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Building Your Wedding Guest List

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The A, B, and C's of the Guest List

There is no way to sugarcoat the guest list. This can be one of the toughest parts of the planning process. But there are ways to make it easy and fun in between all of the fuss. You'll want to get your list established shortly after you've decided on a budget and venue, especially because you'll need to factor in cost per person, a head count vs. capacity of your venue, and how many invitations you'll need. The best way to start is to get out a note pad and start jotting down names, this is your initial run through and consists of everyone you'd love to have at your wedding. Once you've created this draft, you need to break down the list into three categories:
  • Absolutely, or the "A" List
  • Family and close friends
  • Almost Absolutely, or the "B" List
  • Friends, co-workers, friends of the family
  • Would be Nice/Do we have to's
  • Distant relatives, old friends, Aunt Mildred's great grandchildren
There are a few other touchy subjects to keep in mind when it comes to compiling your guest list: allowing guests to bring a "plus one" and allowing guests to bring their children. When contemplating the "plus one" situation, you should first settle on how many single guests you are inviting and then determine if the head count will end up skyrocketing from these extra invites, the "plus ones." Allowing children at the wedding is a personal preference, but the environment has to be child-friendly, so keep that in mind while you're planning. If you don't want a child to scream during your ceremony or pull at your centerpieces during the reception, it's probably best to avoid them on the guest list. Weigh your desires against keeping family and friends at peace, if you'll be hurting too many feelings, you may need to compromise by requesting that the children only attend the ceremony and cocktail hour, but not the reception.
REMINDER: Regrets are usually around 20-30% depending on how many people you're inviting and the distances people have to travel.
Lastly, there will be moments when you will reach conflict with your fiancé, parents, and future in-laws about the guest list. There will be people they want to invite that you may not know or care to have in attendance on your big day. Set ground rules immediately, because the most common cause of an inflated guest list is "word of mouth" invites - don't let you or your family spread the wealth without thinking it through first - is this person someone I really want there or need to have there?
Don't forget to upload it to an online guest list tool to make it easier for exporting to your stationery vendor later, updating accepts/regrets, and planning a seating chart!

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