Wedding Invitations: Who’s on Your Guest List?

March 5, 2012 | By | Comments (0)

This week’s etiquette dilemma comes from a reader named LaneyDunn, who is planning an out of town wedding. She wrote: “Please help! I need some direction about how to be tactful with my wedding invitations…

“We are having a small wedding in Pennsylvania, though my fiance and I met and live in Charleston, South Carolina,” LaneyDunn wrote, adding that a few weeks after the wedding, she is planning a “newlywed party/celebration.”

“Do we invite everyone to the wedding and the celebration, or will guests feel obligated to attend both? Some people we would prefer to not invite to the wedding, so should we create separate invitations?” LaneyDunn wrote.

Before we get down to business, may I just say, how exciting! What a happy time for you, LaneyDunn, and I hope you enjoy every minute of the next few months. Your friends and family feel the same way, no doubt, and are looking forward to celebrating the occasion with you. Your goal is to make everyone feel included, rather than excluded. Here’s how:

The scenario you describe – a small out-of-town wedding, followed by a party in the place you currently live – is a common one nowadays, because many of us settle away from our hometowns after college or because of a first job. So your family and friends will not find it odd or unusual that you are planning two celebrations in separate venues.

Create two separate guest lists – one for the wedding and the other for the party – and send separate invitations, even to the guests you plan to invite to both events. (Make it clear to guests invited to both that you do not expect two gifts.)

When making the guest list for the out of town wedding, invite the friends you would dearly love to see on that day. Let them make their own decisions about whether it’s feasible to travel.

Likewise, when making the guest list for the after-wedding party, include the out-of-towners from Pennsylvania who are most important to you – your childhood best friend, your favorite cousin – and when you see them in person make it clear that while you don’t expect them to travel if they can’t, you invited them them because on the off chance they can make it, you’d love to see them there.

Do you have a wedding invitation dilemma? Or any other wedding question? We’d be happy to help — write to us for advice.

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