the stress of the guest list

Something that I commonly hear from couples is that the most stressful part of the wedding planning process was determining the size of their guest list.

These days the trend is towards  intimate weddings with good quality food and wine and special touches – something that can be difficult to achieve with a large guest list.  In addition to this many brides and grooms are paying for their own wedding celebrations and for this reason also want to try and keep numbers to a minimum.

There are many reasons why this task can be difficult, including having large families, not wanting to offend people by not inviting them, not wanting to offend people by not inviting their children, pressure from your parents to invite their friends or certain family members, and not wanting to end up with “guest list remorse” and regret the fact you didn’t invite someone.  The task of finalizing your guest list can often make you want to give up and elope – which can cause a whole lot of other issues!

There are pro’s and con’s with both small and large guest lists and you need to weight these up taking into account what is most important to you and what you want your wedding day to be like.

Having a large guest list can create a real celebratory atmosphere and it is lovely being in a room surrounded by most of the people we you love and who love you.  However you have to be prepared for the fact that you won’t get to spend as much time as you may like with individual guests or even with your families or members of your bridal party.  You also may end up having to make sacrifices to be able to afford to have the number of guests you invite – for example, choosing a cheaper menu or drinks package, not having favours for your guests, or using recorded music instead of that band that you wanted.  It can also limit you in terms of venue options and you may end up having to choose a larger, less intimate venue or spend extra money having a marquee installed.

A small guest list is great for allowing you to spend more time with people and to share more meaningful moments with those closest to you.  You can go for higher quality food, drinks, decorations and so on without completely blowing out the budget.  You also have a larger range of choices when it comes to venue, from a backyard to an intimate restaurant or a rented private residence.  The down side of having a small guest list can be determining where to draw the line.  This is an issue with any size guest list but when you are dealing with close family and friends it can be more difficult.  If you are close to a particular aunt and not so close to another do you just invite the one you are close to and risk offending the other one?  If you only end up inviting 10 people and your husband invites 20, will your family feel offended that more of them weren’t invited?

The other issue for many people is the issue of children at the wedding.  It may be fine to include them if there are only a few in the family, but where all of your cousins and friends have offspring it can get out of hand.  Most kids don’t actually enjoy being at weddings so if you are inviting lots of them it is definitely worth considering hiring a couple of child entertainers and having some activities to keep the kids occupied (games, face painting, an art table).  If this is outside your budget or won’t work in your venue then maybe it’s best not to invite children at all.

In the end you don’t want to look back on your day and regret the way you did things so think about what you really want – this applies not only to the issue of the guest list but to all other aspects of your day as well.  Just remember that most of your family and friends will understand and respect your choices, whatever they may be, particularly if they have been through the experience of planning a wedding themselves.

Images by Samm Blake

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