buckle up buttercup! by melinda van fleet

Planning Your Guest List Can Be Mr. Toads Wild Ride

I wonder…Is it possible to manifest the perfect guest list for your wedding?

Jen was my roommate when I lived in Columbus, Ohio, circa 1999. We were friends through one of my other very close friends from college. Jen was super fun and a bit wild, the type of roommate when you’re in your 20s living in a college town you put on your vision board. She had this super cute boyfriend who had a great job in her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA—lucky! But she was having a torrid affair with her co-worker and dumped her cute boyfriend for the lover.

The other guy didn’t want a girlfriend and ended their secret romance. Crushed and shocked, Jen went groveling back to her super cute former boyfriend, who took her back, forgave her, and ended up proposing a few months later. Seriously WTF?

I was stunned! Here I was, single and distraught, desperately hoping for a boyfriend, doing every bit of hocus pocus I knew at the time. The internet, which so many are blessed with now, didn’t exist to help with YouTube videos about shifting through the torment and trauma. Here was someone who cheated on a fabulous guy, dumped him, and got him back- huge rock and all! What was I doing wrong?…I digress.

But then…she invited me to be a bridesmaid. Shocked as I was just a “party friend/roommate,” and she had plenty of other girlfriends from her hometown; I should have been flattered. I could move past my green monster vibe and her indiscretion as it was her life. However, her wedding was in Pittsburgh, a destination wedding in my point of view, albeit with no beach or tiki huts.

And to make it worse, we all had to wear these big butter cup yellow wide-brim fancy hats, big full-length lace trimmed dress, and you guessed it—long white gloves. My almost 52-year-old brain is even thinking the dresses had a hoop. You may not even know what a hoop is. Yep, what era was I in? Gone With the Wind?

And as a 28-year-old in retail, I wasn’t making the millions yet. This Scarlett O’Hara get-up was very pricey, and I was on severely limited funds as I wasn’t aware yet of limiting beliefs and money mindset abundance hacks.

After too much overthinking and gut-wrenching anxiety, I turned down being a Little Bo Peep bridesmaid knowing full well that I may lose that friendship. It was a coin toss in life. And so it was, we parted ways, and my own destination wedding journey began.

If you are a bride-to-be, I could bet you my winning lottery ticket that nine out of ten of you have some sort of guest list angst. Maybe it’s the wedding party? Perhaps it’s inviting your Crazy Aunt Hildie or maybe it’s who will sit by who at the table and talk the other person’s ear off about their pet gerbil. Regardless of the scenario, these little things can lead to stress, anxiety, and even some conflict within the family.

Do I have real expert Dr. Phil relationship-type advice, “heck no!”

Well…kind of. My mentor self says, “Do what you want because The Universe conspires to make you happy,” and if you say, “Everything is working out perfectly for me.” It will, and it does, seriously.

But I am not sure how on board your mother-in-law may be with that wisdom. Sorry.

So, the crazy thing is I have only been married once, but have had two destination weddings. Yep, it’s freakishly true. Since the beautiful Samantha Murphy (owner of this publication) is only giving me 800 words (yep, blame her) I can’t dive into the quantum story about my first “wedding that wasn’t a wedding,” but lucky for you, dear reader, you can read all about it the book I wrote— Life & Love Lessons. 

However, I do have just enough word count to share these nuggets…

My first “wedding” was in Hilton Head Island, SC and my former fiancé and I decided on 70 people. Getting to the 70 invites was rough but doable. The “wedding” took place at one of the premier resorts on the island. We went “balls to the wall” with ice sculptures, over-the-top designed cake, and fireworks (well, sparklers). I even designed my pink silk dress and had it custom-made as well as my three bridesmaids’ dresses. I did all the lux deets!

Silly us thinking that maybe 40 would show and that would help with costs. Wrong! Everyone came with bells on! We ate, drank, and did all the vodka jello shots that my friends and I had made.

It was an absolute blast with everyone jumping into the ocean at the end to cool off (100+ degrees in June is not a cool walk in the park in South Carolina) but a note to my future 2nd wedding that if you are planning a destination thinking no one will come, you need to shift your mindset. Subconscious reprogramming could work if you are really struggling. Just kidding.

My second wedding was legit. Sixteen years later, still legit; however, some days can be a hmmm…I wonder. If you are married, you may be with me on that. No glass houses here.

All kidding aside, my husband Ryan is a great guy and super cute. But there is a reason why my best advice is always to make sure you have your own bathroom.

Ryan and I got married quickly, so fast that others didn’t know that I wasn’t married from my first wedding. How is that you ask? Because it was over a year later, after many Twilight Zone occurrences, that I finally discovered that my first wedding wasn’t actually legal, so I didn’t have time or the energy to tell many folks. Surprise! A mix of excitement, relief, and shame.

So, Ryan and I decided to have, yep, a destination wedding but (for me) this time in Roatan, Honduras. Why not fly to some crazy place where they walk up and down the beach with machine guns? The USA was now boring to me. And I needed to uplevel the craziness of the first experience.

But with a destination in a 3rd world country on an island with only weekly flights that cost $1K a pop, we decided to keep it very tight. My parents, his parents, and nine close friends. All of whom came!

Luckily, I had had a practice run on this planning process and in between had a good friend (who came to both of my weddings and we are still friends- God bless her) get married in Puerto Rico. She had extra people show up who she didn’t even invite! Imagine the last-minute hustle and chaos to make that work in a mid-sized ballroom? 

To say it was super tough not to include various people to Roatan would be a lie. And I think that is the case for a lot of brides even though they don’t wish for that inside voice to get outside in fear of hurting someone’s feelings or causing major fist fights within their family. No one wants a black eye for engagement photos.

However, when we had to have a few discussions, it wasn’t that bad. Our anxiety and over-thinking subsided. And we are glad we stuck with what we did and didn’t lose any friendships or family over it. They seemed to understand and could have even been secretly relieved. Heck, no one wants to be forced into the buttercup dress and hat, right?

What I learned is, when you hold an energy of certainty and trust that the steps you are taking are right for you and your fiancé, it all works out as it should.

Take that, Dr. Phil.

With an abundance of luck, love, happiness, and blessings on your big day!

PS- And make sure it’s legal.

Melinda Van Fleet

 Melinda Van Fleet is not only a freelance writer, host of the You Have The Power Too! podcast, and best-selling author, but a magical intuitive certified life & business coach/mentor/consultant and certified Ahai 7D Energy Practitioner. She and her husband own Good Karma Sportfishing in The Florida Keys. Connect with her further on Instagram or through her website.