Ah, the guest list. One of the earlier tasks you need to tackle with your wedding preparations, tying in with your budget and venue selection, managing the guest list can be tricky as you and your partner decide who will be celebrating your special day with you. Birando USA guest blogs this week with advice on prioritizing (and sometimes placating) your guests, and considering children and +1s on your guest list.
While it’s exciting to plan who will join you in celebrating one of the most important days of your lives, making your wedding guest list can sometimes be coupled with conflict, hurt feelings and stress. Everyone wants an invite and when they don’t receive one, nastiness can ensue. However, this is your special day and it is up to you to invite the people you really want there. You are under no obligation to invite a second cousin who you haven’t seen in eight years, or those fair-weather friends who only enter the scene when they stand to gain something, like an invite to your wedding.
You should make some time with your partner to discuss and plan your guest list together. Below are tips on deciding who should share this experience with you, and how to keep the peace in the process:
1. Who comes first
First of all, establish a head-count and hierarchy. Determine how many guests your budget and venue allows and plan accordingly. Immediate and extended family members and close friends should come first, in that particular order. Then comes acquaintances and work colleagues, should you want them there.
Sometimes a friend may be more present in your life than certain blood relatives. In such cases, they move higher up on the list. Don’t feel bad about leaving out some family members if they haven’t featured in your life that much. Long-lost friends also don’t have to be there if you’ve lost touch. Unfortunately, not everyone can make the VIP list for your wedding. However, if you start planning your guest list early enough, you may still be able to extend invitations to others who were lower in your original list if some of your guests RSVP that they won’t be able to attend.
2. Keeping the peace
When someone enquires about why they weren’t invited to your special day, it’s best to let them down gently. In addition to blaming the budget or venue size, you can try something pointing to it being an intimate affair. For example, you can say, “We made the difficult choice to keep our wedding small and intimate. Unfortunately, that means there are a lot of friends and family who won’t share our special day. I hope you can understand that it’s not personal.”
Also remember that no matter how hard you try to spare someone’s feelings, there may be some who are more disappointed. and even lash out. As unfortunate as it is, it happens and the best thing to do is hold your composure and move on – you can’t make everyone happy.
3. Toddlers, tiaras, wedding gowns and veils
If you want your wedding to be a big family affair, by all means welcome children. But be prepared for the extra facilities required (kiddies’ tables with child-friendly decor, meals, entertainment and supervision). Items like non-toxic water bubbles, LED tea light candles and glow cups will keep little eyes mesmerised and hands occupied.
If you don’t want children attending the event, make it very clear in your invitations that it’s an adults-only celebration. Give them enough time to arrange babysitters, otherwise someone might show up with a 3-month-old baby, which could sour the experience for you and your guests, and also for those who took the time and effort to arrange a babysitter for their own little one.
4. Managing the +1s
When planning your invitations, pay special attention to the details. Indicate whether the invite is just for that one person or if it’s extended to a spouse or partner. If you don’t remain in control of your guests’ guests, your budget might suffer as a result due to more people attending that you expected.
If someone RSVPs with a plus-one you didn’t invite, kindly inform them that, for budgetary reasons, you have to keep your guest list to a minimum. It would be unfair to extend this courtesy to one person and not another – that’s calling for conflict.
Planning your wedding guest list doesn’t have to be riddled with conflict; it’s your special day to share with those you value and love. Take your time, sit down with your spouse-to-be and decide on a guest list together.
(Second image from Madame Noire, all other images provided by author.)