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We are doing an intimate wedding as well, but are having an 'evening out' with all of our friends we could not include the same weekend. Just an easy bar hop with no renting and everyone buys their own drinks. For true friends who just want to celebrate, they are happy! For the people who just wanted a free bar, tough luck chuck.
The people who are mad at you for not inviting them are not real friends or supportive family members. Anyone who's ever planned a wedding with a budget knows that unfortunately sometimes you have to make difficult cuts to make the budget work. What is important when it comes to your wedding is that the people who mean the most to you and your FI are there. It will be a beautiful intimate event where you can spend more time with each individual guest because of the size guest list you are having. When people get mad and don't except your, sorry we're keeping this small response, all you can do is tell them that you are sorry that they feel that way. Continue to plan and be happy. And don't let anyone guilt you into paying for more then what you want or for a party later on for everyone else.
If it's really already ruining, can it and elope. Your loved ones, if they have been observing this hate fest will surely understand and be supportive. No sense throwing even a small amount of money down the drain if it is going to suck.
Wow the people you describe are being totally ridiculous and very immature. If they are that petty about it, time to get new friends and a new job. At your age you should also recognize this ignorance from others and realize unless they are willing to foot the bill, it's your wedding and you are the one calling the shots. I'm 47 and my 2nd wedding is this summer. My mother STILL insisted her friends be invited. I told her I am more than happy to accommodate all her wishes, but she would have to pay for every person she wanted to come - and I was serious about it. She wanted them there, she can pay for their attendance. Needless to say, she was silent from that point on.So if they are rude enough to get pissy about it, tell them you are happy to have them join but the cost is $XX per person and they will need to pay you well in advance. I'm sure they will shut up about it. Or pay their way!