Creating the Right Type of Guest List

I watched an old episode of How I Met Your Mother and heard Ted Mosby drop some knowledge.

“The wedding you set out to have is almost never the wedding you end up with.”

Image via Photo credit CBS Broadcasting

Image via
Photo credit CBS Broadcasting

I can totally attest to this when it came to creating my guest lists for my weddings.

When creating the guest list for the American wedding I sat down and I pictured what I wanted my wedding to be like, which would be lots of smiles and laughing with my nearest and dearest in a very intimate affair.  I wrote down the names of my closest family members and friends and presented it to my mother. She looked at my guest list of about 40 people and said, “Oh Honey, this is all wrong.”

She proceeded to list family members that I had to add; family members who I haven’t seen or heard from in at least 10 years.   I explained to her that I wanted an intimate wedding and I didn’t want to be introduced or reintroduced to people at my wedding. I wanted to laugh and dance with the people I love and not have a room full of strangers.

“Honey, what you have here is a guest list for a birthday party.  Wedding guest lists are different. You have to invite the people you are supposed to invite, not just the people you want to invite,” she explained.


Hey Mom, birthday parties are fun! Can’t my wedding be too?

This got me thinking.  Are wedding guest lists that different from birthday party guest lists? Of course, I know that birthday parties and weddings are completely different. One event happens every year and the other happens one to a few times in your life. A wedding is a huge moment in your life that you want to share with the world, but is it also an event where you have to fulfill obligations? I have seen lots of etiquette questions on wedding blogs asking “I invited this co-worker, do I have to invite the other one as well?” or “I want to invite this person but not their significant other.” Making a guest list is a minefield of etiquette dos and don’ts.

When I first started wedding planning I thought I would invite whoever I wanted and have a devil- may- care attitude to those who weren’t invited. Then reality hit when I was making the guest list for my Japanese wedding and I realized that it would be pretty rude to invite 13 out of the 14 co-workers at my job. I bit the bullet and decided to invite everyone and avoid any possible conflict.

It began to dawn on me that my mother probably wanted to avoid any conflict as well.  I live half way across the globe and would be protected from any conflict. My mother, on the other hand, would probably get a few phone calls if anyone felt offended.

So in the end I didn’t fight it. My mother and father are generously paying for the wedding and if she if she feels the need to invite people to make things comfortable in the family and avoid any awkwardness it’s fine with me.

I got the final list later from my mother and it had blown up from 40 to 90 people, and 30 of the people I have never met in my entire life. Do I care? Not so much, I am going to surround myself with the people I love and give polite hellos to my other guests that are at the wedding. I am sure that Mr. G and I will have a good time no matter what.

Anyone else wishing they had a birthday party guest list than a wedding guest list for their wedding?


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