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20-40-60 etiquette: Should extended family expect housing for wedding?

In 20-40-60 Etiquette, three women and a guest comment on readers' etiquette questions. Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman and Callie Athey Published: February 24, 2014

QUESTION: I have a very large extended family with five aunts and uncles and numerous cousins with families of their own. We try to get together several times per year, which usually means I host everyone.

My parents and I have a home at a lake near our houses where we let family stay. We cook and provide entertainment as well. Even though it is a lot of work for my parents and me and does get quite costly, we have a good time and enjoy the time with family.

Now my oldest daughter is getting married. Her wedding is coming up, and invitations have gone out, but RSVPs are not coming back!

I did not extend an invitation to the family to use the lake house for this event because I will be extremely busy with the wedding and don't have time to prepare it or take care of guests for the weekend. Now my family's response is that they will not be coming to the wedding if it is just for one afternoon.

I am extremely hurt that they will blow off my daughter's big day like that. It is not a matter of money. They all have the means to make other arrangements. They are just used to me being the host for an entire weekend, which I plan to devote to my daughter this time. I should also say my mother said she would offer to host them, but that would take her time away from my daughter's wedding activities also.

How should I handle this? My first instinct is to say, “Fine, don't come, but you are never invited back again!”

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Have you let them know how much it would mean to you to have them there? If so, I can understand thinking “Fine, don't come, but you are never invited back again!” But try not to think that way. The day will still be amazing for you and your family no matter who is in attendance.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Your family seems to be lacking a lot of empathy and appreciation for you in this situation. How terrible that they would miss your daughter's wedding because you're not available to entertain them. I'm not sure what you're supposed to do differently here. You have already made the right choice to focus on your daughter and her special day. Let them decide what they're going to do on their own; you've already said what you can and cannot do, which is good.

After the wedding, when emotions aren't running so high, you can then decide whether to invite them back. You'll have to make a choice between welcoming them to family dinners because you enjoy the get-together and their company as family or not having them back at all. A third possibility is to get these families involved in sharing the cost or the preparation of the meals. In the meantime, don't let selfish relatives ruin a wonderful occasion.

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by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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by Callie Athey
Freelance Writer
Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a...
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