Your wedding will go down in history as the most wonderful day of your life. It is a time for all of your friends and family to come together and witness your happiness and share in your joy. You might have wonderful dreams of every last friend and relative, from your grade school buddies to your third cousin Mel, being present at your wedding. If you have the money (and room!) to accommodate such a big crowd, feel free to invite them all. But if space is limited, and you are on a budget, scaling your list down may become necessary. Here are some hints for creating your guest list:

First of all, sit down with your fiance and discuss your budget and the location of your wedding. Are you getting married in a huge church, or in a tiny chapel where seating is limited? Are you going to be wed outside in a park, or at your family home? How much money can you afford to spend on extra seating if you need it? And how much will it cost to feed everyone if you are planning to have a reception? Call someone at the locations you are considering and confirm the exact number of people that the church and reception hall can accommodate.

Make a list with your fianc鮠Write down EVERY person that you can both think of that you would like to attend your wedding. Include family, friends and co-workers. Talk to members of your families, and find out whom they wish to have attend as well. This process can take awhile, as you may remember to add in people later that you had originally left out. Look over your holiday card list and address book for people whom you may have forgotten about.

Once you have your list and a general idea of how many people you can afford to invite, take a good look at your numbers and see how closely they match up. If your church and reception hall can hold 150 people and you have 175 people on your list, talk to the management at your facility and see how many “extras” will be allowed in (if any). Be realistic about the number of guests you are planning on. Are all 175 people really going to be able to come? Are some of your guests “courtesy invites”, like your friend who lives 300 miles away? And if you are getting married on or around a holiday, potential guests may already have other plans for the day.

If you are considerably over the number of people that you can honestly invite, you will need to do some paring down. Ask your mom if having her co-worker there is really that important to her. Ask yourself if having every last member of your Sorority present is really necessary. Take a look at that holiday card list again; if you never see or speak to those people except at Christmas, would they be offended if you did not invite them to the wedding? Remember that you can send out “wedding announcements” after your marriage has taken place to family and friends that you could not invite to the big day.
It is also important to remember that you should not invite people to pre-wedding festivities (like showers) if you are not going to be able to invite them to the wedding.

Since most reception halls and caterers do not need a final “head count” until the week before the wedding, you have the option of creating what is called an “A/B” list. Make two groups on your list: the people who you want to be there more than anything, and the people who you would like to see there, but you would not be devastated if they couldn?t make it. Mark group one as your “A” list, the most important people, and group two as “B”. A good rule of thumb for sending out your invites is 30 to 60 days before the wedding. Send out your entire “A” list invites first, and wait for your responses to come back. For every “no” response that you get, immediately send out an invite to someone on your “B” list. It is important not to make it obvious that someone on your “B” list was second choice. In other words, don’t send out a “B” list invite a week before your wedding!

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