The Psychology of Sending (or Not Sending) Wedding Invitations
While I’m still quite happy with the fact that we made our own invitations, and got them sent out in the mail… I have to mention that the guest list itself has been, by far, one of the most troubling and stressful steps of the whole wedding planning process.
I’ve mentioned this before, but wanted to go in greater detail. Mostly for my benefit, just to get it of my chest.
We have large families, and limited space. And, of course, a budget to work within. Like any party or gathering, a guest list is essential in order to keep costs in check, and to ensure the event can actually happen.
The worst of the process is over, in some ways. Having created the list in December, that evening is pretty far behind us. I’m reminded of it now, as I’m thinking of our invitations going out to people… and of them not going out to others.
It was very difficult (and continues to be difficult) for me not to associate the invitation itself with a gesture of love. Having to rank the people I know and am close to, having to order them in a sequential list was… excruciating. It was incredibly frustrating and incredibly stressful.
It was as though I had to take all my friends and family, and to come up with some way to measure, to quantify my love for them. Not only did I have to question my relationship with each, but also had to rank each person, one against the other.
When was the last time I talked to this person? Do I still consider them in my life? To what degree are they in my life? These were not questions I cared to answer. These were not calculations I wanted to make. In some cases, the answers themselves made me uncomfortable. I want to believe I love everyone equally, but the process of creating a list suggests otherwise.
What of the friends from my childhood? Are they any less meaningful to me, despite the fact that they’re from a different time in my life? And what of the friends who are far away? Are the any less to me, simply due to proximity? My answers would be No – but in making a list, I’m forced to say Yes.
The very first group on the list, immediate family members, is a given. Numbers 1 through 20 feel like they a preceeded by the phrase “I love you very much.” Anything after Number 20 feels like it’s preceeded by the phrase “I don’t love you as much as…”
I don’t mean to make this a family versus friends issue. Liz and I both have large families, and I feel very lucky that we have so many people who are willing to travel a very great distance, at a very great expense, to be with us on our wedding day. We simply have a lot of people we want to join us, on our day.
Ultimately it’s a space and money issue. And I know every couple goes through this, when planning their event – there’s always more folks than there is space. This, I’m sure, has been true for more couples than just us.
In my head and my heart, it’s difficult for me to separate the invitation and the emotion associated with it. To me, the invitation is a gesture, an extension of my affection for the recipient. And on the other side of that… the absence of an invitation seems like an absence of that affection.
The wedding invitation distills back into a measurement of love to me, even though I know it really doesn’t. The guest list is a logistical concern, a tool to help manage real-world concerns like space and money. It’s not a gauge of who I love, and how much I love them… it just feels that way, a little bit.