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Wedding Crasher

Monday, June 10, 2013
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Dear Miriam,

My wedding is a month away, and I just got an email from an old acquaintance asking about arranging a carpool for her to the wedding. The thing is, we didn't invite her and don't want to invite her. I ignored the first email, but then she sent a second, more urgent message. How do I respond?

Signed,
Wedding Crasher


Dear Crasher,

In this digital age, it's pretty easy to find out when a wedding is taking place, where the couple is registered and who is in the wedding party. It is also easy to find out if you're invited -- all you have to do is wait and see if you get an invitation. In addition to helping the couple keep track of RSVPs, being in possession of a physical reply card (the more practical cousin of the invitation itself) means the couple wants you there. 

As far as I know, there are two exceptions to this rule in the Jewish world. One is in specific Orthodox circles, where attendance for the chuppah (ceremony) is often open, whereas the meal following is invitation only. The other is in Israel, where, according to my scant understanding, anyone is welcome just to show up for whatever. If this acquaintance comes  from other of those backgrounds, that's a rationale for her confusion, but not a very convincing one.

Even those potentials for misunderstanding don't amount to a scenario that would warrant your arranging a ride for her. She sounds pushy, confused, socially unaware or all of the above, likely why you didn't think to include her in your guest list. Send her an email that says, "I'm sorry for any misunderstanding, but we're unfortunately not able to include you in our celebration." If you want to cite size or cost constraints, go for it, but don't feel obligated to provide an explanation.Be sure that whatever you say is unambiguous so that she can't counter with, "I won't eat a lot," or "I don't need a chair." If you're having any pre- or post-wedding celebrations like an aufruf or sheva brachot meal, consider including her in one of those, but again, it's not an obligation. 

Creating a wedding guest list is ridiculously complicated, and I don't envy anyone faced with that task. Still, anyone who's ever planned a wedding or talked to anyone who's planned a wedding knows that not everyone can be included. If you find yourself deciding between this friend and that, be prepared for some confusion and possibly some hurt feelings, but know that you're going to have to limit yourself. If you find yourself not in possession of an expected invitation, better to be happy for the couple and be glad you don't have to purchase a gift than to harbor any resentment about missing out on the passed hors d'oeuvres. 

Mazel tov on the upcoming wedding, and be well,
Miriam

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