Q: We are planning to get married overseas. The problem is that one of my fiancé’s siblings keeps telling us that it is our responsibility to pay for airfare and lodging for “family” for the whole time “according to their etiquette manual!” We do not have the means to pay for everyone’s hotel or for anyone’s mini-vacation. Everyone tells me that this sibling just wants a free ride. What do I tell him? We are up to the point where this particular sibling’s invitation might not be sent! I really thought that paying for airfare and lodging was optional. We are not following any “book,” we do not have money growing on trees in our backyard and we really want an informed opinion as to what to tell this sibling and his mate!!!! Again, I hope you can help!
A: Hello and congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Traditionally the bridal couple would help to coordinate the lodging for the attendants in the bridal party. Keep in mind, this was in the days when people traveled by horse-drawn wagon and lodging involved begging local friends and neighbors to have overnight guests sleep on a couch. Nowadays, it is almost unheard of for the bridal couple to pay for travel and lodging for guests. Occasionally, a bride will cover the costs of a friend or relative who would not otherwise be able to attend and whose presence is truly desired.
So, what does that mean for you? You should absolutely send this sibling his invitation. Then, since it is your fiancé’s sibling, your fiancé needs to put on his best diplomatic face and tell his sibling that while he would love to be able to pay for the expenses it would just not be fair since he would not be able to pay for everyone’s expenses… and that you both truly hope from the bottom of your hearts that he will still be able to attend. This leaves the ball in the sibling’s court.
And, as an aside, it is in the poorest of taste and the worst form to use etiquette (or etiquette books) as a weapon against a relative. But I am sure you already know this!
Jodi R. R. Smith is a nationally known etiquette expert and author. She is the president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. You are invited to email her your etiquette emergencies at Salem@Mannersmith.com