How to write the best wedding guest list

By: Jessica Padykula

Author: Canadian Living


How to write the best wedding guest list

By: Jessica Padykula
Some brides-to-be dream of a lavish wedding with hundreds of guests, others have designs on a more intimate gathering. Whatever the case, you'll have some tough decisions to make when it comes to your guest list. After all, whether you want a huge blowout or a boutique-style affair, every guest is going to add to the bill, and some can add to your stress levels.

So how do you decide who makes the list and who doesn't? We've turned to some wedding and etiquette experts to get the scoop on writing – and editing – your guest list.

1. Look at your budget
Before you start thinking about your guest list, decide what your budget is and what style and size of wedding you want to have, explains Louise Fox, etiquette expert and owner of The Etiquette Ladies Courtesy Programs. This will help you determine factors like the kind of venue you can afford and how much food and drink you can squeeze out of your budget. Playing with your budget numbers will help you figure out how many guests you can afford to host in the style you have in mind.

Do this planning first — before you issue verbal invites to your mom's bridge club, your hairdresser and your first grade teacher.
2. Your (closest) family members need to be there
Inviting your parents and his parents is a no-brainer. So are inviting siblings, grandparents and favourite aunts, uncles and cousins. But there are always family members you never see, extended family you never got to know or estranged family that's been off your radar for years. So who makes the cut?

First and foremost, invite close relatives, and from there, choose from more distant relatives with whom you have a close, personal relationship, says Naylor. "Most families, especially in these tough economic times, understand that guest lists are built so that the relatives who are closest to the couple will be invited," she explains.

3. Invite the friends you plan to share your lives with
Everyone who is invited to your big day should be someone who is close to you or your finance, says Hyatt. "You should have a connection with everyone at your wedding."

You should invite people you want to share your life with – not just your wedding moment, explains Fox. "Invite people to your wedding who are part of your life now, and who will be part of your future," she says.

The friends you invite should be the group of friends you see all the time, says Hyatt. If you have friends that live out of town who you don't see often, she suggests only inviting one or two who you talk to and correspond with regularly.

4. Know how to work it
Fox advises inviting only work colleagues who you socialize with outside work. If it has potential to cause a stir at your workplace, set logical parameters, such as only inviting people from your department.  Both Fox and Hyatt say you don't have to invite your boss if you don't want to.

5. Stand your ground
If a parent is pushing for additional guests, you have to stick to your guns and explain that there is simply no room in the budget or the venue for more people, Naylor says.

When it's your future mother-in-law, it's a bit trickier to stand your ground. As a couple, create a united front, and talk with her together about why she can't invite a dozen of her friends to the wedding when your plans require you leave out even some of your own close friends, she suggests.

It's helpful to keep your families involved in the planning so they feel included, Hyatt explains. If parents and future in-laws feel part of the planning process, they may not feel the need to become pushy or overbearing.

In the end it's your day, says Hyatt. "Etiquette and tradition are wonderful, but you have to decide what you really want."

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How to write the best wedding guest list