Groom Duties

Is The Invite List For A Same-Sex Wedding Different From A Straight One?

Congratulations! Your boyfriend proposed and you’re on your way to wedded bliss—

Except, not quite. Behold, your first gay-wedding-planning hurdle: Who to invite? Deciding who makes “the list” can be an agonizing endeavor. As gracious grooms, we want to share our special day with as many people possible, but trying to please everyone is impossible! Stop worrying (no really, stop it) and consider these crucial things while compiling your gay wedding guest list.

Accounting For the “Gay” Factor

For whatever reason, some people still aren’t on board with “the gays” getting hitched (or even getting wedding cakes, seriously, who would deprive anyone dessert?). But what happens when that person is a beloved relative or even a dear family friend? You hope they’d be happy for you, but would they come? Should you even send an invite? What if they react negatively to what is by all accounts a very positive thing?

If this particular person is important to you, sit down and have a calm, honest, open discussion about the wedding. No matter how the exchange goes: do not take things personally, do not get upset, and be prepared for the fact that they may not want to attend. If you get a “Maybe” or a non-committal, non-answer, then try to keep the dialogue going. If it’s a flat out “No!” then guess what? That’s one less person to worry about. But, if it is a “Yes” (and we hope it is) how amazing is that? Adults communicating and using their words!  

Also, don’t assume how someone will react to your invitation. Weddings are beautiful, magical catalysts powerful enough to change hearts and minds and bring people, especially family, together. Give ’em a chance—you might be surprised.

Capping That Headcount

Setting a cap on the number of guests you invite is crucial for wedding planning. That “open bar” hour is going to cost a lot less for 50 people than it would for 250. What about venue capacity? Is that gorgeous (but tiny) beach you loved for the ceremony really going to hold 200 people?

When setting your guest cap, don’t forget to include spouses, kids (sometimes great, a lot of times not), and other +1’s. Will you even allow guests to bring their +1’s, especially if you might not know them? A great way to solve these conundrums is to step into your guests’ shoes. Who would they want to bring with them? Do they know other guests attending and will they be comfortable coming stag? There’s lots to consider! (Like maybe even setting up some single friends, it is a wedding after all). Just be sure to leave a little wiggle room for people you may have forgotten or other unexpected additions. It’s important to set a realistic limit to fit your budget and expectations for the kind of wedding you’re planning. Good news: there’s no wrong answer here as long as you stick to it.

Setting Some Boundaries

Remember those “unexpected additions” we mentioned (right up there)? Here’s a perfect example: when your mom tells you that her best friend was so excited for her wedding invitation. You know, good old what’s-her-name (Sharon probably). There’s not a lot you can do in a situation like this except smile and pretend you already planned on inviting that person you really had no intention of inviting.

With any guest list, you’re going to run into those obligatory invites: the aforementioned person who may be against gay marriage, distant relatives you haven’t seen since last century, parents’ longtime friends (who remember changing your diapers), or other people you’re “supposed” to invite. Navigating these situations can be tricky, but you have to find a balance between guests you want to invite versus the guests you’re obligated to invite… and, trust us, you’ll have a few.

Yes, this is your wedding, so at the end of the day you have final say on who gets to come, but also understand that some coveted spots have to go to these obligatory guests—not for your sake, but for your family and friends in attendance. Clearly set your boundaries so you don’t get steamrolled and forced to invite 40 obligatory people, and never be afraid to say, “No.”

Filtering Your Real Friends

Nobody wants your friends to feel left out, but you can’t invite all 500+ Facebook friends and acquaintances to your wedding (Nope, all your LinkedIn friends are out too and you know they know how to party). You’ve really gotta ask yourself, “Who’s really important to you?” The task of filtering friends can be a vexing one, so start with your closest friend circle—the people you know must make the list—and spread out from there.

Now, you know your friends who can’t help but cause drama. Next! How about that super fun but super wild friend? The one who’ll end up sloppy-drunk dancing shirtless with your Aunt Harriet! Uh-Uh! Will your serial-dater friend’s current beau-of-the-month be a +1 a year from now? Or maybe there’s a friend you’ve grown closer to recently or someone you’ve fallen out of touch with? Friends come with so many different degrees of invitation difficulty but, only you know your friends. Only you can decide who you want at your wedding. Also, only you can prevent forest fires (A friendly bear told us that one. No, not that kind of bear). All you can do is try your best to invite the friends who matter. It’s an unenviable task, but you’ll go nuts trying to include everyone.

—Andrew Scheppmann

Bottom Line

You can’t invite (or please) everyone, so invite who’s important to you and don’t stress about the rest—find a balance of guests that works for your wedding.


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