One of the most stressful tasks of wedding planning is creating the guest list. Where to draw the line and why are rules that most couples struggle with, and jobs that each approaches differently. Some ask for help while others wade through the spreadsheet, paperwork, or other list format on their own.
When asked for advice by our couples, we typically state that it’s necessary to set limitations and values. However, these limitations and values are vastly different than the ones that people set in other areas of their life.
In addition to having different definitions, these terms provide couples with reasons to give to (somewhat rude) guests or (inquiring into why they or other people weren’t invited, or (simply curious) family members wanting to know why the lines for the list have been drawn where they were.
Establishing limitations for a wedding guest list is not the same as establishing boundaries for your life. Sure, the two are similar, but when it comes to the former (your guest list), the term has MANY more definitions:
The size of your ceremony site and reception venue. Your ceremony site and reception venue can likely only accommodate so many guests, limiting how many people you can add to your guest list. This is the most basic limitation, and the one that can be most easily relied upon and used as an explanation for why you chose to pare down your guest list or not invite certain individuals.
The size of your budget. It wouldn’t be a Bridal Times Blog Post without a mention of your budget, right? Unless you’ve an unlimited budget, which is rare, the amount of money you have at your disposal to spend on your wedding dictates the size of your guest list. Your budget has to stretch to accommodate everything; inviting too many people may mean you have to skimp in other areas. For this limitation, a simple statement that your funds wouldn’t stretch enough to accommodate everyone can answer any inquiry into why the guest list is planned as it is.
How much you want to handle. A larger guest list equals more people to manage, which equals more for you to plan prior to your wedding and oversee on the day itself. If you’re uninterested in extensive amounts of planning, you might want to keep your guest list small. Most guests understand an unwillingness to go overboard on planning or add to your stress levels.
Who is adding names to the list. Are you and your fiancé responsible for creating the list or are family members submitting names? If the latter, are those family members also contributing financially to the wedding? If so, you might find that the line you draw for the guest list must land in a different place – a place that may require you to move some of the people you added to the list off it. It’s perfectly acceptable to say that your family member’s guest requests needed to be accommodated on the guest list, limiting your invitees.
Like limitations, the term “values” also has multiple definitions when it comes to wedding planning:
What your wedding means to you. When you envision your wedding do you conjure images of everyone you’ve ever known celebrating your or a small affair only involving family and very close friends? Seriously consider what you want your wedding to be and how you want to remember it before you create a six-page long guest list. It’s perfectly acceptable to tell guests that you and your future spouse wanted a smaller affair.
How you want to distribute your wedding budget. If flowers and really fancy food mean a lot to you, you might find that you’re unable to invite a large number of guests. Explaining to family members that you wanted to spend your money somewhere other than having a large number of guests often quells their inquisitiveness.
The size of your potential guest list. Couples with large families on both sides and extensive numbers of close friends may find that their guest list is literally unending. A large number of potential invitees may require drawing the line in the sand a lot closer than you originally intended just to make the invitee list easier. If having a small wedding is the only way you know how to keep your guest list under control, say so – friends and family members who truly know you and the size of your list of acquaintances will understand.
Every couple needs to create a guest list; and every couple needs to decide where to draw the line that dictates who lands on and off that list. Considering what really matters to you as a couple can help not only create the list, but provide you with valid reasons for why your list stands as it does.