Q: “Help! Am I Obligated to Invite Somebody to My Wedding?”

It is not easy to prepare the wedding invite list. While almost every facet of a wedding needs deft planning and extensive decision making, the wedding invite list is perhaps the hardest of them all. Unless you have the provisions to have an unending wedding invite list that can accommodate all and sundry you know, you would have to leave some people off of the list.

Who to invite for your wedding is a paradox. You invite too many people and it would pinch your wallet. You do not invite some people and you would feel bad about it. While traditional wedding etiquette may demand that you include all who matter, there are some more complicated realities in today’s world.

The biggest challenge you are likely to face while pondering over who to invite is when you would have a sudden invitation from someone that you didn’t expect and then feel obligated to invite him or her to your wedding as well. It is customary to reciprocate social gestures. That is how the society works and that is what acceptable wedding etiquette demands. However, the reality is not as simple.

You may not have the space on your wedding invite list or the budget to have some more guests, simply because you feel obligated. That might compel you to decline their invitation which will make you feel worse because you are not only excluding them from your list but also declining their social gesture outright.

What you must remember here is that the social gestures and obligations are not incumbent upon you for your entire life. If you have been invited to a wedding or a reception and you are not getting wed right now then you need not feel obligated to invite them at your event as well. However, you can also reciprocate the gesture by inviting them over for dinner or by hanging out an evening after you have been married.

If you are declining their invitation because you cannot invite them to your wedding, you should do so with a simple but lovely gift. This will make you feel good and would also be a sweet gesture that they would appreciate.

Should you be in a dilemma, you must try and ascertain the significance of that person or people in your life. If they are important and you wish to continue a relationship with them for time unforeseen then you must go to their event and invite them to yours as well. Else, you can be free of obligatory wedding etiquette and do what you are comfortable with.

  1. My question regards inviting a specific person to the wedding. I feel really petty asking this, but when the time to send out invitations arrives, I’d like to know the proper thing to do.

    My maid of honour seems to be getting back together with an ex partner. She was previously quite unhappy in that relationship and the stress of it all nearly caused her to drop out of college, but now their living situations have changed and she claims they get along well “as friends”. My fiancé and I don’t really like this person since we know their past struggle and think he has several negative character traits. We’ve decided to stay out of her love life unless she asks for advice, but if they become a couple again – would we be obliged to invite him to our wedding reception?

    Our guest list does include a +1 option for both the maid of honour and best man, and generally I would not place restrictions on who an extra person would be, but it’s sort of traditional in our area to seat these people at the head table and my fiancé and I really don’t want to spend the entire evening of our wedding with someone we’re only tolerating for the sake of our friend.

    So, the ideas we’ve toggled with so far are (1) specifically asking my friend not to invite this person (which seems to me like a rude thing to do) and/or scrapping the +1 option, (2) seating the BM’s and MOH’s dates at a separate table (despite local tradition – also, nobody really knows this person, so seating him anywhere else would leave him stranded among strangers), (3) seating our parents at the top table and relocating both the witnesses and their dates somewhere else (my fiancé is against this as he wants to sit with friends) and (4) having only a sweetheart table for the two of us (an idea that I haven’t yet discussed with my partner, and which I fear would not work very well in our venue).

    Yes, I know it’s a weird thing to worry about if they aren’t even a couple, but we’ve even been asked by some mutual friends if and how this person was going to be included, so the quadrilemma is not just a figment of our imagination.

    Which option would be best, and are there any other solutions we’re missing?

    Thank you in advance,
    I.

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