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Who Should You Invite to your Wedding?

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Cousins, uncles, aunts, co-workers... who's coming to yours?

Unless you’re planning on eloping, you’ll have to create a list of guests that you are inviting to your wedding. (First on that list, of course, is your officiant.) But it’s just a matter of coming up with a list of the people that you want to join you in celebrating your big day, right? 

Nope. 

Several factors -- from family obligations to venue capacity -- will complicate your guest lists. That’s why your good friends at AMM have come up with six steps -- and a couple tips -- to help you get a handle on this challenging task.  

1. Make the First Draft

When creating your guest list together, start by making your no-holds-barred, budget-be-damned version. This means drafting a list that you and your fiance(e) would invite if money and space were no issue. 

Starting out with your ideal “dream” guest helps you start big, and then move towards a more “practical” list. As soon as you have this “dream” list, it’s time to start paring down the roster to create a list that’s more in line with your budget and capabilities. 

Immediate family and close friends should be the focus of this “practical” list. These are the people that you couldn’t imagine having your wedding without. This “practical” list shouldn’t be the final version though, just a starting point. 

If you are paying for the wedding yourself, you need to be realistic, since it’s less painful to eliminate a name than having to scale back later. Do not hesitate to make cuts from the list if it’s too long. This is your day. However, if one set of parents, or both, are contributing financially, they might expect to have a say in who attends the wedding, so plan and have these conversations accordingly.

2. Crunch the Numbers

Figure out the venue and your estimated budget. These two factors will be key in deciding how long your guest list will be. If you pick a venue with limited space, this will give you a defined limit. Even if you choose a space that is more flexible in capacity, every guest still means paying for another meal, chair rental, and glass of champagne at the toast. (That is, unless you are having a dry wedding.)    

 

Math... now  part of wedding planning.

 

3. There’s Family, then there’s Family

Figure out who you are including on your, “family members we have to invite” list, and stay firm. That doesn’t mean you can’t add other people to the guest list, but that’s only if there’s capacity. 

The size and closeness of one's extended family varies greatly. It’s up to you to decide which extended family members should be invited. Remember, if you invite one aunt, it is customary to invite all of them. If you invited one cousin, the rest of them will checking their mailboxes for an invitation, too. If you come from a small family, this will be an easy step. Those that come from larger families might be faced with harder choices. The last thing you want at your wedding is family drama.

4. The Parent’s Table
Give both families the same amount of extra guests. Your wedding is not only a big day for you, it's a big day for you parents. They gave you life, raised you, and have been thinking about your wedding day for longer than you have. In addition, your parents have probably been to weddings of their children's friends and might want to return that favor. If they are paying for all or some of the wedding, they might want several seats, so be prepared -- this might be a time for compromise.      

5. Kids or No Kids? 
This is another tough call, but it’s important to make a decision, and then stand firm. Some people love the sounds of babies and the sight of little boys in clipon ties on the dance floor. Here’s something else to consider. If there are a lot of families with children, your guest list could suddenly include dozens of tiny people. That might be wonderful, and just what you want! Others prefer that weddings be an adults only affair, and enjoy the opportunity to have a wild night. Are you inviting half your sorority, with an open bar, and basically throwing the biggest party ever? That might not be the best place to bring kids...

If you are unsure of who is considered a child, most caterers define a child as someone under 12, and will charge a reduced rate or even feed them for free. Whatever you choose, remember that it should be applied to all guests. No one wants to hire a babysitter only to get to the reception and see kids running around.

 

Probably not the best place for kids... just saying.

 

6. Single Invitations are Okay
Plus ones are not a guarantee. If someone is in a committed relationship, it is assumed that they are being invited as a couple. However, if your friend is single, there is no reason you should feel obligated to give them a plus one. This is your day, when you should be celebrating with the people you love. You’re actually helping your single friends out by alleviating the pressure of finding a date -- so don’t hesitate or feel a bit bad for standing firm on a “No Plus-Ones” guest list decision.  Which brings us straight into... 

Extra Tip #1: Don’t Let Guilt Be a Factor. 
It’s your day. Invite the people that you want to be there. Just because you were invited to someone’s wedding six years ago doesn't mean you are obligated to invite them. If someone is friends with several of the invited guests, that doesn’t mean they are automatically invited, too. Someone might hear that you are getting married (news travels fast) and assume they are invited even if you had no plans to add them to your guest list. 
 
You and your fiance(e) should prepare yourselves to have possibly awkward conversations, but fear not! You can still be polite, but also firm so there is no misunderstanding. Explain that you couldn't invite everyone you wanted because of budget and/or venue size (even if that isn’t the reason!). 

Extra Tip #2: Be Organized with Your Lists. 
Keep the Yeses, Nos, and Maybes clearly labeled. Or an A list and a B list. Before you send out the invitations, have a system already in place for people that decline. Who gets invited to their now-open spot on the guest list? This is definitely a time to be organized, especially if potential guests will have to travel. There are several online tools to help with this - and more good news, we’ve reviewed them for you!!!
 

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