Deciding whom to invite to your wedding can be a daunting task, particularly if you're getting input from both families, your conscience and your budget! Finalizing the guest list can result in flaring tempers and headaches. But with a little finesse and a few guidelines, you can create a guest list that will satisfy you and smooth any ruffled feathers.
First, think about how many people you envision at your wedding, and discuss it with your fiance. Is it small and intimate, a blowout bash or somewhere in between? This exercise should allow you to focus on the ideal number of guests.
Next, start listing family and close friends - both sides, please - to get a sense of who absolutely must be invited. Consider your chosen venues for ceremony and reception and how this number fits into those decisions.
Once the bare bones list has been decided, talk about who is not welcome. Do you want to invite children? A plus-guest option for the singles? How about ex-boyfriends/girlfriends? What about business acquaintances or people you don't get along with? Now is the time to sort it all out.
By now, you should have a rough idea of how many people you'll be inviting. It's time to do some fine-tuning. Who's paying for the wedding? If your parents are footing the bill, they should have a say in how many people - and whom - they want to invite. If everyone's chipping in, compromise and sensitivity are the order of the day. And if you're paying for it, you have final say.
If you haven't already done so, consider what you can afford. Set your budget realistically, and base the guest list on this number. Remember that each extra person you invite will impact your final cost. So if money is tight, consider scaling back on the number of guests. Beautiful weddings come in all sizes, so don't feel obligated to have a huge celebration if you really can't afford one.
The next step involves each of your parents and dividing up the number of guest suggestions each side will get. If you and your fiance have many of the same friends, you may wish to give the parents a larger share of the guest list, particularly if either side is angling for more invites.
If money or space is an issue, another option to consider is having an adults-only reception. If "seeing you get married" is important to Aunt Sue, but you just can''t afford to invite her family of six kids to the reception, let her know she's welcome to bring them to the ceremony, but the reception is strictly for adults. You can do this by printing "Adults Only Reception" on the invitation. (Don't use phrases such as "No Kids" or "No Children" as this is considered impolite.) Remember that if you choose to exclude some children, you must exclude all children - no exceptions.
However, if someone shows up with child in tow to your adults-only reception, smile and make lemonade out of their lemons: ask the banquet manager to set another place. It's not worth a moment of aggravation.