Hello Problem Pal. My fiancée and I are in an awkward situation and we hoped you could give us some advice.
We have a good friend, Tahani, who likes throwing big get togethers with friends she knows from all different walks of life. We never spend time with her alone nowadays, we only ever see her in a big group.
Because of this, we’ve become friendly with some of her other friends, Chidi and Eleanor. We’re not close enough friends to spend time with them without Tahani – we don’t even have their phone numbers! – but we get on well when we chat at parties and we’re friends on Facebook.
Now to the problem: our wedding venue has quite limited space. When we were working out our guest list, we didn’t even think of Chidi and Eleanor. We had a hard enough time fitting in our family and close friends, never mind friends of friends!
But we invited Tahani – and Tahani has assumed Chidi and Eleanor are coming. She’s told them all about the day and even talked about car pooling with them!
She told us about it casually – like it wouldn’t even be a question that these people who we’ve hung around with maybe five times in total would be coming to our wedding – and now we don’t know what to do.
I feel awkward about it and think maybe we should find some room for them from somewhere to avoid hurting any feelings, but my fiancée doesn’t want to give up space at our small wedding for friends of a friend.
What should we do?
– In The Bad Place (Guest List Planning)
First of all, don’t feel awkward about any of this. You have categorically not done anything to feel awkward about – and I don’t think it even is as awkward as you’re imagining.
Chidi and Eleanor know what your relationship is as well as you do. They can’t possibly be under the impression that you’re best mates, that they’re in your wedding party, or that they’ll be standing up to lead toasts for your wedding. They know you’re acquaintances and – while I’m sure they’d be flattered to be invited to your day – I doubt they’re expecting it.
Would you expect to go to their wedding? Would you be hurt if you found out it had happened and you weren’t invited – or would you expect to hear about these things second-hand, from your level of friendship?
If you’d be okay with it, it’s safe to assume they will be too. You don’t need to do anything just to stop feelings being hurt – they’re most likely not shopping for new hats just for your day.
As for what you should do, you have a couple of options here.
If there’s room somewhere
If you have room somewhere in your day – without uninviting anyone you care about – you could try to be gracious and fit them in.
A lot of people have evening-only guests, who come after the meal. Venues can usually accommodate more people in the evening since they don’t all need to sit and they don’t need to be catered for. It’s not unusual to have a cash bar in the evening either, so it doesn’t need to throw out your budget to have a few extra guests.
Equally, it’s not unusual to invite people just to see the ceremony, especially if it’s a religious ceremony at a church, with a bit more room to spare than at your reception venue.
If you can fit two people into your day, along with everyone else you want there, without compromising on coworkers or distant relatives, then this could be a good solution.
Get in touch with Chidi and Eleanor directly – don’t talk through Tahani, go through Facebook messenger if you have to! – and send them an invitation clearly inviting them to part of the day. (Wedding websites are great for this, hiding ceremony information from evening-only guests so there’s no confusion.)
Don’t mention that you spoke to Tahani and don’t make excuses for the invitation being late. Don’t draw attention to it. For all they know, you’re only now working out your evening list. The more you say, the more likely they are to realise Tahani’s accidentally invited them and they’ll feel awkward.
Don’t feel pressured to do this, though. They weren’t expecting an invitation to your wedding before Tahani said anything. And they probably aren’t expecting one, still.
If there’s no room for them anywhere
If you can’t include them without leaving someone you know better off, don’t include them.
You haven’t made a faux pas here, so I’d be tempted to push it back on Tahani to break the news to them. Let her know you have limited room at your wedding and you’re not inviting Chidi and Eleanor.
It’s not your mess to clean up after all. (And they’re not going to turn up to a wedding without an invitation. People know not to gatecrash weddings the way they know not to turn up in yoga pants or bring along their ferrets instead of a plus one.)
But, if Tahani keeps talking about car pooling and you’re worried Chidi and Eleanor might be making plans, you could always shoot them a casual message on Facebook, like:
Tahani told us you were excited to hear about our upcoming wedding. Thank you so much, we’re excited too!
We’d love to celebrate it with you but our venue’s really small, so we can only fit in family. We’d love to have a drink to celebrate with you next time you’re in town, though! Are you going to Tahani’s birthday party next month?
I would still talk to Tahani though, to make sure she doesn’t do the same thing with Janet and Jason or Michael and Shawn. Ideally, you would have said something in the moment, but it doesn’t have to be a big thing, bringing it up again now. You could send her a text message, to help it feel more casual and non-confrontational, saying something like:
Did you say something the other day about car pooling with Chidi and Eleanor? I just realised you meant to our wedding – it didn’t click at the time because we haven’t invited them. I really hope you and Larry can come though!
Don’t try and soften the blow here by talking about the tight headcount – that implies you would have invited Chidi and Eleanor if you just had the space, when you probably wouldn’t, and you want Tahani to realise she can’t just invite plus twos to other people’s parties.
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Until next time, pals!
Your Problem Pal,
Photo by Cookie Studio.