How to Manage your #1 Wedding Day Stress…The Guest List!

Oh man oh man, are ya feeling a little bit stressed about planning your wedding? Yes? Stuck on finalizing a guest-list so you can get working on the rest of your to-do list? Being stuck in guest list limbo is the WORST!

Figuring out who’s going to be invited to your wedding day pretty much controls every other aspect of your day + that’s why it’s the #1 cause of stress for most couples! From budget to venue, you really can’t start finalizing anything until you know how many people will be there! Between pressure from your families and guilt tripping from your grade 3 best friend, you’re probably looking for an excuse to cut back that list a bit. I mean, no one usually stresses about not having ENOUGH people to invite, amiright?

Traditionally, you (as a couple) are supposed to give a proportionate amount of your guest list to each of your parents. (sometimes it’s even based on how much of the budget they are helping you with). Yuck. To make things worse, wedding blogs will tell you to have an A-list and a B-list. I mean, if that person is on the B-list are you really that close with them? Why even have a B-list unless you absolutely neeeeed to fill your venue to capacity? The wedding industry leaves me with so many questions!

My #1 tip is that you have to remember your day is about you marrying the love of your friggen life. Nothing else. You deserve to be selfish when choosing who is going to witness your vows. I want you to day-dream here for a bit. Sit back and try to picture the best day of your life. Are you dancing to 90’s hits? Are you eating a 5 course meal that is making you drool with every bite? Are you stargazing while sitting around a fire? Who is with you? Now with that picture in your mind, keep on reading!

Budget + Venue

Your venue is going to affect your guest list in so many ways! If venue is your top priority, and you already know your dream wedding location, then you are going to be limited by the space they have, assuming you aren’t willing to compromise on the venue. If your dream venue is an intimate restaurant that holds 100 people, then you already know your maximum. If your dream ceremony location is on the top of a mountain, then you are limited by how many helicopter trips are available. If your dream venue is a ballroom, then you need to find a balance between filling the space and not having it overcrowded. A 300 person ballroom will look very empty with only 100 guests, so sometimes your guest list will impact your venue instead of the other way around. Are you willing to compromise on your venue?

Your guest list affects your budget from the venue to the meal to the place setting rentals and more. But you already know that. Let’s look at instead from your priorities. Remember your dream BEST DAY EVER? Remember that 5 course meal you dreamt of eating? Will adding an extra table of 8 people put you over budget to the point that you’re stressing over indulging in prime rib or including those hor d’oeuvres? Is your mom’s boss really worth that stress? That 5 course meal you dreamed of probably isn’t realistic for 200 guests. You could compromise and offer 2 courses for 200 guests, or you could cut back to 100 guests and give them the best dang meal of their life.

What won’t you Compromise?

Remember when I said that it’s your day and you should never feel guilty for being selfish? I meant it. Of course you are going to make some compromises with your boo, with your family, etc. But you should make sure to communicate the top things you don’t want to compromise on. Is it top shelf bourbon for the bar? An outdoor ceremony? Chair covers that match your colours? A killer dance floor? Whatever it is, stick to your guns and make sure that no decision affects that part of your day. Your guest list affects every aspect of your wedding and you don’t want regret or resentment because you’ve given up your must-have.

Don’t Feel Guilty

Chances are that as soon as you get engaged, people start coming out of the woodwork looking for an invite, offering advice, or just simply being nosey. I want you to remember that you have nothing to feel guilty for if you choose not to engage in these conversations or politely change the subject.

Something that is helpful to remember is that the more guests you invite, the less time you have with those closest to you. If your closest circle of family + friends is 20 people, then inviting 100 people will give you only 1/5th the amount of time with your circle. You could spend your entire wedding day trying to quickly hug each of your guests, or you could have an intimate dinner and share meaningful conversations with your grandparents.

Chances are that your childhood friend you haven’t seen in 15 years is not oblivious to the fact that you’ve grown apart. Even if they do try to guilt trip you into an invite, they’re gonna get over it prettttty quick. If they don’t, well it’ll probably be another 15 years until you see them again anyways.

Invite no one out of obligation. Invite those who you know will contribute positively to your memories of the day. Invite those who have had an impact on your life + relationship. (Hint : that friend of a friend who always drinks too much and will probably yell something inappropriate during your ceremony is not contributing positively.)

Who do you picture yourself sitting down with in 10 or 20 years to reminisce about your wedding? Make room for those people. I mean, if you aren’t going to recognize someone in your wedding album in a few years they probably shouldn’t be there.

Set Rules

People in your life are going to try to push boundaries, everyone and their dog is going to want an invite. Sit down with your partner and create a list of rules so you’re both on the same page just incase you get cornered by that co-worker you haven’t seen in so long you assumed she’d quit.

  • Kids – Yes/No/only immediate family?
  • Time since Last Interaction? Only those you’ve talked to within the last year? 3 months?
  • Parent’s List – Are you giving them a certain #? What are the requirements?
  • Plus Ones – Included on invite? Have you met them or is it a random date?
  • Out of Town Guests – How will you help them in a new city? Are you blocking hotel rooms? Making welcome packages with suggested activities?

Looking for more help planning your Wedding or Elopement?

Hey there! I’m Megan, a destination wedding photographer based in British Columbia, Canada. I’m not a label gal, though. I promise to be so much more than your photographer. I will be your guide, the person you turn to for support and guidance, and will empower you to plan a day that fits your values and priorities. If you find yourself glued to the screen unable to stop scrolling through the unconventional, kick-ass, and adventurous weddings I’ve photographed, let’s be friends!

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