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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!

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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.

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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.

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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?

{ 70 comments }

1 Sara May 2, 2012 at 8:41 am

The guest list has been our only point of contention so far. My family was easy, I have a decent amount of first cousins and aunts and uncles, but beyond that, not really anyone I know. My parents didn’t give us any “obligations.” My fiance however, is a different story. Our first draft of the guest list had so many second cousins and first cousins once removed that he had never met, and I certainly had never met. There were also a lot of his parents “obligations.” Many of those that they said wouldn’t come, but as you well know, that is a dangerous, dangerous game.

My fiance also had a TON of friends on his part of the guest list, including a bunch of college friends I had never met. We’ve been together over 3 years, and if I’ve never met them and he hasn’t seen them during these past 3+ years, I don’t think they need to come to the wedding.

While I think we’ve reached compromises on the majority of the list (we have about 210 and are budgeting for 175), our biggest struggle was plus ones. A lot of those we can’t decide until it’s closer and we see where some new relationships are at that time, we’re trying to stick to a hard and fast rule of only people in serious relationships get dates, or people who would be coming but not know anyone else, they are also allowed a date. I think that with my fiance’s massive guest list, cutting it down this way is necessary, he doesn’t agree. We still haven’t met in the middle on that one yet.

I’d love to hear what you’re doing about +1s?

2 brianna May 2, 2012 at 4:06 pm

What? I’m pretty sure a +1 is implied with a wedding invitation, at least in most peoples’ minds.

3 Kaye May 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm

I disagree. I understand that it’s polite to include +1s, but according to most sources, you are only required to invite significant others if they are married. This isn’t a hard and fast rule though, I had quite a number of long term, committed, same-sex couples attend my wedding, but for friends and cousins who were for sure single, we did not have room for +1s and did not include them in the invitations for those individuals.

4 Christine May 3, 2012 at 9:24 am

I don’t get why you had to add same-sex into the couples qualifiers there

5 Kaye May 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Because I live in California, where they can’t get married, but I would consider them to be in partnerships that are equivalent. Why does it bother you?

6 Christine May 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm

there’s no reply button under your answer to me but the short answer is because i’m a whacko who can’t read and misunderstood your point completely! sorry!

7 Kaye May 4, 2012 at 1:40 am

:) I totally see how that could happen. I kept rereading and couldn’t quite see what could have been negative. Thanks Christine.

8 Meghann May 2, 2012 at 5:23 pm

I’m with Kaye below. Proper wedding etiquette indicates that who ever are specified on the invitation are the ones invited. So if the envelope says “Miss So-and-So + Guest”, then they have a +1. If it just reads “Miss So-and-So” then they do not have a +1 . Read more here :http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/17/wedding-etiquette-the-dos_n_879354.html

9 brianna May 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I think, though, proper etiquette aside, it comes down to most people’s perceptions. So, unless the bride and groom find a way to make clear that there is no +1 (and see comment thread on that below), many people are going to assume they can bring a date.

10 Kaye May 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Hi Brianna, I think I know what you mean now.

When we sent out invitations, we wrote a line on the RSVP card that said” We have reserved ____ seat(s) for you on (DATE)”. As we addressed the cards, we filled it in with 1, 2, or more (if it was a family). That worked for us. We only had two guests ask if they could bring a guest (and if it’s worth mentioning these couples got engaged shortly after) and we said yes.

I also should add that we were married on a yacht which clearly limited the number of people that were allowed. Not that we wrote that on the invite, but I am sure our guests understood.

11 Piper May 3, 2012 at 9:44 am

I agree. I know it isn’t required to allow a +1 but I think it is kind of rude for someone else to decide how “serious” someone’s relationship is. I know it is expensive to allow your guests to bring someone, but I honestly wouldn’t go to a wedding if someone wasn’t inviting my boyfriend as well.

12 Meghann May 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm

+1′s were easy for us since most people we are inviting are married or in serious relationships. The others that aren’t in relationships also won’t know a lot of people in attendance, so I’m giving them a +1 so they’ll feel more comfortable.

13 jane May 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm

you definitely only bring a plus 1 if it says your name plus guest on the invite. my bf and i have been together for 4 years so any wedding that i would ever want to go to would know to invite me and the bf

14 Kristy @ KristyRuns May 2, 2012 at 8:42 am

When we added up our extended family for our wedding, that total was over 75 people. So we had a super small wedding with just immediate family and then each of us had 4 friends and their significant others attend. A lot of extended family members felt hurt, but other relatives ended up having “wedding parties” for us so we could celebrate with them. It worked out, and we didn’t spend a fortune.

15 Robyn McLeod May 2, 2012 at 8:46 am

It is ALWAYS tricky! Our wedding was this St. Patty’s Day (3/17/12) and we knew our church only held 165 at capacity fire code. So, we invited 180 including the wedding party who wouldn’t need a seat during the ceremony. We expected less than 160 and only ended up having about 111 RSVPs. Even then we still had 4 no shows (which I still just think is flat out RUDE!!!).

I loved that we essentially knew everyone there- it feels so much more personal that way, but there were a few we were “meeting” that day. They knew us, but we didn’t know them!

16 Aly May 2, 2012 at 8:48 am

This was really hard for me – as the bride I felt like I was constantly being the “bad guy”. My in-laws invited more people than I’d anticipated and my husband didn’t say anything and it became too late/awkward for me to speak up.

If I were to ever to do it again, I’d give everyone numbers from the beginning.

That being said, it all worked out!

17 Meghann May 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I hear ya! What’s with the guys not standing up to their parents?

18 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats May 2, 2012 at 8:51 am

Sounds stressful! My brother invited only 80 to his wedding, and my mom just had to tell friends that it was a small, mostly family wedding. Luckily no one seemed too insulted and my brother and his wife had a great time!

19 Juani May 2, 2012 at 9:02 am

My future mother-in-law (bless her heart),is the type of person who would invite the whole town and their hangers-on,if she could.Unfortunately,my fiancé and I have a VERY limited budget,so I put my foot down and told everyone who had anything to say about wedding invitations that they could tell me to invite if they were paying for the wedding.But since my love and I are the ones paying,we are only inviting the bare minimum of people – the ones we TRULY want to share our day with.

20 Lindsay May 2, 2012 at 9:05 am

My parents paid for most of our wedding so they got to invite whomever they wanted. That only seems fair to me.

21 Molly P @mollyontherun May 2, 2012 at 9:09 am

Well, we did the same thing you did. We totaled about 200 were invited, but in reality 156 showed up. What I wasn’t planning on was people who I didn’t allow a plus one to bring a plus one… which means we were out more money than anticipated. Wedding etiquette is tough- especially when it comes to that. I had to actually say “No you can’t bring a plus one!” to a couple of people just to keep costs down. Not to mention, I didn’t even know them!

22 lynne May 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm

This is a tough one – how do you tell people from the beginning that they’re only allowed themselves? Before I started planning, I assumed that everyone always got a +1 (because, really, who wants to go to a wedding alone?!) but I’m learning that isn’t the case. What’s the proper etiquette to let them know, ‘This invitation is for you ONLY’. That, I have no idea.

23 Heather May 2, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I agree. I think it’s kind of tacky to invite someone and not expect them to bring a guest.

24 Molly P @ Molly on the Run May 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm

But if they literally know everyone at the wedding, what is the point of them bringing someone I don’t know? I’m not going to spend money on people I don’t know. Not to mention, I don’t want them at my special day. I don’t want to spend it with random people. There is such a fine line for this kind of stuff. It’s tough, but I was a diligent with my numbers and their +1′s. To each their own!

25 Kristina May 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I agree, Molly! If you know everyone or it’s a family wedding and you’re not in a serious relationship, it’s understandable not to get a +1. I’m 24 and just went to a family friend’s wedding without a date … it may seem unreasonable to some but the wedding cost over $200 per head, so if i were the people throwing the wedding, the +1s can add up very quickly. (and i had a blast at the wedding :) )

26 Victoria May 2, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I agree. If a wedding invitation is only addressed to you, you should not infer a +1. We ended up putting “and guest” on all our single guest’s invitations because we were afraid they wouldn’t know a lot of people, but when you are paying for it, you shouldn’t have to fork out money for people you don’t know unless you really, really want to do it.

27 Meghann May 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Molly – I’m with you! It’s tough love, but extra heads cost extra money.

28 Lindsey May 2, 2012 at 9:15 am

We had a couple rules, only invite people we’ve met, no kids under 16 (since this would have added 50 plus people to our list) and people could only bring a guest if they had a significant other – example, if a friend was single we did not put to them and a guest on their invite. I went great and we had no issues and stayed within budget. I thought the kid thing could be an issue but it wasn’t we just told people we wanted everyone to enjoy their night and for parents it should be night off!

29 Becca May 2, 2012 at 9:31 am

This is a great topic, and you did a fantastic job of avoiding potential hotspots in your discussion of it. When my husband and I started thinking about our guest list, we realized it would easily be over 500 people, and most of the ones on his side would not be people that I could do more than recognize that I had seen them somewhere before (and would never be able to name.) My husband’s family owns a business, and we knew that when his mom went to create her list it would have included almost every customer. Everyone is connected to another customer somehow, and it becomes a very slippery slope once you start out. So what did we do? Cut the list to 25 (yes, 25) family and very close friends. And the funny thing is, almost 10 years later, there are 4-5 of those 25 that we would not invite again! Good luck with your list!

30 Esther May 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

My fiance and I are planning our guest list, and basically we started with a list of everyone we might possibly invite. Then we thought about each person and decided: is this a person we could not imagine not being with us to celebrate our wedding? If the answer was yes, they went on the “definite” list. Then we had people that we’d obviously enjoy having there, but weren’t quite as “essential.” Finally, both sets of parents gave us a few names of people they’d like to add, but we also tried to stick with a policy of at least one of us (my fiance or I) knowing the people invited personally. Also, we sort of are doing a two-tiered invitation process – only definites are getting save the dates, and then as the guest list shakes out, we may end up sending invitations to people it would be nice, but not essential, to include. It’s a really hard process though, and it can be kind of emotional and trying to not feel like you’re hurting people’s feelings. I’ve also had people ask me directly if they’re going to be invited (people who we were not planning on inviting). So we came up with a stock response so we weren’t caught off guard – basically, “oh, we’re still trying to figure out the guest list! So many things to plan!”

31 kirsten May 2, 2012 at 9:54 am

Ugh the guest list was a nightmare for me. Both my parents and my husband’s parents wanted us to invite a lot more people than we were comfortable with. We ended up inviting 282. Because of where we live in relation to where most of our guests live, we knew that a decent amount of people wouldn’t be able to go (we were crossing our fingers that the count wouldn’t be over 200.) We ended up with 187 the day of which was perfect for our budget!

I think it is typical for around 25% of people to not come but it can be more or less depending on where the wedding is in relation to where people live. We were about 30% (our wedding was 2 hours away for most guest, but up to 10 hours for a lot of my husbands extended family, most of who didn’t come.)

good luck! and try not to stress too much, it will definitely work out in the end! :)

32 Angela May 2, 2012 at 9:57 am

Yeah, we had a very similar problem. My family had a very succinct guest list (whom I knew all of), but my fiance’s family had invited tons of extended family and friends that neither of us had ever met. Our guest list was over 400 people! Luckily his parents were very understanding and did a great job of trimming (I told them to blame me for any of the cut list b/c I’ve never met any of them!) so we ended up at 333. We’re hoping to be under 300 for the wedding.

33 Caitlin @ This Bride's Joyride May 2, 2012 at 10:32 am

This was definitely the hardest part (and still is) about our wedding planning. Not only the guest list to the wedding but the list for the rehearsal dinner! For the wedding itself we ended up making it a no kids reception, invited most of our families (including first cousins or family members we do holidays with), but cut out acquaintances/parent’s friends (<– didn't go over well at first). Luckily we started telling everyone from the start we were going to have a small wedding (since we’re paying for all of it on our own) and our venue holds 135! When it came to friends at first we had a list of 100 friends but we quickly narrowed it down by really thinking about who we have relationships with now and who will continue to be in our lives.

Of course then the plus 1 dilemma comes in because we of course want everyone to have a date if they are in a relationship but some may be in new relationships at that time and I have heard many stories about people bringing friends, siblings or even their hairdresser as a plus one!

34 Carly May 2, 2012 at 10:40 am

Guest list was a toughie for us too…both of have large extended families, and it just seemed to grow and grow.

One tip re: guest lists-keep a “master copy” and note what shower and wedding gifts you receive from people. This makes thank you notes a breeze, and it also helps with etiquette questions of “we’re invited/our parents are invited to so and so’s kid’s wedding, let’s make sure we know how much to give as a gift” type stuff. It’s also super helpful for holiday card mailings. :)

35 Allison May 2, 2012 at 10:45 am

We had an outdoor wedding venue that could work for anywhere from 100-500 with adjustments. We invited everyone and their mom, seriously, and ended up with about 250 guests.

Our wedding was NOT an appropriate place for kids and we said so on the invite. Our college friends like to, um, have a really good time. There were 3 kids present: flower girl, ring bearer, and their baby brother whose mom was my matron of honor. After the ceremony, they took pictures, munched on chicken fingers, and were taken home by their grandparents. Worked out perfectly.

36 Erin May 2, 2012 at 11:04 am

We had the opposite problem! Our guest list was originally only 35 people and my mom said that wasn’t enough to justify a DJ and a caterer and all the other things I wanted. I guess when you come from small families and have a very small group of friends that’s what happens.

37 Jill May 2, 2012 at 11:17 am

Worst part of wedding planning. Unfortunately, I still resent my father-in-law who put every single one of his new (just moved on the block that year) neighbors on the list and didn’t contribute a dime. I felt like I was in an awkward position: Either tell new father-in-law that those people can’t come or invite them and hope they don’t show. Well they ALL showed and my parents felt kind of taken advantage of. I thought it was so rude.

38 Brittany May 2, 2012 at 11:38 am

We just finalized our guest list for our October wedding and sent our Save-the-Dates. We had a target of 150 guests, but once we added in my family, his family, and our friends, we easily hit 190-200 guests. We ended up sending out Save-the-Dates to all of them, because we really wanted everyone to share our special day since we actually know every single person on our guest list. Luckily, the number of guests isn’t going to have a significant impact on our budget, because my future MIL is a caterer, and is taking care of our reception dinner for us!

39 Hillary May 2, 2012 at 11:40 am

My boyfriend and I aren’t even engaged yet, and this is something we’ve talked about a LOT. I agree with you: I don’t want anyone at my wedding who hasn’t even met Nick (my boyfriend) and he feels the same way. I want to spend the day surrounded by people who love and support us, not who I haven’t seen since I was a toddler! I understand this might not be possible, and that our families might want to stretch it out a bit, but as long as we stay within a reasonable boundary, I hope we’ll both be happy!

40 Amanda May 2, 2012 at 11:50 am

The guest list was/is a tough one for us – we had a list of about 250 that we wanted to invite, but narrowed it down to 205 for the save the dates. We’re hoping to have around 180 on the big day. We’ve decided not to invite kids – not many in my family anyways and just really had to make cuts on friends. My parents are paying for the wedding, so although it was tough for me to accept that my dad was inviting business colleagues and clients, it’s his say in the end and it’s not a huge deal!!

41 Caitlin May 2, 2012 at 11:56 am

Just a little advise…don’t rely too much on the RSVP list! Our wedding was huge (around 400 people, I know, ridiculous!) but we maybe got about 100 people that RSVP’d. This didn’t matter so much because we had family doing the catering and the wedding was on our ranch, but it would matter to someone who is renting a spot and is relying on numbers for their food. Never again will I be the person who doesn’t respond to an RSVP!!

42 Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio May 2, 2012 at 12:04 pm

The guest list is definitely challenging but people will RSVP no. We went through the same thing but it always works out!

43 Mary @ food and fun on the run May 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Guests lists are definitely hard. You are always going to have the obligatory invites, when you would rather you more friends and people your age. We definitely dealt with that. In the end, the people that are able to come make your day amazing, and you get to get married! If people are really going to get upset, then they probably haven’t planned their own wedding.

44 Sarah May 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Your guest list process sounds very similar to ours. My family list was relatively easy, both Jay and I know everyone one it etc.

But Jay’s family was a whole nother story. I haven’t met over half his dad’s list. It didn’t help that his dad keeps telling us that 1/2 his list won’t come… We are almost at the end of our RSVP window and the people he said wouldn’t come… are coming. Of the 30ish RSVPs we’re waiting on, about 25 are from his dads list.

Sorry for the mini rant, but i guess the moral is be very very careful and start budgeting for closer to 175 or 180. We anticipated have 130ish of our 175 guests but now we’re looking at 160.

45 Meghann May 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm

The dad’s friends are probably wondering why they got the invitation in the first place, which is why they haven’t responded. I think it’s those people (the ones who see your wedding as a “business” event rather than a wedding) that always show the least respect. I saw the same thing happen at my brother’s wedding and even after some of the RSVPed – they didn’t show!

46 Lauren May 2, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Ugh, definitely one of the hardest things about wedding planning. Definitely had to make some hard decisions but when it came down to it, if they weren’t someone I would think would show up to my or my fiance’s funeral, then they probably wouldn’t be invited to our wedding. Ha, I know that kind of sounds mean but it helped narrow it down a lot.

47 Malinda May 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm

My fiance and I are paying for the majority of the wedding ourselves, so we really wanted to keep it on the smaller side. Luckily we both have parents that are very understanding that it is our day and our money and didn’t push to add people at all. Our list is solely our friends and family. None of our parents friends are on the list. It definitely is a little touchy because I know that some of my parents friends have asked about it, but they tend to be understanding when my parents say we wanted a small wedding. I think when it comes down to it, the majority of people are going to respect your wishes when it comes to your wedding.

48 cindy May 2, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Every wedding vendor I meet tells me, “whoa, you’re having a big wedding.” I think our invite number is ~340, our venue holds 300 and we’re hoping for 280. My family is huge. Both parents have 7 siblings, almost all married with children. Many of my cousins are older than me and have their own spouses and families. My family list was ~160 people (no kids). I’m close to my family and leaving any of them out did not feel right. As for his side, it’s friends and family. A lot of people live across the country, so we’re hoping the travel will cut down on attendance.

49 M May 2, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Invited 24 people. Not everyone is happy about it, but I would have been fine with even less!

50 Shaunna Ulrick May 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I am curious about the kid activities you have…details or post on that please :)

51 Meghann May 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm

You bet! :)

52 Army Amy* May 2, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Guests lists can be tricky and very personal. My wedding was immediate family only, so we didn’t have too much stress. My brother, however, is getting married in September, and I know that lots of “friends of parents” are on the list. My mom has said, “you have to invite so-and-so,” and I want to shout, “no you don’t!”*

53 Anne @strawberryjampackedlife May 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm

We never really narrowed it down. Aside from the fact that parents are divorced, I also have a huge extended family that I’m close with. We ended up inviting 340. Thank goodness only 170 (seriously half!) ended up coming.

Just remember that only the people invited to the wedding should be invited to showers! That’s where we kept adding people from my husband’s side.

54 Angela May 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I guess if parents are paying they can invite people they know but I would never go to a wedding if I didn’t know the people getting married. I find that a really strange concept.

55 Heather May 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm

We applied the “if we’ve never had dinner with you, our wedding won’t be the first one we’ll share” rule to whittle the guest list down.

I hated to think of people feeling slighted, but at the end of the day we had to draw the line somewhere and for us, it was important to have a manageable crowd. We didn’t want to spend our reception overwhelmed with flitting from table to table trying to greet everyone. In the end, it was perfect for us…and I have to hope people that weren’t included didn’t take it too personally.

56 Meghann May 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I think that’s a good rule! I tried to implement that rule, but it didn’t fly with the future in-laws. :(

57 erica May 2, 2012 at 3:49 pm

augh, guest lists. that and seating charts were such a headache. we tried to limit the number of people we invited that we didn’t know (ie. parent’s friends) we only gave +1s to people in serious relationships (brutal, i know) and only invited kids that we were close to.

tip: on the response cards, don’t forget to put the “we have reserved X amout of seats for you”. my friend left that out of hers and when she meant to only invite a couple (mr& mrs.), the couple rsvp-ed for their entire family including kid’s boyfriends and girlfriends (it happened more than a few times!) she also tried to do an “adult-only” reception, and people would call and ask, “my daughter is 16, does that count as an adult?”

it gets crazy!

58 Meghann May 2, 2012 at 5:37 pm

That’s what my sister is doing and that’s what we plan to do! My brother had a problem with people writing in +1s that didn’t have +1s

59 Meghan May 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm

At our wedding I turned around and saw someone I didn’t recognize and later found out it was my mother in laws friend that I had never met. Even my husband didn’t know her. Our guest list started at 225 and we ended up having 125 since I am originally from PA and hubby is from KY a lot of people didn’t travel. We also invited kids, but didn’t end up with many, and the pictures of my nieces and nephews cutting it up are adorable!! My godmothers son and his wife had a kid free wedding, even his 12 year old nephew and 8 year old niece weren’t invited which really bothered me.

60 Laura May 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I’m getting married in June and the guest list is/was the biggest issue. We’re doing plus 1′s for people who are married, engaged, serious relationship only. I didn’t want to have random people at our wedding we’d never met. We also stated “adult reception to follow” directly on the invite so people would get the hint their children weren’t invited. I don’t feel weddings are an appropriate venue for children.

We’re avoiding the dreaded plus 1′s write-in’s on the response cards by doing online RSVP’s-it saves paper and people can’t additional people when they RSVP unless you grant them access!

What drives me crazy is how everyone is waiting until the last minute to RSVP!

61 abby May 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Oh the guest list! I think we sent out about 150 invitations, and banked on about 80-90 people showing up. A lot of my husband’s family lives all over the world. In the end we had 71 people and this number fluctuated by about 5 people the week before the wedding. I had someone ask me if they could bring a date THE DAY OF. No matter that all the name cards had been written or all the tables set… But you just have to let it go. I also didn’t do plus 1′s. I invited everyone’s gf or bf or whatever, but I did have people still RSVP with an additional name attached. Our caterer was very experienced and planned for extras. Another note, we fed our two photographers, so we had to keep that in mind!

62 Anne May 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm

This is such a hard thing! I feel your pain on numbers, but it seems like your estimate is pretty close, especially if you’re inviting a lot of out of towers. We invited 240 (I know…) and 160 some came.

63 Emilee May 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I saw this and thought of you for your wedding:

http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/12/smores-pops.html

Snowflake smores pops!!!! :)

64 Amber May 2, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Oh man I love reading everyone’s experiences! I got lucky and have parents and future MIL who wanted our wedding to be “our” day and didn’t pressure us to invite any of “their” friends (it’s a wedding, not a graduation party!!) Plus, we landed a venue for a steal that only can hold 100 people at max capacity so that ended up being our limiting factor. The list is 103 right now including plus 1′s and I’m hoping for 85. We’re compensating for the small wedding by having an open house after-party/reception the next day in my parents’ backyard to include the extended friends and neighbors, and also to have a chance to spend more time with our family and friends that we rarely get to see! I’m more of a casual person myself and I’m really excited to keep the party going all weekend.

65 Maura @ My Healthy 'Ohana May 2, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I think it’s really cool that you are inviting kids and creating activities for them too, how fun!

66 Kim May 2, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Yes, you are right, guests lists are a veeery touchy subject!
We had a limit of 80 people that we were allowed, due to the size of our venue, so this helped us decide. It was still a huuuge job, and a very hard one at that, to pick who to invite.
I think we put a few noses out, but when it reeeeally came down to it, I just didn’t care. It was OUR wedding day, so therefore, it was totally up to us what we wanted.
Go with your heart, have the people there, that YOU both want, as it is your wedding day, your memories, and your money too :)
Good Luck !!

67 Nikki T May 3, 2012 at 10:17 am

We definately went with the ‘we do not want to meet anyone for the first time at our wedding’ rule! And I’m glad to say that it worked!

68 Sarah May 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Sounds like you did a great job! We had a few of those friends-of-parents that just HAD to get an invite even though I’d never met them. But in the last 4 years since we’ve been married, they’ve made more appearances at family functions. Now that we’re down the road a ways, I am glad they came to our wedding since they are becoming like extended family.

69 Jess May 4, 2012 at 3:27 am

I really don’t think a wedding is a time to be introduced to someone. I wouldn’t go to a wedding if I didn’t know at least one of the people getting married, it just seems rude to me.

My MIL’s first question after the engagement was asking/telling that she was needing to invite her workmates. Ummm I’m probably not going to invite MY workmates (maybe my 2 bosses and their husbands, but we’ll see) so, no, you can’t invite 20 extra people to my 60-70 person wedding.

70 Chelsea May 4, 2012 at 10:33 am

I have to agree. I’m in the same wedding planning crisis mode you are and know that family opinions can bring about a lot of frustrations, especially in guest list mode, but I think that this wasn’t the right venue to complain about how your parents & Derek’s parents are making this harder for you. If I were either set of parents, I’d have been hurt by this post.

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