There’s no doubt that guest lists are the ‘bad boys’ of wedding planning. Quite frankly, they’re bullies. Your first few engaged months are supposed to be blissful; easing into the wild ride. But, no. Formulating the guest list looms over you like a vengeful fog.
But, here's some good news: yes you still have to draft a guest list within the first few months of your engagement, but it doesn’t have to be so terrifying. Follow these three steps. They’ll get you closer to finalizing a perfectly tailored list and further from hating your fiancé and entire family.
Step no. 1: Rough draft
Order a pizza, pour some adult juice and grab a notebook. This step is casual – no need for formality, structure or arguments. Partner up with your mate and, together, write down everyone you’d like to invite to your wedding (immediate family, family, close friends, work friends, neighbors, etc.). Try and avoid counting everyone up. Just give yourself a solid starting point. Once you’ve finished (very seriously) set the list aside for a month and think on it.
Step no. 2: Draft
Now you’re maybe a few months into your engagement and you’re vendor hunting. Naturally, you need to know approximately how many guests will be in attendance. So pull out that rough draft guest list and give it another go. Don’t forget to pour yourself a drink, too. This is still a casual collection of names. Play around with your list here – crossing out people who you’ve changed your minds about, add co-workers you remembered and (lovingly) discuss certain family members’ statuses.
Please apply my favorite Disney mantra and don’t forget to: follow your heart. Keep the list authentic to your vision. There doesn't have to be an even balance of family members on each side coming; there are no guest list rules. And there are no pressures other than the ones you (or your family) place on yourselves.
Your rough draft should now be more solid, and maybe there are names crossed, names added or names with question marks. Once you’ve had enough for the night, count this list up and use that as your estimated guest count. Caution: don’t factor in the ‘20% of guests that will decline’ or bump the number up for cushion. Just stick to the number of names on your list and bring that number to the vendors you meet.
Step no. 3: Final draft
You’re maybe 6-9 months into your engagement – thinking about save the dates or invitations. Well, now is the time to bring out that guest list draft and finalize that B. Hold off on the booze for this session and get right down to serious business. Make definitive decisions, be empathetic, and ultimately be true to yourselves. Cross out some questionable guests or out-of-touch family members and refine, refine, refine.
Keep in mind; I may be a bit partial to smaller weddings. My wedding was intended to be intimate with a final guest count of 110 and, in retrospect, I still had two tables filled with old co-workers and neighbors that I haven’t talked to in years.