For brides and grooms with big families, large groups of friends or both, trimming down the guest list can often be the most stressful part of planning a wedding. Especially tricky can be the subject of friends’ significant others. So when I heard a story about a married friend who was invited to a wedding with only her name on the invitation, I turned to Emily Post, the quintessential etiquette expert. Her book states that the spouse, fiance or live-in partner of each invited guest must be invited—even if you’ve never met them.
Every couple has a different vision and budget for their big day. Should significant others always be invited? Do brides and grooms who choose not to invite a friend’s spouse make you want to rant or rave?
A few nights ago while making dinner at a friend’s house, we started chatting about an invitation on her fridge. She mentioned the wedding was “adults only” and she was making arrangements for her two-year-old to travel up to grandma’s that weekend so her and the hubby could fly out for the occasion.
Depending on your particular family or personal style, you might welcome having the little kiddies around, or you might not—everyone envisions their big day differently. Are you planning an adult-only wedding or have you ever been invited to one? Should couples expect their guests to understand? Do weddings with an age restriction make you want to rant or rave?
Wedding Paper Divas is bursting with staff brides who are currently planning their weddings. We’re happy to share their stories with you as a part of this new feature!
Even before my fiancé and I were engaged, we dreaded talking about the subject of our wedding guest list with my parents—mainly my mom. I was never sure if my mom was joking, but she claims that she needs to invite everyone and their mother to the event. Literally.
Being American-born Chinese and not understanding why it was necessary to have a huge wedding, I have always asked her why and she responds with, “Because they invited me to their kid’s wedding.” But neither I nor my fiancé know the friend of a friend she needs to invite to our wedding, so we launched into a constant battle with neither side gaining ground. My mom even told me, “If you’re not having a big wedding, then just go to city hall and get the marriage license.” I actually considered it.
Then this dilemma got me thinking—as an American-born girl, I envision a wedding differently than my parents, who immigrated here. Maybe since weddings were often arranged in ancient China, the tradition evolved to be more about the joining of two families than about love, but I cannot imagine my wedding including more than 300 people, nor do I want to; my options of venues would be limited with that kind of guest list.
I brought up my concerns with my parents and though I wasn’t able to make a dent into their long guest list, they did, however, bring up the fact that we could always hold two banquets.
Two banquets might sound a little interesting, but they assure me that many American-born Chinese couples do the same thing (and I can see why). I would be able to have the smaller wedding I want with close family and friends, and my parents would be satisfied with the huge Chinese banquet they want. I quickly brought this up with my fiancé, but he wasn’t as accepting as I was.
He asked, “Won’t that make our first wedding, the one we want to have, not as special?” I didn’t really think about that. All I want was to somehow satisfy both my parents and my fiancé and me. And I’m sure many couples, especially ones who have destination weddings, hold two receptions for guests who couldn’t make it. This is kind of the same idea.
All in all, this experience has taught me that it’s good to start talking to parents early about your wedding plans, especially those that secretly want to be involved. Work out a compromise with them. You don’t need any more stress and headaches added to your wedding planning.
We still haven’t finalized any plans yet, but it’s nice to know that there are other options out there beyond running away to elope!
Becky and Erick met eight years ago through their parents. Both of their parents were into performing Chinese Opera along with Erick, and all 3 of them were in the same opera association. During the summer of 2001, Becky volunteered to help out backstage during a performance where she first saw Erick, but he didn’t notice her at first (he claims she was never there!). The two eventually started to hang out more during the summer of 2002. They started out as friends, and then started dating when Becky joined Erick in Southern California for school. Seven years later, they’re engaged!
One of the often-ignored topics in wedding planning is how to treat your vendors the day of the wedding, namely your DJ, Band, Wedding Planner, Photographer, Videographer or anyone that is present throughout the day of the event. Although these people may not be on your guest list, it’s often common courtesy to at least assume they’ll want to eat a meal. It’s something to think about as you make your guest list and submit your final head count for food. You’ll also want to consider where the vendors will eat. Will you have a table set aside for them that is part of the guest floor plan? Will you have a table in a separate, private room? Chances are good they’re only going to take a short break to eat, so choose accordingly.
There is one exception: when it comes to the officiant of your wedding, you should always count him/her and their significant other as an invited guest. Send them an invitation like you would to any of your other guests. They’re the only vendor allowed to even go near the bar as well! You definitely don’t want a drunk photographer taking your wedding photos.
Personally, I spoke to each of my vendors individually about their preferences. I offered them the opportunity for one of the menu items and a seating arrangement. In the end, all of my vendors preferred having a sandwich/condiments/hour d’oeuvres tray that they could quickly grab a bite from in a private section of the reception hall. Whatever you choose, know that they’re all bound to be appreciative of your thoughtfulness (and maybe even do an extra-excellent job!). Happy planning!
How much should parents get involved? We wanted a small, intimate wedding with a soft-spoken, garden-y theme at our quaint local church. Halfway through preparations, my parents begin to constantly “suggest” inviting a huge number of their friends, more than all of the other invitations combined. They say it will be perfect if we can change the location to a big modern bright blue/yellow building in order to fit them all in. (note that this clashes with the muted colors of our theme). When explained to (politely) that it’s our wedding, not theirs, they say we ought to be more grateful for the effort they have spent helping us and that they have a right to invite “as many people as possible.” We are paying for the wedding, but they have said they will give us some financial support over and above our budget. This brings it to about 1.5x of what our wedding budget actually is, however we haven’t used any of this yet. They’re very nice and I don’t want to be a bridezilla, but what can I say?
Dear On Edge,
The guest list is always a very harrowing part of the wedding planning. While you have a certain number in mind, your parents may have a completely different idea of what your wedding “should” look like. Since you are footing the bill for the wedding, I definitely think what you want gets priority. However, I always like to focus on compromise when wedding planning, and this situation is no exception.
First of all, you need to set a limit on the number of guests you want. Make it clear to your parents that you have already chosen your venue, and they they allow X amount of people. In addition, set your budget and stick to it–although their contribution may be tempting, it is probably best to shy away from it in this situation so that they cannot hold the money over your head in the future. Once you have these numbers, allocate a certain portion of the guest list to your parents–they are allowed to use that number to invite whomever they please, but may not top that number. This is fair on all counts–you are getting your dream wedding while also allowing your parents to have some free reign over “their” guest list. You may also want to try to include them in other small decisions so that they are still a part of the planning without changing the entire look and feel of the wedding.
Ultimately, there were probably be some conflict over this, but as I’ve seen many times before, once the day arrives, everyone will be so happy they will forget all about it. Stick to your guns in as nice a way as possible. Good luck!
Exes pose an interesting problem for engaged couples. When a person remains close friends with exes and asks to invite them to the ceremony, his or her future spouse might be prone to feelings of jealousy (which could cause extra, unneeded tension during the wedding planning process). Some argue that exes should be summarily excluded from your wedding no matter what the circumstances, while others contend that you should be allowed to invite all of your close friends regardless of your romantic history with them.
I personally have an ex-boyfriend who is so well integrated into my social circle, I don’t even think of him as a former flame anymore. I think it would be silly to leave him off the guest list, but I’m not so sure my future husband would feel the same way. What do you think? Would you ever invite an ex to your wedding? Under what circumstances? And, if your future spouse invited an ex, would it make you want to rant or rave?