For my wedding, the wedding guest list was one of the hardest tasks to tackle. Selecting colors for the day, the venue, even picking out my dress was less stressful than deciding who makes the cut and who gets the ax. Okay, so that may sound a little dramatic, but when you have in-laws and your parents telling you that “Aunt Elsie MUST be invited” or “You can’t exactly leave out Cousin Sam’s 10 children” you start to feel the pressure.
So, when I thought I was going to slightly lose it when selecting my wedding guest list, my then fiancé (now husband) and I devised a strategy that really helped. I have shared this advice with several of my clients and friends and it has helped them to alleviate some stress when coming up with the guest list.
Now, if you don’t have a budget, then no need to keep reading, but if you can really only afford a certain number, then sit down with your parents and your in-laws and explain the following strategy. In order to stay within budget for your wedding, you all will need to work together, especially when it comes to the wedding guest list. Explain that in order to do this, you and your fiancé, your parents and your in-laws can only have a certain number of people that they can invite. Make it fair…so for instance if you want/can afford about 150 people at your wedding, then split it in thirds. Your folks and in-laws get to invite 50 people each and you and your fiancé get to invite 50 together. By setting this parameter, this does a couple of things…it makes the list selective; a wedding guest list that consists of those that mean the most to you (and the parents). It also makes it much easier to find a venue. If you know that you are only inviting a certain number, then you can immediately rule out certain locations, especially if they can’t accommodate that large of a crowd. Lastly, it sets limits on expectations that 150 is it…no more.
Now, and trust me this will happen, when your parents or in-laws or even your list grows beyond your allotment, then here’s what you do. You ask everyone to prioritize their list. The people that mean the most to you are on top and those that are past the cutoff (in this instance those below 50) are ranked by importance. These folks then become the prioritized “B” list.
Now, there will be people on your “A” list that will decline, so you can then pull from your “B” list, but you MUST keep this in mind: send out your “A” list invites early (about 3 months early) and give them an “RSVP by” date that is about 2 months from the day of your wedding. That gives you plenty of time to send out invites to your “B” list. This will also prevent the “B” list members from knowing they are second tier on your wedding guest list.
As a side note, if you are going to send out save the date cards, then this strategy still works, but you only want to send save the dates out to your “A” list.
If this strategy won’t work for your wedding guest list, then devise a plan that will work for you. There would be nothing worse than allowing your guest list to grow beyond your budget and, as a result, create even more stress after your day of celebration is said and done.
Best of luck and happy planning!
Meghann Kopecky is President/Design Director of www.urbanitystudios.com, a three year old stationery design firm. The company specializes in wedding invitations, birthday party invitations and announcements for all occasions. See Urbanity's wedding invitations, save the dates and other corresponding pieces.