The Wedding Guest List

Tips for Brides

The Wedding Guest List

The wedding guest list. It's kind of a scary thing. It may even be a touchy subject between you and your fiancé. Or between you and your parents or parents to be! But really, it gets to be a touchy subject because it is so important. WHO comes to your wedding matters so much more than what color the bridesmaid dresses are or whether the cake is lemon or chocolate. I just looked it up and the average cost of a wedding guest is $204! You better like these people and be careful about who you're inviting!

Now, these tips are just my opinion as a wedding photographer, as a former bride and bridesmaid, and as a frequent guest.

1. Less is More

It's hard enough to enjoy your guests at your wedding. The more guests you have, the less time you'll actually get to celebrate with anyone. The happiest weddings I've been to seem to be the smaller, more intimate ones.

2. When in Doubt, Don't Invite

I really think you'll regret the people you invite who you wished you hadn't more than the ones you feel you should have invited. Did that make sense? I just feel like brides get so caught up in trying not to offend people that they tend to over-invite to keep everyone happy. It's your wedding. Invite who you want and let the rest go.

3. Don't Start the "If" Game

I did this. "If I invite _____ then I have to invite _____ because they're friends and they'll mention it and be sad I only invited _____." That's no fun and no reason to invite someone to the most important ceremony of your life. One day you'll look at your photos and wonder why they were even there, and that should never happen.

4. Set Rules

Don't set CRAZY rules. But if you're afraid someone will be offended that they weren't invited or they can't bring their children or their new boyfriend, you should have some hard and fast rules that no one's exempt to (except maybe your bridal party because they're special). I set a rule inviting my wedding guests that unless our friends were engaged or married, their significant others were not invited. Significant others can double your guest list if you don't control it. Luckily, Erik and I were generally friends with BOTH people, so it wasn't often an issue. I've also heard of "no children" weddings. This is also understandable and could be a good rule to set. All you have to tell people (if they actually ask you about it, which whoa, jeez, you probably made a good decision with that rule!) is "We set some hard rules to limit the guest number for our budget and to keep the wedding as intimate as possible." Done. If they give you grief, just be glad they didn't make the cut.

5. Assume Everyone Will Come

I remember sending out our invitations. We wanted to limit our wedding to about 100 people, but we invited 130. What the heck. That obviously makes no sense. We thought some people would be busy. Some people wouldn't be able to travel so far. Etc etc etc. You might be surprised how much effort people will make to attend your day. I was completely honored and thrilled that so many people wanted to come, but I really was surprised! We wound up with about 110. A little more. Don't tell our caterer ;)

6. Make the List Together

Make sure you and your fiancé agree on the people you're inviting. This may seem obvious but I know a lot of people (I was one of them) basically plan the wedding on their own because maybe the groom is not that interested in the process. Well, he has to be interested in this process because you don't know the people he MUST have at the wedding or the people you thought he was friends with but maybe he doesn't really think so. This should definitely be a team effort to make sure you don't forget cousin Joe who you've never actually met.

7. Don't Feel Guilty

Seriously. IT IS YOUR WEDDING. Do not let anyone bully you into making decisions you'll regret. Is it okay if your dad, who might be paying for the whole wedding, wants to invite his lifelong best friend? Of course. Is it okay if Aunt Sally is harassing you because you didn't invite everyone at your church or book club or whatever? Definitely not. If it was me I'd say "Hey Aunt Sally, you should be glad YOU made the cut! If you want to pay the $204 to invite them, be my guest!" Sorry, that's harsh. But really. That's probably what I'd say...

If you're worried about your budget. If there's something you want to splurge on but feel like you can't... cutting back on the guest list is the number one way to save money at your wedding. Never feel guilty about it and remember that the people you WANT at your wedding would never do that in the first place. Hope this was helpful. If you have any additional tips, leave them in the comments!