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Weddings: (ugh) Who Pays for What And How Does That Affect Who I (we, they) Invite?
My daughter recently got engaged. She lives on the east coast, I live on the west coast. Most of the family is east, although her father and his wife live in several different places mostly out west (motorhome). She is 31, her fiance is 40, and they are both very financially secure. In the midst of wedding plans, I offerred to purchase the dress. They are paying for the wedding (I assume), although we have not yet discussed finances. I think it appropriate for parents to give as much as they are able. Obviously, if her father gives more $$ (which he can afford better than I), does that give him the right to invite more of his family? And if half my (invited) family is unable to attend (distance), does that give me extra seats for some of my close friends (back east)?  And if the bride & groom pay for the affair, does that give THEM the right to have the majority of guests? I don't know anything about the guest list yet, so alot of this is conjecture, but I know zero about wedding protocol.

The wedding will be small (ish), but then there's the whole business of who walks who up the aisle, since the wife of her father hates me and would do anything to undermine me. The wife did not raise my daughter and was not in her life until she was 11. Anybody?
Congratulations, Cleo!
As someone close to your daughter's age who has seen a lot of peers deal with complicated family situations and weddings, I'll offer the following observations in case they are helpful.
Especially if you'll be dealing with difficult other parts of the family, it seems to me it would be wise to make sure that you and your daughter are allies in this from the beginning. Have a heart to heart talk about what she is hoping the ceremony will accomplish, and what you can do to help it be truly special. She should understand your feelings about various symbolic matters (and, I think, honor them if at all reasonable/possible) but she should also feel that you are fundamentally there to celebrate her new beginning and not to right past wrongs. In the end, very little matters except your relationship with her and her new family -- including her husband's family. Better to have her love and that of the grandchildren going forwards than to win some symbolic battle now. I would even vote to keep the wedding as small as possible, especially if it is likely to be contentious, and throw her an "I'm so glad I had you" celebratory party with your dearest friends on a truly special occasion -- a kind of a better-than-bachelorette party, with wine, laughter, a lot of heart-to-heart talks about being a woman, a mother and so forth.  If possible, invite the mother of the groom...

As for the actual ceremony, I'd suggest taking the moral high ground and acquiescing to "what the happy couple wants," which is a strategy as much as a concession. That is, whatever is truly important to you is best presented to the other side of the family as your daughter's wish (this is why you need her as an ally). Let it be as little about you as possible. You want to be the person who will graciously accept to walk down the aisle with her and her father (as an example) because she wants it and it's her wedding and you're happy to rise to the occasion -- not the person who lobbies to get to walk. The only way to do this is if you and the bride are on the same page from the beginning...

Hope this is a useful perspective.

In response to Mia Vialti
Mia thanks for your post.
I am unable to throw her any kind of party since she is on the east coast and I am not. I don't have a close enough circle of friends on the west coast that even know her or would fly east for a party. Most of my close friends (and ones that know her from childhood) are still back east. Which is why I wanted to invite some of them to the wedding to substitute my coming
solo (b.f. away on business) and both my parents are gone. (Her dad's parents are both alive). I have a much smaller "contingent" of family, and was curious if couples normally give their parents a head count, i.e. "ok you can invite 20 guests". it seems like I am always outnumbered since my "family" are mostly made up of "friends".

In response to Cleo Garfield
Hey Cleo,

I'm guessing you are a fabulous and impressive person. Who cares if you show up to the wedding with fewer attendants. If your ex has failed to maintain a good relationship with you for however many years it is unlikely that anything you can do at this wedding will show him. My advice would be to just not worry about it. Show up, look good, be gracious and give a lovely speech. Be an anthropologist among the aliens. Make friends with the groom's family like Mia says, take a trip if necessary beforehand to start meeting them, and use the occasion of the wedding to get to know everyone on that side. You are then in a very different position at all future gatherings. You have a serious strategic alliance. You won't have to collect friends to come because you'll have a whole half of the family.

Above all don't let yourself get caught up in these politics of feeling disrespected. It is truly awful for the kid if she feels like the parents are using her wedding to settle scores which she doesn't want to hear about or deal with. And no matter how right you are and how much of an asshole her father is, she will probably feel this way when it's her wedding at stake.

Just be fabulous.
My 2 cents.
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Latest Post: July 19, 2012 at 2:44 PM
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