This weekend I was lucky enough to get to pack up my bags (and my husband) and head up to the mountains of Colorado to spend some time with a few friends - two of whom, by the way, are recently engaged. We spent our two days talking and laughing and playing board games and eating good food...and, believe it or not, managed to squeeze in more than a little bit of conversation about wedding planning.

Both women are in different stages of planning, one has her venue pinned down, the other is headed out to find her dress this week, but both had the same questions about one particular subject: the guest list.

Is this or is this not the trickiest part of planning a wedding? What each bride-to-be was really concerned about was one simple thing - how on earth do you stick to your number (and your budget!) without stepping on people's toes? We spent some quality time discussing the subject and even though in the end we came to the conclusion that there really is no easy way to limit a guest list (hopping on a plane with your future spouse and eloping aside), and none of us are the end-all, be-all authority on the subject, we did end up with a few solid ideas.

1. Be clear about your guest list needs and expectations. Are you working from a tight budget? Does your venue (like one of my friend's) have a maximum capacity? Know your number, make sure your parents, his parents - really anyone who might feel inclined to extend invitations to the event - know that number, and stick to it. This also means deciding if you want your guests to bring their children, and if you're okay with guests bringing dates.

2. Be specific on your invitations. If you're really pinched for space, make sure you make it as clear as possible. Address your invitations to the people you would like to have at your wedding. For example: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith vs. The Smith Family. And don't be afraid to pre-fill RSVP cards to match. Think of it as saving your guests a little bit of time - instead of having to write out their whole name, they just need to check the little "yes" or "no"." See? Much easier.

3. Be firm. Depending on how strictly you have to stick to your number, you may end up with an awkward situation or two. Sometimes guests will write themselves, their siblings, or (who knows!) their pets into your wedding. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone and explain calmly, kindly, but firmly that you are on a restricted budget, or that you literally have no extra space at your venue, and that you can't make exceptions. Then get back to work planning the best wedding ever - I promise, by the time you're walking down the aisle no one will remember that you didn't let them bring the date they met last week!

Did I miss anything important? Let me know! What have you learned through planning your own wedding about how to manage a limited guest list?


Photo Credit: Deidre Lynn Photography