The Obligation Invite
Congratulations....you're engaged! The proposal, the ring, the announcement, the excitement....it's a wonderful time and now you have a wedding to plan. This should be fun, after all who doesn't like a celebration? Family, friends, love, food, wine, partying and everyone all dressed up and together in one place. Sure it's a lot of work to plan the perfect wedding but choosing dresses and rings, cakes and flowers, venues and celebrants is pleasant work. Making decisions on wine and menus is enjoyable too as is deciding on cars, attendants and invitations. It's all nice.
But now you have to decide who to invite....and the budget doesn't really stretch as far as you thought it might.
Plus you want this to be the perfect day so drunk Uncle Bob and nosey Aunty Carol just don't fit into the picture. Neither do your parents friends that lived next door when you were growing up and your distant cousins that you only see at weddings and funerals. So how do you tell your Mum and Dad that you are just not inviting Dad's boss and his snobby wife and how do you break the news to relatives or friends that you know were expecting to get an invite and will be put out when they don't?
it's a tough one but it doesn't have to be the drama that is used to be given that these days most people pay for the bulk of their own wedding arrangements, even if their parents may pitch in with some help. Even if your parents are paying for the whole whack, it's still your day and it's ok for you to set some boundaries around who you don't want there and why you won't be sending any obligation invites for your wedding.
The easiest way to manage it is to have a very small and intimate ceremony with only Parents, Grandparents and Siblings plus just the friends your spend the most time with and their partners. In this scenario there is no room for other family members to be offended as it's very clear that with such a narrow and clearly defined guest list they are not the only ones to miss out. If all the Aunties and Uncles and Cousins are not invited, there is no way anyone can take it personally. It's the same with friends because its clear to most people that know you who your closest friends are, so when you don't invite Matilda from the office or Jim from book club it doesn't feel like a snub.
If you are happy with a very small wedding then this no confrontation and easy to manage strategy is perfect, however if thats not your style and you want all the bells and whistles with a massive party to follow you may have to be prepared to be put on the spot and have some awkward conversations. But this can also be less difficult to manage with a few carefully chosen responses such as "We are really disappointed not to be able to include every one who is important to us on our special day but we are restricted by the venue size and the budget more than we had hoped. We hope you understand that it's not personal and we would love to see you for one on one after the wedding" or "While we don't have the guest list finalised yet we will only be planning for immediate family and closest friends as we are paying for the wedding ourselves".
Of course most people won't say anything about it to your face so you may never need to mention it, the only time it would be likely is if someone just comes out and asks you if they are invited or why they are not. Obviously you are not about to tell people they are not invited but if someone mentions they have received an invite it could trigger a bit of fomo meaning you could potentially be up for a tricky conversation!
Ultimately all you can do is deliver the news in a loving way and of course people will be disappointed if they are not included, but its important to remember that you are not responsible for their disappointment. All you can do is be kind and respectful and make sure they understand that you know they care. Remind them that although it is an important day, it is just one day, and not getting invited to your wedding doesn't mean they are being uninvited to your life. But it is important that once your decision is made that you stand your ground and don't get caught up in arguments or listening to all the reasons you should change your mind. It's ok to simply say that you have made your decision and you don't wish to talk about it any more. The same applies to emotional blackmail in the case of a friend or family member refusing to come if the person you aren't including doesn't get an invite too. Thats their decision and its not up to you to resolve their hurt feelings for them. The same response applies and you need to find a way to let it go and move on with your plans. It's really helpful if you have someone on your side to help you with these kinds of conversations if they arise other than your partner, someone a little more removed that understands your reasons and can support you in dealing with the fallout if it occurs.
But what I will say is this - although there may be a few noses out of joint, hurt feelings or mean comments, these things are all temporary and it's really very unlikely that most people would actually ask you why they are not invited. It's also true that people will get over it very quickly, at least the people who matter will and those that don't are people you might want to consider reevaluating your relationship with anyway because most people will just want you to have the day you want and will understand your decision, even if they don't like it.
Much like what you choose to wear for your special day, who you invite is key to ensuring the kind of celebration you want and I am a firm believer in the your day, your way philosophy. You are not only dropping a bundle on this day but it marks a very personal and meaningful commitment and you are entitled to have this witnessed by and shared with the people you love and care about most. Be brave, be decisive, do it for you and have the day you both want.