Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the holiday season. This week I’m talking about the dreaded guest list. Who makes the cut and why? I know it can be frustrating but you’ve got to work through it. If I can do it, so can you. Here’s how Sean and I simplified the process.
Divide & Conquer After you determine the venue and number of guests you can afford, split the number 50/50. Sean and I are having a small, low-key wedding with family and close friends. Our reception will be on a boat and will cruise around the Toronto islands. Knowing our budget and the number of people the boat can accommodate, we came up with approximately 75 guests including the photographer, DJ and videographer.
We then split this number between our two families, dedicating a certain number of guests for our parents. The number of invitations you decide to give your parents is completely up to you. Keep in mind though, if your parents are contributing financially, they’ll want more say in who to invite.
Name Names You and your fiancé should start naming the names that will make up your portion of the guest list. Having friends in common may make the process easier. Choose a time when you know you’ll have your fiancé’s undivided attention. Don’t try to bounce names off each other during any sporting event or when he’s near his studio equipment. It’s a losing battle. Trust me.
The Essentials Is there someone who is so important that you can’t imagine getting married without them present? That’s an essential invite. Count your closest family and friends to get a sense of how many essential invites you have.
How Many Tiers Sort your guests into tiers. For example: 1st = essential; 2nd = close friends & extended family; and 3rd = other friends and colleagues. If you’re unsure, ask yourself, “When was the last time I saw or spoke with this person?” If it’s been more than year, then you should think about whether you can afford to have them there.
Experts recommend that if someone from your 1st tier can’t attend your wedding, you should send that invitation to someone on your 2nd tier right away. Be considerate: you don’t want to send out an invitation one to two weeks before the wedding. Four weeks or more is ideal. Stand your ground. If you request no children or no plus ones, stick to it. Don’t be bullied or include guests out of guilt. Communicate your wishes early. It takes a lot to plan a wedding and there is nothing more frustrating than pushy guests who don’t understand, and more importantly, respect your constraints.
Avoid the headache of keeping track of your guest list and replies. Stay organized by using a program like Excel or for MacBook users like myself, Numbers. Online wedding guest managers are also good options. I’m using the guest manager on The Knot and love it! Check out this quick tutorial.
Our decision To strike a balance, Sean suggested we do a double docking. After the ceremony, we’ll dock the boat and pick up everyone we wanted to have at the reception (and allow anyone who wants to disembark, to get off) and set sail for more fun. Perfect!
So how are you handling your guest list? Feeling pressure from your family or friends? I want to hear your stories!