Wedding Invitation Etiquette
March 4, 2010 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Wedding Invitation Etiquette - my husband and I are hosting and paying for my stepdaughter's wedding and she has just ordered the invitations without involving us in any way - shouldn't the invitations be sent from the hosts - her father and I? I'm not concerned about the style or cost but I thought we would have the honor of extending the invitations or at least reviewing the contents before they are sent out. Or am I being hopelessly old-fashioned? Thoughts?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (52 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think it's a little old fashioned to require the hosts to send out the invites, but in my opinion you should have been consulted before your money was spent.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:18 AM on March 4, 2010

Traditionally, the host sent the invitations, but that seems to fallen by the wayside in favor of whoever is managing the guest list sending the invitations. It just works out better on a practical level. I assure you, no one will care or assume you're rude or cheap because you aren't sending the invitations, so there's no need to make a big deal out of it. If you are worried the guest list will grow beyond your control (and your budget), make sure to talk to your stepdaughter before she starts inviting people.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:19 AM on March 4, 2010 [6 favorites]

I'm voting for "hopelessly old-fashioned." Sorry.

I'm married, we paid for almost all of the wedding ourselves, so the notion of parents "hosting" the wedding and having a say in the invitations is a foreign idea to me. I'm guessing your daughter simply didn't know that this was a practice.
posted by puritycontrol at 10:20 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's been my experience that the parental involvement as hosts is limited to a mention on the invitations (Mr. and Mrs. Smith request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter), a fatherly speech at the reception and paying the bill. And the mention on the invitation is starting to fade.

This is her day. Stay out of it as much as possible.
posted by wwartorff at 10:21 AM on March 4, 2010 [8 favorites]

Old-fashioned, sorry.

They want you to PAY for it, not RUN it. Or they likely would have asked you to run such things.

Turn the frame around in your mind - you don't actually want to do this work. Just show up and enjoy yourself! More relaxing this way.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:22 AM on March 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

Communication! Talk about these things. Wedding traditions are hopelessly detailed and arcane, and there is plenty of room for misunderstanding. As a rule, don't depend on "tradition" for anything, since it's such an amorphous concept. Talk about how much you want to be involved.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:24 AM on March 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

It's quite possible that she are her finance simply are not aware of this tradition. It is falling out of fashion. So, while I'm sorry your feelings have been hurt, from my under-thirty perspective you are being old-fashioned. Now that this has been done, find something else to work on with your stepdaughter to feel more involved.
posted by kitcat at 10:25 AM on March 4, 2010

I have never heard of parents who are hosting--as in paying for--a wedding actually ordering the invitations and sending them.

I don't think it's done any more, unless y'all are in a much different social class or culture than I am (middle class, Protestant, Caucasian).

While the invitations may say, "So and So request the honour of your presence at the wedding of their daughter..." that is a sentiment, and does not mean you should have written the invitations out, stamped them and delivered them to the PO.
posted by FergieBelle at 10:27 AM on March 4, 2010

Agreeing -- did they KNOW you wanted/thought it would be an honor to be involved in this? Have you actually communicated, specifically, what you want your involvement to be? Or is it possible that both sides are making opposite assumptions (you want to be involved, they think you don't want to be annoyed) and thus this got missed?

If there's other things in the future you expect to be involved with, make that clear well before hand instead of being annoyed (or worse, passive aggressive about it) during or after the fact.
posted by brainmouse at 10:29 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's old fashioned, in the sense that these days it's much more common for brides/grooms to pay for some of the wedding and to manage more of the logistics.

My personal take is that if you're paying for the wedding, then the invitation should really come from you. It's common courtesy. I'm amazed in this day and age at people who want to take the cash but want to run things as if it was wholly their party. However, your stepdaughter may have thought she was doing you a favor by getting things organised. Or she may just not be thinking about things the same way as you. You'll know the answer to that, I guess.

It sounds like this may be the first of a few issues in which there is a bit of a gap between what you expect as the "host" - and the people paying for things - and your stepdaughter.

If so, discuss with your husband what the party line is between you and what your expectations are. Then I'd have an honest chat, early on, with your stepdaughter (and if there's a risk that you get perceived as the wicked stepmother sticking her beak in, then consider stepping back a little) about your expectations and her expectations.

Remember your goal - everyone involved wants to remember the wedding day as something fun and joyous. Unless you're really being jerked about it just doesn't pay in the long term to get too worked up about the principles of things. A friend if mine chiefly remembers her wedding day because she was still seething at her stepmother for having overstepped the line (in her mind). I'd bet her stepmother probably feels the same way.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:31 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I likewise have never heard of a wedding where the parents (on either side) coordinated and mailed out the invitations. It seems the trend is the parents are the checkbook and have a limited say in what goes on. One could argue that's a good thing. It would seem only polite, however, to involve the contributing persons in at least some degree of approval on the invites and guest list. To do otherwise would certainly seem very rude.

I have been to my share of weddings that were clearly being held as a party for the parents. Whether this is good or not is perhaps outside the scope of this question. But I have noticed a high coincidence of divorces with weddings like that...
posted by wkearney99 at 10:36 AM on March 4, 2010

I'm an under-30 who understands nothing about wedding traditions, and if my dad and step-mom were going to pay for my wedding, I would think I was doing them a favor by not asking them to deal with the invitations. I mean, it's already a lot to ask someone to pay for the whole thing, wouldn't it seem kind of rude to ask them to do even MORE?

Obviously, from this thread, I can see that how I'm thinking is really backwards. Like I said, I just don't understand how any of these things work. But my point is, it's possible that your step-daughter understands just as little as I do. In other words, instead of this being some sort of slight, it's possible it was actually meant as a favor.

Communication, as others have said, is so very important, especially if no one is clear on the etiquette.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:43 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

My wife's parents told us "Here's X amount of money that we would like to contribute to the wedding. We'd like to be involved, just let us know what you need us to do. We'd also like to invite some friends that you might not have considered."

I don't think they were consulted on the wording for the invitations, but they were mentioned, and the return address was their house. YMMV.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:56 AM on March 4, 2010

Are you paying for the wedding so that you're step-daughter can have her big day? Or are you paying for it so you can own it, and it becomes you're big day?

This is an area where old-fashioned etiquette is just silly. It's not your wedding, it's not about you.
posted by spaltavian at 11:00 AM on March 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

My parents mailed the invitations for my sister's wedding two and a half years ago. This was a huge, traditional wedding in Alabama, where (at least in my parents' social circle) that kind of etiquette still runs strong. (My sister and her husband did select the invitations, but they were the traditional engraved kind.)

However, as Miss Manners is fond of saying, the point of etiquette is to make everyone feel comfortable. At this point I think the polite thing to do would be to say "What lovely invitations you chose! I would love to help you mail them," (assuming, of course that you actually would) or instead of offering to help, if you'd rather not, "Your father and I are very much looking forward to hosting the wedding."
posted by ocherdraco at 11:02 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's old fashioned, yes, but not out of line for you to have been consulted on the wording/design. But how much input you should or could have depends also on how old your stepdaughter is, how long you've been in her life, etc. For instance, I think it makes much more sense for parents of younger brides who haven't been out on their own for long to actually take more of a "hosting" role than if the bride is self-sufficient and you are paying for the wedding simply because you want to, not because she couldn't do so herself. But without knowing what kind of situation you are in, it's hard to say if your expectations are out of line or not.

A personal anecdote: I was relatively young (early 20s) when I was married and my dad and his wife paid for almost everything. My dad had married his wife when I was 18 (though she'd been around since I was 14). But I didn't grow up with her (or even with my dad -- my mom was the custodial parent). So when I was designing the invitations (I was a graphic designer), I consulted my dad (NOT his wife) and then just on wording -- basically just asking if he wanted his full name or the shortened version he typically goes by. Since I was doing ALL of the organizing for the wedding, which was not in my hometown but in the town where I lived, it made little sense for me to ask him how he wanted the whole invitation worded, and he was fine with that. I also assembled, addressed, stamped, and mailed the invitations myself, and they were returned to me, all of which made sense for our particular situation. (Notably, my dad did have lots of control over the guest list and over the menu -- the things that were affecting his costs the most.)

If you want to be more involved, and your relationship with your stepdaughter is such that she would welcome that (I would not have, I did not much care for my dad's wife, to whom he is no longer married, BTW), then simply tell her that, or volunteer to help out with other aspects. But if you haven't done anything yet, and the invitations are already out, then just plan to be available and accessible to help her out during the wedding itself.
posted by devinemissk at 11:11 AM on March 4, 2010

Wow, my parents paid for our wedding, and our invitation said "Mr&Mrs {maiden name} and Mr&Mrs [husband name] request the honor ....." and I most certainly had both sets of parents look at the invitation and wording before sending out. And the RSVPs went to my parents house. Maybe that's old fashioned, I have no idea.

Now that I think about it, though, that was easy becuase both sets of parents were still married. If there had been divorces involved, I might have just went ahead and did them myself and included no parents on it. So maybe that's it?

But for sure, tell her that you want to be more involved (in an excited, helpful involved way, not a bossy "this is what I want" way).
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:14 AM on March 4, 2010

Typically, in this day and age, the bride and groom make most of the decisions about the wedding, even if someone else is hosting, though usually if someone else is footing the bill it would be nice if they ran things by you before spending the money. My guess is that they just didn't think about it, because it's just not SUPER common anymore. "Hosting" a wedding in 2010 is usually limited to what wwartorff mentioned above -- a mention on the invite, a speech to make, and the bill. Weddings have sort of turned into this idea of the bride having her absolutely perfect pretty pretty pretty princess day, where they can exert insane control over every minute detail of something for this one day, so it doesn't strike me as surprising that she went ahead and took care of the invitations without consulting you.

Weddings really have a great way of bringing out the worst in everybody, in my experience. Try not to take this too personally, because it certainly wasn't intended as such. If you want to be involved more, just ask her nicely if you can help or hear the latest or whatever you want. Let bygones be bygones and just try and remember that it's just one day, and it's the couple's day. Once you start taking things personally, the chances of having a nice party without lots of stress and bad feelings decreases dramatically.
posted by tastybrains at 11:14 AM on March 4, 2010

Just last week I got a save-the-date card—not even a formal invitation yet—sent by the bride-to-be's parents.

I don't think it would be "hopelessly old-fashioned" for you to send out the invitations, but at the same time I've seen enough sent out by the couple themselves (even the more formal ones which are worded as "parents of bride invite you to the wedding of their daughter...") that it's certainly not a default assumption that the parents of the bride would send the invitation.

Bottom line, you might be technically right according to etiquette and tradition, but even if you are it's not worth picking a fight over. Let it be.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:21 AM on March 4, 2010

If there had been divorces involved, I might have just went ahead and did them myself and included no parents on it. So maybe that's it?

Yeah, I have to agree. Don't discount the effect of divorce and remarriage on how she's thinking about stuff. I did a lot of my wedding planning and organizing myself because, though I would have loved to have my mom deeply involved, she was not paying for the wedding. I didn't want to cause tension between her and my dad -- like, hey, dad, please pay for these great flower arrangements mom and I picked out, thanks! Your stepdaughter may be trying to avoid the appearance of "choosing" you over her mother by simply doing it all herself. (And I think this goes even if she is your stepdaughter not because of divorce but because of death.)
posted by devinemissk at 11:23 AM on March 4, 2010

When we got married five and a half years ago, it did not occur to me to consult my parents on the wording of the invitation, but then again, there are no divorces in our particular mix. If you are concerned about being slighted or there being some other problem in the wording because of the divorce situation, I think it's fair to want to discuss these sensitivities with her, but at this point - what's done is done.

I also tend to agree that unless there is some reason that you think she's slighting you, the best thing is to assume that her intention was to relieve you guys of the burden of the 1,000s of details. And, as other posters have said - communication, communication.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:30 AM on March 4, 2010

I don't think it's old-fashioned at all, but perhaps I am biased by my southern upbringing. I got married 2 years ago (at the age of 29) and my mother paid for the wedding. She and I picked out the invitations/announcements together and the wording was of the "Ms. announces the marriage of her daughter ...etc". The return address was hers. I was ok with this because a) mom paid, therefore mom wanted to be part of the planning, and b) that's how it's always done around here.

I would definitely let her know if you want to be more involved, but angle it more from "I just want to be there to help you out and experience the wedding planning with you" rather than a "I'm paying so I should get a say".

posted by tryniti at 11:37 AM on March 4, 2010

You're hosting and paying, but did you discuss how involved in the planning you and your husband would want for yourselves?

Yes, it is a bit old-fashioned for the invitations to say Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so invite you to their daughter's wedding.

If you expressed either your desire to invoke this tradition or, at the very least, to be involved in the invitation-choosing process, you'd be on better ground for being miffed.

If you have not discussed these issues with your step-daughter, I really can't see how you can express any displeasure about it to her. How was she to know what you wanted?

Personally, if someone else was paying for my wedding, I would also not assume they wanted to help plan it unless they said so. The most I would do is consult them on the price, since it's their money.
posted by asciident at 11:37 AM on March 4, 2010

My wife's parents paid for our wedding; they also picked and sent the invitations. This makes a lot more sense to me. Sure, the wedding was "about" me and my wife, but it wasn't a party we were throwing for ourselves; the wedding is a party other people throw for the couple because they care about them. To me, it doesn't make sense to send out invitations to someone else's party, just because the party is in my honor.

That said, I suspect your stepdaughter was just unaware of the tradition, or didn't think about it, and wasn't trying to hurt you or step on anyone's toes. I'd let it slide.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:40 AM on March 4, 2010

Just another chiming in to say that it would never have occurred to me to have parents arrange and send the invitations, even if they were paying for the wedding. I simply had no idea people did that.

I wouldn't see it as a slight, or even purposeful.
posted by aclevername at 11:41 AM on March 4, 2010

I'm in my late twenties and was married here in Brooklyn a couple of years ago. There was quite a bit of tension between my mother and I, often over this exact sort of issue -- her wanting to be involved in certain ways and have things done in a particular manner, and my wanting to just get things done as quickly and calmly as possible and put together a reception my friends and family would enjoy.

Because my mother was paying for the wedding and because I deeply value both my relationship with her and her happiness, I caved nearly every time she insisted on a particular detail. I decided that if it was that important to her that have a band instead of playing recorded music, for example, then it wasn't worth it to me to argue.

However, all of this was extremely stressful for both of us, and had my relationship with her been less solid to begin with it may have caused very real and possible long-lasting problems, including resentment over having been guilted into decisions I wasn't happy with.

Which is an indirect way of saying that my advice to you is to figure out what's important to you -- and I mean IMPORTANT, not just something that would be nice to have -- and talk to your step daughter about those details, with the understanding that she's probably under a lot of stress right now and might not be as understanding or accommodating as might usually be.

Then let everything else slide. Particularly things like this -- invitations that are already ordered and paid for -- where it's too late to change the situation anyway. Your relationship with your step-daughter and your family's ability to enjoy this wedding in as drama-free a manner as possible is more important than the particulars of (admittedly old-fashioned) etiquette.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:48 AM on March 4, 2010

Well, I will buck the trend. The people paying are the people hosting, and the hosts send the invitations and track the RSVPs, unless there is something really weird going on. (I've been to recent weddings where invitation came from parents or from bride and groom, but in each case the invitation-sender was the party who was footing the bill.)

I wouldn't get into a big fight over it, but I would have a talk about expectations for sure. And there are a lot of things like this in a wedding. Who gives the toast, who stands up when, who welcomes the guests, etc - so you want to get on the same page about those things.

(Especially since the invitations are a hassle, she might have been trying to save you work. So you can just clarify that you would have liked to do it, because it signifies -- to you and people of your generation/expectations -- that you're proud to be hosting and proud to be welcoming the groom into your family. Or explain in your own words what it signifies to you. I think at one time there might have been a sense of "the parents don't fully approve of the match" if the invitations didn't come from the parents, for example.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:53 AM on March 4, 2010

And, as you navigate the wedding seas, it would be helpful to pick up an etiquette guide, since there are a lot of little things that one might not think of if one is winging it -- not that you have to be bound by all these traditions, but it's useful to be aware of which traditions are out there and the rationales behind them. Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior (or similar title) has wonderful clear explanations of the rationales behind these various conventions, which might be a nice basis for your discussion. It has sample thank-you notes, and other useful tidbits too.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:55 AM on March 4, 2010

My advice is not to say anything. Wedding create an insanity vortex, don't contribute to it or get sucked into it.
posted by sid at 11:57 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm under 30 and planning a wedding. Both sets of parents are divorced. My father is paying and has a long-term girlfriend, I'm not sure how they handle their finances, but I have a feeling she will be helping as well. My mother won't be able to help financially but I know she would be hurt if my father's name is on the invite but not hers. She would be even more hurt if my father's girlfriend's name was on the invite. Its complicated, and I haven't even factored in his family drama yet.

My advice would be to keep in mind that your step-daughter probably worried about pleasing father, mother, fiance and in-laws. It can be overwelming, she probably thought doing her own thing is the best way to handle it.
posted by explcurve at 12:12 PM on March 4, 2010

Paying does not equal hosting. It's their wedding, they get to choose what they want.
However, if you're paying then their putting your names on the invites would be the least they could do.
Good luck, I hope she's not Bridezilla!
posted by Neekee at 12:14 PM on March 4, 2010

My wife's parents hosted, sent the invites and received the replies. My wife and I established the guest list with help from all three sides. My wife planned the rest in concert with dear mother-in-law. You're not old fashioned, just different expectations. Sounds like her mother never taught her all the rules of etiquette.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:15 PM on March 4, 2010

I got married recently. My parents contributed to some of the costs of the wedding, but my husband and I also put up a chunk of the cash. We designed, printed, and mailed our invites ourselves (but we sent an early version to the parents to make sure that they liked them). I'm at the age when my friends are starting to get married -- I was one of the first, but I've received invitations sent directly by the bride and groom as well as invitations sent through the bride's family. The etiquette regarding weddings is shifting, and either one seems perfectly acceptable (the latter is more traditional but not yet hopelessly old-fashioned). Both kinds are charming -- it's the wedding and marriage that are exciting, not the invitation.

I would say that, if you're footing the bill for an elaborate traditional wedding (mine was neither elaborate nor traditional), it is completely reasonable to anticipate some involvement in the planning process. However, wedding = crazymaking time, and weddings bring out unreasonable behavior at the weirdest times from even the sweetest and most considerate people, so I am not at all surprised that your stepdaughter and her fiance didn't think about including you in the process (after all, they are the bride and groom).

It's too late to have any say about the invitations now (probably they are perfectly nice invitations and shouldn't give you any cause for complaint -- even if they are atrocious and you hate them, keep it to yourself). However, I would (carefully and sensitively!) talk to your stepdaughter and her fiance about wedding planning. Although wedding magazines and websites always talk about how it's the bride's "special day" and "happiest day of her life" and stuff, even those crazy publications usually point out that if parents are making significant contributions to the cost of the wedding, they should be expected to have some input when it comes to the actual wedding preparations.

In the interests of sanity: Don't make a Custerian stand and cause drama about stuff that's already happened, like the invitations, and don't make battles about silly things (really, nobody will remember or care about the centerpieces five years from now). Save the contention for big stuff (i.e. wanting to have 600 guests on a $10k budget, hiring a death-metal band to play the reception when 80% of the guests are elderly and/or conservative Christians, having a wedding on a remote forested island accessible only by canoe, when 97-year-old Grandma Suzy is looking forward to attending the event in her walker).
posted by kataclysm at 12:20 PM on March 4, 2010

My wife's parents gave us a budget, said they would help out if needed, but otherwise to just let them know when to cut the checks. We got input from them on the guest list, but that was pretty much it. My mother-in-law seemed pretty happy with being hands-off since it meant a lot less work for her.
posted by kmz at 12:32 PM on March 4, 2010

I'm agreeing with the many, many people above who are saying that she probably had no idea that it was A Thing and just did it to save time and effort. I am 99% positive that she isn't doing this to take your honor away. I bet she would feel terrible if you insinuated that to her.

So, they're bought already, let your concerns drift away like leaves in a river. No one will think you're being shunned or that this is retribution. If you want to be more involved in future procedures (like, I don't know, cake ordering or catering or hall rental) I would mention this to her in a light way. Something like "Oh, wedding cake! How exciting! Would you mind if I came with you to pick one out? I don't want to push you one way or another, I just love cake!".

I bet by not saying anything or criticizing her plans (unless, obviously, there are cost reasons) you will be her favorite guest at the wedding!
posted by amicamentis at 12:54 PM on March 4, 2010

The last wedding I was invited to that the invitations were from the parents was around 20 years ago. Even then, I remember it feeling a bit quaint.
posted by scruss at 12:55 PM on March 4, 2010

When I got married (second time), my husband and I paid for the wedding and the invitations came from us-the wording was the generic "Holly Goheavy and Him request the honor of your presence" blah blah blah. When my son was married 3 years ago, my dil's parents paid for the wedding and they used the wording "Mr and Mrs. DIL, Mr and Mrs. GoHeavy and Mr. Son's Father request the honor of your presence" etc. In both cases, the bride picked out, addressed, mailed and kept track of the RSVP's.
posted by hollygoheavy at 1:04 PM on March 4, 2010

Interesting. My parents paid for our wedding in 2006, but we sent out the invites, handled the RSVPs and used the language of "katers890 and soon-to-be Mr. katers890 invite you to our wedding". Granted my parents lived several states away from me and from where the wedding was to be held, and did not know most of my friends, so it wasn't really feasible or sane to have them be super involved in all the wedding details. To me it seems awfully mean to take people's money and make them plan your big day, unless that's what they want (in which case if you don't like it, you have to pay for it).

I guess my take on it was that my parents were offering to pay for the wedding, not host it (which they wanted no part in, they just wanted to attend and it be under X amount of dollars).
posted by katers890 at 1:06 PM on March 4, 2010

Whether to use the hosting names or not is a matter of preference. However, it never strikes me as outdated when I see it. In fact, I think it's touching when people include their families as part of the wedding. It's not always an option since some families aren't cradles of happiness and nurturing. When it works, it's lovely.

Here's the scoop. It's her day, but it's also an important day for your family and her new family. Maybe she didn't want to snub her mother by including you. For all you know her in-laws are equally miffed at the snub. If you think she's just clueless on the traditions, perhaps her father can gently give her a hint. If you think it was a conscious choice then let it go. Hand her the wedding budget and let it be her worry.
posted by 26.2 at 1:14 PM on March 4, 2010

Did she word the invitations as being from you? If not, my guess is that she didn't want to put your names on the invitation and not her mother's. It's understandable that she'd want to avoid the question entirely by wording the invitations differently.

In my experience, it was hard planning a wedding even where the paying parents were still married; it would be so much harder to balance everyone's interests if there were stepparents involved. Be generous with the bride; she's probably doing the best she can. And if you're the only one upset about something (i.e., her father is not), try not to create dissent by bringing up grievances, especially regarding things as (frankly) inconsequential as invitation-designing.
posted by palliser at 1:34 PM on March 4, 2010

I designed my own invitations and ran it by my parents (who were paying) before printing. But maybe she just didn't want to trouble you, or wanted to avoid the inevitable complexity of having too many cooks spoil the soup.

I don't think you are being hopelessly old-fashioned, but if she neglected to include your names on the invite, I would attribute it to modernity (many wedding invites these days don't include it) rather than take it personally.
posted by beyond_pink at 1:43 PM on March 4, 2010

Let it go. There will be many, many opportunities to feel hurt/snubbed/insulted between now and the day after the wedding, if you want to start keeping score. Let it go. Let it all go. A million brides get married every weekend, and there is no correct or incorrect way to handle any part of it. The occasional "I'd love to help you with that" from you is all you need to say. Take the high road, stick with the most generous interpretations of her actions, and hold your head high and proud on the big day.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 1:46 PM on March 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

my husband and I are hosting and paying for my stepdaughter's wedding and she has just ordered the invitations without involving us in any way - shouldn't the invitations be sent from the hosts - her father and I?

I always thought the bride got to pick out what she liked. It's nice that you want to help, but I would advise you to think of the money you're spending as a gift and not get upset about it. Your relationship with her is more important than what the invitations look like or say.
posted by anniecat at 2:07 PM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

After getting married this past year, I think some perspective is needed when dealing with weddings. I know tradition and etiquette say this and that, but why hope or try to impose that on someone that you care about just to give yourself justification to feel snubbed or insulted?

It's your stepdaughter and her fiance's wedding. She's making plans with her man. Unless your checks come with a mutually agreed upon contract of how much YOU get to plan for THEIR wedding, let it go and wait for her to ask for your help. If you must, let her know that you'd love to help with anything, whenever she needs it, but after that? Let her off the hook. Wedding planning is complicated enough to have to also deal with BS family politics and insulted parents, step-parents and/or in-laws.
posted by kirstk at 2:42 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

What is your relationship with your stepdaughter like? Did you marry her father when she was a young child and take a parental role in her life, or did you marry into the family when she was a bit older? For that matter, what's her relationship with her father and mother like? Do the three of them all spend time together as family, or are things awkward in one or more of those relationships? I guess my point is that divorce and remarriage complicate things, and she's not wrong for wanting to try to minimize those complications. If your relationship with her is not close and loving, or if her relationship with her father is tense in any way, you risk alienating her further by bringing this up. My vote is for you to keep your mouth shut.
posted by decathecting at 3:01 PM on March 4, 2010

Yeah, chances are they had no idea about this tradition, or that you felt this way. We made our own invites, and went with [bride], daughter of xx and xx and [me] son of xx and xx request the honor of your company...

As everyone else mentioned, weddings are so stressful--remember to give everyone involved the benefit of the doubt and be excellent to each other.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:28 PM on March 4, 2010

I've seen multiple weddings of friends turned into hellish events by the expectations of the mothers - always the mothers, not the fathers, for some reason.

FROM THIS MOMENT ON, if in any way your daughter-in-law to be surprises you by breaking path from your unspoken expectations, you have only yourself to blame. She's not a mind-reader. She has more important (and happier) things on her mind right now than meeting your expectations. And, while both of you are adults, you are far older* & more experienced, and therefore should be more able to make the gesture to extend a polite conversation.

Communicate. And, most importantly - remember that it's their wedding, not yours, even if you're paying for it.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:52 PM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Adding a vote for this being old-fashioned, and another vote for it being far too soon in the planning for you to feel slighted. There will plenty of opportunities for this later. Just remember that this is supposed to be a joyous day.
posted by runningwithscissors at 4:34 PM on March 4, 2010

News flash, folks: the one who pays really is the host.

You are absolutely not old fashioned to think that paying for a wedding entitles you to be more than an ATM. You are indeed hosting the wedding and should have, as you so nicely put it, the honor of inviting the guests by sending the invitations. Loads of people pay for their own weddings (a wonderful thing, in my opinion), but when you're letting parents pay, sorry, but you don't own the show.
posted by Dolley at 5:39 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

You do not state what the wording on the invitation is. I am in the camp (the old-fashioned camp, to be sure) that thinks that the money guy is the host, and the host 'requests the honor of your presence,' etc. Who knows how her invites read?

Your larger question seems to be about how she has acted towards you and your husband.
So you really need to look at what your relationship is, how she is prone to treat you and all that. If you want to be included more, then you need to find a way to work together with her as things move forwards. BUT you need to also remember that it is her day, a happy day, a joyful day, and that your opinions only matter in-so-far as you have already established yourself as a loving and valued resource in her life. If your opinion didn't matter when she was shoe shopping last year, it won't matter now. But then why are you paying for the shoes?
posted by SLC Mom at 7:42 PM on March 4, 2010

I'm not going to address the etiquette issue, because I think the other responses have done that more than adequately.

I'm planning my wedding right now, so I'm well aware of the emotional issues that come up. What's surprised me and other brides, is how much skepticism and lack of trust brides face, from so many sides, during this process. Here's a blog post that describes that accurately. My mom and I get along so well most of the time but the planning process has stressed those underlying emotional things that we've always had. Your stepdaughter is probably going through a lot in terms of clarifying who she is in preparation for this long-term commitment. Any tension existing in your relationship before the planning began will most likely be exacerbated. For that reason, it sounds like your husband and your stepdaughter and her fiance should sit down to clarify expectations.

For what it's worth, I think she should have at least put your names on it. (For my wedding, my parents are on there as the official hosts but we're sending so they don't have to deal with it!) But sometimes with marriages and remarriages, for pure cleanliness of aesthetics, it's easier to say "together with their families".
posted by emkelley at 3:27 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

The way your post was written doesn't seem like you're curious about the emotional duress over not having been included on the invitiations. Traditional etiquette indeed would agree that you are hosting, therefore inviting. I think traditional etiquette has gone by the wayside, and this probably wasn't on the radar of bride and groom. As correct as you are, I sadly think it is an old fashioned notion.
posted by littleflowers at 3:04 AM on March 6, 2010

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