• Images
  • Text
  • Find a Couple + Registry

guest list mishaps

A collection of nightmares that real brides survived

"We accidentally sent out an invitation addressed to my cousin Steve and his ex-wife Beth. Needless to say, his new wife, Kim, wasn't very happy with the mix-up."

"We decided to make an A-list and a B-list of the guests we wanted to invite. Unfortunately, my fiance decided to keep track by marking A or B on the back corner of each invitation. It didn't take long before our guests caught on and the angry calls started streaming in."

"I organized all my guests on a spreadsheet. It took months and months to get it perfect. I asked my fiance to print it out one night and somehow he managed to erase the entire thing from my computer! We spent the whole night trying to remember who we wanted to invite and finding all their addresses."

"Several of my father-in-law's business executive guests had just been charged in a very high-profile fraud trial. I had no issue with them being invited … at least until the reception, when I found out that the judge who'd married us was the same one who'd sentenced several of our guests. Even a huge southern ballroom wasn't big enough for everyone to hide."

"At my bridal shower, my future mother-in-law said she needed additional invitations for the wedding, but I explained that we had no extras and had asked for her full guest list last year. The next week, my fiance and I returned from out of town to a mailbox full of xeroxed RSVP cards from people who weren't on the guest list. My mother-in-law had made copies of the invitations and mailed them to the extras she wanted to invite. We confronted her and found out she'd actually sent out 87 -- yes, 87 -- additional invites."

Guest lists clothespins

Guest List: How to Make Your Wedding Guest List


Next Page >> 

1 of 3

Tips to help you with the hardest part of wedding planning -- who to invite.

Photo: Kallima Photography

Creating a guest list can cause complete chaos. Whether it's your mom pushing you to invite all her neighbors or your fiance insisting to cut your coworkers from the list, you're bound to come across some angst in your guest list planning. But not to worry. There is hope. If you follow these top tips, you'll minimize the madness and whittle down your list to the best-case scenario.

Stay Mum

Of course you're going to announce your engagement to close friends and family members, but because they're the first ones who'll be invited, they're safe territory. Beyond your immediate clan, don't personally call anyone else until you know the wedding's approximate size and scope, because the first thing people are likely to ask is "When is the wedding?" That way, you can set expectations when you finally announce your news: "We're so excited -- it'll be a tiny ceremony somewhere exotic," or "My parents are springing for a blowout with everyone under the sun, so start watching airfares now!" If people know from the start that they're not likely to be invited because it's a family-only or far-flung affair, they won't be miffed when they don't find a fancy envelope in their mailbox.

Divide Seats Equally

All of the immediate family with input should be given the same number of people to invite, regardless of who's paying. What that means is that if you're having 200 guests and you and your fiance take 100 of the invites, his family should get 50 of the remaining invites and your family should get the final 50. If her folks are divorced, then each of her parents split the 50 evenly. If things work out that smoothly for you, you're lucky, but sticking with that strategy gives you a bulletproof defense against accusations of favoritism. Of course, if one of you is an only child and the other comes from a family of 20, you can reevaluate how to divvy up the numbers. If people grumble, see the next strategy about standing up to bullies.

To minimize confusion, wait to request your parents and in-law's guest lists until you've given them their target number.

Don't Be Bullied By Parents and Soon-to-be In-laws

Set and stick to boundaries. This can be tricky if one set of parents is footing the bill and demands a greater slice of the guest list. But when it comes down to it, this is your event. Sometimes it's just a matter of increasing the size of the guest list, and the parent who goes over their number of invites can pay for the overflow. But often your site caps the guest count. That means if his mom wants to invite more people (say, all of her bridge partners), either your family or you two will have to invite fewer guests. Be resolute. Explain to his mom that even though she is generously paying for the fete, this is a celebration for everyone involved, and everyone must participate on an equal footing. It may not be easy or pleasant, but if you start to bend, you're in for a tidal wave of last-minute requests.


Next Page >> 

1 of 3