Rehearsal Dinner Guests: The Limit Does Exist

Q. Who and how many are typically invited to a wedding rehearsal dinner? I always thought it was the bridal party and guests, parents, grandparent. Now I am told that all of the out of town guests are invited, which, as the mother of the groom, means a larger expense for my husband and me. Am I allowed to limit the number of guests at the dinner?

A. Guests at the rehearsal dinner include parents and grandparents of the bride and groom, siblings of the bride and groom, members of the wedding party, the officiant, and the spouses/fiancés/fiancées/significant others of each of those guests. There is no reason to invite out of town guests unless space and finances permit and you desire to invite them – the rehearsal dinner is really the time for immediate family members and members of the bridal party to share special moments before the flurry of the wedding. Making the guest list too big detracts from this closeness. There is no need to invite a date for any single persons – but it is expected that significant others be invited. It also can be difficult to include aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. because there can be a huge number of them. It is up to you whether godparents or a very close aunt and uncle are invited.

Your out of town guests may enjoy having a little free time to explore the area, rest from their trip, and/or enjoy one another’s company. You do not have an obligation to entertain them nor would they expect to be invited to the rehearsal dinner.

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A Check for the Newlyweds: To whom do I write the check?

Q. I have a cousin who is getting married. We are not aware of any registry and there are no major stores close to his home, so we were going to send the couple a check as a wedding gift. We are not going to the wedding. We don’t know the couple well and we don’t know if she will be keeping her maiden name or not. Who should we write the check to?

A. You can write the check out in the bride’s maiden name — she will be able to cash/deposit it even if she does change her name.

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Bridal Shower Brouhaha: When stepmom hosts the bridal shower

Q. My son is getting married. His father and I are divorced, but his father re-married last September by civil ceremony. My son mentioned that his aunt, on his father’s side was planning on throwing a shower for my future daughter-in-law. My son’s aunt also happens to be his godparent. My question is this: is it proper to invite the mother of the groom, and the grandmother, and the mother of the groom’s sister to the shower as well, even if it is a divorce situation? I get the feeling that not only I, but also my own mother and sister have been excluded in this shower due to the fact that my former husband has remarried. Even though things are amicable, having both the mother of the groom and the new stepmother of the groom would not make for a comfortable experience. I also don’t really know how I should be seated or what to expect at the actual wedding, now that the father of the groom has remarried.

A. While there are no hard-and-fast rules of etiquette when it comes to divorced parents of the bride and/or groom, the most important thing is to maintain a level of comfort for all those involved. It is certainly understandable for there to be two different showers thrown in an effort to not cause any difficult social situations. However, there is nothing wrong with mother and step-mother being a part of the same function as long as they are amicable and no one would feel uncomfortable– it truly is an individual decision that can only be decided by those involved.

As far as seating goes, during the ceremony, the mother of the groom is seated in the front row or pew, either alone or with a relative or friend of her choice. She is seated directly before the bride’s mother, who is the last to be seated. The father of the groom and his new wife are seated three or so pews or rows back, when they arrive, just as are any other guests.

During the reception, the father and his wife are not seated at the same table as the mother.

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Second Marriage Gifts: Appropriate gifts for the well off—or anyone!

Q. My Brother-in-law and his girlfriend are getting married later this year. He is a widower and she divorced so it will be a second marriage for both. They are mid to late 50’s and between them have several homes and are well off financially. What should our family expect as far as wedding gifts, showers, as far as what would be appropriate. They are planning a function with approximately 100 family and friends.

A. If you gave a gift to either the bride or the groom at their first wedding you are not obligated to give another wedding gift, although you may if you want to and/or close to either of them. In that case, the gift can be creative and fun, for example, if the couple enjoys gardening or outdoor life, golf, movies, theater, tennis, travel – or other pastimes, a great gift is something in support of those interests, whether movie tickets or his and her golf gloves. Other gifts could be flowers of the month for a few months, having their invitation matted and framed for their wall, a gourmet cooking class or ballroom dancing lessons for the two of them to attend together, CDs or tapes made by you for their listening pleasure, a collection of videos in a basket with some microwave popcorn and a bottle of wine, engraved stationery in their names – it’s a nice time to be creative and thoughtful in a gift selection.

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