Barmitzvah Line – do not cross!

I am totally excited to be planning this barmitzvah, after all, I have done two already, so this should be a breeze, right? I have spent the last hour or so updating the guest list spreadsheet that I made right after we were done with the last barmitzvah 15 months ago. Adding people. Removing people. Question-marking people.

There are always people who are upset not to have been included. But the thing is you cannot invite everyone. There is a set budget and limited space -  plus other variables – the hosts have to draw the line somewhere.

There were a few people that were upset not to have been included in our wedding – we were less than 40 people sitting down to dinner, and it was the perfect size for us. We wanted something small and intimate that was about the KoD and me. We drew the line where we felt it was necessary and didn’t make exceptions. Feelings were hurt, unfortunately, and there are a couple of people who don’t talk to me any more since then. There are those who weren’t included and were just happy for us and didn’t care that they hadn’t been invited.

This barmitzvah is coming up and there are four families to consider now. Mine, KoD’s, my Ex’s and Mrs Ex’s. Just family alone – that’s a lot of people. Granted not everyone will come, but that’s still a sizable number. Then there are those people we are close with, and then there are those that we are not so close with but they invited us to their simcha, so we should invite them to ours. If you are not careful, the list can get out of hand.

What gives me pause is deciding where to draw the line this time. We are new in our community and don’t want to ruffle any feathers, but we do have to keep the budget in mind, and more importantly we want to ensure that the day is about the barmitzvah boy, not about who was invited and who wasn’t.

I wish it weren’t so complicated.

So – when you made your simchas where did you decide to draw the line? Was there fall out? How did you deal with it?

Post Written by

No Comments

  1. lady lock and load says:

    If you don’t invite me I will still talk to you!

  2. batya from NJ says:

    It’s such a tough one-the whole “who to invite to a simcha”! I know b/c I’ve been there twice BH & I also have a large extended family BH & it’s always tough deciding where to draw the lines. Do I invite my first cousins’ children especially if they are older? Then again, how old is appropriate? & if i invite my mom’s side of the family who i am closer with then I feel obligated to invitedmy dad’s side of the family (who i am not as close with) not to mention both sides of my husband family etc etc & the guest list keeps on mushrooming & things can quickly spiral out of control. It is certainly always a dilemma.

    And then once we decide which relatives to include, we need to figure out which friends & which neighbors to include & of course like you said, there are those who you aren’t as close with but who invited you to their simcha so you feel obligated to recipricate. This whole business of making Smachot is definitely headache inducing & can most certainly ruffle feathers. Bottom line, we just CANNOT please the world but we do the best we can to make a Simcha that will make our child happy & please as many of our loved ones as we can without making ourselves crazy & our bank accounts run dry!!
    Hatzlacha with your guest list & just make sure that I am #1 on your list-LOL ;)!

  3. mrsmelissasg says:

    I had this problem with my family for my wedding. My father has 5 sisters, all of whom have children and most of whose children have children (and even some of them have children, phew!) – that makes a very large family! I drew the line at people I would recognize as I walked down the aisle. I had a cousin who did not make that cut (hadn’t seen him in 10 years, literally), who decided to show up anyway, and an Aunt who was insulted that not all of her children were invited to chose not to come.
    All you can do is what makes sense for you, and the people who really love your family, will understand.

  4. tesyaa says:

    an Aunt who was insulted that not all of her children were invited to chose not to come.

    In general, I would always invite relatives of the same degree, unless there’s a special reason to include someone who otherwise wouldn’t be invited. It’s hard to explain to a first cousin once removed why she wasn’t invited but her brother was.

    I made an exception for a distant relative who is the only one of his family living in this country; first of all, because his siblings wouldn’t come anyway from a different hemisphere, and also because he and his wife don’t have a lot of family in this country and really feel welcome and happy when they’re included.

    • mrsmelissasg says:

      Just as you said you made an exception, so too did I. I do not feel it necessary to get into the details on this post as the why’s are irrelevant to HSM’s situation. (And it is only as hard as you make it to tell someone why they were not invited when so-and-so was – it can happen just as much with community members and friends as with family.)

      {HSM – If you want to know more of the details, I’d be happy to share them privately.}

  5. Miriyummy says:

    Drawing the line is such a difficult thing, especially when you have blended families to consider. I’ve thrown two of my own weddings, 4 Bat Mitzvah parties, my oldest daughter’s wedding, helped my husband with his son’s wedding and grandson’s brit, and now we have my husband’s youngest’s Bar Mitzvah coming up on Simchat Torah. I get a headache just thinking about it.

    We don’t really draw the line at family. We live in Israel and have very little family to start with. I’m related to half of Mea She’arim, but that’s another issue and universe altogether. When it comes to friends and communities we look at whom we have had contact with in the last year, and that’s where we draw the line. Yes, people do get insulted, but short of having some evil fairy put the Bar Mitzvah boy to sleep for 100 years, you have to draw it somewhere.

  6. Mrs. S. says:

    Yes, you do have to draw the line somewhere – otherwise you get stuck in the dreaded Cycle of Invitations;-)

    Interestingly, we’ve found that even though we’ve lived in the same community since we made aliyah 12.5 years ago, we STILL have to adjust the line for each simchah (kein yirbu!).

  7. Ugh, what an unpleasant task. I remember planning for our wedding and having to make a cheshbon of people I was close to, people who thought they were closer to me than I thought I was to them, people who I wasn’t close to, but really had to come for one reason or another…headache city! In the end it more or less worked out, and if I ostracized anyone, I’m not aware of it.

    Since you are new to the community, you could view it as an opportunity to set a precedent of what your simchas are like. Invite a small amount of people, keeping the simcha focused on the actual bar mitzvah, and then explain that you like to keep simchas simple and to-the-point. Maybe you’ll be a trendsetter (and we would all be grateful, I’m sure).

  8. Frayda says:

    I like Rivki @ LitML’s idea. Try to keep it small and try not to worry about making people sad. If you invite too many people, then you will be sad and that is not good at all!

  9. Miriam says:

    The thing about a bar mitzvah, as opposed to a wedding, is that you can make a kiddush on the closest shabbos and invite people (or even the while community) to just that. Then only invite family to the actual seudah, and hopefully no one will be insulted.

Leave A Reply