10 Tips for Managing Your Guest List from Las Vegas Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito.
One of the most stressful parts of wedding planning is writing the guest list. You would think it would easy; simply invite the people who matter most to you. Unfortunately, however, guest management is never that simple. Family trees, friendships old and new, coworkers, colleagues, space, and finances will all impact your final list of invitees. Determining whom to include in your wedding festivities is hard and cam impact your relationships for years to come.
Messy, emotional, and super stressful, here are 10 tips, tricks, and approaches to help you manage your guest list and the expectations that come along with it.
- Divide and Conquer: Average to large size weddings of 100 guests or more typically divide the guest list into 3 segments; with the couple getting 50% of the list and each set of parents taking 25%. Occasionally, finances will swing the split in one direction or another, with the family contributing the most of the funds getting a few more slots on the list. For smaller weddings (think 75 or less) the list is typically made up primarily of people that the couple chooses to include.
- Family First - Parents, grandparents, and siblings are the must-have go to names that you musts include first. Then, based on the size of the wedding, you will include your aunts, uncles, and first cousins. Beyond those family ties, it is fair to make a judgement call based on the closeness of your relationships.
- Bridal Party & Close Friends - If you are having a bridal party, those guests (and a guest) are to be noted along with your immediate family. Friendships can prove to be tricky; long standing relationships that are a part of your day to day life are always to be included. But what of people with whom your relationship is changing? A friend you had for years but may not be exceptionally close to any more may be dropped to the "B List" if you cannot envision sharing your lives together for years to come.
- Office Politics - While the way we work is rapidly changing (home office, anyone?) the rules of decorum still apply. When it comes to your coworkers, those in traditional settings should play by the rule of "everyone, or no one". In other words, no cherry picking lest you are OK with a very uncomfortable working environment from here on out. When it comes to your boss, your bosses boss, and so on, think about the way you interact on a daily basis, and how this person relates to your department. A supervisor who is involved in the day to day comings and goings, and if they have close relationships with your coworkers, then it would be odd not to include them. However, if the boss if more of a figure head that you do not interact with on a regular basis, feel free to exclude him or her from your list.
- The Dreaded Plus One - I am of the opinion that siblings and your bridal party are entitled to bring a guest to your wedding. These people mean the world to you, are working hard to help you through the wedding planning process, and ensuring that they are comfortable and have someone by their side is an appropriate gesture to make. Beyond that, anyone married, engaged, or living together should be given a plus one. For the remaining guests, set a standard rule (such as no plus one for couples together less than 6 months) and stand by it.
- Small People: Kids, Tweens, and Teens - What can I say? Kids are just adorable, and as mini-attendants they often times add a number of "awe" moments to your day. That said, the wailing of a baby, the unpredictable behavior of toddlers, and the moody teen that doesn't fully appreciate the significance of the day can put a (costly) damper on the day. You are free to clearly say no to anyone underage for formal weddings while also including the children of any siblings. Beyond that, I like the idea of an adult affair for local weddings, and family affairs with children of all ages for destination weddings. I myself have had to decline the wedding of a cousin who's out of state celebration did not include small children like my own. There were no hard feelings, however. I completely respected the couples wish not to have babies at their wedding, and they understood my reluctance to leave my children with a stranger for child care.
- The Ex Factor - Once upon a time, no one would ever consider inviting an ex to their wedding. But with unique family planning arrangements, long term relationships that end in longer term friendships, and where kids are involved there are no longer any hard and fast rules for including ex's at your event. As long as the past is truly in the past, and if your future husband / wife if comfortable with it, I say go ahead and invite an ex to your wedding if this person still add value to your life.
- Falling Outs and Fights - Inviting someone to your wedding (or any other event) and then un-inviting them can be deemed cruel or classless. Therefore, if you invited anyone to your anniversary party, showers, or pre-wedding festivities, an invitation to your wedding is implied and needs to be followed through on. But what about those people with whom you have had a falling out? Those individuals inherently know that they would not be comfortable at your wedding, and often times simply decline. Not so sure about that? Best to address the issue head on via an in person meeting, phone call, or - as a last resort - via email. A straightforward, "I think we can both agree that our relationship is changing, and I do not think that either of us would be comfortable moving forward with you coming to the wedding" is sure to do the trick, or open up lines of communication so that you can clear the air and decide on how you should move forward.
- Bullies and The Fringe - What do you do with those people who just don't seem to be able to table "no" for an answer? Or the semi-random "friend of a friend" who seems to think that their relationship with other people will grandfather them into your wedding? The best approach is one that is delivered immediately, with as little detail and room for discussion as possible. I have always liked, "Oh, you are so sweet for wanting to celebrate with us! Unfortunately, our (insert best excuse such as venue, family responsibilities, etc) will not allow us to include even one more person on our list. But I promise that we will get together for a cocktail / coffee/ lunch when we get back from our honeymoon." Repeat as often as needed.
- Blame Me - I have been the culprit on more than one occasion for my couples who need a firm hand and struggle with saying no. In the past I have been know to send notes to people letting them know that, while the couple would ideally love to have them, that the venue simply cannot accommodate them. Other times, I have advised parents who presumed that their children were invited that my clients are hosting an adult only affair. In the end, if there is a hard conversation to be had, I don't mind being the one who has it. Don't have a wedding planner? Enlist a parent or best friend and let them deliver the news.
Has this been helpful to you? Are there other topics you are interested in learning about? Ask Andrea! Contact me directly here!
Las Vegas Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito is often published, with works featured by the likes of BRIDES, Style Me Pretty, Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, The NY Times, LA Times, Junebug Weddings, and more. With an eye catching style that shares not only the story, but the soul, of a wedding, Andrea's clients praise her for being their wedding planner, event designer, advocate, and friend.
An internationally acclaimed speaker, Andrea appears and speaks at events for the Engage! Luxury Wedding Summit, NACE, The Knot, the Wedding MBA, and more. Named the Best Wedding Planner in Las Vegas (2013, 2015, 2016), Wedding Professional of the Year (2011) and ranked as one of the top 50 wedding planners world-wide, Andrea works with celebrities, athletes, executives, and all people in love!
Based in Las Vegas, and working as a destination wedding planner world wide, you can learn more at www.AndreaEppolitoEvents.com.