Inner Circle: You're in-the-know, almost like a wedding chief of staff. You're close friends with the bride or groom, and you were probably among the first few to ask, "is this The One?" when your friend started dating this person. You were among the few to receive a phone call directly from your friend within the first 24 hours of their engagement. You know the wedding colors, the wedding theme, and the first dance song. You've given up your weekends in order to accompany the bride or groom to select their wedding dress or wedding tux, and to lend your taste buds to wedding cake selection. You stay behind to help clean up after the engagement party, and you meticulously plan the bachelorette night. You're definitely in the wedding party and you can bustle the bride's wedding dress in your sleep! You'll remember her purse with the lip gloss, her phone, and her mini roll-on perfume, and you'll hoist up her dress when she has to pay a visit to the ladies room. You'll dance like it's "Flashdance" with the other bridesmaids and you'll mug for any camera pointed near you. You'll always have extra bobby pins for the bride and when the last dance is danced, you'll dash back to the hotel for a quick change so you can arrange for the after-party at the hotel bar, and you'll wake up early enough to join the newlywed couple and their family for the day-after brunch.
Expect to be invited to: engagement party, bachelor/bachelorette party, bridal tea, rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony and reception, wedding after-party, post-wedding day brunch
Supporting Cast: While you might not be in the Inner Circle, you orbit around the Inner Circle. Maybe you're a super-close co-worker with the bride or groom-to-be, or you're a sorority sister or fraternity brother who grab beers together after work, take in a baseball game, and are invited out to celebrate each other's birthdays. You might not have been there when the groom was picking out the ring, but maybe you were there when your friend introduced their significant other to the group. You don't know how to bustle the wedding dress, in fact, you're not in the wedding party, but you're sitting wedding party adjacent at the reception and you can smile knowingly through the toasts with all of their inside jokes. You'll hit the dance floor HARD, and you'll get several rounds of shots going. You'll know not to let boozy Aunt Rita anywhere near the gin, and you'll stay long after the cake cutting.
Expect to be invited to: bachelor/bachelorette party, wedding ceremony and reception, wedding after-party, post-wedding day brunch
The Fringe: If you're working The Fringe, then, chances are, you're an old friend who possibly knew the bride or groom-to-be during elementary school or high school, before a job opportunity caused one of your families to move away. You've reconnected over the years, thanks in large measure to Facebook, and there have been the occasional Fourth of July barbecues and other large events with a cast of thousands on the guest list (including a high school or college reunion). Your invitation to the wedding, then, is really a tribute to the ghost of your friendship past, and, as such, you can just sit back and enjoy. You'll have zero responsibility, and if there's a buffet with a top shelf open bar, then live it up. Just don't go overboard or you'll never eat wedding cake in this town, again!! As for seating, while you obviously won't be in the Inner Circle seating or in Supporting Cast seating, the bride or groom will try to logically place you - so you may just end up at a table with the other Fringesters. One thing is for sure, in The Fringe, attendance at the wedding is OPTIONAL!!! (that was my Oprah voice:) So if the flights and hotels are economically out of your reach, opt for something nice from their gift registry and a heartfelt card.
Expect to be invited to: engagement party (if it's back in the "old neighborhood" where you grew up and where your Fringe friend and his/her Fringe mom and dad still live), wedding ceremony and reception, wedding after-party
The Outer Limits: Have you ever received an unexpected wedding invitation in the mail from someone you sort of know? Well, welcome to The Outer Limits! Friends who occupy this realm are either surprised that this relationship even exists, or they're annoyed that they're not already in the Inner Circle. You've got the worst seats for the cake cutting, but you're close to the kitchen or the bar or the bathrooms or the exits. Your table is comprised of you, your date, and 6 empty place settings, or a rogues' gallery of oddball cousins that don't even fit with the bride or groom's families. Do yourself a favor and don't go. You'll save yourself the aggravation of forced, canned laughter over the tedious, insidery toasts, and you'll save the happy couple from having to constantly ask each other for the next 50 years or more of their married life just who in the hell was that couple at the cousins table!! As for the gift, don't get the most expensive item on the gift registry. Hell, don't even go for the mid-priced items.
Expect to be invited to: well, nothing.
I hope this helps and happy wedding season!