Planning your wedding is an exciting time full of anticipation and joy, not just for you and your fiancé, but also for your families. But there are some parts of wedding planning that aren’t as fun as others — like deciding which friends or family members you’re going to cut from your guest list. With so many opinions about invitation etiquette, it can get tricky to draw the line, especially if you and your significant other are both extroverts with lots of friends or huge families.
That’s why it’s important to carefully consider sacrifices you both can and can’t make, long before the invitations go out, and make sure that you’re both on the same page, even if that involves a big discussion. If you’re in the process of getting invites ready for your big day, here are six tips to follow to keep the guest list reasonable.
1. Agree on Your Numbers Initially
As mentioned above, if you and your fiancé don’t agree on guest list numbers initially, don’t brush this under the rug. It’s better to deal with a potentially heated conversation now than to wait until wedding planning gets in full swing and stress levels are high. Even if you’re on opposite ends of the spectrum, find a way to agree on a number of guests to invite — even if it takes some compromising. And make sure you’re both really in agreement before invites go out.
2. Consider How Many Will Actually Attend
When you come up with that magic number, there’s one thing you should keep in mind: not everyone you invite will actually be able to make it. That being said, you don’t want to invite 300 people for a venue that seats 200. The typical rule of thumb is that 10% to 20% of invited guests aren’t able to attend, so feel free to go up to 10% over the limit of your venue if this helps you and your soon-to-be-spouse reach a compromise about the number of guests.
3. Set Limits for Family
If you or your significant other have dozens of aunts and uncles and a seemingly countless array of cousins, chances are you aren’t going to be able to invite everyone. Decide how many branches of the family tree are invited and stick to it. Unless your parents or in-laws are paying, also set limits for them. If they’re determined to invite some buddies, give them a hard limit to how many they can invite — or you might end up with a whole section of strangers.
4. Don’t Invite All Coworkers
You probably have a few close friends from work who you see outside of office hours, and it makes total sense that you’d want to invite these bonafide friends. But don’t feel like you have to extend an invitation to every person you’ve ever sat on a conference call with. Invite anyone who you’d keep in touch with even if you left your current job, and don’t feel guilty about excluding others. Try to keep the wedding talk to a minimum around the office if your peers are sensitive.
5. Leave Kids at Home
One quick way to slice your numbers is to make your wedding an adults-only affair. Even your friends who are parents will understand this — many probably plan to get a sitter either way so they can have a grown-ups’ night out. And since you’re the bride or groom, you have a bit of leeway here if there’s a special nephew or a favorite niece who’s actually in the wedding. Feel free to play favorites and invite the children closest to you without extending the invitation wider.
6. Make a B-List
Even when you follow all of these tips to a T, chances are you’re still going to end up with a guest list that exceeds your budget or your venue’s limit. When this happens, there’s still one thing to do: create a B-list. Your B-list consists of people who don’t necessarily need to be at your wedding, but who you wouldn’t mind inviting. When you get back RSVP “no’s,” quickly send an invite to one of your B-listers. If you’re efficient, they won’t even realize they received it late.
The months before your wedding are some of the most exciting of your life. If you’re a creative and organized person, they might be downright fun. But when it comes to tough decisions like where to draw the line on guests, it’s helpful to follow the tips and tricks of those who’ve gone before you. It’s even more important to constantly talk with your partner so you’re both happy with the turnout on your big day. With those big choices made, time to address those invites!
Contributed by Kacey Bradley, the blogger behind The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she has written for sites like U.S. News, SUCCESS, Ruffled, and more!