YOU ASK! WE ANSWER! YOU DECIDE
By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace
QUESTION: My son is engaged to a young woman from out of town. She has visited us in Oklahoma City several times. They will be married in her home city. She and her family have let us know that they plan to invite only the people to their wedding that she knows. She has met some of our friends when she has been here, but not all of them. She does not want anyone coming to the event that she does not know by name. What do we do? Do we tell everyone they are not invited?
CALLIE’S ANSWER: This is a sticky situation, but yes, you should respect the bride’s wishes. Maybe you can throw a party for the bride and groom after their honeymoon to invite your friends.
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: That’s a tough one, and her criteria – that include the bride knowing each guest – are strict. Sometimes kids don’t even know all of their own parents’ close friends, like business associates or out-of-town relatives, much less a fiance’s. Are you or your son contributing to the cost of the wedding, or is the bride or her family paying for the whole thing? If the bride’s side is paying for it, then perhaps this is a way for the family to limit costs. If there is someone whom you really want to come but the bride hasn’t met them yet, maybe you could ask her for a couple of extra invitations and explain why. But if the answer is still no, then respect that and understand that it’s difficult to make a guest list that includes everyone as it is hard to limit one. You can tell your friends that the guest list is limited for the out-of-town wedding and that you want to introduce them to your son’s wonderful new bride as soon as you can make it work, even if it’s not at the wedding. Then throw a gathering of your own to make it happen.
HELEN’S ANSWER: Guest lists are hard. Eliminating people that the bride might not know could affect your close friends and family members. But if that is her choice and she plans to only include people who mean something to her (and your son), then accept that. If you have been given a specific number of people to invite, maybe your son can help figure out the list. It might be fun to plan a party sometime after the wedding and include your friends who have not met the bride. That gives them a chance to share the happiness of the newlyweds.
GUEST’S ANSWER: Kathy Walker, local community leader: Based on the assumption that the groom’s family members will be included on the guest list and that the bride will be including those friends of yours with whom she is acquainted (if you so desire), take a step back and assess the situation. Is there a time for another meet and greet to introduce the bride to your friends? If not, could you possibly fulfill the bride’s wishes and then have a party in Oklahoma City for the couple after they marry? Perhaps the bride wants a small wedding.
While attending a wedding and while meeting other guests in attendance, one often asks, “Are you a friend of the bride or the groom?” One sits on separate isles when ushered into church, and parents of the bride and groom have separate traditional roles such as hosting the rehearsal dinner or the wedding reception. Friends of the bride’s parents and friends of the groom’s parents have the same desire – to wish the couple well.
Creating a guest list has been an age-old challenge. Could we assume that the bride and groom together would make these decisions as a first loving lesson in compromise? Has the bride considered perhaps a godfather of the groom, whom she has never met, might reside in London, Mexico City or Miami? Shall she deny him the pleasure of witnessing the vows of his godson? What about another close family friend who lives out of town and has never had the pleasure of meeting the bride?
Perhaps you could ask your son to be of help to you in identifying those friends of yours he would like to include on the guest list. It may be that he feels the same way that his bride does. Remember, you always have the option of introducing the newly married couple to your friends at a party hosted by you within the days and months after the wedding.
Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus.