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Bullshit-free Bride: Curating the Guest List

By Eemusings @eemusings

With a wedding venue found and a date set (May, and luckily I was flexible – i.e. had trouble choosing a date – as it wound up being dictated by availability), the next step post-booking was rallying the troops.

We’re limited to 50 people at our chosen wedding venue (a deliberate choice we both rejoiced in).

I honestly did not think this would present much difficulty. Our nearest and dearest do not add up to a huge number.

But once family, plus ones, and group dynamics were taken into account, I was forced to pare down.

Even with only very immediate family included, that still added up to almost 20 (damn his large brood!) and there are certain friend groups that come as a package. You know? Inviting one means inviting them all. The issue of plus ones was also a struggle. Those who had invited us to their weddings obviously both needed to be invited to ours. Other long-term relationships, likewise.

I think we’ve finally nailed it, though – and if there are a few declines, there is a vague B-list waiting in the wings to be called upon.

I also stuck to my guns on online invites. This is 2012, after all. I work in online media. And digital RSVPs will make my life SO much easier. Saving trees and cash are just the icing.

Figuring out the best way to go about it wasn’t so easy. I started a Weddingwire website, but couldn’t see an obvious way to send out direct email invites (and the RSVP function on the site was incredibly awkward; I wouldn’t subject anyone to it by choice). I then signed up at myinvites,  but I wanted to personalise my emails with names, and send out some to couples/families rather than to each individual. Again, I couldn’t see a clear way to doing that. So I finally turned to, which thankfully has a much more straightforward RSVP function. It also has more intuitive website building (though both sites are very 1990s in their back-end builders) and the option to email guests from within. DONE.

Also, I’ve hinted at this before, but we were planning on a dry wedding. Not dry as in weather-wise (this is Auckland, and this will be Auckland in autumn) but alcohol-free. Neither of us are big drinkers, and I most definitely will not be drinking on the day - even if I wanted to, vanity alone would stop me.

But the sole reason behind that is the fact there are certain family members it would be unthinkable NOT to invite – people who cannot drink like civilised humans.

Not as in ‘get pissed and crack inappropriate jokes’ as I understand awkward uncles often do (so I hear). Not as in ‘a few too many glasses of wine and get overly maudlin or fall off the chair’. No, as in ‘get drunk, start fist fights with anyone around you, punch holes in the wall, drive off and total your car’. It is guaranteed. I’ve seen all this happen at family occasions – granted, not all of the above happened in any one night; I’m consolidating multiple disasters into one example – but you get the idea.

This is not joking stuff – this is bypassing all jolly social norms and going straight to Unacceptable Town – and I was not prepared to tolerate even the possibility of such behaviour at my wedding. Sorry if I sound like a pompous schoolmarm, but it’s not only a matter of ruining a once-in-a-lifetime day, but possibly racking up a large repair bill in my name to boot. And it’s not like you can allow *almost* everyone to drink, but ban a couple of people specifically from doing so.

As I say, these were immediate family, and therefore not optional when it came to the guest list. But with other, very recent circumstances taken into account, they have in fact apparently been blacklisted to the point that they don’t automatically qualify an invite. I have mixed feelings about this, as you can probably imagine, but there’s a lot of relief in there. It’s not impossible that they’ll sort their acts out and earn a place in the next six months, I guess. But in the meantime, I now feel safe in loosening up and making it BYO.

On a slightly less heavy note, I now have to figure out what to do about my bridal party (I think we have decided that we WILL have them).

I originally planned to ask my three closest friends (all guys), but in a recent catchup with my best girlfriend, she volunteered to possibly organise a hen’s night for me (horrendous term … SO much worse than stag do, and one case in which I definitely prefer the Americanised ‘bachelor/bachelorette party’) after I said I wasn’t planning on having one. In which case, maybe I should ask her to be in my bridal party. Maid of honour, even? Now that she’s finished with university and has a lot more free time, I’m confident she can commit to it – not that there’s really anything to commit to, in all honesty. I can’t think of anything I would ask her to do, aside from show up on the day.

In that case, do I have a mixed bridal party? Scrap the guys entirely, and ask one of my other closer girlfriends to partake? I also have to factor in T’s two nieces, whom I said could be flower girls. I’m not planning on having flowers, though, so might have to think of something else for them to do.

Anyone have fun guest list anecdotes to share?

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