There’s one important task that needs to be done early when you first start planning your wedding – working out your guest list.
Choosing your wedding guest list
There’re a few good reasons to sort out your wedding guest list first.
It can be one of the most trying tasks, and possibly causes the most friction. As a couple you need to find a balance between seating your extended family and still having enough room for all your friends.
You’ll also need to decide the question of children. Inviting all children can hugely inflate the guest list, while restricting numbers to immediate family only will be sure to upset distant relatives. You will always find one friend who is certain their child should be the exception.
Finally, there is the question of the plus one. Do all your single friends get a plus one? They might not be in a relationship now, but by the time your wedding day arrives, that may change. Do you want virtual strangers at your wedding? On the other hand, would it lessen the enjoyment of the big day for friends if they must leave new partners at home?
There is no right or wrong answer in deciding who to add to your guest list. However, the earlier you decide these details, the better. The size of your guest list may dictate the size of venue you choose. Alternatively, if you have an ideal venue, this may limit the number of guests you can invite.
Sending out a Save the Date card
If you’re planning your wedding far in advance of the big day, it’s a good idea to send a Save the Date card. According to etiquette, these are sent to guests who are invited to both the ceremony and evening reception, usually 6 to 12 months in advance.
Sending out information early allows guests to start planning things like time off work and finding childcare. Wedding guests who have a long way to come can save money by booking flights early, and reserving hotel rooms near the venue. It also ensures that you reserve the date in your friends and family’s diaries before any other wedding or event can sneak in.
The etiquette of sending wedding invitations
Your wedding invitation should be sent at least 8 weeks before the big day – earlier if you can. Remember that you need confirmation from everyone who plans to attend in time to give final numbers to your venue – usually required at least 4 weeks before your wedding day.
If you didn’t send a Save the Date card, get your invitations out earlier, and for the same reasons. Your guests need to know in advance if they are booking time off work, arranging travel and accommodation and to decide on outfits. Although etiquette would say 6 months in advance, we would always suggest that the more notice the better.
Information to include in your wedding invitations
Your formal wedding invitation will usually list the most vital information and start with the names of the hosts. This would traditionally be the bride’s parents, but of course that’s entirely up to you.
Your wedding invitation should include
- The names of the hosts
- The names of the couple
- Time and date
- The location of the ceremony and details of the reception
- Dress code
- Exactly who is invited. Be clear on whether you are inviting adults only, offering a plus one or the whole family are welcome.
- An RSVP card and the deadline to return it.
Further information is provided on a separate sheet, although couples today often create a wedding website. This can be a useful idea for keeping all the information in one place in case anyone loses it beforehand, and to provide a central point after the day to upload photographs taken by guests.
Additional information might include details about the local area, transport options and accommodation for anyone from out of the area. You can also expand on the details of the schedule, food options and your decision whether children or plus one’s are invited. Finally, don’t forget to mention whether there is a free bar, a theme and how to access the wedding gift list. Even if you have decided not to ask for gifts, make it clear so that guests can decide what they would like to do without any awkwardness.
Invitations for your evening reception
It’s quite normal to invite some guests to the evening reception only. This might be dictated by the venue itself. At Coton House Farm, for example, our Old Dairy Barn can seat up to 120 guests for the ceremony, while you can add a further 120 guests for your evening celebration in The Oak Barn.
Invitations to the evening reception can be sent at the same time as the main invites, or closer to the date. There’s no set rule around this, and it can be useful to wait until you know if anyone cannot make the main event, in case you choose to ‘bump’ someone up the list. Having hosted many weddings at Coton House Farm, we have a wealth of knowledge around planning a successful event. Book your viewing today, and we can help you create a magical and unique wedding day.