I’ve led a charmed life. No major tragedies (knocks loudly on wood), no nasty breakups, lots of friends, good family, good college, ability to GO to college, happy childhood, etc. So when I say that putting together the guest list for my wedding is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I’m being only half hyperbolic. Perhaps nursing my mother through breast cancer takes the top spot, but guest list makes a close second.
I haven’t written much about the wedding planning process. Not sure why. Maybe I’m worried that people are tired of it. After all, aren’t brides on social media almost as annoying as runners on social media? Oh wait…
So maybe I’m annoying. But I need to vent! So if you’ve been waiting for the scoop on my wedding planning process, this is the post; and probably the only post, so bookmark it.
Where to even begin? Why don’t we start with the guest list since that is the item currently keeping me up nights. It seems so easy. You make a list of the people you want to bear witness to this significant moment in your life, and then you invite them. Easy as that, right? I wish. Want to know the #1 advice that I’ve received as a bride? “It’s your wedding day, you’re the bride, do what you want and don’t care what anyone thinks.” Such good advice. Such goooood sound advice. I just wish it were that easy. It probably IS that easy for some brides. I’m not one of them.
There are a million and half people who have come into my life at various points throughout my life and touched me in special and wonderful ways. I love people. I love the people that I know. I’m part of a community of people that I count my stars to know. If I could invite these million and a half people to my wedding, that would make me happy, because I love them all. But I can’t. Right? No. I can’t. We’ve got a budget, we have to stick to it, I can’t, I can’t. So then I try to choose some people. Ok, but who? Well, close friends. Ok. But then this close friend is related enough to this other slightly less close friend, but still a friend, to warrant an invitation to that friend. It would be weird to invite one and not the other. And then if those two are invited it kind of creates a set so really I need to invite this other person who isn’t as good of a friend but I still really like a whole lot and they’re part of the unit so they really need to be invited and plus they’re really fun, and if that person is invited then I really have no justification for not inviting this other person who is part of a different unit of people but is on the same plane as a person in that other unit and so I really need to invite them and plus they’re also super fun, and if I just invited that person then there’s this other person who is related enough to that person that it wouldn’t make sense for me to not invite that person since they are also kind of a friend. And then there’s this other floating person who is not part of any one unit of people per se but who I’m actually closer to than I am to this unit person I just added so it’s weird for me not to invite them but to invite this other person, even though I probably wouldn’t have invited them at all if I hadn’t opened the door to this unit of people. It’s like putting together a guest list exposes your inner thoughts about your web of friends and where they fit on the totem pole. Except that’s NOT the case at all because it’s so much more complicated than that and there are so many other factors but a bride worries that that’s what a guest list comes across as: a hierarchy of friends. It’s not. It’s not.
Oh and then there’s the groom’s friends. Same process as above, new units of people. Except there’s some crossover which changes the logic of how you put together your list of friends so now you have to go back and revisit your list to make sure it makes sense with your groom’s.
And then there’s family. Let’s invite this cousin because they’re obviously close family so they need to be invited. And let’s also invite this other cousin because they’re like a 2nd cousin once removed or something but you actually talk to them more than you talk to this other 1st cousin so we need to invite them. But this other 2nd cousin doesn’t realize that you’re closer to her sister than to her so it would be weird to invite one 2nd cousin and not the other. So are we inviting 2nd cousins? Or can we just invite this one 2nd cousin? If we’re inviting all 1st cousins and a couple of 2nd cousins then we should just invite all our 2nd cousins right? Ok what about nieces and nephews…
And so all of these friends and family are kind of a random smattering and I’m sure if they saw the selection on paper they wouldn’t be able to make sense of it but it makes sense in the bride’s head. The bride has only a certain number of people she can invite and she has to include a selection of current friends, old friends, college friends, family friends, work friends, family, extended family. Each group having its own rules and interpersonal politics. Some groups crossing over into each other and further complicating said rules and interpersonal politics.
You get the picture. Essentially what a bride is trying to do is put a puzzle together with all of the pieces turned over. With a blindfold. And the puzzle pieces have feelings. This corner piece gets allll offended that you invited this middle piece but not him, and then the middle piece is kind of surprised she got invited because you’re not that close but what she doesn’t know is that she got invited because she’s part of a unit of people that the bride thought would be weird to invite only part of and so decided to invite the whole unit. Even though the bride was concerned that this middle piece might ultimately think it’s weird that she got invited because it’s true, they’re not that close. And now the middle piece DOES think the bride is weird and maybe just after more gifts, so the bride lost that gamble, and the corner piece’s feelings are hurt.
Oh, and then there’s this, who the hell do I think I am? What do I think this is, the royal wedding? Most people probably A) don’t give a crap, and B) wouldn’t come anyway. So meanwhile I’m crying in my cake samples and wondering why we didn’t just elope while everyone else is sending back their Reply cards saying “Declines with Regret” and going on their merry ways.
And the final layer of neuroses to this puzzle is me writing this post. Because of course I’m worried that even saying all of these things is going to make the people I did invite feel bad that I’ve undergone such angst. Oy. Do a bride a favor and don’t feel bad. I love you and want to celebrate with you and if you can’t make it we TOTALLY understand but I love you and that’s it. This is all just a silly vent so that I can enjoy these last few months before the big day. A bride is allowed to be a little bit gauche right?
So when people say “you’re the bride, do what you want,” that is very sound advice, and PLEASE keep telling it to me because eventually it will sink in. Ultimately that is what I will HAVE to do (because it’s impossible to read the minds of 150 people, and trying to do so is literally driving me insane), but maybe now you understand why it’s a bit harder than it sounds. People say, who cares what they think? Who cares if they get offended? If they get upset that you didn’t invite them to your wedding then they weren’t good friends anyway. That is true. That is all true. But nobody likes to be the cause of someone’s hurt feelings, whether or not they are justified. No one likes people to be mad at them. No one likes a grudge held. Well, maybe that isn’t fair. Maybe some people aren’t bothered by those things. I don’t really think that Brad is (thank God!). But I am. I just am. I’m very sensititve and I’m a people pleaser and I like people to like me. So maybe this whole wedding guest list is just a challenge for me to work through those aspects of my personality. Maybe the challenge is, piss someone off, even if they never forget it and secretly hold a little grudge against you. Piss them off anyway and then WILL yourself not to give a shit.
(I do give a shit)
In closing, I implore you to take this advice. From here to eternity, if you know a couple getting married and you’re wondering if they’ll invite you to their wedding, give them a pass. If they don’t invite you and you really felt like you should have been invited, give them a pass. They have their reasons. They have their very complicated puzzle they are trying to put together and you don’t know the circumstances and parameters for that puzzle, so give them a pass. They are not trying to hurt you. I’m sure they would love you to be there if it was possible. Maybe they are on a tight budget or maybe they really want the wedding to be within a certain size, or maybe there are circumstances you couldn’t even imagine. Give them a pass.
Flustered Bride (give her a pass)