Okay ladies....I need your advice. I have vented a bit about this situation before when it first came to light but am now looking for advice on how to proceed. This situation is causing both myself and my FI a lot of stress and we are really not sure what we should do.
A bit of background.....
After 10+ years together, my FI and I got engaged in March 2015. We already knew we wanted a DW and immediately gave friends and family the heads up to start saving. When initially talking about dates, we decided to go for a longer engagement to make the planning process less stressful, but also to give my adult stepkids (stepson 25 and stepdaughter 27) an extra year to save. They both expressed excitement and said they wouldn't miss it. I have a good relationship with both of them and have been fortunate that they were happy to accept me into their dad's life.
When we finally got firm prices and details of deposit deadlines, etc. last April, we made sure to tell them the details and to get their butts in saving mode (in a year neither had saved a penny). My stepdaughter told her father, "What you're not paying for me to go? I guess I'll be watching it on Skype." We were both shocked and upset by her comment. She still had a year to save and didn't seem interested in even putting forth an effort to do so. We tried to explain to her that this is a week's AI vacation, and not just her paying to come see us marry.
My FI and I had already decided that we would do what we could to help the kids, but could not afford to pick up the whole tab. Plus, what you do for one, you should really do for the other. We had already planned to hand over any airline credits we might receive to them and even help them out if they ended up a little short come the final payment time. My stepson never batted an eye at the cost. Even though he is a bit irresponsible with money (as is typical of someone that age), he had indicated that he will be there and hasn't once suggested that he expects us to finance his trip. (If they had started saving when we first announced our engagement, it would have worked out to $20 a week. Anyone can afford $20 a week.)
I understand that my stepdaughter is struggling financially as all people in their twenties do. She and her boyfriend have a 1.5 year old (our granddaughter). Under normal circumstances, I would probably be super sympathetic and would move heaven and earth to make it happen. But.....it's the sense of entitlement, lack of appreciation and absence of effort that concerns us. (I am the type that will help anyone that needs it, provided they are putting in a least the same amount of effort I am.) In the last year, we have probably spent well over $1500 dollars between stuff for the baby (shower gift and a crib when the baby was 6 months), lavish birthday gifts, cash on several occasions when finances were tight, a $500 set of winter tires that was supposed to be loan but that she never paid back and then made us feel guilty when we asked for the money a year later. In the last six months alone, she won $6,000 at the casino, her and her boyfriend received healthy tax returns, he received a vacation payout of $1500 dollars with another coming in early December. I've watched her spend money on other things like eating out at fancy restaurants, pedicures, a $500 video game system for her boyfriend for xmas (he already owned one but I guess since it was a year old, it wasn't good enough anymore). She even agreed to be in a friends wedding this summer which of course will probably cost her close to $1000 by the time all is said and done. All of this came AFTER we announced our DW.
I understand that when you look at the whole family going (her, him and baby) it's expensive. But she hasn't even looked at other options like shortening the trip to a few days, or leaving boyfriend and/or child at home and travelling with a girlfriend instead. I swear, she spent about 10 minutes thinking about it, realized we weren't paying and that was it. Since April it's been the elephant in the room. We don't even talk about the wedding when she's over and I can't help but feel it has put a wedge in my relationship with her which was pretty good prior to this.
We just don't know what to do at this point. I really want both my stepkids to be there. For me but especially for my FI. This is our wedding. But at the same time, I don't want us to end up buried in debt. I also feel like she is trying to manipulate us into paying for her without her making any real effort to help, and if we did pay for her to go, I'm not even sure she would appreciate the cost or gesture. (As an aside, she was "desperate" for the snow tires we loaned her the money to get, but when we brought up repaying the loan she made the comment that "she never even wanted them".) And there is no way that we can pay for all three of them to come. Would she even come if boyfriend and baby can't join her?
FI and I have discussed them paying their own $250 deposit, we will then give them $500 each of the airline credit which would leave a balance owing of about $1000 not due until the end of the year. And if daughter wants, we would loan her the money with a slow pay back or tax return time. We don't even know if she will be open to this arrangement. Obviously, we need to sit down and have an open and honest discussion with her. I just want to make sure FI and I are on the same page before doing so.
I am really interested to hear what all of you other brides think. I know a lot of you have experienced similar situations with friends, bridesmaids, parents, family, etc. We don't want to regret not having her there, but we also don't want to resent paying for her either. We just don't know what the right thing is and would love to hear your advice.
(PS - I hope I don't sound like an evil step-mother. I really do love my step daughter and want my FI surrounded by his family on our special day.)