Weddings are hard
January 19, 2010 2:01 AM   Subscribe

Help me hurt as few feelings as possible as I plan my wedding.

1) A friend is throwing us an engagement party at a bar. It will just be friends who live in our city. Can we invite people who won't be invited to the wedding?

2) Between brothers, very close friends, and less-close-but-still-close friends-who-I-have-been-groomsman-for, I'd have like 10 groomsmen and that's way too much. Is there any way to resolve this without upsetting a good friend?
posted by malhouse to Society & Culture (21 answers total)
1) only invite wedding guests - there will be plenty of time to get smashed with non-wedding friends another time.

2) make your groomsmen the guys you really want standing up next to you. if people get their feelings hurt, then they didn't want to stand up next to you for the right reasons anyway.

unasked 3) this is why we're eloping.
posted by nadawi at 2:20 AM on January 19, 2010

1) No, just folks that will be at the wedding. doing otherwise would make fora few awkward conversations.

2) Easy way out - Match the bridesmaids. If your wife-to-be is having the same problems cutting the bridesmaids down. Go for three. 1 Best man and 2 Groomsmen.

If they complain or get upset, then blame the bride, say that she wants 3 and that's it! (of course she can use you as an excuse too)
posted by MarvinJ at 2:59 AM on January 19, 2010

- Don't invite people who won't be at the wedding: you'll feel pressure to invite them to the wedding too

- 10 groomsmen is too much. Consider having one best man and leave it at that, so that "being a groomsman" isn't some test of friendship/membership of a club

Above all, though, don't stress about things too much. A wedding is simply a party with a few bells and whistles.

If you feel the need to explain to your friends, tell them you're having a small wedding and accordingly you're not going for tons of bridesmaids and groomsmen.

If you still want your would-be groomsmen to be more than just invitees, consider delegating a small role to each of them - helping with wine tasting before the wedding, being a toastmaster, helping taste the food the caterers plan to serve etc, some of planning for your bachelor's night, candid photos on the day etc etc.

You should also be able to cut brothers from the picture. They're brothers: they'll always be family, and you're delighted that they can come to the wedding [my brother said the same thing in explaining why I wouldn't be a godfather to any of his kids and I entirely get it - there's no need to reaffirm what bonds us].
posted by MuffinMan at 3:15 AM on January 19, 2010

3 groomsmen and then make the rest ushers.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:22 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

My sisters all had a ton of bridemaids, so my bro-in-laws all had a ton of groomsmen; thus, I was groomsman for all three of them. When the wife and I got married, we kept it small (had to tell my cousins - no we invited just you and your wife, not your kids!). I had two groomsmen - my best friend at the time, and a guy I've known since we were two. Two of my other, great friends got other jobs - running interference, taking pictures. Two of my three brothers-in-law were tasked with ushering. The third bro-in-law, well, he's got his hands full with kids.

In short, don't worry about reciprocating groomsman status. If they're really friends, they won't be bothered if they're not in the party.
posted by notsnot at 4:12 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Consider that out of the 10 potential groomsmen, some significant portion of them would just as soon not rent a tux, go to rehearsals, etc, etc, etc.

My point being, don't assume anyone is going to be offended. They might be relieved. Not cuz they don't love you, but because "ugg, I already did the groomsman thing 6 times and good grief can't I just show up, bring a present and be done with the damn thing in 3 hours??????

Congrats by the way.
posted by ian1977 at 4:20 AM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Nth-ing everyone else's comments. Also, if you haven't looked at it already, is a fantastic resource for anyone planning a wedding, particularly the forums.
posted by kataclysm at 5:42 AM on January 19, 2010

It depends on you, your family & friends, but I think it's worth throwing out there: you could sidestep the issue entirely and elope.

(Seriously - I've been to some lovely weddings, but energy of the day is almost always more about the guests than the happy couple. Mrs. usonian and I went to city hall by ourselves in the morning, got hitched, and for our honeymoon spent the rest of the day at Disneyland. It was wonderful! If any of our family or friends were put out by not being there, they've never let on.)
posted by usonian at 5:57 AM on January 19, 2010

Rather than have the 11 I could have, I had my two brothers as groomsmen and one real best friend who was on leave from the Marines as the best man. Very cool to have the dress blues standing next to you as you best man.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:12 AM on January 19, 2010

2) Easy way out - don't have any groomsmen or bridesmaids at all. Pick a venue where they won't fit, if you need an excuse. Or, if that just won't do, just pick a rule and stick with it, like "brothers and brothers-in-law only".
posted by muddgirl at 6:13 AM on January 19, 2010

We couldn't afford to invite everyone we wanted to the wedding (mostly because the parents packed the guest list with distant relatives we *had* to invite), so we did a post-wedding party at a bar, had a few kegs and food, and invited everyone that couldn't come to the wedding. Most people will understand if you tell them you're having a small wedding.
posted by electroboy at 6:46 AM on January 19, 2010

Keep it your brothers, then cousins, then friends. I'm not married but I plan on having both my bros as groomsmen only. If my future wife needs more then I'll go into cousins. That way I can say I'm only having family as groomsmen. Except for the Best Man. He can be anyone.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:56 AM on January 19, 2010

There are a lot of other ways to have people participate in your wedding other than having them be groomsmen or bridesmaids.

I don't have any wedding in the works, but if I did I'd be gathering bridesmaids; however, I have a couple male friends too. Instead of putting those two guys in white tuxes and making them "bridesmen" or whatever, I'm going to have one give a reading (if not outright officiate) and the other take the pictures. My brother didn't have me as a "groomswoman" and my sister-in-law had her own bridesmaids, but they both asked me to give a reading instead. My cousin had only a couple groomsmen, but had other friends do things like be ushers, do the music, or donate food. My best friend had only a couple bridesmaids, but there was a guy we all had in our wake; she asked him to sing something at the service.

Weddings have a lot of different ways people can take part. You could ask some of the guys if they want to handle any of those tasks instead -- give a reading, do the pictures, sing or play something during the service, etc.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:59 AM on January 19, 2010

Are any of your groomsmen-appropriate friends her good friends too? Crossing genders in the wedding party is OK if both parties are happy with it. The honor attendants in our wedding were both opposite sex: I had a Man of Honor and he had a Best Woman. Our other attendants were a close friend of his and a couple we're close to, all of whom acted as ushers. Otherwise I'd say go with the usher advice, or figure out other ways to honor them with readings and the like. Congratulations and good luck with planning the rest of your wedding.
posted by immlass at 8:59 AM on January 19, 2010

Nthing the "no groomsmen" thing as well. We had none, but involved the people important to us in the service (readings, music, ushers, witnesses, etc.) -- worked far better, and eliminated a stressor in the planning (and a not-insignificant cost for our friends).

And, having 10 (+10, if you match everyone) people up at the front is, bluntly, ridiculous. If you must, stick to siblings.
posted by liquado at 10:23 AM on January 19, 2010

I don't have an opinion about 1. but as for 2. being a groomsman fucking sucks. Stand up in a rented monkey suit (that you paid for) that might as well be occupied by a mannequin for all anybody cares about it. Groomsmanship does NOT require reciprocity and they won't care.
posted by nanojath at 10:27 AM on January 19, 2010

A suggestion as to inviting people to the engagement party who are not invited to the wedding:

My friends had a "not a wedding" party a couple of weeks before their wedding. The invitation specifically stated that they wanted to celebrate with their friends but wouldn't be able to invite everyone to the small, family-oriented wedding. They requested no gifts. I was unable to attend, but our mutual friends loved it, and absolutely no one was offended about not going to the wedding.

I think framing it as an opportunity to celebrate with people who are important to you who you won't be able to invite to the wedding is a good way to frame it if what you want is to invite those people to the engagement party.
posted by carmen at 1:38 PM on January 19, 2010

Depending on your circle of friends, a lot of them might rather go to a party at a bar where they were not expected to bring gifts than to a wedding. I think I probably would and I know my husband would much prefer the bar party. I wouldn't be insulted at all.
posted by Melsky at 3:07 PM on January 19, 2010

i would invite only wedding guests. if your guest list is limited and you have to leave people out you'd like to celebrate with, have a celebration party at a bar a week or two later.

as for the gazillion groomsmen--we avoided this issue entirely and just have a best man and a maid of honor, no other attendants. we were lucky because these individuals were pretty clear choices (a sibling and a best friend) and that way we didn't have to choose among our other friends....which is hard when you get to 33, and have a lot of friends from a lot of different points in your life.

also, i feel that being asked to be in a bridal party isn't necessarily reciprocal. maybe if it's your sibling or lifelong best friend, but other than that. i have been in weddings for people that i am not even inviting to my own, much less asking to be in the bridal party. yes, it's good to keep a long view of the relationships you have in your life, and this can be a lovely time to reinforce bonds that might have faded over time, but honestly, it's your wedding. it's not a state dinner. the stakes are much lower. do what you want, what feels comfortable to you, and trust that your friends will be okay with that.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:32 PM on January 19, 2010

Not everyone wants to be in your wedding. Even people who love you dearly have other stuff going on with their lives.

I have a friend who handled it really well. I expected to be asked to be in her wedding, but it would have been a hardship for me (living across the country with my mountain of grad school debt). She had too many bridesmaids and she had to make some cuts. Over a beer she said to me, "Hey, no one in the wedding is allowed to be hotter, thinner, blonder or a bigger cup-size than me so you're out. It's my day dammit!" Which was amusing because she is absolutely beautiful and not at all a bridezilla. We both got a laugh out of it and I knew that I was off the hook - no hard feelings either way.

It was goofy, but it communicated that I didn't have to do the bridesmaid thing. It's good that she told me, because I stopped waiting, planning and budgeting for it. If you leave someone hanging and they expect to be asked, then that might be awkward. However, most people are going to know it's your day and not their's. It's an honor to be asked, but you're not required to ask anyone.
posted by 26.2 at 7:00 PM on January 19, 2010

You can invite non-wedding guests to your engagement party. I just went to the engagement party of my husband's work friend; neither of us expect to go to the wedding at all (and would find it weird to be invited).
posted by jb at 8:08 PM on January 19, 2010

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