Guest List

The guest list is a cornerstone of the planning process. In many respects, one can’t develop a realistic budget or decide on a ceremony and/or reception venue without knowing how many guests one plans to invite. Or, conversely, a couple might have their hearts set on a particular venue and thus the price or capacity limits might influence the headcount. So this is where you — and many of the early challenges in wedding planning — begin.

During the first phases of your engagement, you are bound to face the diplomatically tricky question, “who will we invite to our wedding?” Most couples consider this one of their most complicated tasks, but same-sex couples face an extra layer of concern. Should you invite a relative who doesn’t support your marriage? Will your family and friends respect your celebration, or should those with more vocal objections be excluded? Can you comfortably invite someone who has a closed mind, but an open heart? As with every decision you make about your celebration, begin with a sensitive discussion of each of your values, then make choices that honor those values.

Whom Should You Invite to Your Gay or Lesbian Wedding?

As you create your list of guests, give priority to those who are most important to you as a couple. Often parents or other family members will have a wish list of possible invitations, and it is considerate of you to take those names under advisement. However, don’t be bullied into inviting people you don’t genuinely want to be present on your wedding day. You are not required to include coworkers, friends of friends, or even “plus ones” unless they are in a serious relationship with your invited guests.

When planning a same-sex wedding, it is vitally important to include only those people who will stand in support of your relationship and approve of your union. This is your special day – the celebration of your marriage. There is no reason to surround yourself with discord as you embark upon your new lives. As painful as the thought of not including a relative might be, you need to start on the right foot, embraced by those who truly love and respect you.

Why A Thoughtful Guest List is Key

There are as many logistical factors when you are creating your list as there are social-emotional ones. Budget, venue options, and your “ideal” guest list all contribute to your target number, and all three need to be considered simultaneously during the earliest stage of your planning. Among your reflections should be:

• How restrictive is your budget? Will lowering the guest count help you keep your expenses under control?

• What is the maximum capacity of your preferred ceremony venue and reception site? How is capacity impacted if you must implement an inclement weather or emergency plan?

• Are you planning a destination same-sex wedding or elopement? Is the cost of travel to your wedding site prohibitive for many of your prospective guests?

• What do each of you envision for your wedding day? Have you dreamed of a grand celebration, or an intimate exchange?

As you delve deeper into these questions, you may find you have to adjust one category to accommodate another. For example, you may need to increase your budget to secure a larger venue to better fit a larger guest list. If your budget is inflexible, you may be required to eliminate some guests and choose a smaller venue.

Construct your budget and guest list simultaneously, and be comfortable with both before signing a binding agreement with your venue. Time invested in preparation now will save you stress and strife later down the road!