Our wedding is in about nine months, and since the early stages of planning, we knew that there was going to be some issues with the guest list. I have a huge family and a few close friends, while my fiancé is completely the opposite. He has a very tiny family and tons of friends. Our guest list has about 240 people on it—much more than my parents can afford to pay for. To add to this issue, my fiancé feels that all of his friends need to bring a date. That would probably put our guest list at 300 people! So what I would like is to have only married or engaged people be allowed to bring their significant others, and maybe those who have been in long-term relationships. But I don’t think it is necessary for every single person to bring a date, especially since his friends are all friends with each other, so it’s not like they won’t know anyone there. I have told him that it’s just not feasible for everyone to bring a date, and that my parents can’t afford it. However, instead of understanding he just pouts and says that he just won’t invite those people at all then, because “they won’t want to drive all the way here alone.” Anyway, that’s just a small part of the problem…
Bees, I feel like this is another one of those super polarizing topics where everyone has an opinion. Myself included, of course.
To kid or not to kid? That is the question.
There isn’t one right answer for everybody here. But for Stallion and me, the right answer is that we will be having an adults-only wedding. We’re holding firm at an 18-year age minimum—we’d do 21, but BM K will only be 20 when the wedding rolls around. Way to mess up my rules, K.
When deciding whether or not to include kids, one of the biggest concerns is financial—even with special (read: less expensive) kids’ meals, it adds up quickly! If we were to invite the kids of all our guests, we’d be looking at another 25–30 mouths to feed. And we’re not even close with any of these kids, to boot. I mean, we’re not even having kids in our wedding party.
And then there are the potential behavior issues, which Mrs. Zebra can attest to. Even the best behaved kid can have a bad day, you know?
We decided very early on that we weren’t going down the “child-free wedding” route. Mainly because having kids at our wedding wouldn’t actually be a problem, and it would probably cause more problems to not have them there.
There are only four kids under the age of 10.
There are only four “tweens” between the ages of 10 and 15.
Families are travelling and we didn’t want to have to ask them to leave their kids behind.
There are no babies in either of our families.
Plus, Jack loves kids at weddings. He thinks they are hilarious and says that some of the best photos of weddings are those that are of the kids.
Here are just three of Luke’s pictures that we absolutely adored.
When we sent our save the dates I thought we were done with the dreaded guest list. We had our list drafted for a while, cross-checking Facebook with daily interactions and whatnot. We thought of everyone and then had the hard part of deciding how big our list could be and how many people we needed to cut.
We originally wanted to give a plus-one to everyone, but as space issues started to worry me we decided to only give them to known relationships. When all was said and done our guest list had 158 people on it. Our invitations go out in just a few weeks, and I am finalizing all the bits and pieces, which is simultaneously stressful and cathartic.
Image via someecards
Well, as everything in wedding world seems to go, things aren’t so simple. In the last week we have added six people (three couples) to the list. Six! We are already way over capacity (now inviting 164 when our venue seats 120), and adding three invitations is really going to cut into my wiggle room.
Last week, I showed you guys the wedding website I created using WeddingWire. The main purpose of the site in my mind was to offer an online RSVP option. I’ve yet to receive a wedding invitation that offers online RSVP’ing, but I would seriously be SO excited! First of all, guests can reply instantly without ever having to leave the comforting, radioactive glow of their laptops to find the nearest mailbox. I also figured this would significantly reduce the number of late or forgotten RSVPs that I would then be forced to track down in the weeks leading up to the wedding. Since people could answer straight away, I thought they were less likely to throw the invite on top of their mail pile and forget about it. (Oh, how wrong I was!) WeddingWire also sends you an instant notification every time you get an RSVP (instant gratification FTW!), which was fun, though I’ll admit not nearly as thrilling as getting actual paper mail. Before we continue, allow me to let you in on a little secret I wish somebody had told me when I was planning my wedding. No matter how easy you make it for your guests to RSVP, there will still be people who can’t be bothered to do it. I’m not saying that I get it, but it’s just a fact of life. Seriously. Just accept it and move on, for your own sanity. There is nothing you can do about it. What you CAN do is plan ahead and leave yourself enough time to chase down the stragglers.
Image via someecards.com
So, here is the Waterfall RSVP card:
Some of my favourite posts to read have always been about invitation breakdowns. I always found them so entertaining and informative! So, I’m paying it forward. Without further ado, I give thee The Waterfall Invitation Breakdown! (I hope you read that last part in an ominous voice.)
If you recall, early on in the planning process, we butted heads with my parents about the guest list, because Mr. Waterfall and I wanted to keep things intimate while they basically wanted to invite the whole world. Honestly, the guest list was the bane of my existence for the last two years of my life. It created so much drama, and I just wanted to be done with it. There was a lot of compromising and negotiating, but also many a tantrum thrown. Hive, it’s never easy accepting money from someone, and trust me, there are always strings attached. Any time I refused to invite someone that they wanted, my parents pulled out the money card. It was awful, and to be fair, I didn’t really notice the extra people we invited to appease them, since I spent most of my time surrounded by the people who mattered to me, so in hindsight, I should have saved myself the headaches.
Before we go on, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: we used a B-list. You see, we had a minimum of 150 people at our venue that we HAD to meet, but we also didn’t want to end up over-inviting and having to pay for 250 people, so we did rolling invites (basically a B and C list). I know the etiquette police are coming to get me, but it just made the most sense. We knew we had a lot of courtesy invites that needed to be sent out to people from out of town that probably wouldn’t be able make it, but you never know! So, we sent those invites out first, and would send out our local invites as the nos started trickling in. This way, nobody got offended and we were able to keep our numbers manageable.
Out of 233 invites sent, 159 were mine, 63 were Mr. Waterfall’s, and 11 were neutral (such as mutual friends and vendors). The initial breakdown looked like this:
Seating arrangements are not something I’m looking forward to. I’ve tried a few mock-ups, but since our RSVPs have only just started to roll in, I really have no idea who or even how many “whos” to expect.
Instead, I’ve been trying to finalize our head table. (Again, something that should be simple but which I’ve taken upon myself to make undeniably more difficult.)
In a perfect world, I’d have everyone sitting at one giant table a la the Queen’s dinner parties, but our venue doesn’t exactly allow for this type of setting.
Image via Daily Mail
One popular head table type that I am downright opposed to having is the sweetheart table.
I watched an old episode of How I Met Your Mother and heard Ted Mosby drop some knowledge.
“The wedding you set out to have is almost never the wedding you end up with.”
I can totally attest to this when it came to creating the guest lists for our weddings.
When creating the guest list for the American wedding I sat down and I pictured what I wanted my wedding to be like, which would be lots of smiles and laughing with our nearest and dearest in a very intimate affair. I wrote down the names of my closest family members and friends and presented it to my mother. She looked at my guest list of about 40 people and said, “Oh honey, this is all wrong.”
She proceeded to list family members that I had to add—family members who I haven’t seen or heard from in at least 10 years. I explained to her that I wanted an intimate wedding and I didn’t want to be introduced or reintroduced to people at my wedding. I wanted to laugh and dance with the people I love and not have a room full of strangers.
“Honey, what you have here is a guest list for a birthday party. Wedding guest lists are different. You have to invite the people you are supposed to invite, not just the people you want to invite,” she explained.
As I am quite well versed as to who is on our rather select guest list—I know for certain that I did not invite the Drama Llama or even send them a save the date!
Unfortunately what I didn’t realize was that someone we are inviting has been doing a little moonlighting.
Namely, Mama Leadfoot.
On Mom’s 50th birthday cruise: Miss Road Trip, Mama Leadfoot, Brother Speedy, Dr. Aunt, Brother Truck, & SiL Teacher | Personal photo
Have you ever been in one of those situations where you know you very specifically said A but the other party in the conversation seems to have heard D? That’s what must have happened all those times I said the following to Mom: “Just immediate family and close friends—no more than 50 people, max.”
I know I have yet to reveal our amazing venue, and I’ll get to that soon, I promise, but something happened along the way that changed everything…
I mentioned previously that Mr. Waterfall and I had originally intended to pay for the wedding ourselves, and seeing how he works in the public sector and I was in grad school at the time, we knew we couldn’t really afford too much.
While looking at venues, we were simultaneously drafting our initial guest list. We figured we could invite 100 people and split the guest list down the middle, 50 for his side, and 50 for mine. Seemed simple enough, and we would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling parents!
You see, we had asked my parents to compile their own wish list of guests, and were shell-shocked to find that their list alone contained over 160 people!
Any budget-savvy bride will tell you that the key to saving money is simply keeping the guest list small. Well, if my parents had their way, everybody and their sister would have gotten an invite to this wedding. I get that weddings are celebrations for the families as much as they are for the bride and groom. I mean, it’s their only daughter’s wedding, of course Mami and Papi Waterfall are incredibly excited about it and want to spread the joy around like a fungus, but still…
Step 1: Denial
Nah…they MUST be joking…they can’t actually have 160 people…can they? CAN THEY???
The guest list has probably been the biggest point of contention throughout this process. And maybe contention isn’t even the right word. It has just been really difficult to narrow down the people in our lives to those who would be invited to our wedding.
Here are some facts:
For a while I was going with the 20% rule, which meant we aimed to invite 150. The more I thought about it and talked to people, though, the more I realized this wasn’t going to work for us. Combine destination wedding with being forced to invite family I haven’t seen since I was a toddler, and we decided we should plan on a 30% decline rate.
This seems to be a pretty common debate in the wedding world—to invite kids or not? As you will learn, I have the world’s smallest family. This means I don’t have any little cousins our nieces or any other children I need to invite. We do, however, have two very special kids on the guest list—Mr. B’s son (M) and daughter (A). That was pretty much where we decided to end the list of underage guests. Pretty much…
At one point we thought about inviting the children of some of our guests who are friends with A & M. With the guest list tight as it was, though, we didn’t want to have to remove certain friends to make room for children. No kids of friends—decision made. We then thought about Mr. B’s sisters’ children. There are only three of them in total and they are Mr. B’s family—we easily figured out a way to make room for them on the list.
Oh, weddings. While intended to be days full of love and celebration, weddings bring out the crazy in people. It seems that even the most sane of people go totally off the rails in the months leading up to a wedding. While I’ve touched on the crazy before (and no, I’m not linking—I want to pretend these things never happened!), today I’m talking about those things. Yes, the RSVPs.
Let me tell you something about RSVPs—I never knew they were so complicated! I thought you receive an invitation, you look at your calendar, perhaps take a few other steps like talking to your place of employment and family members, and then you respond if you will or will not be attending. Oh, hive, let’s all laugh together at how wrong I was!
Personal photo / You see! I was excited to send these!
“Looking for cute and affordable favors? Put the treat of your choice in adorable boxes from Weddingbee Favors!”
I have one of the smallest families I have ever known. There are six of us. Mum, Dad, brother, sister, Grandma, and me. Six.
Jack has two of the biggest families I have ever known. He’s half Sicilian—so you can expect a large family on that side. Except it’s not his Sicilian family that’s the big one—it’s his English family. And these people see each other all the time.
Every single year a fireworks party is held at his Grandma’s house, and her five siblings arrive, each with their own children and grandchildren, and in some cases great-grandchildren! His mother is one of four, and one of her sisters has six kids of her own…that’s a lot of people!
So what do you do when you have a family this big? You have to put them into groups. The Immediate Family, the Close Family, and the Extended Family.
The Immediate Family. Mum, Dad, brother, sister, two grandmas, and grandad. Not bad.
I always love these posts from other bees, so I figured I’d give you a glimpse into our guest list and RSVP breakdown.
For the ceremony, our venue holds 100 at the absolute maximum. We knew we would get some declines, but we didn’t want to risk too much. Save some of my side of the family, we didn’t invite any “peripherals”—you know, the second cousins you never see, or old college classmates—and there’s not much else going on in February, so we were fairly confident that most people would be able to make it. We ended up inviting 108:
Whoops. I didn’t realize how skewed this was until I looked at it in a nice chart fashion.