Besides a budget, the most important initial decision that must be made before planning your wedding is the guest list. And nothing causes more angst than the guest list, even if it really shouldn’t. If your budget is limitless, then this blog post is not for you. Invite everyone and anyone. But if you have a budget, and especially if your budget is small to relatively small (anywhere under the average of $32,641*) then what follows will help you.
What causes the trouble with the guest list? Several factors: A bride who wants a small wedding and a groom who wants to invite every guy he knows. One family that has 100 cousins. Parents who want to invite all their friends so they can show off their child who is getting married. Feelings of obligation. Worrying about offending someone. Just typing this makes me feel upset! Poor couple. They just want to get married and be with those they love and feel loved by.
So, if the criteria for the guest list is to be surrounded by your closest family and friends on the day of your wedding, who on earth are all the people you spent good money on who now look like wedding crashers sitting at your tables? Well, they are all the people you invited to take away the guilt trip you were manipulated to go on.
How do you resist the influence? How do you stop the madness? First, who is paying for the wedding? Those who pay have some say. And by pay I mean, significant contribution. If your parents are paying in full or pitching in 50% or 33.33% then they can invite the most important people to them. Why does financial contribution make a difference? Because for each person you invite you have to pay for another seat at your venue, another meal, more drinks, more invitations, more send-off items. Yep, everyone has a price tag on them.
So how can you think through who to invite or not invite? First, have an A, B, and C list.
A= absolutely must have at your wedding. These are the people you hold near and dear to your heart and will be a part of your life after you are married.
B=you count these people as friends, and they may even be family, but you don’t really hang out with them. A good rule for this group is if your fiancé hasn’t met them then they probably aren’t that special.
C=long lost friends, neighbors, co-workers. This group usually gets invited because you are a very kind person and don’t want to hurt them. Well let me help you with that, those on this list feel the same way about you as you do them, except they may not be as nice. You invite them to your wedding, and out of duty they come, but then they leave as soon as they eat because they don’t care enough about you to give any more time out of their day. That’s the truth. It may hurt, but better that you know now, rather than buy a cake to feed 200 when all who are still there at cake cutting time are all your A list and 1/2 the B list which equals 80 people.
I know it sounds callous, but would you invite the people on your guest list to an expensive restaurant to pay for their dinner? If not, cross them off. Do you want to be meeting strangers throughout your reception? It’s tiring to meet new people and act like you care when all you really want is to enjoy your special day with your new spouse by your side.
There is NOTHING wrong with wanting to celebrate with those who have not only been a part of your life in the past, but who are part of your life now and you hope will be in the future.
So how do you handle not inviting second cousins and co-workers? You simply state you have decided to have a small wedding. That’s it. No additional explanations needed. It is a very freeing feeling when you realize you are not obligated to entertain all the people you know. You of course can and should be kind in dealing with people when the issue needs to be addressed, but you do not have to change your desire for your wedding solely to accommodate fears of how people will react. You cannot control people’s reactions, but you can control yours.
Planning the wedding is practice for your marriage. Working together to meet one another’s needs and not demanding to have your way. Be considerate. Be thoughtful. If your fiance feels uncomfortable with a large guest list, regardless of budget, then listen to his/her need. You will be happy because they are happy. And this is how you want to begin the first day of the rest of your life as husband and wife.