ASK DR. DISH: Big family, no money

Question: I know you’re not married, but I figured maybe your readers could help. I am engaged to a guy who has a very large family. I have a big family, too. We also have a lot of friends, coworkers and clients. Our guest list right now is somewhere between 700 and 800 people. There is NO WAY we can afford a big wedding with that many guests! We will be BROKE! I have a friend who went to Italy to get married and only invited 12 people. Is that OK? Do people get upset if they don’t get invited to a wedding? We don’t want people to be mad at us. HELP!

Answer: Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with a destination wedding, especially if you want to keep the guest list short. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s your wedding — and unless they’re footing the bill, no one should have a say in your plans.

I have a friend like yours who went to Italy to get married. Only a handful of people attended — I didn’t; I couldn’t get away from work — and she was able to keep it intimate. It was like a wedding and honeymoon in one!

That said, it’s hard to avoid hurting people’s feelings when it comes to weddings. I know people who are upset about not getting invited to weddings — especially when they find out other people in the group were invited — and those feelings aren’t easy to fix. You have to just be honest and transparent with everyone, explain your situation and only invite the people who really matter. It’s hard, I can imagine, but it’s your wedding.

I actually don’t know if the advice I’m giving you is right. Anyone else out there can help? Maybe someone with experience?

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12 Responses to “ASK DR. DISH: Big family, no money”

  1. WildeOscar February 28, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    Cat’s advice is spot-on. Part of the anticipation and expectation comes from making a big announcement about the engagement. The best way to keep the guest list short and the location private (far away or close to home), is to tell very few people until after you are actually married. That said, announcing your engagement to the entire world still leaves you in charge of whom to invite and where to have the wedding. People who are inclined to be unhappy would find some other reason if it wasn’t for your wedding, so don’t worry about them. I have a work colleague who got married in Lucca, never having been there, and he loved it.

    • MaxMaxMax March 2, 2011 at 2:17 am #

      @WildeOscar Ahhh… Lucca! Beautiful place. Here’s a pic I took there in ’08:

    • WildeOscar March 2, 2011 at 7:49 am #

      @MaxMaxMax Now THAT is a picture. It is such a beautiful place it was hard for me to take a bad picture there, but none of mine turned out at nice as this one. I suspect your picture will inspire a few couples looking for that special destination.

    • MaxMaxMax March 2, 2011 at 10:22 am #

      @WildeOscar Aww, thanks Oscar. Here is my favorite pic from the day in Lucca. These two guys were having a heated “discussion” about something, then one of them abruptly walked off into the rain while the other one watched him go. With my novice Italian, I could only tell it had something to do with the renovation work going on at the church/cathedral.

  2. Lcuy February 28, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    If you want to be married somewhere else, do it!

    Be careful though. I’ve heard from a few couples that they ended up not with their favorite friends or family members, but only with those who could afford to go. And then you end up having to shepard around people who you like, but wouldn’t necessarily want to travel with.

    But if you are just looking to save money, you need to start by being more realistic. No one has 800 people on their “must Invite” guest list. Pare it down to your immediate families and very best friends, then have a more modest ceremony…BBQ at the beach, Backyard luau, breakfast with no liquor instead a dinner ceremony, etc.

  3. matti2d February 28, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    if it’s your wedding, who’s to say that you “have to” invite everyone you know? your wedding should be an event (or “non-event”) that you will enjoy/remember fondly/want. some people want big weddings and their desire for such is greater than the debt they go into to throw it. their choice. some people want an intimate affair or want to save money.

    I don’t think anyone would begrudge you a small, intimate destination wedding, and those who do have their own issues. as long as you’re marrying the person you want to marry and the people you want there are there, then do it your own way.

  4. dbjack February 28, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

    I guess it is different strokes for different folks, I have not been to several friends weddings. We are still friends. I eloped. No one complained. We got tired of the families disagreeing on things so we spent the money doing something else. It isn’t that myself, friends, and their spouses lack sentimentality it is just we think single use products are wasteful. To me spending that kind of money for a single day event is not cool. Go to Waimanalo and buy a new car instead. Permit me to inform you how your average geek looks at this. A geek thinks it is cool to get out of the house and go places, thus buying a car makes sense. Also, your average geek gets tired of sex at home and thinks going a little crazy in the new car at your favorite lookout is a good thing. Sex is always better in a new car… Not to mention along the hiking trail you used your new car to drive to… etc etc etc. But seriously, weddings are a huge hassle, no one remembers them especially the bride and groom, and when you go out to the garage and check out that lovely new SUV you can’t help but smile. Now that I am a single guy after an eighteen year relationship now more than ever do I believe I am right about this. As for destination weddings, great idea, just make sure the guest list is only two people :)

  5. bumper March 1, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    To each his own. I think, if you’ve been through a wedding yourself, you might be more respectful of people’s choices when it comes to planning their own special day. We no longer hold grudges if we don’t make someone’s guest list or pass harsh judgments about couple’s wedding choices. If a destination wedding is what inspires you, go for it. If you’re just doing it to keep the guest list small, I’d rethink it. Decide what matters to you both, then make it happen — anyone who respects you should respect whatever decisions you make.

  6. hawaii2000 March 1, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    Typically, this is not a topic to which I’d have anything to contribute. But a few weeks ago a nephew sent us an invitation to his wedding at Ko’olina. We had considered attending until we saw that it was at 4 pm on a Thursday afternoon. With much of the family living on the neighbor islands, we wondered if this somewhat inconvenient time was by design. Who makes arrangements for a wedding at that time and day of the week and expect most people to be able to attend?

  7. Buggy March 1, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    I dunno if she should plan a destination wedding just to keep the guest list short…she should still invite everyone she wants and whoever can come, comes (most likely it will be a small fraction of the guest list). If she really wants to keep the guest list small, then she should do so by inviting only immediate family members and maybe her best friend and his best friend and that’s it. I don’t think anyone else will be hurt knowing that the couple is keeping it intimate. And then they can get married wherever they want to, not just away cause they feel like they “have” to.

    • MaxMaxMax March 2, 2011 at 2:12 am #

      @Buggy I have some “non”-best friends whom I’d rather invite than some of my immediate family, haha!

  8. M March 2, 2011 at 7:25 am #

    Hello Cat!
    It’s your wedding and you can plan it anyway you want.

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