Etiquette can help you decide your wedding guest list. Compiling a wedding guest list can be extremely stressful because people’s feelings are involved. Here, etiquette calls for extra tact and sympathy for others’ feelings — and patience and understanding to avoid conflict. Here are some etiquette guidelines for building your wedding guest list:
- Find out how much money you can spend per guest on food at the reception, and use that amount to determine the number of guests you can invite. After all, the head count at your reception is the biggest expense in your wedding budget. Establish your budget, and stick to it.
- Before creating a master guest list, you and your spouse-to-be make a list, your parents make a list, and spouse-to-be’s parents make a list. Compile these lists and work graciously together to come up with a final master list and reach the desired number of guests that fit into the budget.
- To prioritize your master list, you first have to determine the must invites, the should invites, and the couldinvites. Does your budget cover all the must invites? If so, move on to the should invites and then to thecould invites. By using this system, you ensure that the people who are most important to you, your spouse-to-be, and your families make the cut.
- As a general rule, always invite family first. Remember that the guests at your wedding are your “witnesses,” so they should be family and close friends whom you care about and will stay in touch with for many years.
- If any single friend or family member is in a long-term relationship, invite that person and his or her significant other by name even though they aren’t married. Also, if your budget allows, give the single members of the wedding party and any single family members the option of bringing a guest. If your budget doesn’t allow for each single guest to bring a date — and many couples’ budgets don’t — address the invitation appropriately. Don’t include “and guest” in the hopes that they won’t bring one because they probably will.
- Don’t feel obligated to invite co-workers because, after all, you may not work with them six months after the wedding. Remember, no hanging invitations on workplace bulletin boards! If your budget allows, you can follow the unwritten rule that says to invite the co-workers and business acquaintances you socialize with outside of work. However, inviting everyone on your team except one person isn’t appropriate.
- Determining whether to invite children can be tough. Before you make the decision, consider the type of wedding you’re having. If it’s a black tie affair and your reception begins in the evening, you may have to deal with a few meltdowns as children become tired. If you’re having a casual garden wedding in the early afternoon and your motto is the more the merrier, by all means, invite children.
- Children count toward your final number, and, if space is limited at your reception, you may have an easier time making your decision. Keep in mind, though, your flower girl and ring bearer are part of your wedding party, so you should invite them, of course. If either you or your spouse-to-be has children, you should absolutely include them, too. If either of you has children in your immediate family (that is, brothers or sisters), you should invite them, as well.