We now continue the ongoing saga of planning the wedding of my daughter Casey and her fiancé Alex, which will be at the Norwalk Aquarium in October.
We’re not due to send our invitation list to the invitation lady until the end of May, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been thinking about it. In fact, we’ve been snubbing people left and right without them even being aware of it.
In the interest of helping others who are in the midst of wedding preparations, I thought I’d share our multi-step process for deciding who to invite:
Step 1: Determine how many guests you can have, taking into consideration any limitations of the venue and/or your budget.
Step 2: Make a list of everyone you want to invite to the wedding.
Step 3: Make a list of everyone you have to invite to the wedding.
Step 4: Draw up rules that determine who qualifies for a Plus 1. For instance, you might decide that only people living together get a Plus 1, or only people who have been dating each other longer than six months, or only people who have good taste in boyfriends/ girlfriends, or only people dating a celebrity who would be cool to have at your wedding.
Step 5: If you don’t know anybody who is dating a celebrity, you can invite one yourself. Hey, you never know. David Tennant, the former Doctor Who, might just happen to be in the area that day and decide to come to the wedding of his Number 1 American Fan. Or perhaps your celebrity of choice might drop by your bridal shower, as Taylor Swift did recently, even though Casey thinks Taylor was a bitch for showing up and draining every last bit of attention away from the bride.* But, I mean, what do you want from the poor girl? She did, after all, bring a lovely Kitchen Aid mixer and some cookies she had baked herself (which she then autographed so the bride could sell them on eBay).
Step 6: Draw up still more rules, these designed to eliminate as many people as possible from Step 3. These rules can include any or all of the following:
- If they have never met the bride or groom, they’re out.
- If you have not seen or heard from them in five years–even on Facebook–they’re out (it doesn’t matter if they’re first cousins).
- If they did not invite you to their kid’s wedding/bar mitzvah/confirmation/etc., they’re out. Obviously.
- If you or anyone in the wedding party wouldn’t recognize them if you saw them on the street, they’re out.
- If they are ex-partners of someone else on the Step 3 list, they’re both out. (You don’t want them making a scene.)
- If you’re not totally sure they’re still alive, they’re out.
- If you can’t find their address on the first page of Google results, they’re out.
- If you really, really hate this person, they’re out. Note: Your spouse (if you’re a parent) or fiancé (if you’re the bride or groom) must agree. This isn’t like jury selection, where you each get a number of unchallenged rejections.
- If past history indicates that they are likely to get really drunk and end up face first in the shark tank at the aquarium, they’re not necessarily out; it depends on how entertaining you think that might be.
Step 7: Ask if the groom’s parents’ would like to invite anybody (just kidding, Fred and Laurie!).
Step 8. Combine your remaining people with their people.
Hopefully, the total will be lower than the number determined in Step 1. But if it isn’t, don’t despair! Fortunately, lots of folks won’t come! It turns out some people just don’t like you as much as you thought they did.
Hey, look, I bet President Obama doesn’t even get a 100% acceptance rate to state dinners, especially if Joe Biden plans to sing. Wedding professionals (or people who have gotten married a lot) will tell you to count on about 80% acceptance, although that can vary widely depending on a number of factors, such as if the wedding is in International Falls, MN in January.
So if the maximum number of people you can have is, say, 150, you can feel safe inviting 187.5 people, knowing that 37 will decline and the half a person will be detained at the airport by the TSA.
It’s good advice to err on the side of caution, though. For one thing, some people are going to want to bring dates even if you didn’t Plus 1 them, which means you’ll either have extra guests, or be in the awkward position of having to tell those people that a) they must come alone, b) their date can come but they can’t, or c) they were on the Step 3 list anyway, so forget the whole thing.
After all, if you end up with fewer people than you allotted for, you could always ask some second-tier friends who don’t mind being contingency invitees. On the other hand, you don’t want to have to call Aunt Philomena with the jello arms and say, “Sorry, Aunt Phil, we overbooked.”**
Only airlines can get away with that.
When all is said and done, if you can’t get the invitation list down to the right number, you’re just going to need a bigger venue or a bigger budget.
Or a stricter set of rules.
See you soon.
*This would not apply if David Tennant showed up at Casey’s wedding. Casey would not mind if he drew attention away from her if it meant she could hang out him all night. Alex might have a problem with it, though.
**On the other hand, if David Tennant says he can come, that old flubby-armed bat is a goner!