3 Sticky Guest List Situations (and How to Handle Them!)
One of the biggest concerns I see my clients run into when planning their wedding celebration is problems with their guest list. You're planning one of the most special days of your life, the last thing you want to worry about is offending one of your guests, right?
Here are a few of the most common sticky guest list situations and how to handle them with grace and kindness:
- You've exceeded your guest list, and now need to downsize. Start off by beginning a final, master guest list with the guests you know will be invited. This includes bridal party attendants and close family. Add very close friends who you see often, until you get to your max guest list count. As a rule of thumb, it's perfectly acceptable to cut guests from the list who you haven't seen in a couple of years (like that college roommate you were really, really close with in college, but haven't seen since then). If you're worried about friends getting offended they didn't make the cut, you may approach them prior to sending out invitations to let them know you and your fiancé have decided to have a smaller celebration than originally anticipated and you hope they'll understand. As an alternative, you may choose to have a small, inexpensive barbecue after the wedding day festivities to celebrate with your friends in order to reserve your wedding day ceremony and reception for close family and friends.
- A friend asks to bring her new boyfriend and you weren't planning on inviting him. In this case, it's best to be open and honest with your friend. Inform her that due to venue and budget limitations, you and your fiancé have decided not to allow guests to bring a plus one. Keeping a hard, clear line in your guest list (i.e guests are only allowed a plus one if they are married or living together) will make this situation easier to explain to friends who may ask about bringing their new fling.
- A friend asks to bring her toddler, but you really don't want children under the age of 10 at your celebration. Just like #1 above, be open and honest with your friend. Tell her you and your fiancé have decided not to allow children under the age of 10 at the reception so that all guests can enjoy the celebration together. Remind her how excited you are for her to come and you hope she'll be able to find a babysitter so she can attend the festivities.
Bottom line: stick to your guns when it comes to your guest list - this is your celebration, and it's most important for you to spend it with those who mean most to you, while not exceeding your budget or upsetting your venue.
Keeping clear, hard lines in your guest list helps manage your list, too, while giving you easy, honest explanations for those who may get offended by your choices. For instance, if you don't want any guests to bring children or plus ones, don't allow any exceptions, so as not to offend other invitees.
Lastly, as a preventative measure, be sure to word your response card and invitation clearly for your guests. Traditionally, guests who are invited will be clearly listed on the invitation envelope. Additionally, you may choose to include a line on your response card that reads, "We have reserved ___ seats in your honor" to make it as clear as possible who and how many guests are invited without having to engage in an awkward conversation that may potentially offend your guests.