Wedding etiquette – do you need to return the invite?

Being among the first of my friends to get married, I had a lucky escape from a common bridal dilemma: what do you do if you were a invited to someone else’s wedding but you don’t want those particular friends to be a part of yours? Here at Under the Vintage Veil, we decided to look at a few common wedding dilemmas on the theme to help you decide what to do.

They invited me to their wedding – should I return the favour?

First of all, I have to reiterate (as I have done on the blog before) that I’m not a fan of “shoulds”. It’s your wedding – invite who you want, leave out those you don’t really want there. However, while I’m a huge fan of doing what you feel like, there are certain scenarios in which you might appear rude for not following certain social protocols. The first thing to do is to have a think about why you don’t want to invite a couple whose wedding you attended:

I went to their wedding as half of a couple I’m no longer part of

In this situation the invite depends on a few things: whose friend were they originally and have you stayed close since the break up? Was it a messy break up and are they still close to your ex? If you went to someone’s wedding as a plus one and you haven’t stayed in contact, you’re not under any social obligation to invite them nor will they be expecting an invite. If you were all close friends and you’ve stayed in touch, they may feel hurt to be excluded – a wedding is really a time to examine all of your friendships. Finally, if you’re still close but their attendance may cause awkwardness with an ex, leave the decision in their hands and explain that you understand it could be uncomfortable for them but you would like them to be there.

If there’s been an awkward break up, think carefully about your seating plan! Image © 2012 Satureyes 

The couple in question is no longer together and it could be awkward

It’s always so sad when things don’t work out with a couple, especially if you’re still close to both parties. I can think of a number of friends off the top of my head who I wouldn’t know how to choose between if they broke up. If the break up was particularly bitter or there are new partners involved things can get a whole lot more complicated.

I can’t tell you what to do in that situation – after all, only you know the ins and outs of your relationships with your friends. However, it might help you to decide what to do to sit down and ask yourself the following questions:

Can we have a reasonable discussion with them about it? It might be that the subject is too painful to broach, or they may be perfectly willing to tolerate each other for the sake of the wedding, or one may step aside to make the decision easier.

If there are new partners involved, do we really need to invite them? I didn’t invite a lot of my friends’ new boyfriends or girlfriends to the wedding. Nothing political, it just would have doubled the guest list. If the sight of a new relationship will be too much for one party, can that be avoided without a drama?

What do the friendships mean to me? This may sound harsh, but have you ever really thought about why you’re friends with both of them? Are you a lot closer to one than the other without having thought about it? If the answer is immediately clear, as cruel as it sounds, perhaps make the person you really want in your life the priority.

If you do decide to invite both parties a few guidelines may help:

DON’T put them at the same table.

DO assign a couple of mutual friends to keep an eye on how they’re feeling.

DON’T play their special song, or anything with meaning to them as a couple!

The wedding was a while ago and we’re no longer close

To me this is a no brainer. No relationship? No invite. If you’re not close to someone, don’t invite them to your wedding out of politeness if you’re not too bothered about them being there.

They had a much bigger wedding than we are planning

Perhaps the most awkward scenario – you’re all mates, you recently went to their wedding, but they had a posh wedding for 300 and you can only have 50 guests. Ouch.

First of all, you again need to think about how close you are. If you’re occasional, polite friends, perhaps it was easier for them to decide to invite you as they simply had more room. If you’re really close, though, you will probably want to invite them anyway and this wouldn’t be a question.

I think this is the one situation where a real explanation is needed. Perhaps explain to them that you are having a tiny and intimate wedding, invite them to the reception and not the meal, or simply apologise and allow them to either accept it or feel hurt.

I say if you can invite them to any of it, try to include them, especially if they’re a standalone couple of friends and their invitation won’t mean that you need to invite a whole group of people connected to them.

Have you got any wedding dilemmas that need solving? Under the Vintage Veil has a panel of experts waiting to take your emotional, beauty, hair, planning, photography, food questions and everything in between, so drop Meryl an email meryl at underthevintageveil dot com to have your dilemma featured here (you can ask to be anonymous if you don’t want everyone to know your wedding woes!)

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