Before you do anything else (like pick a venue), you need to have a rough idea of how many people you plan to invite.—Meg’s book
It seems that when planning a wedding, you have to decide on something to get you started. As Meg suggests, the guest list is a great place to start. However, it also involves the hardest decisions of all, so Brandon and I put it off. We were secretly hoping that the wedding genie would create the perfect list overnight, one that would cause no offense and disguise all awkward truths.
Apparently, there is no wedding genie (though thank heavens for the elves). Without an approximate number nailed down we stumbled on. But the answer to all our other questions was a panicked “I don’t know!” For example:
“When are we having this reception?” (Hi! Already married.)
“I don’t know! When can we get the venue?”
This led naturally on to:
“Which venue do we want?”
“I don’t know! Did you like the one that only takes more than eighty people or the one that only takes less than fifty or the one that takes any number if you bring your own chairs?”
By this point, we were skirting round the issue of the Budget. We knew it was important to have one of these. We even opened a spreadsheet. But how can you budget for something if you don’t know what it costs? We did our best:
“How many chairs can we afford?”
“I don’t know! I have $30 in my wallet. How much do chairs cost?”
Then we really got lost in the terrifying wilds of the Wedding Industrial Complex.
“I’ve found a website for chairs but only with extra cocktail tables. Did we want cocktail tables?”
“I don’t know! If we bring tables the venue will enforce a mandatory ice sculpture policy.”
Wandering about in these wilds is fine for short periods, but it does not advance you towards the goal of decision-making. Your options multiply, and when you pause to draw breath, you will turn back to your spreadsheet and see that you’ve accidentally budgeted three million dollars.
We tried to rationalize:
“Maybe we can return some chairs—if nobody sits on them?”
“Shall we say ‘comfy shoes’ in the invites?”
“Could we draw up a budget ‘with chairs’ and a budget ‘without chairs?’”
“Is it tacky to ask guests to bring their own chair?”
This, too, was not productive. One of us finally asked:
“Will Aunt Mabel even come if she has to bring a chair?”
(Note: Aunt Mabel is a composite of everyone we know.) And that brought us full circle:
“I don’t know! She won’t come anyway if we don’t hurry up with this Save the Date.”
“Well, we’ll just have to decide. When are we having this reception?”
Planning a big event, it turns out, is hard. Planning an event without knowing how big it will be may be impossible. So we took a deep breath and made choices. One thing that spurred me on was reading that Meg and David sent more invites than Save the Dates once they knew they would have space. The knowledge that the final choice didn’t have to be final was helpful. But so was learning to make a ballpark decision and stick with it. Not just for weddings, but for life!
Let me offer a happy ending: Brandon and I whittled at our list until we had a number we were both agreed on. Then we put down a deposit on a venue which allows you to adjust the guest list until two weeks before the event. Then we celebrated with an episode of Law and Order. In short, there is hope for us all.
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