Cutting your Guest List

Peaches on Par Wedding InvitationIn an earlier post, we outlined some guidelines for developing an initial guest list.  In this post, we’d like to look a little more closely at three issues that tend to create problems during wedding guest list creation: bringing a guest, the B-list, and whether or not to include children.

Many assume that for etiquette purposes, you always allow a single person to bring a guest.  Thus, the “and guest”  on the inner envelope.  Not true!  Those you must include are the spouse, fiance(e) or live-in partner of each invited guest.  There is no requirement for singles to be allowed to bring a date.  This is solely at your discretion.  Most people tend to add an “and guest” for friends who are in a committed relationship of some duration.  Brothers and sisters can be allotted an escort.  Wedding party members who are single may want to bring a guest.  It’s up to you.

Keep a few things in mind when deciding on who will be given an “and guest”.  First, if your friend is in a long-term relationship with someone you absolutely don’t want at your wedding, do not feel committed to allotting your friend a guest.  Be prepared to talk about it, but stick to your guns if you feel strongly.  Additionally, if you know that giving your sister an “and guest” will stress her out about finding a date, don’t put her under pressure to produce a someone for the wedding.  Second, remember that you can always fall back on your rule about not inviting people the bride and/or groom have never met.  Third, make sure your additional guests do not expand your total list to an unacceptable number.  It is not worth redoing your entire wedding budget if the “and guest” can be cut!  Finally, check your list to ensure that the added guests do not skew the overall guest division between the bride, groom, and two sets of parents.  Everyone should have an approximately equal number of expected attendees.

Many a magazine has advised creating a “B-list”.  In essence, they direct couples to make an A-list of people that must be invited, then create a B-list of people to be invited if guests from the A-list cannot attend. We do not recommend this method.  Your “B-list” friends and family could be very hurt by finding out they are on this list, which is easy for them to do if an “A-list” guest speaks to someone or posts on Facebook that they received their invitation and a “B-list” guest doesn’t receive theirs until weeks later.  Also, you would need to print response cards with a different response deadline for the “B-list”, making it an additional expense.

Children can be a big factor in guest list cuts as well.  Don’t feel obligated to invite children if you do not want them there!  If you prefer that children not attend, add a line to your response cards that indicates that you prefer “an adults-only evening”.  Add it to your website as well.  Be sure to emphasize with both sets of parents that guests who call and request additional seats for their children should be politely told that unfortunately, that won’t be possible.  Additionally, consider carefully how your family and friends define ‘adult’.  We’ve seen guests bring additional guests as young as 10, even when children are not included in the invitation.  Be gentle, but firm, when defining the boundaries.  If it’s a big problem for your guests, consider providing childcare back at the hotel so that your friends can enjoy the party without worrying about the kids.

If your guest list gets out of control, consider making the following cuts.  Anyone who will be more excited about the open bar than the ceremony can be cut.  You want people at your wedding who are excited for you and the step you are taking together.  Don’t feel shy about cutting people you don’t know, or that you haven’t seen since graduating a decade ago, or that guy in payroll who helped you straighten out your vacation time.  Unfortunately, some guests try to bully their way on to your guest list, or try to bully you into allowing them to bring someone not invited.  Stand your ground!  Their rudeness should not affect your carefully considered decisions.  Above all, make sure that your guest list reflects the community you want to support you on your wedding day.

Photo by Celina Gomez Photography