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To Invite or Not to Invite . . . That is the Question

To Invite or Not to Invite . . . That is the Question
July 31, 2017


So the word is out and  everyone knows you are engaged and they are ALL waiting for their invite to your panic setting in yet?  Here are a few things that you need to consider before your Save the Dates and Invitations:

For every guest you invite there is a price to consider.  Nothing in this world is free, especially in the world of weddings.  Each guest represents:

  • More invitations, postage
  • More bar – Open Bar, Just Cocktail Hour, Mixed Drinks or just Beer and Wine??
  • More food – Plated Dinner, Buffet or Stations means more catering staffing
  • More rentals – Linens, Plates, Glasses and Silverware
  • More centerpieces - "These flowers are lovely...I just love the lanterns and candles."

I know it's not a fun way to think about it but a budget is so important to consider and things will add to the bottom line.

The venue/ location you choose for the ceremony and the reception may determine your guest count.  In North Carolina you can find plenty of options that will lend themselves well for any size group.  But is right venue for you ? That is a questions you need to consider.  It's important to review the capacity of your venue with both the venue event coordinator and your planner.  When talking to the Venue, be certain that you also discuss the style of dinner you are considering. Sit down plated, buffet, food stations...all of these things require tables, chairs, and service staff which also takes up a foot print in the venue. 

We have all heard of creating an A/B list while making your guest list.  Although the goal is to invite everyone to celebrate, the reality is that it isn't always possible. When asked my advice on the subject I encourage my couples to create an A/B/C (sometimes) list.  When asked how I know which person to put in each category...this is how I respond.

"My A list are those that I can't live without...there is no hesitation...they have to be there."

Typically the A list are immediate family members and the closest of friends.  No matter what the budget is, they would and always would be at the top of your list.  

"My B list are those that I am close with an would be upset if they couldn't attend.  They are the ones that I connect with throughout the year and are going to want to celebrate this wedding because they know we all have been anticipating it for some time."

For the B list, these would be close family members and friends that you socialize with.  They can also be coworkers or associates that you have befriended.  (They are more than just an acquaintance.

‚Äč"My C list are those that I may occasionally say hello to but don’t think of them as “friends” – more of a casual acquaintance.

Now you've got something to actually work with! Obviously your A list is untouchable. Your B list wills most likely get invites but they are up for debate when it comes to cutting numbers. The C list won't receive an invite unless people from the A and B list RSVP no. I know it may sound a little cutthroat but this will instantly make your list much more manageable and nobody ever has to know whose names were on what list.

Send Invitations in Waves

Sending your invitations in waves is the best way to keep numbers where you want them without having to cut people from the onset. By sending your invites earlier than scheduled you will have the option to move people up from your B and C list with the notifications of early cancellations. As long as you ensure you leave enough time for the final invites to be sent out so that guests have plenty of notice to make travel arrangements then you will have a wedding filled with people who you love and care about.

Focus On the People That Mean the Most to You

Throw out all the rules on what “Etiquette” tells you and invite the people that are the most special to you. This is your day after all and you want people there that are going to genuinely appreciate sharing this once in a lifetime moment with you and truly add to the magic of the event. Focus on the people that are present in your life now and who you can envisage still will be in 10 years time.

Consider Who's Footing the Bill

When it gets right down to it, you will have to make tough decisions about who makes the cut and who doesn't, in this case it's always good etiquette to think about who is paying for the event. Traditionally the bride’s parents foot the bill and this means that they have a little more say over who's in and who's out, but the same should be applied to whoever is funding the wedding. If your funding the wedding yourself you’ll have to be as diplomatic as possible about the guest list to ensure that both you and your future bride/groom are happy.

Lose The +1's

Don't feel obliged to invite all single guests with a +1. Instead invite them individually and seat them together so they will mix and mingle. So how do you actually go about telling your beloved friends and family that you want THEM there, but you don't have the space for some random other person to come with them? Address your invites clearly to avoid confusion, be specific and use the guests name on the invite. Depending on the guest it may or may not be a big deal. If in the instance you have a friend travelling all the way across the country and they won't know anyone else at the wedding except you, then it may be an good idea to make allowances in this case.

Do the One Year Test

This tip is as simple as it sounds. Look through your guest list and cut anyone who you haven’t seen in the last year (unless they fall into category A). I think it’s safe to say that they’re not high on your priority list if it’s been more than a year since you last met up. There are obviously a few exceptions to the rule, such as a friend that lives a costly flight away, but as a general guide it works perfectly. Don’t feel pressured into inviting everyone you’ve been friends with at some point in your life, your wedding is about celebrating with those closest to you right now.

Would You Be Offended If You Weren't Invited To Their Wedding?

Ask yourself how you would feel if you weren’t handed an invitation to their wedding. Your answer should indicate how important it is to invite them to yours. Wedding invites tend to be reciprocated so if you would feel upset about being taken off of their guest list, it might be a good idea to include them on yours. Obviously this method doesn’t work if you’re super sensitive and would be offended by not getting an invite to everyone’s wedding!

Make the Event Adults Only

One of the quickest ways a wedding guest list can spiral out of control is when you start factoring in everybody’s children. While you may ideally like to invite everyone and their families, where do you draw the line? By hosting an adult only event you’re making the decision easy and ensuring that there are more seats available for other guests. One great way to deal with the issue is to arrange for a ‘babysitting service” somewhere at the venue where guests can drop off their children for the duration of the wedding and reception dinner, before allowing the kids to come and join in on the evening entertainment.

Consider a Smaller Wedding 

Cutting your guest list right down to just your family and closest friends is one of the most effective methods for keeping the list a manageable size and avoiding offending people at the same time. By organizing a more intimate event, it’s much simpler to decide on the list, and those who don’t get an invite will understand the situation. You can always organize a cocktail party to celebrate the big news with your wider circle of friends and colleagues once you get back from your honeymoon.

Don't Let Yourself Be Pressured

Lastly, don't feel pressured to invite someone that you really aren't excited about, or just because you were invited to their wedding. You may feel bad about cutting people, but the reality is that it is one of the best ways to save lots of money so you can still have the wedding of your dreams. Create a united front with your partner and stand your ground when questioned. The people that truly love you will understand.


Christina Mathews - 336-705-3239

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