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Wedding Ceremony Managing your guest list

If there's one thing renowned for causing drama and tension in the wedding planning process - it's the guest list.

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If there's one thing renowned for causing drama and tension in the wedding planning process - it's the guest list. Trying to keep your numbers in check without blowing the budget or getting offside with the in-laws is enough to send even the most sensible bride into a spin. Let's be real, not every friend and family would get invited to your wedding so be realistic.

However, before you draw up a list, make sure you have a budget first. Once you've determined your budget - and chosen your venue accordingly - you'll be in a position to draft the guest list, unless of course, your budget is boundless in which case you can start with a list of everyone you'd ever dreamed of inviting then set about finding a venue (or a football field) to fit.

Of course politics always plays a part, and if your parents or in-laws-to-be are paying for the whole shebang, or a sizeable part of it, it's going to be pretty tough to tell them they can't invite their best friends/neighbours/great aunts or bridge partners. However, don't let your parents and in-laws bully you. When it comes down to it, this is your wedding

Make an A-list and a B-list. Having two lists is how you'll get to invite the most people without actually raising your budget or finding a larger venue. Here's how it works: Your A-list is made up of the must-invites who you couldn't imagine not having at your wedding, like your family and close friends. They'll receive your first round of invitations. Your B-list is still guests you really want to be there, so don't put just anyone on it. 

Or, you could follow the British trend and invite a select number of close friends and family to enjoy the sit-down meal at your reception - if you're having one - and then invite a wider group (perhaps including work colleagues or more distant rellies) to join you for drinks and dancing a little later on, if your venue allows.

It may seem obvious, but more than anything else, guests cost money. While your dress, the DJs and the cars all come with a set price tag, the guests don't. The more you have the more you'll see a spike in the cost of food and beverages, table centrepieces, chair decorations, drinks, serving staff.....and so much more.

And prepare yourself for potentially awkward conversations by coming up with a polite, but firm, response when people confront you and ask why they were not invited. You can say something along the lines of, "Of course we'd love to invite everyone, but unfortunately with the venue space and our budget, we aren't able to." Then, take the conversation in a totally different direction.


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