Relatives – Those “weddings and funerals” relatives with whom you really don’t have a relationship? The cousins and aunts and uncles that you rarely see that you really don’t know? Let them go. They don’t want to come to your wedding. They don’t want to get dressed up, they don’t want to travel, and they don’t want you at their wedding, either! Great! Break the cycle of pain and let them off the hook. Better to fill the room with people whom you love and who love you.
Your parents’ friends and colleagues – Your parents may want to show you off to their friends and colleagues. That’s a wonderful thing, to be sure. Some parents never get to entertain, and they might see your wedding as a great opportunity to do that. If you happen to know and love their friends and colleagues, then go for it. If not, consider suggesting that your parents throw a separate, dedicated party a few months after your wedding. At that party you can give your best attention to these good people, all of whom are important in your parents’ lives (but not yours).
Children – You may have the kind of extended family for whom having the children around all the time is part and parcel of the family culture. If that’s your desire as well, then by all means, invite the whole clan! On the other hand, many couples are best served by limiting the guest list to adults (with the possible exception of their own children or their chosen flower children or ringbearers).
Young children often don’t understand what’s going on at weddings. There is a lot of sitting and listening, which is not the favorite activity of most kids. They’re frequently bored and restless. These kids – and you – will be happier if they’re somewhere else.
Your guests who are parents may welcome the opportunity to simply be your guests, without having to divide their attention between participating in your wedding and caring for their children.
From a cost perspective, everyone who takes up a seat is a guest as far as the catering is concerned. Each guest costs money and space. Even if you’re using a reduced-price children’s menu, the cost can add up. The presence and number of children on your guest list also has impact on your choice of venue, most directly in terms of size.
If you’re self-catering, consider the need for more and sometimes different food (think chicken nuggets and french fries) and beverages. If you’re renting or borrowing equipment, you’ll also need more tables and chairs, and perhaps a high chair or two.
Plus-ones – All of the etiquette writers agree that inviting plus-ones is never the right thing to do. Why give someone else the ability to invite people to your wedding? Their plus-one knows nobody, so at your wedding your guest becomes their date instead of your guest, and you lose them both. Better to send them $100 and tell them to go out on a date!
Your wedding is not like a dinner party, where there is no focus. Your wedding is an event with a clear purpose: your guests are coming to participate (not just watch) in the union of two people, and to celebrate that union with you. You’ve chosen those guests because you want them to be involved in your marriage, to bring you strength, growth, and happiness. This is no place for strangers. Plus one’s are the opposite of the people whom you love and who love you.
Next time: More on how to create the perfect guest list for your wedding!