Tips for Brides
The usual disclaimer applies. This is just my advice and there are a million ways to do anything on your wedding day. When it comes down to it, go with your gut and don't worry about what anyone else says you should do, especially when it comes to your wedding guest list.
1. Write out everyone who MUST be there.
These are the people who instantly come to mind. You could never forget them because they're that important and your wedding day would never be the same without them. Immediate family, wedding party, best friends, people you couldn't live without. This part should be instinctual.
2. Add in the accompanying guests to your MUST haves.
These "accompanying" guests are the reason your list grows so massively without you realizing it at first. But you can't invite Uncle John without Aunt Julie so even if one didn't come to mind during step #1, add them in now. Now you have a list of your must have people. If you want a small, intimate wedding you could stop here and you'd probably only have 30-50 people. Most weddings aren't so small, but everyone should take some time to decide what works for them.
3. Determine your budget.
(Yeah this step is pretty much in every Tips for Brides post ever, but with good reason!) Nothing drives up the cost of a wedding more than your guest number. If you are really pinching pennies then this is the area to make the greatest savings. If you have the luxury of inviting whoever you like, continue on to the next steps!
4. Add in the family members you need to include.
This step is more important to some people than others. If you have a huge family, this can really bulk up your list quickly so be careful! This is a good time to set a rule on which family members you invite. Whatever rules you set should be equal for the bride and groom. If you're inviting your aunts, uncles, and cousins, it would be rude to not invite his aunts, uncles, and cousins as well. There's an exception to everything, but whatever you decide, try to keep it equal and respectful.
5. Add in your mutual friends.
The most important friends to invite are the ones who are friends with both of you as a couple. These friends are likely your closest friends and they're the ones you're most likely to continue a friendship with as time goes on.
6. Add in friends of "just the bride" or "just the groom."
Again, try to keep this equal. Neither of you should have a huge crowd while the other has just a couple of friends and former roomies.
7. Add in coworkers or anyone else you want to be at the wedding.
This is debatable and you should have a relationship outside of your work relationship for this to be meaningful. Don't invite your boss because you feel like you're asking for the time off and you should. That might just stress you out!
8. Set rules.
When you have hard and fast rules, you have a go to explanation for anyone who is rude enough to ask you why "so and so" wasn't invited to the wedding. These rules can also help you limit your guest number and limit the disagreements you might have. Some examples of rules you might make are:
- No children - No plus ones whose names are not on the invitation (you can limit this however you see fit... only married couples, only engaged couples, but it's good to draw a line somewhere on this) - Nobody who the bride and groom have not both met - Nobody who the bride or groom have not known for more than a year
I could go on and on with rules, but these are completely subject to the kind of wedding and size of wedding you want to have. At my own wedding, children were welcome but dates were not unless the couple was at least engaged or married. It is all personal preference.
9. Remember to factor in your vendors.
I was surprised when I gave my final guest count to my caterers that I had to name all my vendors and add them in to the guest list. You're feeding them so it makes sense, but that's probably about ten people you need to factor in to your budget.
10. Don't be bullied.
Don't worry about disappointing anyone. Ignore the (passive) aggressive pressure you inevitably receive when you're wedding planning. I know it's hard but you will disappoint someone over something no matter how hard you try, so try not to worry about it. Seriously. This is the most important point on the list. If you let other people's expectations rule your day, you won't enjoy it as much. People will get over their issues soon enough and if they're going to let your wedding be an excuse to ruin your relationship, you didn't need them as a friend to begin with.
Sidenote: I did a Google search on this topic and read The Knot's advice on creating a guest list. They said to create an A list and B list of guests in case lots of people you invite decline. Then you can invite your B list people to "fill up the space." I think this is crazy advice and a good way to make sure you spend money you don't really need to spend. If someone did not make your initial list, why on earth would they make your list now?
If you have any tips or experiences of your own, leave them in the comments!