On my travels as a bridal makeup artist and designer, I have met and encountered many many bridal groups and heard all the wedding woes of the day, some funny, some not so funny but all of which, thankfully were minor issues. The one common woe, however, is that of making out the guest list! As my grandmother used to always say, begin the way you mean to go on!
Once you’ve laid the ground rules down, on who can inject their 2 cents worth on your guest numbers, everything should slot into place! This is the one instance that can cause unwanted stress so let’s tackle this often tedious job head on in an easy step-by-step manner!
Creating your Initial/Approximate Guest List
Firstly, if you’re paying for your wedding then it’s up to you who has additional say on how many guests are invited in addition to what you decide. Be sure to make this very clear from the beginning, so there are no misunderstandings later on down the line.
Tip: The rule of thumb for weddings whereby you may be receiving some finance or parents or loved one’s are paying for the wedding is to split the guest list like so 50:25:25.
In a nutshell, the couple has say over half the guest list, then the other half is split between both sets of parents eg you’re inviting a total of 100 guests. You and your hubby-to-be will invite 50, then both sets of parents have 25 people each. Again, making this clear from the start, ensures no unforeseen additional guests, arguments on the wedding week or guest hiccups in general!
Create Your Ultimate Guest List…. then Get Real…
Have fun in the beginning – pop down all the names of everyone you would love to see at your wedding. From old school friends to your pen-pal from days gone by! Now take a look at your budget. If you’re Kimye, then numbers won’t matter as budget isn’t an issue, but for the rest of us that live and work on planet earth, this is where you start cutting the list down to a more realistic number!
Simple instances such as the following can help you cut your list:
♥ Have you ever heard of this person?
If yes, when did you last speak to them…not with a Facebook ‘like’ on a post they shared, I actually mean, ‘speak’ to them! If not in the last 2 years, then they’re off the list!
If no…then they’re off the list!
♥ If you want an all adult wedding – this is YOUR choice and it’s more and more common to have a child-free wedding, so don’t feel guilty about this! (I’ll tackle how to politely word this in a future blog post.)
♥ Work Colleagues – if you work in a large office and your wedding is away, then I wouldn’t worry about inviting anyone from work/the golf club/pilates etc. If you know some quite well, why not extend an evening invitation. This is the area I would ‘trim’ most! Unless you work extremely closely to a few, in which case you may want to invite them to the entire day.
The Chainsaw Massacre Approach
Depending on what part of Ireland you’re from, wedding parties can range from an average of 40 people to 300 in some rural areas. Regardless of that, there are times when we need to not only trim the list but literally, leave the bear bones on show!
If there is outside pressure from extended family on inviting all 50 odd cousins and their partners (who you haven’t met or seen since Granny’s 80th in 1995), then this is where being clear from the beginning comes into play. It might be hard, but again, there’s no confusion down the line!
This also goes for that lady who keeps asking ‘when should I buy a new hat for your big day?’ Many people will infringe on your guest list and presume they will be going even with little connection to you!
Simple ‘asks’ from your family, such as your mother advising your aunt(s)/uncle(s) that it’s an intimate wedding and no extended family will be invited will aid you with this.
A / B / C List
Ok, so you could split your list into categories, so ‘must invite’ / ‘might invite’ / ‘work’ etc.
Yes, this is a great way to filter through your guests, but ideally, have this all whittled down before purchasing your invites. Always purchase spare invitations for those last minute add-on’s, but bear in mind the time frame when inviting a person(s). The person who receives an invite the week of the RSVP date, or even worse, after that will know they were on the ‘might invite last minute.com list’ – you’ll find many people in that situation take offence and may not come even thought their ‘invite got lost in the post’.
You could have a small separate batch of invites printed with a different RSVP, but why add unnecessary cost as reprints are costly in small numbers. If it comes down to it, sending an evening invite will suffice as you can send these closer to the wedding date and generally they don’t have an RSVP date. As etiquette goes, if you’re inviting someone as full day guest(s), I recommend you have those names well and truly established with your definite guest list, if at all possible before purchasing your invitations!
Creating a simple spreadsheet and using colour codes of your preference will help you gather the information you need for naming and addressing your invitations down the line. Use the colour codes to distinguish what guests are ‘Invite’/’Maybe’ etc in a fashion that best suits you. You may have more categories so design around what suits you both.
Save this where you both can edit and add as you receive more information. I’d suggest not to delete names but simply use your colour coding. Once you’ve made the big cut, you may find you have some room to add some people as the budget allows. Its then handy to have your entire, now colour coded ‘dream list’ still to hand – George and Amal maybe free – you just never know!
Invitations & RSVP’s
We offer a personalised printing service here at Kerry Harvey Designs, whereby we print your guest names and addresses on each individual invite and corresponding addressed label. We also pop those invite names on the RSVP. This will help to avoid RSVP’s with added names in reply eg you invited Ciara and Tom, yet Ciara, Tom, Sarah and little John’s names are now on the RSVP. Be specific on all fronts. Just bear this in mind if you are writing your own invites and RSVPs.
The bottom line is to be clear and specific – I know this isn’t easy at times, but it will cut out awkward conversations down the line. From experience of chatting with many many brides, this will make your life much easier! This also includes family, even mums and dads. Sometimes the biggest issues are reiterating this with your family. A simple reminder that you have to stick to a certain number due to venue and/or budgetary restrictions, should suffice. And as for the lady wanting to buy a new hat, tell her the Galway Races are coming up in July! She can wear her hat then!
Key-notes to remember…
♥ What your budget is!
♥ Who do you actually want there?
♥ Who will make your day special and be delighted to see you get married?
♥ Who will help add to the memories of your special day?
After that, you can chainsaw, shred, burn the list if it helps you, but make sure your guest list is made up of the people you want by your side to share your special day…