Tough calls when it comes to the guest list | The Budget Savvy Bride
The Budget Savvy Bride

Before my fiancé and I were even engaged, we had talked about our wedding and what we both wanted. For me, as mentioned before, this is not my first walk down the aisle, but it is for him. So, while I wanted to run away for a very small intimate affair with the two of us and two people as witnesses, there was one smallish problem … My fiancés dreams. Believe it or not, he had expectations for his wedding day, too. Something I hadn’t thought about – until that moment, in the midst of me talking about this romantic getaway with just the two of us, he said to me, “Yea, but my parents wouldn’t be there. Or any of my siblings.” And it hit me. This isn’t my wedding. It’s ours. And while I was wanting a simple and private event on a beach on an island, I knew that this was about us.

Believe it or not, making plans about your wedding day are the first steps in your marriage to learning that it’s not about you alone or him. It’s about the YOU as a couple. Joint decisions start here.

John & I John Kurtz Photography

John & I
John Kurtz Photography

I might have done this before and lost some of the “sparkle” in my head of a wedding event initially (don’t worry, that went away as soon as the wedding planning started and I realized I was marrying the RIGHT man and the butterflies took over and I was overwhelmed with the amount of giddy excitement that existed that I had never felt before!), but my fiancé has never done this before (nor intend to do it again). This is our day, not mine.

My fiancé is the youngest of seven children and uncle to 19 nieces and nephews. The word “small” and our wedding suddenly became like cramming an elephant into a Honda Fit. We had to sit down and make some big decisions about our day, and make some compromises. The reality was that we were paying for this on our own and a big budget wedding wasn’t in the cards for us. We counted immediate family that would attend (and yes, there are immediate family members not invited), counted up our bridal party (a total of 18 including the two of us), and then counted the bridal party’s spouses and children. We hit the number of 60 really fast with just that list. We agreed that we could go up to 80 at the most and expect that between 70-75 would likely be able to make it. Then came the really hard part – inviting friends. Not just friends, but WHICH friends. This was harder than a budget – this was like planning a war strategy for the army or something. Will so-and-so be hurt that they’re not invited but so-and-so is?

We had to be firm and realistic. There was no rhyme or reason to the friends who were invited, other than the fact that the people who were invited were those that have been actively involved in our relationship over the past year and who had been a part of this. It actually took a long time to finalize our guest list because of this. We started with the bare minimum of six couples. Invites went out and we sat on it for another couple of weeks. We then decided on the last 10 people who would be invited and knew that, no matter what others felt or thought, we had to draw the line somewhere. And if we invited so-and-so, then we would also need to invite so-and-so and so-and-so and …. Well, you get it. Those who aren’t going to be there know that we have a very small budget and that our guest list is limited with us paying for this on our own and we had to be firm with that list.

The end result is this: I still have a small and intimate wedding with a guest list under 80 that is taking place in a beautiful wooded area at my mom’s house in the country, and all of my fiancé’s family will be in attendance with us. And thinking back on my initial “dream”, I realize that this was certainly the best thing to do. I have already had to face devastation with my best friend not being able to make the wedding in 2-1/2 months, so I know that when reality sat in with a destination wedding without our parents or siblings, I would have ended up heartbroken at my decision.

What about you? What compromises did you have to make when planning your wedding and your budget? How did you handle the tough issues that came up when it came to your guest list?

Jennifer is a 30-year old Professional Photographer & Federal Employee living in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Aside from planning a wedding, she spends time with her fiance racing autocross and running her own business and traveling. Jennifer is engaged to John, the "boy from church youth group" who, after 13 years apart, found one another again and are now planning their intimate and budget savvy wedding for 8/31/13 at her mother's log home in the woods.

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  1. Yup, I hear ya. Because we are doing a destination wedding, we sat down and had to have the same discussion. Who do we invite, and who are are absolute MUSTS…. people we would reconsider the wedding for if they could not come. That list was super small – three people total. So we went ahead with it, because we knew two of those three people would not miss it for the world, and the third someone else (a parent – that person is a minor) had control over no matter what.
    My family told me not to invite any aunts, uncles, cousins, or family friends from my side, or even friends from my home town, since the grandparents would not be able to come anyway. They were very firm about it, and it was very hard to do, but we followed their wishes. It was a very hard decision to make.
    At the end of the day, it will all work out anyway. The people who were not invited or cannot make the trip will be toasting us from afar.

    • Missy June
    • July 9th, 2013

    We used the “Five Year” mark as a rule … “Will this person be in our life five years from now?

    • That’s a great rule, Missy!! My first marriage I used the “3 year rule” as in “have we even seen each other or talked much in 3 years?”. It was a good rule of thumb to go by for me then.

      This time it truly was hard. If we could, we would have everyone who wanted to come join in … but we wanted the intimate and private feel of our day, knowing that while for our family and friends this was a special occassion for them, for us, it’s an extremely emotional and personal step that we wanted our day, when we make this promise and say our “I do’s”, that it’s not broadcast or a public ordeal … which is also why we are having a strict “NO PHONES, NO CAMERAS” policy during the ceremony. We don’t want our faces and our ceremony all over facebook before we even sign the paperwork! It’s something we want to share with the world after we are married and after we have had a chance to see the photos ourselves.

    • Vows for Bride
    • July 14th, 2013

    I love this so much!! Absolutely amazing!!! Love you guys!

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