Wedding: Advice on Slashing the Guest List.

At first I was pretty miffed when I didn’t receive an invitation to the Royal Wedding, but now, having tortured myself over my own guest list for months, I understand. Kate, don’t worry … we’re still cool. I know that your Prince has a huge list of folks he’s obligated to invite — other princes, dukes, Elton John, etc. Also, y’all are older than your average couple, which means you’ve met lots more people. Keeping your list limited to 2000 must be about as hard as it is to keeping ours to, um, well let’s just say way-smaller-than-average. Between my public career,  David being super-popular and Batman, and us having big families, this has been the biggest challenge.

As always, I’ve solicited advice from people have done this before. Read on for their wisdom and my bossy opinions.

1. Ask yourself if you’d take these people out to a fancy dinner, spend quality time with them, and then pay for the whole evening. If you wouldn’t hesitate, then invite them. If you don’t think you’d see that situation arising, don’t invite them. This gem came from one of David’s co-workers. It’s a great litmus test, excepting the fact that David and I are Let’s-Buy-A-Round-For-The-Whole-Bar!-type folks. We are constantly buying lunches and drinks for friends, so our list of who we’d take out to dinner is four times as long as our wedding guest list can be. Although, maybe if we’d stop buying drinks for people, we’d have more budget to play with. Hmmmm…

2. Don’t talk about the wedding to people who aren’t invited. Again, good advice, and again, troublesome for us, seeing as we are broadcasting our wedding planning to the interwebs. Are we just being rude to 99% of Louisville? Apologies. Read #3 for more explanation…

3. Remember that it’s not personal. Really, I know that on some level, weddings are incredibly personal. But most people who want to have a big party would love to be able to invite all their friends. Unfortunately, it’s determined by the budget … not friendship. If we didn’t have to feed and drink anyone, we could invite Kate and Will’s 2000.

4. Don’t allow single people to bring dates. This is one of those rules that I’m dreading having to deal with. I remember being 21 and being insulted for my co-worker who didn’t see  “and guest” written on an invitation, thinking how rude that was that she wasn’t allowed a date. But I totally get it now, especially having seen my friends plan weddings on a budget. Again, it’s not personal. If you’re spending $75/person, you just really can’t afford to allow everyone who’s not already coupled, to bring a date. A list of fifty friends immediately becomes one hundred, and there goes all of your budget. Again, it’s not personal.

5. No kids. Best advice ever … saves money, time, planning, and headache. Sorry. We’ll take flack for this one too, but I’ve been to too many weddings where you couldn’t walk to the bar without tripping over a toddler on a sugar high. Also, have any of you been to a wedding where there wasn’t a screaming baby during the vows? I haven’t. I love kids — come on, I’ve taught piano lessons for ten years — but I don’t want them at my wedding.* Besides, I wouldn’t want to take my kids (should I have any) to a cocktail party. Going to a party = hiring a babysitter.

Anyway, it’s way stressful because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I know it’s not like people out there are waiting by their mailboxes for an invite like I was when I heard Kate & Will had mailed theirs. Our wedding is not exactly the social event of the century. But still, I’d like to have everyone I know and love there. Trying to remember … that it’s not personal.

*This is excepting a sweet niece flower girl, an adorable nephew ring bearer, and a newborn belonging to my Best Woman who’s traveling from Texas, of course:)

14 Comments on "Wedding: Advice on Slashing the Guest List."

  1. Anonymous Friend Who is Sure Not to Be Invited | March 23, 2011 at 11:10 am | Reply

    So here’s another perspective…

    When I got married, we focused first on the people – who we wanted to celebrate with, who it was important to us to have present to witness the event, and who the event would have significance for. The rest of the budgeting factors came after. I knew that for our guests, if having some additional people attend meant having a limited bar or (gasp) a cash bar or buffet instead of sit-down dinner that that would be okay.

    And as a wedding attendee, I can say that I have never been hurt or disappointed that the menu was small and I ate finger-food or I had to pay for my drinks or that the venue was slightly smaller or whatever. I have, however, been pretty hurt not to be included.

  2. After just marrying my daughter off, here’s the advice I gave her: If you haven’t seen them or talked to them in a year, off the list. (Good Luck…we still had 300 people.)

    Second suggestion: use a wedding planner. We thought we could handle it but thank goodness we had Hollis Starks. It saved us time and money and everything went off like a dream and the bride and groom and my wife and I were able to enjoy the wedding and reception.

    Good Luck!

  3. Thanks, davilledude. I like the “within a year” rule.

    I’m intrigued how using a wedding planner saved money? Would love your insights on that … it seems like their fee just takes up money that could be spent elsewhere. But there must be some huge benefit, or their jobs wouldn’t exist.

    @Anonymous … Unfortunately for us, the budget was set long before the guest list was made. I like how you were able to do it the other way around though.
    We don’t like having to have a small wedding, but we just can’t afford what we want. And we just can’t have a cash bar at our event … I think we come from opposite ends of the spectrum on that one. I don’t mind an event with heavy hors d’oeuvres at all, but a cash bar at a wedding drives me crazy. That’s one of our priorities. And so … small wedding it is! It still amazes me how our wedding is way smaller than average and with a WAY smaller budget, but the planning is just as much of a nightmare.

    • Anonymous Friend | March 23, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Reply

      Actually our budget was set way before guest list, but we considered guests first and then just asked – will this [food, music, venue, yada yada] work for X people, within our budget.

      I don’t think a couple should ever feel like they have to invite anyone, or be stressed out about the list or anything about it too much. I wanted to offer another perspective as someone who knows (and cares about you! My big boy pants are on and I won’t stop caring because I’m not invited. I admit I’d like to be there, but if it makes things hard on you to have me there then its not worth it. You’re perspective of who you want there is more important that who wants to be there and I agree people should be understanding.

      • Curiosity is killing me on who you are, but I thank you for remaining anonymous:) It’s really not about “who we want there” I promise … we want all of our friends there … it’s completely about numbers. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. I just really truly hope people understand (as you do) that we simply must limit it to mostly family — and band members.
        Thank you for your understanding and for your thoughtful comments:)

    • Hollis Starks was our wedding planner—she got us the best deals on the hall (saved us a ton here), food/bar, flowers, photographer/videographer, video wall, printing, you name it. Who has the time or expertise to shop and bid all these things? Her advice where to spend and where to cut corners was hugely helpful.. Best suggestion? Talked us out of a sit down dinner and into heavy h’ordeurves. Photo booth was another touch (this was a year and half ago and they weren’t popular yet.
      She even helped booking rooms (with a discount) for our out-of-town guests.
      During the wedding and reception, she was everywhere so we could have a good time and enjoy the moment.
      Hollis made the event extraordinary and saved us time and money in the process. Did she pay for herself? Absolutely…plus she kept us all sane. Her personality and style added a ton to the celebration.

  4. Since planning my own wedding, and being intimately involved in way too many to count, I’ve come to one big realization. As attendees, we have an obligation to the happy couple, and that’s to put on our big-boy pants and realize that they’re doing the best they can to provide for a great day of celebration. It’s NOT personal, and if they had unlimited budgets, they’d invite the entire city (we all know Brigid would if she could :)). So now, when I attend weddings, I work extra-hard to play by their rules, and if I don’t make the guest list, I still send a card and my congratulations. And if I do make the guest list, I party my ass off and make sure the couple knows how much I appreciate the invite and how happy I am for them.

    Life’s too short to be bothered by this stuff, and the last thing a bride and groom need is more crap to worry about.

    As for wedding planners, our saved us AT LEAST $2500 by being able to recommend quality vendors, several of whom gave us discounts because they knew the wedding would run smoothly because of our planner. We also have used the recommended caterer for six events since then, and we’ve saved thousands due to repeat-business discounts and kind donations from them. Everything is about the relationship, and that’s what a good wedding planner brings (well, that, and experience). I don’t think it’s a requirement at all, but in my experience it was worth every penny.

  5. Rev. Rob Warren | March 23, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Reply

    As a veteran of these things – the “no kids/dates” rules can make the time in between the rehearsal and wedding much more interesting… you may not find out what happened until much later, but it can make for good stories.

    I tell all my couples – “by the end of the day, you’ll have signed what you need to sign, said what you needed to say, and be on your way.”

    and there is a moment, when in the middle of everything, everyone in the room will just kind of fade away (including the one saying “repeat after me.”) You’ll just get lost in it (I try not to step on that moment) – Enjoy it, it’s the purpose in the pagent.

  6. Brigid … you are one of those incredibly lucky people that have a gazillion people who love ‘you’ and consider ‘you’ to be their ‘friend’ …. now …. because you are in a very public business and kinda’ have to be gracious and overly friendly to just about every single person you come into contact with on a daily basis (not that you aren’t genuinely a nice person …. but you gotta know what I mean) …. some people may misconstrue your kindness to them as ‘friendship’ …. I can count on two hands my real friends and then everybody else falls into the category of close acquaintances. So …. you invite whomever you want to the wedding and have the absolute best day of your life and everybody else can just get over themselves. hahaha.

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