Wrangling the guest list is a tough job, but keeping it under control is possible with fair play and an ‘eyes on the prize’ focus.
One of the biggest decisions in planning your wedding is the guest list. The size of your wedding can affect so many other aspects of your big day. If you are planning a large wedding, you’ll need a venue that can accommodate many people, while if you’re hosting a smaller gathering, you’ll want to find a more intimate space. Your guest list will also need to work with your budget — obviously, the more people you invite, the higher the cost.
So how to settle on a guest list that works with your budget and your friends list? To start, think big and write down the names of everyone you would like to attend. Suddenly facing a list as long as your arm? Time to start whittling.
Traditionally, the couple gets to invite half of the total number of guests. The bride’s parents choose 25 percent, as does the groom’s. (Even if there are multiple sets of parents on one side of the family or the other, the split remains the same.) But the equation can get a little dicey if only one set of the parents is contributing financially or if the couple is footing the entire bill. If fairness is the final criterion, then the traditional split as mentioned likely would prevail.
The two most important factors in arriving at a manageable number of guests are your budget and the venue size. Be conservative, because you can always add more invitations from your B-list after the initial round of RSVPs start rolling in.
Don’t feel obligated to invite every cousin, especially if you’ve never met some of them. And don’t feel obligated to invite each of your co-workers because, let’s face it, you might not even like some of them. And decide up front if you want to include children; for sure, kids under the age of 12 are fun at a family gathering, but maybe not at $80 a head at your reception.
And don’t forget that it’s your wedding. No bullying or pressure allowed by anyone.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Typically, invitations are mailed six to eight weeks before to the wedding, or three months out if it’s a destination affair. Save-the-date cards should arrive six to eight months ahead of the wedding. The deadline for RSVPs should be two to three weeks prior to the wedding. If the deadline passes, it’s OK to follow up with those who haven’t responded to see if they’ll be attending.
Invitations should list each guest by name; never reference “and guest” unless you’re fine with your friend or relative bringing the stranger of their choosing. If a guest is not married and is not in a serious relationship, it’s perfectly fine to invite just that person — don’t worry, Emily Post concurs.
Try to pick an invitation style that matches the style of your wedding. If you’re having a casual ceremony on the beach in flip-flops, you might not want to send formal, lacy invitations. And keep in mind that the more embellished and detailed the invitation, the pricier it will be. There are many options when it comes to invitations —floral, lacy, custom designs, letterpress, foil-stamped, laser-cut and more, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Just stay true to your own tastes and the style of your wedding.
Keep the content simple by noting the full names of the couple and the place and the time of the ceremony and reception. That’s all that’s really necessary, though some brides like to include information about nearby accommodations for out-of-town guests and directions from the ceremony site to the reception venue if the two are held at separate locations.
Include a stamped envelope so your guests can easily return their RSVP cards. The return address should be secured on the back flap of the envelope, as well as on the RSVP envelope with postage inside.
Once you’ve got your invitations in the mail, the hardest part is over. Now you can just sit back and wait to find out who will be joining you at your celebration.