Guest List Issues PLEASE help

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Charlotte09 Posts : 1,021 Registered: 2/22/08
Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 12:33 AM

I am having some major guest list stress that is for sure. As much as I would like to invite everyone that FH's famil and my family want to invite we are limited with space and seating.

Our reception venue sits 260 people MAX and as of right now my parents have come up with 143 people to invite (including kids), FH's mom has come up with 198 people (including kids), FH's dad has come up with 30 people (inlcuding kids), and I have come up with an additional 43.

I was not worried because I was told by a family member and FH that only about half of the people who are invited show up. However, a friend told me differently so I decided to do an internet search on it and I only found a few answers but they all said that only around 20% of invited guest do not show. This puts us WAY over the top.

Just for a bit more information, our wedding is local and most of the guests are local, which means to me that more people would attend.

I would love to share our wedding with everyone, but this simply cannot happen. Do any of you all have any suggestions or information based on your own weddings?

My FHs mom acts like we cannot cut any more people from her guest list, which is indeed the largest. But I simply don't know what to do. I cannot invite people and ask them to sit on the ground or be elbow to elbow the entire night.


CheetahAngel Posts : 2,017 Registered: 11/29/08
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 7:36 AM Go to message in response to: Charlotte09

Maybe leave out all the kids. That will save you some room and money.





karebeartg Posts : 831 Registered: 6/25/08
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 8:27 AM Go to message in response to: Charlotte09

Honestly, you're simply going to have to cut people. If basically everyone is local, it's possible that every single person you invite is going to show up. You don't want to count on people not showing up (or RSVPing no) and exceeding the number of people your venue can hold.

One thing to consider is that you may not even be able to go over 260 based on the fire code. A girl I know picked a reception site that seats 45 people inside prior to making her invite list. She is inviting 80 people. People 45-75 will be sitting outside. (FH and I will be invited but we don't think we're close enough to make the inside list -- she's even told her non-family wedding party that they probably will sit Florida. Yuck). If people 75-80 RSVP yes and show, she gets shut down by the fire marshall. The absolute MAX for her site is 75. (And the venue has told her they WILL shut it down).

Basically, you don't want to be her. You don't want to risk your wedding getting shut down or people having a miserable time because they're so crammed in.

I can't tell you who to cut, but I think you simply have to figure out how to split the 260 that you want to invite. If you split the invites evenly between the people, everyone would get 65 people. So, you've got 22 unused people and FH's dad has 35. That means between the mother's they get 187 people. If it were me, I'd divide it in half and tell them they each get 90 people and that's it. (Perhaps I'd see if I could make any extra cuts from my list and ask FH's dad to cut a couple people, but really it's the mother's who are simply going to have to cut.)


Lilmisssouthern... Posts : 658 Registered: 8/12/08
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 9:27 AM Go to message in response to: karebeartg

I had major guest list stress too. FMIL wanted to invite literally every person FH had ever met. We simply could not afford that. We ended up having to cut down majorly! It may not be easy and it may not be fun but it sounds like yall are going to have to cut some people down.

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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 9:29 AM Go to message in response to: Charlotte09

Yeah, you're going to have to cut people. As for the 'average' number of guests that decline, you really can't count on that. Do not invite more people than your venue can accomodate. What would you do if everybody accepted and you had, say, 50 more guests than your venue can seat?

If the maximum number of guests at your venue is 260, then you're going to have to cut the guest list to 260. The easiest and fairest way to do this is to divide it in half: you and your family get 130 guests, and your FH and his family get 130. You could also divide it into thirds, so you and FH get 1/3 of the guests (86), your parents get 1/3 (86), and your FILs get 1/3 (86).

Sure, your mom (and others) may argue with you on this, but you have common sense on your side. It is perfectly within your rights to limit each side's guest list so that all the guests will fit into the venue. When your mom starts whining that she can't cut anybody, just say, 'I'm sorry, Mom, but we have chosen this venue and the maximum number of guests is 260. I have divided the guest list fairly between all of us. It is absolutely impossible to accomodate the number of guests you've suggested, so I'm afraid you will have to cut your list to 130 or 86 and get back to me.'

It's true that some guests may decline. Since your wedding is local and most of your guests are local, I would expect you to have a pretty low decline rate, unless your wedding is on a holiday weekend or something. I wouldn't bet on people declining, but you could do an A and B list. This has to be handled delicately, though. Send out the invitations to your first 260 (the A list) a little early. When you start receiving RSVPs, you can send out an invitation to someone on the B list for every decline that you receive. I really doubt that you'll get enough declines to invite everyone that your mom wants to invite, though.

The only other option is to find another venue that can accomodate everyone...provided that you can afford to feed them all, if you did.

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uno Posts : 619 Registered: 1/4/08
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 10:20 AM Go to message in response to: Charlotte09

I agree with everyone else, you are just going to have to tell the mothers to cut their lists. You can split it however you like (other people have already given suggestions).

You did not say who was paying though. If your parents are paying for a large part of the wedding, then technically they should have a little more say. If you & FH are paying, then you divide it however you want.

You need to sit down with your mom and say, the place only holds 260 people max (Including yourself and your bridal party!) Your mom has already taken up half that list. Tell her she needs to cut it to 86 (if you do 1/3's). She doesn't need to invite coworkers, random people, whatever. It's up to her to prioritize.

Then you and FH need to sit down with his mom. Say, FMIL, our venue only holds 260 people and your list is 3/4 of the venue space. It's not fair that you think you should invite that many people, leaving 25% to my family, our friends, and FFIL's family. Between her and FFIL they need to cut their list to 86. You do not have space for the other 100+ people.

There are really no other options. You can not invite more than 260 b/c of fire codes and the fact that you don't want your guests to be uncomfortable (plus, the more people that come = more money on food, centerpieces, etc.)


XYZ1 Posts : 367 Registered: 1/7/08
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 12:59 PM Go to message in response to: Charlotte09

Charlotte, my MOH invited 250 to her wedding, and 190 came, which is a decline rate of around 25% -- but the vast majority of the declines were out-of-towners. I would guess that up to 90% of people who live in town will RSVP "yes" to a wedding.

I think you should take ArtBride's advice -- don't invite any more than 260 on the "A" list. Figure out a fair way to divide the list, and tell everyone exactly how many people they are allowed to invite. It sounds like your FH's parents are divorced (am I right about that?) so dividing it between 1/2 bride's side and 1/2 groom's side may be easier than 1/3 couple, 1/3 bride's parents, 1/3 groom's parents (unless the two of them have a good relationship and would be comfortable collaborating on a list together).

Normally I'm not a fan of the A list/B list thing, but in your case I think it could be useful. Promising your parents they can pull in people from the "B" list in the event of declines will probably go a long way towards soothing hurt feelings over the major cuts they're going to have to make to their lists.

Do your families get along? This might be the sort of news that's easiest to break if everyone is there together, so no one feels as though they are being treated unfairly or asked to make more sacrifices than anyone else. Maybe you and FH could get everyone together for a dinner, let them know in advance you'll want to work on the guest list, and then say "Guys, you know we'd love to invite everyone, but right now the guest list is 400 people for a venue that only holds 260. We're all going to have to cut our lists back. We've decided to do 130 invites for the bride's side and 130 for the groom's side."


MrsM2009 Posts : 422 Registered: 3/16/08
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 1:23 PM Go to message in response to: XYZ1

A lot of people will give you a percentage rate of who will come, but really to do it more exactly you have to consider the relationship of the people you're inviting and whether they're local or not. People who are family are more likely to travel, and people who live in town are more likely to show. The breakdown my wedding planner gave us is:

Local family and friends: 85%
Out of town family: 75%
Out of town friends: 50%

She says it's usually accurate within 5% of the total or so, so this may give you a better estimate than just using a flat 20% or something.

You should always estimate conservatively - you don't want to invite more people than the room can hold and then have nowhere to put people!! Have you considered doing an A and B list type scenario?


MrsRicecake Posts : 700 Registered: 2/2/08
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 1:36 PM Go to message in response to: MrsM2009

I would say sit down with both your mom and FMIL. Go over the lists. If you dont know the person and its not family, cut them. Family should be top priority. Then cut the kids. We didnt have any kids except ring bearer, FG and the FG's brother (they came from out of town). That will help with space TREMENDOUSLY!
They dont need to invite every person they work with or the old lady from church just because shes nice. LOL! It is your wedding and you have the right to ask them to eliminate some of their guests.

Going to the chapel and we're gonna get married! December 27, 2008!


CaribbeanBride08 Posts : 1,474 Registered: 6/13/07
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 1:38 PM Go to message in response to: Charlotte09

The percentages don't matter. You're an idiot if you invite more people than your venue holds. Period.



Tobi & Brian - April 21, 2008


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myra Posts : 5,550 Registered: 3/28/06
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 1:58 PM Go to message in response to: Charlotte09

Who's paying for this shindig? That may have something to do with how assertive you get about who cuts what. I agree that the fairest way is--take 260, divide into thirds (you and FH1/3, each of the families1/3), give them an absolute maximum, and tell them that they can't go one person above that. Cutting kids is a fine idea (you can impose an age limit, especially if you're having an evening wedding), and some people also draw line according to the closeness of relationships (e.g. nobody who doesn't know at least one of the bridal couple; no work friends that you don't see outside of work; no relatives that you never speak to except at weddings and funerals; etc.) Whatever you do, be fair and even-handed. Don't favor one side above the other. And stay strong.
myra at


TheNewMrsJ Posts : 754 Registered: 1/6/08
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 2:32 PM Go to message in response to: myra

we had a similar problem - the venue i had been wanting to have for our reception ever since my aunt used it for hers 11 years ago could only squeeze in about 120 in the main dining room, and that was with an extra setup fee (they had originally told us 100 people but the manager said he could squeeze it to fit 120 if we needed).

well between DH and I, we had about 20-30 people we wanted to invite, my mom had a list of relatives, most from out of town that reached to about 60 if everyone came, plus a few friends of hers and my dads, and my MIL's list had about 100 people on it with kids, although she said most wouldn't come.

Well since her list was the biggest and mostly just friends and accquaintances of the family, DH cut the ones that he had never met before, lowering her list by about 20 or so. We did get some declines from her list, but not as many as we had expected or hoped for. My parents had me invite all the relatives, saying most of the out of towners wouldn't come aside from a few, however we found out that my grandma out east was twisting all her kids arms (5 of my dad's siblings, plus spouses and kids) to come - my dad ended up talking to afew of them we hadnt heard from yet and explained that it was okay and we didn't take it personally if they couldn't come (some had financial concerns and really didn't think they could afford to come out here for the weekend, which we understood), so many of the relatives we weren't planning on having show did. needless to say, my mom kept her friendslist as the backup list for when people declined, which helped. DH and I also had to cut some of our list as well - keeping ours strickly close coworkers and important friends.

we also had to include our bridal party in the final count and their spouses/dates as well (out of 8 attendants, 2 were married and 2 had longterm SOs).

so things to keep in mind - you might think some will decline, but there's no guarentee!

do what a PP said and divide it into 1/3rds but then have both sets of parents make 2 lists - 1 with people that must be invited, such as relatives and close family friends, and another - the B list - with everyone else they'd like to invite. if someone on their A list declines, then they can send out an invite to someone on their B list.

Friends since December 1997
Together since December 2006

September 13, 2008
Legally, I became his and he became mine.


Brooke051609 Posts : 723 Registered: 12/31/07
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 23, 2009 11:48 PM Go to message in response to: TheNewMrsJ

I can't really give you any new info, everyone has already said what I would've. But I can offer some empathy. FH and I are going through the EXACT same thing right now. I would say the guest list is THE MOST STRESSFUL part of planning! Our venue seats 375, but we're only inviting 360, I'm afraid of fire code and people being CRAMMED in. BUT, I have 460 people I'd like to invite. So we made an A/B list... only modified it.

We came up with our family/non-family list. Our family invites go out March 1st, come back March 30th. Non-family goes out April 7th or something and comes back April 30th. This way, we'll have our RSVP's (hopefully all) backfrom family and if there are some no's we can fill those NO spots with more non-family. But this way it's not like some friends will receive invites early and others are 3 weeks later. If anyone asks we tell them that we had so many we just wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to get organized with mailing and RSVP. And really, that's no ones business anyway. But that might create some room for you. True- you're still going to have the "set amount" you can invite and some "add-on list" people, but those "add-on list" people have a better chance of getting invited when any "NO" RSVP's come in from family. I hope that all made sense! haha

But best of luck, I hope both of us don't go crazy before the invites get sent out! Won't you be glad to just get them all inthe mail and be done with it!? Take care!


                             "Come What May... "


CatStandish Posts : 2,766 Registered: 6/20/08
Re: Guest List Issues PLEASE help
Posted: Jan 24, 2009 10:17 AM Go to message in response to: Charlotte09

I would tell you that if the in laws want that many on the guest list, then you could find a venue to accomodate all the parental guests -- and then go to them and say: MY chosen venue costs this, it will seat 260. I have budgeted X for the reception. Between us, we have 416 on our guest list.

However because you are unwilling to cut your guest list, I have looked at other venues that can accomodate the large guest list. It will cost __________. The additional cost to the reception to feed these additional people is _________. The additional cost for the cake is _________ (and we're talking at least $600 for the cake add ons). It will cost ____________ for the additional invites. The postage will cost ___________. The additional favors will cost __________. Additional centerpieces/table decorations will cost ___________. This is a total ADDITIONAL cost of ___________. (Gosh this stuff adds up fast....ouch!)

We can do this one of two ways:

Mom, Dad, the venue seats 260. You get 1/3 of that. That is 86 guests.
FMIL, FFIL, the venue seats 260. YOU get 1/3 of that. That is 86 guests.
And we get the remaining 86 guests.


The total difference in cost to have 416 in lieu of 260 is ____________. You can pay that amount .... without any further say in the planning. The add ons to the guest list ARE your say in reception planning.

Yes, the conversation will need to be a little more politic than that, but that is the gist. Just because they start forking over money (due to a crisis CAUSED by them) should not mean that they get more say. If they lived within the constraints of the venue you picked, they wouldn't be being asked for a contribution -- so their contribution to the planning IS making you go bigger.

That's assuming you're paying for it. If you're not, and your parents are, YOU should probably sit down with them privately before this and make sure they are on the same page as you. (who knows...maybe they would not mind paying the difference). You might let them know that you will let them have any of your guest spots that you don't use (they are paying, they should get that consideration), but don't tell them up front how many that might have forgotten someone. Also, if your parents are bucking the bill for the reception and cannot/will not increase the budget for it, then it would only be fair for FH's family to pick up the extra tab, since they are pretty much responsible for almost all of the guest overlap. And if they can't, then they can take out the scissors and start a-chopping.

Another thing to consider: Do you WANT 416 people at your wedding? Just because your chosen venue can hold 260 does not mean you have to fill it to capacity. If you do not want a super-sized wedding, then you will have to tell them in no uncertain terms that you are inviting ______ people to the wedding. They get a third of that. If you decide that number is 200.... then that is what it is.

And as others have said: cutting the kids will save a ton of money -- and could potentially get it nearer to manageable levels. Unless having children there is important to you, cut them. (I recently did this myself -- I'd PLANNED on inviting my friends kids who were over the age of 13.... however, when we sat down with the real list--nope, they had to be axed. I even did it by "projected yes/projected regrets" Projected yes is at 93, without kids. Venue holds 100. Projected regrets is 20. I've got some trimming to do too.)

You can also decide that if someone has been dating their gf/bf less than 1 year, the gf/bf doesn't get invited (unless they live together or are engaged). I am at that point with one of my guests. When I asked one of them for her address, she provided me (unasked) the name of her boyfriend. He will probably not be invited. (I have someone else who recently started dating someone...her name isn't on my list either.)


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