Guests lists are the hardest component of wedding-planning, hands down. And not just the day of guest list, but all the pre-wedding events, too. It is STRESSFUL.
Between the 2 of us, we have 6 "regular" sisters, 1 sort-of-adopted sister, 1 sister-in-law, 3 brothers, 3 parents, and all of the assorted significant others. 3 of the sisters will be minors as of this summer/fall, as will one of the brothers. Who do you we at the head table at the reception? Us + the immediate families, including partners = 19 people. We've already eliminated the use of bridal parties, but we do still want to recognize our closest friends in some way. And the Foliage's checkered upbringing has made various non-immediate-family members as close as immediate family, who will expect to be recognized (because they always have been before). What do we do?
For example, I want to invite all of the [various types of] sisters to my bachelorette party, but I don't want the 3 minors to feel excluded. Plus, at least 2 of mine will be unable to come into town for it. So that leaves 1 of my sisters able to attend, and she doesn't even drink. That means that out of my 5 sisters, none of them are going to be available, legally able, and 100% happy to attend. And no matter where it is* SOMEone is going to have to travel, which makes me feel guilty. I know. People choose to travel for weddings of their own accord, and it's expected, and I don't have any reason to feel badly. Only I do. Because I'm like a professional guilt-feeler.
Ultimately, I think it's us needing to "leave [our families] and be united to [each other]" (Mark 10:7, New International Version). The original passage references leaving one's parents, but...we can make decisions independent of our parents any time. We've unceasingly felt responsible to our siblings for our whole lives, though. As the eldest siblings of Big Bunches o' Kids** we're both constantly pulled to make sure our younger brothers and sisters are happy with us, and to make everything as awesome for them as possible.
But each of these pre-parties are like these symbolic, "I AM NOT GOING TO BE 'ONE OF THE [Last Name] KIDS' ANYMORE" get-togethers. They're suddenly A Big Deal. Maybe I'm projecting and assuming my sisters feel this way when they don't. Maybe it's really just me. But I'm picturing my sister-who-cries-more-readily-than-the-rest-of-us having a near-breakdown the Friday before the wedding, when it isn't just the Power 6*** and there's no time for just us to hang out. I already know one of my future sisters-in-law is having trouble with this change, and wishing she could find an opportunity for the 6 of them to hang out as JUST the 6 of them again. But the opportunity never comes. It's just not that easy anymore.
So I'm having a friends-only bachelorette party. And a few sisters will have to miss the bridal shower. And the Friday before the wedding, my sisters (inclusive), my mom, and my sisters-in-law will spend the evening together. Because that's how it is now. I'm going to have 8 sisters, 3 brothers, and bunch of really confusing family-ties-in-law. And we're always going to feel obligated to include everyone, but you gotta draw the line somewhere, I guess. The line might as well start with booze and general debauchery.
*I've decided on the location and the date, but I'm not announcing it here yet, since it's such a limited guest list. As you may have heard.
**When I was little, my parents utilized 2 nurseries/daycares. I referred to them as "Little Bunch o' Kids" and "Big Bunch o' Kids." I much preferred Big Bunch. At Little Bunch, I had nightmares at naptime. I was a really annoying kid.
***My very most immediate family. Including me. According to the sister-who-cries, we're further broken down into some core 3 something-or-other and "The Outer Crust Trio" which is just crap. It's the Power 6, all together, or it's nothing, JERK****.
****Guess who was assigned to the Outer Crust without being consulted. Pfffft.