Chelsea Clinton has 3320 friends. Yes, I checked. If you go to Chelsea's Facebook Page and try to friend her, as I did today, you'll get a message that she already has too many friend requests -- so the virtual spigot of undocumented friends has been turned off.
Given her popularity and celebrity, I suspect that most of those who have already friended her are simply gawkers. But doesn't it strike you as odd that there's been more buzz about the gown, the gluten-free cake, port-a-potties, and the celebrity guests than about the true friends who will be at the Wedding on the Hudson this Saturday night?
Given my fascination with the topic of friendship, I've been wondering about the friends Chelsea and Marc have invited to their party and the process for making those decisions. There was early speculation that Oprah and Barbra (neither of whom need second names on their invitations) were invited. President Obama told the ladies of The View, "I'm not going. You don't want two Presidents at a wedding," suggesting that he didn't want to deflect any attention away from the bride and groom.
I have to admire President Clinton and Secretary of State Clinton who are reported to have said that this once-in-a-lifetime day belongs to the bride and groom -- and not to them. So I've been thinking about the real Friends of the Bride (FOBs) -- not the friends of Hill and Bill or of the in-laws; real friends, not Facebook ones.
Just as it is for any other bride, whittling down the guest list is one of the toughest tasks in planning a wedding. Chelsea never asked my advice but had she, I would have suggested that she think about the following when deciding which friends should make the cut:
1) Stick with your nearest and dearest
On your wedding day, you want to be surrounded by people who love and care about you, people who will be embracing your joy and happiness. Who are the friends who have been most important in your life? To whom do you feel closest? Who has helped define the woman you have become? Who do you expect will still be at your side twenty years from now? Who could you call at 3AM if you needed to?
2) Develop your own "no-fly list"
Delete the names of any friend who would be likely to embarrass you, dress inappropriately, drink too much, do drugs in the ladies room, or in any way detract from your party.
3) Steer clear of frenemies
Sometimes we realize that a relationship is filled with ambivalence. Your friend may be wonderful to talk to but she consistently says things to undermine you or make you uncomfortable. Is there someone who might be smiling while you're saying, "I do," while simultaneously sending out tweets under the table focusing on HER experience. If you're feeling very tentative or unsure about inviting someone, your heart is telling you that there's something wrong.
4) Think about your future
You have probably picked up many friends and acquaintances along the way to this day. They may be people with whom you've worked or campaigned for your mom; neighbors or friends of friends with whom you've shared time; or peers or professors from your academic studies. Obviously, some of these individuals are true friends; others may simply be situational friends -- who will play no ongoing role in your life. Eliminate anyone on your list who seems to hold no place in your future and only a peripheral and passing role in your past.
5) Remember that this day belongs to you and your husband-to-be
Don't get suckered into inviting people because you feel guilty or because you're returning a favor. You can do that over lunch. This is your day to be true to yourself and to your fiancé. Mazel tov to you and to every other bride struggling with her list!
Have a question about female friendships? Send it to The Friendship Doctor.
Irene S. Levine, PhD is a freelance journalist and author. She holds an appointment as a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. Her new book about female friendships, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, was recently published by Overlook Press. She also blogs about female friendships at The Friendship Blog and at PsychologyToday.com.