Wedding Guest List 101: How To Justify The Uninvited


wedding guest list

So far in my one man’s wedding series I’ve discussed engagement rings and my engagement story. Now I’m going to switch focus to the wild world of wedding planning. First let’s consider the guest list. This powerful document names all people you and your beloved deem worthy of attending your special event. It is the head count keeper, and thus the biggest determining factor in the cost of your wedding. That’s because you need a head count to determine how big of a venue to get, how much food to order, and how much booze to buy. After engagement most couples start their wedding plans by creating a guest list. That’s what Tina & I did. At first it was fun, but it quickly got out of control. Between our friends and my family we had a BIG list. A too big list that needed to be cut down because each name is at least $100 to feed and keep plied with alcohol. It’s a common situation, and when it occurs you need to trim the list. But everyone on the guest list is important, right? Wrong! You and your lovely need to thin out the crowd with a few rules.

Two simple rules may help reign in your guest list greatly:

1. No kids allowed
2.+1s are limited

I find #1 to be any easy call. Kids won’t appreciate the wedding in its entirety and they will distract from their parent’s good time. Let them stay home. The point is clear if you just leave their names off the invitations.

#2 is trickier. Some single friends will want to attend solo, others will not. You can give the +1 option to all single friends but then you open the door to them bringing a random person along and you paying for people you don’t know. You could take away the +1 option completely and save a lot of cash, but some friends may feel alone and uncomfortable at your wedding. You could mix the option based on your perception of the invited’s feeling toward attending solo. Your call, but there’s a lot of room to save big here.

Next comes the hard part. Take a look at the friends on the list. When was the last time you communicated with these people? Last week? Then they should be invited. 8 months ago? If you’re comfortable dropping them do so. 2 years ago? Gone. They’re an easy kill. Drop ‘em.

Next take a look at the family on the list. If one of the marrying families is small then all members should be invited. If one of the families is large, stretching across the country and back generations, then take a cold and honest look at these folks. When was the last time you spoke to them? Was it at that family reunion in 1993? If yes then they don’t need to be invited. You don’t really know them any more! Did you grow up with this person or are they close to your nuclear family? If yes then they’re a keeper. Are they a black sheep and you just feel obligated to invite them? Don’t.

Now that you’ve culled the herd and freed up some loot it’s time to take it a step further and introduce a proper B-list. Don’t know about the B-list? If you ever received a wedding invitation 3 weeks before the occasion then you probably do know the B-list.

wedding b list

The B-list is the second string guest list. Guests on the B-list are invited as A list guests RSVP as “unable to attend.” Everyone does a B-list, and there’s really nothing wrong with it, but they are a wedding’s dirty little secret. That said the B-list is an opportunity for you to relieve some guilt and consider a friend as invited to the wedding. They just may never get an invitation!

There you have it; rules, culls, and a B-list. That will hone any wedding guest list into a well thought out document full of people you actually want to celebrate with and spend money on.

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