The Dreaded Guest List : A How to
The day is coming. The magical day that you have been dreaming about. Now, take a deep, slow breath. It is time to start....the guest list. If you are like most people, you'll need wedding guest list tips.
Some of us have been dreaming of this since what seems like the very moment we were brought in to existence. So, we have to reign in the urge to invite virtually every person we have ever met since the beginning of time because, well, we are THAT EXCITED.
On the flip side, there may be those that never thought they would be here. You know, planning a guest list to a wedding. Searching the recesses of your memory for people. Wondering, do you even have friends? Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration. This whole people thing. Yeah. It is not what gets you excited about life. The truth is this people thing, this inviting them to what can be the happiest day in life to date, can be stressful and messy. Because, well, people are messy and that's ok. But.... It doesn't have to be. Music to our ears, right?
So. where do we start?
If it were up to Emily Post and her sweet traditional methods, she would suggest that:
The bride’s mother then consults with the groom, or more likely, with his mother, as to how the house-list is to be divided between them. This never means a completely doubled list, because, if the two families live in the same city, many names are sure to be in duplicate. If the groom’s people live in another place, invitations to the house can be liberally sent, as the proportion of guests who will take a long trip seldom go beyond those of the immediate family and such close friends as would be asked to the smallest of receptions.
Usually, if Mrs. Smith tells Mrs. Smartlington that two hundred can be included at the breakfast, Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Smartlington will each make a list of one hundred and fifty, certain that one hundred will be in duplicate.
Invitations to a big church wedding are always sent to the entire visiting list, and often the business acquaintances of both families, no matter how long the combined number may be, or whether they can be present or not. Even people in deep mourning are included, as well as, those who live thousands of miles away, as the invitations not merely proffer hospitality but are messengers carrying the news of the marriage.
After a house wedding, or a private ceremony where invitations were limited to relatives and closest personal friends of the young couple, general announcements are sent out to the entire visiting list.
-As found in Etiquette in Society, Business, in Politics and at Home by Emily Post
I drop that here, just in case you are an Emily Post guru and would like to follow her advice to the ends of the earth. For most of us, this is not the case. Since, we don't live in that era, it may be best to go back to the basics and start from there. No offense to you Emily Post.
Let us start here...
- Venue Size The most basic thing to start with is your venue. How big is it? What is the maximum number of people that it can hold? That is your number. If your venue can hold 200 that is how many people you can invite, because well you might not want to start your journey in life together with a fire code violation under your belt. Just saying...Now that we have established that you do not want to start off the day on the wrong foot, we should probably address the budget that goes along with this venue. This glorious venue that you deem just right for your special day. Just because it can hold 200 people, does not mean that is should. Keep in mind how your venue charges and what you can afford when making that magical number of people you will be inviting.
- Who is Paying? It may sound like a silly question, but one that needs to be addressed none the less. If the Brides parents are paying for it then they may expect that they get to invite most of the people. If you and your significant other are paying, remember your parents love you. They want to share your special day with their friends too. This is a bigger deal than any paper or project you ever brought home and was proudly on display somewhere. Way bigger! Also remember that those who are being invited, someone is paying for them. Keep in mind how much your venue charges and what your budget is. That will also dictate how many people that you can invite. Where is the Venue?
- Where is your wedding located? Is it closer to the Bride's family? Groom's family? Or is it neither and your are doing a destination wedding? The answers to those questions will also make a significant impact on how you structure your guest list. If the Bride and Groom live some distance from each other the ratio of guests attending will differ. For instance, if the wedding is following old school tradition, taking place near the Bride's family and the Groom's lives at some distance. It can be expected that those that are truly close to the Groom's (family, close friends) will make the trip but others will not. This allowing the Bride to invite more people purely from a location stand point. The same goes if it is near the Groom's family the wedding is taking place and the Bride's family is at a distance.
- VIP or Not In your list making endeavor, do not make a master list to start with. One should start by making multiple lists:
1. Start with your VIP list. Yes this is going to feel like high school so let us journey back to the days of the “in crowd”. Who is in your “in crowd” This should be family/relatives and close friends that you feel as though you would be bereft if they were not in attendance.
2. On list two write the people the Bride's parents would like to invite.
3. List three should be to whom the Groom's parents would like to send invites.
4. List four should be people that you would like to invite.
5. List five should be people that should get a courtesy invite but aren't actually going to come. Not everyone can come. Those that get the golden ticket to your special day are those that have earned a spot in your life. Whether it be by circumstance or choice.
Take all of those lists and blend those puppies together. Start compiling your master list. Invite all parties to be part of the process taking into account peoples thoughts and feelings.
Mind your Manners This may sound like common sense or a silly thing to remind someone. However, at one point or another we all need to hear it. Remember, that this is a special day and that everyone is experiencing everything BIG. We love BIG. We fight BIG. Little mistakes are BIG. The cake, photographer, bridesmaid dresses, grooms outfits, flowers, invitation style, decorations, well those are all BIG. If you hadn't guessed yet. Everyone is going to be passionate about something and someone, and it is going to be a BIG deal.
~Remember, you love each other. When we love each other our problem solving should be telling the truth in love.
~Remember, everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten. Seriously, the foundations of taking turns, listening and sharing, happened there. So, make sure you are taking turns, listening and sharing.
~Remember, to be polite. If you would like to invite more people remember to ask rather than demand. No one likes to be told what to do.
~Remember, that everything that happens during this time is a BIG deal. Being kind and compassionate go along way.
- Write EVERYTHING down It is so easy to forget things. There are so many details and each one seemingly more important than the last one. Even though that last detail, you just nailed down. Mark down your responses as you get them. You will thank yourself later as you are hashing out your seating chart, escort cards and place cards.
Try to avoid, if at all possible, last minute invitations. It will only lead to more stress. We can be honest that planning a wedding is stressful enough. Make this area as easy on yourself as possible. Other wise in all the other thoughts swirling around your brain is going to enter...Did I invite that person? Did they say they were coming? Did I really need to invite them? Was I just being kind? Did I get caught up in an excited about my wedding moment?
Choosing the people that you choose to spend your special day with is not an easy task. It often brings about a walk down memory lane of those who have played some sort of roll in your life. But, like a good play not everyone can be cast.
You can do this. It is going to be ok. We are here to help!