Thursday, April 2, 2009

The B List Dilemma

One of the most contentious issues brides will face when planning their wedding is, without a doubt, putting together a guest list. Everyone will have a list of people they absolutely MUST invite...until you realize your intimate garden ceremony has just ballooned into a 400 person gala because your future mother-in-law just had to invite her book club, co-workers and orthodontist.

Many brides try to solve this problem by creating what they call an "A" and "B" list. The basic theory is that you send out invitations to your A-listers and as the responses come in and people respond in the negative, you're good to send out an invitation to someone on your "B" list. This way you can still plan to invite loads of people and everyone is happy, right? 
Unless you are a meticulous planner and have lots of time on your hands, please think twice before treading down this unpredictable path. I do anything I can to encourage my clients to stick with one list. For several reasons:
• You risk hurt feelings by doing a standby list. Guests who receive an invitation two weeks before the big day will likely know they weren't at the forefront of your mind when you drew up your guest list. Don't make them feel as though they've been picked last in gym class. 
• You will go slightly insane trying to keep track of who has responded from the "A" list and who is next to get an invitation on your "B" list. It's taxing enough with just one list, trust me.
• It might be painful, but sticking with one list will save you money in the long run. You can expect anywhere from 10 to 20% of invited guests to send regrets (more for destination weddings) anyway, so consider combining your "A" and "B" lists. Do the math, does your final head count still look manageable?
• If time management isn't one of your strong suits, consider this bit of advice from ettiquette guru Anna Post: "If you must send out invitations in two stages, be discreet – guests must not ever know they weren't your first choice. Mail the first set a minimum of three months before the wedding, and give those guests at least four weeks to reply. Make sure the second set also has at least four weeks to RSVP; this could push your timetable considerably, so plan carefully." 
You will spend an inordinate amount of time planning your special day. Eliminating the "B" list dilemma can make the process much easier to manage. And you'll save money on Excedrin. Win win.

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