The Guest List

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The Guest List… It’s the not so fun part of planning a wedding. Deciding how big of a wedding you are going to have starts with the how many family,and friends will be in attendance for your big day. The number of guests invited effects everything from  the budget to the venue and is often the source of contention between parents and the happy couple. So before you set your heart on an intimate venue that may not hold enough guests or begin planning over the top florals that may not be within your budget due to your guest count, here are some things to consider from day one!

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Budget ~ The number of guests you invite is the biggest deciding factor on how big your wedding budget will need to be. The biggest cost you will encounter for your big day is the per head price for your venue, rentals and food. Your guest count also affects the number of tables which means more centerpieces and decor equalling  more money spent.

Venue ~ All venues have max capacities and restrictions which is why you should have a solid idea of your guest count prior to choosing a venue. Some venues may only be able to accommodate less then 100 guests while larger locations may have a capacity of 500. Venues also have event minimums meaning despite the number of guests, you will have to meet a monetary minimum to use the space. Some venues also have different minimums depending on the season and day of the week.

Choosing Sides ~ Whether you are planning a big ballroom blowout  or a small intimate gathering, set some ground rules so things don’t  seem unfair or get out of hand. Wedding guest list planning typically involves the happy couple and their parents. Give each group a set number of invitees, like 50 guests each and let everyone narrow down to their A – List.  If anyone wants to exceed their allotted amount, you can request that they cover the additional costs. You can also use your venues capacity as an excuse to keep your guest list in check.

Save The Dates ~ One thing is for sure, if you are on the fence about inviting someone, do not, I repeat, DO NOT send them and save the date, announcement or invite them to the engagement party. If you do, they will most definitely be expecting an invite to the wedding.

Etiquette ~ While I could prattle on all day about proper etiquette, what you should and shouldn’t do and what is proper, you cant’ take out the human emotion of the whole process.  The bottom line is when it comes to choosing who your invited guests will be and who will be left out, someone is not going to be happy. This may be your parents, your significant other or those who were not invited or told their children could not attend thus meaning they would be unable to attend.  You will ultimately have to make the call regarding the invitees but remember to take others feelings into account and if necessary explain to them why you made the choices you made. An honest conversation goes a long way.

Restrictions ~ Decide early on if you are allowing kids, work friends, parents friends and extended family. It’s important to create groups of invitees and decide their status as a whole. Once you open the door to one group, it’s gets very tricky to decide who’s in and who will be left out.

  • The Kid Factor ~  Create an age threshold for your guests. Depending on the type of venue  and formality of the event, you may decide that anyone under the age of 18 will not be invited. You may also choose to not allow anyone under the age of 21 to attend due to the party atmosphere of the wedding. You may want to consider making an exception to that rule for immediate family. When everyone you know will be at the wedding, finding an appropriate babysitter is not easy. Also keep in mind that some family members have children of mixed ages. For example, it may cause problems if someone has a 12 year old that is not invited and an 18 year old that is. For the most part, your guests will not expect to bring their children unless it is a casual daytime affair, family however is a different story.
  • Mine VS Yours ~ All families were not created equal. While your hubby may be super close with all of 12 of his first cousins, it doesn’t mean you have to invite your first cousins if you’re not a tight knit family. If you consider your mom’s BFF who you’ve always called “aunt” and her kids family then they go in the list of immediate family and A-list invites on your side. Everyone’s definition of family is different. On the flip side, don’t feel obligated to invite an uncle you have no relationship with just because he is “family.”
  •  Co-Workers ~ Anyone you socialize with outside of work can be put into a friend category and not counted into your “work group.” When it comes to the rest of your team at work, if you invite one, you have to invite them all. If you don’t, you’ll likely create an unsettled work environment that has the others feeling shunned. As far as the boss, if you have a close working relationship it’s a courtesy to extend an invite. If you’re having a small intimate affair that will most likely have your boss feeling awkward in such closed company, then skip the invitation and mention to them it’s a small family only gathering to avoid tension.
  • Plus 1’s, Yes or No ~ Let’s keep this short and sweet… Would you have fun at a wedding all by yourself? Watching everyone else make googly eyes at their significant other? Enough said…
  • Reciprocal Invite ~  So you’ve been invited to a ton of weddings and while you appreciate the night out, are you obligated to invite those same people to your wedding? While etiquette dictates yes, it really depends on how long ago their wedding was and how close you still are. Also, if you are opting for a small and intimate gathering, they may fall into one of the “groups” that did not make the cut.
Here are some words of advice from Real Bride Carly, author of The Cozy Curator ,, @cozy_curator.
Ahhh the guest list. I find the most stressful part of wedding planning to be the parts that involve other people and I’m sure that I am not alone. I am a people pleaser in my nature. I like to make people happy and the reality is that its impossible to make every single person happy. When it comes to creating your guest list, there is no right or wrong way to do it. However, if you’re looking for some tips on how to create your invite list as seamlessly as possible, try out these.
  • Sit down with your fiancé and make a list within 3-5 minutes. Anyone that immediately came to mind as a “given” stays on the list.
  • Add all of the people that you think of after that moment to your list in a different color. Then, you can keep track of those people in case you need to make cuts.
  • Make a spreadsheet that calculates the per person costs. Then, when you add someone to your list it will automatically calculate how much money that person will add to your overall wedding expense. No one wants to put a price tag on a person but when push comes to shove, the numbers might be helpful information to have.
  • Draw lines in the sand. If you open a door to a group, the names will flood in. If you invite one person from work, you usually have to invite other people. If you invite that group then you need to invite your boss. Ahhh, the snowball effect.
  • When it comes to parents, request their lists as well. After all, it’s a celebration for them to!

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Details of I do is a brides go to source for fresh, fun and inspiring wedding day details! Details of I do was created by Kristin Rockhill. She is passionate about all the little things that make weddings special from the flowers to decor and everything in between. Her love of vintage charm, rustic details, modern lines and lush blooms are what inspires her daily posts. Check in daily for your dose of inspiring wedding day details.

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