I am a bride that is planning a wedding for April 2014. Our guest list is limited – 120 guests. That might sound like a lot, but we both come from huge extended families. I can only invite a handful of friends to the wedding. I chose carefully and decided on the group of girls that have stuck with me through thick and thin.
I sent out save-the-date cards in November, and official invitations/RSVP cards will follow at the end of February. The venue that we have booked has strict rules about the number of guests attending, so we are a bit worried that some guests will bring their children (this is an adult-only event) or even additional guests and we will be charged thousands of extra dollars.
I was so focused on this worry, that I didn’t realize I had something else to worry about until I got a phone call the other day. The phone call came from one of the formerly mentioned close girlfriends that I am inviting to the wedding. She called just to chat and mentioned that she had gotten our save-the-date card. She went on to say that she was bummed because she had just bought tickets the day before she received it for one of her favorite bands and the concert is the same day as our wedding. This particular friend enjoys Indy bands and so when she says “concert”, think hole-in-the-wall bar with tickets being $10 reserved and $15 at the door, vs. a huge arena and tickets being $100. I didn’t quite know how to respond to what she was saying to me but I said something along the lines of, “Well, I’m sorry there is a conflict.” I didn’t want to assume that she would choose our wedding over a concert, but she is one of my closest friends and I certainly hoped she would. She then asked me when the time of the wedding was and I told her it was at 5:00, with a cocktail hour and dinner reception and dancing following. She then said that what she would do is come out to the wedding and then leave at some point, probably before the reception or during the early part of the reception, depending on when the concert starts.
I was a bit stunned when she said this and changed the subject. I wasn’t sure what the proper etiquette was, but what I WANTED to say was,
“My guest list is really limited. I would hope that you could maybe see this band another time, but I understand that you have already bought the tickets. I would really prefer to invite guests that can attend the entire event. I have many friends that I was not able to invite, because of our limitations. If you can’t attend the wedding and reception, I am sorry. I appreciate you telling me in advance”.
The fact is that I don’t want her to come if she is only planning on attending the short ceremony and maybe a bit of the reception and then leave. I have others I would like to invite that would be happy to attend the entire event. I don’t think of myself as a Bridezilla by any means and I’m not trying to be in this case. I almost feel as if she is asking my permission to go to her concert and not attend the wedding, guilt-free. If I was in her position, I would have dealt with the conflict myself and never told the bride about it at all, since it puts the bride in an awkward position. I would have decided, yes I can attend the wedding or no I cannot attend.
Is the above reply to my friend appropriate, etiquette-wise? I would really like to know and I am stumped. 1227-13
Point 1: Despite your wedding day being one of the most important days of your life, you cannot expect your guests to prioritize it as you do. People do schedule surgeries, vacations, other weddings and events, all sorts of things on their calendar in advance and even the closest of friends and family may not be able to make it due to scheduling conflict.
Point 2: Once an invitation has been issued, you cannot rescind it. You invited her to attend your ceremony and reception and you don’t have any rights to insist your guests stay for some determined time. While it is rude to leave the reception before the bride and groom do, you are not responsible to enforce manners on her.
Point 3: Only if she declines the invitation citing a scheduling conflict can you say, “I’m so sorry you won’t be there. We’ll miss you.”
What you are asking me is permission to put your guest in the awkward position of feeling guilt manipulated into attending the wedding by giving her far too much information and I won’t condone that.