Let's Chat - Guests Lists

When I got married, I did things differently then they are usually done in my hometown. I grew up in a pretty typical small town with large families, where everyone knows, or is related to everyone else. So when weddings happened, half the town was invited. Needless to say, these events were huge with the guests lists between 200 - 400 people.

When Herman and I were planning our wedding, we knew we did not want a large wedding. Heck, I was all for eloping! We kept our guests list as small as we could by only inviting immediate family, close friends and members of our small church congregation. This move ruffled a few feathers. It was unheard of to not invite uncles, aunts and cousins, but that’s exactly what we did. I have never been super close to my extended family, and since Herman and I were paying for the wedding entirely ourselves, we decided this was best. And I am certainly glad we did! Even without relatives we had 120 people in attendance, about double the amount we originally wanted.

This is usually what happens with guests list, you end up with more people than you realize because there is a feeling of obligation to invite everyone you know or who has invited you to their wedding. This might not be a big deal to you, the more the merrier! However, when you factor in that all these guests should be fed, entertained and perhaps need transportation to and from the wedding venue, your costs start adding up quick. Feeding and accommodating your guests will be your biggest cost factor. So the bigger guest list, the bigger the expense. Aside from that, the size of your guest list will determine where you can hold your wedding. Many venues have a limit as to how many guests they can hold. Here in the Okanagan, most venues average 40-60 people so if you have more people invited, you will have a limited list of venues that will be able to hold that many people. Instead of that beautiful winery you had your heart set on, you may have to rent a hall or ball room.

So how do you make a guest list? First, you will have to decide on who is paying for your wedding. Anyone contributing money may want a say in who is invited and this is where things usually get out of control. Proud parents will want everyone they know to come celebrate with them, so I advise limiting how many people they can include. From there, start listing family members and close friends. Keep in mind that inviting partners and children will double your guest list immediately. Inviting someones significant other is pretty much a given, but you could decide against adding "plus one's" for single friends or family members. Also, determine if you are having children at your wedding or not. More and more weddings are going child free to narrow down the guest list and cut overall costs. However, you may need to provide child care services for any out of town guests who are travelling with their children and do not have access to local daycare or nanny services. 

Once you have the first stage of the list done, it is time to add on extended family and co workers, as well as any other guests you want in attendance. Once this list is done, you will have a rough idea of just how many people you need to accommodate for. But don’t start sending invitations quite yet. This list is to help you with planning your wedding only. Now you can start getting quotes from the venues, caterers and bar tenders. Once you have acquired quotes and taken a look at your budget, you can start the process of choosing a venue and booking it. 

Once you have chosen a venue, go back to your list and start adjusting as needed. Perhaps you are able to add more people than originally thought. However, many times this is not the case and you will need to make some cuts and this is where things get tricky. It is natural to try to make everyone happy but often it is at the expense of your own happiness. So if you need to lessen the number of guests on your list, remember the following tips:

  1. This is your wedding day, who do you want to celebrate with?
  2. You do not have to invite someone just because they invited you to their wedding!
  3. Have you talked to these people lately? How well do you know them?
  4. If you work at a large business with many co workers, you do not need to invite everyone.
  5. Don’t stress about hurting peoples feelings. Most people understand and those who are unhappy will get over in eventually. 

When we broke the news to our parents that we were not inviting my entire extended family to our wedding, my mother was upset. She offered to help pay for and make the food for our wedding but I simply answered we didn’t want a large wedding. We also did not want our family members to be responsible for making a bunch of food to feed hundreds of people. We wanted all of our guests to enjoy the day with us. On our wedding day, we were surrounded by those closest to us instead of hundreds of people we barely know, and it made our day much more special. Honestly, it was probably the best decision we could have made. Who you choose to spend your wedding day with will impact how much you enjoy the day yourself. So choose wisely!