Wedding: The Guest List

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At times, I like people to see me as a tough person, but deep down I’m just a ball of soft white fur. (There sure will be arguments based on that comment!) So when it came to making decisions for the guest list, it was really difficult to cut people out. I know this is our wedding and we can do whatever we want, but let’s be honest here, there are always people you HAVE to invite and there are people you would LOVE to invite but cannot because you’re inviting those that HAVE to be there.

My fiance and I started planning for a small wedding of 60; until we realised he had a large family of 40 so we threw away the ‘small wedding’ idea and looked for a function room that holds 150. That doesn’t even matter now because due to room layout, we cannot have more than 140. That might not sound really bad, but now that we have room to invite people, but can’t afford to invite EVERYONE, that’s when the problem starts.

So before I got into the hair pulling stage I decided to adopt the various suggestions I’ve heard and read. Suggestions that I’ve never really given much thought until now. Here are just a few that I found reasonable and are also great advice:

1. Invite only those that both of you have met

After all, it’s the wedding for BOTH of you right? Not just the bride. Or the groom. So that sounds logical, but it doesn’t always happen.

For example, both my fiance and I have met our parents’ friends, but not all their kids. It’s not so hard if the kids are in the teens because I’m assuming they’d be happy to stay at home. Imagine it’s an infant, or a toddler or two (this is not so bad, read on for Point 3). The only one exception to this rule though, is if it’s a married couple. Not inviting the married partner is considered really rude.

2. Invite the partner if they have been together for 1 year or more

Okay, so you HAVE met the boyfriend before, but you don’t even know his last name? Cut it. Even if your friend thinks he is THE ONE.

3. Don’t invite guests whose bed time is before 9pm

I’m talking about babies and toddlers. Seriously guys, we all know weddings can get crazy. There will probably be a lot of alcohol, inappropriate jokes, loud music and definitely a lot of shouting. Leaving the babies at home will not only avoid crying babies during the reading of your vows, you’ll also give the parents a PERFECT excuse to party. I don’t know who should thank who.

4. If you can’t bare the thought of not being invited to your friend’s wedding

People always say, it’s YOUR wedding. Do whatever you want. Sometimes, what brides want is not hurt others’ feelings. So here’s something I heard on the radio the other week to put this rule into perspective:

This lady had a very intimate  location wedding (by small I mean, bride, groom and two witnesses kinda small) to evoke the feeling of an elopement. As a result, she didn’t invite a close friend. When it came to her close friend’s wedding, she wasn’t invited. She was very upset to say the least, and it made her question her decision of a small wedding and making her friend feeling the same way. Now, if you too might cry alone in the bathroom just from the thought of not being invited to your friend’s wedding. You should invite the friend. If you couldn’t care less. Well. You know what to do.

5. Start seating arrangements as early as possible

Okay, I got this one from a blog post somewhere that I cannot remember, but this is a really good advice: Start to arrange them onto tables ASAP.

So we all know seating arrangements are difficult, and if not arranged properly, you can ruin someone’s experience. I’ve heard stories after stories about how people were seated with a bunch of people they don’t know and left as soon as the couples pushed that knife through the cake. Thing is, weddings are meant to be fun. For everyone. So I do want to avoid those situations where one person or even one couple are seated with people they don’t know. So when you find yourself forced to put a friend on a table with a bunch of strangers, you need to be cruel to be kind and cut that person out.

Obviously, this will apply to our wedding because we’re having separate tables. If you choose to have long tables then you may have a different set of troubles.

6. Share your troubles with people

To explain AFTER you get in trouble is always much harder than warning someone in advance. Even though you’re perfectly reasonable and logical.

So share your troubles with your friends early on, especially those who you would like to invite but are likely to be cut out; or those who think they will be coming, but you don’t have the heart to tell them they are not coming. Mostly you do this so it gives you an opportunity to share your perspective, and it is also a kind warning that they may not be invited due to certain limitations. One thing though, if you decide not to invite them, do call or email them to explain, EVEN IF you mentioned it before you decided on the guest list. It’s just a common courtesy and it really shows that you truly mean what you say. I would tell them exactly why I call them, i.e. I call because I care. I wouldn’t call if they were my third aunt’s cousin that I met once.

(Do this in moderation. Like, not at every birthday, party or weddings. It won’t seem sincere when it’s in the form of bitchin’.)

All in all, trimming the guest list is a cut throat business and it’s gotta be done. Other suggestions / philosophical questions you should ask yourself when deciding on the guests are:

7. Is it worth inviting a childhood friend when you two have drifted apart many years ago?

8. Do you think this is someone who will be there for the rest of your lives? That is, for richer or for poorer? In sickness and in health?

(I know what you’re thinking: Wohhhhhhhh that’s too deep man.)

9. Will he/she appreciate this invite?

Sometimes people don’t appreciate a chance to dress up and mingle with a bunch of people they don’t know. It’s no one’s fault, because we all prefer to stay inside our comfort zone. 

So! Does anyone have any other advice?

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8 thoughts on “Wedding: The Guest List

  1. Heyas,

    I’ve also been doing a bit of guest trimming as of late…

    …And as you’ve re-iterated a few times, ‘it’s your wedding and you can do whatever you want’. So what I focused on was that it’s my wedding and not my parents…so family friends didn’t really make the cut on my guest list of about 50 people.

    What % of your guest list are family friends?

  2. This comes up time and time again – it’s even been a bit of a white elephant in the room amongst friends. I think a part from family – you should just invite who you want and not worry about people’s feelings – it is your wedding, your special day to celebrate your love, and its not about them. They should be happy for you no matter what.

    1. OH I wish everyone is as understanding as you are! But you are absolutely right. I guess I just hope those that don’t understand now will understand when they come to plan their own weddings…

  3. Hey! I’ve only just come across your blog for the first time. Loved this post, so absolutely true – couldn’t agree more. I’ve culled my list to 110!! When is your big day?

    1. Good work! Guest list is one of the hardest thing in my humble opinion. Especially for a guest list that is between 100 – 150. You can invite more than your close friends and family, but you can’t invite EVERYONE.

      My wedding is in May next year, when’s your big day?

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