Wedding Planning - Taming The Guest List
Here's the scenario: you're happily dreaming about your wedding day filled with those 50 close friends and family members you are going to invite. Suddenly, you are rudely awakened when your mom hands you her share of the guest list, and that list alone has 60 names on it. After tallying up the total names now on the list, you find that it is nearly at 200 guests. It's strange how fast the names on that list can multiply. Guests seem to be added from left and right-- not only by the two of you, but also from both sets of parents wanting their share of guests invited as well. This situation is not uncommon for many engaged couples today. Try not to let this frustrate you without first trying that ever-popular technique: compromise.
First, let's consider one rather important factor-- who will be footing the bill? Unless you and your future spouse are paying for the whole wedding, it's best to let the parents share in the guest list as well. Not only is it the courteous thing to do, but it's also pretty much expected that your parents will be able to invite a share of their own guests too. This goes for the bride's parents, as well as the groom's parents, regardless of who's parents are footing the bill.
With that said, the best way to keep everyone happy is to figure out how the list should be divided. You could choose almost any variation when it comes to divvying up the guest list. You and your soon-to-be-spouse may share half of the list and the other 50% of the list would then be divided amongst both sets of parents. Another option is to divide the list into thirds. One third of the guest list will belong to the bride and groom, another third will belong to the bride's parents, and one third would go to the groom's parents as well. This option will give everyone an equal amount of guests to invite, and should eliminate any unnecessary arguments about what's fair or unfair. Everyone might want to consider this before deciding how to chop up the list.
If an argument is brewing over a certain guest that made it to the list, be sure to reconsider whether or not it is even worth an argument. If bringing it up will cause any unnecessary tension or stress amongst all of you, it's probably not worth it (planning the wedding is stressful enough.) Speak up, however, if there are certain guests that you have specific good reasons why they should not be invited-- such as an ex-girlfriend of the groom, or a 5th cousin you've never even met before. Put your foot down when you need to, and explain why you don't think it is a good idea for that guest to attend. We're sure your family and dear fiancé will understand your wishes.
If the guest list is still overloaded, it's time to step in and do some trimming. Don't worry, this only sounds tougher than it really is. Here are a couple ways you can start trimming the list:
- You are not obligated to write the words "and guest" on your single friends' or family members' invitations. It is OK for single guests to attend the wedding alone (and maybe make a new friend, or possibly a date, at the reception.) For your friends and family members who have been in a long-term relationship, or those that are engaged, go ahead and send an invitation to their significant other as well.
- Some couples omit inviting children to their wedding. In many of these cases it is because they are limited as to how many guests they can invite. Understandably, this is often a tough decision for certain couples. If you go with this option to downsize your guest list, try not to make exceptions for only certain children, as this may definitely upset the other guests who were unable to bring their little ones along.
- Eliminate any guests from the list that you haven't seen or even spoken to in over eight or ten years-- unless they're a family member you're anxious to see again, or another person who was once a significant part of your life. The possible reunion would be sweet, of course, but do you need to invite every aquaintance or long lost friend you ever had in your life?
- How did those large groups of guests stumble their way onto the guest list? If it is possible, trim them. Is it necessary for your mom to invite everyone that works at the local grocery store she shops at? Does the groom's dad have to insist on inviting his weekend golfing buddies from the country club? You may want to explain to them that it is impossible to accommodate everyone.
- No, it is not necessary to invite the entire clan from the office. And, it is OK to invite only your boss and/or secretary if you wish to. If you have a close relationship to anyone that you work with, go ahead and invite them. Otherwise, trim them.
- Turn your guest list into two separate lists. Create the "primary" guest list-- those whom you couldn't live without inviting to the wedding. Then, create a secondary guest list of those whom you wish you could invite, but an overloaded guest list is restricting you from doing so. Send out the invitations from your primary (or main) list a couple weeks early. Then, send out invitations to those on your secondary list immediately after you receive any regrets from the guests on your primary list.
With a little compromise, you should be able to have that guest list trimmed down and rounded out well enough to make everyone happy. It may be hard, but try to keep that list sensible. Remember, you'll both want your wedding day to be memorable and filled with faces that the two of you care for and love, and those who feel the very same way about the two of you.