Making the tough calls with your wedding guest list

Congratulations! You’re engaged! Now comes the fun part …

… and if I’m being brutally honest (which I will be, because we’re all friends here, right?!) there will probably be a few slightly stressful parts along the way. But that’s OK! Help is at hand …

One of the first things I did when I became engaged (you can read the super-cute way that happened here), was scroll through approximately fifty thousand wedding images on Pinterest. Needless to say, I got pretty overwhelmed, pretty quickly. The next thing I did was join all the wedding-related Facebook groups I could find. Having only attended a couple of weddings myself, I had no idea where to start, and figured I could band together with other brides-to-be as we all muddled through this exciting time in our lives.

Interestingly, one question I saw being asked again and again, was “how do I keep my guest list down?!” I thought, naively, “I don’t know that many people, it’ll be fine.” Then I started counting … turns out we actually know a lot of people!

Why this is a common issue?

There are many reasons couples need to limit their guest lists, although that limit will vary greatly from couple to couple. Weddings can range from four people (the couple and their two witnesses), right up to several hundred, and so it can be hard to know where to draw the line.

The most common reason you may need to limit your guest list is budget. Weddings cost a LOT of money, even for fairly simple ones, and food and beverages for your guests is often a large chunk of this. Our catering cost took up half our wedding budget – and we got a pretty good deal by industry standards!

Couples may also need to adhere to venue restrictions – many venues have a set number of people they can have on site, and so guest lists need to stay within these lines. Remember to count yourself in your numbers for catering and venue restrictions too!

Another factor to consider is the vibe and ambience you want your wedding to have. It’s difficult (although not impossible) to have an intimate, highly personal wedding if you have 400 guests! You need to decide as a couple what’s important to you. Do you want to ensure you’ll be able to have decent conversations with everyone throughout the night? Do you want to make sure absolutely no one is left out? Do you want a high energy, party-mode celebration? The answers to these questions will help determine how much you limit your guest list.

When you need to make the tough calls with your guest list

So let’s assume that you know more people than you can invite – which means some people might not make the cut. So how do you make these tough calls with your guest list … without feeling horrible?!

Know why you’re needing to limit your numbers

Knowing why you’re having to stick to a limit helps in explaining this to your loved ones that you weren’t able to invite. Being honest and transparent about these factors can help them understand that your decision not to invite them wasn’t personal, and that you didn’t strike them from the list just because you didn’t want them there.

Fill your spaces with those you truly want to be there first

Start by writing down all the people you couldn’t possibly imagine getting married without. Then create a second list with all the obligation or would-be-nice-but-if-they-can’t-make-it-it’s-no-bother invites – and from there, triage who you feel would bring the most joy to your special day. It’s much easier to cull a shorter secondary list than to look at your entire list at once.

Consider whether you’d normally be happy to shout them dinner

If you have people you feel like you “should” invite, but don’t have a relationship with them where you’d spend money on each other (or invite each other to dinner just to hang out), then consider whether you really need to invite them. Particularly so if they’d be taking up a space that could be allocated to someone much closer to you. It’s hard not to feel guilted into inviting people, but at the end of the day, if you’re paying then it’s your decision. If your parents (or someone else) are paying, then discuss with them how many guests you can allocate them.

Look forward to the future

It’s hard not to invite people “for old times’ sake”, but if you haven’t spoken to them much in the past five years, it’s unlikely they’ll be a big part of your life for the next five. You want to be surrounded by people who will stick around and support you in your married life, not those who you were mates with in high school and only run into every now and then.

Consider the kids

With so many couples now getting married after having kids (or after all their friends have kids) it can be a tricky decision whether to invite children or not. I personally struggled with this one because we have two kids of our own – and I didn’t want to look (or feel) horrible for not inviting everyone else’s children. However, because our venue meant we had limited numbers, inviting everyone’s kids would’ve meant we would have had to cut a lot of adults. So in the end, we had to make the tough call – and were pleasantly surprised when everyone completely understood! Turns out, it’s actually quite common to have child-free weddings these days. And as my partner said – parents are always keen for a night off!

Unfortunately, you’ll never be able to please everyone, and it’s likely that you’ll have to make some tough calls of your own – be it with the guest list, or another part of your wedding planning. Although it can be difficult, try as much as you can to keep everyone in the loop. Having open communication from the start – with both those you can and those you can’t invite – can help save a lot of awkward conversations and hurt feelings down the track.

The most important thing to remember though, is that this day is about you both as a couple, so the only thing that really matters is that you both have a good time! And as the old saying goes – those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind!

Good luck with your wedding planning!

How did you finalise your wedding guest list?

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Her world bunnyWritten by Bunny K

A mama of two who advocates for mental health awareness (yes girl!), Bunny is a badass babe blogging about womanhood, motherhood and the adventures that happen in between. You’ll usually find her exercising (running after kids), partying (drinking coffee) and rocking out (sleeping).


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