You would think that with the per person cost of weddings, it would be easy to make yourself skinny down that guest list when you get married. But that's not always the case. Between pressure from friends, family and in some cases, even your fiancé, it's difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.
I dealt with this challenge in a big, hard way when Bill and I got married 10 years ago. My mother conveniently presented me with an Excel spreadsheet of "must invites" that had 145 guests on it -- 48 hours after my fiancé's proposal (anybody want to guess how long she'd been working on that?). She insisted that I was either related to, or almost related to, everyone on the list. She wasn't far off. But we were having a destination wedding followed by a reception back home afterwards, and that changes the rules a bit about you are "obligated" to invite.
In our parents' day, it would have been appropriate to invite everyone who ever invited your parents to their child's wedding. And all of your relatives, even the ones who were too old to travel or who you weren't close to at all. But that isn't necessary anymore. Nor are you and your fiancé required to invite every sorority sister or fraternity brother who included you in their wedding party shortly after graduation unless you're still close. Especially if you graduated from school 10 years ago.
It's hard but you have to make some cuts, and that should start with people you're only "friends" with on Facebook or other social media now. If you haven't seen them in years, they don't have to be invited to your wedding next year. A wedding isn't really an opportunity to renew old friendships and grow new ones -- it's the time to invite those who are closest to you and the people you love the most to witness your vows.
This can even be difficult to manage if you have an enthusiastic fiancé. One of my cousins is getting married next year and her fiancé wanted to have a bash to celebrate. Knowing what HIS dream wedding would cost, she tasked the groom with researching the prices at the first few venues he'd suggested. His reaction to the cost of a wedding was, literally, PRICELESS! Now they're having a small, destination wedding with only their immediate families present and they both feel good about the decision. I'm still pouting that I'm not "immediate" family but I'm excited that they've got a solid invite list they're happy about.
With that said, there are some people who ARE invited to weddings that never should have been. I usually learn about it from guests' gossip during the wedding weekend or seeing it for myself, but sometimes I've already got the skinny from bride in advance. Some of these people should probably NEVER be invited to weddings by anyone, but at the very least, you don't need to have them at yours.
- Anyone who is not 100 percent behind your wedding should not be on the guest list. This is especially important for gay couples who are still facing so much prejudice. This is one time that it's okay to delete a sibling or someone close like that. If they didn't congratulate you on your engagement, they shouldn't be invited to celebrate with you on your wedding day. Tradition and hurt feelings be damned.
- Former boyfriends and girlfriends should not be invited. Actually, anyone with whom either the bride or groom has a past sexual history probably shouldn't make the guest list. The ONLY exception to that rule would be if your former significant other is married to one of your best friends now -- in that case, you've already addressed and gotten over (hopefully) the weird factor.
- Bitchy colleagues need not be invited. Actually, very few of the people you work with should be on the guest list unless you're truly "social" with them, and I don't mean on Facebook or Twitter. It's appropriate to invite your bosses, but not required. However, if you do invite a few from the office, be discreet about it because the bitchy person you didn't invite will certainly have an opinion on the matter. Your wedding -- and who is invited -- shouldn't be water-cooler gossip at your place of business.
- Revenge plus-ones shouldn't be allowed. What is a "revenge plus-one?" It's when your friend or your parent or whomever wants to bring a date just to piss off another guest. If your parents had a recent unfriendly divorce, it's not unreasonable to ask both parties do without an escort. If dad left mom for a younger woman, the replacement's definitely not invited. Even if they're married, unless it's been a whole lot of years and your mother has made peace with your father, bringing the "new wife" will make your mother miserable on a day that's very important to her too.
- Uncontrollable friends don't have to be included. Everybody has one or two friends or family members who don't behave themselves at big parties with lots of liquor. Well, that's exactly what your reception will be to them. Just another opportunity to suck up that open bar and make a complete ass of themselves. The drunker they get, the funnier they think they are, and the more outrageously inappropriate their behavior becomes. Give serious thought to whether your guests will give proper solemnity to the occasion of your wedding or treat it like Spring Break.
Keep in mind that it's in poor taste to share too many details about your wedding in advance on social media. If you know you're Facebook "friends" with a lot of people who are miffed they weren't invited, don't brag about everything on your page. Don't post teaser pics, don't ask for opinions on wedding plans, and don't post pictures of gifts as you receive them. Not only is that considered a bit tacky, but it's also a slap in the face to somebody who is getting all excited but won't be receiving an invitation in the mail. You don't have to pretend there's not a wedding in the works, but you do need to keep their feelings in mind too and not rub their noses in it.