This the second installment in my series of unsolicited and probably unhelpful wedding planning advice.
It’s happened! You’re finally doing it! You’re getting married!
You’ve recounted your engagement story to all who will listen. You’ve posted a photo to your favorite social media outlet, your ring displayed in a semi-subtle fashion with a coy caption lightly referencing where your invitation to happily-ever-after took place. You’ve called key friends and notified your parents. What’s next?
Well, you better bet your buttons and dollars to donuts know that as you were prancing about—and becoming accustomed to the weight of that ring on your finger—there is already a small contingency of people wondering how your guest list is shaping up. It will probably be indirect at first, but then finally get to the point. For example:
What your friend says: “Do you think you’ll have a big wedding?”
What your friend means: “Tell me if there’s a chance I’ll be invited because I need to work yet another person’s celebration into my budget.”
What coworker says: “How’s the wedding planning going?”
What coworker means: “Tell me some juicy gossip about family drama that I can share with Elizabeth in Purchasing over our casserole lunches.”
What caterer says: “What is your headcount?”
What caterer means: “How much can I overcharge this lady for steamed zucchini?”
What your mom says: “Who are you inviting?”
What your mom means: “Let me tell you who you are inviting.”
Your friends, coworkers, and family aren’t too far off. Most practical wedding planning guides will tell you that getting a guest list together is one of the first steps you should take. After all, you need to know how many people you’ll have at your wedding to determine budget, venue, and other logistics. Also prepare yourself for a possible plot twist. Through your guest list prep, you may just find you want to have a destination wedding in order to cut people out by natural selection. No matter the outcome, fire up that Excel spreadsheet and get to typing; you’ve got some work to do.
My advice is to start with the nucleus and then circle out from there. Who are the absolute have-to-haves? This might be parents, siblings, very close friends, or others who you really, truly want to be by your side on the big day. Next are the should-haves. Included in this group are those who you don’t necessarily want, but probably should invite. Here are your aunt who never misses your birthday, or the people whose weddings you have been invited to and attended. It’s only polite. Then, there’s the nice-to-haves. Mostly these folks are your currently budding friendships, or people you’re planning on eventually exploiting somehow.
If you’re paying for the whole shebang yourself, you can skip these next few sentences. If not, then read on. Pour yourself another glass of wine and give a jingle to anyone who is ponying up some cash. Ask them for their guest list and give them a deadline and a limit. Plan on it being six weeks past the deadline and about twenty people over the limit.
Once you’ve got yourself a comprehensive registry—and worked through all kinds of deep-seated issues with half the people on it—go ahead and make sure you have an accurate headcount associated with each name. Uncle Joe is one thing, but Uncle Joe plus his new wife and four step-children is the reality. Tally it all up and voila! you’ve got yourself…..another list, which you now need to pare down.
Bear with me, you’re almost to the end.
If you’re cool with the number then get on to the next thing. If it’s straight outta control, then do this:
- Take note of the number of children. Consider making your wedding an adult-only affair if there are a lot of them. Warning: really think through this one; you might wind up edging out quite a few folks.
- Make a rule about the plus-ones. Our rule was that spouses and significant others you’ve actually met get an invite. Allowing someone a date just for companionship is nice, but not necessary. Besides, that’s what the open bar is for, right?
- Roughly estimate who is likely to say “no.” If you look a little closer, you will probably notice that some people just won’t be able to make it. Here are the friends with newborns or people who just hate fun. Another warning: this might backfire; sometimes families like to make a full vacation out of a trip to a wedding and yours might be the one.
- Impose the dreaded “B List.” Though a sad reality, the B List is often a necessary component of any wedding. If you tackle it with finesse, a B Lister might never know their shameful status if they eventually make the cut (just kidding, they’ll know).
Now that your guest list feels manageable, you can forget about all those pesky people for a while and do the fun stuff (kidding again, a lot of it isn’t fun).
What are some tips you have about creating and maintaining a guest list?
Leave them in the comments!