Congratulations on your engagement! As your wedding day approaches, you’ll have many decisions to make. One of the first tasks (after selecting your date and venue), will be to create the guest list. If wedding planning has been a breeze so far, be prepare! Even though you might have a vision for the guest list, your fiancé or your families might have a different idea. Trying to accommodate all of their wishes can quickly add up. The Real Simple Weddings guide says it best “ Drawing up a guest list is like serving champagne. Just when you think you’ve got the perfect pour, the bubbles take over and the glass overflows”.
But there are a few simple tricks of the trade that can help you keep your numbers manageable, and prevent hurt feelings. I’ll raise a glass to that!
Determine the size of the guest list.
Taking into account your venue, your budget, and the size of your family talk to your fiancé and families to come up with a reasonable size for the guest list. This is an important first step, because it will help you to determine the amount you can budget per guest. For example, if your guest list is small and intimate, you may be able to splurge on chivari chairs and steak dinners for all of your guests. If you have a very large number in mind, your style might be somewhat less extravagant.
Start a wish list of people you would like to include, and ask your fiancé and each set of parents to do the same.
Add the totals together. If the number is equal to or less than the size of the guest list you previously determined, you are one lucky bride to be! If not, you will all have to go back through the list again and create several, separate relationship lists.
Make relationship lists that include closest friends and family, extended relatives, and casual friends.
This will help you to make your cuts. Instead of eliminating a few people here and there, cut them out by group. For example, work friends or your parks and rec softball team might be groups that can be eliminated if you don’t have the space. If you need to make cuts from the extended family, consider dividing them into family that you see or talk to regularly versus family that you’ve never met. Invite the second list only if you have room. Also, remember to think in the present. As close as you may have been to your best friend from grade school, if you haven’t talked in years, don’t feel obligated to include her. A good rule of thumb, if your friend hasn’t met or at least heard of your fiancé (facebook doesn’t count), then they can probably be cut from the list.
Decide on plus ones and kids.
While you don’t have to invite significant others of single guests, excluding someone who means a great deal to your friend could cause a lot of hurt feelings. If only a few of your single guests have significant others, try to include them. Address the invitation to both of them instead of simply writing their name “plus guest”. It will feel more personal. Alternatively, if your friend isn’t in a relationship, do not include “plus guest” on their invite unless you are afraid they won’t know anyone at the wedding. My brother in-law explained it best “You don’t go to a wedding with a date, you go to the wedding to get a date!”.
To learn more about the decision to include or not include kids, see Wedding Dilemna: Kids or No Kids.
If you approach the guest list thoughtfully and with careful consideration, you can eliminate much of the stress for both yourself and your family!