Because for most of us, the size of the guest list is very much governed by the budget and very often, couples want to invite, or feel that they have to invite, more people than they can afford. In extreme and incredibly tense situations, the couple and others involved in the planning of the wedding, have agendas when it comes to the guest list, with little or no concern for the budget, in that moment. That comes later, when the bills roll in.
Ok, I am painting a bit of a grim and perhaps generalised picture of the guest list step in wedding planning, but in my experience it really is the point where things can get messy and everyone starts losing it to some degree. The guest list, has been the un-doing of many a carefully thought out budget and being in debt because you had to invite your ex-boss, his wife and 5 children, is not a good way to start a marriage.
So how do you avoid this?
If your parents are helping to pay for the wedding, or have an invested interest in who is invited, they will want to be involved. But my big tip is to leave them out of it initially. It’s fine to ask them for a wish list of who they would like there, but when you sit down to consider your list, do it together, as a couple. The less people around you at the point where you are serious about drawing up the list, the better.
Rather than starting with a wish or dream list, I recommend going the other way, start with the must be there people. Your closest friends and your family. These are the people that you absolutely would not get married without inviting. At this point, I recommend not including children, unless they really do fall into this category.
Your next step is to think about who you would love to invite if you could. This might be some family friends who you are inviting out of respect for your parents. Children you considered not adding to your initial list. Work colleagues and ex-partners if it is appropriate. Add them to the other side of your list.
At this stage your list should be in two sections. The must haves and the I would like to haves. Now add up the two sections and get a final tally which you multiply by your pice per head. Take a deep breath. No tears, no tantrums, no emergency calls to the bank. You are in control remember and you have two lists. Hopefully the first list falls within budget. If not, you seriously need to return to the drawing board and consider some other options for cutting the budget, such as editing the style of wedding you are having, the day of the week you are getting married for example.
But, if your must have list is under budget and you still have some room to move, you can start to work with these lists.
First look at that must have list again. Is there anyone on there that as much as you want them there, could be reasonably expected not to attend, due to health, location etc. This is hard to bank on, if they are important enough to be on that list, they may consider it important enough to come. However, this does sometimes lead to some cuts from your must have list, so it is worth looking at and if appropriate, contact them to give them the details and ask them if they feel they may come. Again if you are close to them, they will understand why you are asking.
Now, go to the other list. Have you invited friend’s partners? Are they people you feel close to? Could they come off? If they are long-term friends and have been together for a long time, the answer is likely to be no, but if your friend is in a new relationship, or not serious about their new partner, or you haven’t even met them, you can consider this option (people do understand). Could you set an age limit for children, or take them out all together? Do you need those ex-partners there? Usually the answer to that is no. Let it go. Work colleagues. Have you over-done it here? Is there just one person you could invite out of respect to the group? Like your must have list, are there people on this list who may not attend due to logistics, or other reasons? Can you contact them to ask them this question?
One Last Tip
My final tip for determining the guest list goes back to the first one. Do this together and without your family if you possibly can. Make it fun. Grab a bottle of wine, put some music on and get the job done. Be prepared to compromise and once the list is done stand united on it.