Thursday, June 21, 2007

Know Your Jewish Community: Wedding Invitation SOPs

An SOP is a Standard Operating Procedure. I think that in the case of deciding who gets/doesn't get a wedding invitation, a couple needs to write down a set of guiding principles, otherwise cutting down the list seems arbitrary and unfair.

I've been thinking about this because one of my best friends from college (and actually camp, before that) is getting married, and she and her fiancee are having some difficulty over the guest list. Essentially: he wants to invite everyone that he's ever met, and she does not. When you have 70 guests to split between the two of you it gets a bit touchy. In order to mediate this, I have created a set of SOPs for guest invitations:

I. Required Guests (in descending order of importance)
A. Family
i. immediate, plus one level (a "removed" or "second") if you see them on a regular basis
ii. anyone that will give you an awesome present/remember you in the will
B. Friends
i. Best Friends
a. from childhood/high school, as long as you keep in touch regularly and have seen them within the last year (exception for those abroad)
b. College Friends-- keep these to a minimum, they probably don't have enough money to pay for a nice gift. Also, unclear how close to them you will be in five years.
C. People Who Will Be Really Angry If You Don't Invite them
i. in this case weigh the social discomfort of the lack of invitation against how much you actually want the person to be at your wedding

II. People About Whom You Are On The Fence*
A. More Distant Family
i. those who give great presents/are fun at a party are in
ii. also include those who will be REALLY insulted if they are not invited
iii. do not include those with whom you/your parents/relatives have had a 'falling out'
B. Not As Close Friends
i. You must have seen this person (in person) at least ONCE in the previous calendar year, preferably pre-engagement, you must speak to them no less than once every six months, and you have to actually enjoy their company
C. People Who Will Be Insulted, But You Care Less
i. same criteria as above

III. People Not To Invite
A. Family
i. Black sheep of the family, unless it will be really fun
ii. very distant relatives, except as a courtesy
B. Friends
i. former best friends that you haven't spoken to in forever
ii. anyone who doesn't return your calls/letters in at least a 2:1 (yours: theirs) ratio.
C. Those Who Will Be Insulted
i. people who you either don't care about, or who won't find out
D. Co-workers
i. with very few exceptions, these people are not your "real" friends.

*Appendix A: What to do about those on the fence
Make a list in descending order of those who you wish to invite but cannot due to space concerns. They are your second run. Alternate a person you wish to invite with one whom your fiancee wishes to invite, and when someone RSVPs in the negative (from one of your original guests, not those assigned to either your, or your fiance's parents) you may move someone up from the "bench" to the "field" and send them an invitation.

Disclaimer: this document is intended for humorous purposes only, and is not to be applied by real couples with actual weddings.


Anonymous said...

What about people who invited you to their wedding years ago and you've barely been in touch since then.

Anonymous said...

After holding our emergency consultation with Annie late yesterday evening, my fiance and I immediately began to implement her engagement-saving techniques for making it to the chuppah. "Wedding Invitation SOPs" is a "must read" for anybody trying to get through the ugly business of guests list.

I look forward to reading Annie's future publications on such topics as:

"You want me to where what?: A Bridesmaid's Survival Guide"

"Please turn your cell phones and babies off: How to tell your guests that their children are not invited"

Thank you, Annie

Annie said...

Anon- if you went, probably in, if you didn't probably out.

Susan- Anytime. I could be the next Emily Post or Judith Martin.

The Pedant said...

College friends that I am still in touch with: over a dozen.

High school friends I know about: 3.

And you so haven't addressed co-workers or grad school friends.

Annie said...

pedant- co-workers are in the last section. Grad school friends fall under the same category as college friends, except that in your particular case they probably have plenty of money.

Sherbs said...

See, what I'm doing for my wedding is inviting 500 people (only my nearest and dearest) but only 250 get to eat. The others: they get a brown bag of french fries from McDonalds, but since I'm getting married in a kosher synagogue, they have to eat them outside. The trick: those 250 who get the shaft won't know until they get there.


Anonymous said...

Forget about inviting all those "good friends" who forget to call and wish you congratulations!! You don't need such good friends!!

Diana said...

What about relatives you haven't spoken to in more than 6 months?

orieyenta said...

Great SOPs Annie.

But you know, I think I prefer inviting just the Rabbi and two witnesses. That way there is more money to spend on the honeymoon - greedy but maybe true ;)

Sherbs idea of the 250 brown bags of McDonalds french fried is a great alternative thought!

Annie said...

Anon- it depends, have they been an otherwise good friend to you?

Diana- I'd say out, but my family is pretty clear. We see the same group pretty regularly, and a smaller group a couple times a year (Thanksgiving and Pesach).

Orie-Ha, we'll see what you say when you have a wedding to plan! Also, as someone who keeps kosher, and will be at Sherbs wedding, I do NOT approve of the McD's idea.