The Guest List is very tricky terrain, very tricky indeed. Before you start to compile your guest list you need to remember two things:
- It’s YOUR day, you and your partners. No one else’s.
- You will never please everyone.
So, with that in mind, you need to start with your first draft guest list.
We wanted to start with the maximum number of people we would like to be at our wedding, for both day and evening. We wrote separate guest lists, and included everyone we would like to be there. We did this because we felt it was important to know the biggest number of guests who we might invite, so that when it came to budget and venue choices, we would know where to start from.
We then compared lists, and I absolutely didn’t get huffy when my husband forgot to put my great aunt on his list! Seriously though, it’s good to do them separately so you try toinclude everyone, and there’s no danger of forgetting any loved ones.
Next, we marked all of those who featured on both guest lists as definites-ish. I say ‘ish’ because before you’ve even chosen the venue, you can’t have an absolute definitive list of guests, it’s just not possible. At this point we totalled up all our ‘definites’ and then looked at how many others didn’t feature on both lists.
Now onto the frank discussions on the guests who didn’t make both of our lists at this point. Culling is such a vulgar word, but it really does fit the activity so well in this case. Long past work colleagues, distant relatives your partner has never met, your parents next door neighbours….you get the jist. So now we had a better idea of our guests, and ball park numbers. One thing I would say though, if you have a group of friends you would like to invite (for example old uni pals), be mindful of whether you will invite their partners or not. I think it’s only fair to be consistent with your guest invitations, to avoid any unnecessary hard feelings.
Allocating day and evening guests came next, for example, close friends were included for the day, and other friends for the evening. This doesn’t have to be definitive at this point, but when you go to visit or enquire about venues, your guest numbers are quite important so you need to know roughly where you are with it. And remember, it could all be subject to change, nothing is set in stone!
We didn’t do anything else with the guest list until we had decided on our venue. The reason for this is we didn’t have a very big wedding, with 60 guests for the day and a further 40 guests for the evening, and we pretty much knew the split at this point, and we would revisit it again once we had decided. However, you may decide to work on finalising the guest list before you make the decision on the venue, whatever suits you best.
Part of revisiting the guest list was going through it with our parents. We wanted to make sure they were happy with what we’d decided, particularly because they were contributing to the cost of the wedding. We had a few additions, and a few guests put down for the day instead of the evening, but we were all happy in the end.
However, I know this isn’t the case for some weddings, and this is where I refer back to the two things you need to remember above. It’s so important to stick by them, and be as accommodating and willing to compromise if you can to keep your loved ones, and most of all you and your partner, happy. From the tales I’ve heard, the couple getting married are usually in agreement (which, let’s face it, should be the most important thing), and it’s the families who get all upset because certain people aren’t included. Explain your reasoning, and be honest, if it’s because of budget, say so. There’s nothing wrong with admitting your financial constraints to your family. If it’s because the venue has maximum numbers, explain that too. This is one of the reasons we went through this with our parents after we had picked the venue, it felt to us like the guest list was a little more non-negotiable because we’d already made the commitment on the venue.
We decided to send Save The Dates out once we had booked the venue because our wedding was on a Friday and we wanted to make sure that our guests could get the time off work if necessary. We had a few guests at that point confirm they unfortunately couldn’t come, so of course we looked at changing the guest list again. We did the same for when the wedding RSVP’s came back too, as sadly some of my aunts and uncles were not able to make it to the wedding. While we were naturally disappointed some of our guests couldn’t make it, it did mean we could invite some more people in the end.
Children at a wedding are a wonderful thing. They are the first ones on the dancefloor, you’re guaranteed some cuteness in your photos and they will look adorable all dressed up for the day. However, as my friends always remind me, they are hard work for the parents. Also, some venues are not child friendly. So a little more thought does need to go into deciding on whether to invite children to your wedding.
We looked at it a couple of ways as we knew there would be some children at our wedding – my sister had two children and we had already decided on who the bridesmaids, ushers and flower girl would be (all under 11). Did we want to go all out and invite every child of every guest that was coming? The venue wasn’t particularly child friendly, and only had a limited number of rooms for guests to stay over, so we thought there would be some limitations on that front. We also asked our friends who had got kids how they felt about having their children invited as well, and we were met with a very resounding NO from them all! It’s a long day to be running around after your kid and entertaining them non stop, and they all said they’d like to come and actually enjoy the wedding, get dressed up and have an adult conversation! So for some guests, we knew no offence would be taken by not inviting the children.
Other than immediate family and the wedding party, we made the decision that no other children would be invited. I have to say, I think we got the balance just right, with 9 children coming in total. We entertained them just fine by putting on some garden games and activities.
I hope you find these points helpful when working on you guest list, would love to hear your thoughts!