It’s time to discuss the hardest part of wedding planning, The Guest List! Queue the dramatic music…It’s better to do this right upfront in the planning process, that’s why we have decided to discuss this topic quite early in our blog series.
Guest list issues are always a sensitive constant issue in every single wedding. Every. Single. One. Even the Royals have not been able to escape the drama of deciding who makes the cut. It’s the adult equivalent of musical chairs and deciding who to invite to your birthday party. So how do you start?
Make your dream list
Go crazy. Write down the name of every single person you would like to invite to your wedding. This is the part where you get to add all the people you have cared for from your childhood friends, the office lunch buddies and your aunt’s cousin’s weird child that you don’t particularly like very much. It’s ok at this stage to not consider factors like budgets and venue capacity because you will have to take a savage approach to your guest list later on.
Tip: Make a list with your partner to avoid duplications and together you can decide on your mutual list.
All’s fair in love and war
Deciding how to divide the guest list can be a tricky task. The best way to do this without hurting anyone’s feelings is to take a very practical approach. Try and work out a ratio that works for everyone. Try suggesting something like halving the guest list for the couple, and dividing the other half of the guest list between each set of parents. Once each party has their numbers it is entirely up to them how they decide to use it. Try and avoid getting involved in each other’s lists, as this can be a very touchy subject, bear in mind everyone has relationships with other people that we may not understand.
This is also the part where you have to start considering the budget and the venue capacity. If the venue can only accommodate 250 people you will need to be tough and realistic about your guest list. Even Meghan Markle had to leave some of her family members out. It’s just one of those things and everybody at some stage of their lives has had to work with a guest list so they should understand.
Tip: Remember that more guests you have will ultimately increase your costing and budgets. A few extra people results in more chairs, tables, plates, favours, food and drinks. If you are on a tight budget consider having a small intimate wedding with your nearest and dearest.
Every little bit counts
Work out your cost per head. Include all your costs into this equation and then you will have a better idea of what it costs to have additional guests. You might decide to trim your list to allocate more of your budget to things you might prefer like more flowers or desserts. Desserts always win. This per head cost will also highlight areas that are draining your budget and you can make adjustments early on.
Tip: Try and be conservative with your guest numbers to leave space for any unexpected guests. If you are too generous with invites and its more than your venue capacity you will be praying for cancelations and cringing if guests don’t have a seat when they arrive.
The art of seating charts
Seating charts are where shit gets real. Grouping people and deciding who sits here and there is where the trouble starts. Roll up your sleeves, put your practical hat on and try and make this as emotionless as can be. Decide who your closest people are amongst your friends and family and try and seat them as close to the front as possible without offending any relatives. If possible try and design your layout in a way that allows everyone to have a decent view of your stage or main table.
A seating chart is where it gets down to the details. Now you need to be sure of who exactly is attending so you can assign them a seat. You don’t want to have lots of gaps at all your tables on your day.
Tip: it’s a touchy subject so try and get your wedding party to agree on the seating chart. If it’s a collaborative task it might help avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. Alternatively allocate the task to one person and allow them to handle the task without interference.
You can’t sit with us
There are some tips to help you decide on how to trim your guest list:
- If you don’t know someone personally or have never interacted with them they really don’t need to be are your wedding
- Consider a no kids rule if you have a venue with open water areas and take into account that children will take up a seat that could be better used by an adult. Also adults bring gifts!
- Get tough about family. It is your wedding after all so try and balance out friends and family so that it’s not just a family reunion of people who you met once when you were 5
- Make a A & B list. If guest can’t make it, it gives you the chance to look at your B list and invite someone else in their place
Be strict about RSVP’s
Try and follow your invite with a response card or just a text or call to make sure your guests let you know if they are coming or not. It can be a logistical nightmare if you don’t have confirmations.
Be polite but firm
If you are having an issue with your list simply call the person up and let them know you would love to have everyone there but due to budget and venue constraints you just can’t invite everyone. If it’s a large family allocate them a number and they can decide who will be coming.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Try not to let this part stress you out. There are lots of battles in wedding planning so choose them wisely. You can’t win them all. Have a very clear RSVP date to avoid late responses and last minute add-ons.
Once your guest list is complete and your seating chart has been finalised, you can pat yourself on the back knowing that the worst part is out of the way.