Get A Grip
By Margaret Littman - CTW Features | posted on April 14, 2012 at 7:00am
How to Deliver—and Handle —A Snub
We all know Princess Beatrice was there.
In fact, she was hard to miss, wearing what looked like a toilet-seat-shaped fascinator that quickly became one of the surprise stars of the royal wedding. (The now-famous headpiece was auctioned off for charity, raising more than $131,000.)
But while Beatrice and her sister Eugenie – first cousins of Prince William – were among the royal invitees, their mother Sarah Ferguson, former Duchess of York, was nowhere to be seen.
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s nuptials were reportedly a seven-figure affair, but still the glamour couple had to pare down their list of prospective invitees, leaving off both former royalty like Ferguson (she divorced from Prince Andrew in 1996) and current heads of state (the Obamas weren’t invited, either), leaving the world to express indignation in the headlines.
The newspapers probably won’t report on who you choose to invite – or not invite – to your wedding. But when you’re in the heat of the moment, trying to figure out how to tell your first cousin Nancy that there’s not room for her at Table Six, it can feel like everyone is waiting to criticize your decisions.
Brides who have been in your white shoes and the wedding planners who’ve helped them say that it is relatively simple to avoid the drama that comes with having to edit your guest list. Just try these eight steps:
1. Be Proactive
When Melanie McComb got married in central New York last year, she knew from the get-go that she was going to have to be selective. “We couldn’t afford to go crazy and have 300 guests,” says McComb.
“We sat down and thought about who we wanted to be there,” says the 26-year-old McComb. “We told our friends, if you are not married or not in a long-term committed relationship, we’re not inviting you to bring a plus-one.”
By telling people in advance what they had decided and why, she feels like she helped her friends understand that she wasn’t making a statement about their dates. McComb also tried to spare her friends’ feelings by not posting every little detail about her wedding planning on Facebook.
This was a wise move, says Jodi R. R. Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting in Marblehead Mass. “Preemptive etiquette allows you to face difficult situations head-on using tact and respect.”
2. Use Discretion at the Office
Co-workers are the easiest category of people to leave off a guest list. They probably won’t be around in 20 years to remember the slight like dear Aunt Polly might (and you won’t miss them in the photos). But that’s only true if you refrain from discussing the minutia of your marital event in the break room.
It’s simple, says Meghan Schinderle of Southern California’s Intertwined Events. “If you don’t want to have to invite co-workers, don’t talk about your wedding at work. The less you bring it up and make it an ordeal, the less they will be concerned with it and expect an invitation.”
3. Set Rules
Early on decide whether or not you are including children at your wedding. You will whittle down your list by excluding them, but also you may exclude parents who would like to attend. Think about whether you are prepared to offer child care as an alternative for kids who are not invited. Having categories of folks not invited (i.e. kids, co-workers, plus-ones) makes it less personal when you have to say “no.”
4. Go Away
Emily McCollin, a wedding planner who operates Occasions by Emily in Asheville, N.C., suggests her clients consider destination weddings if they are worried about having more guests than they can handle.
“The thing about destinations weddings is that you can invite a lot of people but expect them not to show,” she says. And a destination doesn’t have to be exotic; there are plenty of hidden gems stateside. Airfare and hotel still makes it less likely that random cousins and in-laws will attend, but still makes it feasible for close friends and family to share the day with you.
5. Choose Your Words Carefully
The word that is most likely to appease hurt friends and family?: “intimate.” As in: “We wish we could invite everyone we love, but we’re having an intimate wedding.” Intimate is great because no one can argue with the sentiment. And it is nonspecific. Maybe for you intimate is 200 guests. For another bride it is 20. Your wannabe guests don’t need to know you number, says Linnyette Richardson-Hall, creative director of Baltimore’s Premiere Event Management.
“A wedding is not a free-for-all,” she says. “Approximately 48 percent to 53 percent of your wedding budget is spent at the reception. So, you want to know all of the people in that room,” Richardson-Hall says.
6. Expect the Best
“For the most part, everyone totally understood. I don’t think anyone was offended,” bride McComb says. Wedding planners confirm that brides-to-be often worry about offending friends and family. But because every couple has to trim the list at some point, people are generally understanding about the situation.
7. Have a Plan B
If you sense folks are getting their shackles raised about not being included, consider planning a post-wedding cocktail party, brunch or even just a dinner out with you and your sweetie. If people are given the opportunity to spend time with you, and see that you value their relationship, they’re likely to feel better about missing out on your special day.
8. Consider Feelings … to a Point
If you do run into a friend or family member who is slighted at not being invited – and again, planners say this is more rare than prospective brides imagine – don’t get unnerved. Acknowledge how they feel, suggests planner Smith, apologize for not being able to invite everyone, and then focus on the future gathering or event. They’ll get over it and move on.
And, if they don’t, well, Richardson-Hall asks, “Is that the kind of person you’d want at your wedding anyway?”