Guest List Game Plan

Guest List Game Plan

It was easy to cut your accountant, your dentist, and the guy who sells you double lattes every morning. But how will you pare down the rest of your guest list?

Negotiating the wedding guest list can be one of the most difficult and emotional aspects of wedding planning. Sure, you want everyone you know to share in your special day, to see how gorgeous the two of you look, and to cry at your first dance. But, in most cases it’s impossible to invite everyone linked to the bride, the groom and both sets of parents. Each guest you invite translates into dollars spent on your wedding. Even if budget is not an issue, your ceremony or reception location probably has a maximum headcount — unless you will be having the party in an airplane hangar.

Couples Follow these tips to make the guest list cutting process less painful.

Making a List, Checking it Twice. Before cutting the list, you actually have to make one. First, think about the kind of wedding you will be having. Will it be an intimate family-oriented affair or a big bash? Who is paying for the wedding, and what is the maximum headcount, given your budget? What expectation do those footing the bill have about being able to dictate who is invited? These will be your parameters. Don’t go a step further without defining them.

Log in to your Wedding Account here in and enter the Guest Manager tool. (If you don’t yet have your personal account, click here .) Begin compiling names. Have your fiancé, your parents and your future in-laws do the same. Combine the lists to create your master list, and then assess how far away you are from your target number, over or under. (If you’re like most brides, you’re over.) Now you can begin the editing process.

Friends and Family. When cutting the list, think of including only people you, your fiancé and your families know really well — people who have supported you and truly matter to you. Invite your nearest and dearest, relatives and friends. If you don’t recognize a name on the list, it’s probably a name that can go. Never heard of Simon Jones? Make a case to scratch him, even if he’s one of your dad’s business associates. Never met Great Aunt Sally? You don’t need to meet her on your wedding day. But don’t be recalcitrant in your decisions to cut people. If your mother desperately wants to invite a certain someone, hear her out. Herein lies the great dichotomy in guest list cutting: be ruthless, but be gracious. If you strike the right balance between the two, you will be able to cut your list and still make everyone happy.

All’s Fair. One of the stickiest points of list negotiating is dealing with the future in-laws. Whoever is paying for the wedding, typically the bride’s parents, probably expects to have more control over the guest list. But don’t make the mistake of drastically limiting the number of guests on the in-laws’ list. Their child is getting married, too, and they want the important people in their lives to attend. If they can’t cut their list to the number you specify, consider asking them to pay for the extra guests (if your reception venue has the room).

Reciprocity. Just because you were invited to your former tennis partner Janet’s wedding doesn’t mean you have to invite her to yours, especially if you two are no longer in contact. That goes for your very distant cousin Stan, the one you met only once, at his wedding. This is not payback time for wedding invitations you have received or wedding gifts you have given in the past.

Surprise. Don’t invite people assuming that they won’t come — you may be in for a surprise. And don’t significantly over-invite because you’re depending on a certain number of regrets, you can never really anticipate how many regrets you will receive. Some couples, especially those who have carefully pared down their guest lists to the essential folk, report close to 100 percent RSVPs.

Two Lists. If you have a group of borderline people that you would love to invite if you could, create a B-list. The Guest Manger tool makes it easy to define invitees and “definite” or “alternate.” Send out your definite invites about two months before the wedding and wait to see who replies. For every person who can’t come, send out an alternate invitation. Send your alternate invitations no less than a month before the big day so guests don’t feel like an afterthought.

Category Cuts. If you’re still having trouble paring down the list, consider cutting out entire groups of people. It can be brutal, but is sometimes necessary. For example:
Co-workers. Only invite those who you have socialized with outside of work. If you left your current job tomorrow, who would you stay in touch with? Invite your boss only if you have a close relationship with him/her, not to score points.
Old friends. Don’t dig up friends from long ago. If you have to conduct a major search to find their address, they probably shouldn’t be on the list.
Kids. Kids look so cute at weddings in their dress-up duds, but they don’t need to be there if you need to make cuts. Be tough, just eliminate all kids under a certain age — 16 or 18 — unless they are your nieces, nephews or first cousins.
Dates. Your single friends need not be invited to bring a date to your wedding. Those who are engaged or involved in a committed relationship should be invited with their honeys. Members of your wedding party should also be allowed to bring a date. The rest of your single friends can seize the opportunity to mingle and maybe they’ll end up being the next to walk down the aisle.
Look at your wedding guest list as the list of the people who will see you get married and hang in there with you forever more. If you want them in your life as a couple, invite them to your wedding. And don’t worry, your long lost third cousin twice removed probably won’t even know she missed your wedding.


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