Miss Conduct

Wedding woes

Who gets dinner at destination I-dos? Plus, when showers and vacations overlap.

Illustration by Lucy Truman

My son and his fiancee are planning a destination wedding in Georgia. Do we invite everyone who attends to the rehearsal dinner, or may we stick with just the wedding party? They are inviting about 100 people, so a nice dinner will cost as much as the reception. But we really want to do what’s right.

E.A. / Fall River

In our highly mobile society, most weddings are going to be “destination weddings” for a portion of the attendees. Tradition remains on the side of keeping the rehearsal dinner for the wedding party only, but increasingly, all out-of-towners are invited. So this is a big old “It depends.” Here’s what it depends on:

Where in Georgia is this wedding? Some charming rustic hideaway or downtown Atlanta? Are most people flying or driving? You absolutely cannot strand people without access to food. If your guests can’t easily get themselves to restaurants, you have to feed them.


Do you mean there are 100 out-of-town guests or 100 guests total? The other thing you shouldn’t do is have a rehearsal dinner for, say, 20 people, leaving just four “unchosen” out in the cold. If you have 100 out-of-town guests and only a 10-member wedding party, keeping the rehearsal dinner intimate is acceptable (assuming that this doesn’t mean relegating the other 90 to dining at the hotel vending machines).

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Who are these people, anyway? Is there a natural break between the wedding party and everyone else — for example, the wedding party is family and the rest are friends? Would it feel comfortable or awkward to split the group like that? You probably don’t know, but your son and future daughter-in-law will. Ask them for their honest opinion.

Finances, of course, are always a consideration, and if feeding everyone means that you can’t afford nearly as fancy a bash, that is perfectly all right. It’s quite easy to have an excellent meal nowadays. It’s not so easy to have time with your loved ones — and time with your loved ones, increasingly, is what weddings are all about. Most couples have already lived together for some time. Because of this, and that mobile-society business, many newlyweds want to spend as much time with all their guests as possible.

So let the couple know what you can afford, and have them make the call as to whether the rehearsal dinner will be small and fancy or a great big shambolic cookout. Either way, you’re going to have a good time — and either way, there will probably be some folks who will think you’ve done something slightly tacky.

This year a cousin’s wedding shower will occur on the first day of our local vacation. Relatives have already made clear our attendance should happen, but between travel time, finding accommodations for the kids, and the shower itself, we’ll lose a whole day. Must we attend just because we’ll be nearby?

M.L. / Rowley


No. Protect your family time. Send a nice gift along for the shower. Wedding showers tend to be followed by weddings, and you’ll attend your cousin’s, presumably. Not everyone can afford to put miles between themselves and their everyday life for a vacation. Those of us who take staycations or not-so-far-away-cations have the right to use that time for ourselves, not for social or work obligations. Stay strong!

 Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.

NEED ADVICE ON OTHER POINTS OF WEDDING ETIQUETTE? Write to Miss Conduct at And get advice live during a chat with Robin Abrahams on Wednesday, July 17 from noon to 1 p.m.