Taming Your Guest List

Continued (page 2 of 3)

Should you and your fiancé reach an impasse, grab some alone time and jot down your must-have guests. Compare lists, crunch the numbers and see how many slots are left to fill. Divide the difference or come up with a ratio (like 60/40) that suits your needs. Talk the situation through and negotiate. This is, after all, the beginning of a lifetime of problem-solving together.

Children: Yes or No?

You may love kids but just don't want them at your wedding. If that's the case, address the outer and inner envelopes of your invitation to the parents only. Printing "no children" anywhere in your correspondence is impolite. Having a blanket no-children policy may not be practical, so here's another solution: Set an age limit—say, only children 12 or older are invited. Or restrict your list to the children of immediate family members and/or children of members of the wedding party. If you anticipate resentment, try broaching the subject with family and friends to whom you're closest; explain your concerns about cost and space, and ask them to spread the word. If out-of-towners choose to bring their kids, offer to hire a babysitter to watch them during the wedding. Provide a goody bag with toys, puzzles and games so the kids won't feel excluded from the fun.

Impossible Dream

Another conundrum is whether to invite out-of-towners you feel certain won't attend. Will they think an invitation is a thinly veiled request for a wedding gift? If you don't invite them, will they feel they've been snubbed? In many cases, a wedding announcement instead of an invitation will suffice. But in the case of really close friends, even if they live far away, send an invitation—and don't be caught off-guard if they decide to make the trek.

Nip/Tuck

Trimming your guest list won't be excruciating if you set clear-cut limits: e.g., no second cousins, no coworkers, no dates—you get the picture. But the only way restrictions by category can work is if you stick to your decision, no matter what. Make any exceptions, and you engender the bad feelings you were hoping to avoid in the first place.

Another way to pare the list is to be honest about your friendships—like the pal you haven't spoken to in more than two years. Chances are you're not the only ones who are feeling social pressure: Your parents or his may try to use your wedding to reciprocate for the weddings they've attended. If the two of you are paying, or if it's an encore betrothal, you should feel significantly less guilty about not accommodating every parental whim.

Keeping Tabs

Once you've congratulated yourself on surviving what may be the most grueling test in the wedding-planning process, enter your invitees' names in alphabetical order in both your computer file and nonelectronic wedding planner. (It's always wise to have a backup list on paper—just make sure to keep both versions up to date.) Include each person's mailing address, telephone number(s) and e-mail address, plus his or her relationship to the bride or groom. Make columns that include space for the name of a single guest's date, if you know it, the RSVPs, a brief description of any engagement, shower and wedding gifts, and the date that thank-you notes for each were mailed.

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