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Wedding: The Guest List

by Meghann on May 2, 2012

I almost didn’t blog about this subject. Mainly because it’s a touchy one. Not just for my wedding, but I’m sure for every bride or groom out there who are currently planning one. “The guest list” can be a dirty word when you’re in the thick of planning!


It was actually the bane of mine and Derek’s existence for a while. Collecting my side of the guest list was easy. Ashley (my sister-in-law) had done most of the grunt work when she started planning her wedding a year ago. She was able to collect the names and addresses from my mom (who wrote them all out by hand), plug them into an excel spreadsheet, and narrow down which were “must invite” and which were “let’s delete and see if my mom notices later.” She passed the guest list onto my sister who went down the list deleting and adding as she saw fit, then the list was passed onto me. By the time I got it, the list of family and family friends had been tailored down to a neat 75 guest total – that’s not including personal friends of mine or joint friends of mine and Derek’s.

Of course, having the list in my possession was (still is) just the beginning. Every once in a while my mom will casually ask to double check the list to make sure some of her friends made the cut or ask to add another. See, the thing is, it’s not just Derek and I who are feeling the pressure on who to invite – my mom is getting it from her friends too. WTF? But I’ll keep my lips sealed on that one.


What was really important for me when finalizing the list from my side of the family, was that Derek had met each and every person on that list, and I’m proud to say, he has. Every person invited has appeared at some family function or we’ve visited them while traveling (like my cousin Jenny and her husband Andy, who we skied with a couple of years ago in Colorado). I didn’t want to have one of those weddings where we didn’t know everyone there. (remember this line )

Inviting kids was also important. I know this goes back and forth for some people, but I’m a little obsessed with all of my cousins’ children and want them all there to be there. I even have some special activities planned for the youngsters during the reception, so the more, the merrier.


The last group from my side, was friends. I added a couple of close friends I’ve known since elementary school, as well as more than a handful of joint friends that Derek and I have met and kept in touch with over the years. :)

Collecting Derek’s side of the list wasn’t as easy. We relied on his parents’ to give us a list of names and addresses from his side of the family, which took longer than we expected and a bit of tough love to track down. When we received the list, it was – umm – a bit longer than we were expecting and included names that neither Derek or I were familiar with.

Their list included a lot of distant family from around the world (literally) that his parents were betting wouldn’t make the trip, but wanted to get an announcement out to them. Here’s where the “guest list” subject gets touchy, so I’ll leave it at that. Let’s just say we ended up sending save-the-dates to everyone on the list and there’s a chance Derek and I may have to be introduced to a half a dozen or so people for the first time on our wedding day. No biggie.

Our guest list currently has 202 names on it (this includes +1s and children). We’re budgeting for 150 and crossing our fingers and praying that 150 is the amount we narrow it down to come RSVP time. I’ve run some rough numbers on who we’ve invited versus who we think will actually come and we’re close. Very close.

I know what goes into creating a guest list is very personal and so different for everyone. When we were struggling with our budget numbers, the first thing people suggested was cutting the guest list. We didn’t want that. Family and friends are very important to us and we didn’t want to leave anyone out on our big day. We could have cut the guest list by having the wedding on a random week day, at an exotic destination, or even just eloping, but not having everyone there would not have felt right. Being surrounded by people we love and cherish – that feels right.

How did you narrow down your guest list?


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