Is this as tacky a I think?

dixieagleFebruary 6, 2008

My daughter's future MIL was unhappy that we "limited" their part of the guest list to 150 (!) which is the same as our list. This means that she is unable to invite all of her husband's employees and spouses (60 in all.) She has chosen, instead, to invite them to the rehearsal dinner, and to have a gift table there!!! I am appalled and embarrassed that we will be in any way associated with this. She is a wealthy, bull-headed woman, used to getting her way, but clearly lacking in the area of etiquette. I had suggested, when she expressed her disappointment, that she and her husband host a small, post-honeymoom party or reception for the happy couple for the employees. No dice. Has anyone else ever heard of inviting to the rehearsal dinner people not invited to the wedding?

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We've had our issues regarding rehearsal dinner customs, but I've NEVER heard of this proposal.

She could invite them to a pre-wedding engagement/celebration dinner or to a post honeymoon reception. But to include non-wedding guests to the rehearsal dinner? And solicit gifts?

NOPE! Never in a million years.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 1:15PM
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That's what I thought (knew, actually...) I think I may have a solution (aside from my daughter and future son in law taking on this dragon.) I just hired a coordinator for mainly the week of, and day of the wedding. She is very experienced. I think I may ask her to call and introduce herself to the groom's mother, chat a bit, ask about her plans, and then express her concern (I know the wedding planner will have a coronary...she doesn't yet know about this little development. I will fill her in before she calls.)Might work...

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 2:01PM
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But it might not, and if not, you will just have to resign yourself. You can't be held accountable for the faux pas of another person and with any luck you will never have dealings with these guests again.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 7:24PM
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If I were invited to a rehearsal dinner and hadn't received a wedding invitation, I would assume, unless I was told otherwise, that they invited me to the wedding but the invitation was lost in the mail or something. I can see this creating some awkwardness with people asking about the wedding invitation.

I feel sorry for your daughter. You really only have to deal with her for the day, your daughter has to deal with her for a good 30 years or so. The groom can't talk any sense into the woman?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 11:50AM
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Most folks steer as clear as possible of her, with good reason. She is an unhappy, angry, controlling woman, always needing to be the center of everything; it grows out of a deep seated inferiority complex due to a difficult childhood. Now that she is very well off, due to her husband's success, she uses money as a weapon, or to bribe and bully. She is obsessed with looking good to others, and is most upset that we "limited" the guest list, thereby necessitating her cutting somewhere. Her husband's employees got the ax (and should likely never have been invited anyway, as I think that borders on coercion for a gift, etc.) Therefore, she is using the one thing in the wedding she can control - the rehearsal dinner - to "make up" for leaving them out of the wedding. Ironically, those who come will likely be there because they won't want to cross her, not because they want to!

Her son is the one real good egg in that family and has stood up to her in the past, infuriating her. He has to choose his battles carefully; my dd will also discuss this with him, as men aren't nearly as up on the etiquette of weddings, etc. Though he thinks it's ridiculous too invite these people, he might not be as aware of the real faux pas happening as a wedding-obsessed female might.

We'll see. I am thinking of arranging a little lunch get-together with the dragon lady, my daughter, our wedding coordinator and a mutual friend who will be helping out at the wedding. Could prove interesting.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 12:33PM
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in the old days, when the Victorians had servants, the servants would be invited to the ceremony but not the reception. And they didn't give a gift.

The idea was that the servants had seen the bride or groom grow up, and of course were interested in his welfare, emotionally involved, and would like to be there for the part that mattered. And that the family would want them there too.

But they weren't really equals, and so didn't socialize together (the ceremony itself being a religious rite, not a social event), and including the servants in the reception would be awkward for all.

And the servants did NOT give a gift. Perhaps the nanny or the personal maid might give a small token--perhaps an embroidered handkerchief, or something, much more emotionally based than financial.

That's sort of what should probably happen, but nobody knows about that anymore; we don't really have servants. And it sounds like she wants the gifts (even if they aren't for her)

The person who needs to stand up to her is the DAD, whose employees these are. And he needs to make it business based. To invite them to this event, and to have a gift table, implies that they must give a gift. And if he EVER needs to discipline them in some way--ding the for a raise because they come in late too often; reward them for work extra-well done, etc.--then this wedding, and this invite, and those gifts, will undermine his authority at the very business that has made his family well-off. His employees may wonder, did they not get a good raise because they didn't give an expensive present? Did someone else get a promotion because they DID give an expensive present. Must they give an expensive present to keep from looking bad to the company boss?

Maybe his son can help him see that, but he is really the one with the biggest potential problem.

Of course, the other issue is that your DD and DSIL-to-be will lose the intimacy that can come w/ the rehearsal dinner when it's just the participants. So that's one other issue that could be brought to bear. (it sounds like the MIL isn't going to pay any attention to the "it's rude" idea)

Your DD could maybe circumvent her MIL-to-be by announcing that after the honeymoon, the couple wants to invite all those employees, the ones who helped her FIL to success, to their home for an open house, or something. And then she'd have more ground to insist that the rehearsal dinner remain more intimate.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 12:50PM
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As crappy as it is for her to push to have more guests, I have to say that if she really has to have them there for show that inviting them to the wedding as long as she is paying for the extras is the best way to settle this peacefully.

As was said, your daughter has to live with this lady for a very long time, to start off on a bad note isn't good. While I don't doubt that she is thinking of these wacky things to get her way in the end... letting her win is easier and saves more face. Inviting them to the rehearsal dinner should be a no no.

This should be a last resort though. I'd hate to see your daughters day ruined due to this witch.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 8:30PM
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The analogy to the servants attending the church ceremony in the "old days" is interesting. Ironically, I told the MIL that the employees would be more than welcome, as would anyone, at the ceremony (large Cathedral) and suggested a small party after the honeymoon for the employees, if she felt they somehow needed to be involved; they could not care less, for the most part. FSIL and DD both worked there part time - the dad is a successful physician and the employees are nurses, techs, receptionists - and they are well aware of how the MIL is feared. The dad won't stand up to her, as I am sure he is oblivious to any faux pas, and she is also nasty to him when he doesn't fully support her. Delightful crew.

We are standing firm on the number at the reception. 150/side is more than generous; that is the number that can be comfortably accommodated at the venue and still allow room for dancing, and DD and FSIL don't want any more people. It's also high time that someone stood up to the woman, and I am glad to do it. DD and FSIL already plan to have little to do with her following the wedding, so they are fine with taking a stand.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 10:38PM
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I like what roselvr said about it being more important to start on a good note than to worry about this party -- it's not like it will reflect on you, anyway.

Let me hasten to add, I wholeheartedly agree that people not invited to the wedding should not be invited to the rehearsal dinner, even without the possible coercive element of the boss-employee relationship, and I actually don't ever like to see a gift table, let alone in this situation.

But I see red lights flashing here for your daughter if you keep calling her husband's mother a "dragon" and acting accordingly. Now, I am sure you are absolutely right about her -- she sounds like a horror -- and there is nothing wrong at all about you venting about her HERE. Just be very sure that no one hears you in real life. The fact that you are only saying the truth, and even what everyone else is thinking, won't stop you from looking catty and competitive. And think of your son-in-law's feelings: he knows the truth about her, but he will still feel bad to see her attacked or ridiculed, and he will feel shame. She is his mother, after all. If only for his sake, be kind.

And although I agree with you that she is making a mistake about this party, does it really affect you all that much? Seems like it's sort of between them and their guests. I do think that your idea of using the wedding planner to try to get her to change her plans would be a mistake:

"I think I may ask her to call and introduce herself to the groom's mother, chat a bit, ask about her plans, and then express her concern ... Might work..."

What she is doing is indeed tacky, but that would be manipulative. Please don't do it. Let her make her mistake with this party rather than set up a passive-aggressive dynamic that may stick for years to come and bring your daughter sorrow.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 11:56PM
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You are right about this rehearsal party being a huge mistake, but it is the "dragon's" mistake, not your dtrs. Gellchom is so right about venting here (and maybe to your husband or your sister or good friend) and NOT to your dtr. or your other kids. Dtr's going to have to get along with that woman for many years, and she'll have to find her own way to do it. Dtr can vent to you, you can sympathize, but it's not a two-way street you can vent back to her on.

"***It's also high time that someone stood up to the woman, and I am glad to do it. DD and FSIL already plan to have little to do with her following the wedding, so they are fine with taking a stand.***" It's their life, not yours, so I don't see how you have a leg to stand on about the rehearsal party. It sounds like it could be the clash of the titans if you get involved. Support your dtr, but don't throw fuel on the fire.

I know I'm getting way ahead here, but don't forget GRANDCHILDREN! If they are in the future, you will have an impossible situation that could be very painful if you and the FMIL must both win your points. Take the high road.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 11:25AM
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The situation is such that future SIL cannot wait to graduate this spring, be married, and put as much distance between him and his mother as possible. There is a lot more to the story beyond the wedding issues. He mourns the fact that is family is not the close, loving family he wants, and knows he and my daughter will have to create that themselves, in their own family. This wedding thing is merely symptomatic. I am very careful never to say anything about her in front of him, however. I cannot say anything directly to her, either. DD and FSIL may yet express their displeasure; they wanted something relaxing and intimate for the rehearsal dinner - that sure isn't going to happen, as things stand!!!

Good advice from all!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 9:31PM
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Hi - chiming in. If you're going the traditional route, you're hosting the wedding (and have told her how many guests she's allowed) and she and her husband are hosting the rehersal dinner. That said, it's up to her how many and whom she invites. Not you. It's "her party". Yours is the next day.

Tacky? Unbelievably so. But it's her party and her right to be tacky. You're her guest that evening. There will be no reflection on you or your daughter, just on her. "Your party", the wedding, will be, I'm sure, delightful and a wonderful reflection on your taste.

At the rehersal dinner, act like a guest, smile, act grateful to the hostess, and let her do her thing. As ugly as it is. :-)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 12:01AM
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lindac might find small comfort and a bit of amusement in thinking of the conversations in the coffee room at that medical office..."You invited to the rehersal dinner?" "Yeah, me too....did you get an invitation to the wedding?" "Nope, did you?""Are we supposed to bring a gift?" "Well maybe your invitation to the wedding got lost...ask Jolene if she got one"
The only possible way to prevent that would be for the Witch or the good doctor himself to inform his staff that although theyw ere not invited to the wedding by his son's future wife's family, they were going tro make sure they had a party and inviting them to the rehearsal dinner....oh and there is a gift registry posted on the bulletin board in the break room."
Tacky tacky tacky....but as has been said....its' their party!
Oh and picture this....if as is usually done, she plans a seating arrangement to mix upo the guests and Bride's maid Jill is seated next to this 50 something X-ray tech and wondering who she is....and asks!
Unbelievable that she doesn't see just how strange this is.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 10:55AM
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I'm so sorry you're all dealing with this. She sounds like a real, :ahem:, pleasure to be around.

The solution is for the kids to simply decline her offer to host the rehearsal dinner. There's nothing in "the rules" that states the bride and groom have to accept anyone's offer to pay for anything. The only way to solve this is to take the power out of her hands.

I like your idea of getting the wedding coordinator involved in this. I think an impartial 3rd party would be a big help here. They're used to dealing with sticky situations, and a good coordinator should be accustomed to taking the heat for an unpopular decision.

Bride, groom and coordinator need to meet with FMIL - with groom and coordinator doing the bulk of the talking. You need to be as far away as possible when this discussion takes place. Mainly because FMIL sounds like that special type of dysfunctional who will project her anger onto you. It needs to be absolutely clear to her that this decision is coming from her son.

There is a lot more to the story beyond the wedding issues. He mourns the fact that is family is not the close, loving family he wants, and knows he and my daughter will have to create that themselves, in their own family. This wedding thing is merely symptomatic. I am very careful never to say anything about her in front of him, however.

Good for you. That silent support you're giving him is the best thing you can do for him. And it sounds like he's a good guy with a solid understanding of what marriage is really all about - the creation of a new family unit.

I disagree strongly with the suggestions here that everyone involved just suck it up deal with her dysfunction. It sets a very bad precedent and empowers her to continue with her manipulative behavior. And she most certainly will continue with this behavior throughout their married life until they finally get up the courage to tell her "no more". This is the perfect opportunity for bride and groom to establish healthy boundaries with her. It will be difficult, but their marriage will healthier and happier if they deal with it now.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 11:42AM
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flattie, whether or not it is a good idea for the bride and groom to try to change her behavior by confronting her (and we all know how well that works), that doesn't necessarily mean that it is a good idea for the bride's mom to jump in, too. The point about grandchildren was excellent.

As well, I don't see how being manipulative (e.g., "getting" the coordinator to talk to her) is the way to teach someone else not to be manipulative.

The original question was whether the plans for the party are "tacky." I think most of us agree that they are. But as several people have pointed out, it's not dixieagle's party, so it's not for her to try to dictate the plans. Indeed, she is a guest -- which means that to interfere or to criticize the hosts' arrangements to the couple or to other guests would itself be "tacky."

But it was NOT tacky to vent about it here. Dixieagle, thanks for taking everyone's comments in the spirit intended. I hope your doing the right thing here provides a great example for everyone involved for the future. I am certain you won't regret it.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 12:03PM
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It's always fascinating reading other people's takes on situations you know are nuts, but feel powerless to do anything about.

I am a real traditionalist when it comes to weddings, as is my daughter, and we go out of our way to make sure that we don't do anything hurtful, in bad taste, or that seems greedy. We don't go for the multiple showers that are so popular these days (a mutual friend of both families has offered to host a lovely one, and there will be a little lingerie shower given by a bridesmaid that week, and that is it.) The thought that we will even be in attendance at something that I (and apparently everyone else but you-know-who) regard as beyond classless bothers me to the core. DD and FSIL are discussing today whether it is worth it to push the issue; they know that we would be happy to have a barbecue in the yard here, which would suit them fine, and hate the size of the rehearsal dinner, totally aside from the employee aspect. Just FYI, FSIL apparently DID speak to his mother plainly a week ago and tell her he didn't want the employees there. As usual, she did what she wanted. He has to tread carefully, as no one wants to anger her to the point where she makes the wedding day miserable, which she would do. She apparently is also out to outdo the reception menu and ambience, according to DD. Am I surprised? :) I didn't know until recently that she often asks how I have done something, what I served for a holiday dinner, etc. There is a competition going on that I hadn't entered, I guess!

Venting is so helpful, as I so often have to bite my tongue, as I wouldn't hurt sweet FSIL for the world. He has had long odds against his turning into the kind, generous person he is; the family is materialistic, demanding and self-centered, and he was often ignored in favor of the "golden child", who is a real piece of work. He and DD are a good pair, and they will be fine. They also will have as little to do with his family as possible, and don't want them influencing any children. So sad.

Oh well, back to checking my "to do" list!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 2:22PM
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You are taking a mature approach. Congrads. As other said, you, DD and FSIL should go, and thank your hosts. I feel bad for the employees also. My guess is they will regard this as a command performance.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 5:27PM
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