Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Groom’s Mother Hurt by Guest List

DEAR NATALIE: My son recently got engaged, and they are in the planning stages of their wedding. We have a small family, and the bride has a large family. I saw the tentative list of invitees. The bride's family looked to be sizable; our family had a small amount of invitees, including my husband and me. I'm trying not to get out of control, but is it too early to ask if we are allowed to invite close friends because the venue they are looking at has very limited space? We already gave them a sizable check with no restrictions. -- HURT ALREADY 

DEAR HURT ALREADY: Aren't weddings so fun? Everyone has to smile at one another while secretly wanting to pull each other's hair out. But before you end up bald before the wedding, stop and think before handing them a list of your closest friends. Clearly, the bride has the reins in this case, and while back in the day it was customary for the bride's family to pay for most -- if not all -- of the party, the cost of weddings has increased so much that it is often a group effort. I applaud you for cutting them a sizable check to help with the costs, but I still feel as though this is her day. Instead of approaching her with a list of your friends, first go to your son and say to him, "I noticed the guest list is really unbalanced. Here are some close family friends. You remember so-and-so?" See if he can nudge her into including two or three more couples on your side of the aisle. But, if that doesn't go anywhere, do what a lot of my friends are doing: Make this a multi-part event and have your close friends over for brunch the next day after the wedding (and invite her immediate family of course!) to celebrate their marriage. It may not be the same as being at the wedding, but the gesture will be sweet, and who doesn't like mimosas to cure their wedding hangover? 

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Don't think of Instagram as just a place where selfies live. Make connections through the direct messenger and reach out to people through your social network to help facilitate relationships. A little "like" can go a long way! 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)