Building the guest list for a wedding is never easy. Arranging seating charts, gathering addresses, keeping up with RSVPs; it’s easy to get bogged down in the logistics. You and your partner must decide who to invite, where to seat them for dinner, and how many people each of you can invite to join you on your special day. Children are another factor, as are unmarried friends and people in your life who don’t agree with your LGBTQ+ lifestyle. Do you invite them out of love, or keep them away for fear they’ll make a scene? It can be a very difficult decision. But what you must remember above all, is that this day is all about you and your love for your partner. Who do you want there with you? Who was there for you when you faced hard times? Remember these things as you overcome the stress of building your guest list.
Your life is full of people who have shaped and influenced you. Sadly, your venue (and your budget) are only so big. Setting a limit to the number of people you can invite is very important. Decide if you’re inviting extended family or just your immediate members. Think about the friends who have to be there, who you can’t imagine missing out on this life-changing moment. Write a list of names and consider if they have to come, if you’d really like them to come, or if it’d be nice, but not essential, that they come. When you have those must-comes, be sure to include their spouses, children (if you’re allowing children), and any other possible plus-ones that may come with them. Finally, take time to ponder the vibe and culture you want at your event. It may be important to you that everyone in attendance agrees with your sexuality and who you and your partner are. Sadly, there may be precious people in your life who resent your identity, and you may have to make the difficult decision to not include them in your serene evening. It might help to talk with any potentially problematic guests beforehand, but this may also feel unnecessary or even ridiculous to have to explain your lifestyle choices or treat them as an issue that needs resolving. Your guest list should be who you want in your life moving forward; the friends and family members that lift you up and celebrate who you are. Give special attention and reflection to the best people from your younger years, your early 20s, and your current work and social life, and let them shower you with love and warmth on your life-changing day.
Every wedding is different. Couples can determine if they want kids to attend, whether or not they want alcohol, how they will serve it–the list goes on and on. These factors relate to your guest list as well. Some guests may want their children to attend and witness an LGBTQ+ as a model of what love can be. However, you are in control of your wedding, and you may disagree with the idea of having to be the example. Your wedding is not necessarily a major statement on equality, it can simply be two people linking themselves together for their lifetime. Children can be great fun at a wedding, but for a late night affair or a more adult atmosphere, you can set a rule keeping them at home.
So you’ve finally sent the perfect invitations, and now they’re all coming back at once! Your aunt and uncle said they’re coming, your best friend from college sent in a suspicious “maybe,” and your bigoted brother sent his expected “no.” Not only can it be emotional to hear back from everyone in your life, it can be challenging to keep up with everyone’s response. I’d recommend keeping a spreadsheet with every name on the invite list and a column devoted to their responses. You can do this in a notebook as well to avoid the technology, if that’s not your thing. Any record that you keep will inform your wedding planner or caterer of what to expect. And be prepared to follow up with friends and family, especially those who say “maybe” or “no.” Don’t lose sight of why you are going through the logistic struggles of tracking replies and gathering addresses. This is all in preparation for the greatest day of your life!