DEAR MISS MANNERS: Should men be invited to a baby shower?
GENTLE READER: Do they know the baby? Miss Manners is confused by the notion that the celebration of new life is considered a female activity, disregarding the essential involvement of the other half of the population.
But then, she also thinks that eating melted chocolate from a diaper hardly counts as entertainment. Therefore, she is happy to spare anyone, for whatever reason, from such a fate, if that is what is ... ahem ... on the menu.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a family, a step-family, and a birth family, and everyone has been invited to my wedding. There is a group of relatives who aren’t on speaking terms, and both sides of the argument (which does not involve me, and which I try to stay 100% out of) have asked me not to seat them near each other. To which I replied that I prefer a relaxed environment, and that there will not be assigned seating.
The biggest problem is the rehearsal dinner. I was just informed by my fiance’s mother that she decided to host one (it was up in the air for a bit), and that she is inviting her out-of-town relatives (mostly my fiance’s aunts and uncles) and her friends. Now I need to decide who I will invite, and I’m not sure what etiquette dictates.
My fiance’s mother has stated that she wants it to be a smaller affair. If I invited the out-of-town family, I would be inviting about half the people coming to the wedding. Even just sticking to siblings, aunts and uncles, I would have about triple the people she’s inviting.
In addition, I’m worried about the feuding family members. I don’t feel like I can invite one group without the other, but with less activity to distract them, I’m worried about a big fight the day before my big day. What do I do?
GENTLE READER: Let us go back. First, Miss Manners must take issue with the notion that not assigning tables will produce a relaxed environment. Warring relatives, evilly eyeing one another as they purposefully march to opposite corners of the dining room, does not promote tranquility. There are musicals based on this kind of territorial battle — and while similarly entertaining, they generally do not end well.
Miss Manners therefore encourages you to reconsider assigning seats. Everyone will be happier to be told what to do, rather than forced to openly display their contempt.
As for your main question, a similar principle is involved. Make rules — and blame others for upholding theirs. If your fiance’s mother is hosting, then it is hard to quibble with her restrictions on the number of people invited. In your case, more people seem to cause more problems, anyway.
Why not invite your wedding party only? It is, after all, a rehearsal intended for them. Then focus on creating seating assignments for the reception that facilitate your ability to greet every group of relatives separately and equally — without the fuss of having to play a very unrelaxing game of interference.