Bridesmaids' boyfriends?

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KCI Posts : 150 Registered: 3/30/09
Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 3, 2010 11:41 PM

I am looking for some help on what is the proper etiquette for whether or not bridesmaids' boyfriends (not a week long fling, a serious boyfriend) should be invited to a wedding. I am going to be a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding and I am looking for some help with the subject before talking to her. I found the following on theknot.com:

"your bridesmaid loves him -- and she's gone through a lot with you (read: three dress fittings, two cake tastings, and one crazy breakdown over your flowers). Not inviting her boyfriend (he's not exactly a random fling, you know) would be a huge slap in the face."

Right now it sounds like my cousin isn't going to invite our boyfriends, and honestly it hurt hearing that. I realize it is her day, and it costs more to invite more people, but is it wrong wanting my boyfriend to be able to go to the wedding?


I'm looking for real, honest answers. If there is any etiquette rules on this, please share. Obviously the final decision is my cousin's, but if there is anything to support my wish for my boyfriend to be at the wedding, it would be much appreciated.


Thank you.

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ZooZoo Posts : 7 Registered: 12/17/09
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 4, 2010 12:48 AM Go to message in response to: KCI

Significant others should absolutely be invited. You are in the right, here. However, she may not realize that you two are as serious as you are. If you live together, then yes, there are no excuses for excluding your boyfriend. If you've been together maybe 6 mos or so, then yes, she probably hasn't moved him from "this guy my cousin is dating" to "my cousin's serious boyfriend." If he hasn't been to any other family occasions - thanksgiving, holidays, dinners, etc,,, than she really may not realize you two are in it for the long haul.

Try something along the lines of "Joey and I are so excited for your wedding - he's really looking forward to seeing the whole family together." If she still doesn't get it, I would just talk to her about it. But, remember that for every extra person a bride and groom invite, another one gets cut off the list. Ask her about why she is excluding significant others - it really may be a space or budget issue.

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Heidibride30 Posts : 1,201 Registered: 4/16/08
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 4, 2010 7:25 AM Go to message in response to: KCI

If you want to get technical, then etiquette states that a bride does not have to invite any significant others that are not engaged or married. No ring, no bring. However, when I got married, I felt that my BM's were spending an awful lot of money to help make my day all that I wanted it to be, so I gave them all a +1, even if they weren't dating someone. I know they all appreciated it, and it didn't add THAT much to the bottom line. Good luck!!

 

Proud member and S.C.A.T. of POOP - People Offended by Offended People

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CatStandish Posts : 2,766 Registered: 6/20/08
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 4, 2010 7:58 AM Go to message in response to: KCI

Sorry... she is not obligated to invite anyone who is not formally committed. If you're not engaged or married, she is not obligated to invite your SO. We call it the "no ring, no bring" rule.

Yes, you may have been dating him for three years. But you have not taken it to the next level.

You may even co-habitate. But ultimately, he hasn't said "I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Marry me."

This means: he doesn't get invited to weddings with you.

Sure, it would be nice if she invited the boyfriends of the bridesmaids, but then her first cousing would think that she should have HER boyfriend invited. It's best to have a hard and fast guest list rule.

It's not always budget...sometimes there are hall limitations too.

Here's the thing with guestlists. They SUCK.

You have your mom piling on a bunch of people whom you have never heard of and wanting them invited. You have his mom piling on a bunch of people he doesn't know and wanting them invited. Plus you want certain people there and he wants certain people there. And there are the people who you'd like to invite but know you can't, but who you run into accidentally and who say "I'm invited, right?" and put you on the spot (and you can't say "um no" nor can you say "sure"). In short, it's a fricken nightmare zoo. And trust me, until you have gone through guest list hell, I can explain it to you all I want, and you're not going to get it.

Leave the girl alone and don't be offended. She's already got enough land mines on that guest list without your help.


Misty

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 4, 2010 8:55 AM Go to message in response to: KCI

Dear Kait,

The others said it perfectly. The rule is No Ring No Bring.

I understand you are hurt. However, as Misty said, until you go through Guest List Hell you won't appreciate how difficult it is to draw a line between the invited and the uninvited, given limitations on budget, space, etc.

Some couples are able to invite the boyfriends/girlfriends of wedding guests. Some are not.

My best suggestion to you is to suck it up and attend the wedding without your boyfriend. If and when you get engaged or married, then future wedding hosts will be obligated to invite him with you.

Note: I include committed same-sex couples in the No Ring No Bring rule. In most places, homosexual couples do not have the option of legal marriage. If they present themselves to the world as a lifetime partnership, then they both should be invited, as far as I am concerned.

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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 4, 2010 9:46 AM Go to message in response to: KCI

I never thought I'd say this, but I agree with the Knot on this one.

The PPs are correct, however - as far as etiquette is concerned, only formally committed couples (engaged or married) need to be invited as a pair. Some people count living-together couples as committed...but that doesn't seem fair (to me) to committed couples who choose not to live together before getting married.

That's the etiquette rule, so your cousin is not technically in the wrong...however, I think you're justified to be upset about it. DH and I dated for 7 years before getting engaged (we met in college and had a lot of things we both wanted to do before settling down). Had someone suggested that we weren't committed enough to invite us to a wedding together, I would have been pretty pissed.

It's up to you how to react. Personally, I probably wouldn't raise a stink about it now, but I'd probably cool down the friendship after the wedding. Etiquette rule or not, I don't think I'd want to be close friends with someone who didn't respect my relationship enough to invite my SO...especially considering all the time, money, and effort I was spending on HER.


DaisypathWedding Ticker

Vice President and Guardian of the Toilet Brush of POOP: People Offended by Offended People

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FutureMrsDJLeo Posts : 615 Registered: 2/26/09
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 4, 2010 11:08 AM Go to message in response to: KCI

I know etiquette states you don't have to invite boyfriends, but I think it's the right thing to do. Back when FH and I weren't engaged, I still would want him to come to weddings with me. Especially if the couple goes to a lot of social or family events together. Yes it does cost more per person, but I think it's more rude to not invite a serious boyfriend then to not invite him. If it's someone the BM is just dating, I can understand that, but a serious boyfriend, I agree that they should be invited.

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 4, 2010 1:26 PM Go to message in response to: FutureMrsDJLeo

Dear Mrs L,

"Yes it does cost more per person, but I think it's more rude to not invite a serious boyfriend then to not invite him."

I agree with you in principle, but with a tight budget, inviting a boyfriend might mean not inviting a cousin or other friend.

Given a clear-cut choice between a boyfriend, someone I've never met and someone who has no public commitment with my invited friend, and a cousin with whom I've had a lifelong, but distant, relationship, I'd go with the cousin. The cousin will be around next year. The boyfriend might not be around next month.

It would be great if we all had giant budgets and could invite "everyone". Unfortunately, most couples have to pick and choose to come in under budget. Sure, it's difficult and disappointing to be invited to an event like a wedding without your boyfriend. I really understand that. The OP has only two options.

1. Suck it up and go.

2. Decline the entire event and stay home with the boyfriend.

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mrscreamer2be Posts : 153 Registered: 6/14/09
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 4, 2010 8:05 PM Go to message in response to: CatStandish

I'm with you. I'm going through guest list hell right now! As for OP, it's stressful in both situations.I would just leave it alone. It might make for some uncomfortable conversation.

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FutureMrsDJLeo Posts : 615 Registered: 2/26/09
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 4, 2010 8:07 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

I do agree with you AOTB, but if you know they are in a long-term serious relationship, I still think it can be distasteful. I know you always mention to include those who live together, to me, being in a serious long term relationship can be equal to living together. Yes moving in together is a huge step in a relationship, but there can be specific reasons out of the couples control as to why they don't live together or why they are not engaged. Also, just to note I'm not talking about couples who just started dating a week before the wedding.


If people are going to make way to invite fiances, spouses, and live-in SO's, (rather they know them or not) why not serious SO"s as well?


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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 4, 2010 8:54 PM Go to message in response to: FutureMrsDJLeo

Dear MrsL,

" I know you always mention to include those who live together"

We are basically in agreement, but just finessing the details.

The fact of the matter is that the only exception I always make to No Ring No Bring is for homosexual couples that are in a marriage-like permanent relationship. Same-sex couples usually do not have the option of legal marriage.

In places where they do have that option, then the same No Ring No Bring rule would apply to same-sex couples.

A strict application of No Ring No Bring would mean that only married or engaged couples need be invited together. Living-together or seriosly dating couples do not qualify.

Everybody making up a guest list for any party, wedding reception or Super Bowl viewing, has to make decisions. Most people have finite budgets and a finite number of "seats" at the reception. If the couple is in a position to enlarge "No Ring No Bring" to include living-together couples, serious dating couples and "And Guest" couples, then great. I'm all for it. Wonderful. Fantastic. The more the merrier.

It is when an invitation to Mr X means Mr Y is excluded that problems arise. This would be a situation where the budget is limited to a certain number of guests or where the room capacity is limited. This is where I say that the couple needs to think long and hard about who is invited and who cannot be invited. Some eliminate children from the list. Some eliminate relatives they have not seen in the past 10 years from the list. Some eliminate the "And Guest" invitations.

Then some have to eliminate all but spouses and fiancé(e)s. That means the serious boyfriend/girlfriend or the living together couples do not get invited together.

Do I have a problem with that? Sure. People are hurt that their love relationship is not acknowledged by the world. The left-behind part of the couple feels slighted. The invited half of the couple wonders if they should just decline the invitation. It's not a pretty picture. It is correct etiquette because correct etiquette recognizes the friendship, the engagement and the marriage as the only relations between non-blood related people.

There is a simple solution. If you want to insure you are invited together, and if it causes you huge anguish to be separated for an evening, then GET ENGAGED or GET MARRIED. Until you are engaged or married, then you cannot expect to be treated as an engaged or married couple.

Again, I make an exception for same-sex couples who do not have the option of legal marriage, and I hope and pray for a world in which that exception will no longer be necessary.

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MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 5, 2010 12:14 PM Go to message in response to: KCI

Frankly, I couldn't imagine not inviting the SO of a wedding party member.

But, etiquette rules exist because they help navigate these tricky situations, and everyone's right -- etiquette is on her side, not yours.

She's a cousin -- so I'm guessing you're a wedding party member out of familial obligation rather than out of close relationship. In which case, she probably doesn't really have to make you happy as a friend, beccause you're family and she gets to take your acquiesence for granted.

So you probably have to suck it up and deal. If I were in your shoes, I'd actually say no (assuming you're not too far into preparations) because it wouldn't be worth the $$ to me if I couldn't at least share the night with my boyfriend.

Last thing -- given that it's family and that you're a bridesmaid, I think it's completely fair for you to ask her earlier rather than later if she intends to invite your boyfriend. Phrase it simply as "I'm wondering if I should tell Joe to save the date." Then you can at least see what her intention is. If he indeed is not invited, you can say "That's too bad, but I understand your budget is tight." Then leave it alone and never bring it up again.

__________________________________________

"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson

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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 5, 2010 1:09 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

There is a simple solution. If you want to insure you are invited together, and if it causes you huge anguish to be separated for an evening, then GET ENGAGED or GET MARRIED. Until you are engaged or married, then you cannot expect to be treated as an engaged or married couple.

See, this is why I think that No Ring, No Bring is antiquated, as it holds us to a view that nobody is a legitimate couple except a traditionally-married couple. I understand, AOTB, that you make an exception for homosexual serious couples that can't marry in many states. Personally, I think there are plenty of other types of couples who deserve an exception as well. Our society has changed, and our etiquette rules should reflect that.

1) As you've mentioned, homosexual couples deserve an exception to No Ring, No Bring; however, how do you determine whether a homosexual couple is committed enough that they deserve the same status as a married heterosexual couple? I'm not trying to be snide - I'm just wondering, as homosexual couples go through the same stages in their relationships as heterosexual couples do. How do you determine whether a homosexual couple is in the 'seriously dating equivalent' stage of their relationship, or the 'engaged equivalent' stage, or the 'married equivalent' stage? Do you define this solely by whether a commitment ceremony has taken place? I know longtime gay couples who have never bothered with a commitment ceremony, so do they get the invitation together? Are they any more committed than a longtime heterosexual couple who is not married?

2) We also have a growing population of longterm couples who move in together, have children, etc, etc without ever getting married or engaged. Our opinions on this lifestyle choice is irrelevant for the purposes of this conversation, but if a couple is 'common-law' married like this without getting legally married, are they married or not for the purposes of No Ring, No Bring? It would seem to me that these couple are pretty established, with or without the legal paperwork. But if we're recognizing these non-legally-married-couples with children as legitimate couples, why are we not recognizing people in a similar relationship who do NOT have children as legitimate couples?

3) And then we have the Perpetually Engaged, as AOTB calls them (love that!). We all know someone who has been 'engaged' for YEARS. Maybe there's a ring, maybe there are vague plans for a wedding sometime in the distant future, maybe they simply call one another 'fiance' - but there are never any concrete plans to move forward with the engagement and actually get married. It really frosts my ass that the No Ring, No Bring rule says that you must invite these 'engaged' couples together, but that longterm boyfriends or girlfriends who might have plans to get engaged or married soon get left out.

4) I also really feel like No Ring, No Bring is way behind the times, particularly when it comes to women being more independent, pursuing careers and education, and getting married older. I'll use my own story as an example for this one. I met my husband in college - I was 19 and he was 20. I could have told you 2 or 3 years into the relationship that he was the one, and I think he'd say the same - but neither of us had any interest (or the financial means) to get married in our early 20s. We both had graduate degrees to pursue, various career opportunities to follow that took us to separate states, and all the other things that one should do to get one's career going, including unpaid internships and low-paying entry level jobs that barely covered basic living expenses. So for many years, we were seriously dating - not engaged or married, as we didn't have the means to get married and didn't want to be the Perpetually Engaged. We finally got engaged when I was 26 and he was 27, and married the following year. During all that time, we were in a relationship state that I see a lot of young professionals in (almost ALL of our grad school friends were in this state): not engaged yet, but it's clear to everyone that they will be as soon as they finish school, finish the unpaid internship, or get a promotion so that they can afford to pay their basic living expenses AND the student loans. Almost all my friends (and my friends are mostly young professionals with advanced academic degrees in the humanities) dated their spouse for 6-10+ years before getting engaged or married, all due to the circumstances of pursuing higher education or starting a career. These couples all would have been married years earlier if it weren't for the demanding career path that they'd chosen. Personally, I would have been humiliated to tell a couple that had been dating for 8 years that the SO is not invited because they're not committed for all to see. What about all the years he made her coffee while she studied? What about the years of daily phone calls, even when one was overseas researching? What about when he cosigned on her student loans, since the bank wouldn't let her borrow enough to fund her own education? To me, these couples are certainly committed enough to be married, even if they're still living separately and unmarried while one or both of them is struggling to start a career.

Anyway, sorry that's long, but those were just a few of my thoughts on No Ring, No Bring that have been bugging me for a while, but I've never been able to articulate them. I have more that I'm probably forgetting, if anybody feels like discussing!

DaisypathWedding Ticker

Vice President and Guardian of the Toilet Brush of POOP: People Offended by Offended People

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NJ4Life Posts : 3,358 Registered: 8/10/07
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 5, 2010 1:46 PM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

Artbride brings up some excellent points! I agree with everything

I think the moral of the story is to use your discretion. Obviously you KNOW the people you are inviting to YOUR wedding. So you know who is really seirous w/ the SO and who isn't. I even asked a few of my single friends (or new relationship people) how they wanted me to invite them. Like "do you want me to invite Bob too? or just you? Let me know" If the relationship is rather new and at the time of the wedding they would only be dating a few months, I think your guest would know whether or not they wanted to bring GF or BF or not. (however I am the type who doesnt mind going to functions alone and I forget some people aren't like that...so I ask out of consideration)

Also say you're inviting one co worker (b/c maybe you work in a small office) and that person doesn't know anyone else that will be attending..i'd be inclined to invite that person as an "and guest" to give them someone to know at the wedding.

I think the No Ring, No Bring Rule (as well as Artbride's ammendments to the rule) is really for a couple who has a TON of single friends/family and the "and guests" would equal to a crazy amount of people.

New Jersey: We have dumps, bays and cement boots and we know how to use 'em

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Bridesmaids' boyfriends?
Posted: Jan 5, 2010 1:54 PM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

Dear AB,

You raise valid points.

One huge problem with evaluationg relationships for the purposes of separating "serious" couples from "non-serious" couples is that you have to get into the nuts and bolts of the relationship.

Is five years "serious"? How about four years? Three? Six months?

Does he bring her coffee? What about hot chocolate? Every morning? Only on Saturday?

Where do you draw the line?

"We also have a growing population of longterm couples who move in together, have children, etc, etc without ever getting married or engaged."

I ran into just this situation when I lived, years back, in Married Student Housing. I was there with my husband about a year after we got married. He was working on his PhD. There was another couple in MSH who were not married. They have been together for 10 years, and had three children. The wife/girlfriend was the student; the husband/boyfriend was not a student.

MSH asked for their marriage license and when they could not produce one, they started the process of evicting the husband/boyfriend. (Note this was not in a common-law marriage state.)

The student-mother could stay as a single student with minor children.

The couple were absolutely furious. Ten years! Three children! I was at a meeting where they actually pointed at me and my husband and said "They have been married for all of a year, and have no children. Why do they get to stay here and we don't?"

Well, said I at the meeting, that "little piece of paper" ACTUALLY MEANS SOMETHING. We have a legally binding, society-approved commitment to each other. You do not. The rules for MSH are clear: Student plus student's spouse and minor children or stepchildren. Period. (This was in the 1970s long before same-sex domestic partnership registration was available.)

I guess I would say it again. A marriage or a public engagement is public. You don't need to examine the depth of commitment. It's either out there or not. Binary. On or off.

So..... what about the other weird circs you mentioned? What about the (shudder) Perpetually Engaged? Year after year, decade after decade, they are "fiancé and fiancée"?

Well, engaged is engaged. They get invited as a couple. Not my business how long they've been engaged. OK, great. (The sound you hear is my teeth grinding. No wonder I sleep with a mouth guard.)

The ONLY situation where there truly is a grey area is with homosexual couples. Some have commitment ceremonies; some do not. Personally, I would take that on a case-by-case basis. It's not like my life is flooded with lots of gay people, all in various stages of serious relationships. Fact is, I go to church with two lesbian couples who are truly in non-legal marriage relationships. My nephew is gay and in a serious non-legal marriage relationship. I am good friends with a closeted gay man who is in what I believe is a long term relationship. Because I also know and like my friend's "roommate", I would probably just invite the roommate because he is also a friend and a nice person.

Remember, if the party host is really looking at a fine line, divining between the serious and the non-serious, the host always has the option of inviting the boyfriend or girlfriend simply because they know and like that person. Two "single" people get invited.


****

One more thing, just to clarify:

" but if a couple is 'common-law' married like this without getting legally married "

If the couple resides in a state where the establishment of a common law marriage is legal, and if the couple fulfills the requirements of common law marriage, then their marriage is just as legal and just as binding as anyone else's. I did some research on this subject some years back when a candidate for public office in my town had an "irregular" marriage. One important fact about common law marriages is that the marriage must be in the present, not some future intention.

"We are married now" indicates a common law marriage is an established fact and is absolutely legal and binding. (In certain states.)

"We want to get married some day" indicates intent, and would not be considered a common law marriage.

If a common law marriage is established in a state that allows for the establishment of common law marriages, then the marriage is valid everywhere else. The only way for them to break up would be though a "normal" divorce, with judges, lawyers, petitions, final decree, etc.

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