How many brides and grooms out there are willing to admit that they jump for joy every time they get a “Declines with regret” RSVP in the mail? If at least half of you didn’t raise your hands, you’re big fat liars. With the cost of weddings today, and the cost of living rising while the amount of money we’re earning is shrinking, every dollar counts at your wedding.
And that means that nobody wants to pay to feed their cousin’s on-again, off-again loser boyfriend at $150 per person at the wedding reception.
I am still annoyed with a couple of very specific people who RSVP’d “Yes” for themselves AND A DATE to our black-tie wedding reception at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. and then failed to show. I did the math and figured we’d wasted more $2,000 because people were too damned rude to attend an event to which they had RSVP’d “Yes.” I think there are people who are afraid to say no, and instead they figure it’s better to make up a last-minute excuse. Well, as the one who has picked up that tab before, let me assure you that we would MUCH prefer you simply decline the initial invitation. Look, we even put a stamp on the envelope for you!
Keeping in mind that every wedding guest costs the average bride and groom somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 to $2,000 (remember, some weddings are made up of lots of different events over a period of days), it’s only natural that wedding planners have developed some strategies to help drop the number of wedding guests to something you can afford:
1) Only invite current friends. If you haven’t talked to somebody in more than a year, or don’t stay in current contact via email, skip them. Being Facebook friends does not qualify you for a wedding invitation.
2) Just because you were invited to a friend’s wedding at some point in the past 10 years does not automatically put that friend on your guest list. The only invitations you’re obligated to send would be to a couple whose wedding you attended within the past calendar year.
3) Give each set of your parents a specific number of invitations they may send. This is actually the number of invitations you will send for them, not the number of seats they are entitled to fill.
4) You can have A and B guest invitation lists, but you must handle these carefully. Send out your first group of invitations (A-list) and include the “must invites” you’re really hoping won’t come. As soon as you get those first regrets in the mail, you can start sending out the B-list in order of importance. Remember, this is not a good way to REDUCE your guest list, but it can help keep the numbers down. The best way to keep your numbers low is to invite the number of people you can afford to host at your wedding and pray that half of them decline the invitation. A and B lists can get you in a lot of trouble if you time them badly and mix anything up.
5) You can have some firm rules about who gets to bring a date. The general rule is that you must invite any significant others who live together or who have been a known couple for a long time. Even if you have never met your college roommate’s boyfriend, if they’ve been together four years, it’s tacky not to “and guest” him. On the other end, you can tell all your friends up front that you’re not inviting anybody they’ve been dating less than a year unless they get a ring before your wedding date. There is no obligation to “and guest” anybody you know is single out of pity.
6) If somebody asks to bring a friend along, say no. Don’t start something you can’t finish when three more of your girlfriends break up with people and want to bring “dates.”
7) No children are invited unless they are actual wedding party participants (ring bearer or flower girl). You pay for kids just like you pay for adults (per person), and it adds up quickly. Also, you need to think about whether your friends will supervise their little darlings all evening or whether they’re more likely to let them tear all over the yard of your $3.5 million wedding villa while they stand aside and suck down booze you paid for. Just sayin’.
8) Don’t invite anyone from work unless it’s an obligation or a good friend. Guest lists are often pumped up by well-meaning couples who don’t want to leave out any of the seven partners they report to, all of whom would probably have preferred not to receive the invite in the first place.
9) Depending on how small you want to keep your guest list, you can always invite your friends only and tell your parents that it’s “family only” for their lists. But this could turn around and bite you in the fanny because, more often than not, it’s your mom’s best friends who have loved you all your life who want to host your bridal showers. They can’t do that if you’re not inviting them to your wedding.
10) The absolute best, surefire way to keep your wedding guest list under control is to have a destination wedding. Someplace that neither you nor your fiancé, nor either set of your families, lives. That ensures that only the people you want to have with you on your big day will come so far to celebrate with you. I know girls who’ve gone so far as to get married outside of the United States because they knew it would prevent a guest who couldn’t leave the country from attending (sneaky, sneaky). Keeping that in mind, Puerto Rico is always an excellent option because you don’t need a passport to get here!