Going Head to Head: The Guest List
I hate to break it to you, but the guest list really is one of the hardest hurdles to work through. Especially if you're getting married in your 30s. By now, you know SO many people from SO many different walks of life, and you want them ALL to be represented at your big day. Plus, you've been invited to a zillion weddings and you probably feel the need to return the favor. In my case, we had 42 first cousins between us...most of whom are over 21 and married, so that 42 became almost 84 must-invites.
There is seriously NO good way to create or edit the guest list. It's not a process that can be easily streamlined, and no matter what you do, feelings will probably be hurt somewhere along the line. (Just remember all those times when you thought you would be invited to a wedding, but never received an invitation. Sometimes it's a relief, right?)
Here's some of my best advice from my experience:
*Be honest with your groom and your parents about what you can afford and who absolutely HAS to be invited, as opposed to the people you WISH could attend.
*Some sites recommend having a B-list (but I found that to be tricky since some of our A-list didn't give us their RSVPs until the last minute).
*Make sure to keep your invites consistent. If you're giving your favorite unmarried cousin Ben a plus-one, you should most likely give all your other unmarried cousins a plus-one.
*Know that you'll need to draw a line in the sand somewhere. You can't invite everyone you've ever met. Even though it's tempting.
*Choose some sort of criteria for friends. For example, you can invite only those friends who have met your significant other, who you've seen in the last year, AND who you'd like to continue a relationship with in the future.
*If you have any questions or sticky situations, email me, and I'd be happy to help! firstname.lastname@example.org
Location, Location, Location: The Location
Venue shopping is really overwhelming. I tell you this up front because it is. And that's okay.
The reason venue shopping is so overwhelming is that, like apartment shopping or house hunting, nothing is going to be as big or as perfect or as newly remodeled as you hoped. On the flip side, you might end up with something unexpectedly brilliant.
Here's what happened with me. I live in Manhattan and planned my wedding in my upstate hometown. When I drove back for a whirlwind weekend of venue shopping, I was completely overwhelmed by the options. Some were great. Some were dumpy. Some weren't available for the date I wanted. Some were almost perfect....except for that weird side room. Or the lack of a view. Or the non-handicap-accessible entrance. Or the hideous yellow curtains.
At first, I kept ruling things out because they didn't fit the vision in my head...but my vision didn't exist in real life.
The thing is that I wanted my reception to be in a barn. But not just any barn. I wanted a rustic-looking barn complete with all the modern conveniences. Like nice chairs and tables and china...and insulation and indoor plumbing. I hadn't really accounted for the fact that a barn is...a barn. A legit, formerly operational barn is designed to house animals, not wedding receptions. So a November barn wedding would be chilly at best.
My whole vision of the day had to change.
Because I was so upset about losing my dream barn, I didn't like any other venue I saw. And I got crankier and crankier. One wasn't big enough. Another didn't have enough rooms available. A third had the ugliest curtains I've ever seen. At the time that I finally selected a venue, I didn't love it. (It actually ended up being perfect, but I couldn't see it at the time.) It's not that I didn't love it because it wasn't absolutely awesome--because it was. I didn't love it because it wasn't my dream barn.
BUT, once the location was set in stone, I started to envision how it would look, where people would sit, what they would eat. My dream shifted from a rustic barn to a cozy fireplace. And slowly, that non-existent barn faded from memory altogether.
The moral of the story is that you should definitely try to get everything you've dreamed of in a venue, but don't box yourself in to one idea. Allow your thoughts to shift and change as your wedding takes shape. Your wedding may just become better than you ever dreamed it would be!
Now, I know that this part of the planning process is often accompanied by lots of tears (at least mine was!), so please share with your favorite overwhelmed bride. She's totally not alone!
If you've already been through the process, feel free to share your best planning tips in the comments.
Write With Rosie: Wedding Edition