Making Your Guest List: Privilege or Punishment?

Anyone who has held the bouquet, walked down the aisle and said “I do” can tell you that finalizing your wedding guest list feels more like playing criminal judge than blushing bride-to-be. Here are a few tips to trading in the big black robe for a much more flattering shade of white:

1.       Know that you’re not death sentencing a relationship.
Every person who makes the list means a lot to you, and this goes both ways. Know that if a co-worker or new friend doesn’t receive an invitation to the wedding, he or she probably wasn’t expecting one. The fact of the matter is that you’re just not that close (you can’t be best friends with everyone), and the lack of invitation won’t lead to hurt feelings or damage growing friendships.

2.       Don’t acquire a jury.
Your parents may be helping you out financially because they want you to have a dream wedding. Your dream, however, is not being introduced to absolute strangers during that precious five-hour reception. A contribution to your wedding expenses is not a purchase of plates or a portion of the guest list, and, with a little help, your parents will understand this, too.

Easy steps to managing your families while maintaining the peace :

– Communicate the parameters: just like you with your 1000+ person Guest List #1 (see below), your families are overly excited and slightly unrealistic. Before they start shooting out premature e-vites, let them know of the guest count and more intimate feel that you prefer, as well as any restrictions you have, such as budget or venue size. They won’t want you cutting out friends to make room for theirs. If you wait too long, however, you may be putting them in an uncomfortable “uninvite” situation.

– Be respectful: Include anyone your families feel strongly about attending—such as a close personal friend or business partner. Don’t make them ask, and they’ll feel appreciative that you considered them. Also, keep in mind that when your folks got married, there were not as many moving parts. They actually may NOT understand the effects of adding “just one more person.”

– Stick together: this is about a union of two people, right? Don’t allow family to corner one of you without the other and gain ground. Make it known that you’ll be discussing any requests with your future spouse and will make a decision together. (Good practice for the future).


3.       Put your wig and gavel (and guilt) aside.
Every, EVERY couple who has ever made a wedding guest list has made Guest List #1: everyone it would be nice to invite, and Guest List #2: everyone whom you can, and should, invite. Chances are, your first list was double that of the second. You need to decide which guests need attend and shouldn’t feel guilty about doing so. The budget is only so big, right? Narrowing that list, however, will not be any easier by casting character judgments upon those in the neutral zone, or those you and your future spouse may not agree on: yes, his buddy may have no-showed to his birthday last year with a lame excuse. But does that mean the friend means any less to your future hubby? Go with your gut on your own attendees, and if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Souring each other perceptions of friends and acquaintances may shorten your list, but have long-term consequences.

4.       Prepare for appeals.
The majority of reception sites have either an F&B minimum (not maximum) and/or don’t require your final count until a few weeks before the wedding. While it’s not okay to have “back-ups,” this flexibility allows you to tactfully add guests later in the process, after signing but before sending out the formal invitations. So, switching jobs and having a new boss to invite, adding a +1 for a blossoming relationship, or even changing your mind about someone is not a big deal, and you can simply go with the flow.