Making the Guest List

Fair Warning: This reads as being really ranty.  I tried to fix it, but it’s still ranty.  It isn’t actually intended to be ranty, I don’t know why it is.  But it’s not.  Sorry.

When putting together a wedding on a budget, one of the easiest ways to bust that budget is going overboard with your guest list.  It’s crass, but every attending guest is a mouth to feed, a favor to buy, an invitation to mail, etc.  So if you start adding Uncle Harry you haven’t seen since you were a kid and every co-worker in your department and every member of your church congregation, it just gets out of control.

Teddy and I have one limitation to our guest list that we can’t avoid – our reception site can hold a fairly limited number of people, and there is just no getting around that.  That means we have an upper limit to how many guest can be attending.  Also, like more reception sites, we have a guaranteed number – we have to guarantee a certain number of guests.  So if we guarantee 80 guests, we’re paying for 80 meals, even if only 70 people show up.

So that gives us our scale of number of guests.  Our scale is pretty narrow compared to what I think you would expect at most reception sites.  We have to make our guest list fit within that range. has a really great question that I think any couple should consider when putting together the guest list: “Who is so important that you can’t imagine getting married without them there?” talks about this in terms of picking a ceremony or reception site (you can’t have your reception in a little farm house if you absolutely must invite 70 people), but I also think this is a good question about why you must have this person at your wedding.  When planning a smaller wedding, it just isn’t possible to invite every single person.  Teddy and I are both in our 30s, we both have advanced degrees, and we both have been working for years – if we were to invite everyone we know, it would be impossible.  Why are you inviting this person?  To avoid a confrontation?  Because you feel guilty?  Because you’re geing pressured to do so?  THAT’S NOT RIGHT.  You can’t be inviting people for these reasons.

You’re getting married to publically declare your love and committtment to your significant other, and in my opinion you only need to have the most important people in your life there.  Some people disagree with that – they want the big Cinderella wedding.  And good for them.  But if you’re trying to keep it small and cost-effective, you can’t be recreating Princess Di’s wedding.  You have to pick. has an approach based on math.  It’s probably effective, especially if that’s the way you think.

Another thing to remember is the “plus one’s.”  Necessary?  No way. Seriously, do you have to give every single person a plus one for no reason so they can bring some person you’ve never met before and will probably never see again? That’s just silly, imho.

In the end, Teddy and I are keeping it to family and close friends.  Some people I am absolutely sure will be upset they didn’t get an invite, but we can’t help that.  And yes, there are people we both with we could invite, but we just can’t.


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