Conflicted about our guest list

posted 3 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
460 posts
Helper bee

Unless you have a “down payment” from your parents to cover each person they said to invite, do NOT invite anyone you cannot personally afford to host. Too many a thread has been posted by a frantic bride who must find a few extra thousand bucks to cover head count she was sure would not show up, and was promised money that never appeared to cover those extra invites. If you feel uneasy about it, it is probably a bad idea. Go with your instincts on this one!

Also, I assume your wedding isn’t a gift grab, and that is exactly what I would tell my parents who said to invite so-and-so because they will send a nice gift but probably not show up … Heck, I would be offended that they would suggest I do it for those reasons! Super rude!

Post # 4
606 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

I agree with the above.  Unless you have cash in hand from your parents or can spare to pay for the extra guests yourself, don’t do this if you feel uneasy about it.


Post # 5
3 posts

I’m going through your exact situation right now. My fiance and I planned a small-medium wedding and my parents and other close family members got crazy with the guest list. The main thing the said over and over was “It’s nice to send an invite. They are not coming anyway”. My mom even offered to pay. Now those people who were “not coming anyway”, well a few so far, are actually coming. And guess who doesn’t remember they offered to pay?

Don’t agree to it, unless the money to pay for extra guests is already in your hand, period. If your family doesn’t hand over the cash or promises to give it to you if the extra guests actually come, that’s a no go. Be firm and tell them no!

Post # 6
1327 posts
Bumble bee

I’m with you because I’m super budget-conscious – by nature and also because event planning is part of my job.  One of my top rules is never to invite more people than you can comfortably accommodate in your budget.  Assuming people won’t come is too much of a gamble and if money’s not there, it’s not there!

Here’s what I do for work if there are lots of possible people to invite but limited space.  Say our ceiling is 80, like yours.  We’d do maybe 2-3 “waves”.  I’d invite 80 of our top clients (so, your closest family members and friends) way in advance – as in several months.  Give it 1-3 months, depending on the cushion you’ve given yourself.  If there are a lot of declines, I’d invite the second tier of clients.  Give that 1-3 months, and then if I have to, invite one last wave.  If wave 1 or 2 fills up the 80, you’re done.  No more invites. 

The main problem is many people wait to the last minute to respond – so I have to follow up.  I’ll call people as the end of my waiting period (the 1-3 months) approaches to get a definite answer.  It’s important to call instead of emailing.  If they don’t get back to me in 1-2 weeks – really, it’d be rude not to return a phone call in a whole week but I’d give them some wiggle room – I’d see how many people haven’t responded.  Say only 60 people respond – that means I still have room for 20.  I’d invite the top 10 people from the second wave.  Anyone from the first tier who doesn’t respond by the end of my waiting period – if we really want them to come we’ll call again, but usually we’ll just assume they’re not coming.  So I can invite the next 10 from wave 2.

Hope this helps!

Post # 7
539 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

I have a question for you (or anyone who B lists ). Say Aunt Martha and her 4 kids decline because Johnny’s playoff game is that same weekend. You give those 5 spots to someone else. Then Martha calls with good news, they’ll be able to make it after all! Now what? You un-invite them? Un-invite your second string guests? Or worse, she tries calling you but cant get in touch/message gets lost/tells your mom who forgets to tell you, so they just show up at the wedding. You’re now over your guest list.

Post # 8
1327 posts
Bumble bee

@OkieHeart:  Well, since SO and I are paying for our own wedding with no assistance, there’s no way we’d hand over the guest list to our families and let them add to it (which is where OP’s problem originates).

In terms of late replies – this is why I recommend calling personally to confirm declines.  If I’m on a really tight budget and I absolutely can’t go over, I’d let them know politely during that phone call that since they’re declining, we will be inviting a few others we hoped could come but we weren’t sure we could accommodate, or something like that.  This eliminates self-screwage. 😛

If I somehow forgot to let them know their seats were going to be taken during that phone call (highly unlikely), I’d have to apologetically let them know that the spots we saved for them for the reception have gone to someone else (but if there’s still room, I’d tell them they’re still most welcome at the ceremony). :/  A budget’s a budget – you can’t fight with your pockets.

This is also why careful planning is an art!  You’ve got to plan well to eliminate problems later.

Post # 10
46 posts
  • Wedding: September 2013

@ChicFoodist:  “This eliminates self-screwage.”  LOL 🙂


@BellJarBride:  I’ve already made the mistake you are worried about. I wanted a max of 75 in attendance, so I set the guestlist at 85.  After my FI and both of our families added to the list, it ballooned to 151.  I freaked out, obviously, because that’s almost double!  But, my parents have gifted us a set amount to pay for the wedding, which we’ve been sticking to and are projected to be slightly under budget only 5 weeks out (yay!).  My FI has said he will pay for any extra people that show up, but I would have much rather not paid anything for our wedding since my parents were so gracious.   I had found some peace about it all, but now I’m super worried.  I’ve been hearing that some of the people who “aren’t going to come” (says FI), are actually planning to come.  


We do have a few factors on our side that should serve as guest control.  1. We had a less than 3 mo engagement, so we didn’t do save the dates.  2. We’re having a Friday evening wedding at 5pm. 3. Most of our guest list lives at least 2 hours away, and people around here seem to think that’s far to drive for a wedding. 


I guess we will see what the RSVPs have in store.   


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