The third installment of the “how to make yourself go insane” series will focus on guests. Who you should invite, who you should leave off the list, and how to stay diplomatic throughout the process.
As I mentioned, James and I have large families that we deem important enough that we want them with us on our special day. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, some siblings. While we want an intimate gathering, it’s very hard to keep our numbers down.
Now, I won’t list EVERY person we’re inviting, I think that would be rude to the people that we don’t intend to include. But I will explain how we went about minimizing our numbers.
- We both started with a pen and a piece of paper and we wrote down everyone we could possibly think of to invite. Family, friends, work buddies. Everyone.
- We put a line across the paper and opened our phones to see if we had missed anyone.
- Another line went across the paper and we talked to our parents about anyone they could think to include.
- AFTER the list was as long as it would ever be, we started sorting. We put everyone into a category:
- Family (which was split into two for James for his local family and his long distance)
- Bridal Party and dates
- Close friends
- Friends we see twice a year MAX or friends from college
- People who were a part of our childhood and we now rarely see or think about
- Work friends (with a sub category of “If I have to invite one, I have to invite all”)
- People who invited us to their wedding and we feel inclined to put them on the list to be polite (I promise this category was tiny, and people on this list DID NOT make it, in case you’re reading this wondering)
- We decided for each who would be mandatory to join us. This includes Family and bridal party. This number itself is astronomical, 70-90, easy. This is our minimum number. While looking at venues, if they cannot accommodate this many, we aren’t going to bother looking. (All of James’ family that wasn’t local was not put on this list because those numbers would be far too much)
- We decided that close friends who are not in the bridal party should be included too, because, hey, we like them a bit
- This is where James and I split ways. While I wasn’t so inclined to invite group d, he was. He put them on our secondary list. The people who we want to invite but can live without
- Group e was out. While we would love for our childhood memories to be relived at our wedding, it just wasn’t feasible to include them in our numbers
- F was an easy decision for me, but much harder for James. I have a small number of coworkers that I would consider inviting to our wedding, and most of them will be helping out with things like make-up, hair, cupcakes, catering, etc, so we can’t NOT invite them. James, however, has a team of over 200 people, 50 of which he works with on the daily, 40 of which he actively likes and would like to invite. His 50 was a lot more than my 5, and it’s hard to find room in the budget to accommodate all his work friends. We had to make a fair decision where we could include his closer work friends without excluding his other work friends. The best way we could find to do this was to invite all of his co-workers to the dancing and dessert part and exclude them from dinner. This way we don’t break our budget, but he can still ensure that he has the people he spends a majority of his awake time around there.
- As I mentioned, g was not included in any of our lists except our initial list. You need to know that while you may feel inclined to invite people who invited you to their wedding, it is NOT necessary. If any feelings are hurt on their end, explain to them that you’re trying to keep numbers and costs down. And remember, if you invite someone to your wedding and they don’t return the favor, don’t be offended! While it’s nice to be invited, they probably have the same reasons for not inviting you as you had for not inviting someone else.
Now, you might be thinking “what’s with the lines at the beginning there?” I’ll tell you about it, stud (sometimes, you just need to make Grease references). The lines are a tool I will always suggest to be used. All the names before the first line are the people who immediately come to mind when thinking about who you want around you. The names between the first and second lines are the people who you had to be reminded about to remember that they might be important. These people typically fell into the d, e, and g categories. And the people who are at the end are the ones who fall into the second category but you don’t have any contact with and someone had to actually remind you that they are real people. When you have to make cuts to your guest list (and there will always be a cut to be made) and you have no other factors left to cut people, the ones in the middle are often a good place to start.
Another thing to be wary of; old friends/acquaintances. Once your engagement is announced everyone suddenly wants to get together for dinner or coffee to catch up. These people are not invited to your wedding unless there is a good reason you haven’t spoken in 2 years. You live in different time zones and they’re in town this week and they want to meet up – cool, invite them, maybe. You live across town and neither of you have really made the effort to see each other for no other reason than you don’t really care enough to make plans – they are not invited. Just because you saw someone recently does not mean they are close enough to invite them to the most important day in your life (so far).
Now, you’re asking me “Breanne, how do I tell these people who didn’t make the cut, that they aren’t invited, won’t they hate me forever?”
They might hate you forever – but think. Is that person you don’t plan on inviting really important enough to you that it matters if they hate you forever? No. Otherwise, they’d be on the list. Unless you’re keeping numbers as strict as possible, there is a good reason for not inviting them. I have a few different scenarios for you here of a good way to tell someone they can’t come. Let’s assume they ask you point black if they’re invited. Remember, don’t ever be mean about your no, be polite and sound apologetic, and don’t lie.
- You didn’t invite the person because they just aren’t important enough to be included: I’m really sorry, Betty (let’s assume her name is Betty), but we are trying to keep our costs as low as possible by keeping our guest list on the smaller side.
- You didn’t invite the person because they were one of the unfortunate cut ones: I’m really sorry, Betty, but we are trying to keep our costs as low as possible by keeping our guest list on the smaller side.
- You didn’t invite the person because you just can’t stand them: I’m sorry, Betty, but I only invited close friends and family and you and I aren’t that close.
Yeah, the first two are identical because that’s true. If you could invite everyone under the moon that you know, you would! But budgets and venues constrict this number.
When not inviting a family member, make sure to have a very good reason. You didn’t invite cousin Jo even though all his siblings are invited and he lives closest to you, you better have a GREAT reason. He ate your PB&J when you were 12 is not a good reason. He brings his pet iguana everywhere as his date is not a good reason (though you should specify on his invite that dates and lizards are not welcome). He actively tries to grope your breasts when you’re around, that’s a good reason. He treats you poorly, that’s a good reason. He never wears a shirt long enough to cover his beer belly, that’s not a good reason.
Now that you know all about my cousin Jo, I’ll use a real life experience for you (in case you didn’t know enough about me!). I have a younger sister who just turned 17 (I also have a younger brother, but he coo) whom I do not get along with. Let’s call her Lala. Now, Lala and I had an interesting childhood together; I’m six years older than her and when she was a kid I often ended up babysitting her because our parents worked a lot. Instead of developing a typical sister relationship, we developed more of a parent child relationship. I was the one in charge of her after school, late night Fridays, and those dreaded weekend days where mom and dad were working. She has a problem with authority and she has decided that because I was an authoritative figure in her life there was a problem with me. She has similar problems with teachers, police, and my mother. There was one point when I was in college and my parents had split up, I was going to try to legally get custody of Lala because she didn’t want to live with any of the people who would be helpful to her (mom, dad, grandmother, etc) and I thought I would be the next best person for her. I was going to get custody or move to Vancouver. Both options were a hard life choice but I knew I couldn’t do both, and I HAD to do one. I can say with confidence that I made the best choice for me.
Lala really liked my ex, he bought her ice cream once and she was swooned with him (yes, I know this phrasing make no sense, but I like it!). She wanted me to marry him and he could buy her ice cream for the rest of her life. Now this ex was mentally abusive and I obviously had to get out of this relationship. She hated me for this, Lala just didn’t understand that it was healthier for me without him, I’m not sure it mattered to her. When I met James and it was originally put on Facebook (with him tagged in a photo) she freaked out at him, she private messaged him and called him all sorts of names and told him to stay away from me. Since then, I have not seen her, but she actively avoids talking to me on the phone and she ensures that nasty things are sent to me on social media. She has yet to meet James (who EVERYONE loves, even my grandfather, who’s a hard sell) yet continues to hate him. She once told my grandmother that should I ever marry him, she would never visit me.
This being the case with precious Lala, I am not inviting her to the wedding. I don’t want her involved in my life as she has done nothing but disrespect me, my fiance, and our relationship. You need to invite people who are going to encourage you and be happy for you, not people who yell obscenities at their mother at their great uncle’s funeral because it’s always all about them. I think I have a very good reason to not include her, but I can guarantee that she won’t agree with me.
I will be seeing her in a month (my dad is bringing her) and she will be forced to meet James, and I will tell her to her face exactly why she isn’t invited and why I don’t want her involved.
On that note…
If you want to save someone’s feelings, don’t tell them that they’re invited and never send the invite. Don’t say “oh it must have gotten lost in the mail”. Tell them the f*ing truth. It’s okay to hurt someone’s feelings because it’s a hell of a lot better than lying to them and prolonging the time until you hurt their feelings!
I’m sorry, I’m angry writing now.
I hope this was informative and interesting. Or at least not horrible!
What we have planned so far:
- We like Tacos
- We are getting married in April 2017
- We are not going to wear yellow gold rings
- We want our ceremony outside (regardless of weather) and our reception indoors
- Lego is the best theme ever
- We’ll both have 5 attendants before the flower girl and ring bearer
- We’re getting married in the lower mainland
- We want our parents as involved as possible because it’s not JUST about us, we’re joining two families
- Our guest list is in and around 120 people, and not everyone we would have liked to invite is invited.
- We choose our venue (yet have not booked it)
- We are registered at Bed Bath and Beyond (mostly just so we can get a Pastasaurus)
- Our wedding website is in the works