You’ve been envisioning an intimate wedding with a dozen of your nearest and dearest.
And then your future mother-in-law hands you a “starter” list with 350 names on it.
Or perhaps you’re dreaming of an all-out bash but your spouse-to-be, family, and/or budget are just not having it.
Choosing whom to invite to your wedding is a huge task, and it’s an understandable source of stress for many couples.
Here are a few things to consider:
This is arguably the biggest factor. But perhaps not for the reason you think. Obviously, your budget is your budget, and that’s typically non-negotiable. But you can have a 500-person wedding and a 25-person wedding for the exact same budget. It’s the experience that will differ.
Think about what’s most important to you—is it to create a VIP experience for the people who matter most to you, or an unforgettable, no-frills bash with your whole address book?
Any indoor venue will have a strict capacity limit, determined by the fire codes and/or the venue’s ability to provide an acceptable experience. You will likely be able to fit significantly more people for a stand-up cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvres than you will for a plated, seated meal.
Too often, couples get caught up in making a guest list decision based on what they think other people want. But what about what you want? We’ve heard from brides and grooms who didn’t even have a chance to make eye contact with half the people at their large weddings.
For some people, that’s just fine—for others, it’s important to be able to meaningfully greet every guest. (Just trust us when we say you’ll want to manage expectations for what constitutes meaningful interaction on your wedding day, no matter how small your guest list, because you’ll have a lot going on!)
Don’t risk overbooking your guest list in hopes that you get lots of “no” RSVPs. On average, 83 percent of people accept a wedding invitation. That number will be lower for destination weddings, but you need to consider that it might be even higher.
The last thing you want is to have to cut someone whom you’ve already invited and who has already made plans to attend!
If you’re stuck, you could consider an alternative arrangement—perhaps an intimate ceremony followed by a larger reception, or a small reception after your ceremony with a larger, more casual celebration at a later date. Some couples also host a smaller crowd for the reception dinner and then open up the invitation list for drinks and dancing.
There is no perfect way to construct a guest list. Inevitably, there will be tough cuts and second-guessing—and the occasional hurt feeling. You can’t please everyone, but it’s important to keep perspective on the most important element of the day: That it’s about you and your spouse. You two are the real VIPs on the guest list.
Good luck with planning, and don’t hesitate to let us know if we can help!