Inviting only some children to wedding Planning a small wedding

I am a 47 year old woman having her first wedding. I want my wedding to be very small (60) and have chosen a small venue that isn’t really “kid” friendly. We are only planning on inviting my fiance’s children and my brother’s son. My stepsister has already complained to my father that it is “not appropriate that I invite my brother’s child but not her children” I am very close to my brother’s child but have only seen her and her children 3 times in the last five years. How do I handle this?

Thank you!

Jay Remer, The Etiquette Guy

Congratulations on your impending nuptials! It’s never too late! As to your dilemma, your step-sister has stepped out of bounds. You have your reasons for assembling your guest list as you see fit. This is your prerogative. For your SS to go to your father is preposterous! You have every right to choose your guests. I hope your father knows enough to reiterate this point with your SS. Do not pander to her bullying techniques. Move ahead and if you wish to explain to your SS why you have made your choice, that’s fine; but it is certainly not necessary. It’s your wedding, not hers!!

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Although technically it is true that it is perfectly fine to invite those children with whom you are close and not invite all, this is a perfect example of why we advise hosts against it. Parents get their feelings hurt. It’s somewhat like saying to parents that their children aren’t as good as those who are invited.

Since your guest list is so small, it might be best to spread the word about your no children policy and why there won’t be any others invited. You shouldn’t have to do this because guests should know theirs aren’t invited because the child’s name isn’t on the invitation. They should, but many don’t. It’s so unfortunate. So, using the gossip mill might save you from some headaches and hurt feelings.

I do agree that your stepsister shouldn’t have complained to your father. But, her reaction is fairly common with parents these days.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc

I think most parents understand when the children of close family are only invited, leaving out the kids of distant relatives and friends. But in your case i can see why your stepsister would feel slighted. Your brother’s kids are invited, but not your stepsister’s kids. If you were only inviting your fiance’s children, leaving out all other children (or limiting by if those kids are older) she might not feel badly. I do agree that she should not have involved your father. It might have been better if you had explained the guest list beforehand, but since you didn;t maybe you can salvage this with your sister by speaking to her directly. If there are no other close family relatives (sister/brothers) with children, perhaps you can make an exception for just one more? Sometimes, with family, it’s best to make nice rather than stick to conviction if you can afford to do so.

Jodi R R Smith, The Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting

I agree with Jay, inviting children to an adult reception requires care and careful thought. You should be flattered that your step-sister wants her children to spend more time with you. Unfortunately, your wedding is not the right time or place. Instead of running to your father as the go-between, be the bigger person and call your step-sister directly.

Now, here is the key to this delicate conversation. Your mantra is “the guest list is small and we had to make some difficult choices…we are so sorry we are not able to include your children, but we do hope you will be able to attend.” Notice that you are not discussing the other children who are invited and you are not discussing why the other were included and hers were not. No matter what she says, you must remain calm and polite. Be empathetic “yes, I understand why you feel that way…” Then revert back to “the guest list is small and we had to make some difficult choices…we are so sorry we are not able to include your children, but we do hope you will be able to attend.” Once she realizes you are not giving her any additional information and not arguing with her, move the conversation along. Ask how the children are doing and/or a time when you will see them.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and I wish you all the best.