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11.09.200: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living |
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A: First of all, congratulations on your engagement! And second, as a stressed-out member of the recently-engaged, wedding-planning club myself, I sympathize. How come no one tells you BEFORE you get that ring that planning a wedding can become as much about your families as it is about you and your sweetie? How much you’re willing to compromise your own visions to appease the families can be an enormously difficult decision.

You obviously feel strongly that this reception is already way out-of-hand, and I can certainly see why it might be awkward for your fiancé’s family if they’re out-numbered 11 to 1 at this event, in which case, your desire to make this an adults-only affair doesn’t seem unreasonable. Ultimately, though, here's what it comes down to: is it worth the potential of incurring the wrath of your relatives – who, petty and unfair though it might seem, may hold a grudge long after the event has come and gone – for the sake of a few hours of child-free peace?

If you do decide it’s still worth putting your foot down, I still wouldn’t advise issuing an invitation that specifically states "No kids allowed." It’s a sure-fire way to ensure that all guests who have young children are going to be miffed, and you’ll be plagued with enough snide comments from snarky relatives that the presence of a few running, screaming kids will, in the end, have seemed preferable. The subtle – and socially acceptable – way of dealing with this is to simply omit the children’s names on the reception invites; if an invite is addressed to "Mr. & Mrs. Random Relative," it should be understood that the Mr. and Mrs. are the only two people invited. If you’re concerned that your etiquette-ignorant guests will just assume that an invitation to them is an invitation to their entire family, ask a few of your closest family members – Mom, Sis, your favorite cousin – to quietly spread the word.

My other suggestion would be to make this an evening affair. Since the reception has already mutated from a simple backyard bbq to something fancy-schmancy and overblown, why not make it an after-dinner cocktail party instead? Start the festivities at around 8pm or so, and chances are good that parents will think that’s too late for their little tykes to be out, and leave the kiddies at home with the babysitter for the evening.

Best of luck, congrats again, and have fun in Hawaii!

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