• {Planning Tips} How to Make & Cut Your Guest List Without Pissing Everyone Off: No Kids, B-Listing + Other Issues

    Happy Thursday!  One more day till the weekend, and one more day till the heat gives us some relief here in LA (at least that’s what they say – they’ve been saying it all week and it’s still as hot as a thousand red hot burning suns, so we’ll see…)

    So today I’m addressing some issues I’ve been getting asked about lately: guest lists.  There are so many different issues that I could address (and will in future posts) about making your guest list, but today I’m talking generally, and touching on some specific issues that I’ll talk about more in the future.

    How to Make & Cut Your Guest List | photo by Jennifer Roper
    After you get engaged there are 5 Things you should do first, and one of those things is start your guest list (check out this post if for how to start it).  There are lots of issues that can come up while you’re making your guest list, but one of the biggest is that you have WAY too many people on it.  Remember, the more people on the list, the more money you’re going to spend.  And if you’ve already chosen a venue you may not have room for everyone.  So what do you do?  Here are some ways people deal with the “too long guest list” along with some etiquette and my two cents thrown in.
    How to Make & Cut Your Guest List | photo by Jennifer Roper

    {Make Rules to Exclude Groups As A Whole}  
    Many couples choose to say “no work people” or “no extended family.”  Whether these will work for you definitely depend on the couple.  If you have some really close friends at work or work for a small company, you may want to include your boss or a couple of friends.  And some people are really close to extended family members, while others don’t know their first cousins.  So here’s a way to think about it:

    Co-workers:  If you left your job tomorrow, who would you still maintain a relationship with?  If they aren’t on that list, they don’t need to be at your wedding (unless you have a closer working relationship with your boss).  When I got married I worked for a small law firm, and I invited all four of my bosses. Now that I no longer work there and don’t have a good relationship with a couple specifically, I hate when I see them in my group wedding photo of all of our guests.  If you don’t know them well, don’t like them, etc. then don’t invite them.

    Relatives:  If you want to include one first cousin in your wedding, you should really include them all (although you can keep it over the age of 18, which I’ll discuss more below).  However, you don’t have to treat both sides of the family the same.  Some people are very close while others are not.  If you have a close family of cousins (or great aunts, or whatever the case may be) but your future hubs does not, then invite yours and leave out his.  No one has to know but the two of you anyways!

    No Kids:  Whether you just don’t want kids at your wedding (I didn’t, no offense to kids everywhere) or you find it to be a good way to trim your list (all those kiddos eat a meal at that costs money), here is the way to do it.  First, set an age cut-off.  If you just want to exclude little kids, say no kids under 5, or 12, etc.  Or if you want to exclude kids & teens, decide to have no one under 18.  The way to spread the word is to only include each member of the family that you actually want invited on the invite (etiquette says to do it on the inner envelope, but I didn’t have inner envelopes and I did a “no one under 18″ rule, so I sent everyone their own invitations.  Then we spread the word through our parents that we weren’t including kids but if anyone was coming from out-of-town and bringing kids, we would arrange for a babysitter.  We only had one person that gave us a hard time about this, and since it was a family member I hid them on facebook so I didn’t see their passive-aggressive remarks about it.  The key to this rule: DON’T GRANT ANY EXCEPTIONS.  Well, except if you are having kids in your wedding party.  But other than that, NO exceptions.

    No “And Guest” Invites:  You are only obligated to include the spouse, financé (or fianceé), or live-in partner of those you want to invite.  You do not have to invite boyfriends, girlfriends, or give an “and guest” invite to your single friends and relatives.  However, it is a nice gesture (I would say it is a “should do”) to give an “and guest” to anyone in your wedding party, especially if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend.  If someone complains or asks to bring a date, remember that it is they who are being impolite and it is not impolite for you to respond that you have limited seating, are having a smaller wedding, etc.

    Old Friends:  If you haven’t seen them in a year, or communicated with them in a couple of years (and I don’t mean befriending them on facebook), then you don’t need to invite them to your wedding, not even if you were invited to theirs years ago.

    How to Make & Cut Your Guest List | photo by Jennifer Roper

    {Making a B-List}
    Some couples choose to make an A-list of the people they absolutely want at their wedding, and a B-list of people that they only want to include if there is room.  Making and inviting a B-list is a risky little game, and one that very often bites you in the ass.  People that find out they are B-list invites can be very hurt and offended, and it makes for an awkward conversation at the very least.  And when you send invites to one group of people way in advance of another group, and those groups talk, someone is going to find out.  Also, when you send invites to one group of people with an RSVP date well in advance of the wedding date, you very often do not get your RSVP’s back, and then you don’t know whether to send invites to your B-list.  It is really best to invite those that you most feel are people that must be included.  Plus, there is just something about having a B-list that feels wrong to me, but that is a personal preference.

    If you are a couple that finds having a B-list necessary, here is how to do it:

    Send out your definite invites about two or three months before the wedding and wait to see who replies. For every person who can’t come, send out an alternate invitation. Send your alternate invitations no less than six weeks before the big day so guests don’t feel like an afterthought.  And cross your fingers that two people from different lists don’t talk or that you don’t make a mistake.  (If you accidentally invite someone to your wedding that you didn’t mean to, or send a B-list invitee one on the A-list schedule, stick to the invite.  DO NOT ever dis-invite someone you invited by mistake).
    How to Make & Cut Your Guest List | photo by Jennifer Roper
    {Do I Have to Invite Them If…}
    They sent me a gift = no
    I was invited to their wedding = if it was recent and you’re still close, and your wedding is the same size or bigger than theirs was, then yes.  If it was years ago, you’ve had a falling out or don’t keep in touch, or your wedding is 30 people and theirs was 200, then no.
    We’re related = no (see the ‘relatives’ section above)
    My momma said so = only if she is paying for the wedding, although it would be nice to include anyone your parents or in-laws feel very strongly about.
    How to Make & Cut Your Guest List | photo by Jennifer Roper
    When cutting your guest list, think of including only people you and your families know really well; the people who have supported you and truly matter to you. Invite your nearest and dearest relatives and friends. If you don’t recognize a name on the list, it’s probably a name that can go. Never heard of one person or never met a distant relative? Make a case to scratch them. But If your mother-in-law desperately wants to invite a certain someone, hear her out. This is the hardest part of guest list cutting: how to be ruthless and gracious at the same time. Balance the two, and you’ll successfully trim your list and keep everyone happy at the same time.
    How have you addressed cutting your guestlist? Any tricks that worked (or backfired) for you?
    {all photos are from my wedding by Jennifer Roper}
    leave a comment.

    3 Comments

    1. Posted Aug 16 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      These tips are so important. I always tell brides the most important thing you can do while planning is managing the guest list. Aside from cost, who wants to look back at photos and think “why did I invite them?” This ia great guide for cutting your list while being mindful of everyones’ feelings!

    2. Posted Aug 16 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      What a wonderfully helpful post! Thank you. I think that no matter what etiquette suggests there is always the human element….and we can’t control what others think and feel about our decisions. We can only do our best to be kind and careful (without losing our heads about it!).

    3. Posted Oct 8 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      i had an open house style reception so i figured the amount of guests wasn’t a huge deal as long as the venue was big enough and food was plentiful. nope. my biggest regret is letting my in-laws invite their entire town to the reception. they literally knew EVERYONE and though we got loads of gifts, i will never forget how i only got to dance to one song because i had to meet and greet the entire time. i wish i’d known!

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