Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting times of your life! Of course, with planning any event, there are natural stresses that can come with it. Believe me. I have been there and this year I plan to launch a wedding planning e-book to help guide you through as best I can based on personal and professional experience… But until I’ve written this (my 2016 goal!), let’s have a quick chat about one of the topics that cause the most common drama. The guest list – ah! Every wedding is different, whether that be the personal details of each individual couple, and also the number of people invited… Something that also varies between weddings nowadays is who is paying. Is it split 50/50 between parents, is it just the bride’s family paying, or are you (bride and groom) heavily contributing or paying for it all yourselves? This ‘I am paying card’ as I like to call it tends to be the one that’s thrown about the most when politically discussing a guest list, like its some sort of tactical game. A game that is so easy to get wrapped up in, and all the positivity and gorgeous reasons why you are getting married get over shadowed by the stress. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, It’s so easily done – I have been there too. I had a large wedding of 100 day guests with an additional 50 in the evening. Large in number – yes. But is it actually that large? Not really. 100 people is a pretty average amount in the world of weddings nowadays, where weddings are becoming bigger and on a larger scale. So, if 100 people means 50 people on each side (if you are playing fair), you get there pretty quickly. Even if you’re not even engaged, have a quick count of your family and friends in your head… I bet you get to at least 30 straight away without considering plus 1s and maybe even children!
As I said, you get to 100 pretty quickly, and that will be before the politics of a family member demanding an invitation for their daughter’s boyfriend who you’ve not met before, or one of the bridesmaids who awkwardly assumes their new boyfriend who you haven’t met get’s an automatic invite. Not forgetting the people who want their children there, despite you having an adult only wedding. You get the idea – it can quickly become a headache if not dealt with quickly and properly!
However, it doesn’t all have to be doom, gloom and stressful! Here are just a few of my top tips based on issues I have personally dealt with and hear all the time, on how to deal with situations such as these, and how to perhaps consider your approach and thoughts towards them…
My partner and I are paying for the wedding ourselves so naturally we are the only people who have a say on the guest list.
Yes and no. I think it is really important to be mindful in these situations, regardless of ‘who’s paying’. The people who may want to make a few guest list requests, even in this circumstance, will be your parents. You must remember that for a parent, their child’s wedding is just as important for them as it may feel for you. It’s a joyous occasion where traditionally they would be hosting and throwing a huge celebration for all those close to ‘them’ too. Of course, a modern wedding doesn’t always follow traditional etiquette anymore, and it’s completely understandable that some guest list requests your parents may make, will seem absurd to you. Always try to keep a level head, and imagine how excited they must feel. If you are paying for the wedding yourself and feel strict on the guest list, perhaps suggest to your parents, that if they are happy to contribute in paying for the additional people they want there, then you are happy for them to come.
I had a similar scenario with my wedding guest list, and ultimately for me, the most important thing was that as long as everyone I wanted there was there, then I didn’t mind my parents request to invite a further 10 people. It is your wedding day, absolutely, but imagine how you will feel one day when you are helping your child with their wedding and how proud you will feel. You too will want to show off the day and invite your close friends to share it with you.
My parents/family/partner are pushing me/us to invite someone we really don’t like.
This is so SO hard. Believe me, I KNOW! When you are planning one of the most important and exciting days of your life, it is so easy to feel very protective of yourself and your wedding. There is not much to say around this apart from, will the refusal of inviting this person be worth the agro and stress you will receive in the long run? Will their presence really ruin your day? Your immediate and emotionally driven answer will of course be ‘yes’, I am with you on this. However, I promise you that it will make absolutely no impact on your day,
We had similar situations with our wedding. Not so much with people we truly disliked, but with people who we didn’t really know nor did we feel were important to us. In the end we agreed to have them there because it simply was not worth the stress. Believe me, when it comes to ‘wedding pride and wedding egos’, people like to drag things on for a lot longer than is necessary, appropriate and fair.
Do I remember these people at our wedding? Not really. Did they impact how I felt about the day? Not at all. I didn’t even notice/speak to them!
The bottom line is, be as realistic and as calm as possible. These situations are more problematic and more common with a larger guest list. Whereas a smaller and more intimate wedding will have an even tighter number and means that outlandish requests are easily forgotten because of other restrictions, mainly space related.
How to have THAT awkward conversation about plus 1s….
Oh this was tricky when we were creating our guest list. In the end we opted for this rule, which we stuck to at all costs:
If we have not met the partner, they will not be invited to the day, but we will extend an invite to the evening reception.If we have met the partner/husband/wife but only on a few occasions and we wouldn’t consider them to also be a good friend, they will not be invited to the day, but we will extend an invite to the evening reception.Plus 1s are allowed if a friend from a different circle will not know many people at the wedding.These rules apply to all, including those in the wedding party and family. No exceptions.
We stuck by these rules and we did get a couple of kickbacks from members of the wedding party and from family! The best way to deal with on the spot awkward questions is to be really honest and up front from the start. People may be a bit disheartened and possibly annoyed, but this is normally because they are unfamiliar with a) the expense of a wedding, b) the logistics of a wedding, and c) the general dos and don’ts with regards to weddings due to lack of wedding exposure/experience.
Awkward examples that can make a couple stress for hours like, ‘Tania and I are going to look at hotels for the wedding this weekend’. Or, ‘Since Josh, your cousin Laura’s (long-term and practically family) boyfriend is invited, does that mean my son can invite his on/off girlfriend who none of the family have met?’
Just be honest, very clear and TRY to move on very quickly. I can’t honestly say, try not to get stressed when these questions arise (as they are likely to), because I felt absolutely awful when we had to deal with these situations. The main thing is deal with it as quickly as you can, BREATH, and take a step back into your lovely world of pretty wedding dreaming. I also prescribe a long cuddle with your partner – remember why you’re getting married in the first place and focus on each other.
I will save further advice for another post, or you can check out my e-book, which will be launching at the back end of Spring!
I really hope this has been helpful and if any of you have any questions, please drop me an email and I will try to help.