How to Handle the Guest List

Ok, so you have 200 slots and about 500 people you wish you could invite. There are people who you are obligated to invite (oh family) and there are some of those obligatory invites who you’re sure won’t be able to come. Like you’re PRETTY sure that Uncle Billy won’t be able to make it because he hasn’t traveled beyond the grocery store in the past 5 years. But what if he CAN make it? What if he decides to make the trip? How on earth will that work with numbers on the guest list?!

Photo of Guest Seating Decor from The Wedding Lens

First: Breathe. Remember that your wedding day is about a celebrating your relationship with your friends and family.

Second: Start listing. List everyone. All 300 people. Everyone you might possibly want to invite or wish you could invite — even though there’s the possibility that you won’t be able to in the grand scheme of things.

Third: Of those people on the list, make a separate list of the absolutely 100% non-negotiable people who you WANT to be at your wedding to celebrate. This includes: Your best friend, your second best friend, and your college roommates. This does not include: Your parents’ friends who you feel obligated to invite. Got it?

Fouth: Check the numbers. Say now you have 150 of the 200 people you can invite. That leaves you 80 people left to invite. Huh? 80? But Natasha, you say, 200 – 150 = 50! Ah yes. BUT statistically a guest list of 200 people or LESS, there will be 15-20% of folks who do not come. With a guest list of 200 people or MORE, 20-25% won’t come.

Now, I have to forwarn. Not everyone is going to RSVP in a timely manner and some of those 15-20% or 20-25% won’t drop out til the last minute. But I assure you that you can safely invite 15% more than your highest number and you will be a-okay.

So this gives you a little more room to play with. You’ll have 80 people you can fill in with obligatory invites — be it your Uncle or your parents friends who have known you since you were born — and (gasp) anyone else you can/want to invite.

Fifth: If you are just stuck with those extra 80 people and how to handle them. I really recommend using a ranking system. That sounds awful, of course, to rank your friends and family. But it will make you feel better. ‘Cause if Uncle Billy really doesn’t come, then maybe you CAN invite your old buddy who you haven’t seen in five years. Maybe.

If you use a tier/ranking system, use an EARLY RSVP date so you have time to fill in the people who say no and you can (with tact) follow up with those you have not heard from so you can fill in their spots. And if you do the tiers, DO NOT print the RSVP deadline on the invitation. Do not. Otherwise either you have to print a whole new set for the new invitees OR you look like… someone who totally forgot to invite the guest until the last minute. Nice.

Here are some tips on how to cut down the guest list and how to handle the guest list when you’re not paying for the wedding (in other words — when other people are adding to YOUR guest list) and more guidance on wedding invitations (including how to tell people they can’t bring a date and/or their kids)

And here, my friends, is how to address these invitations!

Hope that helps! If you have any questions, just email me at natasha@theweddinglens.com and I’ll help ya out. 🙂

Good luck!

~ Natasha

Roundup: All Things About Wedding Invitations!

Recently I have had a few posts about how to write invitations and how to address them. It occurs to me that over all this time, we have LOTS of information on wedding invitations. And here, my dear friends, is the roundup:

When to Send Save-the-Dates and Invitations

Green Wedding Tips: Invitations!

What Goes Inside a Wedding Invitation

How to Word Your Wedding Invitation

Invitations & Bringing a Date to the Wedding

How to Tell Guests That There’s No Plus One

How to Tell Guests That Kids Can’t Come

Do you have to invite someone because you were invited?

How to Address Your Wedding Invitations!

Did I miss anything? Need to know more about wedding invitations? Let me know! Email me at natasha@theweddinglens.com.

Happy inviting!

~ Natasha

How to Address Wedding Invitations

A reader recently asked me about how to address his wedding invitations. He and his fiance are not formal by nature, so while I would have said “just address it any old way” I thought it might call for a blog post!

photo from The Wedding Lens

When you’re starting to write out your invitations, there is an “etiquette” of sorts to addressing the envelopes. Obviously, address the invitation to who you want to come! That means, if someone’s kid isn’t invited, don’t put the kid’s name on the invitation!

Now, there’s an outer envelope that’s more formal than an inner envelope. The chart below should help clarify what I mean. The tradition is to handwrite the envelopes, despite what you would think! Nowadays, I would recommend using a printer; it’s faster and easier to handle.

The general rule is to address by alphabetical order when there are no titles involved and there are different last names. For children, list them in the order of oldest to youngest.

You can write “and Guest” on the inner envelope to invite your single friends who can bring a date of his or her choice.

For relatives, the outer envelope should be formal, but the inside envelope should be what you call them. For example, write “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” on the outer envelope and “Uncle John and Aunt Jenny” on the inner envelope.

  Outer Envelope Inner Envelope
Single Man Mr. Michael Smith Mr. Smith
Single Woman Miss/Ms. Jennifer Johnson Miss/Ms. Johnson
Divorced Woman, using married name Mrs. Jennifer Smith Mrs. Smith
Divorced Woman, using Maiden name Miss/Ms. Jennifer Johnson Miss/Ms. Johnson
Married Couple Mr. and Mrs. Michael Smith Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Married Couple, Wife with Maiden Name Mr. Michael Smith and Mrs. Jennifer Johnson Mr. Smith and Mrs. Johnson
Married Couple, Wife is a Doctor with Maiden Name Dr. Jennifer Johnson and Mr. Michael Smith Dr. Johnson and Mr. Smith
Married Couple, Wife has a title, Same last name The Honorable Jennifer Smith and Mr. Michael Smith Judge and Mr. Smith
Married Couple, Husband is a Doctor Dr. Michael and Mrs. Smith Dr. and Mrs. Smith
Married Couple, 2 Doctors with Same last name The Doctors Smith OR Drs. Michael and Jennifer Smith The Doctors Smith
Married Couple, 2 Doctors with different last names Dr. Jennifer Johnson and Dr. Michael Smith Dr. Johnson and Dr. Smith
Gay Married Couple with same last name The Messrs. John and David Smith The Messrs. Smith
Gay Married Couple with different last names Mr. John Smith and Mr. David Johnson Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson
Lesbian Married Couple with same last name The Mesdames Jennifer and Judy Johnson The Mesdames Johnson
Lesbian Married Couple with different last names Mrs. Jennifer Johnson and Mrs. Judy Smith Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Smith
Unmarried couple who lives together Miss/Ms. Jennifer Johnson and Mr. John Smith Miss/Ms. Johnson and Mr. Smith
Unmarried couple who doesn’t live together Ms. Johnson (closest friend of the two) Ms. Johnson and Mr. Smith
Family with Children Mr. and Mrs. John Smith Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Walter, Winifred, and Wendy

For people with titles, here’s another chart:

     
Elected officials (Governor, Mayor, Senator, Etc.) The Honorable Jennifer Johnson and Mr. John Smith  ORGovernor/Senator/Mayor Jennifer Johnson and Mr. Smith The Honorable and Mr. SmithGovernor/Senator/Mayor and Mr. Smith
Judge The Honorable Jennifer Johnson and Mr.  John Smith Judge Johnson and Mr. Smith
Priest Father John Smith Father Smith
Rabbi Rabbi and Mrs. John Smithkowitz Rabbi and Mrs. Smithkowitz

That should about cover it. Have somone I haven’t covered? Just ask!

~ Natasha

How to Word Your Wedding Invitation

When you’re writing your wedding invitations, sometimes the wording can be the hardest part! Here I’ll break down the invitation into parts so we can put it together. Everything that I’m posting is the traditional etiquette. The modern rules are more lenient – and pretty much you can do whatever you’re comfortable with! I will cover the modern ideas on invitations in another blog post.

 General Wording Etiquette

  • No punctuation, except after titles (Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dr.)
  • Capitalize the beginning of the sentence, proper names, and titles – and nothing else.
  • The number of the date is spelled out; it follows the day and precedes the month (eg. Sunday, the fifth of June).
  • Spell out the year (eg. Two thousand and ten)
  • Spell out the times and refer to the clock (eg. Half after four instead of 4:30 p.m.; Four o’clock in the afternoon instead of 4:00 p.m.; Eight o’clock in the evening instead of 8:00 p.m.)
  • Use third person instead of first person (eg. “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” instead of “we”).

 Sample

Just to give you an idea of what the final product will look like, here’s a sample. I’ll take each line separately:

Line 1: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

Line 2: request the pleasure of your company

Line 3: at the marriage of their daughter, Jennifer, to Mr. Michael Johnson

Line 4: on Saturday, the fourteenth of September, two thousand and ten at four o’clock in the afternoon

Pine Street Lane Park, 123 Pine Street, Los Angeles, California

Reception to follow.

 Line one: Who hosts?

The host of the wedding is usually the primary financial contributor to the wedding, but this is not always the case. Traditionally, the bride’s family hosts. So line one would say Mr. and Mrs. Bride’s Father’s Name (eg. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith).

 Line two: How to invite?

The second line can be done a number of ways depending on the place of the ceremony and your personal taste.

 If the wedding is held in a religious place of worship, use “request the honor of your presence.” If the wedding takes place elsewhere, use “request the pleasure of your company” or “request the honor of your company.”

 The most formal traditional invitations do not use “your” in the wording, but leave a blank space to handwrite the name of the guest. For example, “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith request the honor of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Murray’s presence. . . .” This is rarely done now, however.

 Line three: Who is getting married?

Obviously this should be the easiest part, but there are still a few ways to do this. Since it’s the bride’s parents who are hosting and inviting, the wording would be: “in the marriage of their daughter, Jennifer Anne, to Mr. Michael Johnson.”

 Line four and onward: When and where? What else?

Time goes first, then location. Then you can add in a line about the reception – but a reception card will be separate.

 So, bringing it all together:

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their daughter, Jennifer, to Mr. Michael Johnson

on Saturday, the fourteenth of September, two thousand and ten

at four o’clock in the afternoon

Pine Street Lane Park, 123 Pine Street, Los Angeles, California

 Reception to follow.

 What about the reception information?

The reception information will be on a separate card. The only information that you need on the invitation is that a reception will follow.

 If you do not want children in attendance, instead of writing “Reception to follow,” specify “Adult reception to follow.” 

 Again, these are the traditions, not necessarily applicable to your particular situation.

~ Natasha

Wedding Question: Should I invite someone because she invited me? Part II

Photo from The Wedding Lens

We received another question that builds upon one of the previous question/answers that I recently wrote. I think it’s an interesting topic because it comes up in almost every wedding planning situation. So here we go:

I read your recent blog post called “Should I invite someone because she invited me?” But it doesn’t really answer my question. Your answer focuses on weddings that happened years ago, but what if the wedding you were invited to was really recent? My fiance and I were invited to a wedding very recently and we decided not to go. We like the person, but my fiance has only seen his friend twice in the past ten years. He was surprised we were invited at all. We would rather not have to invite this friend and his now wife because we barely know them now, though we don’t want to lose them as friends either. Help!!!!

Wow, you’re right! I didn’t really answer that question directly in my post about whether you should invite someone because they invited you, but I started out with some of the things you should consider when figuring out the guest list.  I still think the “use your best judgment” is the most sound advice, though I recognize that doesn’t give you much to go on!

Again, you should consider 1) the size of the wedding (both yours & theirs); 2) the closeness of friendship; 3) the desire to have them present.

It sounds like in your case it’s not that you DON’T want them there per se, but you have other people who you are close to. And it sounds like you decided not to attend their wedding because of how you’ve already grown apart — especially if your fiance was so surprised he was invited at all. After all, talking only a few times over the course of 10 years is a pretty good indication that you’re not that close anymore. I think that your fiance’s friends would be hard pressed to be “offended” if they’re not invited.

Consider putting these people on your B list as an alternative solution. You have your primary list of folks you want to attend and if enough of them don’t attend, put couples like this on the B list. (Or even a C list, if you want!) That way you haven’t completely eliminated them from consideration until the very end of the process. It gives you time to keep mulling it over.

Here’s another blog post on how to develop a guest list – hopefully that will answer any other questions!

Good luck! And if you have other questions, please email me at natasha@theweddinglens.com! (Or check out our link to submit wedding questions)

~ Natasha

Wedding Question: Should I invite someone because she invited me?

 

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

My fiance and I were trying to figure out a guest list for our wedding, but the numbers are out of control! We are the last of most of our friends to get married and we’ve gone to a ton of weddings (both together and separately). Some of the people we keep in touch with and we consider them to be true friends, who would obviously be invited to our wedding. But there are a few people whose weddings I went to year ago and I haven’t talked to the people since. Is it wrong for me to leave them off our list? We would love to invite everyone, but obviously we can’t do that! We’re just trying to figure out where we can cut some people, without being rude.

Well, I would guess that a lot of couples have this problem. You were invited to their wedding, but now you haven’t talked in years – still have to invite them to yours? I think the answer, like most answers, is that “it depends” and “use your best judgment.” Things to think about:

Size of the wedding. Was their wedding enormous? Is yours going to be? The larger your wedding is, the more awkward it is that you didn’t invite them — at least if you ever run into them again! 

 If you can’t invite someone who you do genuinely want to stay friends with (and they invited you), consider having a conversation. Most people who have planned their own wedding know the difficulties of developing a guest list and are likely to be sympathetic.

How much you’ve grown apart. Is this someone who you talk to once a year? Or, like, never?

How much you really want/don’t want them there. Some people who you’ve grown apart from, you may want to reconnect via your wedding invitation. It’s an easy way to get back in touch, but it is not obligatory! You can always get back in touch on another, non-wedding day.

Make sense? Good luck! Have a wedding question? Email me! natasha@theweddinglens.com. Remember, regardless of the size of your wedding, take pictures!

~ Natasha

How to Tell Your Guests that You Don’t Want Kids to Attend

Long long ago, I wrote a blog post about whether or not to have children at a wedding. There are lots of pros and cons, but if you’ve already decided you dont want kids in attendance, how should you tell your guests?

Photo from The Wedding Lens

Photo from The Wedding Lens

There are a few steps to take along the way to make sure that you tell your guests gently (but firmly!) that you do not want kids at the wedding. You can try all of these, or some of these, depending on what you feel comfortable doing.

  1. Before you send the save the dates, spread the word through your family, wedding party, and friends.
  2. Address the STD and the invitation ONLY to those you want to attend.
  3. Include the words “Adult reception” in the invitation. Such as “Adult reception to follow” at the bottom of the invitation. (Do NOT write “no children” – that is considered anti-etiquette.)
  4. In the RSVP, include “X number of seats have been reserved for you” or put in the names of the guests who are RSVPing on that card.
  5. Provide babysitter information to out ot town guests so that they can come and not have to worry about who to call and how to take care of the kids.

Be prepared that some people may RSVP for the children and you might have to call them to let them know that it is a no children event!

Obviously this can be a touchy situation, so just handle it with grace and try to understand where parents are coming from. Good luck!

~ Natasha