How to Determine Your Wedding Guest List
Unless you are planning to elope, one of the first things you will need to do for your wedding is make the guest list. It can be a daunting task for many couples, as they try to navigate the right mix of size, family vs. friends, social obligations, and much more. This step by step guide will help you learn how to determine your wedding guest list as easily as possible.
One: Set a budget. Until you know how many mouths you can afford to feed, it is impossible to come up with a finalized guest list. It also helps if you have an idea of the general capacity and prices at the venues you are considering. However, do not book a venue before making the final version of your guest list.
Two: Divide the list. Most couples will split it into thirds, with one share going to the bride''s family, one share to the groom''s, and the last portion to the bride and groom for their friends. This is a good place to begin, however, some flexibility may be necessary and can be an important way to build good will between the two families. If the groom comes from an enormous family and the bride has very few relatives, be sensible and allot more slots to the larger family to avoid excluding anyone important.
Three: Start with immediate family. This would be parents, step-parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Unless there is a serious estrangement, all of these people should be invited to your wedding, even if you do not particularly enjoy their company. As the old saying goes, you can pick your friends, but not your family! Feel free to forewarn your fiance about any chronically embarrassing relatives before the wedding so you will feel less mortified when uncle Al starts flirting with bridesmaids or Grandma does a crazy dance at the reception.
Four: Next it is time to sort out your close friends. Remember that the bridesmaids, groomsmen, and their significant others need to be included in your head count. Use your both your heart and head when selecting your wedding party. Your sister probably needs to be included, even if you are not all that close, but what about old friends who had you in their wedding, gave you great bridesmaid gifts, and all of that. If you no longer have a genuine friendship with someone, it is perfectly fine not to reciprocate the invitation to serve as an attendant (or even to invite her to your wedding if she lives far away), but go ahead and include your oldest girlfriends whom you rarely see but with whom you share a strong bond. Old ties mean more than bridesmaid gifts when assembling your bridal party.
Five: The rest of the friends, both yours and your parents. A lot of this depends on the size of your wedding. If is is large, you will want to invite your parents'' best friends, your circle of pals, and possibly your co-workers (with their spouses). At this point, one also must decide whether or not to invite children to their wedding. Many people feel very strongly about this question, on both sides of the fence. If you decide to have an adults-only wedding, you must draw a clear line and apply it fairly, such as no guests under 18 years old. If you start making an exception for your favorite kids, but not for others, you will end up insulting some of your guests and causing a lot of hard feelings.
Six: Last, but not least, don''t forget to invite your wedding officiant, along with his or her spouse if married. Not everyone knows about this, but it is customary to honor your clergyman or officiant with a wedding invitation.
Bridget Mora writes for Silverland Jewelry about wedding planning, etiquette, and style.
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