Q: We have close friends who are going through a bitter divorce. Do we have to choose between them at our wedding?
Ugh. The absolute last thing that a bride, about to take that leap of faith into the first optimistic blushed of marriage, needs to deal with is the ugly reality of divorce. So don't. If they are both close friends, you don't need to choose between them. But you do need to have a conversation with them. "You have to call them directly - not just send an invitation and cross your fingers and hope for the best," says Danielle Cameron, founder of Details Within Wedding Consulting in Merimac. "I would be up front about it with them," says Linnea Tangorra, owner of Tangorra Wedding Planning in Newburyport. I would say, "We want you to be there. Hopefully it's not going to be awkward and you aren't going to make an uncomfortable situation for anybody. We won't sit you at the same table." But whatever you do, don't chose between them. "That would be bad," says Sylvia Golden, owner of Events by Sylvia Golden in Needham. "I don't think you should make the decision for them - I think it's their decision to make and they will. If it's really bad, one will show up and the other one won't. Put it in their hands." And hide the knives.
Q: We've finally gotten a complete guest list together, but I'm anxious about running into non-invitees. What do I say if they allude to the wedding?
This situation is never easy, but there is a tactful, sensitive way to handle it. "I actually had someone tell me he was excited to get my wedding invitation," says Sonia Mele Forcina, Owner and Bridal Coordinator at Details, a fine stationery and gifts shop in Philadelphia. "I knew my wedding was going to be very intimate, and that his invitation wasn't coming - so I told him so." Just be sincere, kind and, most importantly honest. Explain you've got a set number of guests you can have and you're trying to keep it as intimate as possible. "If you think about it, there is a reason why they're not being invited," says Forcina. "Unless it's something truly negative, go ahead and tell them what it is." Many times, your acquaintance will have already apologized for their presumptuous comment, and will be understanding of your guest-list restrictions.
Q: We're planning a destination wedding in a tropical setting and everyone is flying in. Are we responsible for making plans for our guests or are they on their own?
Consider yourself the pilot, says Mark Kingsdorf, owner of the Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants in Philadelphia. At the very least, your duties include reserving a block of rooms and providing instructions for transportation to the resort. "People tend to think of a destination wedding as a vacation, so you also should offer information on things to do while they're there, such as tours and cool restaurants," he says. The easiest way to share the details is to set up a website. You might post pictures of the destination, as well as contact information, so guests can readily book rooms and plan activities.
Q: My future in-laws gave us a ridiculously long guest list. How do I tell them tactfully that they can't invite all these people?
The key here is to cloak your firm refusal in a bit of hospitality. Invite your in-laws over for drinks, and after you've talked weddings awhile, smile and say, "About the guest list. We would love to include everyone we know, but there's just not enough room in our budget - or our venue. And it really means a lot to us to stick to those decisions." That way, even if they offer to help with expenses, you needn't budge. Suggest eliminating categories of people (like work colleagues or neighbors), so no member of a group is left out. Tell them you'll flag their distant cousins as alternates, as regrets come in, you'll mail out additional invites. As long as the RSVP cards come to your house, not theirs, you'll be able to call the shots.