Master To Do List: Manage Feelings & Expectations

We will have three big wedding items checked off our master to do list by the end of this week.

Venue: CHECK

(subsequently) Date: CHECK

Photographers: CHECK

Caterer: Deciding between two of our favorites

It feels good to have those big things pretty much done and it allows for me to focus mainly on my big fundraiser at work for the rest of the month. Although, it doesn’t stop me from fretting over the guest list. I’ve always been overly concerned with hurting people’s feelings. Nothing like a wedding to bring up old habits!

Many months ago, OK FINE, back when Mr. Darcy and I first visited New Jersey together (over a year and a half ago) and we first discussed marriage, I made a list of wedding guests on the plane ride home. What? He was sleeping and I had finished my book. I needed to occupy my time! AHEM. Anyhow, there was a list and since then, that list has changed due to the cost of putting on a wedding and the fact that we’re mostly paying for it ourselves. Plus, as we’ve begun planning in earnest, our vision for our day has shaped it. We want it to be rather small (under 75 people) so that we can actually spend time with our most important people.

Here’s where it gets a bit messy.

A lot of our closest friends and extended family live far away (In California and New Jersey mainly). Mr. Darcy has more immediate family members than I do but I have more core friends that are family (James Dean & Natalie Wood, Tomato, Dumpling & Jersey Girl, Bird, Rae Rae & Run Run, Supple, and Jenny Two Times). My extended family is many people. As in, you invite one, you invite 40+ people. The Irish like to procreate. We can’t conceivably afford to invite my entire extended family and be able to afford it. Plus, it totally changes the vision of our wedding from a small one to a big one. So, we made the difficult decision to not invite them but instead to go to them in California and have a party there. That way we get to celebrate with all of them, take a mini-vacation in one of our favorite cities, and not go over our wedding budget or ask all of them to spend money on airfare and accommodations for our wedding. Same goes for New Jersey- we will go out there to visit the family and they are throwing us some sort of party (at a country club which sounds very fancy) to invite extended family and friends to celebrate.

I’m not entirely sure if I’ve hurt any of my family’s feelings. I wrote them all before the announcement of our engagement went viral to tell them personally about the good news and our plan to have a small wedding but to celebrate with them in California. Most wrote back with congratulations. If they are upset, no one told me (though I realize that’d be in poor taste to bring that up at that moment). I know my Mom is having feelings about not having her family at the wedding and I’m sorry for her sadness. We’ve had a couple of talks about it already (because it’s not technically a wedding without some family strife, right?). It’s hard to not be able to make everyone happy but that’s sort of the story of life, isn’t it? You can’t please everyone. It’s often hard to do what you personally think is right when it hurts people you care about. And honestly, I’d rather not invite any of the extended family than to pick a few I am close to and possibly hurt the other family member’s feelings.

Besides family, there might be a few friends who are sad to not get an invitation. I’m probably overly concerned about the fall out from that but we really have to stick to our budget and our vision and just hope people will understand. I’m really struggling to feel okay with all of it knowing this is the right decision even when it could upset someone. When people say, “oh you’re the bride! just think about what you and Mr. Darcy want!” I get where they are coming from but it doesn’t change the reality that when there are feelings involved, it could get messy.

So basically on my master to do list for the wedding where it says “Manage Feelings” I have “on-going, try meditating”.


26 thoughts on “Master To Do List: Manage Feelings & Expectations

  1. oh i hear ya here- we had a similar situation. we wanted a very, very small wedding (ideally under 50,we ended up with something like 65) and so had to agonize over who to invite (or rather, not invite). it is always difficult, there will always be someone who has some hurt feelings, but overall? people understand. they really do. and you have to go ahead with what is right for you – which it sounds like you are doing! 🙂

  2. Even with our large-ish wedding, we still could not invite many people. HW’s extended family is HUGE (and his mom insisted that they all be invited… and they ALL came), and we also had to invite all of my coworkers, since I was getting married “at work.” Even though almost none of my family elected to attend, we still weren’t able to invite all of our friends. Some sent me “I must have missed my invite” emails, but mostly people understood. In the end, we probably would have amended our guest list somewhat, as we still wound up inviting people to avoid hurt feelings. If I had to do it again, I would have stuck to my guns more.

    To sum up this extremely long, self-centered comment: I think you’re doing the right thing.

  3. We had 140 at our wedding and still had to manage expectations about how many people could be invited. My parents have a HUGE circle of friends and were not able to invite everyone. Sweets’ parents were unhappy we had a no children policy, which included Sweets’ nephews. We cannot control how others will feel or react when we make decisions. All we can do is stay true to ourselves and let the world digest what needs to be digested. I think the two of you are going out of your way to visit CA and NJ for post-wedding parties … pretty amazing, if you ask me!

  4. Good job on making a tough decision there. Guest list is probably the most emotional decision in every wedding because, as you said, you can’t please everyone — even with a big wedding (in that case you wouldn’t be pleasing yourself, but there would still be someone who felt left out). You came up with a great compromise with the small wedding/celebration in California. Most people will understand, and the ones who don’t might never understand.

  5. I so feel you on this. My husband and I both have HUGE families, and we wanted to keep our guest list at 30 or less. We were a little sneaky about it and had our wedding one week before Christmas, so even if people were miffed they weren’t invited, they were also too busy to get too worked up about it. We had a couple of people threaten to crash the wedding, but it ended up that the holiday craziness prevented it.

    At the time, my mom’s parents were too old/sick to travel to the great white North in December, and so, after a tearful conversation, we decided to invite one of her (four) sisters and her partner so that someone representing that side of the family would be present. The size of our wedding turned out to be just perfect for us. We could spend time with nearly everyone, and be as silly as we wanted. We still talk about how it was the best party we’ve ever thrown.

    (Also on the plus side, we had our reception at a small restaurant, and they had a band coming in at ten that night, so we got a free jazz trio at the end of the night. It really was all perfect.)

    To wrap up this novel I’m sharing with you, nearly 8 years later, no one remembers that they weren’t invited. Also, as a tip, babies make up for an awful lot.

  6. I think your idea sounds great. Speaking of someone who likes to make their birthday a week long event, I think extending your wedding bliss around the country is fab!

  7. I think you made absolutely the right decision, and the part about not being able to please everyone and just getting on with it is spot on (we’re dealing with that in our seating plan as I type…).
    You never know, some people may be mildly relieved not to get an invite: weddings can get expensive and time-consuming to attend. I’ve had to turn down a few invites since I moved from England to California: some I was very sad to miss, others I was glad to have a good ‘excuse’ not to go…

  8. Also, my uncle gave my dad a bit of a hard time for not inviting my cousins (which would have meant a whole extra bunch of people at our ~60ish wedding), but tough cheddar! (I don’t think the cousin minded much.)

  9. You can only do what you can do…people will understand or they won’t but you can’t fret over, or be responsible for their feelings. I would be willing to bet most of your family and friends know you and also know that you wouldn’t intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings. It sounds like you have arranged to be able to celebrate with everyone in some manner. Personally, I think the party after the ceremonial stuff would be a lot more fun and there is more time to actually visit without the stress of the day.

  10. This is more or less what we did– had two very small civil and religious ceremonies, with just our immediate families, and then several different parties with friends and family in 3 different locations around the globe. We called it the “wedding world tour” and it was awesome. A few people expressed regrets about not being there for the “wedding itself” but far more people expressed relief at being able to celebrate with us without having to travel. We got to spend so much quality time with everyone at each celebration– both because there were fewer people there, but also because everyone was so much more relaxed and laid back without “big day” jitters. Happy to talk more about how we pulled it off, but a few pieces of advice: a) you do not want to think of this as planning 3 or more weddings! Spread the dates out and delegate as much as possible of the party planning to other people, so your job is just to show up and be happy and celebrate with family/friends. Focus on what really matters, especially for the parties. b) incorporate some sort of ceremonial aspect into the parties, so that people feel like they are actually witnessing you getting married. At each party, we both said some kind words to each other, asked some people to give toasts/read poems/sing songs/etcetera, and then a friend declared us married again as everyone cheered while we kissed. It was all very informal and laid back, and people were so happy to share in the joy of the moment (not “just go to a party”). c) Try to document the parties, this also makes them seem more special and more integrated into the rest of the wedding. We had photographer friends take photos or hired people off Craigslist just to document it ($200 for 2 hours of a woman trying to break into the wedding photo business, who wound up taking some of the best photos of all). We put all the photos from all the events together in one big slideshow and album afterwards, and as time goes by it seems more and more like it was one big wonderful celebration. We got to have a beautiful, intimate wedding but also share the excitement with everyone who matters to us. Good luck!

  11. I *wish* that I had not invited some people to our wedding, but the dreaded “if you’re inviting __, then I should invite ___” thing happened and the rest is history… Though it was probably a tough decision, I think you made the best one… No one says you have to have (or can afford) a big wedding and having a few, smaller celebrations is ideal these days… If I could do it over – I would either (1) have a destination wedding or (2) have a BBQ in my backyard… 🙂

  12. Guest lists are always so so so difficult. The day is about celebrating, to be sure, but so often it quickly becomes about feeding everyone and Great Odin’s Raven, does that get expensive quickly. That was a mostly long-winded way of saying: You two do what’s best for you (the parties in Cali and NJ sound awesome!) and, invited or not, he rest of us will be here cheering you on. Because, well, that’s what friends do. (Panda pieces for always.)

  13. Sounds like a good plan! Maybe think of it this way, I’m sure some people are relieved they don’t have to decline your invitation because they can’t afford the travel. I had to do that 3 times in one year and felt really badly about it each time.

  14. Hooray for small weddings! J and I kept it to 50, and it wasn’t a family problem (I was not the first on my side to not invite the cousins and J’s family is super small), it was a friend problem. I ended up offending a few people trying to explain that they hadn’t made the cut when they assumed that they were coming. Or that their kids would not be welcome.
    It’s your day. You do what you do, and it’s not always what the rest of the world wants. I don’t regret cutting my list off, nor insisting that no children were included in my day. Stick to your guns, and BREATHE.
    Love the new look, BTW.

  15. I didn’t want a wedding, just to elope. My husband wanted the big to do. Our compromise was a ceremony and lovely meal with immediate family and a fav aunt and uncle ( majority of the rest are ‘gone’) and and evening cocktail reception with everyone else.

    We did what worked for us and i think that is what you guys need to continue to do.

    If people were sad about not going to our wedding I thought is was nice and lovely and a sign of a friend. If they were mad and put out? I wondered about the friendship.

  16. Stay strong with what you want, it is hard. I still wish I eloped and then had parties. I love the idea of parties from where everyone is from – I’ve had other friends do that.

    And LOVE LOVE LOVE the new design.

  17. I think you’re right, it’s not a wedding unless someone is disappointed in a decision you made. It is definitely not worth killing yourself over, even if you’re just trying to be nice. Being as nice as possible is good, of course, but no guarantee. Hopefully you’ll avoid people being too ridiculous in the end.
    Meditating might help. A lot. 🙂

  18. I’m a firm believer in don’t invite people and hope or assume they won’t come and my mom always taught me that if you can’t invite the whole class, you can’t invite 4 people out of the class. We had 32 total at our destination wedding and it was tough. Side note, we webcast the ceremony so my grandma could see and we had about 50 friends and family watch it live streaming!

  19. I think the guest list is one of the most stressful things to tackle. I literally got sick over it. But in the end, you’ll get to see everyone at your various events and hopefully people will be happy with that (we had an extra party to accommodate outliers, too). And with 125 people at our actual wedding, I still felt like I didn’t have enough time with everyone. You’re smart to go smaller!

  20. The people who truly know and love you and Mr. Darcy will understand. Even if they are a little sad that they won’t be there. I think your plan to celebrate at another time with those groups of people is a smart one. You will end up with much nicer memories that way instead of just remembering a blur of activity on your wedding day. I wish you and Mr. Darcy a wonderful wedding and marriage.

  21. It’s always dramatic with the guest list. As I’ve mentioned before, I started to plan it Nov. 4th, we got married Dec. 1st. My hubby has 7 siblings. I have none. We wanted a beach wedding with just our parents and a few friends- meaning <10. As we are in FL, our families in OH, only 3 weeks to make plans, we thought could pull it off without too many hurt feelings. We sent an invitation to his parents. We started getting calls from his sibs wanting to know about scheduling their travel. Say what? His parents shared their invite with the whole family! His immediate family is 29 people! AGHHH! We even had his sister call crying because she sings with the symphony and had their Xmas concert that weekend and we obviously picked our date because we knew she couldn't come! Eh, not so much. So, all had to be called with our compromise- only the sibling could come, no spouse or kids. Which they did. It worked out great, they all had a blast. We had 30 guests instead of 10, but no hurt feelings. Mostly! Like you are going to do, we went to OH and had a party there, too, which was lots of fun and pleased everyone. Your plans sound wonderful, good for you for making choices that fit your plan and budget.

  22. This always, always a tough part, because you can never ever invite all the people that you want or think you should invite. It’s simply the reality of location, vision, timing and financial constraints.
    I do hope that people understand – and if they don’t, don’t take it personally. This wedding is about you and Mr. Darcy and if they can’t be happy for you, then screw them.

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