Copyright (c) 2012 Karen Rhodes
One of the hardest things to do when planning a wedding is the guest list. It's probably one of the first things you'll do when you get engaged because until you have an idea of who you would like to come, you can't set about finding a venue. It doesn't matter how big or small a family you have everything revolves round the guest list. You don't want to choose a great empty hall with twenty guests rattling around the place and equally you don't want to squeeze so many in that the venue can't cope.
Sometimes the venue dictates the amount of guests you can invite, sometimes its budget and sometimes it's just a case of saying I really want a small wedding and be ruthless in culling the guests you haven't seen in twenty years and don't really mind whether you'll see again. A wedding should be a special day celebrated with your nearest and dearest and not about showing off to all and sundry.
What always strikes me as odd is the bride that says she has a very limited budget but wants a wedding for 200. Does anyone know 200 people intimately? Chances are you don't. Wouldn't you rather have 80 guests and do it properly? You have to like someone an awful lot to fork out £80 a head which by the time you've got food, drinks, transport etc out of the way there won't be much change. If you are having a marquee it'll be a whole lot more on top.
I guess you have two choices. You either choose a venue that you really love and make the guest list fit in or you decide on the guest list and find somewhere to fit them all in. It's about priorities. Some brides want the fairytale venue and ruthlessly cull those that won't fit. For others it's all about family and they find a village hall or rugby club that can accommodate big numbers.
Neither option is right or wrong; you just have to decide whats right for you. Most people get the fact that you are limited on numbers if you want a specific venue and they understand that if you have a very big family, all your friends can't possibly be invited too.
This brings us onto children. If you are one of the last of a group of friends to get married there may well be a lot of children that may or may not be invited. First you have to decide if there is room and if there isn't that's that. If there is room you have to decide if you want a wedding with lots of children. Some people do and invite everyone's kids and others simply invite very close family, i.e. nieces and nephews. Some go the whole hog and upset the whole family by having a no children rule. Remember it's your decision and as I said last time they can choose whether or not to get upset and if they do maybe they aren't quite as good a friend as you thought. If you would like children but the venue can't fit them in, ask if there is a separate room where the kids could eat and maybe get a children's entertainer to keep them occupied during the meal and speeches. This only works at specific venues and it doesn't work with very young children. It does however keep cost! s down as you can give them a party tea and is often a way of inviting more guests because the children aren't taking up valuable seats.
If you have a large group of girlfriends do you invite the plus 1's? This can certainly impact on numbers and to my mind it's the first group to get culled. If they aren't married or engaged and you aren't friends with the other half, you maybe don't even know him, then he isn't coming. You can explain the reasons why and if they have an issue, tough, they needn't come either, it frees up a space for someone else. Likewise with all his friends and their girlfriends, does he really need to invite all the lads he knows from the pub, work or the golf club? You've got to work in groups, if you invite one mate from the pub you've got to invite all of them. If you invite none it's rarely an issue, you simply tell everyone that you are having a small family wedding and you'd love to meet up for a few drinks after the wedding.
Then there are all the people that you think you should invite but don't really want to. These may include the vicar and his wife, your boss, the office busybody (everyone else from the office is coming) and all those relatives that you don't care for and may embarrass you and their equally undesirable other halves. The easy answer is not to invite any of them but in reality it's not that easy, especially when you come face to face with them. The vicar is awkward because it's sort of the right thing to do but you know that no-one knows him and probably doesn't want to sit with him either. If you don't know him I wouldn't bother but if you feel you should really do something, why not invite him for drinks but not dinner or explain that numbers are limited and you'd love him to join you in the evening, chances are he won't but at least you'll have asked! Forget your boss unless you are close and as for embarrassing rellies go by the rule that if you haven't seen them or spoken! to them in the last eighteen months, you aren't that close so they don't come.
Karen Rhodes is a wedding and event planner who has been organising and catering for weddings for over twenty years. She has recently set up My Wedding Club, which is wedding co-ordination online. For her free report on planning the perfect wedding go to http://www.myweddingclub.co.uk