Do We HAVE To Invite Them?

Posted by Dave

For many brides and grooms, pruning the guest list is the first real test of their marriage.

Guest lists have a tendency to grow and grow, until the harsh realities of limited seating space and costs per guest require (for most of us) some judicious “editing.”

What makes this process especially painful is the moment when bride and groom must choose between someone they both truly love and want to have present, and someone who – by blood or other relationship – they feel obligated to invite.

At such times, the question is often asked: “Do we really have to invite them?

And the one word answer is “no.” If you are the bride, you control the guest list.

That’s the good news. The bad news is, you are are also responsible for the consequences and repercussions of your decision.

One solution some of my couples choose is the Destination Wedding, where only the bride, groom, best man, maid of honor, and immediate families go to what will become the honeymoon location for a small ceremony. Other ready-made excuses for an “immediate family only” ceremony are choosing a small “boutique” hotel for the venue, or even having their event in the home of a close friend or relative.

A series of receptions, one for friends from work and school, another for family members, can follow. These are usually much more low-key and informal than a typical wedding reception, and give everyone the opportunity to feel included.

But there is one other reason you may not wish to invite a particular person, and it has nothing to do with limiting the size of your guest list. It may be a person whose behavior at such events has all too often been a source of embarrassment, or who has in some egregious way offended you.

Again – you don’t have to invite them. Indeed, I just worked with a bride who declined to invite her own father (for reasons he understood perfectly well.) But if not inviting them only creates a larger set of new problems, one solution may be to first have a blunt discussion with the person in question, detailing your expectations and eliciting a promise of good behavior. Then – at the event itself – you may be able to prevail upon a close friend or family member to “bird-dog” the problem child, monitoring their actions and inter-actions through the evening. (I have also known brides who had good luck by assigning their potentially troublesome guest to a limited official role – like working the bride’s table, or making sure of the head count on the out-of-town guests’ bus. Trusting them, even in a small way, paid dividends.)

In the real world, all of your guests have “problem” friends and relatives, too. If someone misbehaves at your event, no one is going to blame you. They will assign guilt where it belongs – on the offender. (And they will empathize with the no-win position inviting them put you in.)

But, at your wedding, nobody has the right to ruin your night. If there is someone whose mere presence will do just that, you may feel free – to paraphrase that master of the malapropism, Sam Goldwyn – to “include them out.”


Comments are closed.