver of the information the one responsible for dealing with a decision that they have made. Did your neice tell your mother with the expectation of your mother telling you? Or did she actually ask your mother to act as the liaison and give you the information? If so, I think that is immature, irresponsible, and hurtful on your neice's part. Expecting someone else to do your "dirty work" is not the sign of a mature, responsible person.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 1:00PM
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Please don't apply malice where none was meant. I disagree that what your niece did was hurtful, etc. I'm sure she's quite busy and it was an afterthought, or she was uncomfortable telling you directly not to bring your children. But give her a break and think kindly of her during this stressful time.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 1:40PM
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Perhaps my addition was out of place? Not at all! At least I don't think so. Like I said, I can totally understand your hurt feelings. It seems to have become the norm for parents to take their kids everywhere and to expect their kids to be welcome everywhere. Maybe that is a function of so many families where both parents work full time.

I want to make two points here.
1. No matter how busy our schedule is, as parents, we NEED to have adult only leisure time away from our kids. It's not healthy for us as individuals OR for us as married couples to neglect that aspect of our lives.

2. We should not assume that our kids are welcome everywhere. (Nina, I'm not saying that's what you're expecting just that it seems like it's what many people do expect.) There are some places where kids simply do not belong and as parents we have to make a choice to either leave the kids at home or not go to whatever that place or event is.

I like geogirl's advice. Establishing a relationship with a babysitter you can trust and whom your son will get to know as time goes on will be healthy for your marriage and it will keep you from being in a spot for this wedding or the next event your husband and you want to go to where kids aren't invited.

Getting back to your original post, though, I think your point was that you were hurt and that you were surprised how much it hurt. And again, I'll say that I understand that because you expected a certain thing, and a different thing happened and it came to you through an indirect route, and it concerns your son who is of course, very important to you. So now it's up to you to sort of heal from that hurt, to be objective about it, and to decide what will work best for you now. I hope we've helped you a little bit to think it through. And I really hope you do get a regular trustworthy babysitter for this and for the future.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 2:26PM
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gina is right. Your niece probably handled it this way so as NOT to be hurtful.

May family has an old school *respect your elders* tradition. I can totally imagine my dear 20-something niece asking her grandma (my mom) to talk to me about something that would make her uncomfortable. I don't think of it as immature or irresponsible at all.

Because you are so close to your niece, she knows that you usually travel as a threesome. Maybe she wanted to avoid an awkward phone call from aunt sigh, or maybe she just wanted your mom to let you know early that you need to find a sitter.

I hope you and your DH can both attend.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 2:34PM
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I don't see how what the bride did was hurtful. She told Sigh's mother that children would not be invited to the wedding. So what? That is hurtful? It's not like she told her that only Sigh's child wouldn't be invited because the child is (bratty, noisy, etc.). Sigh would have learned when she got the invitation and the child wasn't listed. Now she has even more time to find a sitter. She probably wanted to avoid a confrontation over it. And from the sounds of it (being so hurt, etc.), there would have been one.

I would absolutely not ask the bride to make an exception. This is her day and you just put her in an uncomfortable position. She either has to tell you "no", or tell you "yes" even though she wants to say "no". And she obviously wants to say "no" based on the kid not being invited.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 2:40PM
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Given the relationship sigh says she has with her neice, I do believe it was hurtful from the standpoint that she (the neice) should have been the one to call/tell sigh, rather than having *mommy* do it for her. Sorry if my point sounds cut and dry, but it should have been relayed to sigh by her neice, not through another person.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 2:57PM
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So the question is, WOULD it have been less hurtful if your niece had told you directly?

I think it's good to give the bride the benefit of the doubt -- after all, weddings are usually extremely stressful and maybe the bride was just be looking to eliminate a stressful situation by handling it this way.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 3:30PM
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Well, I've certainly managed to provoke a discussion :).

I appreciate all of the different insights. Let me just start by saying that I'm certain the bride's decision not to invite children to the reception was not meant to hurt me specifically and was certainly not about me. I didn't think that I gave that impression but it looks like I must have. I'm hurt because I won't be able to bring my son to the wedding. I wanted him to be included, to dress him up & show him off, to let him see his cousins all dressed up...whatever my reasons, there they are & they are mine.
This is going to be a large wedding and there are a lot of children in the extended families. Mine is not the only child that will be excluded. And I would NEVER ask nor expect her to make an exception for my son! It's her day, it should happen as she wants it to.

That doesn't change the fact that I'm still upset that he will be. Am I being irrational? Maybe but that's how I feel. And I'm making the assumption that my niece told my mom because she wanted word to get back to me. I could be totally wrong about that.

Sue36- there would not have been a confrontation. I'm not like that. If I WAS that sort of person I would have had my niece on the phone last night. As I said, I understand her reasons. But I'm still hurt.

Momj47- we did attend a wedding with our son when he was about 18 months (specifically invited with child). He ran us ragged and it was certainly a day spent on alert rather than enjoying the event. I'm trying to look at this as a bright side to the "no kids" decision for my niece's wedding. And not having to be in mom mode for a few hours will be nice.

Bunglogrl- how to put this. My family does not have the same "respect your elders" policy that yours does. It's rather a "my way or the highway". My mother has always been accomodating, never making waves and doing everything to keep the peace. As a result family members feel free to speak to her disrespectfully and basically tell her what's to be done. I'm the only one that calls them on it. The accepted method of communication within my family seems to be the grapevine method. She complains to you, you complain to somebody else & eventually word gets back to the complainee. I hate this, absolutely loathe it.

I'm sure that in 4 months I can find a babysitter. Of course I suspect that my husband is delighted with the idea of skipping the wedding & not having to be subjected to my extended family for a few hours.

Lowspark- you're absolutely right, it has become the norm for parents to expect to take their children everywhere. But what I've noticed is that lots of these children are brought but not supervised. There are many times at the playground where I'm the only parent on top of their child. I'm not saying that I'm mother of the year, just that as a consequence a lot of these children are out of control. And formal functions seem no different than the playground. At a christening a few weeks ago there was only one other child there with a parent that was keeping him in line. The rest of the children ran wild through the restaurant, the bar, etc.

But both you & mrsmarv seem to "get" me so I must be getting my point across somehow.

I think?


    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 4:12PM
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>So the question is, WOULD it have been less hurtful if your niece had told you directly?

Yes. Make no mistake, I'd still be hurt but I would have felt better had the "grapevine: not been employed. I would have felt as if she had considered my feelings (all about me, isn't it?) and wanted to soften the blow. But again, I'm assuming that she told my mother so that word would get back to me when in actuality she may just have been simply giving my mom a wedding update. My mother's telling just helped to prepare me.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 4:23PM
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yeah, I think I do get what you're saying. This is a family event, and you wish it would include the whole family, including the kids, so that everyone would see everyone, kids seing their cousins, aunts & uncles seeing their neices & nephews & vice versa, etc. It hurts because that was your expectation and it's not going to happen. Is it irrational? I don't think so -- it's YOUR point of view and you have a right to be hurt. And clearly you are sensitive enough to understand the ramifications of what can happen if kids are invited (the unsupervised ones running amok) or if some kids are invited and others aren't. I think you understand the bride's point of view but it still hurts.

And when you explained about the grapevine method, I really get it because I hate that too. If you have something to tell me, well, tell me. I don't need to hear it from a third person source because you're too chicken to say it to my face. As I said at the beginning of my first response to you, "I can understand that you feel hurt, especially since she didn't tell you herself".

And I also know what you mean regarding having an opinion about a certain thing, then it happens to you and you react emotionally rather than objectively. It can be almost impossible to react objectively in real life in certain situations.

Good luck with finding a great babysitter! I'm sure by the time of the wedding you will have put this all behind you and have a great time! Best wishes to your niece.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 4:41PM
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My family is in the midst of wedding mania right now- my daughter's bridal shower is tomorrow! Her wedding will be this summer, and my son got married in December.

There were no children invited to my son's wedding, and there will be no children at my daughter's wedding. Both are black tie, Saturday night affairs. Beside the tumult of children running around, there is the expense. When you open it up to children, it means many more people to pay for.

We love having the children at parties and holidays in our home, but some occasions are just for adults only. Feelings shouldn't be hurt. The bride and groom are entitled to their wedding the way they want it.

One suggestion- at my daughter's wedding, the groom's cousin will bring his 6 year old daughter just to the ceremony to see the "Bride & Groom"! Then she will go home with her babysitter. She will get to see everyone dressed up, and see the beginning of the cocktail hour and leave!

Sigh, enjoy the wedding with your husband. You two deserve some adult time!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 6:52PM
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Thank you all for your responses. I was surprised at the variety of answers. To complete the saga....

In my case, I was asking for my entire family, my grown children and grandchildren, and my husband and myself, since we all received invitations with a blank inner envelope. However the outer envelopes said "Mr. and Mrs. and family" (for those with children) and the invitation said "adult only reception". I would assume this meant that the grandchildren were invited to the wedding, but not the reception. We are coming from about 7 hours away.

The answer I finally got was that the bride didn't want any of HER family to bring children since there are so many, but of course any children coming from out of town were welcome. I got the feeling the poor bride (we're related to the groom) was guilted into saying this. So we decided that those with small children were staying home and the rest of us would represent the family.

Thank you for taking the time to tell me what you thought--and maybe the future brides out there will try to be clearer.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 11:14AM
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I see all of Sue's points--all her fairness, and all her hurt.

and I'm glad she's going to look for a babysitter.

I believe that every parent owes it to the rest of the world, and to themselves, to be willing and able to find a non-family babysitter. Especially w/ notice.

There are many perfectly reasonable, perfectly safe people out there. Find them. Just as you would find a decent mechanic and a decent plumber.

You need to have a name or 6 on tap--what if someone gets sick suddenly? What if DH and you desperately need some couple time to save your marriage?

Build options into your life.

And, re: the grapevine: maybe the bride didn't have time to call everybody, and wasn't thinking of her aunt specifically, but wanted help w/ ALL the people she'd need to notify.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 5:41PM
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