I have another actual letter to answer this week, but my friend has asked to remain anonymous so I get to change her name, and her fiance's name as well. Allow me to introduce you to my friends Vivian and Giles. They recently got engaged. I don't have to worry too much about you guessing who they really are, because it seems like everyone I know who isn't already married has become engaged this year! How wonderful! Here's Vivian's note:
I have a politely worded question! Giles and I are not inviting all of my extended family to our wedding, opting instead to send a select few (who I haven't seen in forever, don't remember what they look like, etc) announcements instead. However we don't want these announcements to look like we're begging for cash or presents...we're not! We want to include them, but don't want to potentially shell out $125 plus for them to come/don't think they would come anyway. Basically, we want to it say: We got married! It's exciting! Don't feel obligated to send presents! We love you! Do you think this is something that Politely Worded would handle?
Is this something I can handle? Well, normally I would have referred Vivian to a wedding site, but she said that she and Giles already looked at some and everything they found sounded horrible and like it was begging for gifts. They genuinely do not want that.
So. Weddings are tricky. You, as the soon-to-be-newlyweds, just want to have a beautiful, fun day with your nearest and dearest. Parents, siblings, grandparents, maybe a few favorite aunts, uncles, and cousins, maybe your adorable baby niece, and of course your best friends! But some of your relatives always feel like every. single. family wedding must also double as a family reunion!
Well Vivian and Giles, it your wedding, and you can invite who you like. It appears that you've already come to that conclusion and made your guest list accordingly, but what to do about those 20-50 great-aunts and third cousins that you had to leave out in order to make room for your high school best friend?
I recommend thinking of your wedding as kind of like having a baby. You want everyone to know that you had a baby, but you don't want everyone at the shower! So your nearest and dearest get invites, whereas your more far-flung acquaintances get an announcement afterwards, with the baby's name, birthdate, and maybe a photo. You can use this same approach for your wedding. Try some wording kind of like this:
Dear Aunt Mildred,
I'm happy to tell you that Giles Penderghast and I were married on December 17th. I've included one of our favorite photos from the ceremony. Give our love to Cousin Isabel!
Keep it short and sweet! If applicable, you can also add if you're changing your name to Vivian Penderghast, or hyphenating your name. This is also a good time to make sure they have your address. Even if you and Giles have been living together, if your family is anything like mine, some of them may have still been sending Christmas cards and such to you via your parents. This is the way to announce your entrance into Real Adult Life. You are a married woman with a home and a career, you have your own address.
If you keep the focus less on "Hey! We got married!" and more on "Here is an update on my changed status and also a recent photo in case you keep a family photo album", it will not look like a gift-grab. Some people will of course feel hurt that they didn't get invited, but there's nothing you can really do about that. The hurt feelings should fade as soon as they get distracted by another wedding/christening/Thanksgiving dinner.
Some people will still feel obligated to send gifts. I kid you not, when we got married we got a set of dessert plates from a resident at the retirement home my grandparents worked at, and a lovely wedding album that my mother-in-laws co-workers chipped in for. People hear wedding and they think gift! Accept that some people will send you unsolicited gifts, and be prepared to write a sweet thank-you note. Others will contact you asking what they can send, to which you can say "Oh, we already have everything we need, but it's so nice of you to think of us!" Make sure to tell your parents to say the same thing to the relatives who call them asking for registry info or what you still need.
I hope this helps, and that you and Giles have a fabulous wedding!