As you grow older, you could be forgiven for thinking you grow wiser. For assuming playground games and friendship evaluations are a thing of the past. But the reality of modern life is that just when you think you’re a real adult, society slaps you in the face with a very blatant message about how important you are to another person. The wedding invite … or lack of.
Like kids picking teams in the playground, but with an actual price per head, suddenly years of friendship come under the microscope. And sometimes you realize that your own memories may be a bit more rose-tinted than your friends.
Weddings are always political affairs. The in-laws, the extended family, the assumptions of influence which come from who is financing what …
But in recent years I’ve begun to understand a rather sad side-effect of the wedding. Because unfortunately sometimes what they do is make you realize that you mean less to someone than you thought you did.
When you invite someone to your wedding, whether you realize it or not, what you’re doing is giving them a value. How much do you want them there on your special day? How much are you prepared to spend on them? How involved do you want them to be?
And whether you realize it or not, when you issue those wedding invites, what you end up doing is casting your friends into a tier system …
Platinum tier – Chief Bridesmaid and the Best Man
Gold stars – The bridesmaids and the groomsmen. The people doing readings during the ceremony. The Master of Ceremonies.
Gold tier – Full invites, plus one, and an invitation to the stag or hen do.
Silver stars – Full invites and a plus one
Silver tier – Full day invite
Bronze tier – Evening invite
Wooden spoon – Wedding? What wedding?
Which, as a recipient, is fine when you’re in the tier you expected. Or even one or two rungs higher. What’s sad is when you’re lower on the ladder of importance than you expected.
Sadly, I’ve been in that spot a couple of times. I’ve found myself on the bronze rung of the ladder when all the rest of the friendship group had been given golden invites. I’ve had a very close friend friend tell me she didn’t plan to invite anyone other than family to her wedding ceremony, and the girl I once thought would be my Chief Bridesmaid didn’t even consider me when she chose her own bridesmaids.
Maybe it’s just me, and I happen to have over-inflated impression of my friendships! But I do think you do better in the wedding invite lotto if you’re already married. You’ve been the one to establish the levels. You’ve shown your friends where you place them on your own personal scale of worth, and by doing so you almost force their hand. ‘Oh I was his Best Man so ….’
The sad part about being one of the later ones to get married, is that if the tone was set, and you ended up disappointed, it clouds your judgment. Why should you ask someone to be your bridesmaid if she didn’t extend you the same responsibility?
Normally I like to end my blog posts with a moral lesson. An encouragement not to be bitter if you’re shunned. To remember how difficult it is to make a wedding list, and how expensive every extra invitation ends up being. But in reality, I’m pretty bitter on the subject! I’ve had my fingers burned by a couple of people I considered very close friends … so when it does come to the day of my wedding, I can’t honestly say that I’ll take the moral high ground and ignore which tier I was placed at for their weddings …
What I will say, is that if you’re in the process of planning a wedding, and you do end up placing someone on a lower tier than they might have expected, talk to them about it. Don’t just send the invitation in the post, and ignore the clear elephant in the room. Sit them down and explain why you made that decision. Because we’re not children in a playground any more. We’re adults, who can fully understand the implications of our decisions.