Guest List Anxiety

posted 4 months ago in Guests
Post # 2
51 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: April 2019

I am with you on the anxiety and not wanting to offend people. Unfortunately I quickly learned that planning a wedding is an exercise in offending as many people as possible. Literally no matter what you do, some people will be upset. My dad has eight siblings and all have several adult kids each plus grandkids. My fiance has a ton of friends. We had a lot more people than I originally planned (about 150) – I invited all my family on both sides of my parents plus a lot of family friends and my fiance invited a lot of his friends, family, and coworkers.

What we did was have a 230pm church wedding with a basement reception of fruit, vegetables, sandwiches, and cake. This way we could invite a lot of people for a lower cost. Our food costs are about $1000 total for everyone (trays of food from a grocery store and sheet cakes from Costco) We are probably spending around $5000 total for the wedding and reception and considering our amount of guests, that is pretty good! 

As far as anxiety and worry, keep in mind that you are under no responsibility to fulfill other people’s vision of what your wedding should look like. You are not responsible for other people’s feelings and reactions to your wedding. People will get upset, offended, and disappointed. It’s really hard to deal with that emotionally but you literally cannot avoid it with wedding planning. Decide what you and your fiance can reasonably handle for a wedding and what you want and everyone will have to bend around it. 

It also helps to know that US people in general have become more demanding guests in recent years. I’m 40 and am surprised at how many modern people expect social events like weddings to be tailored around their unique wants and needs. Like people insisting on bringing their kids to adult-only events, demanding that their specific diets be catered to, and even wanting times/dates to move around to accomodate their schedules. Don’t be surprised if you encounter this: yes you have a duty to be a good hosts but guests have an equal duty to either decide to come to an event as it is arranged or bow out, not demand the event fit their needs and wants. 

It will be okay!


Post # 3
4285 posts
Honey bee

My advice is remember that no one cares about your wedding as much as you do.

It works for when you are disappointed that people aren’t prioritizing or are as interested your wedding as much as you thought or hoped they would.

It works for when you are stressing out about whether people are going to be offended over what amounts to a one day party for them.

Yes, it is special for you because it is what legally changes you to married, and everyone is happy for you, but for every one else it is pretty much a party.  Most don’t care nearly as much as you will think they do and it really isn’t all that dire.

As for how to start, you can either make your guest list starting with must-haves, then look at your budget, then decide what kind of wedding fits that amount of people on that budget (i.e. if your budget is $3000 and you have a list of 200, you are looking at a cake and punch affair mid-afternoon vs. An evening dinner with a budget of $30,000.)  You may still end up having to cut your guest list depending on budget.

Or you determine your budget, the kind of wedding you want, and then start deciding on the guest list based on what your budget allows for the kind of wedding you want, starting with your VIPs and other close people and then widening out the list as budget allows.  

Then you start looking at venues that can accommodate the number on your guestlist and budget.

As for barely interact except for Facebook people, I guess that is up to you and who you want to have a big old party with.  A reception is basically a big dinner party.  If you aren’t inclined to actually interact with these people in a social setting or invite them to a dinner party at your house on any other random Saturday, my take is why would you invite them to this?  If you don’t otherwise socialize in a meaningful way now, not way back in the day but now, I highly doubt they would even be expecting an invitation.  Your wedding will not be at the forefront of every one else’s mind like it is yours. There might be a handful that get offended no matter what you do, but that’s life. That’s going to happen with pretty much anything you do ever.  

Post # 4
578 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: London, UK

We have just had our engagement party and it will be pretty similar to our wedding guestlist, so I will tell you how we went about it.

Friends we haven’t seen in years but speak to occasionally? Nope.
Friends (including school friends) we see regularly (not necessarily often) and speak to often? Yep
Extended family (2nd/3rd cousins) we don’t see or speak to regularly but are in touch with and on good terms with? Yep
Family friends (eg, parents friends, adults we have grown up with) who we see regularly (not necessarily often) via our parents? Yep
Parents’ closest/best friends they have known forever that they do see regularly but we do not? Yep

And then obviously the people who took precedent over our guestlist were our friends and family who we see and speak to regularly and are very close to and know us well as a couple. It was a fairly big engagement party (just over 100 people), which is why we were able to extend invitations to parents’ close friends and more distant relatives. If we had decided to have a smaller party we would have stuck to our closest personal circles and families, and not included family friends etc.

For us personally our guestlist was more important than the venue. We worked out how many people we wanted there and then we found a venue that would accommodate that number. This is also what we have done for our wedding venue – we did not want to have to cut people out who we actually would have liked to be there, so we have prioritised finding a venue that can fit everyone we want to invite.

From what I understand (based on what our friends have done) people often pick a venue they love and construct their guestlist accordingly. I do sort of see why people opt to do this, but for us the people are more important than the place.

Hope some of this is helpful! Obviously it will all vary grearly for you based on what numbers you want to go with and whether you want a big or more compact day, I by no means think the way we did it is the right way, it was just the right way for us x

Post # 5
1319 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2019 - City, State

Budget first is my advice.  That will help you figure out what number you can afford, and that will then help you make decisions about who you will invite.

Post # 6
682 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2020

When we first did our invite list, we wrote down absolutely everyone we wanted there in a perfect world and unlimited budget. From there, we looked at who we ABSOLUTELY had to have (these people are called the VIPs). That will give you your minimum guest count.

From there, we looked at close friends/family who we see regularly and would feel disappointment if they couldn’t make it. They got added to the A list.

Everyone else got moved to the B list.

Some people have a dream venue in mind and base their guest count on what they can afford that way. We had our guest count in mind first and used that to pick a venue we could afford. But budget absolutely needs to be decided first to help you with these numbers.

Trust me, it gets easier to nix people once you see how pricey things get per person!

Post # 7
208 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2019 - Mountains

My #1 goal has been to limit drama. Identify your triggers for drama. I expect to have 1 problem guest, but I’m limiting it to that one person because its a family member. I have 2 friends I chose not to invite, not because I don’t like them, but they tend to have a lot of drama around them at all times. Fortunately they aren’t friends with too many other guests I’m inviting and I’m keeping the wedding small so the venue is a limiting factor too.

Post # 9
8060 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

alybe :  

Does “…a few other people who I suppose are on the B list” mean  people you will decide you can’t  invite  once you have done  the budget/logistics?  Or people who get invited only if someone  on the A list RSVP’s to decline?  

If it is the latter that’s a pretty sure way to offend . Jus sayin’…

Post # 10
848 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 1983

We decided on 100 guests. He invited 50; I invited 50. We learned not to invite a lot of cousins we didn’t care about, but only to invite the ones we did care about. 

Post # 12
457 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

Costs escalate quickly. The smaller the guest list the more easily you can spoil those who attend.

I would not invite friends I had not seen in years. 

Yes, many people will see it as just a party, but I would want to minimize this. Start by including people who care about the two of you and whom you care about. Exception to this for relatives. Prioritize relatives over friends. And unless you are determined to have a really small wedding, you probably will end up inviting some people just because they are family even if you are not close to them.

Yes people will get offended, but again there are ways to minimize. The main thing is, despite your excitement, keep as quiet about your wedding as possible for now. Don’t be talking about it non-stop at work with coworkers who may not be invited. Don’t blast your happiness all over social media – a great way to alert many people that they there is a wedding they are not invited to. Work out your plans with fiance only. Don’t talk with family about who you are inviting ask their advice. If you do, there is sure to be someone who guilt trips you or tells you that your plans should change. Don’t open the door. “We’re still working all that out” can be your answer if anyone asks.

Let people know of your plans when the invitations go out. By then it is too late to for people to nag you into changing them and a shorter time span for people to be offended.




Post # 13
848 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 1983

“My Fiance does have a lot of cousins, some of whom I don’t know at all really, but he says that he can’t invite some and not others….”

That’s what we thought, too. Later decided we’d been wrong. If he is close to them, that’s one thing.  If he’s not, why invite them because of a genealogical chart?

Post # 14
71 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

I’m so glad you are feeling better about your guest list! When my fiancee and I sat down to do ours we included our very best friends (friends we have had for years and will still be friends with in years to come), family and our parent’s close friends. Most of our family memebers have to travel here and I’m guessing a bunch of them won’t be able to make it. We are sending invites out early so if people can’t make it we can invite some more friends. It sucks not being to invite absolutely everyone but that’s just the way it goes. Like someone said earlier weddings are about offending people. I’ve recently offended mom because my fiancee and I don’t want children at the wedding and my mother in law was upset that she wasn’t helping more. My fiancee and I are doing pretty much everything and it’s not that we dont want to include her. Anyway good luck with the guest list and the rest of your planning!

Post # 15
75 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: February 2020

We orignially wanted to have a super small wedding, only immediate family and some close friends, like less than 20 people.  Well we made that list and both were disappointed in some of the people we had to exclude.  We then started making a list with everyone we would both want there, that quickly got to about 75 people not including some of my extended family which would have been about 30 people. I was having major anxiety about having a wedding that big and spending all that money for one day.  What we have decided is to do about 40 people.  There are lots of people we can’t invite but apart from immediate family, the criteria is people that we talk to or see on a regular basis and that we are both close to.  We are each picking 20 for our list.  Half of mine is family and only 2 on his are family so my hope is that he has some room on his list for me to sneak in a couple of people.  My parents also haven’t offered to pay for much so I don’t feel bad at all for not letting them invite people.  

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