We’ve all seen those signs on Pinterest that say something like “Today two families become one, so pick a seat, not a side!”
Well, in theory that’s certainly true. However, sometimes in reality that’s not quite the way it works! (But wouldn’t it be nice if it did?!)
And if only it was just dealing with where someone is going to sit at the ceremony and the reception. More on that in another post!
One of the first (and sometimes most stressful) parts of planning the wedding for the bride and groom is writing out the guest list. Because it’s not usually just the two of you putting it together! Oh, no. Your families are going to want to include their invitees, and rightfully so if they’re paying for the wedding, or even a portion of it. That’s just how it works.
But the guest list can become a real point of contention, sometimes to the point of total “knock down, drag out” arguments in which you don’t speak to each other for days! And that is something you need to avoid.
The hard truth is, #1, there is a budget. Each guest costs $XX. And #2, unless you’re holding your wedding and reception somewhere with 3-4 moveable walls to accommodate half of a small town, you’re not going to have enough room for your second cousin twice removed and his whole family, or your great aunt Martha who you haven’t seen in twenty years!
So where do you start?
Tradition says that each side should have an equal number of people invited. However, that tradition is not always strictly adhered to any more, since the couple usually counts their friends as THEIR friends, not his or her friends. Some families and extended families aren’t as large as others. And there are always some out of town family members who need to be invited and almost certainly won’t be able to come. At least so you think! Until they get their invitation! And guess what…they’re coming!
So have your fiancé and his family write out their list of “must invite” and “would like to invite” and “should invite”. You and your family do the same. (This sounds better than an “A” list and a “B” list, even though that’s sort of what you’re doing.) Go ahead and include family, friends, and anyone from your offices that you might think you should ask. But be careful here! Unless you’re really, really close to some of your co-workers, it’s usually best to leave them off the list!
After you have these lists, then ALL of you talk it over. And yes, you do need to agree, at least for the most part, on who you’re inviting. So who’s on the lists? Immediate family, well hopefully you already know each other’s immediate family. If not, you will really soon! Sort-of-distant family. Ok, we got that. And those people who will get really mad at you if they’re not invited, but someone else is. Family Feud may be a game show on TV, but it can really rear its scary head during the preparing of the wedding guest list! Aunt Sylvia is invited but Cousin Harold isn’t? You’ll never hear the end of it! Or your mom and her cousin haven’t spoken to each other in years because of some family incident no one can even remember, but you’re still not sure an invitation should be sent…..
Then you have your friends. And their “significant other”. You really shouldn’t invite someone to come to a wedding by themselves. You’re going to have to try to include “and guest” on the invitation. After all, if you were in that position, wouldn’t you be upset? And remember to include the spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend in the guest count for the bridal party, too.
Now here’s another sticky area. What if one of your really good friends is now dating one of your “ex’s”? And wants to bring him/her. That could be quite interesting. For everyone. As well as uncomfortable, depending on how the relationship ended. (And whether your future spouse knows about him/her!) Hopefully you and your friend can talk it out rationally and come to a solution. Because there’s really no cookie cutter answer for this one.
And no, you shouldn’t invite your ex’s brother/sister/mom/dad, etc. no matter how much you still like them.
Then you have the acquaintances who may just assume they’re going to be invited. And keep trying to find out details about your wedding, and then they start telling you how they can’t wait until your big day! Well, neither can you! But they’re not invited. What do you do? Well, just mention you’re still working on your guest list and how big a task it’s turning out to be. Then change the subject! And don’t think that just because someone invited you and your fiancé to their wedding that you HAVE to invite them. Or if someone gives you an engagement gift without being invited to a party or shower, that doesn’t mean they have to be invited either. If you hadn’t planned on inviting them, don’t do it! That’s your decision, not theirs!
Stepfamilies are always another bit of a touchy area. If you’re in that position, and unless everyone really does get along well with each other, it’s going to take a bit of diplomacy to get through this one. And we’re only talking the inviting right now, not the seating at the ceremony and reception. That’s a whole other blog for another day!
There’s also another tricky question, and that’s whether or not you invite children. But it’s also something you’re going to have to sit down and discuss (and possibly with those who have kids that aren’t going to be allowed to bring them) because you’re always going to have someone who gets mad if they can’t bring their children. Just bear in mind that when you have a flower girl and/or ring bearer, there are children at the wedding! And you have to be careful where you draw the line! Again, that’s a whole other blog to follow shortly.
And when you’re doing the food count, you should also include your pastor and his/her spouse (who may or may not attend the reception), as well as vendor meals to feed your photographer and DJ’s/band members. And the wedding planner, too! If we have time to eat anything, that is.
Sound like you’re getting ready to walk through a mine field? Well, in some cases that’s exactly what can happen! Just remember, you only have so much in your budget, and your venue only holds so many people. If you have to, use that as an excuse if someone actually has the nerve to ask why they aren’t invited. Which they might.
This is also good training for your married life ahead, because there’s going to be lots of times where you and your spouse are going to disagree and you’re going to have to compromise, and sometimes those disagreements are going to be involving both of your families!
Remember it’s YOUR wedding! The final choice is yours!
Photo Sources: 1st Row: iloveswmag.com; via etsy – 2nd Row: telegraph.co.uk – 3rd Row: source unknown- 4th Row: bridalguide.com – 5th Row: thebettermom.com – 6th Row: backthird.com – 7th Row: girlsofwisdom blog –8th Row: James Thomas Long Photography – 9th Row: lilysbridal.net