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Congratulations! You just got engaged and are about to start putting together your guest list.  It’s important to start putting together a guest list very early.  As you will soon realize, the guest list will require plenty of time, thought, emotions, and a lot of negotiations.  So I put together some tips to help the process go a little more smoothly for you.

First Things First:

Before you start writing down names on paper, you and your fiancé need to come up with a number of how many guests to invite. This, of course, will largely depend on your budget and on the size of your reception site.

Determine A Budget:

Your budget will determine the size of your guest list more than any other factor. So once the budget is set it will make things easier to figure out.  Keep in mind there is more to the reception then just the meal.  You have to figure in the cost of the centerpieces, linens, table and chair rentals, China, and bar service.  Most often you can get a full package deal, just make sure your venue and caterer tell you exactly what you are paying for and get it in writing.

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The “Guest” Debate:

Determine when someone can be invited with a guest. Typically, couples marrying in their 20’s and 30’s have lots of single friends which quickly raises the question of whether to let them invite a date to the wedding.  It’s generally accepted that any potential guest who is in a long-term relationship should be invited with his or her significant other,  we like the idea of inviting a couple who have been dating for at least a year. Beyond that, forget about adding “and guest” indiscriminately to single friends’ invitations.

And what if someone sends back a response card that includes the name of a guest you didn’t invite? (It does happen!) Simply explain to your invitee that you have, for reasons of budget or size of venue, kept your guest list to a minimum and, unfortunately, you cannot extend your invitation to his/her guest.

Kids or No Kids:

First you have to decide if you want all kids invited, just kids in the wedding, or just your nieces and nephews. You may think kids are great but not really want them to attend your wedding. If so, address your invitations to parents only—this should send the right message. Or maybe you want to invite only the children of your immediate family. You can avoid offending people by asking friends or family members to help spread the word about your decision.

Tough Decisions:

On the fence about certain people? Don’t feel obligated to invite someone to your wedding because you were invited to theirs if you no longer hang out all that often. Also, if you are already feeling regret about leaving someone off the list, try to find a way to have them make the cut. When trying to make tough decisions, ask yourself if the potential guest will be a part of your life in the future.  If someone still means something to you, you probably still mean something to him or her. Trust your instincts. That’s how to make sure that you have the people you really want at your wedding.

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