Combining two families is a delicate task, one that can be illustrated by convoluted wedding seating charts. Can you put that crazy aunt whose plus one is bound to be a mesh t-shirt wearing man with a mullet next to your mother in-law who still talks about the greatness of the Reagan years? Well, you will have to read our next posting to learn more about seating charts because prior to even beginning to think about the seating chart is the guest list. Before you can consider where to place your guests, dj, food, and dance floor in the reception space, you need to have a clear idea of who should be invited to your special day. More importantly, who should not be invited?
This is the sort of awkward social dilemma that leads many couples each year to throw caution to the wind and elope. It is an easier task to include no one than to attempt to include just the right people. Conversely, countless brides and grooms to-be are so terrified of offending people that they augment their wedding budget so that they can invite their dental hygienists and neighbors’ dog walkers and their guests.
To avoid making rash decisions or spending an exorbitant amount on too many guests, you need to make a game plan for your guest list. It should be constructed in three parts. Before you and your significant other reserve a venue, set a cap on the number of guests you can afford to accommodate. The costs that will be affected most by the number of guests you invite are catering and the venue. Stick to this guest count cap as fastidiously as you do with the rest of your wedding budget.
Then, make your first list. This will be a rough draft. If your potential attendees exceed the limit you set, then it is time to shed. It is necessary to be selfish and start to seriously question who deserves the invitation. If you haven’t spoken to people in more than a year, then are they important enough to merit spending money to invite them to your wedding? If you do see the person on a regular basis, ask if their relationship to you is one of organic friendship or if it is involuntary. For example, you may see your barista everyday and enjoy her banter, but if removed from the context of Starbucks and caffeine deprivation you two would not be best buds, then skip the invite. She will forgive you and will still have to smile and make your coffee every day. Win-win for you. Another factor to consider when cutting the list is mutual friends. If your list includes people with whom you share no mutual friends, then odds are they will be lonely at the wedding. Now what to do about ex-partners or even spouses who are still in your lives? This is a very personal decision, one which should be delicately discussed with your partner. But I believe that no matter how friendly one person is with the ex, if the other person objects to anyone on the guest list, then nix the invitee altogether. It’s never worth risking your relationship with your future life partner over a past relationship. Finally, consider who would be least offended if they weren’t invited. It may sound crass, but I certainly have a few second cousins who, while they are connected by blood pop into my life more than once a year, would not blink twice if not invited to my wedding.
Now ignore your list until two weeks before you send out invitations. In the time that passes between your rough draft guest list and this final draft, people will leave and enter your life. This is the time to kick off the friends who have been incommunicado and replace them with newly important people in your lives.
If you are unable to invite everyone to your wedding who you feel should be, remain cognizant of the fact that in the grand scheme of things, those who truly love you and value your friendship will understand that weddings are expensive. You and your fiancé’s happiness are what’s most important on your wedding day and if keeping costs down will make you both happier, then stop worrying about offending people and cut your guest list.