How to decide Who to Invite to Your Wedding

Because so many other wedding-related decisions depend upon the number of guests, it is important to create your guest list early on.

First, sit down with your fiancé and discuss what general wedding size you envision. Do you prefer a cozy affair with only your nearest and dearest friends, or adore a huge party where every co-worker and distant relative is going to be included?
Then, write down a list of the people you definitely want to invite, and those you might include if you opt for a larger celebration. Don't forget to give each set of parents a certain number of guests to invite, but don't worry; you don't need to feel obligated to invite all your parents' friends, distant relatives, coworkers, and your friends' children to your wedding.
As you work on your guest list, keep in mind the following:
Traditionally, the guest list is divided equally between the bride and groom, but of course there's room for flexibility depending on the actual number of people each side of the family wishes to invite.
The general rule of thumb says to figure that only 80 percent of those invited will attend. However, don't count on it.
Sometimes one side of the family has a much larger guest list, for example if the wedding is being held in the bride's home town and the groom's family lives out of town.
If the bride's family is paying for the wedding and the groom's family wants to invite more guests than the original estimate included, the groom's family may offer to pay a proportional share of the reception expenses.
It is socially appropriate to invite an unmarried, unattached person without adding "and guest" to the invitation. It is not appropriate, however, to invite one-half of a married couple, one-half of a couple living together, or one-half of an engaged couple. If a single person is on the guest list and you know he or she is seeing someone seriously, it is thoughtful to invite both.
If you don't want children at the wedding or reception, don't invite them. A wedding invitation only requests the presence of the people whose names actually appear on the envelope. If guests ask if they can bring their kids, give a diplomatic answer, such as, "Unfortunately, we can only invite a specific number of guests and are at the limit." Then, be sure you don't allow any exceptions. Your friends who were turned down will be upset to see other people's children at the wedding (except for any children who are actually in the wedding party).
Think carefully about sending wedding invitations to people you know cannot attend. This can look like a solicitation for wedding gifts. If there are people you would like to inform about the wedding but you know cannot attend, you can send them a wedding announcement the day after the wedding. Of course, if there are people you know will not or cannot attend, but who might feel slighted if they did not receive an invitation, then by all means send one.
It's no surprise if you find yourself in the situation where there are more people to invite than the budget can accommodate. Your options are either prioritizing the list and removing guests, or scaling back on plans for your reception.
Cutting back on your list is never easy and it always comes down to a judgment call, balancing who in the family wanted the person invited and the closeness of the relationship. You should never be in a position of having to cut close friends from your guest list. If you find yourself having to do that, you might want to reconsider your design concept for the wedding reception (it may be too grand).
If you are fortunate enough to have unlimited resources (lucky you!), you might need to only make a few compromises to balance your budget, guest list, and vision for your wedding. However, it's good to remember that wedding planning is like marriage itself. It is all about learning to negotiate, compromise, and invent creative new strategies to find a happy medium that will please you both.


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