DEAR MISS MANNERS: I will be getting married later this year (assuming it’s safe to do so, given COVID). I have some relatives in my grandparents’ home country I would love to include. We rarely see each other, and there is a language barrier, but we have warm feelings and shared history.
However, they are rural farmers, and while they do well for the area, they are not wealthy by American standards. For perspective, while we’ve happily been able to send them small sums over the years as gifts, a single plane ticket would cost 10 times what we’ve ever given. So subsidizing their attendance isn’t possible.
I would love to somehow tell them that this is an occasion I wish they could take part in. Is there any version of, “You’d be welcome if it were possible, but I know it’s not, so please don’t feel any pressure. This is merely symbolic” that could be included with an invitation?
I don’t want to embarrass them by putting them in a position where they feel obligated to spend money they don’t have, nor do I want to hurt their pride by referring to their financial situation (even though there’s no shame in it at all).
They are not from a culture where receiving an invitation automatically necessitates a gift, so that is not a concern. I truly just wish they could be there, and want to tell them so without burdening them. Is there a convention for such a thing?
GENTLE READER: Is there a standard form, you ask, for: You would like them to come, but you don’t want to burden them financially; you can’t help with the cost, and they should not feel bad -- either about their financial situation or about not attending; you want them to feel included, but also to understand that you will not be hurt if they can’t attend?
Did Miss Manners miss anything? Ah, yes: You don’t speak the same language.
She does not mean to make light of your quandary, but only to point out that you are asking too much of a simple convention. If a conversation is not possible, send an invitation. Trust the relatives from the old country to figure out the rest.