This is one topic that always brings up debate. Children at weddings. Some people love it. Some people hate. Some people regret their decision either way; some don’t. There’s no right or wrong, but still everyone has strong opinions.
Tag Archives: guest-list
We’re getting ready to order our invitations, so it’s time to finalize our guest list! I thought we were done after sending out save the dates, but I was wrong—in the past few months, we’ve heard that some people will definitely be coming, a handful will not be able to make it, and my parents have added some new guests to the list. Thankfully, the changes don’t bring us anywhere near the size of Miss Filly’s magically expanding guest list, but they have sparked a new conversation topic: should we have a B list?
I know, I know—B lists are awful, terrible things that should never be mentioned and definitely never be used. When you start ranking your guests, you run the risk of people feeling like they’re just a placeholder or they’re not as important as other guests. I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel that way, especially someone who I truly wanted with me on my wedding day! But B lists can be tempting. They make it possible to invite all the family and friends you couldn’t originally squeeze into your venue and budget. If you’re a bride who feels bad excluding others, B lists are a great way for you to work those people back in.
If that circle had a B list, this kid would totally be on it. / Image via Breadwinning Mama
My mom, on the other hand, would probably be fine with a last-minute invitation from a friend, especially if it was her friend’s child getting married. She’s happy to go and support the couple when she can, even if that means just going to the ceremony. (Basically, she takes things a lot less personally than I do!) I think most of her friends feel similarly, so when my mom asked if she could invite other people once the original guest list said no, I wasn’t sure what to do.
I spent a lot of time thinking about our options. Is a B list really that bad if no one ever finds out about it and you’re genuinely inviting people you want to have there (instead of inviting them to meet a minimum or to get a gift)? I honestly think that a B list can be done well and can sometimes be useful. Of course, you can always choose a larger venue or have a less expensive wedding and use that money to invite more guests the first time around.
Since Monsieur P is from Southern California, a lot of his family and friends still live across the country from where we live. Since we are getting married in Pittsburgh, this means that nearly half of our wedding guests will be flying cross-country. This fact has impacted SO.MANY.ASPECTS of the wedding planning. For example:
- We know we want to host a bangin’ welcome/rehearsal dinner for all of our out-of-town guests to attend, and so we get to spend a little more time with them after they make such a big trip to be with us!
- We want to keep costs down as much as possible for the bridal party, since they have to make such a financial commitment to travel here already.
- We want to make the right choice for hotels so that our out-of-town guests have a budget-friendly option, enjoy exploring the city that we love, and have easy access to transportation for the wedding as well.
- We know that not everyone we invite will have the ability to travel this far to come to the wedding. And that’s sad, but ultimately we had to do what was best for us (and my sanity!), which meant having the wedding where we live.
Monsieur P’s family is no stranger to traveling cross-country for family weddings, however. In 2010 (after we celebrated our one-year anniversary), Monsieur P and I took our first trip (via airplane) together to attend his uncle’s wedding in Tampa, where I finally got to meet his mom and her side of the family.
All photos personal
The mister and me at the wedding venue, March 2010. Yes, I dyed my hair dark brown for a year of my life!
I knew it was only a matter of time before we got our engagement photos back from Mitch, so I needed to finalize the guest list. I had to make a few decisions before the guest list would be finalized.
Many blogs and websites have weighed in on the plus-one debate (Huffington Post, Bridal Guide, The Knot, and Emily Post), and they all boil down to the same answer: guests who are married, engaged, or living together should be invited as a couple. That’s what Mr. PB and I are sticking to for all of our guests, including our bridal party. We are going to be clear when we address our envelopes and we will be putting a “___ seats have been reserved in your honor” line on the RSVP card to help make this clear.
Similar to the plus-one debate, there are plenty of voices out there (Emily Post, The Knot, Wedding Etiquette for Dummies, Martha Stewart) and, unlike plus-ones, it’s a bit grayer. Some say to take an all or nothing approach, others say just the children in the bridal party and immediate family (if there are any), and others say it’s dependent on the time of the events. The approach that Mr. PB and I are taking for this one is only children in the bridal party or children of bridal-party members. Similar to the plus-ones, we are going to be using the envelopes and RSVP cards to communicate this.
I mentioned in my last post the forest that is my family. Unfortunately, some of the people in that forest will most likely not be in attendance on our wedding day.
One of the big ones that I have on my list of a hopeful is my mom. I lived with my mom most of my life, all throughout schooling and during most summers when I was in college. She always tried to help me in any way that she could, she spent a lot of time with me while I was growing up, and she encouraged anything I wanted to do or be. Throughout her whole life, though, she has been battling some mental demons, and they like to rear their ugly heads from time to time. She has an especially hard time around holidays and big events; plus, she doesn’t do well in social settings with people she doesn’t know. I would love to have her at our wedding and have her enjoy herself, have a good time. But, if I’m being real, she missed my high school talent shows, barely made it to my high school graduation, and never once visited my college campus, not even for my graduation. As much as I would enjoy having her there, the closer I get to the wedding, the less likely I feel she will be there.
A throwback picture of my mom and me / Personal photo
Another missing piece to the party will most likely be Beauty, Germany’s daughter. I’m not here to air anyone’s dirty laundry, but Beauty has been progressively removed her from our family over the years. For a while, I was able to have contact with my niece, and I loved watching her grow and spending time with her. When Mr. PB and I got engaged, I tried to talk to Beauty’s mom, hoping that things would turn around and Beauty could be a part of my big day. Unfortunately, things have gone in the other direction since then, and I can’t even talk to Beauty anymore. Beauty is smart, though—she knows she has an entire family that loves her. She also knows that I’m getting married and would love nothing more than to have her there.
Long ago, I made a guest list. Once Shamrock added his family & friends to the list, we were ready to start cutting. My plan was to aim high and make sure I didn’t miss anyone I might possibly want to invite, and then refine from there.
Our venue isn’t huge (the absolute max is 156), but we did know it would comfortably hold everyone we felt strongly about inviting. We both have pretty big families (I was kind of shocked to see it was 111), but I only have five local family members and Shamrock wasn’t sure how many of his family (who are a lot more local) would turn out for a second wedding.
So family is our biggest variable, but we also spent some time talking about which friends to invite. BM Mathlete repeated some great advice she got while making her invite list: Invite for your future. So think about who is important to you now, but also think about who is going to continue to play a role in your lives, even if you don’t know them well right now. So your neighbors at your brand new forever home? You’ll probably be getting to know them a lot better. The friends-of-friends you’ve hung out with a bunch now and have tons in common with? Might want to consider them too.
And then there’s reciprocating invitations. This one was pretty tough for me. I invited my sorority sister whose wedding I attended a few years ago. We invited the family members whose weddings we’ve been invited to. And I didn’t invite either of the women whose weddings I stood up in.
So, as you guys know, Stallion and I invited 241 people to our wedding. (I’m dying. SO. MANY. PEOPLE.) But how many of them will actually show up?
There are a couple different rules of thumb you can follow to estimate your wedding attendance:
- You can assume 100% of your guests will show. Obviously, this is unrealistic, but it gives you a nice cushion in your budget, which is always a good thing. We did this when looking for venues—better to have room to move around than to have everyone squished in like sardines, you know?
- You can follow the 80% rule. I’ve seen this statistic thrown around in pretty much every wedding planning resource on Earth, so it probably holds some water. According to this method, Stallion and I will have 192 guests attend the wedding.
- Destination wedding? Word on the street is that you can assume a 65% attendance rate. While Cape May isn’t what comes to mind when most people think of a destination wedding, it may as well be for our guests—the closest guests still have to travel two hours to get there. According to this method, we’ll have 157 guests make the trip.
- Got a mix of local and out-of-town guests? Combine the above attendance rates by taking 80% of your local guests and 65% of the out-of-towners. We don’t have any local guests, so this method doesn’t apply to us.
- Review each individual guest, assign them a statistical probability of attendance, and use the weighted head count to estimate your total attendance. Obviously, we took this route. Anything involving fun with Excel is a must-do in my book.
In the interest of full disclosure, I did not come up with this method myself. Actually, I thought I learned about it from another Bee blogger, but I can’t find anything in the archives. I first read about it back when Stallion and I got engaged, a year and a half ago, and I promptly filed it away in my brain without bothering to note where I found it. But wherever it came from, I’m sharing it with you all now, because I think it’s a pretty handy way to estimate your head count.
Back when Stallion and I got engaged, one of the very first things we did was put together our guest list. We put together our family, friends, and parents’ requests, and we had a list of approximately 175 people. Knowing that not everybody would actually attend, we figured that for budgeting purposes, we’d go with a 150 person head count. The end.
Some of you might remember Mrs. Panda writing about the phenomenon of “guest list creep,” and I’m here to tell you that it does exist. Our guest list blew up like poor little Violet Beauregarde.
Like Mrs. Panda, our creep happened so gradually that we didn’t realize what had happened until it was too late. People would mention how excited they were for the wedding, we’d think, “Oh, I guess they really want to come,” and we’d add them to the list. Our parents requested that certain people be added, and we happily obliged. Adding a couple or a family here and there didn’t seem to make a big difference until it was time to order invitations, and we realized that our manageable invitation list of 175 people now stood at 241.
I mentioned before that we were looking for a venue that would hold 120 guests. This was probably the most important factor for us, because there were some amazing spaces that could only hold 60, and we needed to know upfront that those spaces just weren’t an option. So—how did we get to 120?
Just after we got engaged, Moo and I came up with a list of people we definitely wanted to invite and asked each of our parents to do the same. Then I reminded everyone about the lists probably five billion times, because I’m very impatient and they didn’t understand why I wanted the list so early. (If you are at all like me, you should probably just explain yourself in the first place and set a deadline. It’ll make everyone happier!)
Once we had all the lists, we put them together and added on a few extra spots just in case—this brought us to around 130 people. We knew that we could get away with a space that would hold 120 people, but that our ideal space would hold 150—this would give us room for all of our definite invites, plus those we may have forgotten and all the other wonderful people who we would really love to celebrate with if the space and budget allowed.
If you look on wedding boards or Google, you’ll find that 80% is the most common rule for attendance rates. You might also find formulas to help you determine how many out-of-town guests will come versus how many local guests will come and how many guests that is total. These give me a headache, but in case you like numbers more than me, here’s one formula I found:
RSVP breakdowns are always fun!
I love it when bees give the hive an idea on the demographics of their guests—where they’re from, how many people are attending, how many declined, who will be coming from out of town, etc., etc. It’s such a good way to get a snapshot of the wedding and definitely does give some awesome insights into the guests and the wedding itself.
Unfortunately, that means using programs like Excel. And guys, I am really bad at Excel. Mr. Big is a pro at it, thankfully, so when I got this post underway, I turned to him for help. After some fiddling around, I managed to break down the RSVP list.
So without further ado, here’s the RSVP breakdown!
The Bighorns invited approximately 187 people to the wedding. Of the 187 people we invited, 43 of them declined, which means that our guest list sits at exactly 142 people (77% acceptance rate!). This means that approximately 23% of the people invited to our wedding declined to come.
Of the 142 people who accepted the invitation to the wedding, 98 will be attending the ceremony (69%), 58 will be attending the Chinese tea ceremony (40.8%), 26 will be going on the wine tour (18.3%), and 140 will be attending the reception (98.6%).
A total of 116 guests will be staying at the appointed guest accommodations, Crowne Plaza (81.7%), with 11 staying at other accommodations (7.7%) and 14 guests driving back home from the reception (9.9%).