Friday, March 06, 2015

Your Family vs. Your Guest List

My column on The Broke-Ass Bride is up...

How do you reserve these seats? 
Photography: Life's Highlights
Last week, I got an email from a bride who didn’t have a problem yet, but was anticipating a huge one. She and her fiance want a small wedding, surrounded by their good friends and close family. She was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen once her mother got ahold of the list. What if her Mom insisted on inviting the 120 family members that she would probably want to add to that list? There’s a ton of you worried about the same thing. I know there’s a few (unnamed) couples on my roster who are, for sure.

So, how to combat that? For starters, stop thinking about it as a battle. It’s a wedding, its not a war. And if you keep looking at everything as a potential conflict, that’s exactly what you’ll find. I’m not so zen that I’m saying the guest list won’t be an issue. I...have parents, too. And what I (eventually) figured out was that it’s easier if you manage their expectations of your expectations. You're not going to be able to avoid the conversation with them, but you can certainly put it into context.

Get specific with your numbers
Sit down with your fiance and make a list of everyone the two of you want to invite. It won't take long, but go over it a couple more times to make sure you didn't miss anyone, and that you included their significant others. Now, given that list, how many more people are you willing to have at your wedding? So, say you come up with a list of 50 people, or 25 couples. Are you willing to have another 50 people at your wedding, to bring it to 100? Another 25 people to bring it to 75? Think about it as people, and think about it as tables. 50 people is five tables, 100 people is 10. What feels right to you?

Mom?
Be straightforward, and tell the truth: "We want to keep the guest list to 100 people, and we have 50 people that we want to invite. Can you help us and give us a list of the 50 people you want to invite by (make up a date in the next couple of weeks)?" This is what we want, this is what we have so far, this is what we're asking from you, and here's the date we need it by. We really appreciate your help! DO NOT under any circumstances, apologize. You’re not being mean, you’re not being rude, DO not get defensive. Just state what you want, which is a wedding with this number of people. Ask for their help. And then change the subject as quick as you can. Check in a couple of times before your deadline. Be prepared to have the conversation again. Express gratitude for their help as often as you can.

Bonus points - Get specific with the costs
For extra credit, if you've already booked a venue and/or caterer, figure out out how much it is going to cost per person and for the entire group, and give that to her, too. So, say, your venue is $2500. if catering is $75 per person, plus tax and service (30% out here) = $97.50 per person, or $14,750 for 100 people. See? You’re trying to be reasonable by sticking to a reasonable budget, whether they’re paying for it or you are.
They’ll be thinking about those numbers while they’re going over their own list. And, again, Do NOT apologize! No, "I'm really sorry about this." For one thing, that’s a lie. For another, you’re not doing anything wrong. Ask her for help. Thank her for her help. Take a deep breath, and smile.

So, really, how many of you are facing a massive guest list from your folks that you don’t want? Got any questions about my advice? Let me know in the comments below! And if you’d like to find out about me and my little part of wedding world, visit me at www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle, 

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events

Contact me to ask about your wedding:
323-592-9318
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