Wedding Etiquette Forum

Students at my wedding?

Background.... I'm a (young) teacher with a group of former students with whom I am/was close (Yes, teachers have favorites). I tried not to let this favoritism impact my relationships in a professional setting (i.e. the classroom) but, now that they aren't my students any more, I have taken a few out to eat while they're home from college and keep in touch with them as well. This is particularly true of three young ladies who just graduated this last spring. Many of these students have expressed interest in coming to my wedding in April, either in person or on Facebook (again, they are former students, so I can be FB friends with them). I should also mention that I no longer work at the school from where all these students matriculated. With all that said, here's the deal....

We're doing a formal, sit-down reception at $140/head. I don't want to invite/pay for all these former students, especially those that stayed in touch for a little while but not-so-much lately (though they still expressed an interest in coming to my wedding). So, my dilemma is, who is invited? There are three options as we see it (though I'd be excited to hear others):

1. Iinvite only those former students with whom I have remained close and risk the backlash of the others (and their parents... .ugh, parents....). This would probably be only five young ladies, three with whom I am incredibly close (have been to family parties, keep in touch with them, take them out when they are home, etc) and two who were part of that core group while they were in-school, but with whom I have not been close since they graduated (basically, I can't separate the group of five without facing severe repercussions). However, there were other hangers-on, shall we say, to that group who would not receive an invite and who would probably be hurt by it.

2.  (please hold your boos and hisses until the end) Send all these former students a mass email indicating basically that I would love for them to be there (which is the truth), but explain the costs (they're between the ages of 17-20, so they don't understand the craziness of wedding pricing) and say that they are welcome to come to the ceremony, grab a bite to eat somewhere, and then stop by the reception to boogy the night away, but that I cannot extend a formal invitation to them for the full reception. I realize that this is normally frowned upon to have a tiered reception/guest list for the reception, but considering the circumstance, it is still an option to consider.... Maybe.

3.  The last option would just be to write 'em all off and say none of them are invited to keep things fair, though I'd be sad to not have those three girls mentioned above invited.

So, thoughts?
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Re: Students at my wedding?

  • You first option sounds like a lot of potential headache and your second option is absolutely horrible.  Honestly, if I were in your shoes I would not invite any of them.  Weddings arent'e college keggars where everyone should get to come.  Thats really great that these girls have an interest in coming, but if it has the potential to cause you major issues, I would just leave them all off across the board.

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  • Do NOT go with option 2. I can't think of a single circumstance where a tiered reception like that would be acceptable, it's incredibly rude. You're telling them that you want them to dress up and show up, but that you don't care about them enough to feed them.

    Personally, I'd go with option 1. It sounds like it's pretty obvious to all concerned that you're closest to these girls.
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  • How long have you been a teacher? I mean, do you have any sense of how long you stay in touch with your students after they graduate? If you think you'll be friends with these girls in 10 years, go for #1.

    Don't even think about 2.Option 3 is fine. There was a TA in a lab I worked in as a undergrad who got married and we were pretty good friends, she took me out on my birthday, I got her a wedding gift, etc. While I would have loved to go to her wedding I understood weddings are expensive (without being sent an email about it) and there were no hard feelings.
  • I'd go with option 3. IF the three girls ask you why they weren't invited, just be honest(ish) and say that your budget didn't allow it, and that you're sorry you aren't able to invite them.
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  • CellesCelles member
    Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited November 2010

    I'd be interested in hearing if the other teachers on the board find this kind of relationship appropriate.  I realize these girls are no longer your students, and it sounds like they're fairly close to you in age.  But the idea of a teacher making friends of her former students doesn't sit quite right with me.  If you're more of a mentor than a girlfriend, that's one thing, but I would still be cautious about socializing with these "young ladies" as if they were your peers rather than former students.

    My advice is not to invite any of them.  Keep a healthy distance between your social life and your professional one. 

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  • This situation is fairly similar to questions about inviting coworkers to a wedding.  The general consensus is that you should only invite those people with whom you have close, personal relationships (ie. you talk to / hang out with / have a relationship outside of work).  According to your description, there are three students with whom you have that caliber of relationship.  Those are the people that should be invited, if any.  As far as the other two out of that group of five, I wouldn't even invite them.  High school is over.  Time to be big girls and accept that you're not going to be invited to every party, all of the time.  What type of "severe repercussions" would you face, really? 

    If that's too much drama, then your alternative is not to invite any students.  Option #2 isn't an option that should be considered.
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    [QUOTE]Time to be big girls and accept that you're not going to be invited to every party, all of the time. <strong> What type of "severe repercussions" would you face, really?</strong>  If that's too much drama, then your alternative is not to invite any students.  Option #2 isn't an option that should be considered.
    Posted by tidetravel[/QUOTE]

    Ha.  Good point. 
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    [QUOTE]I'd be interested in hearing if the other teachers on the board find this kind of relationship appropriate.  I realize these girls are no longer your students, and it sounds like they're fairly close to you in age.  But the idea of a teacher making friends of her former students doesn't sit quite right with me.  If you're more of a mentor than a girlfriend, that's one thing, but I would still be cautious about socializing with these "young ladies" as if they were your peers rather than former students. My advice is not to invite any of them.  Keep a healthy distance between your social life and your professional one. 
    Posted by Celles[/QUOTE]

    I should clarify... The relationship I have with these girls is somewhat like a mentor role, but it is closer than your aveage mentor-student relationship, mainly because I worked at a Christian school where the environment was fostered closer relationships than a normal, public school. I functioned as a teacher in the classroom but my door was always open so, outside of the 50-minute period, I was a type of youth-minister/big sister/mentor to many young girls. This was especially true b/c I was the youngest teacher on-staff and am very open (we call it "transparency" in ministry), so they weren't afraid to talk to me about things that would have been considered taboo in either a public-school setting or with some of the older teachers at the school where I worked.

    Also, I would just like to clarify option 2 and why it is still on the table (as of the  original posting). I am not opposed to any of my students coming to the ceremony. This was done for me and my siblings with teachers or mentors or youth ministers when we were younger (being extended the opportunity to come to the ceremony but not getting an invite to the reception). I am not asking anyone to bring gifts or demanding they get spiffed up, but then refusing to feed them. Perhaps I should modify option 2 to just extending them the opportunity to come to the ceremony. I just thought that, if they are coming all that way (MD -- /> PA), that I'd give them the opportunity to partake in some of the reception festivities. They are, after all, teenagers who think this is "sooooo cool." :) But that's where the root of that option is.
  • I think that 3 is the easiest and least stressful option, they should understand.
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    [QUOTE]I'd be interested in hearing if the other teachers on the board find this kind of relationship appropriate.  Posted by Celles[/QUOTE]

    I'm a future teacher who survived her educational law course.  I think if the OP still taught in the district where she went to school with these students, that would be inappropriate--though it does depend on teh district.  And the word would get around.  Definitely.  That said, teachers can develop relationships with the students that are friendly--but they should always be professional and in a mentor kind of way.  Hanging out with your students is not okay.  Taking some to dinner to ask about college and catch up is fine.  Buying them alcohol at these dinners could result in getting fired, criminal charges, and losing your teacher's license.

    Option #2 is definitely out. Just plain rude.  If you anticipate continuing to see these young ladies for the next several years, if you want to see them at your wedding, and if you want to shell at the money, then invite them.  I wouldn't.  But it's not my wedding!

    But as a future teacher/daughter of a teacher, my first thought when reading this was:  How on earth can a teacher afford a 140/head wedding?! 
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_students-wedding?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:f482b030-8793-4591-b567-c19bf6309061Post:00f50fe4-f0ea-4ddd-9f38-8a141ea6653a">Re: Students at my wedding?</a>:
    [QUOTE]  What type of "severe repercussions" would you face, really?
    Posted by tidetravel[/QUOTE]

    Ha... I hadn't really thought about it that way... I guess part of it stems from my discomfort with parents. Actually, one of the two girls mentioned in my OP as two that would get invites b/c of those "severe repercussions" has a mom who used to send me nasty emails when she was my student. My first year of teaching, she was my TA and we had one of those close mentor-like relationships I mentioned above, but she went through a bratty phase that had me actually mentoring her "friends" <em>about</em> her (her gossipping, putting them down, etc) and how to deal w/ her. When the mom found out, I got quite the tongue lashing, which turned into some bad teacher bashing on mom's part that created a permenat scar in my relationship w/ her daughter. I guess part of me is still apprehensive of the next email (mom thought we had a closer relationship than was reality my first year and wanted us to "get back to that place" b/c her daughter cherished my "friendship," so I can see where HER not getting an invite would create major drama. But, like you indicated, major drama is about the extent of the repercussions-- I don't work there anymore so it's not like it could affect me professionally.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_students-wedding?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:f482b030-8793-4591-b567-c19bf6309061Post:f47c8495-0c69-4abf-8d1d-474cf3527a8c">Re: Students at my wedding?</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Students at my wedding? : I'm a future teacher who survived her educational law course.  I think if the OP still taught in the district where she went to school with these students, that would be inappropriate--though it does depend on teh district.  And the word would get around.  Definitely.  That said, teachers can develop relationships with the students that are friendly--but they should always be professional and in a mentor kind of way.  Hanging out with your students is not okay.  Taking some to dinner to ask about college and catch up is fine.  Buying them alcohol at these dinners could result in getting fired, criminal charges, and losing your teacher's license. Option #2 is definitely out. Just plain rude.  If you anticipate continuing to see these young ladies for the next several years, if you want to see them at your wedding, and if you want to shell at the money, then invite them.  I wouldn't.  But it's not my wedding! But as a future teacher/daughter of a teacher, my first thought when reading this was:  How on earth can a teacher afford a 140/head wedding?! 
    Posted by becunning2[/QUOTE]

    I'm guessing you were posting this while I was posting my PP, but I was a teacher at a private school. Same rules don't apply. And obviously I am not taking these kids out to booze up-- I take them out while they're home from college to catch up and see how things are going. I dont really know where you got the unprofessional behavior crap from.... Sorry if that's the image I gave.

    And my parents are paying for the wedding, not us.
  • Option 2 should still be discarded.  The reception is a thank you to your guests for attending your ceremony.  No guests should be invited to the ceremony and not the reception. 
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    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Students at my wedding? : I'm guessing you were posting this while I was posting my PP, but I was a teacher at a private school. Same rules don't apply. And obviously I am not taking these kids out to booze up-- I take them out while they're home from college to catch up and see how things are going. I dont really know where you got the unprofessional behavior crap from.... Sorry if that's the image I gave. And my parents are paying for the wedding, not us.
    Posted by ravensbride49[/QUOTE]

    I was posting while you were posting.  And you're right, private schools are different from public schools.  I was trying to provide some examples of what would be crossing the line professionally in this kind of mentor relationship, not imply that you had done so.  I didn't think you had given that image.  After all, you used matriculate!  Appropriately! 

    And I was teasing about the cost of the wedding.  Though that really was my first thought.
  • I'm going to get flamed for this, but I handled it slightly differently - I DIDN'T want them at the reception, but they begged (and I do mean begged) to come to the ceremony.  So I let them, even though our reception and ceremony were at the same place.  I had about 15 students show up, and while most left pretty quickly after the ceremony, a few did get to hang around for pictures afterwards, which was awesome.  My venue was really amazing and even let them eat during the cocktail hour.  And then they went home.  Is it tiered and rude?  Yeah.  Am I glad I did it?  Yeah.  Were the kids completely cool with it?  Yes, because moreso than just about anyone there, they really just wanted to see me get married.
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  • I'd choose option 3. This sounds weird. Students are students, not friends, just like clients are not friends. I don't care how close in age a person is to their students, I find the relationship you are explaining to be odd. And don't think that students can't tell if you have favorites- they can tell.
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    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Students at my wedding? : I was posting while you were posting.  And you're right, private schools are different from public schools.  I was trying to provide some examples of what would be crossing the line professionally in this kind of mentor relationship, not imply that you had done so.  I didn't think you had given that image.  After all, you used matriculate!  Appropriately!  And I was teasing about the cost of the wedding.  Though that really was my first thought.
    Posted by becunning2[/QUOTE]

    Haha... Ahhh, grammar on the Internet... Makes me almost not want to read some of these message boards! :)

    Sorry for the minor defensiveness of my last post. Because I was a young teacher (and unorthodox in how I lived my faith-- I got called to the mat for having a male roommate, for what I wore,what movies I recommended my students watch-- as in, "Shawshank Redemption is a <em>great</em> movie-- you guys need to see it sometime!"-- and ultimately, was forced to quit because I moved into my fiance's guest bedroom), I had to be inordinately careful about my relationships with students and how they were perceived.

    And I don't really care who knows about who's footing the bill or how-- I grew up in comfort. My dad put himself through med school and now has the funds to pay for my wedding. I'm proud of him! ;) Though yeah, I know we'll never be able to do that for our future daughters.... Sigh.... Oh society!
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    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Students at my wedding? : Haha... Ahhh, grammar on the Internet... Makes me almost not want to read some of these message boards! :) Sorry for the minor defensiveness of my last post. Because I was a young teacher (and unorthodox in how I lived my faith-- I got called to the mat for having a male roommate, for what I wore,what movies I recommended my students watch-- as in, "Shawshank Redemption is a great movie-- you guys need to see it sometime!"-- and ultimately, was forced to quit because I moved into my fiance's guest bedroom), I had to be inordinately careful about my relationships with students and how they were perceived. And I don't really care who knows about who's footing the bill or how-- I grew up in comfort. My dad put himself through med school and now has the funds to pay for my wedding. I'm proud of him! ;) Though yeah, I know we'll never be able to do that for our future daughters.... Sigh.... Oh society!
    Posted by ravensbride49[/QUOTE]

    I can understand the defensiveness.  I am absolutely NOT cut out for teaching in a private school--which is mildly unfortunate since I'm going to be a Latin teacher...

    It sounds like you've been blessed financially.  If it's very important to you that these girls come, and it sounds like it is, why don't you just ask your dad if you can invite all five girls--even though they may not have initially been included in your guest list/budget--because you really would like them there.  It would safeguard agains the negative ramifications of only inviting three, be more etiquette friendly than option two, and not you being without people you'd really like to have there to celebrate with you.  If your dad says no, then you have to rethink how to tackle it.
  • I've been a teacher for a long, long, time.  And for me, my professional life has always been separate from my personal life.

    I think it's inappropriate for you to invite students, recently past, or present to your wedding.  I also think it's inappropriate for your to be on fb with recently graduated students, but that's another thread altogether.

    Please use option #3.  Keep your personal life personal.  I don't think that ultimately you'll regret at all not inviting them to your wedding, but you might find yourself with a lot of regrets from including them.
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  • I'm having a hard time equating "these students are in college and of the ages 17 - 20" and "their parents will bring a severe backlash if I don't invite them."  A reaaaally hard time. 

    People of those ages shouldn't have mommy and daddy fight their battles.
  • You're a teacher.  Not their friend.  Former students or not, I think it's inappropriate to blur the lines between personal and professional like this. 


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  • However, there were other hangers-on, shall we say, to that group who would not receive an invite and who would probably be hurt by it.
    That's pretty brutal. I get that teachers have favorites, but it's rude to pick and choose like that. A good teacher will look past who their "favorite" is and treat all their students equally.

    I would go with all or none.
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    [QUOTE]I'm having a hard time equating "these students are in college and of the ages 17 - 20" and "their parents will bring a severe backlash if I don't invite them."  A reaaaally hard time.  People of those ages shouldn't have mommy and daddy fight their battles.
    Posted by Joy2611[/QUOTE]

    ditto. I vote option 3. A wedding is a VERY personal event in one's life.
  • I am a teacher currently. I remember when my 5th grade teacher got married, she had our class sing at the ceremony but not come to the reception. She also invited a few 6th grade girls and their parents just to the ceremony but not the reception. However, we were much younger than these girls you speak of.

    I'd honestly go with #3. I wouldn't say your relationship with them is inappropriate; it's just not familiar to me. I would never dream of inviting any of my students, even those I'm close to, to my wedding. But it sounds like you have a different bond with them. Still, I don't really like option #2 and I think with #1, it's a little iffy. If you would be heartbroken to not have those five there, then I guess go with that. If it doesn't make or break your wedding day to have them in attendance, do #3. If they ask about it, just be honest and say cost didn't allow or that you weren't inviting any students period.


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  • I'm a high school teacher and I have had students ask me if they can be invited to my wedding which will occur after they have graduated...and some of those students are even my favorites but they will not be invited because it does cross a boundary.

    It's great that you are still a role model for these girls and I think you should still be a role model for them. BUT this is a very personal moment for you and I just feel that as a teacher you are crossing a big red line.

    I would do option #3.
  • I'm glad that so many other PPs have had a problem with you being such close friends with students, because I also feel that it crosses a line.  I get that you are their friend and mentor, but what you have described makes me uncomfortable. 

    I think you should go with option #3 and avoid all drama.  Word does get around, and what if this one particular mom - the one who doesn't seem to approve of your practices - informs your current or future school about your relationship with your former students?  Potential career optortunities could be jeopardized.
     
    To avoid the drama, I say go with #3.  Although I feel like you're going to go with #2 despite what everyone has said. 

    Sidenote, when I was a teenager, wedding receptions were lame and not "sooooo cool."  But maybe that was just me.
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  • I am a high school teacher, and my students didn't even know when I was getting married. Your professional life should remain completely separate from your personal one. As I see it, the only real "option" you have is #3.
  • Too many excuses. Option three and thats it. Seriously
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  • I don't necessarily have a problem with the relationship you have with the students, depending on how it's done.  If you guys are going shopping and hanging out at the mall together, that's a little odd. If they're coming by your classroom outside of school hours to catch up or meeting you at Starbucks, that's a totally different scenario.

    In this case, though, I don't think I'd invite any of them.  I'd just explain to the three that you are limited on space and that while you'd love to have them there, there just isn't room.  If they really want to be a part, perhaps you could make plans for coffee after you get your pictures back so they can see them and you can see how life is going for them?
  • I vote #3. I am a recent college graduate and have several high school teachers who I still keep up with...but I would never be expected to be included in such an important and personal part of their lives! I also think they probably do realize how expensive weddings are...I know I did in high school! I'd feel bad if one of my mentors/teachers spent $140 on me anyway! 

    Mentor does not equal friend.
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