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Lessons in Wedding Planning: creating the guest list

10 Apr 2016

Bride-to-be, Jessica Phillipson, has just begun her wedding planning. Documenting her to-dos every step of the way, she shares her experience in this invaluable and insightful monthly blog

Image gallery

Image gallery

Hello fellow brides-to-be,

Welcome to my new blog. April marks 12 months until my big day, so here I’m going to be counting down, sharing my tips… and sharing the mistakes I’ve made while wedding planning. I’d also appreciate any advice you lovely ladies have for me, so get in touch.

Before I dive into my guest list story, a bit about my fiancé and I.

I met Tom six years ago at university. He is the best person I know and he makes the most amazing chocolate brownies on the planet (and believe me, finding the perfect chocolate brownie is an investigation that I have dedicated A LOT of my time to) – I am very lucky. He proposed a year ago while we were having a picnic in very non-picnic appropriate weather. He had a vision for the proposal and stuck to it – clouds or not.

When it came to tackling wedding planning, we agreed that getting the guest list sorted is the best place to start – so that’s where I’m starting.

Once you know how many people you’re inviting, you can whittle down venues based on who can accommodate your numbers and, most importantly, set your budget. We found that feeding everyone is the most expensive part of our day, so once you know what that figure looks like, you know how much you have left to play with.

Many of you probably saw this wedding guest list manager that was doing the rounds on social media recently.

lessons-in-wedding-planning-creating-the-guest-list-2

Clearly I’m making friends with the wrong people, because even me and my very closest mates don’t buy each other dinner. Tom and I decided not to have separate ceremony and evening guests, so we had to ask ourselves: "Do we like them enough to feed them? If not, we don’t need them there." It sounds harsh, but being harsh will help you keep your guest list realistic and relevant. We asked ourselves these few simple questions…

1. Do you really know them?

To start with we made a list of everyone we might invite, disregarding budget. I don’t know if it was reassuring or depressing, but that only came to 120 people. Scientist Richard Dunbar reckons that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 relationships, so 120 is pretty much all the people we can keep up with. This figure wasn’t great for the budget, though, so we removed some people with the following: if we haven’t seen them in the last year, they’re out.

2. Does your partner know them?

Someone once said to me that they didn’t want to meet anyone for the first time at their wedding. It’s an extremely important and significant day for the two of you – do you really want some stranger whose name you won’t remember in your pictures? Especially if that stranger is your friend’s boyfriend of three months who they’ll likely break up with before your dad’s speech.

3. If you quit tomorrow, would you still see them?

Quite a few of the people on my original list were colleagues. They are people I love working with every day, but outside of the office, I only see them at work functions. Ask yourself: if you quit your job tomorrow, who would you still see?

4. Do you like them?

Assuming everyone on your list is a friend/family member, this question is a good way to get rid of any potential plus ones. Everyone knows someone whose partner isn’t ‘your type of person’. The likelihood is you’re not theirs either. They don’t care about sharing your special day. Don’t invite them.

5. Do you want children there?

In our case, it was a 'no'. We worked out that inviting everyone’s children meant we couldn’t afford to invite all the adults we wanted to. Children do not enjoy weddings – it’s lots of adults talking and sitting still. And actually, many of the parents we’ve invited can’t wait for an excuse to leave the kids with grandparents and take the weekend off.

6. Are you being consistent?

We aimed for a 50:50 split of guests, and we’ve pretty much managed that, but it’s important you don’t let one rule apply for one side of the aisle and not the other.

These are just things that we considered – you may have a different set of priorities if, for example, parents are footing the bill or you’re having a destination wedding. It’s something you put a lot of thought into when planning – it certainly ate up a few of our evenings – so if anyone questions your decision, calmly explain your thinking. It’s probably logical...

Create a guest list? Check!

How are you getting on with yours? And if it’s done, how did you do it?

Jessica

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