Where to Begin: Creating the Guest List

A big source of discussions and arguments. A budget maker or breaker. What am I talking about? The guest list.

When it comes down to starting the planning for your wedding, one of the first things that needs to be done (or at least started) after a budget has been negotiated is the guest list. Big? Small? Intimate? Huge? Your number of guests should also fit the vision of your budget. It should also be a decision that everyone who's paying is comfortable with. 200 guests may sound great on paper, but if your parents or future in-laws are paying, they may only be up for 100. Or on the flip side, you and your fiance may be gung-ho for a 30 person wedding, but Mom and Dad want to invite Cousin Betsy and your long lost twice-removed Uncle Howard, whom you've never met.

My advice is to start with yourself. Make a list of all important "must-invites" in your life. Only count family that your parents may not include. Have your fiance do the same. Then, ask your parents and future in-laws for their "must-invite" list. Merge all the lists. Then look a the total. Is the total going to fit in your budget? If yes, then great! If no, start thinking about who you can cut and the implications of the cuts. Who will be offended and who will understand? Think about if you can up your budget if you/your parents/in-laws MUST invite third-cousin Sue and her five kids. Ask those adding people to the list if they can cough up the dough to cover the extra invites. In the end, I believe whoever is paying, should have the final say.

When I started my list, my parents started rattling off folks that I had met, but wasn't particularly enthusiastic about inviting. I made it clear to them (since my fiance and I are paying a good chunk) that if they wanted to invite their college friends that they would have to pay for them if it went over our budgeted 150 guests. They accepted and have been really good with planning the guest list. My parents understand that they don't have to invite the whole world, and if anything, I told them they can blame me if some of their friends don't get invited and are offended.

So far, we're at about 205...

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