Issuing invitations is one aspect of wedding planning that can cause discomfort, conflict or – in our case – embarrassment. The obvious question is: who do we invite? Really though, what it boils down to (especially to those who see the glass as half empty) is who don’t we invite? And, that’s where the dilemma comes in. You can’t invite everyone that you’re “friends” with on Facebook. And it might not be appropriate to invite all your LinkedIn “connections” either. After all, would you want a potential employer to see the terrified look on your face when your best, most trusted, and faithful friends almost drop you off a chair high held above everyone’s heads?
I digress…. Early on in our wedding planning, Eileen and I decided that we’d host a maximum of 100 guests. A good round number – a practical number, easy to calculate per person costs with – and not too overwhelming for the space we’d be in. When our first list topped out at about 120, we weren’t too worried. After all, it included extended families and nonexistent partners for each of our single friends. Nothing wrong with wishful thinking, right?
At least it didn’t include our self-proclaimed invitee: a South American woman whom I had just met at a class last fall. At our second session, I mentioned that I’d be marrying my girlfriend in six months. She jumped up, gave me a huge, ecstatic hug and declared “I’m going to come!” – as if she were showing up to a rally for marriage equality in front of the Capitol. I just love those bursts of enthusiasm in a world where, sadly, people can be stoned for being gay…
Sorry. Back to the invitations, after that sobering touch of reality. We whittled down our list, realizing that not all invitees would come, and ordered our invitations. A few months before the wedding, we invited a couple of friends over to dinner and to help us calligraph the envelopes. Never mind that neither they, nor I, had ever tried calligraphy before, nor did we know how to properly use calligraphy pens. Luckily, we had Eileen, master calligrapher (though she’d call herself an amateur) as our teacher.
You can imagine the results: one fourth of the addressed envelopes looked like an English version of Torah scroll text, while the other three quarters displayed a bunch of three-lined crooked, barely legible scratchings. Foreseeing that possibility, we had ordered extra envelopes. Though we hadn’t budgeted overtime pay for Eileen to redo the most hideous of the inscriptions… No worries. Our friends are friends, happy to be invited and not easily offended by seeing their addresses running off the edges of the envelope.
We sent them off and eagerly awaited the replies – in person, over the phone, by email, or to a dedicated gmail account. No need to waste extra paper and postage by including cards and envelopes to be mailed back to us. Modern technology is fine by us (though now you can blame us for the demise of the U.S. Postal Service….). The RSVPs poured in, with most of our invitees accepting and excited about their first same-sex wedding ceremony. There seemed to be only a few holdouts, friends who didn’t respond.
One day a month before the event I got a Facebook message (we had neglected to add Facebook to our list of response options – I guess we’re not quite that technologically hip). It was from one of my oldest friends, my freshman year roommate from college. She wrote, “Please remind me of the location of the wedding. Yes, I remember the date and time but I can’t find the other details.” I figured that she had just misplaced the invitation, so I sent her the name of the wedding venue and its website. Late that night, Eileen and I were lying in bed and I told her about G’s query. Eileen responded, “Did we send her an invitation? I don’t remember addressing one to her and her husband.” Well, neither did I, nor do I remember giving the others their address.
I jumped out of bed and went to check the list of whom we’d sent invitations to. Sure enough, G was missing. She knew the date and time because we’d sent her a “Save the Date” email as soon as we had chosen our wedding date. Immediately, I Facebooked her, apologizing for the slip-up and promising to send a printed invitation right away. The next morning, I received a much too gracious response from her: “No apologies needed–things can get busy and invitation lists require modification. Do not feel you have to send one, if things are tight with guests…. We were looking at driving, flights, train etc. and other logistics, but nothing except the time off has been arranged.”
I gasped. She thought that I’d revoked the invitation, that I didn’t want her – someone I’d slept in the same room with for more than a year (longer than anyone else except for Eileen)! – to be at our wedding. And, she’d already requested time off from work, researched transportation, and – I know her well – gotten really, really excited about the prospect of coming to Washington, DC to be at our ceremony and celebration. It was kind of like the old joke: “How many Jewish grandmothers does it take to screw in a light bulb?” “None. It’s alright dear, I’ll sit in the dark.”
I immediately called her, and again, she tendered a way out for me – something along the lines of, “It’s okay if we’re on the B-list. We understand, and don’t want to bother you.” “No, no!” I cried. “I’ll be bothered if you don’t come. It was an unintentional blunder on our part. You have to come!” I hoped I’d gotten through to her, but wasn’t 100% sure when I hung up the phone.
Well, come they did. And, they weren’t just there in the background. I think G and her husband were by our sides – smiling, taking pictures, giving us support and numerous hugs – more than anyone else at our two wedding parties. Trying to absolve us of our wedding faux pas??? Hardly. Just forgiving, caring friends….