The guest list, oh the guest list.  This has been an ongoing assignment ever since we got engaged.  It has made me think a lot about my friendships, from ones all the way from first grade to ones I’ve made last week.  I’ve jotted down people who’s houses I’ve slept over at, people I’ve prayed with, and friends I’ve lived with in my 25 years of life.   They get added to people my parents have eaten with, served with, and prayed with in their 50 years of life.  And all of these people get added to Will’s people.  And these people get added to the Shao’s people.  And it comes out to about…well, enough people to realize that if you talked to each person for only one minute, you’d be there for 12 hours.  So we’ve tried to narrow it down to only having to stand there for 6 hours.

Compiling and organizing the guest list has been an up-and-down emotional process.  It takes my breath away how many people I have gotten to know over the years.  So many people have had an impact on my life, whether in my childhood or in college.  I’ve been especially blessed by all the brothers and sisters I’ve befriended in my Christian community at CBCM, AACF, and HR.  There is definitely something to be said about the spiritual connections I’ve made that last through the years, across time zones, and over hundreds of miles and a couple of oceans.  I have also been blessed by the many friends of my parents who took care of me when I was in diapers, taught my 4th grade Sunday school, helped plan my surprise 16th birthday party, and those that were at my send-off party to college.  You have been my “uncles” and “aunties” and I now talk to many of you as if you are just my friends.  Making a list of people to attend a party marking a huge event in my life has made me realize how God has blessed me with people that have taught me, cared for me, guided me, prayed for me, laughed with me, and loved me.  There is no way I can look at the list and say I am not loved.  Being loved by too many people is a better problem than not feeling loved by anyone.

Unfortunately, the “down” part of this process has been the realization that we don’t have the money to invite everyone.  It pains me to think that money has to be the limiting factor.  I mean, there could be a way to invite everyone on the list.  We could serve food from the dollar menu at McDonald’s.  People could BYOB+F – Bring Your Own Beer + Food.  Maybe we don’t even serve food and just have everyone come to the ceremony.  Trust me, I’ve entertained each of these options, wondering if this could be the way to be able to invite everyone.  But, when it comes down to it, would I want everyone to have to wait in a receiving line for 3 hours just to hug me once?  Do I want out-of-town guests to travel all the way to MA only to feel like they didn’t even see me?  Do I want guests to feel like they had such a close relationship to me, yet end up feeling so far away?  I don’t think any guest would want to eat McDonald’s with hundreds of other people and the most they see of me is a picture of Will and me in a framed photograph on their table.  I don’t think that’d be fair to them.

Hence, the up-and-down emotions.  It has not been an easy process of narrowing the list down.  I’ve had to make a few questions to ask myself as I think about each potential guest.  To give you a taste, here are a few:

  • Have I had a significant conversation with him/her in the past year?
  • Has he/she made an effort to connect with me in the past year?
  • Has he/she been an important part of helping me realize who I am?
  • Has he/she been an important person in my relationship with Will?
  • How important is it that he/she is a witness to our wedding vows?
  • If I invite him/her, do I feel obligated to then invite him/her, and him/her, AND him/her?

These have been tough questions to have to ask for each person.  Sometimes thankfully it adds one person to the list, and sometimes sadly, it takes someone off the list.  What it doesn’t do, is take them out of my life.  All of the people, whether invited or not, have played and will play a role in my life.  I truly value each person for the ways God has brought them to me and for what they have added to my life.

I write this post as an insight into what goes into making the guest list.  It’s not about who I love more, or who I think will be the most fun at the party, or who will give the best present.  To be honest, I was upset a few years ago when I wasn’t invited to a friend’s wedding.  Back then, there was no way for me to have understood what must have gone through their heads when sending out their invitations.  I’m sure they were not intending to upset me; they must’ve had to ask themselves many of the same questions I came up with, and maybe they answered no to one or two questions.  I understand now and respect their decision.

I hope my friends will understand.  I’d hate to have such a wonderful moment in my life tarnish our friendship.  I hope that even if I could not have them at the one-day-wedding, that I can have them be a part of my insert number-day marriage/life.

Guests may feel honored to be invited.  But I am honored that God would have blessed me as much as He has.