Church hosting bridal shower.

I have been planning a wedding since February of this year. The wedding is in 5 weeks. We have the guest list set and my fiance and I had invitations for 60-75 people. Everything was going smoothly until the church decided to throw us a wedding shower. They ask me for a guest list. Then, a week after that, I find out that they have invited the entire congregation of the church. I know if they are invited to the shower they should be invited to the wedding but I did not budget for that many people, nor do I want to deal with them. To make matters worse, I find out that my fiance’s mother invited people we did not send invitations to and was not going to tell us – just let them show up. I have thought about moving the wedding but am still at a loss for a good plan of action.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Okiegal,

Love the name, by the way.

I’m at a loss too. This is a mess. Since the extra people were invited by others, not you, couldn’t you simply limit the number of guests invited to the reception? If the wedding is in the same location as the wedding that will not work. But, if it is in a different location, you could tell everyone who is meddling not to invite anyone else to the reception and enjoy your small number of guests.

I have had a few brides tell me that their guest list was getting out of control due to … well, others. Most of them had similar problems with their church congregation. It seemed as if all of a sudden everyone was invited to their weddings.

So, a few of the brides opened their weddings up to the entire congregation and had an open reception at which everyone contributed to a pot luck. No, I don’t normally think this is such a great idea. And, in many cases it is tacky, but when the guest list is out of your hands and the party is growing, it is time to get creative.

I feel for you Okiegal. Hopefully others will have some creative ideas for you also. Perhaps something that doesn’t include so many people. Shy and bashful doesn’t mix well with the entire congregation of a church.


Guest_B Shower Expert

Dear Okiegal,

This is your wedding and you should not allow anyone else to influence how much you spend and when your wedding takes place. It seems as though others tend to think of you as someone they can manipulate, and so you need to make a stand now to show them that this is not so.

With regard to the church, you followed etiquette rules and just gave the church the list of those invited to the wedding. Whoever handled this at the church went against the rules by inviting people not on your list.

Here is what I would do. Contact the person at the church who sent out the shower invitations (we’ll call her Pat) and insist on getting an entire shower guest list. Explain to Pat that you did not plan a large wedding and do not want one now. Explain that you, therefore, cannot attend a shower where guests who are not invited to the wedding bring gifts for you. Tell Pat that you want to send out a letter to those on the church’s shower invitation list who were not invited to the wedding. That letter will explain that if they still want to attend the shower they can, but they should not bring gifts because you will not accept them. Tell Pat, emphatically, that you will not attend the shower at all unless that list is given to you.

All you need to say in the letter is something like the following.

John and I wished for and have planned a small, intimate wedding. I have discovered that you have been inadvertently, invited to a bridal shower for me even though you have not been invited to our wedding. While I appreciate the good wishes of all our fellow church members, I do not want, nor will I accept, any gifts from those of you who will not be attending our wedding. If you still wish to attend the shower, you will be warmly greeted. Thank you for your understanding. Jane Doe.

With regard to your future mother-in-law, it is even more important that you start off the way you intend to continue, and that is without allowing your future mother-in-law to walk over you.

Ask your mother-in-law, in a friendly but firm way, for the addresses of those extra people she invited (or you may want to have your fiancé do this). Send out the same letter (take out the “of all our fellow church members”).

Let us know how this turns out.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

A letter from the bride sounds like an appropriate solution, but she is not the host of the event. Plus, to dis-invite people is not polite. If Okiegal would want to travel this road at all, it would be best for the people who did the inviting to do the dis-inviting, not her. Just a suggestion.

I agree that it is intolerable for others to push people around and try to make decisions for them. It is Okiegal’s wedding after all. But, it is ultimately her decision what road she wishes to venture.

Let’s just think this entire situation through a little. If she vehemently declares that this is not what I want and I refuse to attend, return the gifts, which all of us know that refusing a gift is tantamount to a slap in the face, she runs the risk of alienating a high number of people in her life. This is a very slippery slope for her.

Sometimes etiquette seems as though it is just a bunch of stuffy rules for stuffy people, but it is simply the protocol we use in a certain situation in order to be perceived as a civilized person. Just think of our behavior at a rock concert compared to our behavior in a quiet doctor’s office. Each situation requires a different protocol.

So because we are expected to behave in a certain manner in situations, we really should think these things through–just a little. I believe that it is best to ask ourselves what is the most kind, considerate, respectful, yet logical action to take? And we have to make those decisions ourselves, hopefully based on mannerly guidelines.

Take care everyone,