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Wedding Planning/Inclusion Conundrum


I am in desperate need of some advice from an impartial, practical party.

I recently became engaged and while the wedding is ten months away, location and size have quickly become debated topics. Ones we can't find simple answers to. I'll do my best to explain:

I'm originally from California. All of my close friends and most of my family are still on the West coast. For the last two years, I've lived on the East coast. My parents and younger sister are also out here. My fiance was born and raised here; all of his family and friends are within driving distance.

The obvious choice is to have the wedding here, but that would leave things very unbalanced. I don't have any friends here close enough to invite, so I'd only have three guests attending (mom, dad and sister).
My fiance can list forty to fifty people on his "must invite" list.

My older sister, my nieces and nephews, my grandparents, my best friends, etc.. none can easily afford the trip and I can't afford to pay, on top of the wedding. Heck, I don't even have bridesmaids available, other than maid-of-honor(my mom went so far as to suggest renting them!).

More importantly, my grandmother -who helped raise me- is too sick to fly. I'm her first grandchild to get married and she's always been a big part of my life. It would devastate her to miss my wedding completely.

For obvious reasons, my family wants the wedding out West, while his assumes it will be out East. My family's trying to make the cut of a small wedding, while his entire extended family plans to attend.

I'd be happy with a small event, I certainly don't need much fanfare. My first thought was to have a small ceremony here, with my little list of guests and the few most important on his, then have a simple reception back home, so my close family can celebrate with us.

Is it fair to ask him to cut back his list for our actual wedding, just because my own is so short?
If not, is there another solution? (I'd hate the bride's side to be so empty, while the groom's overflowed.)
If so, how much is enough, without being unfair to his family?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Hi and congratulations!!   

I really like your idea of having a small event here and then a simple reception on the west coast.  The fact of the matter is that almost every wedding is a destination for at least some of the guests, lol!  

Wedding 'lists' don't have to be even. Ideally, everyone there will be happy for BOTH of you! Maybe your officiant can mention that you have friends from all over the country who are sending their wishes. And almost no one does  'sides' any more; just let everyone sit everywhere....

But that being said, I'd look at the 'must invite' list.  Most 'must invites' really aren't.....

Good luck!  I know it will be wonderful.

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Celia Milton


I can answer questions about wedding etiquette, wedding ceremony ideas, reception ideas, sticky situations....really, anything wedding. I cannot give specific legal advice, but I can connect couples with the correct information about state licensing.


After running a successful, upscale catering business for over 15 years, I went to seminary and then Celebrant USA to train as a wedding officiant and become ordained. I have personally officiated at over 700 weddings, and I now head a group of six other officiants. We have written and performed weddings and civil unions for mixed couples, non religious couples, and everyone in between. I am well versed in ethnic and cultural rituals, as well as creating new rituals for my couples that desire them.

American Association of Wedding Officiants New Jersey Wedding and Event Professionals

William Paterson University, BA, Philosophy, 2000 Union Theological in the City of New York, Masters of Divinity, 2003 Drew University at Madison, attended, 2002 Fordham University, Bronx, NY attended, 2003-2004 Celebrant USA, 2005-2006. Graduated in three disciplines

Awards and Honors
145 5 star reviews at Featured on TLC's "Four Weddings", Fox 5's "Good Day Street Talk", in "Contemporary Bride", "NJ Bride",and "201 Magazine" and "Four" "Wedding Wire Brides' Choice 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012", and "Best of the Knot 2011, 2012". Profiled on Sage Wedding Pros, Natalie Bradley's "Bride Attraction" and Small Business and So You're

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