Creating your wedding guest list can be a difficult undertaking. For me, it was the most stressful part of wedding planning. It was the only part of wedding planning that I actually shed tears over as I watched my once-small wedding get larger and larger, until the guest list had 100 more people on it than I originally envisioned. It’s the aspect of wedding planning that can make or break your budget, and also the aspect that your familiar will like have the most to say about. Trust me, your parents will have a lot of opinions on the guest list. The guest list doesn’t have to be a nightmare, though. As long as you communicate with your spouse and set ground rules early, it’s possible to make this part of planning as stress-free as possible. Hopefully these tips can help ease your anxiety over the guest list!
Write a tentative guest list before you choose a venue.
If you let your venue dictate the guest list, you might find yourself in a bind later when you find out your must-invite list is larger than the number your venue can accommodate! The venues I considered held anywhere from 100-500 guests. Since we invited far more than 100 people, those smaller venues got the cut early on. The guest doesn’t have to be the final version, but try to get an idea of how many guests you need to accommodate.
Make some firm cutting rules.
For instance, cut any friends you haven’t spoken with in the last year. Or any relatives you’ve never actually met. Having these rules from the beginning will make it easier to give some names the axe.
Decide who gets a say.
Your parents are going to want a say in the guest list. No ifs, ands or buts about it. It will be easier to avoid a fight if you set rules right away for how much of a say they have. You and your future spouse can determine how you want to split it up. I’ve heard of couples using a 50/25/25 split (50% for the couples and 25% for each set of parents). Other couples might let their parents invite whomever they want, or give their parents a much smaller chunk of the guest list. Basically, give your parents a firm number from the beginning of how many guests they can add to the list. Dave and I didn’t set these rules in the beginning, and it would have made things much easier if we had!
Invite in circles.
To avoid hurt feelings among friends and relatives, try to invite in circles. Either invite all first cousins, or no first cousins at all. Either invite all great aunts and uncles, or none at all. You get the idea!
Create rules for plus-ones.
In a perfect world, everyone would get a plus-one. Unfortunately, it isn’t a perfect world and giving everyone on the list a plus-one could increase your guest list by a significant number of people. So, create a rule right away. Make sure anyone in a relationship is invited with their significant other. That one is non-negotiable. I think everyone in the wedding party should get a plus-one (though none of our single wedding party members chose to bring a date). Maybe all single guests who won’t know many people can have a plus-one? Or all single guests who aren’t relatives? Keep the rule consistent across the board.
The same goes for kids.
While you’re making rules for plus-ones, make them for kids as well. This will be a controversial topic, but decide early on if you’re going to invite kids (and which kids you’re going to invite). Dave and I were picky about which kids were invited, and we only had a few under the age of 15. Our general rule was that kids were only invited if they were closely related. With the exception of one, we didn’t invite kids of any non-relatives.
Make the invitation clear.
Make sure your invitation says exactly who is invited. If you send a vague invitation that says “_____ Family”, you might get back an RSVP for six people when you only intended to invite two.
The most important lesson I can recommend, and one that applies to any of the bullet points above, is to stand your ground. When you and your significant other make a decision, stick to it. It will make things infinitely easier in the long run!
Did you struggle with your guest list? What are your best tips for taming it?
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