It would be perfectly lovely to have the funds and space to invite everyone to your wedding from that coworker that you barely know three cubicles over to distantly related cousins and their plus ones. For most of us, however, there are budget restrictions, people we don't particularly care for but feel we ought to include, space restrictions at the chosen venue, and too many other possible limitations to list. It isn't fun to cut people from your dream wedding list, but sometimes it must be done. Here are a few answers to the most commonly asked guest list questions.
Q: My wedding will be very small. What do I tell people that will not be invited?
A: This is very simple. You tell them exactly that - your guest list is small - limited by funds and space available, so you are only able to invite close family and friends. Don't get too caught up in social obligation or feelings of guilt. It is perfectly understandable to want only those you are most intimately connected with to witness such an emotional event in your life. Your not-so-close friends and distant family will understand this. They may even feel awkward attending if they do not know your group of guests well.
Q: Can I invite guests to the reception, but not the ceremony?
A: It is perfectly acceptable to invite guests to the reception and keep the ceremony private. You may not, however, invite guests to the ceremony and then ask them to leave before the reception.
Q: Can I invite guests to the pre-wedding parties that will not be invited to the wedding?
A: Unfortunately, it is not acceptable to expect guests to come to your bridal shower, engagement party, or other wedding related event if they will not be invited to the wedding.
Q: How can I politely request that children be left at home?
A: If you have chosen not to include children in your wedding, do not list them or the words "and family" on the invitation. This is not enough for some people, however. While it is considered poor etiquette to say "No Children" on the invitations you can include phrasing such as "An adult only reception to follow." The most socially correct way is to enlist family and friends to let everyone know by word of mouth. Just be aware that this may mean some parents cannot or will not attend as a result.
Q: How do I prevent guests from bringing dates?
A: Only including invited guests on the invitation is usually enough to discourage plus ones. Remember to always include spouses as well as live-in or long term partners. However, there are those that do not understand this etiquette rule and will assume a date is acceptable. Crashers are almost inevitable and must be accepted with grace.
Q: How do I decide who to cut?
A: When making your guest list, organize it into priority groups. First priority could include immediate family, significant others of the bridal party, and close friends. Second priority could be extended family, followed by coworkers and acquaintances, and finally friends and colleagues of the parents. Your groups may look a little different depending on who it is most important for you to spend your day with. If cuts become necessary, make them group by group. This way you aren't inviting some coworkers but not others, or this third cousin but not that third cousin. Also keep in mind when making guest lists cuts that 15-20% of guests will decline your invitation.
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