Navigating The Guest List Minefield


And other tips for making sure your friends don't bring Tinder dates

How long were you engaged before you took to social media to share your amazing news with your friends and family? Whether you broke a world record or waited until your engagement ring was perfectly sized and polished (it's all about the hand shot, am I right?), at some point you made an announcement to the world....and your co-worker wouldn't stop asking if you had picked a date. I'm here to tell you to tune out the noise, let go of the guilt, and invite the people you adore. Your guest list should be full of special people you can't wait to see and celebrate with. Not a list of who's who in the community because it will "look good" or everyone you have ever crossed paths with because you don't want to upset someone. 

If you have already hand cancelled and mailed 150 beautiful calligraphied invitations and have guest list related guilt, I'll be happy to meet you for a cocktail in the Atlanta area and listen to your woes (and please share this article with your friends to save them from the same fate!).  But, if you are reading this and have not yet sent your invitations or, better yet, you still haven't mailed your Save The Dates, then you are in luck! Below are some tips to help you navigate this process and to empower you to take control of your list. Any reference to 'you' below refers to the person who added the guest to the list.

Pro Tip: Make a list of everyone you wish to invite and then use the qualifying criteria below to categorize your list into A, B, and DNI (Do Not Invite). It's much easier to do a brain dump before organizing your list.

1. Are you comfortable having a one-on-one conversation with this person? If your stomach sinks at the thought of carrying on a five minute dialogue with someone, you should ask yourself why they are on your list. Almost everyone one will want to spend some time congratulating you during your reception. If there is a chance you will break into sweats while talking to your old next door neighbor, she's not invited.

2. Will you be disappointed if this person doesn't attend? If the person in question passes the first test but you are banking on them having another commitment on your wedding day, put them on the B list. B-Listers may or may not receive invitations but they definitely shouldn't receive Save The Dates. 

3. Did you invite/do you plan to invite this person to a wedding shower or engagement party? If so, it's proper etiquette to extend them an invitation. They are A-Listers.

4. Not everyone gets a plus one. I'm not sure who started the whole "and guest" trend but I am not a fan. Have you ever been someone's "and guest" at a wedding? It's quite boring. And if your date is in the wedding party it's hands down the worst way to spend a Saturday. Couples should vet and approve every single person on the guest list and each person on your list should be identified by their first and last name (Mr. And Guest doesn't qualify). So unless someone is married, engaged, or dating someone you should not offer them a plus one.  

5. What about kids? It's OK to invite a couple to your wedding and not invite their children, especially if you do not want children at your reception. It's also OK to extend the invitation to the children of some guests and not others. It isn't an all or nothing situation. Children who are invited should be addressed appropriately by name on the invitation. Pro Tip: If a large percentage of your guest list is traveling in from out of town, you may want to consider hiring a babysitting service. This will allow your friends to travel as a family but leave the kiddos behind so they can celebrate with you.

How's that guest list looking now? I hope it's organized and a little closer to being complete. As a heads up, there may be people who contact you directly and ask if they can bring people or children who were not formally invited. You may also receive an RSVP card with a head counter larger than the number of guests that invitation was allotted. You should be prepared to handle these situations directly and graciously. 

Until next time....Happy Planning!