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Wed·ding: n. A place to learn from others’ mistakes?

June 27, 2010

Went to the second wedding I’ve ever been just a guest to, which was really nice. It’s a whole different perspective when you’re a) planning your wedding and b) not involved in any planning details of this wedding, you just get to enjoy it. I knew I would be taking notes while I was there. I figured at least. Not actual notes, jeez! Mental notes.

I felt kind of guilty toward the end of the night because of all the critiquing I did on a lovely wedding. I was mentally noting: MAKE sure there’s a microphone at the altar (if you haven’t been to a wedding without one, it’s a little awkward to sit in silence for 20 minutes back in the cheap seats), MUST have a great playlist. In all honesty, the wedding was beautiful. Weddings tend to be a little bit awkward when you don’t know the bride or the groom, anyway. It’s weird introducing yourself to the couple on their day, “Uhh…Hey, thanks for paying about $70 for me to eat here tonight…glad I could be here…by the way, I’m Lizzie…and you look beautiful! Not YOU, her!”

The evening brought up a few etiquette questions I have, and from the books I’ve scanned on wedding etiquette (I refuse to buy one because I figure I’ve been raised with pretty good common sense), they haven’t been covered yet:

  1. How did you go about inviting people from work? From what I’ve learned from The Office, since obviously, we haven’t sent out anything yet…it can get kind of awkward when people who know you from work aren’t invited, but the people you enjoy being around from workKids are. Did you invite anyone from work? Did you have to invite everyone from work?
  2. Is there a way to limit +1’s? Not only do I have to limit the guest list based on who’s significant other will behave during the wedding (oh boy, we’ve got some interesting married-in’s in parts of my family)…but I want to put my foot down to being introduced to people on the day of the wedding. I felt like it was extremely awkward to be on the other side of it, anyway. Can you ask people to invite only guests you’ve met or is that a ridiculous question? It’ll be kind of difficult to have an organic-feeling dance-party togetherness-celebration if we don’t know anyone, eh?
  3. Kids. There were an insane amount of knee-highs running around during the wedding. It was all good for most of it, the couple seemed to know all of the children, but I want people getting crunk at ours, not worrying about getting the kids to bed at 8pm. or whatever. Is it rude to not invite kids? Is it rude that I’m asking if it’s okay not to invite kids?
  4. Family. I have several members of my family that are openly racist. Despite holding familiar titles like “Grandpa” and “Uncle”, rather than “Distant second-cousin no-brainer-not-to-invite”….we’re thinking of not inviting them anyway. Isaiah is Puerto Rican & black, and if I have to hear one more ignorant family member tell him a story about how they “knew a Mexican person once,” I’ll die. If you choose to be racist, if you choose to be ignorant and intolerant, why should we pay upwards of $60 to have you eat a nice meal and watch a wedding you obviously wouldn’t approve anyway. Is it fair not to invite even close family if they hold conflicting attitudes to your relationship?

Those are all of the questions I have for you. Please, please feel open to share your stories, I want to hear them all.

P.S. Update on the engagement photos: Not only did our lovely photographer send us the SWEETEST note, we have them almost all ready to go! Should be any day now. Thanks for your patience, I’m sure you’ve lost sleep over the fact that they’re not up yet, but it’s all going to be okay. (kidding)

32 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2010 7:25 pm

    We’re trying to limit the +1 situation as well. We’re only inviting close family and friends to start with. And only long-term established significant others. Not casual dates. We should know the other person. It’s partially a matter of money and partially because, like you guys, we don’t want a bunch of random people we’ve never met at our wedding. Since we’re only inviting close friends to begin with, we’ve pretty much explained this “rule” in person to them and they understand. You can also very carefully word invites.

    While we’re only inviting immediate family (not second cousins, etc.) we both have some estranged aunts/uncles that we’re still debating on what to do. We haven’t quite figured out how to approach the situation because we kind of know them, or I am facebook friends with my cousins but my dad and his sister don’t speak…so I feel ya on some awkward family stuff.

    • June 28, 2010 2:36 pm

      I definitely feel you on the weird family dynamics! If it helps, the way I decided on “estranged” folks to invite…thought I may be close with them..I have to decide who the most important person is that’s involved in the dilemma. For me, my dad: Doesn’t speak to his brother or sisters or his father – weird situation…so my dad is the most important person out of all of them, and since they are the ones who are causing the dilemma – a.k.a. “they started it,” it’s a no-brainer not to invite them. I wouldn’t want my dad to feel uncomfortable or anything, you know? Not sure if that helps, but there it is. Thanks for the advice!

  2. June 27, 2010 7:47 pm

    I’ve only got 11 other people at my business, so if I invite one, I feel I’m sort of expected to invite the rest. I’m very close to three girls and my boss, so I’m not sure how to get around the other 7 +1s that would include just because I’d feel guilty. I’ve mostly read if in that situation, you keep your wedding and its pre- and post- stories to yourself so as not to disclude or hurt feelings.
    I’m absolutely, under no circumstances allowing kids other than the 5 nephews and flowergirl, technically my baby cousin. That is the ONLY reason they’d even invited. I’ve seen others suggest that you put JUST the parent(s’) names and hopefully they’ll get the hint that no children are to be within 50 feet of the day. Also make sure that all your close bridal party members can pass the word along-apparently registries/gifts, +1 requests, and kid stuff is easy to spread like wildfire once you make your final decisions.
    I’m not quite in that boat yet, but here’s the mantra I’ll be telling myself for the next 1.5 year: “It’s my day, it’s no one else’s, and I will not feel guilty over knowing what I want to make this the best day yet.”

    • June 28, 2010 2:38 pm

      Thanks so much for the input, I definitely appreciate your perspective! Definitely a great note about keeping the pre-and-post wedding stories to yourself.

  3. Tamar permalink
    June 27, 2010 8:21 pm

    I work in a teeny office and one of my coworkers kids are our flower girls so I was obviously inviting them. Bc it was so small I felt compelled to invite the whole office but wouldn’t have if there were more people (there were only 3 of them and I knew the other 2 weren’t coming).

    Re sig. others: we made a 1 year rule and it’s worked out well. Because we live so far from our family, excluding spouses we never met would have been awkward.

    Re kids: we included the kids we wanted to invite as flower girls but otherwise didn’t invite any kids. We just didn’t put their names on invitations.

    Re relatives: I don’t know. I have family not coming bc jon isn’t Jewish but I knew this coming in and let them select themselves out.

    • June 28, 2010 2:39 pm

      That’s good to know that if you don’t put their names on the invites, they pretty much get it! I think I’ve decided on kids of families that have to travel…I LOVE my cousins to death, so they will all obviously be invited, haha. And with kids I’ve never met and what not, if their family has to travel, they obviously won’t come without the kids, so that’s a no-brainer. lol.

      Thanks so much!

  4. June 27, 2010 9:20 pm

    Work folks are tricky. I guess it means that you limit talking about the wedding in front of people that you don’t want to invite. I think that’s going to be my tactic. I wouldn’t feel offended in the least bit if someone I’m not close to at work, who doesn’t talk about their wedding didn’t invite me. But if they blabbed on and on about it, I would think it was in poor taste.

    I think the way to avoid plus ones is not to invite “Jane Do and guest.” Only invite two people as a pair if they are a serious couple. That way you can write both their names on the invite. If they don’t have an SO, then just don’t give them a plus one. However, if someone invited Mr. Beagle to a wedding, and did not include me, it would seem really odd to me because of the point we are at in our relationship. It’s like the couple was like, oh we really want to share out day with you Mr. Beagle, but we have no interest in meeting the woman you want to spend your life with. In cases like that, I think it is common courtesy to invite the couple, even if you don’t know the SO.

    I think you can definitely go a no kids route, but be prepared to stand your ground. People don’t like finding out their kids aren’t invited, and you have to understand that some may turn down the invite based solely on that. Some others may try to persuade you otherwise. So with those people you have to apologize but stay firm. It wouldn’t be very nice to tell some people no kids, and then have them show up at the wedding only to find kids there.

    And on the family note, wow, I really don’t have any advice there. I’d say it’s a case by case basis and that you should talk things over with Josh and your parents. There’s no easy way to solve it, and it might hurt some feelings. But I definitely understand why you have reservations about inviting certain family members. I would too if I was in your shoes.

    Those are my thoughts on the issues as I would tackle them. Hope they were a little helpful.

    • June 28, 2010 2:43 pm

      Oh haha, my fiance’s name is Isaiah, Angie’s lovie’s name is Josh, lol. That was a weird experience to read (no worries at all), just was like “yeah i’ll have to check with Josh….oh…wait…who?” haha.

      I definitely agree on the “if you make a rule, stick to it” rule. I was at a wedding where only some people’s significant others were invited…and that’s fine, but the way they went about it was no plus one’s at all….but when some people got there and saw “SO-and-SO and guest” on placecards, they were really hurt.

      Isn’t it a shame how sensitive people are about weddings?! How can your feelings be hurt by something so great as a wedding?!

      • June 29, 2010 12:36 am

        Oh man, sorry guys. I’ve got egg on my face. I guess I read too many blogs, and they sometimes get mashed in my mind. I won’t mess up Isaiah’s name again!

  5. June 27, 2010 11:11 pm

    1. Work. We decided to cut out categories of guestsso that there won’t be any hurt feelings. If no one from work is invited, there won’t be any hard feelings from one person who is not invited (unless you’re really close and you do things outside of work regularly).

    2. Plus Ones. We’re going to have our RSVP system set up on the wedding website so that the invited guest signs in and then there is a drop down menu with the max number of persons they can RSVP for. So there’s no confusion. (We’ll also have a nice note about small venue, etc.)

    3. Kids. We’ll have a lot of kids running around, but two of them are mine. I love kids at weddings. OTOH, I won’t feel comfortable carrying around a flask like Lyn’s or drinking excessively because I’ll still be in Mom Mode.

    4. Family. There are definitely family members who have worn out their welcome, and I don’t think any invitation should be mandatory if they are going to say horrible things at your wedding. I would err on the side of not inviting them and just sending an announcement after the fact, but I have low tolerance for that sort of thing.

    • June 28, 2010 11:37 am

      The RSVP on the wedding website is genius, thanks for sharing your secrets, lady! I agree about the family thing…our new question for the guest list is, “IS this person going to behave, or not?”

  6. June 28, 2010 8:08 am

    1. We invited Josh’s work buds from his last job. They’re good folks and he only worked with three other people, so no biggie for us. My former work folks are invited, but only b/c we’re still tight. Other than that none of our current coworkers are coming. Fortunately, I’ve only been here six months and Josh just started today… so it isn’t a concern.

    2. Sarah’s plus one idea is one I’ve been nagging Josh with, but he hasn’t budged. I think we’re going to deal with it as it comes. If someone RSVPs for them and their +1, and we don’t have them as a +1, I’m going to throw back a couple and calm my nerves for a difficult conversation to politely let them know +1’s are for long-time/serious partners. No inviting your favorite bartender. Someone said it on another blog, can’t remember where… but I think of it like, if it costs $60 to pay for this person to come to my wedding, is this someone I would just reach into my pocket and hand them $60?

    3. The only knee-highs we’d have running around are cousins. But our extended family isn’t invited… so no kids. Our youngest guest is 14 and she’s our “ring bearer.” A few of my friends are parents to toddlers or infants, but they’re getting sitters. I do wish we had some little ones running around though… our wedding is at a park and I think they’d love it. Oh well..

    4. Same as #3- We only invited parents, grandparents, a handful of my cousins, and a handful of uber-important family. (But you also know about the whole “family friend” bullcorn.) Bleh… I learned this is the toughest fight you’ll have to face in wedding planning. Everyone wants someone there and chances are it’s someone you don’t want there. Everyone works it out eventually, but sometimes it can be a long, tough, annoying ass road.

    And I have lost sleep! I wanna see those photos! 🙂

    • June 28, 2010 11:36 am

      Definitely, I’m not sure about kids yet…I know I want my cousins there, but the youngest will be 5 and what not…At this wedding there were FIVE infants in carriers?! I was all “Infants?!”

      I hope Josh had a great first day and thanks for your advice Miss Angie!

  7. June 28, 2010 10:40 am

    1- wasn’t going to invite the work crowd. then they threw me a surprise party. then i invited them alll plus one but they decided to come as a group minus the plus ones. you can totally invite a group minus plus ones. i’m lucky my office is small though.
    2- you can definetly limit to engaged couples, longtime (as in you know them) significane others or plus ones for people who won’t know too many other people there. not ridiculous! you don’t have to make your guest list huge!
    3- i feel with the kid thing its either yes to all or no kids at all. i want kids there because I love ’em. But if you want people to party like woah, they should understand if you don’t want kids there.
    4- i know its super hard not to invite family. i want to say don’t if you think they’ll ruin your day, if they ask why just exoplain when they stop being racist they can come. but i also know i would probably end up inviting them because not doing so causes its own set of drama. maybe just seat them somewhere you won’t have to deal with them. maybe you will luck out and they will not come?

    good luck with everything!!!

    • June 28, 2010 11:33 am

      That’s good to know that if you invite them as a group you can say “but..hey..not your +1’s”….I really do love the people I work with, but we’re here in Texas and they have significant others that might consider Chicago a fun trip together anyway. I think I might just say “eff the folks I don’t know that well, it’s a big office…”

      That’s great news about the plus-ones! Thanks so much for the suggestions!

  8. June 28, 2010 1:00 pm

    We tried to limit +1s and failed utterly because people misread their RSVP. Choose your wording carefully.

    I didn’t invite any of my coworkers (which is fine because we’re not that kind of office). He invited the people he works closely with.

    Only invited kids we’re related to, but we got off easy here because only a handful of our friends have kids.

    As for family, I only invited my dad’s immediate family. First, I’m closer to them anyway. Second, my mom’s family is crazy and unpredictable. Do what feels the most comfortable to you. I wouldn’t tolerate racism at my wedding either.

    • June 28, 2010 2:44 pm

      KC – Is there any way I can ask you how you worded your invites? You can shoot me an e-mail if you don’t want to post it, I would LOVE that. Haha thanks for the backup, good to hear that other people would do the same, you can start to feel like you’re becoming a little bitchy. Thanks so much for your advice!

  9. June 28, 2010 5:34 pm

    Hey girl! I am just going to go in order on what I did! 1.) I only invited a few people from work. I told them not to say anything to the rest of our coworkers so no one got their feelings hurt. Then, I openly told everyone else (the un-invited peeps) that I couldn’t invite ANY coworkers because I have such a huge family and we only have limited seating. This way I got the people I wanted to come & didn’t offend the rest…worked like a charm! 2.) Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with only wanting to invite people you know. However, we did allow a few close friends that were single to invite their significant others. Nothing is more uncomfortable then being at a wedding all alone with no one to talk to! lol 3.) We had a clear “no children allowed” at our wedding. Now, we love children but we wanted to have fun drinking, acting crazy, and not having to watch out for little ones running around. It’s cool to see how everyone else handled similar situations! Great questions!

    • June 28, 2010 7:45 pm

      Thanks so much for your input! Glad to hear from someone else who hates kids! Kidding…haha. No, but really, I love kids as well, just want people to cut loose and have a B-L-AST. Thanks again!

  10. June 28, 2010 7:03 pm

    As I prepare to embark on a slew of summer weddings, I totally know what you mean – when you’re planning your own wedding, you take note of EVERYTHING wedding-related. I do, for sure. And I just know I’ll be taking (mental) notes of all sorts of things. For one, at Jessica’s brother’s wedding, my main takeaway was: For the love of God, serve water at the dinner. Or have it available. Otherwise, you (meaning I) end up too hungover from wine the next day to take photos. Ugh.

    Luckily, we won’t have much of an issue with kids – besides Jessica’s cousins, we only have three kids coming. Crazy! Before we realized this, we thought about saying ‘no kids.’ It feels weird and maybe even rude, but it’s your right to do so and if you decide to go that route, don’t feel guilty.

    For work people, I won’t be inviting any. I work in a small office and it’s all or none, and since I started less than a year ago, it’s gonna be none. I don’t think any will be offended.

    • June 28, 2010 7:44 pm

      I definitely feel you! Have you ever thought some people think they’re way closer to you than you consider yourself to them? I have that relationship with a few past and present co-workers, but I really do like some folks from work. It’s a weird situation. Anyways.

      Thanks for your input, definitely know the whole serve water rule! Had a bad experience myself with that! haha.

  11. June 29, 2010 1:47 am

    @Ms. Bunny – NO, No NO! I didn’t want you to feel weird, haha. I totally do the same sometimes! No worries, Isaiah has been thrown into a deep depression though……hm……kidding.

  12. June 29, 2010 6:28 pm

    I don’t really believe there are any rules when it comes to someone’s wedding. I think that you make the rules for your wedding. I think you invite people to your wedding that you want there, period. Some of my friends are people I’ve met over the years from work – whether past or present – so I invited them. If that was weird for other folks from my office that didn’t get invited – sorry. As for +1’s I used the rule – if I’ve met your boyfriend, like him and he’s been a part of your life for a while then he/she was invited otherwise no +1’s. And kids…that was a tough one and I’ve blogged about it but in the end I had to go with kids. After all, we are big kids at heart and we had a few that have been a big part of our lives. They added to the joy of the day. As for family – we are stuck with them. We invited almost all family members that we are close to – they all have varying views of the world but at the end of the day…they are family. But I think an invite list is a personal thing and people should invite just the people that they are comfortable with.

    • July 7, 2010 2:11 am

      I couldn’t agree more with the no rules thing. I tend to not give a shit what other people think…so I suppose I’m a little concerned with bowling through people like a tornado with my wedding {not in a “It’s all about me” way, but in a “not-being-obsessed-with-etiquette” way.

      I was brought up by a brilliantly thoughtful woman, though, so I don’t know that I’ll have as much trouble as I’m dreading, haha.

      Thanks so much for your perspective! I like your plus1 rule!

  13. July 3, 2010 4:39 pm

    Hi Lizzie! New to your blog (great stuff on here by the way). I wrote a whole long detailed post on my blog with my best (not THE best, but MY best) advice on each of the categories you mentioned. You’re free to check it out if you’d like, but here’s a recap of how we handled invites:

    Work/ Grad school: We only invited the people who we hang out with outside of work/ school, OR the ones who we’d want to stay in contact with if we ever changed jobs or graduated. Couldn’t get ourselves to go the all or nothing route for the sake of “fairness”. People will understand.

    Plus 1’s: Yes to +1’s but only for guests who wouldn’t really know anyone at the wedding aside from us. (That applied to about 4 of our friends.) And of course, yes to a significant other who we know, like, have hung out with before, or who is engaged to our friend. (Note: We wrote no +1’s on the invite.)

    Children: No kids except flower girl and ring boy. (Mostly because I’ve got about 30 little kids in my family. That’s a quarter of a guest list so it ain’t happenin’.) Also, if a couple RSVP’d no because they were coming from out of state and didn’t have a babysitter available for the entire weekend, we would allow them to bring their kids. (Note: We wrote no kids on our invite, and followed up on the families who RSVP’d no to see what their situation was.)

    Family.: We invited EVERYONE. It was important for us to to be inclusive, especially since there’s so much feuding and a few estranged people in my family. We wanted to send out the message that despite all of our differences, we’re family. We don’t need to like everyone, but we need to respect everyone. And our way of doing that was to send everyone an invite. Whether they accepted or not was their issue. For the ones who said no, it was THEIR choice to alienate themselves or give the cold shoulder, NOT ours. And that was key. But I wouldn’t advise the everyone-should-be-invited route for everyone. It depends on how you define family and what your general approach is for handling people you dislike. Our decisions 100% reflects our definition of family, even if our own family members have a different definition. The best any of us can do is have integrity and make sure that all of our wedding choices reflect our values.

    And that’s all I got! Good luck and keep us posted!

  14. Sami permalink
    July 5, 2010 4:06 pm

    Well the questions you had on etiquette are ones that I’ve heard of before, but obviously have no real experience in. But these are my opinions…

    1. No, you do not have to invite everyone from work. Sometimes you aren’t friends with everyone at work, so why waste the time and money that it would cost to invite them. If you are friends with everyone, figure out which ones you know would have an amazing time at your wedding. Who would be the most willing to travel, etc.

    2. I don’t think that it’s unfair to ask people to not bring their significant other if you haven’t met them, and especially if it’s only a boyfriend or girlfriend. When it comes to spouses or fiances, I think you have to let them bring them…even if you would prefer not to.

    3. I have personally been to weddings where children are not invited specifically, and I have to say that they were super great! I think that when I have my wedding I will not want to invite children either. Because really, it’s not super difficult to find a babysitter for your kids, and why should parents have to miss out on a kick ass night just because they do have kids? I think weddings should come with free passes to ditch your babies. haha! That may be terrible of me to say…

    4. I think this one is simply one of personal comfort. It’s your wedding, and neither you nor your groom should have to feel stress because of what your family members may or may not say. I think that if it’s a problem, and it happens regularly, sorry…you’re off the list.

    Again, Lizzie these are my personal thoughts, I’m not sure how much help they will be! I love you and I hope you find the answers for all of your questions!!!!

    • July 7, 2010 2:17 am

      Thanks so much Sami! Yeah I kind of feel the same way about kiddies…I do have some GREAT kids in my family though…and I think I might break the cardinal rule and invite some and not others…It’s not my fault your kid’s not cool…kidding. I just don’t know some at all or at least not as well as others.

      Thanks again, Sami, you know I loveee you!

  15. July 6, 2010 9:38 pm

    First of all, this is my first visit to your blog. Kudos to you for planning a wedding under $10,000! My wedding was the average $30,000 – – – and the money is NOT worth it for one day, trust me! Spend the $ on your honeymoon (we couldn’t afford one after the wedding costs). If you put enough thought and taste into your special day, it can still be so nice. I think the biggest money saver is limiting your guest list, so don’t feel bad at all. I think it is hilarious that wedding guests always feel offended by small things, yet don’t take two minutes to consider how much time, money and effort had gone into the couple’s day. I am the ultimate people pleaser – – I wish I wouldn’t have been when it came to my wedding day. Create the celebration that YOU and your fiance want, not what others are expecting!

    1) Don’t feel bad for not inviting certain co-workers. I personally would never be offended at not being invited to a co-worker’s wedding, especially if I never spent time with them outside of work! People simply don’t have the funds to invite every single person they know to their wedding.
    2) We gave everyone the option of a plus one. This did NOT work out in our favor. We lost about $500 because of people saying they were bringing a plus one, and they ended up coming alone. Honestly, I would say try to limit if you know that certain guests aren’t seriously dating anyone – – but prepare to accommodate extra people in case your guests assume that they are allowed to bring a plus one.
    3) We didn’t invite kids, and this wasn’t too big of a deal. It is not because I don’t like kids, it was just more of a space/cost issue. Some people might raise a stink – – but those are the people you’d rather not attend your wedding anyway.
    4) Family is so tricky – – especially if it is your “uncle” or “grandpa” that you would not be inviting. It can cause a huge rift throughout the whole family. Probably a case-by-case basis for that one .

    • July 7, 2010 2:20 am

      Thanks so much Kimberly! Yeah, Chicago can be tricky, it’s an EXPENSIVE ass city to be married in. BUT. We’re hopeful.

      Thanks so much for the advice! We’re definitely jotting down all the notes and workin toward a solution we can live with after the fact. I just don’t want to be one of those couples that bowls over everyone over their wedding “IT’S MY DAY DAMNIT” style and then has to live with the aftermath, haha…and since we kind of lean toward “who gives a” naturally…we have to be a little extra considerate.

      Thanks again!


  1. From Her Fridays: Perspective « Our $10,000 Windy City Wedding

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