Weddings are expensive. From the flowers, to the centerpieces, to the venue and the reception. There are plenty of hidden costs to consider when getting married. Perhaps the biggest cost, the cost that can put you into debt the quickest, is the guest list.
Where Do They Come From?
The moment you get engaged, people will start asking when the wedding is. They’ll also want to know when they should expect their invitation and whether the wedding is formal, or semi-formal. Suddenly people you haven’t spoken to in years will be congratulating you and asking what their meal choices will be. Cousins, Second cousins, the brother of your ex-boyfriend and your best friend’s mother-in-law will all be asking for invites
Set a Limit
The best way to handle the guest list problem is to set a limit. If you plan on inviting 100 people. 50 people for the bride and 50 for the groom, set the limit and stick to it. Prioritize and invite no more than the number you have set. You can even use the ‘rolling’ admissions system and send out new invites as declines come in.
If They Invited Me to Their Wedding Do I Have To Invite Them to Mine?
This is a tricky one. And so I ask you, are you still friendly with the couple in question? How long ago was their wedding?
I was once invited to a wedding of acquaintances who had close to 300 people at their wedding. We had been friends at one point and in the two years between their wedding and mine, I barely spoke to them. I was on a budget and had a strict 110 person cap off, so inviting everyone I knew was simply not an option. If your wedding is the same size as the couple in question and their wedding was recent, you should probably invite them. If your wedding is smaller and you no longer speak to the previously married couple, than you can leave them off the guest list and not feel bad about it.
What about My Co-Workers?
Whether co-workers are invited depends on the size of your wedding and if you work for a large or small company. If your office is only comprised of you and 5 employees, you might want to invite them all. If you work with 50-100 people, don’t feel pressured to invite the whole company. Its polite to invite your boss– not to mention a good political move. Just remember, work and your personal life are two separate affairs.
Children or No Children?
When you design your wedding invitation, make sure to include whether children are are or are not invited. Don’t make exceptions for any of your guests as that would be rude to the others who had to book a babysitter.
My Friend’s New Boyfriend
If your friends or family are married than you of course have to invite their significant others. The same is true if your potential guests are engaged or have a domestic partner. However, if your college girlfriend just started dating someone, you are not obligated to invite them to your wedding. Keep in mind that single guests might want to bring a date. Decide early if you can afford that and if you cannot, make it clear to your guests.
If you have a lot of extended family but cannot invite all of them, the rule of thumb is, invite first cousins only. Whether you decide to invite second and third cousins depends on the closeness of the family members. Make the judgement call for your side and your fiancee and if questioned, a good answer is “we unfortunately could only invite the family members we are closest with.”
Have an After Party
In some communities it is common practice to have a party after the wedding that includes the people you could not invite to the actual ceremony. That could mean having a casual barbeque with church members or going out for drinks with your co-workers. It is a way to include people you like but you could just not afford to include at your wedding reception.