Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest List Problems Resolved? (414 Days to Go)

So Jeff and I came to an agreement on how to divide up the guest list.  I'm extremely grateful that he understood where I was coming from in that my mom and I needed to be guaranteed that we could invite a certain number at bare minimum.

It's amazing to me when I read all these posts and information provided on the internet and in books about how people traditionally split a guest list.  So many people go with 25/50/25 or 33/33/33--or should I say that they all seem to recommend that split.  I'm beginning to chalk those numbers up towards the top of my list for pretty bad wedding advice.

What I couldn't understand is why when Jeff and I are paying for the wedding was it assumed that the split should be made so unevenly?  I'm sure there are always exceptions, especially since these aren't rules, just guidelines.  But even when a family is relatively lopsided in size, there should be some give more so towards even than in the other direction.  In the end Jeff and I did go with our split of 20/45/35 in order to try and balance between the sizes of families but also to make sure that our own friends are invited as well.  I think once it was out of the heat of the moment, he realized that his friends were also being pushed off the guest list too.

So how does one come up with the right balance for the guest list?  There are limitations made by the venue.  So my first piece of advice to other brides-to-be would be to get the venue booked first.  And if you can't get enough peace from the in-laws jockeying for guest list dominance before the venue is booked, get an idea of how large a venue you're able to a) find and b) afford.  For Jeff and I, it looks like we'll find something around 200.  But based on location and budgets, this will vary quite a bit.  Next we looked at the numbers that each of our parents was giving us and the number of friends we wanted to invite.  Then we started to get realistic for our parents.  Sounds a little cruel, right?  Well, you have to be.  Sorry, in-laws! Jeff's parents were way over and my mom was slightly undershooting just to cover the "must haves".  I then came up with a split that would give his parents a slight majority to cover their larger family, gave my mom just enough to cover the must haves in our family, and trimmed Jeff and I as much as I dared considering our large number of bridesmaids and groomsmen.  In coming up with our split I made sure that everyone had enough for the "must haves" but that myself and Jeff's parents both had to start making some choices about who needed to get shifted to a "B-list".  The B-list is not the abyss of the guest list.  Essentially the plan is to send out invitations to the "A-list" or the "must haves" and set a RSVP reply date far in advance of the caterer's final count deadline.  Once some people begin to RSVP that they cannot make it is when you start sending out the invitations to the B-list.  Odds are very likely at least in my case that most if not all of the B-list (as long as it doesn't get any more out of control) will end up receiving an invitation.  However, this does make sure that Murphy's Law does not go into effect where I end up with fifty more guests at my wedding than I have food or seats for.

Granted, it'll be about 6-9 months before I know whether or not my crazy idea of establishing a rule will actually work to save my sanity.  In all likeliness it will result in me scrambling to make more invitations than I thought I needed and trying to find more supplies and time as it comes down to the wire.  But I'm hoping that at least in the meantime that it will end a lot of arguments over who deserves to control the guest list.  By creating a split, I wash my hands of everyone else's guest lists.  Essentially, I don't tell them who to invite, and they don't tell me who I can invite.  It's everyone's responsibility to prioritize their own lists and hand them over with updated mailing addresses to me by fall so that I can start to send out save the dates to the A-lists.  I've already made the sworn promise that going over on numbers will result in me whacking names from the list starting at the bottom.  For instance, if my mom gives me a list of 45 rather than 40, I drop the last five people no matter how awkwardly I split up the Yoder family.

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