Acquaintaince wants to keep wedding small. How to tell her friends?
April 19, 2015 5:12 PM   Subscribe

An acquaintance of mine wants to have a small wedding. She and her fiance are limiting the ceremony to immediate family and three friends each, plus their significant others. There will be no reception. She's not sure how to handle the possible ruffled feathers of those that don't get invited. Help?
posted by Fister Roboto to Human Relations (19 answers total)
I'm not entirely sure why you are involved at all with this, if this is just an acquaintance.

Answering as if it were her asking the question, I think the best way to avoid ruffling feathers is to use clear boundaries, even if it means that you and your future spouse don't get the same amount of invites. Either just invite family, or include obvious best-friend level friends and no one else. If you invite your 2 favorite friends from a tight friend group of 4, then the excluded friends will get their feathers ruffled because it hurts to be excluded.

I'd also pitch it as an elopement, and not make a huge deal about how awesome it was with all the people who weren't invited.
posted by fermezporte at 5:19 PM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm not entirely sure why you are involved at all with this, if this is just an acquaintance.

A fair point. I'm dating one of her best friends, so I'm on the invite list. I'm asking this because we were discussing this problem last night.
posted by Fister Roboto at 5:26 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

She's telling her friends which of them are the 'top 3'. There's no way to avoid ruffling feathers here. Could she consider scaling back to just immediate family? That would erase the 'ranking' issue.
posted by ftm at 5:44 PM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have a friend who did something similar. She sent out an email the night before the ceremony, saying that they were getting married and she wanted to let everyone know that they next time they saw her, she'd have a spouse. I think what made it effective was that she treated it as an announcement and a thing that she wanted her loved ones to know. She didn't defend the guest list or why they didn't have a big wedding, it was very matter of fact.

If anyone does get snippy, just say that you did what worked best of the two of you; no need to defend yourself or apologize.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 5:46 PM on April 19, 2015 [11 favorites]

Oh and I should add, that my friend's email mentioned that the ceremony was immediate family + 5 friends. I didn't think it was a big deal. There were photos on facebook, so the fact that friends attended wasn't something that she could have hidden anyways.

What might have helped was that they had originally started planning a bigger wedding and she mentioned that she was sending the email to her rough invite list, which is a way of making people feel better.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 5:48 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Your friend is sweet to worry, but most people won't be miffed, and the ones that feel slighted will more than likely have the good sense and grasp of etiquette not to complain. This will very likely be a non-issue.

What she shouldn't do is approach people beforehand to let them know they're not invited or overcompensate by offering more than a single sentence about how tiny the wedding will be, etc.
posted by mochapickle at 5:51 PM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

I had a small wedding (although not THAT small) but I don't think it needs to be explained beyond "we wanted to have a small wedding" - don't say you specifically invited your top three friends or any more elaborate explanation that would bring up a conversation about 'ranking' or favorites.

Weddings aren't about what other people want, they're about what you want. You shouldn't have to say any more.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:54 PM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

As someone who got B-listed to several weddings of people to whom I thought we were more important: if you're going to do it, you have to own it. It's not in your control to decide how other people feel about it. Your choices are: a) change variables until you can have everyone who would be expected to get an A-list invite, b) own that shit.

PS: every wedding I've been B-listed to has also ended already. If you're "keeping it small" because you know people are going to think the marriage is a bad idea...there's some food for thought there. Your friends who truly love you would rather be there when you get married for free in a crappy park than be invited to any sort of swanky do.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:46 PM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

(I take that back: every one but one. That one is great and fine and I'm happy for them.)
posted by Lyn Never at 6:48 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I just saw a Facebook announcement yesterday, from someone who's getting married in a week. They made it very clear that they had a total of ten guests including parents and were sorry they weren't in a position to throw a bigger bash. I didn't think anything at all of it. It's possible, I suppose, that people who are closer friends but not among the closest might be upset, but I'm finding that hard to picture. This is one of those situations where what tone the people getting married take will make a huge difference.
posted by bardophile at 7:50 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

My only advice would be to scale all the other social trappings back in line with the scaled-back wedding. i.e. the times I've felt left out of weddings I wasn't invited to it's been because all the other stuff, the regular social media updates and the six-months-early notice so that all the friend-groups can organize and plan their routes and the big Facebook photo albums, was going on all around me.

Maybe that's just me, but I'll generalize anyway: When the bride and the groom talk about their small wedding I'm not bothered; it only gets to me a little when my invited friends are talking about, say, splitting up hotel rooms.

But Lyn's right that you can't control the way other people feel about it—there's a wedding they kind of unthinkingly assumed they'd be a part of, and for whatever reason they weren't invited while other people in their "category" were. Even if the reasons are readily apparent, that'll sting some people a little. (Which is perfectly OK.)
posted by Polycarp at 9:15 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

She should ring her friends (who were not invited) after the ceremony and inform them that she got married in a small and private ceremony. Straight. Simple.

I see that happening all the time, and people usually make no fuss. If a friend cannot handle not being invited, then there wasn't much friendship to begin with. That, or they should grow up.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:50 PM on April 19, 2015

A friend of mine just did this, and no one was miffed. These are all people who have generally known eachother for essentially a decade at this point. I asked someone for clarification and got this exact answer, and then everyone just went "Oh, ok, makes sense".

End of story.

I definitely agree with the "anyone who is a baby about this is a baby, and that's on them" sort of answer. The only real exception to that is if someone didn't get invited who was a hang out a couple times a week for that long of a period of time super close friend.
posted by emptythought at 4:15 AM on April 20, 2015

Might the couple be interested in having an informal gathering (e.g. meet at a bar, go bowling, etc.) weeks or months after the ceremony? "We had a tiny private ceremony but you guys mean a lot to us so next month we're going ice skating with a potluck after and we'd love for you to join us."
posted by JackBurden at 8:14 AM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's practically the norm in my circle of friends to basically elope (including stretching the definition a bit include immediate family and several close friends) and then have a party a month or two afterward so that any and all friends can celebrate with them.

Not a wedding reception -- a very informal casual event, no structured reception-y stuff like a first dance or anything like that except perhaps pausing for a group toast. Usually at a bar or social hall, with some self-serve food provided for guests and a cash bar. Or a block party or backyard barbeque or whatever. Basically, whatever sort of party that group of friends typically does to celebrate birthdays and such.
posted by desuetude at 11:07 AM on April 20, 2015

One thing she should not do is to offer up a "methodology" or "rules" for whom is getting invited. She has made the decision to "[limit] the ceremony to immediate family and three friends each, plus their significant others", which is completely within her rights to do, but I would not run around telling people about that rule and who made the cut, because then you're in the land of friend rankings and that's where people get upset.

Just cut it off at "we got married, it was an intimate wedding" and don't feel the need to explain any further. It's her event and she can invite whom she pleases, and nobody should be upset with that choice.
posted by bbuda at 1:12 PM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

People can get pissy about wedding invites no matter how big or small your wedding is -- we had an invitation list of 150 and still ended up with some extended family who expressed annoyance at not being invited! Ultimately, you just have to own your decision about your wedding invite list and let other people's feelings be their feelings.

One thing I would try to do is to NOT try to excessively justify the wedding list. Once you start getting into the nitty gritty of why this person was invited but that person wasn't, I think you do end up with hurt feelings when ultimately the reason is "you're just not a close enough friend." If people do ask (which really, they should not do), I would keep it very short and sweet, something like "You know, we just decided that a small, private ceremony was our style." And if you're not asked, just don't say anything.

I would also think a little bit about friend groups. I think the one time I felt a friend was justified in feeling excluded over a wedding invitation was when our entire friends group was invited except for him. And he was not an ex or anything like that. So, if it's the case that, say, 3 of your best friends are all in the same friends group, and there's also one other people who maybe doesn't make "top friends!" but you still like and enjoy their company, see if there is a way to extend an invite.
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:00 PM on April 20, 2015

First, are you sure she wants advice? She worried to you and you may have even asked her "do you want advice about this?" But since you are just acquaintances you might not be a good judge of whether or not she actually wants advice.

Second, IF anyone is upset (or, god forbid, is the person who announces that someone else is upset), they would be terribly rude to let her know. She can respond, "I'm so sorry to hear you/X is upset. it was important to [groom's name] and me to have a small wedding." and just keep repeating variations of that. Friends can support her by responding with this script if someone tells them they are upset.
posted by CMcG at 6:16 PM on April 20, 2015

Frankly... how they want to conduct their wedding is THEIR business.

If their friends are miffed and actually needs their feathers smoothed, maybe those "friends" ain't that friendly after all. It's about the bride and groom to be, and NOBODY ELSE.

If they really want to celebrate and/or chip in, throw a bachelorette party (nothing too wild) the day before or something. They can foot the bill.
posted by kschang at 7:51 AM on April 22, 2015

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