Wedding Guest Lists – Keeping the Peace whilst Keeping to a Budget
Weddings needn’t be stressful, but somewhere along the way, there’s always a little bump in the road. Drawing up a wedding guest list seems like a simple task – just invite everyone you want to see you get married, surely?
But where exactly do you draw the line? How many people do you include in the decision making process? What happens when your ‘no children’ rule gets broken by favours and special requests? And how do you invite your favourite second cousin, without the ones you’ve not seen in ten years, finding out?
Here at The Great Barn, we can hold a significant number of guests, giving you plenty of room for all your loved ones, close friends and even the odd ‘last-minute, long-lost second cousin. But when you are ready to sit down and create your ultimate guest list, remember a few of our golden rules to help you steer the rocky waters of budget restraints, interfering family members and traditional expectations.
Image source – Dartmoor Kitchen
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
A substantial part of any wedding budget is attached to feeding your guests, so it’s absolutely vital that you keep track of how quickly your pot of savings is dwindling, each time you add ‘just one more’. If possible, start by setting yourself a top end budget, bearing in mind the cost per head for the wedding breakfast, canapes and of course, alcohol.
Tradition dictates that you should allow at least three to four canapes per guest, if you are giving them something to nibble on during photographs, a glass of fizz or Pimms while they gather on the lawns and soak up some sun before dinner, half a bottle of wine with their wedding meal and finally, the toast.
Work with your caterer to come up with some delicious, filling, budget friendly options – perhaps self-serve, street food style buffet treats with oodles of side dishes, rather than a more traditional three-course sit-down banquet. And don’t forget, where a lot of venues charge corkage for bringing in your favourite tipple, we don’t. So shop savvy with your wedding whistle-wetters and give your guests plenty to celebrate with.
SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE
Whilst it sounds a bit odd, because you don’t really want to rank the people in your life, Sharon Naylor’s book “The Essential Guide to Wedding Etiquette” suggests you start by creating four lists.
Group A should include those people, beyond close family members, whom you can’t imagine getting married without, such as your best friends, room-mates etc. Aunts, uncles, cousins and school friends you’ve stayed in touch with should make up your “B” list, while your “C” list should include work colleagues, your parents’ friends and neighbours you’ve known forever. Finally, your “D” list can tally up distant cousins, friends you’ve lost contact with and your parents’ bridge partners.
As your list grows and your budget stretches beyond comfortable, you may need to start reducing it down. Start with Group D and work your way backwards. And, of course, if you really don’t want to exclude anyone, an evening reception is always a good way to include every guest without having to go over budget.
Image source – Invitations
PLUS ONE PUZZLER
The easiest and quickest way to increase your wedding guest list, and your expenditure, is to include a ‘plus one’ on your invitations. So when is this acceptable and where do you draw the line?
It’s generally accepted that any potential guest who is in a long-term relationship should be invited with his or her significant other. To avoid confusion, a simple rule could be that all invitees are included on the invitation, i.e John and Jennifer. If you don’t know the name of the guest, they are not invited.
The minute you add the words ‘plus one’ it gives your invitee the option to bring whomever they choose. And even your closest of single friends, on meeting someone new two weeks before your wedding, shouldn’t expect a plus one invite, but it happens. So, if someone RSVPs with the name of a guest you didn’t invite simply explain to them that you have, for reasons of budget or size of venue, kept your guest list to a minimum and, unfortunately, you cannot extend the invitation to a plus one.
WHEN IS A CHILD NOT A CHILD?
The age old predicament of whether to invite children to your wedding, can cause a split down the centre of your family before you’ve even joined in holy matrimony. And the lines are really blurred when it comes to making the right decision.
If you decide that the rule is no children and then have smallies in your bridal party; if your best friend has recently given birth and is not ready to spend time away from their new baby; if your best man can’t get a sitter and needs to bring the children, who “won’t be any trouble and you don’t even have to feed them”; when your nephew is just turning 14, is he classed as a child or an adult?
The truth is, it’s never going to be easy and sometimes a compromise is needed. If children are invited, make sure to include them on the invitation and on the day. Perhaps you could provide a child-friendly menu, or goodie bags filled with things to keep them entertained during the speeches, or even a separate room with an entertainer?
If you decide against having them at your celebrations, be sure to make it clear when you are sending out invitations, giving your guests plenty of notice if they need to find sitters.
THE FENCE SITTER
Finally, there are always going to be people that you and your bride/groom-to-be just can’t agree on.
Your parent’s friends’ sort-of aunty; the new neighbours that have recently been round for dinner; the guys at work who you teamed up with at the office pub quiz.
And just because you were invited to someone’s wedding, doesn’t automatically give them the green light to attend yours. If you haven’t kept in touch, then don’t feel like you have to return the favour. Chances are there’s a reason why you are not in contact any more.
Trust your gut; it’s usually right.
We’d love to hear how you coped with creating your guest list. Did you come up against any difficult situations? What clever, creative solutions did you adopt to include children? How did you successfully deflect the additions from a well-meaning family member?