I’ve tried to stay ahead of the game in all of this wedding-planning business, but there is one area where I’ve fallen behind—well, purposely neglected. The guest list. I was somewhat dreading it, so I kept delaying.
When asked how many save-the-dates we would need, that’s when it became official that I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I’m happy to report that it wasn’t quite as dreadful a process as I anticipated, but we’ve held off on some important decisions—like whether or not guests will be invited with a date—until invitation time, so that’s when it could get brutal.
The Four Seasons ballroom comfortably sits around 250. So as not to be packed to the gills, our hope is to keep the number closer to 225—also in an effort to keep the wedding as intimate as possible.
We began our 225-quest with our engagement-party list as a starting point—which was pretty huge to begin with—and quickly watched the numbers rise. There are those that are essential; the people who you couldn’t imagine the day without. That’s the easy part. The floodgates open after that, though, and you’re left with huge groups of people that are or have been a meaningful part of your life, that you then have to attempt to narrow down.
The first one to tackle is distant relatives who you don’t see that often. Then it’s usually a mix of friends, coworkers, and acquaintances that you really enjoy spending time with—but do you have enough room to include everyone? And how do you pick and choose from a group of people who know each other? Whose feelings could be hurt (the question that seems to be so pervasive in wedding planning)?
There are also the old friends you haven’t talked to in forever who have gotten back in touch, and all they want to do is talk about the wedding. Do you invite them? All kinds of people from my mom’s past are coming out of the woodwork!
There are the people who you want to invite as a gesture of sorts. You know how much it would mean to them. They’ve been important in your life in some way, but you might not spend a lot of time with them necessarily or know them on a particularly personal level. There are those like my family’s financial advisor who my dad says deserves an invite, as it’s his smart decisions that have enabled us to pay for the wedding—solid point (I hear there’s a great commercial about this that I really need to see). And there are those for whom you come to the realization that the nice gesture is an expensive one and that a lovely note or dinner might just suffice.
And lastly, there are the friends, co-workers, and acquaintances of our parents who we’ve only met once or twice who our parents want to invite. I’ve been pretty adamant that I don’t want anyone at the wedding I’ve never met before. (Hence, we’re setting up a dinner with the financial advisor!) But others we barely know tend to be finding their way onto the list.
Lots of jokes have been thrown around about how to reduce the numbers. Inspired by my favorite wedding movie of all time, Father of the Bride, in which George asks, “Who else can we ask not to eat? My parents, your mother,” I told my Dad that he could walk me down the aisle, but couldn’t sit and eat. For dates of guests, we suggested maybe implementing a one-year rule—guests must be dating someone for at least one year in order to bring them to the wedding. (Just in case the sarcasm is missed, none of this is serious!).
Taking all of the above into consideration, miraculously, we did it! We came up with a workable list for the save-the-dates (in a beautifully organized excel spread sheet)! We’re right around 215. Not too bad! Not great, but not troubling. I would say that all involved did a pretty excellent job of being discerning, which, however necessary, is kind of an awful thing to say. Well, all except Pat. Conflicted over how to narrow down his own list, he sent me initials of those he thinks he wants to invite—no full names or addresses—and numbers with a lot of “ishs.” It was like deciphering a code, and he was confused as to why it was unhelpful. I just laughed. We’ll tackle that later.
But in the meantime, we’ve made a nearly finished guest list. Still lots of work to do selecting plus-ones and whether we can add anyone from our hopeful/maybe list—here’s to hoping the number doesn’t get crazy when it comes time to make the really hard decisions in just a month or so for invitations. But for now, we’ve got another check mark in the seemingly interminable planning to-do list! Mission accomplished … for the most part.
What sorts of ground rules or strategies did you use for putting together your guest list? Especially the plus-one question?