Ah, the guest list. Probably to be the most debated aspect of your entire affair. From the wrangling of your parents to include the “very dear friends” who they haven't seen since 1983 (and which they aren't paying for!) right down to the thoughtful guests who include their children on the response card - as if it were an oversight that they weren't invited. It wasn't. So, take a deep breath and...
Do treat all (invited!) guests with courtesy
Don't buckle to BAD GUEST BEHAVIOR
First, let's consider the “more the merrier” family who are attempting to commandeer your wedding (and remember it's YOUR wedding!) by rudely including their “adorable” children. Weddings are an expense to which the adults were graciously invited, not their children. Send the offenders a nice note informing them that your wedding is a child free zone and for their convenience include babysitting information.
The overzealous parents who feel the need to invite every person they've ever met is a little more problematic. Sometimes it is a thin line to tread in navigating a new family - and there are plenty of future years to step on toes! Hopefully mentioning the expense of extra guests will get the wanted response of accepting a smaller invitation list – or even better a check! But if you are met with blank stares and there are people that you feel obligated to include, there's always the option of sending out an announcement. But don't expect a gift, as people not invited to the wedding are in no way required to give one.
So after a bit of angst you've finally figured out the guest list and the invitations have been sent – hopefully with the correct postage. Be sure to check this at the post office. Now the exciting time of receiving responses begins. When I was getting married I got such delight in receiving our little response envelopes. I would rush to check the mail every day! It was so exciting to be able to know who to look forward to seeing on our special day.
But know that there will always be those few guests, or not so few, who find it a great imposition to check that preferred entrée box and pop that already addressed and stamped envelope into a mailbox. Yes, you will be making countless phone calls to see whether MIA guests are attending or not. And this does need to be checked. Because the inconsiderate non-responder is the most likely one to show up at your event – with a date. You don't want the embarrassment of a last minute seating issue.
Once you have your final guest list it's onto the dinner seating dilemma. One bride even produced a whole chart where each guest could be moved around little tables until the perfect seating arrangement was determined. But try not to fret about this too much. Aside from the two uncles who haven't spoken in fifteen years and are both members of the NRA, your guests should be able to remain pleasant for the duration of one meal. Hopefully they will then be up from their seats and happily cutting the rug for the remainder of the evening!
I do think it's a good idea to put significant others together when possible, which can get tricky if only one of a couple is in the wedding party. In that case, perhaps instead of a Head Table you and the Groom could sit at a Sweet Heart table while the bridal party is mixed amongst the other guests. But ultimately, regardless of who sits where, don't loose site of what a great gift it is to have family and friends all together, all at once to help celebrate one of the most important days of your life.
Decorating weddings and special events over the years, I've often helped clients with other aspects of their events besides the decorating. I want to share that information and advice with you. I also want to highlight other event vendors whose work I like and different local venues. I invite you to ask questions as well.