Back when I worked in PR, I spent many a night propped up in high heels on the red carpet running the all-important ‘Guest List’, pushing VIP’s towards the photogs flashbulbs and keeping an eye out for any gate crashers making a cheeky run for the velvet rope. But nothing I ever dealt with during that time (including calling one TOWIE queen bee by her love rival’s name #Awks) has compared to the stress/panic/nailbiting/Grrrrrr inducing moments of drawing up our wedding guest list.
James and I LOVE our family, we LOVE our friends, we LOVE their kids and we even LOVE their pets (shout-out to Alf, Paulo and Dex the coolest cocker spaniels you’re ever likely to meet) – in fact one of the main reasons we are having a wedding in the first place is to celebrate the fact that our two schmazing families are being joined together through the two of us.
That said, in-between now and the wedding we’re taking some pretty big steps including leaving London (the city where we met and our home for 5 years) to move to Kent and buy (fingers crossed) our first home. So with this in mind, we’ve decided to make some decisions that are proving a little controversial and give some serious thought to the reasons why we’re having a wedding in the first place.
1) No Kids Allowed – Apart from those children in the bridal party, we’re not inviting children to our wedding. This is partly down to numbers/finances (even though they might only be 2 years old, they still count as a whole person on your guest list and to your venue), and partly because we don’t have any kids yet. We want out wedding to reflect our life as a couple, and for us that means a very grown-up (slightly debauched) affair – I’m sure if we did have littles of our own then this would be a different story, but for us and the majority of our guests, parenthood is still a long way off. Luckily, our friends that do have kids have been very understanding & cool about the whole thing, which I think is down to the opportunity to have an epic child-free weekend and uninterrupted hangover…
2) Family vs Friends – It’s been tough explaining to the older generation our reasons for not inviting extended family members to the whole day, tradition appears to dictate that family = immediate invite. James and I both have HUGE families, when we initially sat down and listed names we came up with a combined 60 or so family members and our wedding venue only holds 85! Our friends are incredibly important to us and when you’ve lived away from home for as long as we have, they become part of your family. I’m not really sure what the solution to this one is, so any advice from other J&J readers would be massively appreciated!
3) Returning the Favour – We’re at that age now where we are being invited to a LOT of weddings and consider ourselves lucky that people want us to be part of their big day (especially when they know how much food James can put away!). But it does mean that for every invite that falls through the letter box, another 2 people potentially get added to the guest-list – especially when you thought you’d only make the evening & suddenly you’re down for the whole shebang (cue frantic juggling of excel spreadsheet).
4) Plus 1’s – I’ve seen a few friends facing serious family rifts when their cousin meets the love of their life 2 weeks before their wedding and they’re expected to make room for Romeo on the top table. Even though James and I are engaged, I’d never expect or assume he’d be invited to a friend’s wedding and vice versa. We’ve actually had several friends who do have longstanding significant others volunteer to fly solo so as not to put extra pressure on our guest list numbers. It’s little things like this that take the sting out of the stress and make you realise how lucky you are to have such stellar mates.
5) Modern Family – On a more personal note, my mum and dad are no longer together and are both married/engaged to other people. Whilst it’s not the first thing you want to think about when planning your wedding, it does make it easier if you can talk openly about any issues that might arise when it comes to inviting guests from both sides of a split family. I’m sure that this is the case for quite a few couples out there, which is why I’ve been surprised that it’s not spoken about more often and it’s something I hope to share more thoughts on the further into our planning we go. I love my parents very much and I think we’re at a point where our family (which now also includes step-parents and step-siblings) can come together and support James and I on our wedding day.
One piece of advice I keep reminding myself of is that not everyone on our list will be able to attend – whilst for me it might feel like our wedding is the most important date on next year’s calendar, it won’t be for everyone. Some people might be travelling, heavily pregnant, working, or (shock horror) attending another wedding – that’s why it’s worth over estimating those initial numbers by 5% (ish) to allow for a drop-out rate and why we are definitely going to be sending out save-the-dates.
I think it’s quite easy to get bogged down in all the planning admin, especially where family, friends and all the emotions that go along with this are concerned – it’s why I’ve saved a picture on my phone of our wedding venue that I took when we went for our first visit there; it reminds me how excited I am to be marrying my best friend and that as long as we stay focused on what we want, everything else will naturally fall into place.