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Wedding Dilemmas: The Uninvited Guest

By admin on November 14th, 2006 7 comments

Venuechurch What would you do if one of your wedding guests invited a guest of their own to your wedding – without asking you first? I wish this was a hypothetical question, but unfortunately it’s not: last night we had a phone call from one of our guests, who was calling to confirm that he and his wife will be able to come to our wedding – and that he’ll be bringing his mother-in-law along, too.

The guest in question is a family member. He and his wife live abroad, so even although our invitations won’t be going out for a while yet, we’d told them the date of the wedding as soon as we booked it, to give them plenty of time to decide if they’d be able to come. What we didn’t stop to consider was that not only would they come to the wedding, but that they’d take it upon themselves to invite a guest of their own.

The whole thing has put us in a bit of an awkward position. Neither of us really knows the additional guest: we’ve met her a couple of times, but only very briefly, so she’s more or less a stranger to us both. And while Terry and I have had lots of differnt ideas for our wedding, there’s one thing we’ve been absolutely clear on from the moment we started planning, and that is that we don’t want to invite people we barely know. Now it seems that someone else has done that for us.

Our wedding isn’t going to be a particularly large one, and we’ve always said that we wanted all of the guests to be people we genuinely care about. There will obviously be a few exceptions to this: for instance, those of our friends who are single, and who won’t know anyone else there will be welcome to bring a guest, and that’s absolutely fine. It seems reasonable for people to expect to bring their partner. To bring their partner and their mother-in-law, though? Uh-uh.

Of course, this is just one extra person, but it is problematic for us because having been so firm with my parents (who got very excited when we set the date, and wanted to invite everyone they’d ever met) about the issue of inviting people we don’t know very well, it hardly seems fair to allow someone else to bring a near-stranger either. And where will it all end? It wouldn’t even occur to me to invite someone to another person’s wedding – now I’m having visions of everyone doing it, and me walking in to a ceremony which may as well be open to the public. Aaargh!

Am I just being mean, here? Should we just suck it up, and make room for a small one, or should we do some un-inviting, pronto? Answers on a postcard (or in the comments box), if you please…

  • Pen

    Definitely do some uninviting as soon as possible. It’s your wedding, and having a near-stranger come along uninvited will (probably) only serve to make you uncomfortable.

  • Anne-Marie

    I do think that it was very rude of your guest not to ask first if it was ok to bring the mother-in-law. Did they give any reason why they need to bring her? If you are able to cite the small nature of the wedding, plus throw in tight budget, maybe they will understand???? I am getting married in May, and I too am dreading this kind of thing (my Mum’s already suggested inviting a friend of hers, who I have never met, simply because she thinks she’ll be invited to the friend’s daughter’s wedding – madness!!). Good luck.

  • It’s rude for guests to invite people on your behalf. I would uninvite her immediately, and would probably try something like this: “Family member, we are so glad that your mother in law will be able to make the trip with you and your wife. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to accomodate her at the wedding or the reception. Here are a few things she might like to do doing those hours…”

    You don’t have to explain why, just that she won’t be able to come.

  • Caroline

    Awful – I think you have such the right idea in inviting only those you care about and know well. I even think that you are being generous in inviting guests of your single friends (I believe in people being grown ups and getting on with it as surely half the fun is getting to know new people and they all have something in common being there as friends of the B&G? But then again I am probably an old bag!!) We have narrowed our list down similarly to you and I think you need to get back to your family member pronto and explain in words of one syllable that you really can’t accomodate his mother in law. Be firm. Be clear and as Style Grad says suggest alternative things she could be doing whilst they are doing the chicken dance at your nuptials. It is not about them – this is your expensive, gorgeous wedding day no one elses.

  • Well, I’m certainly glad to know it’s not just me who thinks this is pretty rude!

    Anne-Marie – no, no idea why they’ve done it, or why the woman would even want to come… She lives with her other (grown up) children, so it’s not as if she’ll be left on her own, and they’re only coming for two days, so she won’t even get in much sight-seeing. Very strange. I know what you mean about the parents, too: my parents also wanted to invite a lot of people I wouldn’t know if I passed in the street, purely because they were invited to those people’s children’s weddings. We had to be quite firm with them about it, so it doesn’t seem fair to allow other people to bring strangers either!

    Thanks for all the feedback, everyone: we’re still mulling it over, but are hoping to be able to un-invite without causing offence!

  • Melissa

    We are having a VERY small wedding but I have a large family who have all previously invited me to their weddings. I hardly see my family as they live far away and are not immediate. We do not keep in contact unless there has been a death, marriage or birthdays. Problem is I’m not inviting any them, do I write and tell them of our wedding before hand and explain why they are not invited (due to funding) or leave it till after the wedding to mention? I know I’m going to feel bad either way!!

  • Ann

    I sent a wedding invitation to an old friend and her husband who would have to travel far (a plane ride) to attend.  When I received the rsvp card it listed my friend and  ‘+ 1’.  When I questioned it she said her husband was unable to make it and she wasn’t sure who she would be bringing.

    Is this acceptable?  My initial thought is no, I invited her and her husband not her and some friend I don’t know.  She will know other people at the wedding.  I realize she has a long trip and we did have her counted as 2 guests.

    Even though our final count is 200+ there were a number of friends and even some cousins who were not on the guest list. 

    Am I wrong to think this was rude?  That she should have phoned me and asked if it would be able to bring a friend since her husband can’t make it?

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