Sharing your day with friends and family, whether it’s a select few or a small army of them, will no doubt add to the joy of your wedding.
Our wedding etiquette guides are here to help, and today we want to talk about guests. The dos, the don’ts and everything in between. How to compile a guest list, whether you should invite children to your wedding or not, the etiquette behind invitations and why you should have a gift list.
The Guest List
The size of your guest list is dictated by your budget and personal preference. If you’ve set your heart on a certain venue, this may also limit numbers. Once you’ve set a maximum head count, don’t be tempted to exceed it! Don’t rely on a drop-out rate either, because you’ll find yourself in a spot of bother if all your guests accept.
The easiest way to draw up a list is to start by including everyone you’d like to invite, then start eliminating names. This is can be a difficult (and ruthless) process, but start by dropping people you haven’t seen for several years. You’re not obliged to invite work colleagues or include a plus one for single friends. Many couples draw up their guest list with their parents. Even if the couple themselves or their parents are footing the whole bill, it’s only fair that everyone has a chance to say whom they’d like to invite. Whether they make it to the final list or not is another thing!
Deciding how to share out the list between the different parties and families demands a little diplomacy (and lots of patience). Things can be difficult if parents feel their share of the guest list should be larger than the couple would like. There may be distant relatives they’d like to invite just to be polite, while you may rather invite more friends. It’s quite common for some couples to have a two-stage reception, inviting a small group of guests to the ceremony and meal, then having an evening party to which additional guests are invited.
Remember, if you invite someone to your wedding, it should be because you really want them to be there, so you and your other half should have the final say.
Inviting Children – Yes or No?
Whether or not to invite children is a tricky decision. There are no rules of etiquette about whether or not to invite them – it’s completely down to your own preference, budget and circumstance. Some people feel a wedding wouldn’t be complete without kids around, especially if you already have children of your own, and you may want to have little flower girls and pageboys, other people see weddings as a formal, adult occasion.
If you decide not to include children, it’s diplomatic to let certain close family members and friends know verbally, so that you can explain your reasons without causing offence. Bear in mind that some guests may not be able to find or afford babysitters for their children during your wedding (especially if you’re having a destination wedding) and therefore won’t be able to come.
Whatever you decide, the decision must be the same for everyone. The only exception to this is your immediate family – it’s natural to invite little nieces and nephews even if you’re not having any other children attend.
If you do include children, think about ways to keep them entertained. If there are a lot of them, think about hiring an entertainer or a bouncy castle. A special children’s table is a great idea, complete with toys or colouring sets and child friendly food.
Traditional invitations are always printed, but more couples are choosing to opt for the more Eco-friendly, e-invite. There is a traditional wording format used for wedding invitations but again, many couples now choose to write something less formal, often including something romantic, witty or something that ties into their chosen theme.
With formal invitations, guests’ names are handwritten in the top left hand corner or in the space provided in the invitation text, and full titles are always used. If you’re sending an invitation to a married couple, the correct form of address on the envelope is “Mr and Mrs Jude Law” (yes, we’re dreaming a little here).
It’s good etiquette to send an invitation to the groom’s parents and if you’re having a religious ceremony, to the minister. If your reception includes a formal dinner and dance and you want guests to wear black tie and evening dress, then “Black Tie” should be noted on the right hand corner of your invitations. If you’re having an evening party to which you’re inviting extra guests, there should be a separate invitation for this.
It is traditional to send your invitations out about 12 weeks before the big day to allow people to book time off work or arrange travel and accommodation. If you’re having a destination wedding abroad, then invitations should go out about 6 months in advance if possible to allow people to save money and make travel plans.
The Wedding Gift List
A gift list serves a practical purpose, saving you from getting 501 toasters as wedding gifts. Having said that, I was given a Dualit toaster by my work colleagues 8 years ago and I still love it….back to the point…
Gift lists make life easy for your guests, who can be confident they’ve bought you something you really want. On the other hand, it’s important you don’t appear greedy or asking for presents. Many couples include their gift list details with their invitations (which to us makes sense) but this is not considered traditional etiquette.
Whether your gift list has items for your new home, a honeymoon fund or is used to stock up your wine rack, there are many department stores offering gift lists, but we think a cash gift list is the best option, allowing you to buy what you want, wherever you want it from.
Want to find out more about Zankyou’s gift list? It’s quick to set up, easy to use and completely safe. Spend your money where you want, whenever you want!
*Our tips and advice are purely for guidance purposes and based on a traditional wedding. We appreciate that each wedding is different, each family is different and many couples choose to organise things in their own way. Always remember, your wedding, your way.