One of the first things Sean and I did as an engaged couple was create our (preliminary) guest list. That, we felt, was the first step, important for choosing our venue. I’ve heard that for some couples, this is the hardest part and has the potential to lead to the most disagreements. Lucky for us, we mostly agreed on our list.
As we sat down to create our list, Sean suggested we approach it with a very open mind: just write down anyone and everyone we’d want to be there on our special day. Then, once we saw how large that list was, we could pare down to a more comfortable number. In theory I loved this approach, but it was very challenging for me in practice. Sometimes I can be too practical, and this hinders my ability to dream big. Sean, on the other hand, is a dream-now-rationalize-later type, an enviable quality that challenges me almost daily.
So Sean began listing everyone he’s ever known (ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration … maybe) while I bit my tongue from saying the “buts” that occasionally popped into my overly practical head (You want to invite him? You haven’t seen him since elementary school/college/law school/etc). Sean’s list spanned from childhood friends (and their parents) to his college lacrosse buddies, to current co-workers and many people he’s met in between. My list, much to the contrary, included only people I’ve seen or talked to within the last year. (My approach was much more conservative and similar to the approach I take when cleaning out my closet: Have I spoken to/seen this friend in a year/Have I worn this dress since last fall?)
We both knew that we didn’t want an overly large wedding. Ideally, we’d invite everyone who’s played an important role in our lives. Even more important to us than having our family and friends at our reception is that we actually get to spend time with those who are there to celebrate with us. I know that this is a challenge for many couples on their Big Day—finding time to say more than “Hi! Thanks for coming!”— before moving on to the next table of guests. (Let me get a little nerdy on you: If you invite 150 guests to a four-hour reception, you will get about a minute and a half with each guest—that’s it!) Big weddings definitely work for some couples and are a lot of fun to attend as a guest, while small weddings are intimate and make guests feel very special, but Sean and I aim to fall somewhere in the middle: a wedding big enough that includes many of the people we love, but small enough that we can talk to each of them.
At this point, I feel good about our achieving that balance. I learned from our engagement party that there will never be enough time, but I also know everyone we plan to invite knows that they are there because we love them and they will be happy to celebrate with us.
How did you come up with your guest list? Were you more like Sean or like me?