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Sorry, But I’d Rather Not Invite My Distant 2nd Cousin Twice Removed To My Wedding

Scenario 1: Two very happy and in love people frolicking through the mountains, holding hands right after getting eloped. “Gravity” by John Mayer is playing in the background, and not a single soul but the officiant, the couple’s best friends, and three to four close family members are in attendance.  

Scenario 2: Two very stressed out people crying, arguing, and steaming at each other with rage over a spreadsheet titled “guest list FINAL FOR REAL 2.0” with the promise of McDonald’s french fries motivating them to get it done. 

Unfortunately, me and my fiancé are the couple in scenario 2, losing sleep and brain cells deciding if we need to invite my second cousin’s two-month summer fling named Stephanie and if we can shell out enough cash to give all the other random plus ones a slice of cake. 

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The best part about picking a guest list? It’s not just the couple making decisions about who gets to attend. 

I hadn’t anticipated that orchestrating an intimate celebration of the love between TWO people would also entail navigating never-ending opinions from parents, immediate family, and friends.

An example of an actual sentence I heard coming out of my mom’s mouth recently was, “Oh, let me know if your guest list clears up so I can invite my five distant cousins.” I get it, especially with the financial help that my parents are giving us to throw this thing together. There’s pressure to keep everyone involved happy, but at the end of the day, this is our day. Shouldn’t my fiancé and I have the final say in who will be there to celebrate with us? 

This seems to be the universal question I keep asking over and over again, only to receive the same response of people saying, “Oh, you have to invite them because they’re family.” WTF? 

Did you realize that being a guest at a wedding costs the bride and groom at least $50-$100 for you to eat dinner, cake, and drink something other than water? Not to mention, that’s on top of the venue, photographer, videographer, floral, stationery, and whatever DIY projects you choose to do to “save money” that ends with you banging your head against a wall. 

I’m sorry, but I’ll be spending my money on the people who spend time investing in me and my fiancé rather than a distant relative I haven’t seen since 1996. 

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They say “love” is spelled ‘T-I-M-E” and it’s true. We have friends who are so much closer and have had a larger impact on our lives than any second cousin twice removed. Those are the people I want to be with on our big day.  

Maybe I am quite untraditional, but when did inviting your entire family to your wedding become the norm? Now, I get why this happens at funerals. I can understand the soul-crushing guilt that maybe, just maybe, you should have spent more time with your Great Aunt Mary whose Christmas punch was a little too strong for an 8-year-old before they died. Everyone needs some sort of closure in any relationship. It makes sense why those experiences turn out to be like family reunions so that loved ones can share in their grief and all the memories from that person’s life and blah, blah, blah. 

But a wedding is not the same as a funeral. There are so many opportunities to reach out after the wedding, in case you were not aware! At the end of the day, we’ll be married, whether you’re invited or not. If there are family members who feel the absolute need to be at my wedding, where were you the last decade? I still have the same phone number I got in middle school, so, uh, it’s not hard to reach me. Or even easier than a phone call, what about trying to contact me on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or even LinkedIn. I know the practice of writing letters has died out, but can’t you shoot me a DM?

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Also, asking my mom about me and how I’m doing is not the same as actually reaching out to me. Sorry, but there’s a difference between being nosy versus caring about someone, and it shows in the lack of communication. Knowing things about someone and truly knowing someone are completely different concepts and I’m not sure the wedding industry has realized it. Hell, I’m not sure all the people who assume they’re being invited to my wedding have realized it. 

My wedding shouldn’t be a family reunion, but feel free to plan one. I’m sure there are lots of people who would happily book a ticket to catch up on the last 10 years of their lives, but it’s not going to be at my expense.

Emma Stinnette
Emma Stinnette
Emma Stinnette is a Texas girl based in St. Louis. When she's not working on her YA novel, she's teaching middle school. She's a Gilmore Girls fanatic and a hopeless romantic who is devouring romance novels cover to cover in 4 hours. You can find more of her writing on