Be Our Guest

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Decide who you want to be by your side at your wedding.

OK, let us be frank … creating a guest list may very well be the most hectic part of your wedding planning. You both have large families, yet your husband-to-be also wants to invite his old fraternity brothers. Your future mother-in-law thinks it’s only proper to invite her tennis club friends. And your venue can only fit 200 people!

All right, we can do this! First things first: after your engagement, decide on the scope of your wedding before you share the news. Will it be an intimate affair or a full-scale gala? This is the first decision to make in order to direct the guest list process. If it’s just friends and close family, your former college roommate will understand that she shouldn’t expect an invitation.

Size Matters

The idea of a large, glamorous wedding can sound like a dream come true. But is that what you really want?

Mary Dann, owner of Mary Dann Wedding & Party Coordinators, suggests that you look at the quality of guests over quantity. “A big wedding doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be more exciting for you and your groom,” said Dann. “You may have more duties during the evening and feel obligated to make the rounds to each and every person. It can take some enjoyment out of the evening.”

Yet if you or your husband have a large, extended family, sometimes a grand affair is inevitable. But you can still ensure that the guests who do come are people who you’ve seen since elementary school. “If you must expand [your guest list], always choose those guests who have made an impact in your life and who will support you and your husband on your journey of marriage,” suggested Dann.

Even Steven

In the past, whether a small wedding or a large one, each side got equal billing. That is … your side of the family and his side got an equal number of seats, no matter who was paying for what.

Nowadays, there’s a simple equation: One-third of the total guest list goes to the couple, One-third to his parents, One-third to yours = 100% satisfaction on all sides!

Now, if he’s an only child and you have five brothers and sisters, you can work together on how to divide up the list, but for the most part, this equation works well. As with all aspects of planning a wedding, compromise and flexibility are essential.

And don’t forget about the “plus one” debacle. Make it clear on your invitations whether your guest is allowed to bring a significant other, or if this is a solo invite.

Organization Is Key

Once you’ve given each family their allotted number, it won’t take long for the responses to start rolling in. Be prepared by starting a spreadsheet of invited guests; add a column for “Attending” and one for “Not Attending,” which will help you keep track.

If you’re a techie girl, WeddingWire.com offers online tools to help you keep track of your guest list.

Budgetary Implications

One overall factor that will help you decide your maximum guest list is your budget. Stay true to what you and your fiancé can afford. If your parents want to invite everyone they’ve known since childhood, you have to be honest and discuss the monetary ramifications of such a large list.

Plus, your venue may have a cap on how many can fit in the space comfortably so take that into account as well.

Slim & Trim

After all of these considerations have been taken into account, you will inevitably have to take a red pen to your running list and narrow it down. First step: review each and every name on the list. If there is a name that doesn’t ring a bell, they are first to go. If you can’t remember them, they shouldn’t make the cut.

Again, pay special attention to whom you give a “plus one” to. Your sister’s boyfriend of 10 years overrides your best friend’s “boyfriend” of two weeks.

And finally, if there is anyone whom you wouldn’t want to see on your special day, don’t feel obligated to invite them. This is your day to create lasting memories, and you want them all to be positive ones.