It’s Not About the Guest List – Chapter 8 of It’s Not About the Wedding

There are several different approaches a bride and groom could use to create a guest list for their wedding:

  1. The larger the list, the more gifts we receive.  Hello Second Cousin Elmer!
  2. You and me and the J.O.P. (Justice of the Peace).  All we need is love.
  3. Somewhere in between.

In reality, this is a hugely important communication project for the future spouses.  The guest list is an exercise in listening and making sacrifices to meet common goals.  Start by talking openly with each other about your vision for your wedding.  It’s possible that one of you has always envisioned a big wedding in a big church with hundreds of family and friends while the other has dreamed of being married by Elvis in Vegas.  This could be a problem!  Get on the same general page in this regard and go from there.

One method involves having both the bride and groom create a list of every relative, friend, co-worker, college buddy, neighbor, and ex-boyfriend/girlfriend they would even remotely consider inviting to the wedding.  This could take several days.  Do this without helping each other to be sure that one is not influenced by the other – at least not yet.  Once these lists are complete, count the listed guests (eliminating duplicates) and you will have an absolute maximum size for your wedding.  Be sure to keep in mind that some single guests may bring a guest of their own.

From here, you can begin going over both lists together, whittling down the attendees and weeding out the riff-raff and anyone your future spouse may vehemently veto for one reason or another.  This is where the whole “listening and making sacrifices to meet common goals” thing comes into play.  Try not to be defensive, but listen carefully to the reasons why someone may not make the cut.

Many times, expense is the reason for shortening that long list of guest.  If your combined guest list is 300 people, but your budget will only cover 100 people, something’s got to give.  Additionally, if one or more parents are footing the bill (or even if they’re not), you should probably ask them for a list of their desired guests.  There are probably friends or co-workers from their generation who they wish to invite, but who wouldn’t appear on your own list.  This is an important day for them as well.  In fact, even if only one parent or set of parents is helping to pay the bills, all should be consulted.

As previously mentioned, anything beyond a first marriage may follow a different set of guidelines.  In my opinion, these guidelines often more closely represent the entire point of this book.  The guest lists and budgets tend to shrink dramatically.  By that point, it’s easier to resist the seduction of the details, and to focus on the big picture.  Obviously, the goal is to marry once for life.  Everyone wants this time to be the last time.

No one walks down the aisle together
Believing it’s not going to last forever
We all think we can beat the odds
We make our plans, then live out God’s.

Take some time to focus on two things:

  1. What are we inviting these people to witness?

It is the culmination of one journey, and the beginning of another.  For many, it is literally a worship service.  It is a public declaration of love.  It is, truly, a big deal.

  1. Why are we inviting these particular people?

Understand that there is nothing wrong with sending one set of invitations for the wedding and reception, and another for only the reception.  A friend of a friend of a friend may not need to be there for the ceremony.  A best friend since second grade probably should.  Wedding guests should be the most important people in your lives, with whom you wish to share one of the most important events of your lives.

This is the 8th in a series of 16 chapters from a new manuscript I am working on called It’s Not About the Wedding: A Common Sense Guide to Getting it Right the First Time, or Any Time.  I would love to receive any and all positive or negative feedback on this topic, particularly from those of you who are perhaps currently engaged to be married!  Stay tuned for subsequent chapters to follow…


~ by suitenectar on September 9, 2010.

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