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Expert Advice On Narrowing Down The Guest List

  |  By David Connolly

Celebrity wedding planner David Connolly from Rich Bride, Poor Bride has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger answering all of your burning wedding-related questions.

Q: Is it acceptable to invite people to only the ceremony (not reception)? We can't afford to feed all the extended family. How do we indicate this to them on the invitation? - Lauren Peters

A: Hi Lauren,

Thank you for your question. It allows me to throw down the gauntlet and suggest that, "We can't afford to feed all the extended family" actually means "We don't want the extended family at our reception, otherwise we would have prioritized our planning to make that possible."

No judgement. It's your prerogative, but be clear that your day is designed by your priorities. Don't blame the budget.

Any budget number can divide into any number of guests and result in a heart-felt affair. A small budget can host 300 people at an alcohol-free BYO-BBQ in a park accessible by public transit with an mp3 dock and visit from an ice cream truck. The same budget could chauffeur 12 of your closest friends to meet you for a night at the finest restaurant in the city.

How can you establish your priorities? Start by answering these questions:

1. Why are we getting married? 2. Why are we having a wedding?

The most common reason to get married is to become a family and a wedding is generally the celebration of becoming that family with...your family. Who and how big in numbers your "family" is can be determined by making a list, in order of importance, of who you want to be there. Whose support you'd like as you promise to love someone forever. Then draw a line where the list divides between "must-have" and "negotiable". There, all done. Your guest list should be the "must-haves", for they represent your chosen family and you don't need anyone else. Let the "negotiables" and "would-be ceremony-only" guests off the hook. Chances are anyone you invite because you think you have to will attend only because they think they have to. And that is not the stuff miracles are made of.

My advice: Only invite guests that you can "afford" to have with you all day long.

Hope that's helpful,


David Connolly is the owner of Aisle File, Toronto's premiere wedding agency. He was a contributing author to Rich Bride, Poor Bride's Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide and is a recurring wedding advisor on Entertainment Tonight Canada, Breakfast Television and is a series expert on Big Voice, currently airing on the Oprah Winfrey Network.


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Wedding Registries Made Easy

Wedding Registries Made Easy