If you are like most brides-to-be you have probably dreamed of your perfect wedding day surrounded by your nearest and dearest family and friends. But now you are starting to plan the wedding the question of The Guest List rears its ugly head.
So, where do you start when drafting your guest list? There are two schools of thought: one is to draw up a rough list so that you have an idea of the size of the venue you need to book; the second is to find the venue and then write your list based on the venue size.
The next things to consider when drawing up your guest list are:
1. Your budget – how many people you can afford to invite
2. Who is paying – if the couple is paying they have more control on the list. If parents are contributing they may well have a list of their own to invite.
3. Location – you cannot expect guests to travel a long way to attend only the evening do.
Once you have decided how many people to invite you will need to agree as a couple (and possibly as a family to include parents) what the rules are.
You will need to decide whether to invite children to the wedding. You might decide only children of the immediate family or children over 5 for instance. In your invitation you should make it clear who is invited and include all the names.
A decision also needs to be made about “plus ones” – anyone married, living together or in a long-term relationship should be invited as a couple, otherwise you should not add “plus 1.”
You may also wish to invite work colleagues, but if both of you work in a large office this can seriously bump up the numbers. If your wedding is close to where you work you could invite most of your co-workers and boss to the evening do only. If your wedding venue is too far to travel to in a day you may need to decide on your closest co-workers and invite them to the whole wedding.
Once you know your numbers and have decided the rules you need to set up at least 2 lists, although four may be better. Mine would look like this:
The A list or MUST HAVES:
• Parents (including step-parents, unless you are estranged from any of them)
• Siblings and family
• Your children
• Bridal party
(in my case this is about 20)
The B list or the WOULD LIKE TO HAVES/SHOULD HAVES:
• Aunts, uncles and family (depending on how close you are)
• School friends you’ve kept in touch with
• Uni friends you’ve kept in touch with
• Other long-term friends
(about another 60)
The C list or WOULD LIKE TO HAVES BUT MAYBE JUST AT EVENING DO
• Work colleagues/clients
• Friends from your sports club, choir etc
• Cousins you don’t see often
• Family friends (eg your Mum’s best friend)
(c 20 to wedding reception or 40 to evening do – the whole 2nd XI could come to the evening do!)
The D list – or SHOULD HAVES BUT DON’T REALLY WANT(!)
• Your parents’ neighbours who have bought you a Christmas present every year
• Step families
• People you’ve not seen for years but you went to their wedding
( c20 or perhaps more to evening do)
This is my own rough list and it shows just how easy it is to get up to 100 guests and why many people exclude children. At my wedding there were 16 children under the age of 8, which was brilliant, but can increase costs.
Obviously if you use this list you can designate people to whichever list you like: you need to play it by instinct. My husband’s family is much bigger than mine, but I am much closer to my cousins than he is, so my cousins were invited and his were not.
You need to make sure that your wedding plans can accommodate at least your A list, but don’t be scared of upsetting people. One of my closest friends decided her second wedding would be really small and just had about 10 guests – I wasn’t disappointed not to be invited, just delighted that she’d met such a lovely new husband.
When you are sending out your invites, you will find that about 20% will be unable to attend, so you can take that into consideration when planning.
Once you’ve got your guest list agreed, you are ready to order your wedding invitations and get inviting!