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Is it rude to uninvite the whole town?

Dear Etiquette 101,

We've just started planning our wedding, and haven't nailed down any details yet. My fiance and I both want a small wedding (under 100) and - despite the fact that my fiance has already been married once - my future MIL decided to tell just about everyone in her town that they're invited! She told their whole golf club, etc., approximately 50 extra people that my fiance has never met. It's been an uphill battle, trying to convince her to un-invite them, since she's neither hosting our wedding nor contributing a dime.

How can we be sure that these extras don't crash our big day and that FMIL doesn't take over?


Katie M.

Dear Katie,

Here's the good news -- you're not actually uninviting people, because no one's actually been invited yet. Only the hosts of an event (you or your parents, I presume, since you mentioned that FMIL is not contributing) are actually allowed to invite people. FMIL is likely just excited to welcome you into her family, and is over-eager in including others in the blessed event.

Etiquette is, after all, about assuming the best of intentions.

Thankfully, it's early enough in the planning that there are no details yet. These people are invited to an as yet unscheduled event at an undisclosed location. FMIL needs to understand the rules - that she is not determining the guest list and that only you will be issuing invitations - but try to be gentle when informing her of this situation.

Request her guest list and go from there. Go over it with her and just cross out people who aren't actually family or within the guidelines you've set and just keep repeating that the venue can't accommodate so many people (blaming the site works really sorry, you'd love to invite them, but your hands are tied!).

Be firm in making her understand that will not be equipped to handle uninvited extras at the ceremony and reception, since the guests you actually invited take priority. She needs to handle any invitations she issued without approval, since that was her mistake.

If she refuses, contact them yourself - a nice note should do the trick - and politely explain the situation and FMIL's excitement in inviting people to an event she is not hosting.

Best wishes,

Etiquette 101