The excitement of getting engaged has subsided and you are now faced with dreaded wedding planning. Initially, it is all thrilling and new. The thoughts, options and possibilities are exhilarating to think about! Soon enough, it all hits you like a ton of bricks. Wedding planning has officially begun. When it’s time to get your feet wet, you move into the nitty gritty stuff like the guest list.
When starting to plan your wedding, I swear I had hundreds of thoughts zooming through my brain. Where? When? How many? How much? Who will be invited? How can I make most people happy for the most part? And when you think about it, one part always relies on the other part.
From personal experience, the guest list is a huge part of wedding planning. How big or small will this guest list be? What does my budget or venue allow for? Who do I include? Who do I exclude? How much extended family should be invited? Do my parents get to invite their friends? Will people be insulted if they’re not invited? All relevant questions. Many these are also determined based on the size your venue can accommodate as well as your budget.
*Please note that I am definitely not an expert – but only writing from experience.*
Our wedding was limited to 75 people due to our venue. We went with the smaller venue because we liked the intimacy of a more select group to witness our wedding day. Some say it was too few, some say it was just right. Either way, it is your wedding, and yours only. (Remember that. You’ll recite it millions of times until that big day.) In the beginning of the planning fiasco, we wanted to invite everyone we knew (slight exaggeration here). Who wouldn’t? Imagining a huge party with everyone sounded so awesome! Buuuuut then we thought about it a little more. Do we REALLY want a large-scale wedding where we don’t know everyone all that well? After all, this is a very personal experience for the both of us and we had to ask ourselves who we really there. We didn’t want a wedding where we wouldn’t know a quarter of the people attending. We also wanted friends and family that supported us on our journey to get to where we are today. The thought of inviting individuals who did not support us was almost disgusting. Sounds vile, but could you imagine standing up in front of everyone, thinking, this is one of the biggest days of my life, and I’m staring at ‘Betty Jo’ whom absolutely hates us being together? I think not. Point taken? I hope so.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. What is your budget?
2. Do you want a large party of a wedding or small intimate wedding?
3. Do you have a venue? If so, what are the limitations?
4. How much would it be per person?
5. Do your parents have anyone that they would like to include?
6. How much are you willing to stand your ground if there are any opposing opinions? How stubborn do we want to be about what we want and don’t want? (This will be the question that helps to answer most all of your future questions.) Are you sticking to your ideas about what you want in your wedding day? Or will you let others take the lead in deciding for you?
Here’s what we did:
Before you start, know what your target number is. Ours was 75.
First…we made two lists (one of mine, one of his) of all family members that we 100%, without a doubt, wanted to come.
Second… we made another list but of all friends that were to be certainly invited.
Third… draw a line at the bottom of each list. Then, add any additional people that are not currently on your lists that you would want there. Extended family, close family friends, acquaintances, friends of the parents etc.
After making these lists count them up and see how many you have total. Is this list more or less than your target number?
Before you make any adjustments and modifications, if your parents are contributing to your budget, it would be proper etiquette to ask them to make a list of who they would like you to invite. This is merely a crowd-pleaser to some degree. My parents are divorced so I had to ask them separately. One parent decided to give a very long list, and the other did not provide any. We counted the people we absolutely wanted to attend and then made accommodations for the additional spaces from the lists from the parents. If you have a lot of space, then you have so much more flexibility. If your parents are paying for your wedding and you are able to have a large guest list, then make sure the people you want to attend your wedding are invited and to leave some room for your parents’ buddies. If you’re having a smaller wedding, try to keep some spots open for the parents even if it’s a few. Again, refer to question #6.
4. Wiggle room.
One thing to keep in mind is the inevitable last minute cancellations. We had 80 people invited and 7 people cancelled last minute which is more than we were thinking! It is practically impossible to think that every single person will be attending that you invite. Life happens – sicknesses, travel, family, work schedules etc. Give yourself some wiggle room. Anticipate some cancellations and add a few extra. Feel it out as your RSVP’s come in.
5. Know that you cannot change the inevitable.
It is guaranteed you are NOT going to be able to please everyone. And it sucks. This is supposed to be a happy time, and a positive experience but darn it why don’t people realize this isn’t their wedding – it’s yours! Opinions will be shared, so take it or leave it. Don’t dwell on it. Easier said than done – trust me. Sure, some people will be disappointed they weren’t invited. However, most all people know how timely and expensive weddings can be and understand. For those that do not understand, there is something to be said. Are these people you want at your wedding?
6. If you don’t meditate, you should start now.
This is half joking and half serious. Okay, more the serious side. This is a good thing to practice at any time in your life. When you’re surrounded by not only the chaos of life, but the chaos of wedding planning, a few minutes of peace is sometimes just what you need. Whether it’s right when you wake up in bed, in the shower, on your deck, couch or on the floor – it must be a place where your body is balanced and you’re comfortable. So you found your meditation spot – now what? There are so many types of meditation and it completely depends on you. I focused on staying positive, showing gratitude, and reaffirming self-worth. An example of this would be, I am perfect the way that I am. I am worthy. I am loving and kind. I am grateful for ____ (fill in the blanks with anything or anyone and visualize). Everything will happen as they should. And repeat. And visualize. Your thoughts may wander, and that is OK! This is what practice is for. I promise you that this will help, but you’ve got to stay committed to it! I believe in you!
Overall, we were very happy with our wedding and who was there with us. We felt that we hardly were able to speak with everyone during the reception for more than a few minutes. But, we were at least able to touch base with everyone there and not feel too rushed. It was difficult to think about having MORE people there! For many people, this will be one of the most difficult parts of a wedding. For others, it may be a breeze. Either way, every wedding, every person and every situation is different. Have an open mind and heart, and all will be good.