Hopefully by now, you’ve read my first installment of Wedding Planning 101. You’ve got some direction for the ceremony and reception, you’ve worked out a budget, and you’ve secured a date. Hopefully, you’ve started reaching out to potential vendors and have had some success. What’s next? It’s time to think about your guests: who’s invited, who’s not, who’s a VIP, and how you should thank them for their attendance.
The Bridal Party
These VIPs are friends and family members- typically around your age- who would be willing to help wherever you need. They should also be outgoing and friendly as they will need to greet the rest of your guests and set the tone of your wedding. Here are a few things to think about:
- The bigger the bridal party, the more it slows things down. Imagine having to wrangle 20 people together for photos, events, and announcements. I did it and have no regrets, but it’s not the easiest.
- Attitude is everything, so pick people who want to be there for you. Friends who have a tendency to get sour, moody, and difficult are better suited as regular guests.
- You can’t make everyone a bridesmaid or groomsmen, so don’t feel obligated to. You can kindly explain your choices to anyone who feels they were left out. If they’re your true friends, they’ll understand.
- Don’t be afraid to break the rules! Men can be Bridesmen and women can be Groomsmaids. It’s your day, so you do you, boo!
The Guest List
Creating a solid guests list can be pretty tricky. While you don’t want to offend people by not inviting them, this is not the time for a reunion. Speak to your fiancé and his or her family to come up with your maximum number of guests. Rules to abide by:
- The bigger your guest list, the more expensive your wedding is. Keeping the guest list small can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
- Expect about 10% of guests invited to RSVP “no.”
- If you haven’t talked to them in years, don’t invite them.
- If you visit their hometown and don’t feel the need to meet up, don’t invite them. (And vice versa.)
- If they are going to cause drama and ruin your day, don’t invite them.
- Only give +1s to those in serious or long-term relationships, unless you’re okay with strangers attending your wedding.
Creating a seating chart sounds stressful, but you have to remember that your guests will only be sitting down for dinner for an hour or so. Here are some guidelines to make it easier on you:
- Make sure each guest has at least one close friend or family member at their table.
- Don’t force people to sit with strangers at dinner. They can mingle on the dance floor or at the bar!
- Putting singles at the same table is fine, as long as they have a wingman or wingwoman there with them.
- Use an Excel Sheet to organize the seating chart. This way you can easily change things, if necessary. I created mine to reflect an aerial view of our tent (names blurred out for obvious reasons.)
Little tokens of appreciation are expected, but don’t feel that you have to spend too much. A little something to show your thanks goes a long way. I love to repurpose things, so I used skeleton key bottle openers that I attached to hang tags. This is how my guests found the “key to their seats.”
I also provided gold photo strip frames as I had a photo booth by the dance floor. This way, my guests had a cute way to display their photo strips at home.