When you get engaged and begin to plan your wedding, your mind should be focused on nothing but pleasurable things. It should be dreams of cutting a cake, surrounded by confetti, planning the perfect day to unite you and the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with.
What it shouldn’t be is a time of arguments.
And yet, time and again, it is. While the arguments can range across topics in a seemingly scopeless fashion, there is one area that always seems ripe for heated debate: the guest list. It can cause a multitude of problems. You can find yourself arguing with your husband-to-be, with his family, or even just amongst your circle of friends. It’s definitely not the feeling that you should be having to deal with during what should be a happy and enjoyable time of life.
So rather than just crossing your fingers and hoping you won’t suffer from such a problem, why not tackle it head on? What you need is a foolproof guide to making sure your guest list is assembled without argument, and what do you know, there’s one right here…
Step One: Choose An Exact Number
When you are picking a wedding venue, it’s far too easy to find yourself caught in a trap of “roughly, about…” when you’re asked to name the number of guests. This might help a venue when it comes to giving you a quote, but it’s a habit that can become ingrained. Before you know it, your wide scope for the size of the guest list is being exploited. Names are being added by other people – parents are particularly guilty of this – and seen as appropriate as it’s in your rough estimate.
From the moment you settle on your venue, pick a number and stick to it. That number, you must stress to anyone who is trying to add another guest, is not going to move. If necessary, blame the venue! Say they can’t take any more than that set number due to fire regulations – few people are going to go to the hassle of checking. That number is not going to shift, for any reason at all. Be firm on this, because it’s the first element you can truly control.
Step Two: Even Splits Work Best
If you’re from a big family and he’s from a small family, it might be tempting to split the guest list 60:40 in your favour. Tempting, yes, but a good idea? Not so much. It can lead to arguments and resentment even if, on the face of it, it makes more sense to do this. Weddings can make people irrational!
It’s far safer just to do a complete split of 50:50. If one has an excess of places after writing their list, it’s preferable to just reduce the overall numbers rather than “lending” seats to the other party. Keep it crisp and clean with an inherent fairness: there’s two of you, so you get the same number of guests. If anyone tries to argue with that, then it’s much more easily dismissed.
Step Three: Communicate
If you are not going to be able to invite someone who would have otherwise expected to attend, don’t let them find out by not getting an invitation. Call those who might be offended by their exclusion and explain the reasons, saying you and your partner will take them out for dinner in the months after the wedding. Explain there are restrictions you can’t escape and you’re very sorry, but you’ll make sure they get photos – and of course, there’s no need for them to send a gift.
People are far more likely to deal with their exclusion if they feel it was a difficult choice for you to make. Even if it wasn’t, brush up your acting skills and make it seem like it was. Keeping those invited and those not invited happy is the key to keeping your guest list under control.
Step Four: Named Invitations Only
The best way to lose control of your guest list is to address invitations to: “Person You Know and Guest”. This can also be insulting to those who have been left off the list – there’s room for a guest, but not for someone you directly know?
Instead, insist on a policy of named invites only. Ask people beforehand who they intend to bring, or don’t add the “and guest” if they don’t have an obvious person to attend with. This keeps the numbers controlled while ensuring no one excluded is offended – the best way of describing the perfect guest list.