Creating a guest list for your gay wedding might be a piece of cake (pun intended) if you’re only planning to include a few close friends and family. If you’re including more than a few people, creating your gay wedding guest list can also be one of the most difficult tasks you will have to perform when planning your wedding.
Technology for Your Gay Wedding Guest List
The guest list for your gay wedding is a big administrative task. It’s a living, breathing list that you will constantly refer to and that might change on a daily basis. Just getting everybody’s names spelled correctly can even be a challenge. Then you have to record everyone’s mailing address. You might use the list to print mailing labels, or provide it to a printer to print envelopes. You will use the list to track who accepts, declines and hasn’t responded yet so you can follow up. You might even record diet restrictions or meal choices on your list. Your gay wedding guest list will determine the final count you give to the caterer that directly translates to your cost. And you’ll probably use the list to track who gave you which wedding presents so you can send thank-you notes.
There are basically two choices you have for tools to use: low-tech or hi-tech. The low-tech solutions are Excel spreadsheets or Google Sheets templates that you can download and customize for your needs. Microsoft Office 365 provides a basic template you can modify, and other templates include summary data such as the number attending and the associated cost. If you choose the spreadsheet option, store the spreadsheet on your Microsoft OneDrive or your Google Drive so you don’t have to worry about losing the only copy of your spreadsheet when your hard drive crashes a week before your wedding.
Hi-tech options allow you to do everything from creating your budget to creating a wedding website where people can RSVP online. The Knot provides a great set of hi-tech tools and is more gay-friendly than many other wedding tool providers. You have to join the website, but it’s free.
Guest List Wedding Traditions
The straight wedding tradition is for the bride and groom to get 50 percent of the invites and the parents of the bride and parents of the groom to each get 25 percent. What happens in reality might be more dependent on who pays for the wedding. Nevertheless, while we’re not suggesting you adopt this tradition, understand that it’s not unusual to split the number of invites among the key contributors to the wedding.
It will help you fine-tune your invitation list if you set some rules to follow and then make exceptions to those rules as necessary. Here are some categories to consider making rules for.
When you invite someone single to your wedding, are you going to allow them to bring a date? These extra people can really add up and can wind up being no-shows that you have to pay for. If you want to restrict this, set a rule that you will only allow guests for people who are married, engaged, living with a partner or who have been dating for at least a year. Find out that person’s name and include it on the invitation list. Otherwise, no uninvited guests are permitted.
Many gay wedding are for adults only, and many gay weddings have lots of kids in attendance, too. It depends on your family situation and your preferences. Make a rule up front about whether kids are allowed and what age defines the transition from kid to adult. If you don’t allow kids, make it clear on the invitation that it’s an adults-only wedding. If your guests have to travel and might bring their kids anyway, you might want to consider providing some kind of childcare if you don’t want the kids to come to the reception.
Deciding who to invite from work can be one of the most difficult decisions. We think you should either invite nobody or invite a small group of people who can socialize with each other during the wedding.
If you invite work colleagues, limit the list to those you socialize with outside of the office. However, if you work on a small team and you socialize with most, but not all, of the team members, it’s probably best to invite the whole team. When you invite people from work, it’s usually customary to invite your direct supervisor or manager.
When you’re at work, be mindful of who’s on your guest list and don’t bring up the wedding or talk about your wedding-planning stress around people who aren’t on the guest list.
What about Jerry, your third cousin twice removed? Set a limit to how far you will look at the family tree. For example, you might draw the line at your first cousins and your parents’ first cousins. Second and third cousins aren’t invited unless you make an exception.
If you or your partner have an ex and are still close to your ex, you might want to invite them to your wedding. Have an honest discussion with your partner about how comfortable they will be if your ex or their ex attends the wedding.
Creating Your List
Before you create your list, you should have created your gay wedding budget and have a very good idea of how many people can attend.
We suggest you start off by making a list of everyone you would want to attend your wedding. It’s OK if you don’t remember what someone’s partner’s name is right now, but mark down how many people you’re including with each name. Then assign a priority of A, B or C.
- A – You couldn’t imagine getting married without these people there.
- B – You really want to have these people attend your wedding.
- C – It would be nice to have these people come to the wedding.
Next, take the lists that you, your partner, your families and any other person who claimed invites, merge the list and count the number of A, B and C people.
If the number of A people is greater than your budget, you have some tough choices to make, and it’s going to be an A-List only gay wedding. On the other hand, if A + B + C is within your budget, you’re going to be able to invite everyone on the lists. The more likely scenario is that either A+B or A+B+C is greater than your budget, and you’ll have to either remove some B-List or some C-List people to get the count right.
One approach to reducing the list is to rank order everyone on either the B-List or the C-List in terms of who you would most like to have. Then cut off the list where your budget ends.
Over-Inviting and Acceptance Rates
Not everyone you invite will accept and you might decide to take your chances by inviting more people than you actually expect given the acceptance rate you anticipate. A general rule is to expect an acceptance rate of about two-thirds, but that varies greatly. Guests who live close by will probably accept at a much higher rate, such as 85 percent. Guests who have to travel typically accept at a lower rate, such as 55 percent.
If you over-invite and wind up with more people than you budgeted for, you will have to deal with the added expense. But if you over-invite and wind up with more people than the venue can accommodate, you have a big problem. We recommend that you use the venue maximum as a hard rule and don’t exceed that number. You might be surprised by the number of people who accept that you thought might decline.
Save The Date Postcards
Once you have your guest list mostly done, a next step will be to select and mail your wedding invitations. However, if you don’t plan on sending invitations for a while, you might want to send a “Save the Date” postcard to everyone on your gay wedding invitation list, especially if you’ve chosen a date during peak wedding season.
Don’t Make These Mistakes
There are a few things that you should not do when you’re planning your gay wedding invitation list:
- Don’t verbally suggest that you’ll see someone at your wedding until the list is final. Receiving no invitation is better than receiving a verbal invitation and then not being invited.
- Don’t send out late invitations as people decline their RSVP. There’s a short enough timespan that people will know they were second choices.
- Don’t say Yes, just say “No” when someone asks if they can bring a guest. Once you make one exception, you’re bound to make many more.