Creating your wedding guest list certainly won’t be as fun as menu tasting, but it doesn’t have to be ugly either. My advice? Grab a bottle of your favourite wine and read on.
Guest lists can be long, but if you’re looking for an easy way to trim it down, here’s where to start.
1. Everyone on your parent’s list
These days, more and more couples are taking complete control of the guest list and not giving the family a say in who’s attending, especially if you’re paying for the entire wedding yourself. However, if your parents are paying for or pitching in towards the reception, it’s polite to give them room to invite those important to them.
Traditionally, parents get half of the guest list (a quarter to each set of parents), however handing over a third of the list is still a fair amount. In the end, do what you feel is reasonable, whether that be half or none at all. The trick is to give them a set number of people they are allowed to invite and to STICK TO IT.
When their requests get annoying, take a deep breath and realize that they’re probably not trying to hijack your wedding and that they’re just so overcome with happiness for your upcoming nuptials that they feel the need to share it with everyone. Look at it this way; if they were dreading this marriage, would they want anyone that’s important to them to come? Probably not.
Here’s another fun one: kids or no kids? This one is always a doozy because many people have strong feelings about the topic. However, if you’re on a budget (or simply want an adult only affair), nixing children from the invites is an easy way to cut your guest list. Here are 3 things to consider though when deciding whether or not to go the childless route:
When you invite a mother who’s breastfeeding, be prepared to extend the invitation to her baby, especially if the baby is very young. Even if the mother is comfortable leaving her baby in someone else’s care, not all mothers are able to pump, and not all babies take to bottles. If you’re unwilling to allow or make the exception for breastfeeding babies, be prepared for the mother to RSVP as “not attending”, and don’t take it personally – no matter how much notice you give.
Like many other parents, I look forward to a night out without the kids – especially weddings! And so while most parents will happily make arrangements for someone to look after their children to partake in great food, drink and company, some don’t have that luxury.
Childcare can be expensive, even if it’s just for an evening. Babysitters can charge more than minimum wage – per child! So if they book a sitter from 4pm-1am to attend your reception (assuming they skip the ceremony), that’s a pretty penny. Oh, and don’t forget that they will likely be providing you with a gift as well, so when all is said and done, they’ll probably spend a lot more on your wedding day than your average guest.
Giving the heads up
When you send out invitations that say “adults only”, people with babies and children will expect “adults only” when they show up to your wedding. So when they arrive at your reception and they see a bunch of kids running around, it may not matter whether or not these were the kids that were part of your wedding party, or your favourite niece, some may shrug and not think much of it, but some may feel a bit put off and wonder “what happened to adults only?” – especially if they invested a lot in childcare to abide by your wishes.
While this is your special day and you have every right to invite and make the exception for whomever you want, it’s courteous to personally give the heads up to parents and let them know that while the wedding is indeed for adults, there will be a few children there because (insert reason here). Most people will understand and have the common sense to respect your wishes, and if they don’t that’s their problem, not yours.
Choosing to go childless for your wedding can be a sensitive topic, but one thing you have to remember is that while you have the right to invite whomever you want, you cannot control whether or not someone will accept the invite. If the parent(s) decide that they need to stay home with their child(ren) (even if they’ve had plenty of notice), that is their right as well. If you don’t expect them to take it personally, then neither should you.
3. Plus One
Next to kids, this is another touchy subject but a super easy way to cut your guest list. Here are 3 easy ways you can go about deciding who gets a plus one and who doesn’t:
If the invitation says “…and guest”, forget it. You obviously don’t even know their name, or worse, your own guest doesn’t know their name yet! So this one is quite easy – if they don’t have a name, cut’em out.
Decide between the two of you how long a couple needs to be dating to make it on your guest list. For some people, couples that have dated less than 6 months get cut, for others it can be as much as a year. Make a rule that you’re comfortable with and stick to it.
“Have we met?”
Sure, you might know their name or have seen their face via social media, but if you haven’t met them in person, don’t be shy to cut them from the list. While there may be a few exceptions, generally speaking, if they weren’t important enough for your guest to introduce them to you beforehand, they’re probably not important enough for you to invite to your wedding.
Two of the obvious and/or common exceptions to the above suggestions when approaching plus ones for your wedding are: married couples and couples living together/common law – anything outside of that is completely up to you.
Cutting coworkers out of the guest list can be tough, particularly if you’ve been working together for a long time or have included them in all your wedding planning details. However it can be a really cost saving move, especially if you’re only close with a handful but are inviting the entire team because you feel obligated to go all or nothing.
Sometimes for work politics sake it’s easier to just leave colleagues out of it so that nobody feels left out. A great alternative to inviting your office mates to your wedding is to throw a small gathering or celebration with them at work. Bring in a cake and have everyone join you during lunch break, or even better – invite everyone out for drinks after work. Just because you can’t invite them to your wedding doesn’t mean you still can’t celebrate, right?
5. Payback Invites
I’m just gonna put it out there – just because someone invited you to their wedding doesn’t mean that you need to invite them back. While it’s courteous to invite someone whose wedding you attended within the last 6 months to a year, you don’t have to return the favor, especially if it’s not within your budget to do so.
With that said, don’t lose sleep over not inviting someone whose wedding you attended well over a year ago. This isn’t a “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” deal, this is your wedding, and like gift giving, invitations should be given with sincerity and not with the hopes of getting something back in return.
These are the most commonly debated areas when compiling your wedding guest list. While creating your guest list is certainly not the most fun part about wedding planning, hopefully creating your own rules and guidelines to follow when deciding who’s invited and who’s not can make this process less frustrating.
As you’ll probably find while planning your wedding, you won’t be able to make everyone happy – so don’t. Do what you want, or at the very least, what you can live with and remember that being invited to your wedding is a privilege, not a right.
Best of luck and happy planning!
Valerie Tesoro is a Toronto wedding planner and day of wedding coordinator dedicated to beautiful designs and flawless execution. Whether you require planning assistance or wedding day coordination, Valerie can help bring your vision to life. Contact her today; she’d love to learn more about you and your dream wedding!