Do you have to invite great aunt Mildred to your wedding?

Planning a wedding is right up there with moving house and changing jobs when it comes to stress levels, and one of the biggest headaches is who you do and don’t invite (this can also lead to Table Plan Stress but that’s for another day!).

Just how much control do you have/want over the guest list?  We had total control over our list as we were paying for the whole wedding and so the final say was all ours. We were also very lucky that our families respected that and didn’t badger us to invite people that we didn’t want to.  We were on a bit of a budget and it was important to us that the important people in our lives were there. Cousins, great aunts and long lost uncles – in short anyone we hadn’t seen or heard from in more than 5-odd years – were not even a consideration.

But we know not every Bride and Groom is that lucky, and so here are some tips on dealing with those awkward moments when your parents mention great aunt Mildred and you don’t even know who she is….

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♥ Set your budget very early on in the planning, as this will help you work out how many people you can have. And once you have that figure STICK TO IT!  If you’re not paying for the wedding you will need to agree with whoever is just what kind of rights they have to the invitation list (and other plans!).  It may be best to give them a set number of guests, possibly a percentage of the final figure. Putting boundaries in place is essential. It might not be your money, but it is YOUR wedding day.

Evening Reception invitation (2)♥ The evening part is your best friend, and get-out clause!  An evening invitation is better than no invitation at all, and you can be more flexible with this list – you’ll find a lot of people will say they’re coming  likely not turn up and you can account for this with your catering numbers (cater for 80% of the number you think will be there).  And some of the ‘older generation’ may come for the ceremony and wedding breakfast but not want to stay for the noisy bit at night so that frees up seats!

♥ Depending on your location you can offer for people to watch the ceremony.  A few years back a work friend was getting married and they both had HUGE families so we knew we’d only be going to the evening bit but desperately wanted to watch the ceremony (it was in a church). She was quite happy for us to come along and it helped make the day a little more special for us.

Wedding regret♥ Consider sending your invitations out in batches. Chances are you’ve spoken to most people before you even send them but there’s still a chance some will give their apologies. Then have a back-up list of people who are on the evening invitation list but could be ‘upgraded’ to day time if you have drop-outs.

♥ Don’t feel you have to invite people just because you went to their wedding!  I invited people to our full day when we only went to their night do, and similarly didn’t invite people who’s wedding’s we had been to. Most people do understand, especially if they recently got married, and will empathise with the problem you’re dealing with.

♥ Make plans with those that you can’t invite to get together after the wedding. Do a screening of the video and photos.  Try not to invite people who came on the day; going on and on about how wonderful it was will only leave a bad taste, and it’s only fair the non-attendees get you to themselves.

♥ Stream your wedding! Yep, in this age of technology there is nothing stopping you saying your vows via Skype (or Facetime etc). You could even set up a party at someone’s house, provide the fizzy, and have them gather around. This would cost you a lot less than inviting an extra 20 people to your wedding but they get to see the best bit.  My mum couldn’t make my wedding so she watched via Skype, with her hat on (and her comfy trousers but no-one could see them so who cares!).  She watched the ceremony, the speeches and the first dance/cake cutting so she got to see all of the important bits. You just need to put someone in charge of the Skype call.

Ma on Skype

My mum on Skype with her hat on!

♥ And how to deal with those people who ask where their invitation is? Well…..

  • Be blunt – if you haven’t spoken to someone in years (and could possibly pass them on the street and not recognise them!) then say just that if they ask!
  • Be less blunt – blame the venue (it’s very small and intimate, we’re limited on numbers, I’m sure you understand), the budget (we’re paying for this ourselves and are having to be a bit brutal with the list, I’m sure you understand) or blame your parents (they are insisting all my cousins and great aunt Mildred are invited, they are paying for it so I’m sure you understand)!
  • Lie – we haven’t quite finalised the list yet…..
  • Be honest – I’m so sorry, you didn’t make the cut. No, not really!  More like I’m sorry we can’t invite everyone we’d like to but there’s going to be a Skype party….Keep calm and be kind (2)

Whatever you decide to do, however you decide to deal with it, remember that whoever doesn’t make the list will be disappointed and that comes from loving you, being excited for you and wanting to share the happiest day of your life with you. So be kind ♥

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