• Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
sunshine & unicorns: a blog about love, learning, and life in the upper midwest

22 April 2009

slashing our guest list

While a lot of people are super-excited about planning large weddings, some are having them because they feel obligated to make it big and all inclusive. That's very understandable. Today I want to talk about how Bf and I are dealing with those pressures.

One thing that often plays a central role in weddings is religion. After all, marriage is not just a matter of legality. For the majority of people (of many cultures), marriage is a sacred bond before God. An important part of many non-secular wedding celebrations is to share them with those you love. A place of worship full of supportive loved ones strengthens the bond of the newlyweds, and the two families can celebrate their joining together. Bf and I are not religious. Even if we had chosen to have a larger wedding, the ceremony would not have taken place in a church. We're fortunate to have families who are understanding of this. Our parents and grandparents are not upset about our choice to have a secular ceremony, so we're "off the hook" in that regard.

Along the same lines of religion is culture. I won't ramble on about something I know very little about, but I do know that in some cultures, Weddings Simply Are Big Events. No getting around it. Bf and I are both your average boring mid-western white people, so we don't have any extra cultural issues to consider.

The other big issue I see many couples facing is that of the ever-growing amount of people who fall under "how could you not invite so-and-so". We all have many people who care about us. Sadly, when weddings are involved, those people can sometimes get pushy and/or jealous. I've seen many posts on message boards revolving guest list drama: how to invite one co-worker but not another, whether to allow "and guests" who are strangers to the bride and groom, etc. Moms and dads can often get caught up in the excitement of the event too. They treat it as their own wedding, wanting to invite their friends and family - people the couple's never even met! This is something we really wanted to avoid, and here's how we did it.

Our backgrounds helped a lot.
Bf's parents got married in their local city hall with two witnesses in attendance. Afterward, they had cake at a relative's house with a few additional guests. Bf's mom wore a cute pink dress with a stylish hat. My own parents got married at city hall as well. Mom wore a white tea-length linen dress she found on sale at a department store. They had about 20 guests and treated them to a luncheon and cake to celebrate. She says she wishes her guest list had been smaller; her mother invited a few people who weren't originally in the plan. Both my mom and FMIL have said they had no regrets about their modest nuptials, so they are understanding and supportive of our desire to follow in their footsteps.

We took an all-or-nothing approach.
We did not pick and choose people to attend based on their importance in our lives. We didn't want to end up in a situation where one aunt or uncle was invited and another was not. We're humble people and would hate to start any family feuds by picking favorites. If we had a traditional wedding, we'd have invited everyone equally. Aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, coworkers. Since we're not having a wedding, we aren't inviting any of those people. Just parents and siblings. Originally we talked about inviting grandparents too, but some of our grandparents would show up with aunts or uncles, and then we're getting in to that territory again. So just parents and siblings. I have no siblings, and my future brothers-in-law are both younger so we won't have any siblings' significant others or children to invite.

Are we feeling guilty about this? Yes and no. We are excited that we're getting the wedding we want without all the fuss and stress that comes with a large event. We're proud of ourselves for sticking to our guns and we're looking forward to sharing this intimate moment with only those who are closest to us. We are, however, feeling pretty guilty about not inviting the grandparents. Bf's live nearby, so it'd be easy for them to come. Mine don't, but they've been very good to me throughout my life and it's definitely not easy for me to say "nope, I'm not inviting them to our wedding." We deal with curious would-be guests in a couple of ways. First off, we don't tell people when we're getting married. We say "in the fall" or "later this year". We also answer their marriage-related inquiries with "We're not going to have a wedding" or "We're going to make it legal at city hall". These vague-but-honest approaches have been well-accepted thus far. It's not a secret that we're getting married, but people know we're not having a wedding.

I also like to step back and think about what a wedding invitation means for people. It means they're invited to celebrate in the creation of a new family, yes. But what else? Well, for all of my family and several of my friends, it means either thousands spent on air travel and hotels and rental cars, or multiple days road-tripping it in to the heart of the good ol' Red River Valley (which is not, exactly, at the top of everyone's list as a vacation destination). For everyone else, it means they lose a Saturday sitting in a humid room with people they don't know. As a bonus, they get to buy us a gift. (And of COURSE they have fun. I love celebrating friends' weddings. But I'm looking at the purely business sense of it here.) So I try not to feel too badly about not inviting others to share in our day. We see and spend time with most of my future in-laws several times a year. And my family and friends all live in areas that are more interesting (and warmer) to visit than North Dakota, so we fully intend to spend time with them in the future (on their own turf) instead of asking them to join us here.

I want to be Bf's wife; I want us to be a family. But our wedding is not going to be the most important day of our lives, nor would it be the best time to enjoy the company of our friends and loved ones. Instead, we're going to "get it done" and move on, planning to spend some quality time with those "would-have-been" wedding guests in the future.