Any bride who’s made it to the altar and back will tell you that with every guest list comes some kind of drama. We started off wanting an intimate wedding for 90 or so guests, and we’re now three weeks away from an event that nearly 150 people plan to attend. I’m flattered that so many folks want to be a part of our special day, but when it comes to planning your wedding, “sharing the love” isn’t the easiest thing to do. Here are three pitfalls we fell into, and some advice you can use to avoid stepping into them too.
Pitfall #1: The Plus-One Problem
Before you pick a venue based on the number of guests you think you’ll have, you and your partner must ask each other this: Will you feel bad asking a single friend to come alone if there’s a chance they may not know anyone else there? When we decided to get married in a smaller venue, we assumed that our single (meaning not married or in a committed long-term relationship) friends would understand that we couldn’t accommodate their dates. You know what they say about assumptions! Some people were totally cool with it, while others, well… not so much. We had our invitations designed with a slot we used to specify exactly how many seats had been reserved for the person who received it. Then RSVP cards started coming in with our “1”s crossed out and re-written as “2”s. We weren’t sure what to do. Do you make that awkward, “sorry I don’t think you quite understood” phone call, or do you just make room and keep the peace? We chose to squeeze these surprises into our plans, until the amount of them started to add up. Eventually we had to decide who to make exceptions for and who to deny.
My Advice: Give your single friends a heads up before you send invites and let them make the call early. Be prepared to offend a few, but just hope they’ll eventually understand and appreciate your honesty. Whatever you do, just don’t cave for one if you don’t plan to give in to ‘em all!
Pitfall #2: Dissing Distant Family and Friends
A question you should ask yourself before booking ANYTHING: Can you handle offending family and old friends who you aren’t currently close with? Both Gibran’s and my family tree are pretty tall, so we had to decide early on whether or not we planned to invite everyone, or just those we had the closest relationships with. (Or closest proximity to.) We chose the latter. We felt good about it for awhile, until we started hearing that we’d offended certain family members, and others were already planning to come whether they received a formal invitation or not. Yikes — this is about as awkward as awkward can get! Again, we gave in here too and somehow found a way to make room. Old and distant friends weren’t as offended by our decision to leave them off the list, but a few were disappointed not to get an invite.
My Advice: Stick to your guns and know your limits. If your budget can’t accommodate inviting everyone you know, then be prepared to defend that fact. If they love you, they should understand.
Pitfall #3: Everyone’s Coming
Yes, I mean everyone. A lot of brides choose to invite more guests than they can afford, assuming that not everyone can or will want to come. But, they seldom think about what would happen if they all do. Take it from me ladies, it can happen. We’re closing our guest list and getting a final headcount tomorrow, and as of right now everyone on Gibran’s side of the list has told us they’re attending. We never saw that one coming! (Especially since we’re getting married on a Sunday and lots of people have to work on Monday.)
My Advice: Instead of inviting everyone up front, be prepared to divide your list into A and B-list guests. It’s nothing personal, but there may be certain people you’d like to invite after you’ve discovered a few seats are still available. Inviting everyone and hoping the yeses and nos just balance out never ends well. Trust me!
Have you had a little guest list drama of your own? Please share and let me know I’m not alone.