Wedding etiquette - I think you forgot to invite my girlfriend.
March 31, 2019 6:28 PM   Subscribe

My cousin (S) is getting married in two months. On the invitation, it's addressed to me and my son (he's 12). My girlfriend (K) and I don't live together but I know she didn't get an invite as she would have told me (and I doubt S would have K's address). When I go to their wedding website to RSVP, it only has options for myself and my son.

My guess is that S made up her invitation list when K and I were on a break (essentially the duration of last summer - we got back together around Labor Day). S and I are connected on Facebook and my profile pic is of K and me, we're listed as in a relationship, etc. but S isn't super active there. I'm not super close with S but at a mutual cousin's wedding last summer we had a nice time catching up (we live in different cities and K obviously wasn't there) - perhaps S got the invite list for our side of the family from that cousin.

Part of me feels like if S was explicitly told that we were together, K would be invited to the wedding. And a (slightly bigger) part of me feels super awkward asking if I can bring K if there budget is already set or they're trying to keep the wedding small.

So, what's the protocol here? RSVP for me and my son and follow up with S asking if K was invited? Chalk it up to an oversight and go without K? Talk to my aunt/S's mom?
posted by Twicketface to Human Relations (20 answers total)
If you were closer to S, you could ask her about it. Given that you are not super close to S, you should just accept the fact that K was not invited and attend the wedding with your son. It's not polite to try to get extra people invited to weddings. They are super expensive and putting together guest lists is a big deal.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 6:35 PM on March 31, 2019 [53 favorites]

C - None Of The Above.

You and your son - your cousin's family - were invited to the wedding. Your on-again-off-again girlfriend was not, despite her being Facebook Official (tm). This isn't unusual.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:38 PM on March 31, 2019 [108 favorites]

It depends entirely on your family relationships.

In my family, the thing to do would be to ask my mom, who would know about her sister (the cousin's mom/your aunt) talking to her about wedding prep and would let me know if there have been budget or guest issues or any other scuttlebutt. Then when I made clear to my mom that my girlfriend would very much like to go (and perhaps would be very helpful in keeping an eye out for my (your) son) my mom would have an opinion about how best to go about that, and I would heed her advice way more than any internet stranger's. Then again, my family is pretty close and we have very little shame or mistrust about social gathering things and we're also quite generous - we've definitely spotted money in event budgets to welcome kids or significant others in if needed in the past.

I say bring it up with whoever in the family you are closest to. Never ever make it a demand, just ask curiously because your girlfriend would like to celebrate your cousin's special day blah blah. I would say that generally any couples who don't live together are not usually invited together to weddings and that your case would be unusual, unless she is also the mother of your son. And even then, because you say you're not that close with your cousin, it makes sense to only invite her legally related family among those she's not super close with. Weddings are super expensive and budgets are inevitably tight. I think that you're within politeness limitations to query someone once and then drop it.
posted by Mizu at 6:44 PM on March 31, 2019 [8 favorites]

If you are close enough to your cousin that there’s a reasonable expectation that they might follow/know your relationship status, then you are probably close enough to call and say, “Can I bring K or are you keeping it small? No sweat either way.” But you say that you’re not super close, so I’d guess S doesn’t know you have a plus one. In this case, I’d feel out via your most discreet relative (could be your aunt?) whether you could possibly ask S about bringing K or if it’s supposed to be a smaller crowd. I would have felt bad if a guest of mine didn’t get to bring an SO because I didn’t know about them. That said, make sure you get the “yes” directly from S, not from S’s parent, and be sure you reiterate that it’s no big deal and give them an out by saying you totally understand that deposits have already been made and so forth.
posted by Knowyournuts at 6:44 PM on March 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Lots of possibilities here:

- The people getting married set a hard rule about "only married partners [or people living together or whatever], not girlfriends/boyfriends allowed" to have some sort of cut off, so K didn't make it on the list.
- As you suspect, they didn't know you and K were "back on."

If you really want K to come, ask someone who is closer to the people getting married (as someone else said above, in my family, I'd ask my mom, who would ask her sibling) what the deal is, but mention that it is no big deal either way. But don't push. Weddings are expensive. Regardless, make sure that you bring a gift/give money that covers the cost of you and your son and K if she comes. If you aren't even that close with S, should you even go?
posted by k8t at 7:14 PM on March 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

The girlfriend is simply not invited to the wedding. If they really wanted to invite her, her address would have been tracked down, or the invite sent to your house, or she would be added to your invitation by name or by plus 1 etc.

They may have many reasons for not including her like only married couples, engaged couples, living together couples, no one gets "a date/plus 1". It is their choice.

My own roommate had engaged couples only, eliminating my boyfriend of nearly 5 years who she actually knew for 6 years before I met him. Another engaged friend was invited to bring her fiance (they had only been together for 2 years) and my roommate only met the guy a few times. People set rules. We just deal with them. I was the maid of honor and I went alone.
posted by maxg94 at 7:32 PM on March 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

Lots and lots and lots of people don't invite plus-ones. It isn't an entitlement.

Don't make a big deal out of this, don't talk to anyone about it, don't ruminate or worry or resent your cousin. You and your son are invited, your girlfriend isn't, go and have fun, it's fine.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:38 PM on March 31, 2019 [25 favorites]

I think you should assume K is not invited, and use the Mom/Aunt backchannel to confirm. Do not use the backchannel or other means to try and get K added to the invite list if she was knowingly not invited. Some people are very strict about only inviting family and very serious / permanent partners.
posted by sallybrown at 7:39 PM on March 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

If you feel like your GF would be invited anyway I personally don't think it would be a big deal to ask. It depends on the family and the size of the wedding. I agree that if you know any one in the family who's close to the planning it's best to ask them.
posted by bleep at 7:53 PM on March 31, 2019

I want to term this the "Blood and Spouses" invitation protocol. You probably instinctively know if your family talks about family politics, so if you're going to ask anyone ask your Mom.
posted by rhizome at 7:56 PM on March 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

If I were S and I omitted K because I didn’t think you were together anymore, and then found out after the wedding that you ARE together, I would feel bad for not inviting K (and kind of peeved that people just allowed me to omit her without saying anything).

It’s totally fine for your cousin to omit K knowingly, but for her to do so unknowingly could make her feel bad later. Find a way to subtly let her know that you and K are together. Don’t ask for an invitation, don’t belabor the point, just put the information out there. If she omitted K by mistake, she will probably add her to the invite list at that point. If she meant to leave her off, then there’s no harm done because you haven’t asked for anything that she needs to refuse.

No matter her decision, it should be made with full knowledge of the facts so that she doesn’t later feel like she committed a faux pas as a result of being misinformed.
posted by delight at 8:53 PM on March 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

The invitations are to you and your son; your girlfriend is not invited.

I guess you could ask around and see if other SOs of similar "seriousness" were invited, but really you're asking if you should go fishing for an invitation and in general the answer there is 'no, probably not'.

The cost of a wedding is driven primarily by the number of people invited, so at some point a line has to be drawn; for a lot of people the line is "no ring, no bring". I.e. if you're not married into the family or on your way to be (in the sense of formally engaged), and there's no independent relationship with the bride/groom, no invitation.

Most people who end up on the outside of the line in that situation get that it's not personal (I have a long-term partner so I'm not unfamiliar with this at all), and expanding the invitations out to include {boy/girl/whatever}friends could be a big jump in the guest count. But like basically everything with weddings there's always somebody who's going to get offended and hold a grudge about it until everyone involved is dead. If this is going to be a major stressor for you in your relationship such that you're comfortable asking your friends (the ones getting married) to do you a favor to the tune of (probably) a hundred bucks or so, then I suppose you can ask—SOP for most weddings is to keep a few extra spots open for this sort of last-minute emergency. But it's potentially a fairly big ask, unless the wedding is going to be pretty informal or it's being self-catered or something.

The only situation where I definitely would say something is if the bridge/groom are also friends with your SO and you think she would have been invited, except that they intentionally declined to invite her to avoid a problem (under the assumption that having you both show up would be awkward, and they had to choose sides basically). In that case I would mention to them that you're on friendly terms and let them decide what to do with that information.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:12 PM on March 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

It is amply possible that your cousin and fiance(e) would indeed have intended to invite K along with you - and that they would consider having both of you as absolutely within the limits of their budget and space requirements. They just forgot. However, even if this is true, the polite thing to do would be for you and your son - but not K - to go and for you do so without mentioning K.

Drawing up a wedding list is a seriously difficult task: juggling the competing requirements of friends, family, colleagues, partners of each of these and children - often with people who one or other partner may never have met before. Prospective newly-weds have to prioritise as best they can and it is normal for them to make accidental omissions. As a not-very close cousin, you and your son are going to be on their "B list" - and their concerns of partners of such B list guests are not going to be paramount. At best, they accidentally forgot to invite K and it is quite possible that she was actively excluded because of budget/space/not knowing her well enough.
posted by rongorongo at 11:06 PM on March 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

As a permanently single person I never qualify for a plus one which really sucks when I don't know many people there. I would assume your son is your date to the wedding.
posted by kitten magic at 1:17 AM on April 1, 2019

Your girlfriend is not invited. Plus, it sounds like she and S possibly have never met, or haven't seen each other in over a year. I didn't want strangers at my wedding, and didn't want to spend $140 on someone I didn't know and might never see again.
People's partners were invited if I had met them before (with a couple of exceptions for long distance friends). Weddings are expensive and you have to draw the line somewhere.
posted by emd3737 at 4:08 AM on April 1, 2019 [11 favorites]

As someone who has had a wedding, and who made decisions about who was and was not invited, I would just like to say that it doesn't always bring out the best in a person's decision making process. I don't think I omitted anyone's invitation by accident, but I certainly had some weird rationales for not inviting some of the people I didn't invite. Some years along in our marriage, if I had to do it again I would probably make some different choices.

It was a weird way to think about our friendships and relations.

However, if anyone had questioned my choices I'm pretty sure I would have doubled down on them in the moment, since it would have been added pressure in a process where I already felt pretty squeezed. (My partner's mom insisted, as if it was perfectly normal and reasonable, on bringing eight of her women friends! some of whom we had never met!)

If I were you I'd leave it alone and go (or not!) based on the invitation as received.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:41 AM on April 1, 2019

Another vote for saying nothing; you should go alone, with your son, or not at all.

For the couple getting married, they want to be surrounded by friends and family. They also want their guests to be happy and comfortable, which is why some SOs will be invited, but they also have to draw the line somewhere on which SOs get invited, both to minimize costs and to avoid drama. In my experience, it's most common for an SO to be invited if they are living with an invited guest (or engaged and not yet cohabitating).

Traditional weddings are stressful and expensive.* Don't add to that by trying to find out more, even through family backchannels.

* Seriously. As a wedding guest, your job is to be happy for the couple getting married, to enjoy yourself as much as possible, and to behave considerately. Please don't make them feel bad for choosing not to invite K, especially in light of the months-long break you two took less than a year ago.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 9:43 AM on April 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

Agreed. If the invite didn't specify "& guest", I would not assume that anyone who was not specifically addressed on the invitation would be invited, especially with the cost of most weddings these days.

You say you're not super close with S, so I might not recommend this in your case. But if it doesn't seem like it would be a huge imposition, it might not hurt to reach out and ask your cousin if it would be alright to bring your girlfriend IF AND ONLY IF there are any late cancellations.* If your cousin and her soon-to-be-spouse have already paid $X per head and suddenly one of the heads can't make it, it is tentatively possible that they might be amenable to selectively filling in some of these vacancies. But even then, I would tread VERY carefully, make it very clear that there is ZERO pressure for her to say yes (because it's very possible they already have a list of people in mind), and not even mention it to K until (and if) your cousin says it's cool.

*I say this having never planned a wedding before, so if someone who HAS planned a wedding replies below this post and says "Absolutely do not ask this, the stress it causes is unfathomable," then you should definitely heed their advice and not mine.
posted by helloimjennsco at 11:50 AM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Strongly recommend not adding complexity to your cousin's wedding day plans by making requests related to bringing K, whom she does not know, to her wedding. As a bride she has enough to think about, and it reads as an implicit rebuke. If she gets regret-RSPVs she's going to invite her own second string, or cut down her catering cost. Just... don't do it; it's not nice. "Ask" culture is all very well in some cases, but not in a situation where the costs, stress, and complexity are all high already.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:01 PM on April 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

I was going to say exactly what fingersandtoes wrote, which is that "Ask" culture (it's just a question, cousin can say no, won't hurt to ask) is strictly not appropriate in this scenario.

You're not close with S (sounds like you only talk when you happen to meet at family events once a year or two), you're not seriously committed to K (you don't live together, you're not engaged, and you spent a significant portion of the last year broken up), K is a stranger to S, and you're not being asked to go alone (you've been invited along with your son).

It does not sound to me like K was omitted from the guest list due to oversight. It sounds deliberate, but nothing personal. Weddings are incredibly expensive and opening the door to tenuously committed girlfriends/boyfriends would likely make their numbers and costs unmanageable. Please also keep in mind that if they feel pressured say yes to your ask, they may end up dealing with drama from other guests who are salty about not having plus-ones. If they have to say no, they will probably feel bad about it on top of all the other stress they're dealing with. I would say nothing, not to S, not to your aunt, or any other family.
posted by keep it under cover at 10:04 AM on April 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

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