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Dear ESB: Can we split the guest list?

November 11, 2010

Yay! It’s ESB again. She’s so on it with her advice-giving, don’t you think?

Dear ESB,

My fiance and I are getting married in April. We’ve been wanting to have a smaller ceremony (in the park, before the party) with just immediate family and closest friends. I loved this idea but can’t help thinking that if we’re asking people to travel (to NY from all over) they sort of deserve to see us do The Thing. He would still really prefer just family, but I feel like we’d be cheating our extended family and friends. What do you think? Would you travel cross-country for a (fun, not-stuffy, casually-sophisticated) party? We’re making the guest list now (we just decided on the date so full speed ahead) and it looks like 130ish. This does seem like a lot to squeeze under a tree, but we could hold the ceremony at our reception place if need be. I want him to be happy and feel comfortable but also want to honor our guests.

What do you think?


If you asked me to fly across the country to attend your wedding reception but didn’t invite me to the ceremony, I’d probably skip it. I’d assume I didn’t make the people-who-are-really-important-to-you cut, so why should I shell out for plane fare?

The Thing is what the wedding’s all about. Yes, everyone deserves to see you do it. Yes, extended family and friends will feel cheated if they’re not included. But more importantly: It will be meaningful for you to have them there as witnesses.

And then the whole reception will be infused with this incredible joy that you all share. It won’t just be people drinking champagne and saying, “Congratulations! How was the ceremony?”

(Photo by Josh Goleman)