February 13, 2008

Planning Your Own: The Guest List

Posted in Planning Your Own Wedding: Step by Step at 9:46 am by Jess

I  have a song stuck in my head and it goes: “Who do you love? Tell me, Whoooo do you love?”
I also have another song stuck in my head. “I’m too sexy for this shirt,” but that is another story.
Back to the first song. Who do you love? Those are the people whom you are inviting to your wedding, right? Oh wait,  Aunt Bernadine is your Aunt, but she’s not exactly a “loved” one? What about your ex-boss who did so much for you but you secretly hate? What about those two teenagers you tutored in Spanish for a year? What about the babysitter?

The subject of who all you should invite to your wedding may be one of the most stressful that you encounter. There are the people you want to invite, the people your fiance wants to, the people his parents want to, the people your parents want to, the people you are 50/50 about, the people you just met but totally love already and are sure you should invite anyway, and then there is the number of people that your budget says you can invite. (Because that’s what your budget rolls up to: Cost per head). And what about children. Do they count as a head? “NO! They don’t eat a quarter of what I eat. I refuse to pay for them like adults.” says one groom-to-be. Well, we’ll see what his caterer says about that.

I wish I could say that there was a formula to follow here, or a sure guide to making the right decisions. I don’t think there is. For some people you are just going to have to make a gut decision. Piss someone off and invite her anway…piss someone off by not inviting her. But you can take into account a few things:

~ Don’t get too worked up about this. Please don’t. There are so many other, much more fun, much more beautiful things to think about.
~ If you can, leave yourself a little wiggle room in the budget, for in case you end up having more guests. This could happen because the entire set of second cousins who have always been low on money and are currently living in a nomadic tribe out in Utah decide to show, after you crossed them off, because there was no WAY they would come. Or, because you invite more people.
~Leave yourself a couple invitations, in case of the latter. We are at or near our budget already, but we have three invitations as spares. They are not back up invites. If half the people we invited show, then we aren’t going to start inviting more, just to have a bigger turnout. However, there are a few people who we like but we feel we are only in the middle of getting to know. In four months our relationship could be strong enough that we really these people to share our day with us. Back in September I could not know that, and could not have asked them. In April, I will know.
~ Also, leave a spare for the inevitable Forgotten Guest. You know, that really well-known person who you completely forgot on the list. I sent ours off this morning, I kid you not!
~If your parents really insist that you invite certain unheard-ofs, talk to them maturely about offering to cover the cost of these individuals in the budget. Let your fiance have that talk with his parents.
~Take into account the venue. A small church tha you picked out for the amazing garden but does not fit 250 people, will have a direct effect on your guest list.

To give you a little example from our wedding planning, consider this craziness: I am inviting someone I have never met, and her family. Jonathan is inviting a “good friend” who he has met, spent time with and maintained email contact, but whose name he cannot remember.

Jonathan slso invited everyone that was dear to him from all over the earth. We aren’t surprised to receive the Nos from people oceans away. He invited about forty people total from Switzerland, and we imagine they will all come. He did not invite his Uncle, and then his Grandmother was offended, so he sucked it up and invited the Uncle and the new wife.

Being the expat, I had the task of inviting people to spend thousands of dollars to come to my wedding. Gee, awesome. Gobs of fun, let me tell you. I finally decided that I would invite the family members that I had an actual relationship with. This was cause for concern between my mother and I, becuaes she felt that I would be offending the vast majority of her side of the family (My father’s side has four people. Easy Peasy.) I explained that if I did not know their names, or their children’s names, or what they really looked like; if I had not had direct personal correspondance with this person in the last five years – or ever – I was not going to ask them to spend the money to come to Switzerland, and I did not want the day to be of that nature. I stuck to my guns on this one. We have a low budget, we have travelers: Intimate is the key word.


1 Comment »

  1. rswb said,

    Ooh, this is one of my favourite topics for making me cranky at the moment! My guest list for my wedding (which is in three days, incidentally) has pissed me off no end. First I panicked because since it is in my country and not his, and since the only people of his who are coming are his immediate family and two friends who happen to live here (total: 7 people), I was basically entirely responsible for the whole thing. Then I invited a bunch of people in a bit of a frenzy (although a fairly well-considered one, but still one that came from being on the other side of the world and having more fond feelings towards people than I possibly would if I saw them on a regular basis) and then basically everyone said they would come. Seriously, all sorts of people are flying in from all over the place (even friends of mine from far distant countries, which is really lovely but completely insane and unexpected) and no one said “no” at all (well, almost no one). Then when I had reconciled myself to the fact that the whole wedding was getting out of hand anyway and I actually do rather like all my friends and rellies, I
    a) had a huge fight with one of my dearest friends about a week ago, which resulted in me never wanting to see him again and being inclined to call him and tell him to *&^#@ off (fortunately my more level-headed boyf convinced me not to and now everything is okay again with me and my friend);
    b) accidentally invited a few more people who happened to hear I was getting married and phoned up to say congratulations; and
    c) got an email from a few friends of mine who I had decided not to invite (but who I still rather like) asking where the ceremony is being held because they want to come along too! They specifically said they just wanted to attend the ceremony, but since the reception will be starting basically as soon as the ceremony is over (seriously, there will be about 10 minutes in between, which is the time it takes to walk from one place to the other) it’s really not great. Plus one of them is the ex of a friend who I did invite and who won’t be pleased to see her, so there’s drama all around and I have to annoy someone somehow to stop them all turning up.

    Anyway, rantrantrant, my advice would be that everyone (ie. bride and groom) should be equally responsible for guests (not normally a problem except in our ludicrous expat type situation) and that you be relatively ruthless with the guest list so that you can say to uninvited friends “yes, we’re keeping it very small” with some conviction.

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