Friday, May 6, 2011

yet another "intimate wedding" gone awry

Dear ESB,

We just got engaged and decided on a date. We do not (should I say ‘did not’) really like weddings and the whole wedding thing. But now are very excited and are looking forward to being married.

Before we told anyone (and only parents and siblings know by now), we both agreed that we would like an intimate wedding, so only those who are important and loved would be attending (not just our family, but also some dearest friends of the family as well as our own closest friends). BUT now that we have started planning it all, our guest list has grown bigger than expected on my side -- we are getting married in my hometown, so there are some people my parents feel like inviting. Given that we are inviting some family friends, there are are some others that a.l.w.a.y.s hang out with my parents and those close family friends (but who for me are quite indifferent) that my parents would feel odd not inviting.

Let’s add a couple of things: that I am much more inclined to accept anything than FH (a totally lovely and willing to make me happy man) is, as he is a total hater of big things. And that we both are very, very close to our parents and like respecting their feelings.

So... should we get hitched in a really intimate way, i.e. only family, and solve this issue? But what about those family friends that I have known all my life and would like to be with that day? And, if these friends come, what about the others? Should I 'condemn' (allow me my dramatism, please) my parents to be exposed to some kind of gossip and an uncomfortable feeling in their relations circle afterwards because they invited these and not those or whatever? Come on, they give a sh** about what people say, but we live in society after all. And what about FH's feelings? Poor thing, I want him to be at ease at his own wedding!

Any advice, ladies? I am in much need of ideas other than my own, which are all black or all white (more black than white, anyways).

Desperately Confused in Spain


Fuck the people your parents feel like inviting. Invite the people who are dear to you.

Valentina Zelyaeva and Andreea Diaconu by David Burton for Elle Russia, May 2011 via Charles Cherney via {this is glamorous} via Oh Fashion Models


  1. I agree, it's more important to make your FH happy than your parents - as long as you are happy too.

  2. In the UK lots of people have a small intimate wedding ceremony for family and a few close friends/or just family if there are a lot of close friends. We then throw a huge reception after the wedding and invite everyone. I don't know if that would be considered bad manners in the US but it works well here. Its acceptable mainly due to the epic costs of weddings here, and in about 99% of weddings the couple already live together and generally pay for most of the wedding themselves so they don't have to pander to parental wishes. Good luck!

  3. i don't know why, but this issue causes families to go completely balls-out crazy during the planning of a wedding. the ONLY fight my mother + i had during the planning was whether or not she could invite her 2 close friends to our wedding ceremony, which was private. she ended up winning that battle, but honestly? i didn't really notice. i was too busy getting married.

    however, we had a big party afterwards, so it isn't exactly the same. but i would suggest you + your mom duke it out before it gets crazy + you're both mad as hornets. try to talk it out reasonably, but every bride has to have at least one blow out with her mother before the wedding. this issue was mine; it could be yours, too. good luck.

  4. We're doing what Anon posted (intimate ceremony + bigger reception) in the US and while it has raised some eyebrows we're holding our ground. Plus our ceremony location only holds 20 people so it comes in handy as a good "excuse" when people don't get why we want an intimate ceremony.

    Also, no one ever said "that was the best ceremony I ever saw, it's a shame you missed it." Invite your family friends to the *fun* part and I doubt they'll even notice.

  5. Do you have your heart set on getting married in your hometown? We are getting married in NYC (my fam is from MA and his is from TX) and this made it much easier for us to keep the list (specifically number of family friends) down. What his parents are doing is throwing us a party in TX about a month after we get married so they can invite all their buddies. This party is going to be bigger than our actual wedding (I think it is total overkill) but I am glad we are getting the more intimate party that we wanted and that we got to plan.

  6. I pretty much agree with ESB. I and the hub wanted it to be super simple and small and to get married by a magistrate and so we only invited his parents, his grandparents, his aunt, his brother, my sisters (only the older could make it), and my one grandmother (she couldn't make it). My parents are religious freaks who refused to come because we'd lived together beforehand, and in order to reduce any drama, we just didn't invite anyone from my parents' families because I didn't want to spend that day explaining why my parents weren't there. My maternal grandmother was disappointed, but my one aunt was able to explain the reasons and that was that. It kept 'our day' totally stress and negativity free and it worked out fantastically. Do what you both want to do, and don't let other people guilt you into turning your marriage into something you never wanted. If people want to get all offended - TOO BAD. No, really, it is THAT simple. :)
    Good luck!

  7. I agree, invite the people you want, but definitely be prepared for the consequences. Case in point: my mom wound up with a friend in tears, because she wasn't invited to the wedding. She saw it as an affront on their friendship, and showed how my mom "really felt" about her. Despite my mom explaining that she doesn't know me that well, so she wasn't going to be invited, (but other family friends who did were invited) we wound up inviting her (and her family!) anyway.

    We were quite far from an intimate wedding (big families, lots of friends), so we probably should have invited her in the first place, but who would have known how upset she was going to be?? That certainly made things a bit awkward.

  8. Spot on. I feel like women keep writing in to you with this same question and the answer will always remain the same. Now that it's over, I could justify cutting about 50% of the guest list. I would have salvaged close family and our friends, and not all the extended so-an-so bullshit.

  9. We invited a 30 guests (family + wedding party ONLY) to our afternoon ceremony at a private family home. That night, we invited about 100 friends plus extended family plus parents' friends to the very casual after-party / dance party where we had food, booze, live music and a DJ. Best of both worlds.

    Whatever you and your fiance are envisioning, STICK TO YOUR GUNS. My very dear friend (who got married a few months before me) had the BIG Catholic wedding, mostly to appease her family, and she hated it. She still apologizes profusely (to me and other bridesmaids) for the huge production it became, which is soooo sad to me. Fight for the wedding you want, then enjoy every minute of it. xo.

  10. I agree. You parents will be able to excuse themselves to their friends that it was your decision, and since you're "indifferent" to these people, if they think you're a jerk, who cares?

    My mum kind of accidentally invited some of her friends (told them they'd be invited before we discussed it) and they were lame to have at the party, and gave me a kind of small token gift (split between three adult couples). Not that I cared; it certainly didn't make any difference to my happiness that day but it was a bit of a downer when everybody else there was really excited for and close to us.

  11. I say go with Anon's suggestion: Intimate ceremony, less-intimate reception.

    Please don't discount your parents' feelings on this. There are still hurt feelings between us and my in-laws re. people who they reeaaallly wanted to invite... it was important to them, and we shut them down because it was "Our Day." (Ick.) Even an invite to the reception would have made things right.

    We wish we had picked our battles more wisely. One of our only real regrets about the day.

  12. I think I'm totally going against the grain here but why not adopt a "the more the merrier" attitude? You're going to have a great time that day because your favorite people will be there, but I don't think having a few extras will change that into some kind of awkward "big event." I would say stop focusing on the number of people and invite those who will make you happy -- and your guests happy, too. You'll actually have less entertaining to do if your guests are all friends with one another. If the people invited make you uncomfortable in any way, I agree, keep them off the list... But, if not.. I think you can still keep your wedding very intimate with however many people are able to come.... It's like adding a "plus 1" for someone in a relationship even though you don't know the significant other...

    The compromise of a separate ceremony/reception sounds like a great idea also.

  13. I guess I'm missing something on the suggestion of an intimate wedding and larger reception — Desperately Confused in Spain's fiance in doesn't want anything big to begin with cause he doesn't like big things. So a big reception doesn't solve that problem at all.

    Also, I must be doing something wrong with my budgeting, because people tend to suggest a small ceremony/big reception to save money, but our ceremony costs are a drop in the bucket compared to the reception costs.

    DCIS — I think you need to invite who YOU are close to. If certain family friends are close, invite them. If some aren't, don't. You should only be surrounded by those you want to be surrounded by.

  14. I am in this exact same position.

    I tried (carefully) battling with my mom, and the end result is she is inviting who she wants - and FH and I are cutting our list to keep it smaller. She keeps insisting she doesn't want us to cut anybody, but sorry, if we want to keep it to a certain amount and you're going to invite these people, then there are other people we just can't invite.

    PS - My parents are paying for the wedding. So in the end, I understand the event reflects on them, and if inviting 8 friends my FH doesn't know is what it takes for her to feel comfortable, whatever.

    PPS - Be open with FH that you feel caught in-between. That was a real game-changer for me, and enabled us to work TOGETHER on how we were going to handle the situation, instead of me trying to appease each of them separately, which was impossible.

  15. Usually, in the UK, it's the numbers to the dinner which are often limited - more people get invited to the ceremony and the after dinner dancing and drinks.

    But Spanish weddings are usually big, no? and paid for by the parents... I think you can exercise control over your guest list if you're footing the bill, but if your parents are paying then they probably get to invite their friends...

  16. Sure it's your day, but also your community's and your family's. I'd say do a small ceremony to make your guy happy, then a big party (where he'll be so drunk and happy he won't even care) to include everybody.

  17. Your parents already had their wedding. This is YOUR wedding. Your parents can invite THEIR friends to a dinner party at their house not to your wedding. Unless.......are they paying for everything?