bride and groom kiss

Wedding guest lists are pretty much the hardest thing about a wedding.  For reals, it was easier to find Mr.Right and get engaged than it is to narrow down a list of friends and family. Here are 5 of the most common wedding guest list dilemmas and some suggestions on how to easily solve them.

You are on a limited budget and can't invite as many people as you'd like.

The bottom line is that you can only do what you can.  If you and your honey are cash-strapped and only have enough money for a marriage license and a trip to city hall, then so be it (and it will be great).  But chances are you aren't facing a budget that extreme, but also certainly not one that's going to allow you to invite everyone you've ever met.  Try to create an equitable guest list on both sides.  More than likely, you will also need to weigh your priorities.  Do you want a large, but simple wedding without a lot of frills?  Or would you rather have a swanky affair for 50?  There's no right or wrong answer, by the way.  Just pick the best priorities for the two of you and your families.

You both want a small wedding, but your parents want to invite everyone.

The two of you have both fallen in love with the idea of an intimate, tiny wedding. You just want family and the closest of friends to witness the beginning of this new chapter in your lives.  However, your parents (and the ones paying for the wedding) want to invite everyone from distant relatives to new business partners.  It's no secret that those who hold the purse strings has some degree of power in wedding planning.  Explain your desire for a small wedding and ask them to bend.  Both sides may have to compromise a little bit, if it comes to that.  But, usually if you explain why you want a small wedding, your parents will understand.

greenhouse style wedding venue

Your ceremony and reception venues are radically different sizes.

I cannot tell you how many questions I have received that fall under this category.  When the venues have two very different capacities, there is a temptation to invite more people to the larger venue. Just remember that while everyone invited to the reception doesn't have to be invited to the ceremony, everyone who is invited to the ceremony has to be invited to the reception. In other words, no one leaves without cake.

You are wondering if you can create a back-up list for declined invitations.

No. Always no.  People talk.  And some of your co-workers will be able to piece together that their invitations arrived several weeks after the other guests'.  Plan your guest list as strategically as possible.  Are the college roommates that live across the country going to fly out for your big day?  Probably not.  Most experts say that invitation acceptance rates generally fall between 60-75% depending upon how long-distance your guest list is.

grandfather with grandchildren at wedding

You want to invite some of your cousins, but not all of your cousins.

If there is one clear rule when it comes to guest lists and diplomacy, it's that what applies to one, should apply to all.  Don't offend some first cousins, by not inviting all first cousins.  If one friend has very well-behaved children, inviting them to the wedding opens up the door for either inviting your other friend's hellions or facing hurt feelings.  Creating unilateral rules reduces the risk of offending your guests, making sure no one feels singled out.

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