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My friend is getting married, and another mutual friend is planning his bachelor party, to which I’ve been invited (we’re all in our early 30s). Initially, my mother wanted me to take it upon myself to invite my younger brother (mid 20s) along, but I was quickly able to convince her that unilaterally modifying the guest list would be inappropriate. However, she still thinks I should contact the best man to get my brother invited officially. I don’t want to put my friend in that position, and anyway, the plan is to get a place on Airbnb, which was reserved with the current guest list in mind. I’ve told her that asking would make me uncomfortable, but she insists that “it’ll be fine.” I don’t think she’d take it upon herself to contact the best man directly, but I want to get this settled.

There are a couple of factors that make my mom’s insistence less crazy than it may seem.

  1. All the principle actors have known each other for many years. I’ve been good friends with the groom since elementary school and the best man since high school. They’ve both spent a lot of time at my parents house over the years, and know my brother fairly well from there. Additionally, we all were involved in my high school and community theatre programs backstage, including my mother who would volunteer as the props and/or costumes mistress. I also used my position in the hierarchy of the theatre club to create a program that allowed junior high students to work backstage in high school shows (since the junior highs in the area didn’t have theatre programs), which meant my brother spent considerable time working with us. Finally, the best man, my brother and myself were all in the same scout troop (which my father was the Scoutmaster of) until we graduated.
  2. Because of the above, I’m certain the best man wouldn’t be able to reject any suggestion of inviting my brother out of hand. He might even feel obligated to invite him or at least pass the buck to the groom, which I definitely don’t want.
  3. My only reservation is that I don’t want put my friends in the position to have to say “he can’t come.” My brother is pretty rad, and he certainly wouldn’t ruin the party. He knows some of the other guests better than I do, and the only ones he doesn’t know, I don’t know either.

Other miscellaneous info that may be relevant:

  • I’m currently living with my parents while I attend the university my dad happens to work at, and they refuse to accept rent. It’s difficult to even convince them to let me buy groceries or the occasional pizza.
  • The groom is fully informed about the party and the guest list.
  • As far as I know, my brother doesn’t know about the party, and I don’t think he’d be upset to know he wasn’t invited. He WOULD be upset if he found out anyone tried to get him invited after the fact (though Mom disagrees).

Resolution edit: I had dinner with the groom and some other friends last night who are also going to the bachelor party, and the party came up organically. Basically, a few of the activities that are planned have a 12 person limit, and so that’s the cap on the party. The groom wanted to let one of his alternates know if any of us can’t make the party.

When I told my mom that there’s a hard cap of 12 and he already had to cut people, she went “oh, well that makes sense. I thought you’d just go to a bar or have a house party or something.”

Edit edit: Apparently there's some confusion. I am not conflict averse. I was a Marine for 9 years. I routinely inject myself into social situations in which some form of inequity appears to be occurring, such as rude customers berating staff or men obviously bothering women (or occasionally the reverse). The problem here was that if I had shut my mom down cold, she'd have gone behind my back either talk to my brother or the best man directly. Which would have blown up in her face.

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The answer I'd give Mom is: "It's not my party". I wouldn't offer excuses or tell her anything beyond that. Yes, she may want your brother, for some reason, invited to the bachelor party. But it's not her party. Or yours. Or your brother's. Whoever is arranging the party has decided the guest list, there's some expense associated with it, and these are the people that are invited.

If you try to reason with her, she most likely will try to overcome those objections. So I'd stick to facts. "Mom, I'm not in charge of the party. Someone else is arranging it and they're deciding the guest list." "No, I'm not contacting them. This is who they've decided to invite; we can get together after the wedding and have fun with the groom". "Whether we think it will be fine or not is immaterial; that's the guest list. that's been decided and I'm not the one determining if it will be fine or not"

Just stick with facts and don't offer excuses or other courses of action. Eventually she'll understand that it's not about HER family; it's about the groom and his event.

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    It's not just "it's not our party" - the point is "it's not our wedding". Don't even lean on the expense angle, or she'll think she can change it with money. The OP should not have said he'd feel uncomfortable asking, he should have said that it is just straight-up morally wrong. – Graham May 1 '18 at 7:34
  • OP also doesn't say for certain, but it sounds as if younger brother also isn't invited to the wedding. Given that every bachelor party I've ever been to has been a subset of the wedding guest list (whether all can attend or not), it would be highly unusual for him to have been invited to the bachelor party in the first place, if this is the case. – Doug R. May 1 '18 at 19:32
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    @DougR. Only the couple’s immediate family are invited to the wedding – Dallium May 1 '18 at 21:36
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    @dallium If it's that small a party at the wedding then this request is definitely out of line. I may add something like "Mom, the wedding itself is really small. Asking them to change the bachelor party guest list is just plain out of line." – baldPrussian May 1 '18 at 21:38
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    I don't think we really need the addition of "it's not our wedding". "It's not my party" should be enough. At some age, the "bringing a bunch of people I just met" to someone else's house party does not work anymore. Activities are planned, tables booked, food and drink amounts calculated. If it is not your party and you have not been told explicitly that you are free to bring friends (or at least implicitly that you can bring your partner), then you don't do it. Even if it is your brother. Let's say 10 people are invited and everyone brings another? How will that work out? – skymningen May 2 '18 at 5:45
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You seem to suggest that your relationship with your brother is good. I also assume that both of you have good relationship with your mother.

Having been in a similar situation, I discussed this with my brother and together we found out a way to make her understand that his presence was not a good idea and that he was very fine with this (my exact situation was different from yours and the actual solution irrelevant - but we wanted to "preserve" our mother as much as possible so that she is happy with the outcome)

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How I See Things:

Weddings are carefully planned events, with the guest list being one of the most carefully considered pieces of the puzzle. In planning a bachelor party, the best man is seeking to optimize the experience of the groom by inviting those people he deems closest to the groom. As you state in your first point:

I’ve been good friends with the groom since elementary school and the best man since high school.

As such, it seems like this particular bachelor party is for a group of friends that go way back, having shared developmental experiences (I assume that the relationships between the best man, groom, and other invitees carry similar weight). If these are the qualifications for being invited to the bachelor party, your brother is tangentially related, and does not meet them.

What I Think Your Mother Sees:

In your first point, you mention that your brother has spent considerable time with some of the bachelor party group. I believe your mother is misinterpreting your brother's role this group because of this past observation. Seeing her older son and his friends hanging out with her younger son was probably something that made her very happy. In light of this, it makes sense that she could see him not being invited as exclusionary, causing her to push for his invitation.

How to Proceed:

Your mother perceives this situation differently than you do, but convincing people to see things your way is quite difficult and often impossible.

The simple truth of the matter is that the party is not about your brother. Your mother is looking out for what she perceives to be the interest of her son, but the party is about the groom having a great time! I would recommend sitting down with your mother, tenderly stating that you will not be asking for your brother to be invited, and re-iterating the above point. Perhaps placating her with knowledge that your brother will be invited to the wedding will help adjust her assessment in the importance of your brother in the group. If she remains insistent, it's time to start shutting down her advances with direct statements like "Mom, I'm not going to ask."

Tl;dr

  • Bachelor parties are highly exclusive events tailored (to the extent of knowledge and research of the best man) to suit the enjoyment of the groom
  • The relationship between the groom and your brother was deemed not to meet certain standards of depth
  • Exclusion from the bachelor party does not mean your brother is being rejected from any particular group he was a part of
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    The “principle actors” in this context are the groom, the best man, myself, my brother and my mother, but that doesn’t invalidate the rest of your assessment – Dallium Apr 30 '18 at 17:04
  • I like your analysis. The mom thinks the key thing is that the brother is "one of the gang", but the actual key thing is the relationship between each guest and the groom. – Steve Bennett May 1 '18 at 8:40
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"Less is more" in this situation. Tell her "No, and we aren't going to discuss this anymore"

Your mother is very wrong for inserting herself into this. Her children are grown-ups, she doesn't get to dictate what they do, she shouldn't be arranging the social life of either of you, she gets zero input into the party of a totally unconnected person.

  • This gets an upvote for the underlying message OP wants to convey to his mother. I'd suggest that communicating this to her in so many words would be a little harsh and shouldn't be the initial communication but would be acceptable if she won't quit asking. – baldPrussian May 2 '18 at 14:27
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Have you questioned why your brother isn't invited to the party to begin with?

You've clarified that the principal actors, who have known each other and been close for many years, include your brother and the groom.

So... do you have a better relationship with the groom than your brother does? Could that not be the ammunition, so to speak, that you could use to explain to your mother why he isn't invited to begin with and why it would be unreasonable to impose his presence on a guest list curated with the groom squarely in mind?

Overall, as an outsider looking in, I'm puzzled as to why you're invited to the party but he isn't. Perhaps that is the missing piece of the puzzle that is also fueling your mother's requests.

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