Wedding Wednesdays: The Guest List

The most important part of the wedding, aside from me and Nick, is the guest list – the people we chose to spend the most important day of our lives with.   Both of us have maintained a certain amount of popularity throughout our lives, plus we have large families meaning that this task was particularly difficult. When we first sat down and began compiling our guest list we had almost 300 people on it.   While our budget and parent contributions were still not defined we knew that this was too many people. To host a wedding in NYC cost more than double the national average. An astronomical amount of that money goes toward the venue and catering. It is impossible to find any place that offered a cost under $100 a person, so I knew that 300 people was not even slightly realistic.  we would have to break the list down into those we must invite and those who would be “B – Listed”.

I have lost count of how many times we have redone our guest list at this point and we are still over where we  would like to be. However there are a number of people are getting “obligatory invites” and we know won’t come.   On top of that all of the literature I have read says to estimate 15-20% of your guest list not coming. When I factored that in I also had to make sure we met the 180 person minimum for the hall, so I think we should be okay.   There were plenty of people who were cut off my list because of costs. Some of these people were family, or friends, or co-workers, but the reason was always the same. I would ask myself a myriad of questions.


“Do we know this person well enough to pay hundreds for them to be there?”

“Why, exactly, do we want this person there?”

“Would this person invite us to their wedding?”

“How long have we known this person?”

“Is so and so an actual friend or perhaps a very fond acquaintance?”

“When is the last time I have actually seen this person?”

“Would this person’s absence at my wedding affect me in a serious way?”


I have seen a few flow charts that show this process perfectly, along with some that are perhaps too strict for my liking. The point is the same in the end, though. Not everyone Nick or I have ever met can share this day with us.  We had to be realistic with ourselves and decide which of our friends we couldn’t get married without and how far removed a family had to be before we could cut them guilt-free.  For me it was simple, anyone beyond second cousin was cut, but that is also because my family is much larger then his.  My immediate family alone is 27 people, excluding me and Nick. When I started looking at my extended family it became comical. There have also been more than a few conflicts with my mother (About everything really but I am only talking GL here.) about how I should cut my friends list down so she could invite every person she knows.  I quickly shut her down on that but it continues to crop up from time to time. She often needs to be reminded that the day is about her daughter and not her, but that is a post for another Wednesday. Nick and I have also bickered over whether certain people need to be invited, perhaps a friend the other is not fond of – or in one case a friend’s wife.  He’s had his own family quarrels over the guest list as well.  Going into this I understood and anticipated these types of issues.  Especially from parents, who feel like their friends owe them the favor of attending a child’s wedding – they like to show off the job they did raising the bride or groom. Fair enough, but it is still annoying.

All of this I was prepared for. Perhaps I was not aware of how much stress it would cause, but I was anticipating these troubles–  so maybe it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. What I was not anticipating was to be asked by anyone why they were not on our guest list, and as such I was knocked into a shock-like state when it happened.   The person I’m speaking about was never included in our list and neither of us could even have imagined being questioned by her. She was a friend of a friend and a hardly known acquaintance.  There are people either of us are much friendlier with that we can’t invite but have questioned nothing (at least not to our faces). Yet this girl felt it was acceptable to question us both, separately and intensively as to why she has not received a Save The Date and why she was not on our immediate invite list. While I wanted to reply with something snarky and witty about our complete lack of friendship or ties to each other. She felt she had some privilege that entitled her to a $120 dinner and night of dancing.  When discussing it with a mutual friend I was told not inviting her is best since she notoriously attends weddings of family and friends without bringing a gift and often becomes belligerently intoxicated.  I guess it’s a good thing we aren’t closer and she wasn’t in our consideration.

I like to think that I handled the situation diplomatically since I did not call her any names of make her feel less in any way. I’m not sure how I managed it, though, since I was in total shock that she had the gall to ask such questions. I could never in a million years imagine asking a person why they had not invited me to their wedding. To me the answer is always 1. they simply could not afford it and 2. they have a large list of people with whom they are closer to than me. I ended up telling this girl that it was a matter of cost and while I would love to invite everyone I know it is simply not possible. When she continued to push I firmly explained to her that our guest list was composed of family and life-long friends and that she was neither. She went as far as to guilt me by telling me that she thought we were closer friends, but I clearly had not given our “friendship” the same consideration. At that point I probably had literal smoke pouring from my ears and I told her that I am sorry she felt that way and assured her that we have never been more than distant acquaintances. To this she replied “That’s fine. I don’t want to go to your stupid wedding anyway!”  I resisted the urge to reply with an equally immature comment and chose to ignore her.

I have lost no sleep over this interaction, however it does still baffle me that someone could believe this is appropriate behavior.  Am I (and many of my friends) just to old and out of touch? Maybe this is no longer considered tacky and kids now think it’s perfectly acceptable (She’s only 20)… Even if that is the case I refuse to accept it  – parents who have refused to teach their children common courtesy have brought that on. It’s a generation of unique snowflakes who can do and say whatever they please without consequence, but yet again that is a post for a different day.

Who knows, maybe it is me…

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