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Want to know how Miss Emily Ayer came to work at Southern Weddings?  Read our Editor-in-Chief‘s latest post for the skinny.  It’s quite the story, y’all!

lara Written with love by Lara Casey
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Hello lovely ladies (and gents!).  We’re back with another installment of Etiquette with Emily.  First, I just have to say y’all are fantastic!  When I asked for your thoughts two weeks ago on my engagement party guest list conundrum, you delivered like no other – over 35 responses!  The consensus seemed to be that the best option was to hold a more generic holiday party, but to let people know (if they ask!) that Kate + Cormac will be in attendance.  This way, they’ll get to celebrate with friends and family, but without the pressure of save-the-dates hanging over their heads all night.  Thanks again for all of your great input – I loved reading your thoughts!

But on to this week.  Today’s question comes from our very own Katharine!  Like our last question, it, too, concerns guest lists (aren’t they difficult?), but this time, it’s the list for the actual wedding she’s wondering about. 

Here’s the deal.  Katharine is not engaged (yet!), but she’s already looking ahead to the near future, when she will be.  (Side note: can you blame her?!  We work at a wedding magazine!)  In an ideal world, Katharine and Kyle would prefer to have a small wedding (let’s say thirty or so people).  This is not always an ideal world, however, and a small wedding is just not in the cards for these two families. 

The next problem?  Kyle’s family is, like, five times larger than Katharine’s.  For serious.  Kyle’s family also feels strongly about inviting the entire extended clan.  Katharine’s worry?  That her family will feel like guests at the Gibler family reunion.  Another complication?  Katharine’s family is pretty traditional (three cheers for Virginians!), and plans to pay for most of the festivities… festivities that will be large (and expensive!) mainly because of the groom’s extended family.

So her question: Can the available spots on the guest list be split equally between the two sides, or should Kyle’s side be given more slots since it’s larger?  Does the guest list split (or the size of the wedding) depend at all on who’s footing the bill?

Unfortunately, all Ms. Post gives us on the subject is this:

“Traditionally, the guest list was divided equally between the bride’s and groom’s families and friends, but this is no longer considered necessary.  Everyone must keep in mind whose wedding it is.  Certainly the bride and groom will seek input from their families, but it’s up to the couple to make the final choices.  If everyone is willing to be tactful and accommodating, the process should proceed without too much fuss.” (Emily Post’s Etiquette, 17th Edition, page 572)

So what do you think?  Please share!

Have an etiquette conundrum you’d like us to take a stab at?  Email me at emily [at] iloveswmag [dot] com (or click here!). 

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Meghan reply

    Hi Emily!Just my small opinion on this… If Katherine’s family plans on paying for the wedding, I believe that they should have a say on the guest list. They, in the end, hold the purse strings. Having so many guests will obviously make the events more pricey and probably out of the range of what Katherine would look for in a wedding. Not meaning to be tacky, but Kyle’s family wouldn’t be shelling out the extra money for their multitudes of guests- renting tables, chairs, linens, catering, programs, invites, wedding gifts, etc…it all adds up.They should probably set a cap of how many people their budget can comfortably fit and then discuss/decide who are the most important people to each of them. It’s their day and it’s really their decision who they want to have at their celebration with them no matter what their families tell them.

  2. avatar Larry Hammack reply

    We get asked this question a lot during floral consultations… it is a major concern. Overall considerations must be the budget for guests attending.. since Kyle’s family is so large, Katharine’s concern is valid and should be addressed. Keep the guest list equal and no one will feel they are at a reunion. Politely explain that they must stick to the budget and the budget allows X$ for guests. Another celebration can be held for Kyle’s relatives at another date. Additionally, we recommend that the bride & groom finalize the list together, without parental influence. Typically, the couple should not invite someone from work unless they truly socialize with them; same with family.. if you haven’t seen cousin George for 20 years, don’t invite. It’s time to bring back the time honored tradition of Announcements – they really do the trick. Just remember – an ANNOUNCEMENT is not an invitation.Larry HammackFoxgloves & Ivy Floral Design StudioAtlanta GA

  3. avatar Abbie reply

    This dilemma is close to my heart, as I dealt with the same situation during my wedding. J and I had decided to invite no more than 85 people and to only invite immediate family and grandparents. My family is somewhat small (I should take that back– my parents have many siblings (a total of 10), but they never expected me to invite them, as we’re not close) and his family is extremely large and close (his parents have 12 siblings). His mother was appalled that we weren’t planning to invite EVERYONE. She even emailed me a spreadsheet with 109 people on it– of just his family. We were paying for the wedding ourselves (with a small contribution from my parents), and I couldn’t imagine inviting all of those people when they totalled more than double our original guest list! I was afraid that my family of how my family would feel when I wasn’t inviting aunts/uncles/cousins from my side. I was also a little worried that my parents would resent the fact that they were giving us money only to fund his family’s attendance. We went back and forth on what we wanted to do and finally decided that we didn’t want to start our new lives together with a shadow of frustration and hurt from his family. BUT– I made him ask his parents to help at least a little bit. I say "made" because he really, really didn’t want to. Then we invited my aunts and uncles, just to ease a bit of tension on my parents’ side once they heard the news. In the end, we had about 40 people from his family and about 12 from mine. Unfortunately, we had to cut back on the number of friends we’d planned to invite, which was frustrating, but it was a way to "make the peace" straight out of the gate with his family. Without them contributing monetarily, we wouldn’t have been able to make it work with the extra guests.So… long story short… think of these points:-Does all of his family live nearby? Will they make the trek? If many won’t, then it might not be worth getting worked up about.-Can your venue hold all of the extra people if they do say yes?-Are his parents willing to contribute at least a little to ease the financial burden that your parents are taking on?-Be prepared for the consequences of either decision and decide which one you’re more willing to live with.In the end, we realized that having so many family members willing to show their support made the day that much more special.

  4. avatar Megan reply

    I actually five minutes ago was wondering this very issue while I was working on my guest list. My family is footing the bill and we need to cut some people and my fiancee’s list is about 20 people longer than mine, so naturally I think they should cut their list :)However, one solution I have heard which seems reasonable is the bride’s family, if footing the bill, can offer whatever number of guests fits within the budget. But if the groom’s family feels so strongly that additional guests should be invited, they can pay for the additional guests. That way they might also think twice about their twice-removed cousins.

  5. avatar Stacy Reeves reply

    If it were me, I would explain to both sets of parents that the budget only allows a certain number of "seats" per family, and allow the parents to choose which members of the family or which family friends they would like to fill those seats with. That way the parents feel as if they’ve had some say in the decision, but the bride and groom aren’t required to oblige their parents’ long, extended guests lists (and, if their parents would like to invite more, they understand that that will require a little contribution to the budget!).

  6. avatar Born to Be Mrs Beever reply

    Wow, I don’t have much time to read the lengthy comments above but I’ll say this about our own guest list. I came up with a list of ALL of our family and friends that I knew we would possibly want invited. It totaled 300 people…way over our budget. And our venue’s reception room can only comfortably hold 200 with a dance floor. So we cut the list to 200.But my list is 2/3 of the total invited and his is only 1/3. Mostly because I have a lot more family and a lot more friends (through church and local community involvement due to my 15 year old daughter). I am paying for the entire wedding for the most part but even if I weren’t, we wouldn’t be splitting the guest list. I simply told him that since my side of the list doubles his side, that if there were important people to him that he forgot to add or wants, then I would be the first to cut from my side of the list. For Katherine and Kyle…I think it’s important to recognize that Kyle’s family is large and therefore, he’ll obviously have a lot more guests than her side probably. But I also think they should come up with a reasonable number for the total guest list and split the percentages accordingly as far as how many guests are on Kyle’s list. If Kyle’s family or guest list starts to go over the budgeted number of guests they can accommodate, then Kyle’s family should consider contributing to the budget to help accommodate the larger number of guests. Hope that helps :)

  7. avatar KEH reply

    This is my current situation. I’d rather have a small wedding, but that wasn’t feasible. His family is massive, mine is a bit more "compact". Since Katherine’s parent’s are paying, I think it’s fair for them to give the number of seats they’re comfortable paying for and letting Katherine and Kyle split those evenly. If Katherine doesn’t use them all, by all means, Kyle can have them but the total shouldn’t exceed the number set by her parents. I wouldn’t even give them the option of paying for their "overage" because that’s not only a slap in Katherine’s family’s face, but it doesn’t address the issue of their wedding turning into a "family reunion" where she’s going to have to be introduced to many of the guests.

  8. avatar Brit reply

    I’m in a similar situation. My family is much much larger than my fiance’s. We aren’t having a small wedding, but the guest list is heavily waited in my direction (probably 60-75% is just my family and close family friends). Both of us are completely okay with it, including my fiance’s parents.This really depends on what the couple wants at the end of the day.

  9. avatar Charity reply

    I understand the etiquette problem with this situation, however it seems that it can be resolved within the bride and groom, and the family’s may not need to be involved at all. The decision ultimately isn’t whether or not to invite the person, the decision is how that person will feel about not being invited and how much that person’s feelings matter to the bride and groom. The day is for the bride and groom~therefore, how they feel about hurt feelings or making everyone happy is the bottom line. : ) Of course, you have to consider the budget….but if you don’t know all of his huge family and he’s only seen them three times….do they all really need to be invited? Sometimes it’s practicality that counts, sometimes it’s sentimentality. These days, etiquette counts, but it’s more flexible than it used to be. There is always a tactful way of mentioning the wedding but not inviting everyone you’ve ever met ; )

  10. avatar Laurel reply

    I had a similar concern when planning my wedding. My family is paying for the entire wedding with no help from my fiance’s family, so we didn’t want to end up with more guests than we could afford to pay for, but we also didn’t want to make my fiance’s family feel like they were restricted in the number of people they could invite. I think we came up with a great solution that has worked out really well! We ended up splitting the guest list into 3rds. Our ideal number was 100 people (this is the number my family could afford to pay for), so each couple (my parents, his parents, and my fiance and I) got to invite 33 people, which my parents would pay for. If anyone wanted to invite more than 33 people, we said that would be fine, but they would need to be willing to pay for each person over the 33 that attended the wedding. I think this was a very fair way to handle the situation and it’s worked out great!

  11. avatar Corin Wallace reply

    Weddings are sticky, right? Part of the "paired" conversations my husband and I had with our parents involved the desired look, feel, budget, and environment we were going for. When in doubt, we focused on the budget we had and did not disclose numbers – rather, offered each side a number of guests they could contribute. If questions were asked, we just said that this was the wedding we wanted, and expressed how excited we were. The groom’s mother offered to pay more for more guests, but we politely declined, saying it was important to have a wedding that reflected our desires for a more intimate setting. (She did sneak in a camcorder – but that’s another story.) I love Stacy’s suggestion – the "seating" idea really worked well with us. Just be transparent, respectful, and VERY VERY paired and supportive of each other. Every one else will see that unified front, and will act accordingly.

  12. avatar Annie reply

    Oh, goodness…I would think you wrote this post about me! Here’s how I think you should ultimately work it. Split the list in half and let his family know up front that they are getting the EXACT number of people you are getting and that number is what fits in your budget. If you feel so inclined, you could offer that they can pay for their additional guests, but that it would include the cost of anything additional. Food, liquor, flowers/centerpieces, favors, invitations, etc. When you tell them it’s a X amount of dollars per person, I think they might stop complaining. (Unless you are marrying a Trump or Vanderbilt and money is no object.)Best of luck when you do get enagaged! And try your hardest to not let it stress you. The guest list will forever be my worst wedding planning memory!

  13. avatar Robin reply

    What about capping it at a relational level? For example, only extend the guest list to Aunts and Uncles or First Cousins and spouses/live in partners. The secret is to figure out among the rounds of relatives where you can truly cut. This way no one gets offended because you made a reasonable cap. If you make it an even number, one side might end up inviting second cousins and the other might not even get out of immediate family leaving the Aunts that were left out of the larger family a bit upset. Yes, this will tend to make one side have a larger guest list but then the B&G can fill in with friends of theirs. We did this for my wedding and stopped at aunts and uncles. This made my half of the guest list considerably larger (my mom is one of 5) but when we explained the cutoff (always blaming space not budget) everyone was fine with it. Don’t forget when you are making a guest list, cut it in at least thirds (if not fourths). The bride and groom should have the people they want and the parents guest list can invite the family. Too many times the guest list is divided in half between the two families and the couple ends up fighting with their parents about inviting a friend over a family member. Be VERY clear with the number allotted to each side or the level of family they are allowed to invite so someone doesn’t overstep their bounds. Even better, ask each set of parents not to extend verbal invitations!!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Welcome back to Southern Etiquette!  To recap, my first column addressed a contentious issue which y’all responded quite passionately to: wearing white to a wedding.  The consensus seemed to be that it was stylish to dress your bridal party in shades of white and cream, but that to be safe, it was better to steer clear of white clothing as a guest.  Check out the debate here.

But on to our next topic: the engagement party guest list.  My older sister recently got engaged (YAY!).  As I’m sure you can guess, this is VERY exciting to me.  She and her now-fiance are planning an August 2010 wedding on the coast of Maine.  They live in the Midwest; my family lives on the East Coast; and his family lives on the West Coast.  K+C will be heading East for the Christmas holidays, and my parents are thinking of throwing them an engagement party.  Lots of our family friends are eager to see and congratulate them, and (as my Mom says) the house will already be dressed for Christmas, so why not?

 (Images from Erin + Patrick’s rehearsal dinner (see more here!), photographed by Laura Negri Childers.  And no, my house does not look that cool.)

The only problem?  Not everyone invited to this supposed engagement party will be invited to the wedding, because K+C are planning a relatively small shindig (on an island, remember?).  Emily Post says in no uncertain terms that this is not okay:

“Generally the guest list is limited to the couple’s relatives and good friends.  It can be as short or as lengthy as you want — and can comfortably accommodate.  However, it’s poor taste to invite anyone to an engagement party who will not be on the wedding guest list.”

I certainly don’t want to be thought of as having poor taste, but it seems to me that maybe this isn’t as big of a deal as Ms. Post seems to think it is? 

So, dear readers, help a girl out. (Well, really you’re helping a girl’s Mom out.  Hi, Mom!)  What do you think?  Would it be an etiquette faux pas to invite those to an engagement party that aren’t invited to the wedding?  Sound off below!

Images in header c/o Millie Holloman

Written with love by Southern Weddings
  1. avatar Robin reply

    Emily & Mom,Yes it would be a bad idea to have an engagement party and not invite them to the wedding. That said, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a fun Christmas party and "announce" the engagment. (you guys totally lucked out on the timing) This way it is just a fun house party and no one’s feelings will be hurt if they don’t get an invitation later but they still get to see and congratulate the couple. Good luck!Robin

  2. avatar Amber Snow reply

    While I may agree with Ms. Post regarding traditional weddings, I think there are always exceptions to the rule. Aren’t rules meant to be broken anyways? If everyone attending knows the wedding will be a small affair, and are not expecting an invitation, I don’t think it’s in poor taste to invite them. On the other hand, if they know they can’t go to the wedding, and then find out they are also not invited to the engagement celebration, they may get their feelings hurt a bit. If you don’t want to stray too far from traditional etiquette, perhaps call it something different than an "engagement party."

  3. avatar Lauren reply

    We are dealing with a variation of this problem. Due to job changes/life changes, etc, it seems that a lot of the people invited to our engagement party aren’t really people that we are close to anymore. It’s awkward no matter what we do.

  4. avatar Cait reply

    It’s a tough call, but I think Emily Post is right in this situation. It’s one of those situations where it seems okay beforehand, but once you are at the engagement party and you’re conversing with guests who are not invited to the wedding reception, you’ll see why social experts navigate away from this type of situation. Those guests will be asking when and where the wedding is, as they’ll expect to begin looking ahead on their schedule and planning to attend. I attended a friend’s engagement party where this was the situation, and the bride was horrified by the end of the night after all of these conversations – even several people saying, "I can’t wait to get my invitation in the mail!" She and her mother decided to sit down and retroactively add 20-30 people to their wedding attendee list, out of a feeling of obligation. Obviously that’s not an option with a destination wedding, so your mother/sister would have no option but to let those people down gently. And, for any wedding on a budget, that is adding several thousand dollars to your reception budget and could break the bank.Can you argue that it is presumptuous for those people to make statements assuming that they’re invited to the wedding? Of course…but keeping the guest list the same for all wedding related events is the easiest way to not even have to worry about that. I think most people will assume they’re invited to the wedding if they’re invited to the engagement party, and it’s pretty awkward to have to field those questions knowing that they’re not.

  5. avatar georgia reply

    Congratulations! My older sister just got married and it IS a very exciting time. I think as long as all the guests invited to the engagement party know that it’s going to be a small wedding it would be fine. I hope that helps!

  6. avatar Ellen reply

    If this is considered a "destination wedding", as it sounds, then certainly guests to the engagement party should not really expect to be invited. But if the "limited guests" live in the same town as the wedding, well….sort of sounds like the beginning of some resentments…sorry.

  7. avatar NB reply

    I agree with Cait’s comment. I am in a similar situation and while I would love to include more people in my hometown engagement party, I am not able to include them all in my destination wedding. I contemplated, but then realized it becomes very awkward for those that are not invited to both. I have been told to have an Announcement party AFTER the wedding if you want to include more guests announcing the marriage.

  8. avatar Brittany Ogletree reply

    Hi Emily (and Mom!), I think I’ll have to agree with Emily Post in saying that it’s in bad taste to invite people to the engagement party that aren’t invited to the wedding. I think it would hurt the feelings of those who weren’t invited to the wedding, and their thoughts may be something along the lines of: "What? I’m okay to come to the party (and possibly bring a gift), but I’m not okay to come to the wedding? I don’t understand," While I understand that your sister wants to have a small wedding (congrats to her, by the way!), some people might look past that detail when inquiring about their wedding invitation and have their feelings hurt. I definitely agree with the first post from Robin: have a "Christmas party" where she also happens to announce her engagement–kind of like in "Steel Magnolias" when Shelby’s dad announced that she was expecting a baby at their Christmas party. I hope this helps! And many blessings on your sister and her marriage!

  9. avatar Erin (Columbia, SC) reply

    Emily is right. This rule doesn’t just protect the guest, but it also protects the host. People are SO sensitive! Even if you let it be known that this is your arrangement, people will still talk and make you feel bad about not inviting them to the wedding. So just to keep yourself from being talked about and out of gossip, I would just only invite the people invited to the wedding. It will save a lot of frustration! And who needs added frustration during a wedding!!

  10. avatar amy t schubert reply

    I have to say, in a situation like this – when the wedding is a small destination event and assuming it is UNDERSTOOD that only a very small # of people will be invited to the wedding – inviting other people to the engagement party (or bridal showers, or other wedding events) is perfectly fine.

  11. avatar Lindsey reply

    Hi Emily! I am actually in a very similar situation now. I am planning an August 2010 wedding and my fiance and I will be spending some time at home with my parents in Florida over Christmas. My mom wants to have a party while we are there and is planning to invite people who will not be invited to the wedding. We decided to handle it by not calling it an engagement party and we are not indicating that it is being given in honor of my fiance and me on the invites. We are also telling anyone who asks NOT to bring a gift. We figured that our guests would realize that my fiance and I will be there so they can come by to see us if they want, but it’s not technically an "engagement party." I think this is similar to what Robin and Brittany are suggesting. Hope it helps and congrats to you and your family!

  12. avatar L Hewitt reply

    I believe it would be in poor taste to invite guests to the engagement party but not the wedding. Etiquette rules like these are designed to avoid offense and to avoid awkward social situations — for a broad spectrum of people. While it might be alright for you, for example, who is to say it won’t hurt somebody else. Someone else suggested it, but perhaps it might be a good idea have a post-wedding party to include those people who were not invited to the wedding.

  13. avatar Reb reply

    I appreciate that your sister is in a difficult position by trying to accommodate a select few for a limited venue, but she (and mom) wants to invite friends to the engagement party to celebrate! I am in a similar situation, as my fiance and I got engaged in England recently, but will be getting married in my hometown in Texas. We wanted to celebrate here in England when we got engaged, so we invited a lot of people to our party, knowing that we wouldn’t invite all of them to the wedding in Texas, where our wedding guests will consist of family and close friends. I think that lots of our invited guests to the engagement party were really happy to come and celebrate with us, but knew that they would not come to (nor be invited to) our Texas wedding. So, in conclusion, I think if there are people who want to celebrate with you but won’t be able to go to the wedding (because they can’t make the flight or won’t be included in a limited guest list), invite them to the engagement party- spread the love!

  14. avatar Emily @ Southern Weddings reply

    Keep it coming, y’all! This is very helpful feedback. The point you’re making about conversations we’ll have with guests at the party is extremely valid and something I don’t think we thought about much.

  15. avatar Carmen reply

    When I originally read this post I was firmly set on the side that this was an exception to Ms. Post’s rule, since it was a destination wedding but I was pulled away from the computer before I could reply and after reading others’ replies I have to agree that people ARE sensitive and that the best way to handle this would be to either have a Christmas party and announce the engagement or have an announcement party AFTER the wedding to let the uninvited guest express warm wishes. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule and I think inviting someone like a close friend to the mother to an engagment party, that isn’t invited to the wedding, and who knows she isn’t invited but requested to come, is acceptable but inviting an entire guest list of people that won’t be coming to the wedding is a recipe for misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

  16. avatar Larry Hammack reply

    Dealing with as many brides & families as we do, I have to agree with Ms. Post… while so many wedding etiquette "does and don’ts" have fallen by the wayside, your sister would do well to adhere to the policy of ‘engagement party=wedding invitations’. They can always throw parties in the general area of the families & friends after the wedding & reception… gives them the opportunity to have 3 receptions!!

  17. avatar Southern Weddings reply

    I just wanted to say that you’re rad, Emily. That’s all : ) Lara

  18. avatar Stacy Reeves reply

    I have to agree with tradition on this one.. Personally, I would be upset if someone invited me to the engagement party and not the wedding. Maybe if it was a distant cousin and I was invited to the engagement party by my mother or grandmother, I would understand, but if it was a college friend or a colleague or a close family friend, it would definitely ruffle some feathers. I really liked the suggestion of just having a regular holiday party and having your parents "announce" the engaged couple there. I think that’s a perfect solution!

  19. avatar Amandita reply

    I think because it is basically a destination wedding it is understood that people that you love can’t all be put on the wedding guest list. Having the engagement party is a great way to involve everyone else. I have been invited to showers before where I never expected a wedding invitation….I don’t see what the difference is.If your sister was having the wedding in your parents’ hometown it would be a different story, but I say the more the merrier.(keeping a holiday theme also will help.)

  20. avatar Lissa reply

    If they will not be invited to the wedding, they should not be invited to any gathering in celebration of the engagement. That is in poor taste……however…….it is Christmas, and who’s to say, as long as you keep your lips tight, that you can’t have a Holiday celebration without the big "Announcement" ? Keep it simple and low key…….

  21. avatar Kelly reply

    I’m siding with Mrs. Post on this one. If they are "close" enough to be invited to an engagement party, they should be invited to the wedding (same for showers). And also, I love you Emily! Your book was a great guide for my upcoming wedding. Thanks so much for your words of wisdom.

  22. avatar Astrid and Rene reply

    I also agree with Emily. I always look at the situation in terms of how I would feel if it happened to me. I would be upset and would wonder why I was invited to an engagement party and not invited to the wedding.You can’t assume that your engagement party guests will understand that you are having a small wedding and you didn’t make the list.However you (the hostess) presents it, people will make their own assumptions and generally will feel negatively about being left out. And that’s what it’s about really…..regardless of why, the bottom line is that the left-out guest will see it as you invited this person to the engagement party AND the wedding but only invited me to the engagement party?

  23. avatar Whit reply

    Everything that I have read has said that if they are invited to the engagement party they have to be invited to the wedding. I think that people will assume that if they are invited into the engagement party that will be invited to the wedding. You can have a get together after the wedding for everyone that didn’t attend the wedding since you are having a small wedding.

  24. avatar Lisa Jeffries reply

    Ok first, never assume ANYTHING is understood. While it makes perfect sense that it SHOULD be understood this is more of a "destination" thing… people aren’t very logical… and when it comes to feelings, it’s just not worth the risk. (Especially if these people are connected to each other and would be talking about attending etc. as time goes on.)Now, if you were to host the event specifically noting that it’s a celebration for the bride and groom in lieu of a large wedding (like so many do AFTER they return from small or destination weddings), then I think you’d have more people understand from the beginning it’s in place of a large ceremony. Unfortunately, they’ll probably be expecting a bigger event/party, bring gifts (that the couple may not be ready for), etc., etc., so this isn’t necessary fabulous, in my opinion.Short and sweet – don’t chance it. Either keep your lists the same (unless parties are thrown by the groom’s side, bride’s side, etc. that wouldn’t expect everyone at the wedding in general to attend) to avoid hurt feelings, confusions, and a lack of understand what should be understood ;-)

  25. avatar CostumeDiva reply

    I was in a similar situation where my husbands family lived far away from my home town where our intimate wedding was being held. His mother threw us what we referred to as a "pre-ception", inviting all the extended family, friends, coworkers etc, many of whom would no be invited to the wedding. Maybe if it was referred to as something other than "engagement party"? Like "celebration of love" or something. Also, I think that if it is understood that the wedding will be small, most people will understand. However, as many of us know, you not going to be able to make EVERYONE happy, so in the end you just have to do what makes YOU comfortable!

  26. avatar Julie reply

    I think Cait’s post is a pretty accurate preview of what can happen. While etiquette rules can seem ornery and complicated sometimes, I think they can sometimes work to protect from greater hassle down the road. A friend of mine threw an engagement party/end of exams party and invited a bunch of fellow students who weren’t on the guest list for the actual wedding. A few of them thought the invitation to the party automatically meant an invitation to the wedding. As they departed the party, they thanked the hosts and said, "See you at the wedding!!" At that point, there’s not much recourse other than adding in the ones who mistook the meaning of the original party invitation.I also agree with the posters who mentioned the sensitivity people have when it comes to weddings. Yes, people "should" understand that guest lists have to be limited, but what they may not understand is why they don’t rank high enough to be on the guest list. It’s definitely rude for someone to invite themselves to any occasion, but it’s also unseemly for a potential host to give the impression that they are going to extend an invitation to someone who will never receive one. And. I think this is where those pesky etiquette rules save the day.

  27. avatar Daphne reply

    It would be in poor taste to invite people to an engagement party when they are not invited to the wedding. Even if the wedding is going to be small, people are still going to feel left out and bitter. A solution: have the engagement party not on Christmas but either Christmas Eve or Boxing Day. That way, you can choose the guest-list, the house will still be decorated, and the couple will still be in town!

  28. avatar Amanda reply

    I’m in this situation currently. I’m engaged and one of my mom’s good friends is throwing us a big engagement party right around Christmas. She didn’t limit us on the number of guests we could invite, but she insisted that it wasn’t in good taste to invite anyone that wouldn’t be at our summer wedding. I agree because once someone gets an invitation to an engagement party, there’s an expectation that they will be invited to your wedding celebration. Since the wedding is several states away, most people wouldn’t make the trip if your sister is worried about her guest list, but I think it’s right to invite them. Otherwise, just call it a Christmas party.

  29. avatar Sarah reply

    I’ll have to agree with Emily Post as well. I think it’s just like bridal showers, if they’re not inivted to the wedding they shouldn’t be invited to the shower/engagement party.

  30. avatar Kelly Merrill reply

    We ran into engagement party issues as well. Other people decided to throw a party for us, and some of the people helping to plan were people we hadn’t been planning on inviting! We had wanted to keep it really small but in the end we invited so many more people to the wedding than we’d planned. But it worked out beautifully and no one’s feelings got hurt. I think if everyone knows from the beginning that you are having a small wedding it leaves less room for problems, but I do think a lot of people get hurt or offended about invitations. I like the idea costume diva had, make it more of a reception with dancing and such and people won’t be missing out on the good time!

  31. avatar Peggy reply

    II agree with Robin’s comments. While I am all for etiquette, I think this is a unique situation. Theirs really is a destination wedding. Have Mom and Dad host a Christmas party or drop in. It is a great opportunity pre-wedding since they will be East. At that time K&C can tell people that the wedding will be a small, intimate affair. I thnk family and friends who know them and the situation would understand.

  32. avatar Allie reply

    YES. It would definitely be inappropriate.

  33. avatar Emily’s Mom reply

    Thanks to all you wonderful readers for helping us out with your thoughtful comments. I am also of the "original" Emily’s thoughts on engagement party guests, but wondered if I was being too old-fashioned?! We traditionally have a New Year’s Day Open House, but the bride and groom will be in CA with the groom’s family on the first. So I think we’ll just have an Holiday Open House and if anyone asks- we’ll just say yes, that the bride and groom will be here, but not mention anything about an "engagement party". Keep the comments coming and thanks again!!

  34. avatar Miss Bliss reply

    I think the large party is fine as long as all the guests are invited to the destination wedding. A long distance wedding will encourage only those guests to come to the actual wedding who are close enough to the bridal couple to wish to spend the money to come…however I believe that if you are having a local engagement party that it makes perfect sense to have a special local reception to receive the newlyweds once they return from the destination event. I think that a couple should consider the feelings of those they tell. One of my close friends called multiple friends and family members upon her engagement only to choose to have such a small wedding that the guests felt that there were some VIPs missing… (Expenses were not a factor in their decisions…) By VIPs, I mean very close aunts and uncles and cousins…meanwhile infants were included in the guest list because the bride felt guilty not including some friends kids…and those same friends were missing the relatives! It’s such a lovely honor to be included on a guest list…but not at the expense of lifelong family members…

  35. avatar Nanci reply

    How about the guest being able to bring a date to the engagment party but not to the wedding? To keep the wedding smaller the bride does not want some of the single guests to bring a date. If I am giving the engagement party can I address the envelope Mr Ted Adams and Guest if he is not allowed to bring a guest to the wedding?

  36. avatar CA reply

    My fiancee’ and I are being given a engagement party this upcoming weekend. The brother of the groom decided to propose yesterday & they will both be at the engagement party. As of today, mostly everyone there now knows about their engagement & is questioning why they had to do it the week of our engagement party? Am I being silly or is this something I should question? How do you handle something like this?

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