Who NOT to invite to your wedding, that is the question! Few issues cause more friction in the wedding planning process than the guest list. Here is some wedding guest list advice to simplify the process.
Wedding guest list anguish takes many forms:
—> Your budget is limited, so you can’t afford to invite everybody you’d like to.
—> Your parents want you to invite people you don’t know very well.
—> Your future in-laws want to invite more people on their side of the family than yours.
—> Which co-workers get invited, and who doesn’t make the cut?
–-> You feel guilted into inviting someone who you know will be disruptive. (Watch video above!)
You get the idea. There are landmines everywhere. I’d like to tell you that I can help you avoid each one. I can’t. Each situation is different. Nonetheless, you can minimize anxiety if you take our wedding guest list advice.
Wedding guest list advice
Tip #1: Pay for the wedding yourself. When you’re footing the bill, you have more clout on who gets an invitation.
Tip #2: Set a budget and your guest list size. Since so many couples have their parents pay for most or a portion of the cost of a wedding, try to lock in a pretty firm guest list number so you know what you’re dealing with. Best to start low, because the number will surely grow.
Tip #3: Develop a ‘family formula’ for divvying up the list. It might be as simple as a third of the guest list comes from your friends as a couple; a third from the groom’s family; and a third from the bride’s family. Obviously, this formula won’t work for everyone. The idea, though, is to establish a formula right for your situation on the front end to minimize wrangling down the road.
If you’re paying for the wedding, the formula might be half for you, with the remaining guest list split between the two families.
Will all parties stick to the formula? Probably not, but you’re no worse off than if you didn’t establish a formula, and you’re probably going to be way ahead by doing so.
Tip #4: Categorize potential invitees. This can be rather fun. The fun comes in the way you describe your categories.
How to categorize your guest list
I recommend 4 categories, perhaps something like this:
CATEGORY A (the “My Favorite People in the world” category)
CATEGORY B (the “People who mean a lot to me, and I mean a lot to them” category)
CATEGORY C (the “People I really do want to invite, but then I’ll feel guilty if I don’t invite a mutual friend/co-worker ” category)
CATEGORY D (“People I really don’t want to invite, but there will be hell to pay if I don’t” category)
Categorizing helps focus your thinking. Ultimately, the power of the purse tends to finalize who in each category gets an invite. For example, one bride bristled when her parents invited a couple they were friends with, whom the daughter never liked. The daughter fumed,
“Mrs. Smith called me fat when I was thirteen! I refuse to have her at my wedding!”
The mother shot back,
“Listen honey, they’re friends of ours and we see them almost every week. Yes, that was a jerky thing for her to say, but that was 10 years ago. Time to move on. We’re paying for the wedding. She’s coming.”
Tip #5: Don’t tack on the words “and guest” to your single friends unless they’re in a longterm relationship. Think about it, how would you like to cut someone from the first three categories above and replace them with a stranger you may never see again in your life? End of story. Right?
How to handle audacious invitees
Well, not quite. Some of your more audacious friends may take it upon themselves to add on the words “and guest” anyway when they send the RSVP back. Be prepared. Write back immediately something like this:
“Anne, I’m so delighted you’ll be able to attend my wedding. That means so much to me! I’m sorry to say, though, that we simply don’t have the space to accommodate your guest. I wish it were different, but it’s just the reality of planning a wedding. I’ll tell you more about it next time I see you. I’m so excited about this day. Thank-you for coming!”
Then there is the timeless question of children: do you invite them or not? This is such a highly charged subject that we’ve already written an entire blogpost on the subject. Go back and check it out!
I hope you find this basic wedding guest list advice helpful, and congratulations on your engagement. As you work through the planning process, remember that entertainment makes the event. Check out our wedding entertainment services today. We would be honored to show those guests who “make the cut” how much fun a wedding can be!