Ask Team Practical: Small Weddings, the Other Side of the Coin

I had a very close friend and former-roommate get reunited with an ex-boyfriend, engaged to the boyfriend, and married to the boyfriend in the span of seven months. I  fully expected to be on board on The Big Day, to support my friend in entering a new world, to embarrass her conservative values with a penis-themed bachelorette party, to watch her exchange vows and to generally be the friend I have always been. But I wasn’t invited, and neither were lots of friends who would have loved to attend (for totally legitimate reasons, and I don’t feel especially singled out or anything unfair—it was simply their choice to have a very small event on a very short timeline in another state).

But still! It really stings that after all we went through together as friends over this boy, I didn’t get to be there for the conclusion of their dating life. It feels like someone ripped the climax out of a really good book and left the entirely unsatisfying last page.

How do I make up for this sense of loss of not getting to participate? Do I just put on my big girl panties and act like it’s all okay? Do I confront her about it and make her feel bad for making me feel bad? Do I simply remember this feeling when it’s finally my turn and invite everyone I ever met? I want to be genuinely and un-distractedly happy for her when I see my old friend, the new Mrs.

~Suddenly A Downer; Bummer Friend Forgotten

SAD BFF, let’s look at this from a different angle, just for fun. You with me? Of course you’re with me:

Dear APW,

I recently reconnected with my ex-boyfriend and found out that we’d both changed in wild and wonderful ways. The sparks flew, as did our clothes, until we realized that we couldn’t do without each other. In a whirlwind fashion (that is so not like conservative me!!) we reunited, got engaged and got married all within a span of seven months. I know it didn’t appeal to a lot of people, especially my friends, but we really didn’t want to waste any more time that we’d lost while being broken up. We decided to have a very small wedding in my husband’s hometown for a variety of reasons; some of which were due to budget constraints, the location and the very short timeline we decided on. 

We were thrilled to pieces with our wedding, but apparently some of our friends were not. We did not single anyone out and tried to be as fair as possible about the guest list, but I feel that some of them don’t understand why they were not invited. I know feelings were hurt, but it wasn’t that we tried to exclude anyone; our small wedding ended up being the best thing for us. How do I make them understand that our friendship isn’t contingent on the invitation to our wedding and that I still adore them as much as I ever did?

~Suddenly Apparently a Downer; Bad Feeling Friend

Original SAD BFF, do you see what I’m getting at? I do feel really badly for you; it is very disappointing to not be included in a close friend’s wedding, but it’s a disappointment you’re going to have to weather. If you confronted your friend about it, what answer could she possibly give you that would make you feel okay? (Besides, you shouldn’t ever make someone feel bad if they made you feel bad. The moral high ground has a lovely view…) Your hurt is understandable, but cluing her into it won’t elicit anything further than an apology, followed by justifications on why they had the wedding they did and then a long uncomfortable evening.

There’s also the option that something way beyond her control kept her from inviting the people she wanted to and she already feels pretty bad about it. There are plenty of us who wish we had a do-over with certain aspects of our wedding and I bet 90% of us would include the guest list in that list. It’s a tough thing, planning a wedding, and the last thing you need to hear as a newlywed is how you did it wrong.

And, um, point of order—who says the story is over?!?  Meg brought up, “We’ve been taught that all comedies end with weddings and all tragedies end with funerals. We’ve been conditioned since birth to believe this, but isn’t being there for your friends’ marriage the really important part?” Think of it this way—you and your friend’s relationship is not just one book, but a whole series. Sure, her wedding happened off-page, but that doesn’t negate the entire story; there is plenty of good stuff to come.

So strap on those big girl britches and wear them with pride. You are genuinely happy for her, aren’t you? (If not, that’s a whole other letter, honey…) When it is your turn, you will most likely remember this moment and then invite everyone and their mom. And that’s wonderful. Because that’s your decision—it’s what’s best for you and your family and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The best thing you can do is take a page from Meg and David’s playbook: when they have newlywed friends whose wedding they did not attend (invited or not), they take the couple out for dinner as a wedding present. The couple brings pictures and then Meg and David have them tell them all about it; the good, the bad and the hilarious. It’s a lovely little celebration ritual that allows you to experience the day as much as you can and to remember why you are friends with these amazing people in the first place.

P.S. Penis parties are not limited to wedding related occasions. I’m just sayin’…


Alright, ‘fess up, Team Practical! Have you felt the sting of not being invited to a wedding? And on the flip side, how have you dealt with guests who weren’t invited to your wedding when they felt they should have been?

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.  If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted.  Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh).  We’re not kidding.  It brings us joy.  What, you don’t want to bring your editors JOY?!

Photo from the APW Flickr stream by Emily Takes Photos.

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  • Lily

    I had no less than three friends approach me before and after the wedding about their lack of an invitation. I was given lectures about how they “deserved to be invited” and how “they knew me better” than others who did get a golden ticket, and eventually told that I needed to tell every friend who I wasn’t inviting to their face, as if to apologize in advance. My partner and I were very constrained by budget and space, and tried to be as diplomatic as possible, but basically I just cried a LOT because I love my friends and didn’t want to lose any of them. I know they were coming from really good places, but essentially all they did was damage our friendship. I now feel super awkward whenever anything wedding comes up in the conversation, even though the wedding was four months ago. Basically, it sucks not to get invited to a wedding, but it sucks more to be told that you are a bad friend because of an event that you may not have a lot of control over. If your friend is like me, she probably feels guilty already, and making her feel comfortable with silent forgiveness is one of the biggest gifts your can give her.

    • I am terrified that this will happen to me very soon. We are having a small wedding, and we did invited a (very small) number of close friends, but most of the guest list is family. We are limited by the budget AND the venue size. From the start, we decided not to invite friends from whom we haven’t even heard in at least a year, which I thought was fair. But now some of those friends are showing up in my life, but it’s too late to change the venue or the size of the guest list. I am envisioning some awkward encounters in my near future…

      • Alyssa

        I’ve said this before; if you plan a wedding and after it’s all over you don’t end up with at least one person irritated with you for one reason or another — you didn’t have a wedding, you had a damned miracle.

        In other words, enjoy and don’t fret. :-)

        • Laura

          I am copying this in large print and posting on the refrigerator for the next six months as a reminder. Seriously.

  • Hannah

    The day after a friend’s wedding (it wasn’t even a small wedding but they have a big family and much closer friends so we had no expectation of being invited) we were invited to another party at the house to keep the celebration going and use up the rest of the booze from the wedding. It was really nice and we got to see photos and say congrats. Maybe you could put together a get together in town for everyone who couldn’t be at the wedding so that you can all share in celebrating instead of feeling awkward. It wpuld probably mean a lot to your friend.

    • Cynth

      I was invited to a similar party the day Before the wedding. Great to see everyone, (including the blushing bride) and I totally understood the small guest list, but a bit awkward when people start to say “see you tomorrow!” and you have to be all “uhh, actually no…” Awkward.

    • SpaceElephant

      Only if you clear it with the friend first and she is 100% on board! Personally, being the center of attention for the leadup to and the entire wedding weekend was more than enough for me; I would have HATED to have to do something else, even if it was for dear friends I hadn’t been able to invite. I think Meg’s idea of having a one-on-one dinner is fine, but if I had been guilted into being the center of attention at yet another party I would have been miserable. Which sounds ungrateful but is the complete truth.

  • Cynth

    I have a friend- we were college roommates, and for several years as close as sisters. Then we had a falling out and didn’t talk for two years. About a year after we started reconnecting she got engaged- and I wasn’t invited. Yes, it stung, and I did ask her about it at one point down the road, but I decided it was my choice to keep her in my life and try to make things better, rather than decide I must not matter to her. Fast forward six years, and she is now a bridesmaid in my wedding. Am I bummed I missed that moment in her life? Sure, but relationships that last for 15+ years are complicated. And weddings (and guest lists!) are hard too. Let’s all cut each other some slack, and not let one day define our relationships.

    • Ake

      Yes please to the “let’s not let one day define our relationship.” If only we (and our parents and parents-in-law-to-be) could know in advance what we know about the guest list AFTER we’ve had our weddings…I agree with Alyssa about the guest list being on the do-over list for so many people about their weddings. I actually feel that I more-or-less would have done the same thing again, given the knowledge that I had at the time, but that hasn’t stopped me from a little post-wedding-journalling along the lines of “Who I wish we had invited to our wedding…” I needed to process it, and a couple of those names do pain me and were mistakes, I think, in retrospect. But on the whole, I knew what I knew and did what I could do given the circumstances.

      You really don’t know what a wedding is going to mean to you, your partnership, your families and especially your communities until the day itself. You also don’t know how far the food is going to go, whether the weather is going to be glorious and give you plenty of outside space, and all sorts of other contingents.

      It’s not just the guest-list either. It’s all the silent messages that seem to be sent (even if you don’t mean to send them) by who you ask to be invovled as readers, speakers, bridesmaids etc. etc. etc. It’s just a minefield…and it’s a minefield based on decisions that are made in a short space of time, often in emotionally fraught circumstances, with lots and lots of opinions and pressures in the mix.

      Having said that, I am really sorry for SAD BFF because I know how important weddings can be to communities, but I really think that your friend will value you extremely highly for having the grace to let her have her wedding as she had it and enthusiastically enjoying the pictures, videos and stories that came out of it, if you can, without holding it against her that you weren’t there. She doesn’t get a do-over and don’t we all want to remember our weddings as much as we can for the beauty and not for the pain? That takes great grace and strength of character but as Cynth wrote, relationships change and…yes…let’s not let one day define our relationships.

  • This comes on a particularly on-the-nose day … a very close cousin of mine is getting married today. And my husband and I weren’t invited.

    Now, even if we had been, we wouldn’t have been able to go. But it doesn’t make it any easier to see that my mother and father, sister + fiance, and brother + girlfriend were all invited … and that she is so excited “the whole family” is coming. They are not having a small wedding by any stretch of the imagination, and while I know they probably didn’t invite us so that they COULD invite more local people (totally reasonable, we’re across the country), it hurts to not be acknowledged.

    So, I understand. And while I can’t talk to her about it, it would be really nice if she could have explained the reason to me, instead of just ignoring me completely.

    I think this my feelings stem from my own wedding. We had a small-ish wedding (budget reasons), and have large families, so many of our friends were left out. I made a point to talk to everyone I wished I could have had there, and explained to them that I wasn’t forgetting about them. Everyone took it well, and there were no hard feelings. It was important to me that people not feel left out.

    I suppose I’d just try and forget the sting of not being invited, and at least fake (until it’s actually real) being excited and happy (and nothing else) for your friend. Take them out to dinner, get together to see pictures, or just otherwise support them in their marriage. Seems like the best plan to me.

    • Laurel

      I think this touches on another conflicting message you get about weddings. My husband and I got married up in the mountains of Colorado pretty much at the end of the road (I didn’t fully understand what that meant until we moved here!). We were very careful about which of our parents’ friends we invited. At my Mom’s request, we only invited those that we thought may actually come because she didn’t want it to seem like we were pressuring people to travel or give us gifts.

      I’m not saying that this is the same scenario as what you’re experiencing, but just trying to point out yet another example of the numerous “shoulds” you hear about EVERYTHING when it comes to weddings. (or “shouldn’ts”)

      • Indeed.

        And it may very well have been that. It just gets difficult when you hear “the whole family!” when you’re apart from it. Whatever her reason, I’m ok with it. But it still stings a bit when you feel forgotten. So I can understand what the poster is saying, and sympathize. =)

        • Laurel

          I totally agree with you that your circumstance is different from the one I described. You are definitely a part of “the whole family.” But your cousin may have been guided by advice to make a decision that ended up being hurtful and may now be caught up in the wedding frenzy and not realize how hurtful her words are.

    • Sarahkay

      I hear ya. I have a cousin who married in our hometown last year, and I am the only relative in our huge extended family living out of state. And the only one not invited. I doubt I could have made it, but I would have liked to have been invited. It stings a bit, because I feel not only left out of the opportunity to be in her life, but left out of the family as a whole, since ‘everyone’ was there.

      • As someone who is often the only family member out of town, and the only person not at the family event, I feel for you. It is hard to see the pictures of “the whole family” and not be in any of them.
        I don’t know if I have many comforting words, I guess I just wanted to let you know that I’m there with you, and that it’s not any easier if you do get the invitation but can’t go. It’s hard to be the one who leaves the home town, but it’s brave to go off on your own and pursue an adult life. I have to remind myself that while those few days of the year are hard, I am so much happier every other day of the year to be where I am doing what I am doing.

        • I know this feeling too – DHs family all live in the same city, and have dinner together once a week, so his Mum is always posting photos on Facebook from events of “the whole family”.

          I feel left out on his behalf sometimes, and then there was the random one where they had cake for his birthday and took a photo, tagged everyone (including DH as the cake) but not me, and I felt stupid for feeling sad that I wasnt included.

          So glad to read these comments and feel a little less stupid for these feelings! :)

  • Melissa K

    I felt the sting of not being invited to my cousin’s wedding. I only have two cousins and have always wanted to be closer to them – I would have booked a flight in a heartbeat. But I try to trust that they made the choice that was right for them (small ceremony). It’s been over a year, and I’m totally over it.

  • Sharon

    Here’s my thing – I’ve been excluded from a couple of weddings. In one case, I got a nice email from the groom expressing his deep regret that he had to make some cuts to accomodate family (more on that in a minute), and even though we’d been invited to the engagement party and given a gift, I let it go because he took the time to tell me what the deal was. It was a small venue, etc.

    In another case, my sister and I were the only two friends out of a large group that were not invited to this one girl’s wedding. I know it was thrown together quickly, but it was large, no expense was spared, and it we were kind of hurt not to be included. (Admittedly, I was better friend’s with the bride’s sister, who was positively mortified by the snub and thankful that we were gracious about it at the time). The kicker is that to this day, the bride SWEARS that my sister and I were at the wedding every time it comes up, until her sister reminds her once again that nope, you didn’t invite them. I’ve tried my hardest not to make it awkward, but I’d be lying if some small part of me wasn’t hurt some by this. And I did consider this while I was making up my own guest list for my own impending wedding.

    Which leads me to the other point (which has been a huge point of contention in the planning process) – in my book, it’s more important to celebrate with the people who are a regular part of your life. I can understand including relatives that you see 1-2 a year, but I was ready to draw the line at relatives that haven’t been in the same room as my fiance or his family for nearly a decade. I don’t buy this whole “BUT FAMILY IS IMPORTANT” jazz when they don’t deem you important enough for Christmas or Birthdays or Thanksgiving or even a visit in all of that time. I don’t see how it’s fair to expect a couple to exclude people that are a regular part of their lives in favor of some far-flung cousins or great Uncle that they’ve barely seen before and will likely never see again.

    I don’t come from a large family. Some were estranged, some were dead, but what my folks taught me is that family is something you make out of those who love you and whom you love back. It doesn’t take DNA to tie you to someone, and while most of my blood relatives have made a lackluster effort to keep the bonds in place, my “adopted” uncles, aunts and cousins are awesome and love me and have been there for us when things have gone sour. I don’t get why someone with a DNA connection that you have no relationship with outranks someone who’s laughed and cried with you and helped you through all sorts of crises simply because there’s no blood relation. It’s something that’s been eating at me for awhile, so sorry about the rant.

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      Agree about inviting people who are in your life. We set some guidelines before we started and then examined the pool that didn’t make the cut to make sure we were happy. Our guests had to meet at least one of the following general guidelines:

      1. We (either me or the Mr.) must have seen you in the last 12 months or have concrete existing plans to see you in the next 2 months.
      2. We must have spoken to you (phone, email or IM) in the last month.
      3. We love you to death and you will be fun to have at our party.

      A few cousins and parent’s friends didn’t make the list but we also weren’t doing a lot of “catching up” at our wedding. Everyone who was there was really part of our lives.

      • Melodious

        We had a similar rule: If we hadn’t seen you or spoken to you regularly in the last year, you were not invited. Thus, we had many more friends than family at our wedding.

        Hell, I didn’t invite one of my own sisters since she didn’t meet the requirement. You wouldn’t believe how much grief I got over that decision, both before and after the wedding. But I’m glad I stuck to my original decision…our wedding was filled with people we love who are an integral part of our lives.

      • charmcityvixen

        Our rule is: if we haven’t talked in 6 months, you aren’t invited. We don’t want to do the awkward “So…. how have you been?” stuff when we are trying to get our love on!

    • moonitfractal

      I feel like I have this conversation with my mother every month or so when she insists that I invite a bunch (42) of her cousins who have never met my fiance. Not fun.

      • Rachel

        We had this problem too. I was forced to invite all 14 of my dad’s cousins and all 20 of my cousin – none of which I am close to or really wanted to invite. This left an incredibly bad taste in my mouth because I didn’t want to look like we were just asking for gifts and I truly didn’t want them to be there. Fortuntaely none of them came but the whole process of it was just awful. Keep up the good fight, it is worth it.

        • Sharon

          MY Future Mother-in-Law keeps saying “we have to invite them, but they probably won’t come!” That’s all nice in theory, but I know someone who had a NINETY-FIVE PERCENT yes rate for RSVPs at her wedding, and I can’t invite people counting on them not to come. It’s ridiculous, and, if they really wanted to be included, I’d have met some of them by now. Some of the family has made it their business to meet me, and they’re fantastic and I’m psyched about them coming. But if they won’t come, my fiance barely knows them and they haven’t seen each other in years, what’s the point??

      • Ashley B

        We solved this by giving each set of parents a number of guests they could invite. That way, if it was super important for them to invite that cousin who I hadn’t seen in 10 years, that was fine, it was just apart of their number they could do whatever they wanted with. It nipped in the bud a lot of arguments.

    • I agree with your comments about family. My husband and I had immediate family, grandparents, and close friends only at our wedding. While we love our aunts, uncles, and cousins, we don’t see them regularly, we aren’t super close, we don’t call each other on birthdays, etc. For us, it was right to not include them, but I would absolutely understand if they were hurt by it. No one like to be excluded. Alas, like you said, blood does not a family make.*

      • Anna

        (This is meant as a reply to Sharon….I hit the wrong reply button)

        So I hear what you are saying- but have a different opinion. I have a large large family. And we, as a family are very close. But with a large large family obviously it is impossible to be very close with each and every member. But I need to invite all of my family to my wedding or none. Because it would be hurtful and unkind to start picking and choosing who I personally am ‘close enough’ with.

        You know what I mean? One of my Moms brothers in particular- I see less than once a year and don’t know him or his wife that well. But I can’t justify inviting my all of my Moms 4 sisters and other 3 brothers and their families and excluding that 1 brother. He’s family and he and his family have got to be there.

        Even though I’d rather sub their spot for close friends I can’t do it. I really can’t.

        • Sharon

          Actually, I don’t know what you mean, Anna. That’s the whole point of my rant – I think weddings should be about the people you are close to, not people you have obligations to for one reason or another but barely know from Adam. If you barely know them, I don’t get why they’d be hurt, but then again, I think a lot of people get miffed that they’re just not getting to go and do what the herd is doing, despite the fact that they don’t remember your birthday, or have even asked “which one are you again?” at family functions (happened to me and my sister). It’s really unfair, in my mind, to have to exclude dear friends at the expense of strangers who share DNA.

          • Anna

            Ok so it’s not really comparable I guess. I didn’t read your part about 10 years absense… for sure that type of family I understand not inviting.

            For me the family in question is definitely not strangers. I’ve gone on recent family vacations with them. For me it would be excluding just one family out of many which would send a bigger message than I’d like to send. And it’s only 4 seats I feel obligated to give. Which is nothing in the big picture. So for me the fall out from that exclusion isn’t worth the 4 additional seats.

            This is my situation. But I fully understand it can be different for families who aren’t as close especailly when the guest list is doubling with people who you don’t know.

          • Alyssa

            There are also relatives to whom you share DNA but can’t be close to due to proximity and those who you are close to because they live nearby but might not chose to be friends with. Family and friends are so nuanced and have so many levels that it’s tough to make a rule or statement about them for anyone other than yourself. (And even then it blows.)

            HOWEVER, if we as guests look upon invitations as a gift we receive and not something owed to us for unquantifiable reasons, then the pressure will be off the couple and everyone will be happy!
            Ideally. Not gonna happen, but we can try, right?

          • Kelly

            This really strikes me as cultural, not normative. In Israeli culture you invite anyone who knows your first and last name. Invitations are never seen as a grab for presents. So I totally understand what Anna is saying– it would be HUGELY offensive to not invite a particular uncle or single out one side of the family or a cousin. Not on a personal level, because they know as well as I do that we never talk, but on a whole cultural level. So then, extrapolating from that, I can understand how even without this specific background it can be cultural or societal and that there is no one correct “I think weddings should be about…”

        • Emily

          I agree with this. There are lots of family members I’m not close to, but who are important in my parents’ lives, and my mom is actually *sad* that there won’t be many there, so I added around 10 distant family and friends to make her feel better. So far about half have RSVP’d no, which is fair because we are not at all close, while my fiance’s huge Catholic family will probably show up in force, and I think she wants to think of more people to invite.It’s hard to communicate that our family doesn’t love us less than his loves him, ours is just MUCH smaller! And we actually have a list of good friends we’d like to invite rather than ever more distant family to fill in our negative RSVPs, but have been ranking family first to keep my parents happy.

          All kinds of weird emotions come up in weddings, and it’s not just about who the couple is close to.

    • Laura

      YES YES YES to this! This is the issue I’m dealing with right now as we try to hammer out our guest list (and keep it to the 75 our venue allows). My fiance has met my entire family except for two of my cousins. He has gotten to know my dad’s side of the family particularly well, and we see them often. We’re only inviting family members I know well and see as often as possible.

      And then there’s my fiance’s family. Other than his mother, brother and sister-in-law, he doesn’t talk to his family much. He only talks to his dad a few times a year. But his list of family to invite to the wedding is a third longer than mine, because his cousins are older with families of their own and he has step-siblings, etc. And there are people on his list that he has no memory of since he went to their wedding. When he was six. But he feels completely obligated to invite all of them, because his family always sees each other at weddings and funerals. And it’s so frustrating because I want a small wedding. And I don’t want to say YOUR FAMILY ISN’T IMPORTANT just because they’re not (nearly) as close as mine. But at this point, over a third of our guest list is made up of strangers to both of us. And I wish I could draw some line in the sand and tell him he can only invite certain people, but who am I to butt into his family politics? Is that how I want to start our marriage, with his family secretly resenting me? So I don’t know what to do. My parents are starting to put the pressure on me to invite some of their friends and “even things out” and our small, intimate wedding is starting to feel like it’s running out of control.

      So a massive YES to everything you said, basically, but sadly, I’m starting to doubt that it’s possible. :(

      • abby_wan_kenobi

        Just say “no kids” at the wedding and all the relatives with children who aren’t close to your fiance will rsvp “no” because organizing childcare when traveling is too inconvenient.

        At least that worked with my husband’s family….

        • Rosamund

          We did this and it worked for us (in a very similar situation).

        • Josephine

          How do you phrase the no kids part? I really don’t want kids at the wedding but I’m not sure how to put it nicely, especially since I will probably have to make an exception for my sister and my sister-in-laws children. Which I’d rather not do but seems unavoidable.

          • Billie

            Just write the adults names on the invitations, and if you have a wedding website maybe address it on there with something like you want the immediate family there but to accommodate all of the loved ones in your life you are keeping children out. Or something like there….

    • KEA1

      I cannot “exactly” this enough. And if my beau and I end up getting married, I seriously fear for the fallout when I put my foot down for that sort of thing. Truth be known it could end our relationship. No joke. I am sick beyond description of hearing people shove “but it’s FAMILY!!!!” down the throat to justify wedding-invite power plays–or anything else, for that matter. DNA is, ultimately, just biology. True *relationships* involve, and require, so much more than that. I’m all for family, but if we’re not making the effort to be more than just a bunch of people with a DNA connection, how are we any better than non-human animals?

      No need to apologize for your rant. %)

      • Sharon

        THANK YOU. I can’t exactly your comment enough, either. All the big wedding fights I’ve had with my fiance have been about this. I don’t believe for a second it’s not about showing off or a power grab, either. Stay strong!

    • Harriet

      Couldn’t agree more with your point about inviting people who are in your life, whether or not they are part of your biological family. My husband has a ton of aunts and uncles, and we decided not to invite all of them to our small wedding, since he (and I) almost never see most of them. In retrospect we have felt guilty about not including them, and I suspect I’ll feel uncomfortable next time we see them. But we also had family members who we did invite who were unable to join us (for totally valid reasons), and friends in very dicey financial circumstances who took a freaking greyhound bus for 10 hours to be with us. I was in no way offended by peoples’ choices to not come to our wedding, but the people who are going to make an effort to celebrate with you are likely those who are in your life, whether or not they’re related.

    • Suzanna

      Word. I’m totally with you. Whenever my fiance and I try to deal with our wedding budget, his go-to answer is always, “Let’s just invite family.” That’s a no-can-do for me. I’ve had times in my life when my friends stood by me while my family attacked me. Think I’m going to get married without them? It might be messy and expensive, or crazy and cheap–not sure how it’s going to turn out, but my friends will BE THERE.

  • My best friend got married last spring to the man she’d been dating since we were freshmen in high school. My friend and I have known each other since we were seven. I figured if ever there was a wedding I’d be at, it would be hers.

    But she and her husband decided they wanted a family-only wedding. I was really disappointed but I understood. It just sucked because I felt like I wasn’t involved with anything since I wasn’t going to be there. The worst thing was seeing the pictures from her reception and seeing one of her friends from college there.

    I never once tried to talk to her about this because I didn’t see what it would accomplish. Now that I’m planning my own wedding and trying to figure out the guest list and keep people from two families happy, I have a whole lot more sympathy for her, and I’m really not upset with her anymore. I’ll always be sad that I wasn’t there on the day to see her get married, but that sort of makes me all the more determined to be there to support her through her marriage. If that makes any sense. This stuff is hard.

  • abby_wan_kenobi

    How about the flip-flip side of this? I recently attended the wedding of a good friend, but I was the only one from our group who was invited. I met the bride through mutual friends and over the last few years she and I grew closer while she and the rest of them grew apart. I’m still close with the other women from our set and every time something comes up about the wedding it is super awkward.

    Like I stole their girlfriend. Like I’ve somehow “chosen sides” in a non-existent feud. It’s so weird and stupid. There have been some unkind comments made about the wedding and the bride’s choices and suddenly I’m defending her for no reason at all or scolding my friends for being impolite.

    I would never, never bring any of this up to the bride but I don’t want her to walk into a snake’s nest if she ever ends up talking to our mutual friends about the wedding. Anybody got any insight on this one?

    • Alyssa

      It’s their problem with her, no reason for you to get wrapped up in it. If they are being rude about her to you, then defend her because you’re her friend, not because you were the one at the wedding. If they get snarky, change the subject.

      The nice thing about weddings is that hopefully by the age that you are able to get married, you are also old enough to discuss things with your friends without it developing into an argument that ends with you taking your ball and going home. They have an issue with her decision, they have to deal with it. Don’t be drawn into being on a “side.”

  • Georgia

    I was invited by a friend and former co-worker to celebrate her engagement over drinks at a bar about a week after she got engaged. I went to the mini- engagement celebration, got my friend a card, bought her and her husband a drink and hung out. Throughout the year when she was planning the wedding she shared wedding planning details with me. We are not best friends, so I wouldn’t talk to her all the time, but when we got together she definitely talked to me about the wedding planning. Then I was not invited to the wedding. They paid for the wedding themselves and had recently bought a house, so on the one hand, weddings are expensive, and you just can’t invite everyone. Though, I couldn’t help finding the whole thing off-putting, if not only from an etiquette standpoint. I think she should not have invited me to celebrate her engagement, and should not have gone into such detail about her wedding planning, and I feel like it was in bad taste to do so. I know I should just accept it and say whatever, but I just have a more ambivalent feeling about her in general now…

    • amigacara

      But on the flip side of *this*, what do you do when you are the bride, and people who you are friends with, but not super close, and who you were not planning to invite to the wedding (or are not able to invite), get really excited for you and celebrate your engagement and send you presents and ask about wedding details all the time? While I definitely appreciate this friendship and support, I feel a little awkward about it (even if the person knows they are not invited to the wedding)…just not sure how to accept it graciously when I feel like I can’t “give back”, so to speak.

      • abby_wan_kenobi

        Agree. One thing I found frustrating when I was engaged was that the only thing people wanted to talk to me about was our wedding. People asked about it so much and so incessantly that sometimes it was hard to even remember what other stuff you could talk about.

        Once someone brings it up do you go, “Um, yeah I did find centerpieces I like, and by the way you’re not invited so you’ll never see them”?

        • NEWTIE

          I’ve had it drilled into me that it’s not polite to talk about an upcoming wedding with people who are not going to be invited, too. When people who I know I won’t be inviting ask me about the wedding or say something about the engagement, I smile and thank them and change the subject quickly. So far no one has insisted on talking “wedding talk” when I change the topic. Just after my engagement, when people would say “We should go out and celebrate!” I’d just say something like, “Oh, aren’t you sweet!” and not further the conversation or make plans. I don’t know if this is the right thing to do or not, but I hope that by not engaging in wedding-related conversations I won’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

      • morgan

        Replace wedding with baby and I’m right there. Old friends who I see once or twice a year have announced their plans to be the babies aunties and while it’s really sweet, it’s also awkward, because, um, I only see them a couple of times a year and we are not close anymore.

        Weddings really are a training ground for the rest of your life.

    • Alyssa

      But I’m afraid etiquette doesn’t back you up on this. (Granted, social circles create their own etiquette, but let’s use the Miss Manners “rules” here.) Drinks at a bar is not an engagement party or shower, and talking with friends about wedding planning is not only limited to those invited to the wedding. Had she known that you would prefer not to know about her wedding at all if you weren’t invited, she might not have asked you to the bar or brought up her wedding. She probably just thought you were her friend and you would be happy to share this with her.

      I’m sorry this hurt you, sweetie. Think of it this way. You got to hang out with your friend and enjoy talking about wedding planning with her. These aren’t chores you endured to snag an invite, you were being a friend and a good one at that. Be proud of that! You’re an awesome friend. (It’s that moral high road I was talking about. Isn’t it pretty up here?!?)

      • Sarah

        When I was planning my wedding this year lots of the women I worked with asked about how plans were coming along and wanted to chat about dresses and stuff. I’m not close to them and don’t see them outside of work, and I don’t think they ever thought they would be invited – for a lot of people I think it’s just a really fun, happy thing to talk about.

      • Oh, wait. There’s wedding etiquette that says you shouldn’t invite someone to your shower if she’s not invited to the wedding? I didn’t do this but I recently had a friend invite me to her shower and not to her wedding. I wasn’t expecting to be invited to either but when I was invited to the shower, I was happy to be a part of the beginning of her marriage and I started to tentatively plan to attend her wedding. It was a particularly trying time for me and my husband financially but I still got her gifts and I’d been encouraging her and giving her my two cents on her wedding issues all along. I was definitely disappointed when I wasn’t invited to the wedding after that. I felt like I’d helped her and lifted her up through some of the yucky things without getting to enjoy the result with her.
        However, it wasn’t something that I let get to me for more than about a day. I still care about her and I agree that one event shouldn’t affect the course of a friendship that’s otherwise good. I just don’t feel as bad now for being a little miffed.

        • Alyssa

          The etiquette is that you only invite people to your shower to whom you are inviting to your wedding, but social circles often make their own rules. I had a shower thrown for me by my mother in law’s friends and only a few were invited to the wedding. They all knew and expected that, but it’s their thing to throw showers for the children of their friends…

          The other thing to remember is that a guest list isn’t always firm. There’s always the possibility that something happened within their planning and they had to drastically save money and deposits were already made on venues and food, etc. Although APW does not advocate cutting guest lists to save money, it happens and people who were on the list might be cut right before invitations go out. If you always assume the best of your friends, unless you get indications otherwise, it might help with hurt feelings!

      • Georgia

        Alyssa, the thing at the bar was kind of an engagement get together. She invited a bunch of people for that sole purpose. True, she didn’t rent out a restaurant, but like I said, they were o a tight budget, and it kind of was her version of an engagement party. That said, I would never say anything about my thoughts about it to her because I wouldn’t want to make her feel bad and I get that I should just get over it- which I will.
        Newtie- I totally agree with your approach. I was the maid of honor at my best friend’s wedding so I witnessed her go through a lot of that. She never brought it up with people, and didn’t ignore the subject if someone not invited brought it up, but she was super mindful not to dwell. Ditto with going out to celebrate it. She also never discussed her wedding planning on Facebook, since some Facebook friends wouldn’t be invited, which I think was very appropriate of her.

    • When I got engaged a few months ago, my fiancé and I struggled with this. We wanted to have an informal engagement party at a bar, but 5 days into our engagement, we didn’t know who of our friends we would invite and who we wouldn’t, so we ended up deciding not to have it so as not to violate etiquette rules. You have to remember that not everyone is aware of/cares about them.

    • Kate

      Ha. My dear friend and our officiant to be sweetly offered to throw us an engagement party (yay!) and then recruited to co-host with her a less close friend who I wasn’t planning on inviting. Guess who got added to the guest list?

  • I think this question is a whole lot easier because a whole swath of friends weren’t invited. I think it’s also much less common for the fair-but-still-disappointed scenario to come up, than the so-many-people-were-invited-but-not-me scenario, which is generally what the comments are about (and I have that story too!). But for SAD BFF, there’s no way to construe the not-invite as personal. So you’re in a much easier place than most people, who have to let it go anyway, just sit on it and let it go.

    For me, it took a number of months, although having my wedding in there probably helped as well. Also, my then-fiance and I met the couple for lunch and talked a little about the wedding, never mentioning the lack of invite, and that helped too, to just be filled in and get some of the backstory of their relatively short planning, which was possibly more helpful at the time.

  • I can totally relate. A friend from university got married 1 month after us. It was a very small, city hall wedding, however all of our friends in the same circle (even some that at the point were living in different cities) were invited to join them. At that moment I had already moved to my new country (had been living there a year or so) but I made a point in deciding the wedding date in accordance to the final examination dates in such a manner that these group of friends from my university could come. I invited all of them, even if I was not particularly close to every one of them, but we were a group, would always hang out together.
    This girl made part of this group and when she got married, she did not invite us, while we had (not that she should have, but still it hurt). Also, because I had already taken most of my vacation days from work for our wedding to be able to be with my family, we most probably would not have been able to make it. I guess what hurt the most was that I only saw and knew of this wedding after it happened when all of it was posted on facebook and I saw all of my frends there (who had all been invited to our wedding) and no one had said anything.
    Maybe I would have appreciated her letting me know, as in, we are getting married yay, it will be very small, instead of me having to find out this way. But it is all a process I guess, to see who counts on you and who doesn’t.
    On your specific situation, however, maybe you should talk to her, tell her how genuinely happy you are about her wedding, and congratulate her, maybe take them out for dinner or meet sometime other as in Meg’s tradition (love that idea ) !

  • amigacara

    I’m all for taking the couple out to dinner. Talking about the wedding, looking at pictures, being a part of their lives and celebrating with them. And this way you would get to actually hang out, whereas at their wedding you would not have had much chance to spend quality time with them, probably.

    I also think that hosting a party for the couple along with other friends who weren’t able to make it or were not invited is a good idea, as long as the couple is on board with that. My fiance and I are getting married in 2 weeks out of town, and there are a lot of people that we were either not able to invite or who were not able to make it…but we’ll probably have some kind of housewarming/yay we got married! party a month or so after the wedding to invite all those people to.

    • “this way you would get to actually hang out, whereas at their wedding you would not have had much chance to spend quality time with them, probably”

      This! So much.

      I’m having a small wedding (25-30 people) because I would rather get to spend a longer preiod of quality time with each of my guests then have a big wedding and feel stressed about making sure I come see everyone … and at that only getting to spend a very short amount of time with each of them.

  • Ria

    We recently decided to elope because we absolutely cannot afford a wedding and we absolutely cannot keep waiting or I will lose my mind (we’ve been engaged over 2 years now). When we told our friends, some of them were really happy for us and said they know that it’s the best decision for us and they can’t wait for the reception later. The rest of them were really angry and have spent the past few months trying to make me feel guilty. I really don’t know how to help them understand – the ones that are upset are the ones whose parents are paying their rent and bills and such, so this budget problem is completely foreign – but I don’t know if I can keep telling them, “I’m sorry and we love you and wish you could be there, but this is the right decision for us” when it obviously isn’t making a difference. I really do care about them and I really do wish they could be there, but sometimes you just can’t make a bigger wedding work.

    • NEWTIE

      If you are having a reception later, then how does eloping save money? I hope that’s not a stupid question – I’m genuinely curious. Like so many people, I’m really struggling with figuring out how I’m going to pay for a wedding — my mother suggested I elope, but then said if I did that I’d have to have a reception afterward. To my mind, I can’t see how that would make things any cheaper. (Not that I think my mother is right anyway – that one “has” to have a reception – I just notice that sometimes people do this when they elope, and I’m curious about the financial logistics).

      • Not sure abut USA but in the UK if people elope, or marry abroad etc they usually have an evening reception/party afterwards but no sit down meal. In my wedding budget (2 weeks tomorrow!!) the meal is definitely the biggest single expense.

      • Aa

        Friends of mine did a gathering at a bar one evening–they did provide some fabulous food, but everyone paid for thier own drinks. I can imagine that they only spent a couple hundred on the food, and one of the bar owners was a former co-worker/friend of the groom. (This was in NYC). I think it all depends. When you say “reception”, do you think about a whole catered event + DJ/dancing? Or could you do a wedding reception potluck? There are many options to have a gathering for those you care about, without breaking the bank.

      • Ria

        My family’s doing the reception. They wouldn’t help with what was going to be our wedding shindig because it didn’t fit their taste, but the reception is all about them so they’re happy to pay for it.

      • Tamara

        Having a reception/party later is a great money saver because anything that has the word “wedding” associated with it automatically goes up in price by about 50%, or more! You order cupcakes from a bakery and tell them it’s for a wedding, watch out! Want to rent out a small venue for a wedding reception? That will cost you. Now even parks are selective with events. I wanted to have our wedding and reception (no more than 40 guests and no alcohol or dj) at a beautiful park South Pasadena that has been a special place for us and were told no because they do not allow weddings. But, if I had lied and said it was a family gathering it would have been no problem. Also, because these “after” parties tend to be smaller, it can be done at home, making the price even more affordable because you’re not going to be swathing the whole place in flowers and all sorts of wedding finery, hiring a photog, etc. It really is a good way to go!

    • Tamara

      Ria, I encourage you to stay the course and enjoy your elopement and the planning of it. This should be a joyful time for you! Those individuals who are immune to the effects of this economy are blessed, but only monetarily. They are missing out on the opportunity to not only support you and your fiance, but they are missing out on a prime opportunity to grow and strengthen the friendship between you. You and your man have come to a decision that is right for you as a couple. Stick to it!

  • clampers

    I think you should give your friend a thoughtful gift. That way, you are still involved in her wedding in a small way. You know this website talks about how people give wedding gifts because they want to help build the couple’s new life…this is the perfect situation to make that happen. Plus, your friend probably hasn’t received many gifts from friends!

    I am betting that, because she had a small wedding, she doesn’t care much about money or appearances and she would be thrilled to receive just about anything. Doesn’t have to be expensive…it’s the thought that counts.

    We had a super-small, family-only wedding. My closest friends later gave me small gifts—a $25 Home Depot gift card, a small decorative plate, a hand-blown glass vase—and all of these gifts were just so touching. I wrote them thank-you notes and let them know how grateful I was to have them as friends in my life.

    • I think this is a great idea, Clampers! One of my dear friends gave me a card labeled “On the Eve of Your Wedding.” It was a beautiful note reminding me to slow down, breathe, accept the attention, etc. on the big day. Reading it is one of my most cherished memories of the weekend.

      If you wrote your friend such a note, you could mention how you’re there with her in spirit, and that you’ll be thinking of her all day, sending her love and happy beginnings, etc.

      Who knows–maybe in the process of writing the letter, and acting out of love–you will be able to overcome the hard feelings.

  • Sarabeth

    I really wish people would avoid discussing the budget when explaining why they aren’t inviting folks. Because it is almost never true that whoever is paying for the wedding couldn’t have afforded a larger wedding. What they usually mean is that having a larger wedding would have involved tradeoffs that they were unwilling to make–an uglier venue, or a cheaper suit, or less/less-tasty food, or no alcohol, etc. Which is fine, but not something that is going to make uninvited people feel better to hear.

    I think the underlying tensions come from the fact that different couples hope to do different things with their weddings. For my partner and me, our wedding was above all a celebration of our community. We invited pretty much everyone we thought might want to come because we wanted to define our community in as exclusive a way as possible. Actually, we had three “weddings” to enable this, so that no one got left out for not being able to afford to travel. So when I’m not invited to a friend’s wedding, it take a conscious effort to remind myself that not everyone thinks about the purpose of weddings in the same way–that not being invited doesn’t mean I’m not part of her community.

    • I never told people it was because of the budget that they weren’t invited. I only had one person ask and I told them it was because we were having a smaller wedding. And we were. We wanted the people in our community who meant something to us and we were willing to budget for those people.

    • I totally hear what you’re saying with this. It has the potential to sound like, “Sorry, but having you there was less important than having a champagne toast.”

      That being said, I would venture that the vast majority of wedding guests, not being in the midst of navigating these budget breakdowns themselves, probably don’t actually parse it that way. We do, because we are thinking about these trade-offs all the time. I still prefer not to get into budget discussions with *anybody*, invited or not, but I have pulled it out once or twice to deal with a particularly insistent self-inviter. All the other attempts to put her off failed, and it wasn’t until pulling out “it makes me really sad that we can’t afford to throw a party for everyone we know and love” that she clued in that maybe she was crossing a line. It did shut her up for a bit, but she is nonetheless still inviting herself, so I don’t know that it was 100% effective in the end.

      • Self-inviters really make my blood boil. We knew that was a possibility so we didn’t put any details about exactly when or where the ceremony or the reception would be in any public place, just in case.

        However, then you get the whole facebook thing of people creating an event for their wedding and saying “If you want an invite, send us your address.” I never respond to those. If they want me there they’ll ask me personally for my address if they don’t have it. But I will NOT invite myself to someone’s wedding.

        • Yeah, facebook is a killer. I did not pass on any details to the self-inviter, but she extracted them from a legitimately invited guest via facebook by insinuating that she WAS invited. I don’t think it was malicious, she just assumed that we were inviting everyone we knew (including her), and given the way she presented it to the legit guest, the legit guest had no reason to suspect otherwise. So here’s our self-inviter making travel plans to our destination wedding via facebook, and running across that conversation on their pages was the only reason I knew to “expect” her. What a mess.

          • I think that takes the cake. Although with facebook, there are a lot of cakes.

    • Stephasaurus

      I disagree with this. We booked our venue based on location and because we liked it a lot, and the staff there are insanely friendly and accommodating — also, because basically everything is included in the package (champagne, booze, food, cake, decor, etc.). It’s pretty much the cheapest venue in our area. We’re paying for our wedding ourselves, so it really IS about budget for us. There have not been and there won’t be any trade-offs. And if I tell someone that it’s a budget issue, I expect them to accept that as the truth. Because it is. I certainly wouldn’t want someone to assume that they’re not being invited just because I want, say, a more expensive dress (which…I don’t).

    • Kate

      Agreed. Same thing with the venue, honestly.

    • Emily

      I don’t know, sometimes the tradeoffs to a bigger wedding are actually huge enough to be show stoppers. If we wanted a bigger wedding than 150, we would have had to do it outdoors, meaning not in winter, meaning wait at least a year and probably two to get married due to seasonal work commitments. And we had to make really hard decisions about the guest list because of that, but we really do NOT want to wait two years. I think it’s fair to say that even if you really do think a wedding is about community, which I do, marriage itself is a big enough deal that making sure you can include 20 more people is not necessarily a good enough reason to wait two years to get married. This is a weird circumstance but I think people don’t always have THAT much freedom to have whatever size, location, and timing they want for the weddings, for reasons that can be hard to predit from outside.

  • Sarah

    My husband and I have been on all sides of this coin- we’re the couple who lives on the other side of the country from most of our friends, so I think when weddings are planned, people say to themselves, “Well, we need to cut the guest list, and they won’t be able to travel for it anyway…” We’ve been full on invited, not invited at all, and invited to the ceremony and not the reception (AWKWARD, but we went, gave a gift and were gracious about it). Anyway, I understood this dynamic much better after we planned our own wedding and had to make some tough decisions. I’m all for the taking-out-for-dinner idea, or a nice congratulatory note if you live too far away.

  • pixie_moxie

    This is such a hard topic! I have been on both sides of SAD. Not invited because of small family weddings, where I was the friend not invited becauseIi lived far away. Not invited a good friend because I knew they didn’t have the time and money and didn’t want them to feel obligated, then attacked by the friends bf for being a bitch for not inviting them. We also struggled with inviting the friends that we had all been to each others wedding the previous 2 summers. This was our great way to have a fun reunion, we all talked about how we would see each other the next summer at so-and-so’s wedding. It made us sad when the friends that we invited didn’t come and they didn’t tell us till late that they were not coming and were taking a different vacation instead. Would we have liked to put their invite out to someone else…who knows. We also had the friends that we all were getting married this summer, we all agreed that ‘we love each other very much’ but can really only afford one wedding a summer and this summer it had to be our own! Dinner upon return always a great option to share stories and love.

    Best of luck! Guest lists can be difficult, hang in there! Do what is right for you, in the end people will most likely understand on some level.

  • Here’s an even other flip. If I could go back there’s someone we invited that I wouldn’t, shouldn’t have to begin with, have since cut completely out of my life, and probably should’ve cut them out a long time ago.

    Our wedding was in a different state and we invited very few people from the state we live in for largely budget reasons. But we did have a come-and-go open-house house-warming party a few weeks later. Perhaps you could, in the spirit of Meg and Dave’s tradition, throw them a house-warming (regardless of if they have a new house or not, they have a new family living there) party for all those mutual friends who didn’t make it to the wedding (don’t worry about why you didn’t make it).

  • Harriet

    It’s possible that the bride didn’t think of her wedding as such an important day for your friendship, and so doesn’t know or suspect that you’re hurt. I know that I didn’t realize how much people cared about getting invited to weddings until I was planning mine–I didn’t go to many weddings growing up. For the bride, the fact that she didn’t send you an invitation to this one particular celebration might have very little to do with how she values your friendship.

  • Ellie

    When my wife and I had only been dating for two years, she was invited to a childhood friend’s wedding without a date. Her brother’s girlfriend, who he had been dating for over six years and was living with, was also not invited. no big deal, we assumed they had budget/capacity constraints, and my wife would have plenty of time to catch up with friends she hadn’t seen in ten year and hang out with her family.

    She was less than pleased when she got there and realized every single other childhood friend had been invited with a guest, even though most of them were not in relationships. We assumed, whether fairly or not, that the bride and groom were uncomfortable with the idea of a same-sex couple tearing up the dance floor at their wedding, and then didn’t want to cause sibling issues so didn’t invite her bro’s girlfriend either.

    I still smiled like a champ when I hugged both the friend and her husband at our wedding last year!

    • Rhubarb

      You’re a lot more forgiving than I am. Yeesh.

      • Ellie

        No, I’m not. My wife is!

  • Lola

    Get over it. Then, throw a gigantic surprise reception party to include all the folks who didn’t get invited! Make it a blast and simple! It will probably be even more fun than the wedding itself and the couple won’t feel so awkward about how to approach their forever friends abou the whole deal!

  • Sarah

    I think this is another one of those things which would be much easier if people would just talk about it. My old school friend is getting married next year and I don’t think I’m invited. None of our other old friends has been told they are or aren’t invited either, and when we all asked her about how plans were coming along at my wedding this summer she was vague. I would love to be at their wedding to celebrate with them, but I understand how important it is that they have the wedding that is right for them and that it might be small or distant or might not include me for any number of reasons. If we’re not invited I will send a small gift anyway and follow Meg’s suggestion of taking them out for dinner. But . . . it would just be much less awkward if we all knew the position. I expect to see them over Christmas and don’t want to put my foot in it. Having said all that, I appreciate that for the bride it must be very difficult to have to tell people they’re not invited, and not everyone would probably react well.

  • sarahayars

    This whole issue all really comes down to some key points for me:
    1. Weddings are funny, they do funny things to people, and make people do funny things. We all seem to want to take part in wedding stuff and feel like we want a piece of the party. It’s not just about the couple somehow, it’s bigger than that.
    2. And yet, weddings are a deeply personal commitment between two people and to a degree, between their families, it’s important to a lot of the people in their lives, but without two people making a commitment, there would be no wedding.

    I have been excluded and hurt that I wasn’t included before, but I know that my feelings of entitlement were MINE and not to do with that wedding or that couple. I’m glad to be included when I am included, and I’m happy for the couple in any case. Sometimes I need a time out to cool off before the next time I see the couple, but if they’re really my friends, then me being present at the wedding or not shouldn’t matter to the friendship. Sometimes we have to trust our friends to have reasons for their actions, even if we don’t understand what they are and that the decisions they make are the right ones for them to make. To me, that’s what being friends is about.

    • carrie

      This this this. I’ve been the one who wasn’t invited because it was a family only wedding, not invited to a wedding b/c the couple and I had a falling out and made amends too close to their wedding, was happily surprised to be invited to a distant friend’s wedding, and been treated not-like-family at a step-sibling’s wedding. All of those feelings are still with me – much diminished, but I remember how it felt at the time, which was crappy. Then I remember how the hardest part of planning my wedding was the guest list and how I still feel terrible about some of the people who we couldn’t invite because of budget and venue restraints. However, as far as I know, all my friendships/familyships are still intact.

      Sarahayers said it exactly right: weddings are funny. We are human and want to be connected and be important in others lives, but it’s not always about what we want when it comes to other peoples’ weddings.

      Let’s try to be as graceful as we can, because honestly, it makes the world a better place. Cheesy I know, but so many things are filled with so much competition, contention, etc. maybe we can start a movement of grace amongst wedding invites (stop laughing). For those people who truly act hurtfully, it may be time to look at the overall friendship BUT I don’t think this is the case for most of these situations and I don’t advocate ending relationships over weddings because none of us would have family or friends anymore! Again like Sarahayers said, “we have to trust our friends to have reasons for their actions, even if we don’t understand what they are…” Let’s hope for the best for our friends and for ourselves, but of course it’s okay to feel your feelings too.

  • Marisa-Andrea

    Awww, weddings are such complicated events for everyone. It seems almost inevitable that every bride who begins the planning of her wedding with a dream gets bombarded by relatives or friends who turn her wedding into political family events (e.g., mom says you HAVE to invite an aunt with whom you have NO relationship and haven’t spoken to in 12 years– ahem, that was ME). And that’s part of what makes wedding planning so hard. Most of us simply don’t have unlimited funds to invite every single person on earth or don’t have a vision that doesn’t include doing so. We had a REALLY small wedding and in terms of friends (cause we really have no choice regarding family), we chose to invite people with whom we have a close relationship and spend time on a fairly regular basis. We did not escape unscathed as the minister of the church we attend (who doesn’t even remember my NAME half of the time and who we really don’t like) approached me after service one week later complaining that he wasn’t invited. I was so offended that HE had the gall to be offended given that he barely said 2 sentences to me in the previous 6 months, that I merely replied, “No. You weren’t.” Confronting the couple about a lack of invitation can be embarrassing for the couple and even more so, downright uncomfortable. What a lot of us don’t understand, even when we’ve been in the shoes of having the cut the guest list, is that most of the time, it really isn’t personal. You didn’t get the invitation not because your friend wouldnt have wanted you there. Most likely, there were other considerations that made the process as painful for her as it is for you. I encourage all of us to be a little kinder, more understanding and more respectful of a couples’ wedding choices. Seriously, most of the time, it simply wasn’t about you personally.

  • Niki

    This is so close to what I am facing. My sig-oth and I are getting married on the 10 year anniversary of the night we met. Over the years we have had fall-outs and break-ups, reunited after a whirlwind romance at a long distance destination. We have had a multitude of family and friends show us what I would nicely put as a lack of support.
    So here we are despite so much adversity, we are finally planning our “Us Wedding”. This wedding is first and foremost about the two of us!

    We live 1000 miles from all of our family and friends so traveling for the wedding will be long distance and expensive. We are also the last of the siblings in both families to get married so everyone has an opinion on what we “NEED” to do. My baby brother just got married and had a big wedding where his new mother in law put the guest list together. It was pitiful to look at when the brides side had 130 people and the groom had 15 all family members she took off Facebook. As this was recent (last weekend) it was a wide awakening for us as to what we have to look forward to. Many close family members were not invited and some were who we barely know, cousins we met 2 times in 30 years, really? And everybody expects an invitation!
    Traditionally the parents of the bride pay for the wedding right? My dad has offered to help but since he has either helped to pay for or has paid for 4 weddings for my siblings in the last few years and my fiancé and I have decent careers, we are not asking for any help paying for the wedding. This is going to be very small and on a tight budget. So do we invite friends and family we know can’t afford to come? What about the people with kids that add costs you know you really can’t afford? For example, my best friend who married my fiancés Navy buddy after we introduced them lives about 2000 miles away and has 3 kids, I haven’t seen her in 5 years… Will she be hurt? Yes. Can she afford to come? Probably not. Would she come? I don’t know. What about the RSVP of 5 people on my guest list when the venue already limits the amount of people who can attend? To add insult to injury, my fiancé hates her, everything about her, from the way she talks to the way she acts not to mention she is also one who recommended I find someone else and move on. But she has been my true blue, best friend since I was 11, she has picked me up and wiped my tears after heartbreaks some which were caused by my fiancé. 19 years is a long friendship to not include her in the most important day of my life. We know not everyone we invite will come but do you send invites out to people you don’t think will come just to avoid hurting their feelings? What if they DO come? Especially if their attendance puts you over the limit for your venue or budget? Do you pull the jerk move and tell them in advance “I can afford to have you as a couple but don’t bring the kids?”
    Is this when you say screw it, and go to Vegas?

    • carrie

      You invite the people who you want to be there, that’s it. Of course there will be people there who are more important to your parents than you, but for situations like your best friend – do YOU want her there? Let’s pretend kids and money and distance aren’t part of the equation. If you want her there, she’s invited. That goes for everyone – if you want them there, you invite them, and whether they come is their decision.

      Kids is another issue…my experience was this: we didn’t invite kids to our wedding unless they were family (5 nieces and nephews), and kids of the wedding party (2). We ended up with a couple more – a child of my cousin who traveled cross country to the wedding, so we got over it. One more was a crasher and my other cousin apologized profusely but their childcare dropped out last minute and they really wanted to be there. I was happier to have my cousins there more than I was upset about their kids being there. However, if you have venue restrictions, you have to be very clear on it.

      Sorry for the long response….good luck!

  • Carrie

    I vote for big girl panties + taking them out/inviting them over for dinner. That way you still get to celebrate with them. And celebrating with the couple is the basic reason we want to go to weddings.

  • jenna

    Yes, I’ve been excluded from the weddings of two people who I thought were good friends, including my college roommate, and it really does hurt awfully. Though I understand the financial constraints of a wedding, I do feel like these non-invites have damaged our relationships in, frankly, a pretty fundamental way – they made me feel sort of like a fool, as though I had invested more in the friendship than they had, and had somehow come up short. A friendly explanation (“sorry, family only,” “sorry, less than 100 people,” etc) would have eased the sting.

    • Would it really have made you feel better if your college roommate said that they couldn’t invite you because they were having a guest list of less than 100 people?

      I do agree that it helps to say “well, we’re having a small wedding” or “only family” or something along those lines. But I’m so hesitant to say “well, we’re only have x number of people and I’m sorry but I can’t invite you”.

      I feel like unless it’s specifically family only it is better to keep it slightly vague.

      • Annie

        I totally agree with you Jenna. We weren’t invited when friends of ours got married this year. Prior to the engagement party we had spent quite a lot of time with them, she and I had been friends since university, and they have been going out since then so I know him well as well. We live in the same city, and used to have them over for dinner, or go to their place, or out to a restaurant or whatever. We have even been on holiday together, so I considered them close friends, not just friends that we hang out with as part of a group.

        The wording on the engagement party invitation hinted that we wouldn’t be invited to the wedding, but we went to the party anyway, gift in hand. Post wedding (the invite never did arrive), I have to say that our friendship just isn’t the same. Of couse I saw the wedding photos on facebok, and it didn’t look particularly small. I feel foolish, like all these years I have thought of her as a close friend but she didn’t feel the same about me. Our friendship has never really recovered and I feel awkward whenever I see them. We probably wont invite them to our wedding, I’m afraid that would make me feel even more foolish than I already feel.

  • Carrie

    Also — when I’ve been not-invited to weddings because of space, the couple has always made a point of saying explicitly that they REALLY wish they could invite more people, but because of space limitations, it’s just not possible to invite everyone.

    Hearing that takes the sting out of it for me. It makes me feel like they thought of me and want me to come, but it’s just not possible — that it’s not “We think you suck and don’t want you around!”

    I know that in a few of those situations, it was also true that I wasn’t very close to them, and that probably had more to do with not being invited. But in those situations I already knew we weren’t close, and really wasn’t expecting an invitation. So it still felt like a compliment that they considered me enough of a friend to bother apologizing that they couldn’t invite me.

    And with our own wedding, we had to say that to a fair few people — and we genuinely meant it. I really do wish we could have invited all my husband’s work friends, because they’re great, fun people. But it would have meant another 100 people easily (he works with a LOT of people), and it was seriously not possible to increase the size of the party that much.

    So if you have to not-invite people because of space/resource limitations, I recommend pre-emptively acknowledging that fact and making sure they know it isn’t personal.

  • As a girl who once almost married a guy who had at one time broken her heart very publicly I can offer some insights from the other side of the line.
    As we started talking marriage and going public I realized i was going to hear a LOT of negativity from other people. Sure I was happy and confident enough to weather it. But I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted everyone to forget the past and be happy for me! But I knew that wasn’t going to be the case, especially from my very dearest best friend in the world. She’s my protector and defender, and he had not yet earned her trust back. I really wondered how many years it was going to take married to him for her to forgive him. And all I could think was how I wanted to have a wedding where I wouldn’t have to invite anyone who might be thinking poorly of him or me.
    Obviously in the long run I didn’t marry him. Dodged a bullet there! We never even got officially engaged, so I never had to tell anyone either.
    Forgive your friend, celebrate her new life, and do her a favor and generously welcome her husband into your life!

  • so, i’m so totally on board with meg and david’s newlywed dinner plan.

    since the wedding, i have been amazed to see the power of pictures. that is, the power of the wedding photos to convey genuine joy – the kind of genuine joy the wedding was full of – to people who did not experience the joy at the wedding. my mother has shown them to, i think, everyone she knows – and i am always amazed by how happy people are for us. just from seeing the pictures and hearing mom talk about it, people who don’t even really know me are excited about our wedding. moreover, (some) family members who chose not to attend because of the gay were nonetheless excited to look through our little photo album!

    i guess i’m saying: there are other ways to share in the joy that is someone’s wedding. they are not the same as being there, but they can be similarly good (if you choose).

  • Annie

    Whilst I’m all for strapping on those big girl britches, this couldn’t have been posted on a better day for me!

    The hubby and I got hitched just over 6 months ago. At his request, his soccer team (who he’s played with for 4 years) were invited to our wedding.

    Today one of the couples from the team, who came to our wedding, are getting married. We weren’t invited. The rest of the team were.

    Definitely feeling a sting there.

  • Lauren

    I have another take on this topic- what about awkwardness that comes from being invited to a wedding when you weren’t really expecting an invitation? I have been in several situations where I have received unexpected invitations to friends’ weddings who were not very close friends, but either old friends from college or friends who I saw only occasionally. In both cases I was very honored, surprised, and excited to share their special day with them. BUT there seemed to be a catch- now that I was invited to their wedding, these friends started to have certain expectations of our friendship, and would bug me to hang out more frequently than normal, making me feel guilty when I didn’t “call enough.” I even had one bride send me a text message that said, “For someone who is coming to my wedding, we don’t see each other every much.” This type of behavior has made me really angry- I didn’t ask them to invite me though I was grateful that they did. I don’t believe giving someone an invitation gives you the right to obligate someone to spend more time with you than usual to “earn” their seat at your wedding.

    Has anyone else had this experience? What is it with weddings and obligation?

    • Emily

      On the other side of that, I think wedding invitations can be not just statements of how close you ARE, but indications that the couple really likes you and wants you in their lives. We are looking at invitations as both ways to include people who are really important to us, and ways to strengthen friendships and show people we want them to be part of our lives in the future. So yeah, I certainly hope that people who come to my wedding will wind up being closer friends in the future – not just because of the wedding, of course, but because it’s one somewhat meaningful step in all the efforts you can make to HAVE close friends.

      Maybe you don’t feel the same way, which is kind of tough for them because it sucks to have someone you like only show up at your wedding out of a feeling of obligation and then never want to see you again. Or maybe you do want to be friends with them but feel like they are putting too much pressure on you, in which case you need to have a conversation about expectations (and “but you came to my wedding!” is obnoxious, agreed). But either way, looking at it as “I didn’t ASK for an invitation” is a kind of unfriendly way to look at someone obviously trying to extend a hand of friendship. It’s not about you asking for an invitation, it’s about them asking for your presence, and not without reason, I’m sure.

  • Emily

    It’s really good to hear that other people regret their guest list decisions and would do it differently if they could. We have a few friends we love but couldn’t fit into the venue because of massive family obligations, so we sent out invitations really early in the hope we’d wind up with space to invite them, but there’s already been one awkward conversation about whether one of the friends could come as someone else’s guest. She was pretty graceful about it when I explained that we really want to invite her individually but have too many relatives and will let her know ASAP when we can, and the roommate of one of the groomswomen also told her that she totally understood not being invited but if there was enough space, she’s awesome at keeping parties going.

    I am so grateful to these women for not giving us a hard time even though they probably felt hurt. The good news is that two distant relatives just said they couldn’t make it so we can invite them after all. I hope they will come, enjoy, and stay close in the future!

  • A friend I’ve known since early childhood got married in September. She’d been engaged for over a year, their original plans had fallen through due to budget constraints, and they finally decided that waiting to be able to afford bridesmaids and a big reception and the whole nine yards wasn’t worth it and that just wanted to be married finally. They had a tiny and beautiful ceremony that they planned in about three weeks.

    Since she and I had only recently gotten back into touch after a few years of running around doing separate life things, I was not invited. She texted me ahead of time explaining and saying that we’d have to celebrate later. It stung a little, I have to admit–not because I expected to be invited, but because it drove home the point that I’d fallen that out of touch with this girl with whom I was literally inseparable at one point in life. I also had to face the hard realization that maybe my friendship just didn’t mean to her what hers meant to be, and I knew that if that was so, I would take the cue and gracefully fade into the background of her life.

    But awesome ending! Read this, girls who had to edit their guest lists, it’s a great alternative: Last night, she and her husband rented out small dining hall and had a dinner party in celebration of their new marriage, where they could celebrate with all of the friends they hadn’t been able to invite to their wedding. Getting an invitation to that erased any negative feelings I had about not being invited to her wedding. I felt as if she was saying to me that she’d had the same big realization and decided that she wanted us to remain close, too. It was a great time, and even if you can only afford to have it at someone’s house, I would recommend doing this if you had to cut important people from your guest list for whatever reason.

    • I’m exactly-ing this but in my response below because it’s a bit of a long one.

  • Suzanna

    Funny, I did the Dinner After Wedding I Wasn’t Invited To thing, and that’s actually what ended up hurting my feelings.

    I totally understood why my dear old friend was having a small destination wedding–that part didn’t hurt. I still wanted to celebrate with them, so I took them out to dinner after they got back. Problem? Friend forgot to mention to her new hubby the purpose of the evening. He got totally hammered and then paid the bill when I was in the restroom.

    It hurt. Are we still friends? Of course! Did it drive a little wedge between us and made me feel less close to her? That too. Will we be OK? Absolutely.

  • Ely

    It’s so nice to hear other people talk about these frustrations. My SO and I have been “engaged” for about six months, but we haven’t told anyone yet. We know that we’re completely committed to each other, and whenever we hang out with relatives we always get the prying questions of “You know we absolutely *love* weddings, when will you…?”

    Our problem is simple: our parents have a combined 23 siblings. Who are all married. With an average of three children. Who all expected to be invited. Of my 60+ aunts, uncles, and cousins, there are only 7 I would truly like to celebrate with. My guy feels the same about his half. However, the cousins who have gotten married before us on both sides have invited the entire family and set a pretty unappealing precedent. Although I can’t even remember the names of most of my aunts and uncles, I know for a fact they would feel snubbed and spiteful to not receive an invitation.

    Suddenly, my dream wedding at the (much smaller side of the family’s) summer cabin with a few close friends, an informal barbecue, and no shoes seems impossible. The fear of facing these relations I have no relationship with, and of having to compromise our desires to please other people who are dear to us, has kept the progression of our relationship a secret.

    This thread is a schadenfreude free for all, and I love it!

  • I was really worried about being the person to elicit these feelings earlier last month.

    My partner and I had been engaged since the end of last year and I’d hated every minute of wedding planning. I was extra angsty because of the guest list and the family woes and my mom’s health and the fact that I was so incredibly busy with everyone else’s life that it felt like I couldn’t live my own. But most of all, my mom’s health. So I was sad and alone living in the Bay Area without any of my girlfriends to help with the emotional bits, not that they could have, because I was worried about the disintegration of my immediate family. There was so much stuff going on. But I hesitated to commit to a ceremony or an “event” that was too much of a compromise and left too many people unhappy.

    Finally, at the end of October, my partner came home from a business trip after a really tough weekend apart and says, no really, let’s get married on Friday. City Hall. I’d wanted to elope for so many reasons: severe stage fright compounded by my anxiety over mom’s health, resentment of all the traditional expectations (I’m the first one in a multi-generation family who hasn’t done the whole asian tradition shebang), budget, my family’s inability to be a family because of my mom’s bouts with dementia and other physical ailments. His willingness to do it took me by surprise but we embraced the spontaneity.

    We threw the thing together three days. Three. DAYS. On my side, I had a family member and a friend buy plane tickets plan unseen on Monday trusting there would be something at the end of their travels. And we pulled everything together, while still working, mind, telling some family and friends Monday through Wednesday, and drove down from the Bay to SoCal on Thursday night to “elope” on Friday. It was mostly family and surrogate family, I didn’t have even half of my local friends there, I didn’t even TELL half of my local friends – there was no time!

    I did take a few minutes to call one of my dearest friends the morning of to tell him about it and I sobbed my eyes out trying to tell him that it was happening and the guest list had been hijacked a bit so we were over establishment but, in the end, I couldn’t do it and I asked him to come anyway. He did.

    So we had a faux-elopement.

    My out-of-state intended maid of honor, my oldest friend of all, couldn’t make it and I was so sad and worried that I’d hurt her feelings by doing it in such a way that she couldn’t come but she was so incredibly supportive even though I KNEW she was sad. And she checked in on me and supported me over the phone every step of the way. Now *that’s* a friend.

    Afterward, I was happy but I was still worried about the feelings of the people I had to call up and tell, precisely for the same feelings expressed here. But six days after our civil ceremony, my mom died suddenly, and I stopped caring.

    All that matters now is that she had been able to make it, and seemed to understand that we’re happily married.

    Kind of put things in perspective.

    And like Rachel said above – we had a lovely lunch after the civil ceremony with the people who came on our private day, but we’ll have a reception some time later when we’re up to it and share that with our friends that we do really love and couldn’t have this time around. Not everyone has the ability or desire to do that, and I still don’t like the idea of a crowd really, but I do want my people to know I do love them and didn’t leave them out because I didn’t love them.

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