Shaming the Bride or Groom for a Wedding Etiquette Faux Pas Is Tackier than Whatever You Think They’ve Done Wrong – A Rant by Sandy

I got a question on my “Ask Sandy” link from a woman who wanted to know if it was okay for a bride and groom to send only ONE invitation to an entire side of the family. I started to reply to her, but then I re-read the wording of the question and began to question her motives.

“Hi there, just a question. My brother’s stepdaughter from a previous marriage is getting married herself. They will be sending ONE invitation to cover our side of the family. It will save on money, but their honeymoon is going to be in Europe… What do you think?”

Well, first off, I think you didn’t need to point out that the bride was your brother’s “stepdaughter from a previous marriage” as though she is in some way responsible for the fact that her mother and you brother are no longer married and that makes her less of a person. This does not make her any less of a legitimate bride-to-be and rather than bitching and complaining about the invitation, perhaps you should just consider how gracious she is to invite your brother’s entire family (as I can only assume because you are included) despite the fact her mother is no longer married to him and she has no obligation to invite any of you.

Granted, I don’t know how long your brother was married to her mother, how deeply the family connections run, and how close she may be to her former stepfather, other step-siblings, cousins, etc. So it may be an obviously good judgment call to include all of you. Regardless, weddings are expensive and brides and grooms have tight guest lists and the mere fact she’s including her former stepfather’s WHOLE FAMILY is a generous and nice gesture.

But the question was actually about whether it’s okay to send only one invitation to an entire side of the family. Technically speaking, no. That’s kind of tacky if the people on the invite don’t all live at the same address. I’m curious as to how she’s making sure all the people who were supposed to receive the invitation actually get the information, and if she might not just be making her own life harder by only sending out one invite and, theoretically, one RSVP card.

Invitations aren’t THAT expensive. Unless you’re actually having them engraved, in which case, the expensive part is having those copper plates created for printing the invitations, and the expensive engraved printing. Most people use thermography for that look now (although it doesn’t show the letters from the back side so you know it’s not engraved). Chances are that if this is a bride on a budget, she’s not engraving the invites. Meaning she doesn’t have to spend a fortune on them. It would be well worth her time, money and effort to send an invitation to each individual household that is invited to her wedding.

What I found disturbing was that this woman didn’t seem so upset about the etiquette of sending a family-wide invitation to a former step-parent’s family. She seemed angry that she wasn’t getting her own personal invite but was aware the bride and groom were planning a honeymoon to Europe. Basically implying that instead of spending money on more invitations, she’s honeymooning in Europe. That pissed me off.

No, I don’t think the bride is handling her invitations in the most appropriate and effective way possible, but I also do not think it’s any of her former step-aunt’s damned business where she and her fiancé intend to honeymoon or how much they’re spending on that trip. Believe me, the extra 10 or so invites she’d have printed for your family wouldn’t have cost as much as her taxi ride from Heathrow into London. So no, I do not think the bride and groom are being selfish by sending a family-wide invitation and honeymooning in Europe. I do not believe the two are actually connected in any way.

I wasn’t going to respond to this woman – who said we couldn’t use her first or last name when we answered this. But the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got about the way the question was phrased and the motivation behind it. Did she want me to post a very traditional response spanking the bride for the invitation etiquette faux pas? Or did she want to have something published that would shame the bride and groom for not spending an extra $5 to send her a personally-addressed invite so she could share it with all the other mean old biddies talking trash about this well-intentioned bride.

Here’s the verdict, officially. You should send one wedding invitation per household. The internal envelope (most formal invites have one) should indicate WHO exactly is invited – dad, mom, and each child by name, with proper salutations – so that they can RSVP appropriately. It’s poor etiquette to extend only one paper invitation to an entire clan that doesn’t live in the same house.

With that said, the times are changing. More brides and grooms are taking their invitations digital with websites that issue the formal invitation, and tally the RSVPs and dinner orders. I’m not personally on board with that, yet. I think wedding websites with travel information are great, but sending what amounts to an “e-vite” for your biggest day ever… Really? But then again, I fought honeymoon registries online at first too and now I recommend them. It’s better than telling people you just want cash. Elizabeth Post is rolling in her grave, I’m sure.

While it’s was a tacky play to send one invite for her entire ex-stepdad’s extended family, I sincerely doubt the invitations and the bride and groom’s anticipated European honeymoon have much to actually do with each other, as far as the wedding budget goes. More than likely, she didn’t want to send out invites to all of them because she’s not all that enthusiastic about inviting everyone she’s not related to anymore. Or, she just didn’t know any better.  

What’s the moral of the story here? If you get an invite that you know was poorly executed, keep your thoughts to yourself or be snarky to a friend who doesn’t know the bride and groom. Don’t try to publicly shame them. Don’t call the bride out on her faux pas. Don’t call all your other relatives for an “OMG, can you believe she did that?” snarkfest. It’s unnecessary. Feel complimented you’re invited at all. If you feel that strongly about how the invitation was handled, simply decline. You’re supposed to send a gift even if you can’t attend. Perhaps you won’t send a gift, just to match her tit for tat. I wouldn’t recommend stooping to that level. But I think it’s better than trying to publicly humiliate the bride and make her feel badly about any aspect of her wedding.

Sandy Malone is an experienced professional wedding planner and the owner of Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events.

Sandy Malone is an experienced professional wedding planner and the owner of Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events.

If the woman who sent me that question is reading this, I’m sure she’s appalled by my response. I don’t promise to answer the questions sent to me with the answers you wanted to hear. I give you my honest opinion. Feel free to continue to send them to me – just realize that if I’m horrified by what you’re asking, it might end up in a blog.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events!


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