Urgh, the dreaded guest list, easily the most stressful and guilt inducing part of wedding planning. It’s divisive and often controversial nature is at the core of most arguments and will often upset more than it pleases. You know you can’t invite everyone, so just how do you tackle a guest list?
Understand your budget
Understanding your budget, how big your wedding and reception venues are and how many people you can afford to cater for are three key factors in developing a guest list. It will obviously give you a clear number of how many people you can realistically invite and your guest list will have a structure.
Make rules before you start
A few people I’ve spoken to before writing this piece prescribe to the “go wild” at first, and make a fantasy guest list. Then a slash and burn approach is needed from there on in. For me, I find this is one of the most stressful strategies when developing a guest list. Instead, I prescribe first to a set of agreed rules:
Ask each other some questions like: do you want kids at our wedding?
Are we using plus 1’s for our single friends?
These types of questions will be different for each couple, but in most cases they will enable you to establish simple rules from the beginning and they will save you from the painful task of cutting people later on.
Day and Evening Guests
It’s also important to clarify whether you’re going to have separate evening invites or you want everyone invited to attend the whole day. This is a good chance for you to be strategic and can often be the answer too many of the tricky questions like Do we want kids at our wedding?
Make an A, B and C list
If you can’t resist making a fantasy guest list it’s best to start with different guest categories. Get the guests you want into the A list and get the invites out first. If you get any guests who drop out you can always strategically move people up from the B list.
Photo Credit: The Endearing Designer
Make some rules for Mum and Dad
Traditionally speaking it’s usually the bride’s parents who pay for most or all of the wedding. Yet in today’s society we have become much more modern in our approach and most parents will expect to carry the burden of helping to pay for a wedding. However as a result of this you may end up with both sets of parents expecting to bring 20 of their own friends and co-workers, most of whom you’ve never even met before and will realistically never meet again. Make ground rules for your parents, such as how when was the last time you personally saw Dad’s supposedly best golfing buddy. Another good tip here would be to let them make a list of people they can invite if anyone, on your top priority list, unfortunately can’t come to your wedding.
What to do with the kids?
With the cost of a wedding growing every year, it’s becoming hard for couples to accommodate whole families. Kids can be great to have at a wedding, but the cost of feeding an extra 2 or 3 people can just be realistically out of your budget. Be prepared, as there are risks for not inviting kids; people you love dearly may just simply not come, especially if they have to travel from out of town. Hiring babysitters to look after kids could be a better option than seating and feeding them at your reception. It’s also a great idea to make sure the wedding is segregated well, as inviting one set of nieces and nephews to your wedding whilst your brothers kids have been left at home is only going to cause rifts and upset.
Photo Credit: Weddingfriends
Friends – Make decisions for them
I went over this a little earlier in the rules section, but it’s important to clearly define who gets a plus one and who doesn’t. Weddings can be great places to meet a friend’s new partner, but quite often a plus 1 is just inflating the size of your wedding when there is no need too! You may have been there yourself, you get the invite, your name +1 and you feel like you have to bring someone. Weddings can be great places for your single friends to meet people and have a good time, or even to just come to together. Maybe pick up the phone and let them know they’re free to invite a plus 1, but just make sure they let you know early on.
The Old “Friend” – Don’t feel obliged
This is one of the most stressful categories when it comes to building your guest list. Simply put, don’t feel obliged to invite old friends you’ve fallen out of touch with. Weddings can be a great place to reignite friendships, and you may regret not inviting them in the future if you do rekindle that old relationship. But this is definitely a part of the guest list you can make a strict rule. How much have you spoken to so and so in the last year or two? Strict rules do wonders, so make one for old ‘friends’ and stick to it!
Just do it
The office is always a difficult task to maneuver, especially when you’ve been talking non stop about how wonderful the whole day is going to be. If you happen to be in a close working environment, it’s always best to invite a few work colleagues and especially your boss. You don’t want to have to tell 10 people the same stories when you get back. Plus, your colleagues will make a great table together with your husband’s/wife’s work colleagues.
The Do’s and Do not’s of guests lists
Do set up strict rule to abide by before making a guest list
Do invite work colleagues
Do make decisions for friends
Do make rules for your Mum and Dad
Do think about hiring a best sitter for children
Do stagger your invites
Do not feel obliged to invite old friends
Do not rush your decision on whether you can accommodate children
Do not start making a guest list without a budget
The last thing you need when you’re planning a wedding is stress. The guest list is your chance to ask the people who you love the most to witness you embrace your love with another person. So trust me when I say everyone who gets an invite, whether it’s a day or evening invitation, will be flattered. Don’t worry about upsetting anyone else, because you most certainly won’t be worrying about it on your wedding day.
Do you have any Do’s or Do not’s of guest lists? Post them below or share on our Facebook Page!