Help! Managing a Guest List

Managing your guest list can be the trickiest part of wedding planning. The number of guests you have will affect the size and type of venue and of course the cost. First you must figure out how many people your budget will allow. If you are like me, you might be tempted to invite everyone you have ever known to your wedding. But for most of us that is just not a practical decision.

To avoid misunderstandings and bitter feelings, those involved in planning and paying for the wedding should sit down and communicate clearly about how the guest list should be divided. Once each party has made a preliminary list, you can tally up the total and if it is over your limit, start to pare it down. One way couples shrink the guest list is by listing people in order of importance and cutting from the bottom up. I love the scene from the movie Father of the Bride when the family sits around the dining table each person with a stack of index cards in hand. Each card has the name of a guest and they take turns going through the cards and cutting one at a time with various reasons for either cutting or keeping someone on the list. Another way to pare down the list is by cutting entire groups. For instance, it is common courtesy when you invite co-workers to invite all or none. So unless you’re very close to your entire team, you might consider cutting the whole group. If you do, it might be wise not to talk about your wedding plans too much around the office.

It is important to be consistent when dealing with kids on the guest list as well as significant others. You can risk offending a lot of people if you say no children allowed but then make exceptions for your favorite niece and nephew. The same with inviting significant others, if you allow your best friend to bring her boyfriend, you should invite other significant others even if you don’t know him or her as well. For your single friends, it is okay to invite just them. Omitting “and Guest” should indicate to them that a date was not included in your head count.

This is the hard part. Whether you are having an intimate wedding with only family and few friends or a big wedding banquet, it is always difficult to include everyone or exclude anyone. But deciding on a guest list early on will help you choose a venue and make the rest of the planning process a lot easier.