One of the biggest sources of stress for couples planning their wedding is (no surprise here) their guest list, which always seems to cause headaches no matter what sort of wedding you’re planning. Whether it’s your crazy cousin, screaming babies, a co-worker that’s always trying to sell her life-changing essential oils - we’ve all got a list of people we would rather not have in attendance, even if they think they deserve a seat at the table.
We’re not going to pretend that we’ve got the perfect solution for dealing with folks like this, but what we can do is provide some examples of common problem areas. That way, when you’re drawing up the guest list, you can plan ahead. We reached out to our friends in the wedding industry, as well as former brides and grooms, and these are some problem guests to watch out for.
We get it. You’re only eating Paleo these days, and you can’t eat anything grown south of the Mason Dixon line, but wedding planning is hard enough without being a culinary expert.
“I had a few guests put ALL of their food preferences in the dietary requirements box, including the most random preferences,” one bride told us. She said that one guest wrote an entire paragraph explaining how much he hated mushrooms. Another wouldn't touch peas or broccoli. I even had one guest tell us that she wouldn’t eat eel. Who serves eel at a wedding anyway?”
Our advice? Just ask folks to list specific food allergies if you are even going to include that in your RSVP. Most folks who refuse to eat common ingredients are used to packing their own lunch anyway.
It doesn’t matter if guests are close friends or family, we still need to know who is showing up and what their needs are. Sometimes, guests will flat-out refuse to RSVP, and that’s never fun!
One guest just wrote, “You know we're coming!” a bride told us. The problem with that, she explained, was that she didn’t know their dietary requirements, song requests, and other information that would help them plan a successful reception. “Just make it easy on us and give us the information, please,” she said.
Are you inviting your friend that used to work at the college radio station back in the day? We’ve heard about guests that used the song request box to veto songs/bands/genres they didn't like.
“I’m sorry, but we'll play what we like,” another bride told us. “You are more than welcome to add a request for something you want to hear, but we’re playing Backstreet Boys whether you like it or not.”
Our advice -- ignore the haters and crank up that BSBS!
This happens at almost every wedding, but it’s always an expensive complication for the couple. Wedding planners often find themselves dealing with empty seats that the couple has already paid for. It’s an all-around disappointment to waste good food - and money.
“We had one couple book their wedding over Coachella weekend,” a Los Angeles wedding planner told us. As the day drew closer, some guests decided that it was more important to see Beyonce, and ended up not showing up to the wedding.
This one is super sensitive so we’re going to preface whatever we say by noting that when it comes to inviting kids, the couple is always right. We don’t take sides. That said, it’s not uncommon to have guests turn down an invitation due to the “no kids” rule. That’s fine, but it’s not OK to guilt the couple just because they don’t want children there.
One bride was especially hurt by a message from friends who said that it was "such a shame you're not having children at your wedding, families belong together.”
We’ve covered this at length, and you can read up on this sensitive subject here. But if the couple is spending their hard-earned money on creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience, just let them have their day. But even so -- couples should still be emotionally and mentally prepared for a few hurt the feelings of one or two guests. That’s just life.
“Two of my wife’s cousins that were invited have three children each,” AMM Minister and former groom Josh told us. “One RSVP’d with no mention of children and the other had to be contacted before she said ‘yes, we're coming there will be five of us.’”
When Josh explained that it was going to be a small and inexpensive affair with a lot of alcohol, and not a particularly child-friendly environment, the cousins were unhappy. “It sucked, but we wanted to have a good time with our adult friends, because that’s who we are,” Josh said.
We could go on with this list, but these five examples should give you an idea of how (un) complicated the RSVP process can be.
Our best advice when it comes to tackling the guest list? Start early, and have an honest conversation about what sort of a ceremony and reception you want. Once you (the couple) have a shared vision, it will be much easier to communicate this to your guests. And when those problem guests enter the picture, you’ll be able to handle the situation with grace, tact - and still have your wedding, your way!