Bullshit-free bride: Curating the guest list

bullshit free bride nzmuse With a wedding venue found and a date set (May, and luckily I was flexible – i.e. had trouble choosing a date – as it wound up being dictated by availability), the next step post-booking was rallying the troops.

We’re limited to 50 people at our chosen wedding venue (a deliberate choice we both rejoiced in).

I honestly did not think this would present much difficulty. Our nearest and dearest do not add up to a huge number.

But once family, plus ones, and group dynamics were taken into account, I was forced to pare down.

Even with only very immediate family included, that still added up to almost 20 (damn his large brood!) and there are certain friend groups that come as a package. You know? Inviting one means inviting them all. The issue of plus ones was also a struggle. Those who had invited us to their weddings obviously both needed to be invited to ours. Other long-term relationships, likewise.

I think we’ve finally nailed it, though – and if there are a few declines, there is a vague B-list waiting in the wings to be called upon.

I also stuck to my guns on online invites. This is 2012, after all. I work in online media. And digital RSVPs will make my life SO much easier. Saving trees and cash are just the icing.

Figuring out the best way to go about it wasn’t so easy. I started a Weddingwire website, but couldn’t see an obvious way to send out direct email invites (and the RSVP function on the site was incredibly awkward; I wouldn’t subject anyone to it by choice). I then signed up at myinvites,  but I wanted to personalise my emails with names, and send out some to couples/families rather than to each individual. Again, I couldn’t see a clear way to doing that. So I finally turned to mywedding.com, which thankfully has a much more straightforward RSVP function. It also has more intuitive website building (though both sites are very 1990s in their back-end builders) and the option to email guests from within. DONE.

Also, I’ve hinted at this before, but we were planning on a dry wedding. Not dry as in weather-wise (this is Auckland, and this will be Auckland in autumn) but alcohol-free. Neither of us are big drinkers, and I most definitely will not be drinking on the day - even if I wanted to, vanity alone would stop me.

But the sole reason behind that is the fact there are certain family members it would be unthinkable NOT to invite – people who cannot drink like civilised humans.

Not as in ‘get pissed and crack inappropriate jokes’ as I understand awkward uncles often do (so I hear). Not as in ‘a few too many glasses of wine and get overly maudlin or fall off the chair’. No, as in ‘get drunk, start fist fights with anyone around you, punch holes in the wall, drive off and total your car’. It is guaranteed. I’ve seen all this happen at family occasions – granted, not all of the above happened in any one night; I’m consolidating multiple disasters into one example – but you get the idea.

This is not joking stuff – this is bypassing all jolly social norms and going straight to Unacceptable Town – and I was not prepared to tolerate even the possibility of such behaviour at my wedding. Sorry if I sound like a pompous schoolmarm, but it’s not only a matter of ruining a once-in-a-lifetime day, but possibly racking up a large repair bill in my name to boot. And it’s not like you can allow *almost* everyone to drink, but ban a couple of people specifically from doing so.

As I say, these were immediate family, and therefore not optional when it came to the guest list. But with other, very recent circumstances taken into account, they have in fact apparently been blacklisted to the point that they don’t automatically qualify an invite. I have mixed feelings about this, as you can probably imagine, but there’s a lot of relief in there. It’s not impossible that they’ll sort their acts out and earn a place in the next six months, I guess. But in the meantime, I now feel safe in loosening up and making it BYO.

On a slightly less heavy note, I now have to figure out what to do about my bridal party (I think we have decided that we WILL have them).

I originally planned to ask my three closest friends (all guys), but in a recent catchup with my best girlfriend, she volunteered to possibly organise a hen’s night for me (horrendous term … SO much worse than stag do, and one case in which I definitely prefer the Americanised ‘bachelor/bachelorette party’) after I said I wasn’t planning on having one. In which case, maybe I should ask her to be in my bridal party. Maid of honour, even? Now that she’s finished with university and has a lot more free time, I’m confident she can commit to it – not that there’s really anything to commit to, in all honesty. I can’t think of anything I would ask her to do, aside from show up on the day.

In that case, do I have a mixed bridal party? Scrap the guys entirely, and ask one of my other closer girlfriends to partake? I also have to factor in T’s two nieces, whom I said could be flower girls. I’m not planning on having flowers, though, so might have to think of something else for them to do.

Anyone have fun guest list anecdotes to share?

7 thoughts on “Bullshit-free bride: Curating the guest list

  1. Totally feel your pain in narrowing down that list. We are currently planning our wedding and also deliberately chose a site with a max 30 guests. Now that we look at it, 30 is a lot tighter than we had imagined. I guess I keep forgetting that most people come in pairs…

  2. I kept my guest list to 50 people, too. That meant not inviting any of my cousins (my father’s brother had 8 children!), but I never heard a complaint from them about it. I think at a certain point people get tired of going to weddings. Yes, there’s usually free food and drink, but you have to give up a day, get dressed up, and bring a gift. So, I’m sure they were secretly relieved to not to either decline (and feel guilty if they didn’t send a gift) or drag themselves to a wedding of someone they weren’t super close to. My dad’s siblings and their plus ones were invited, but that was where I cut things off. The ex-husband had a very small family with only a mother and step-brother (plus spouse) to invite.

    As for the bridal party, I had my sister as my matron of honor and my teen niece as a “junior” bridesmaid since she really wanted to be part of my wedding. My (now ex-) husband had his closest friend as best man, and that was it. There didn’t seem to be a need for a balanced wedding party and no one got upset. I did find it helpful to have their support day of. They helped me get ready (sister did my hair and make up since I really suck at that stuff) and kept things running smoothly like gathering guests for the cake cutting, etc.

    We did serve booze, but only beer, wine, and champagne for toasting. Your idea to do BYO sounds fine. The point of a wedding is to make a public declaration of your partnership and guests are there to witness and support you. With that in mind, all the other stuff — food, drink, dancing, etc. — is really secondary and by keeping it simple you’re reinforcing that. You’re really doing well with keeping this wedding stuff in line! Keep it up!

  3. I think it’s completely acceptable to have guy friends in your wedding party; I think it’s becoming more of a mornal thing these days. In fact, a guy I went to high school with recently got hitched and he didn’t have a single male in his wedding party – he had “groomswomen.”

  4. Oh gosh. Guestlists. I know exactly what you’re going through. We want to keep it to 70 but at this moment it’s looking closer to 100. I’m still on the fence about whether I should invite some work friends or no. I do have one work friend making my cake, and I can’t just invite her, I need to invite others from the group, so ya it gets complicated. Also I had to swap one of my bridesmaids for another (awkward), and I’ve got three girls and one guy in my party and my BF has three guys and one girl in his party (it just worked out like that somehow). We aren’t doing a dry wedding but I definitely do have some guests who like to drink which I’m a bit concerned about. I think I’ll just cut the bar off alcohol after 11pm or something. My wedding’s in May too, how fun! Happy planning!

  5. Oh, gosh.I do NOT envy you this wedding planning. But I also sort of do. It sounds like fun to have it exactly the way you want.

    Anyway, I’m impressed that you got it down to 50 people – my mom & I counted my family and that’s 40 alone (just the people in my family I care about) – then there’s the boy’s family..ugh!

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