Depending on the size and complexity of your family and social circle, planning a guest list can be difficult for any wedding. A destination wedding means that there are certain issues you’ll need to give more thought to than you would if you were planning a traditional wedding. Here are some common guest list issues for a destination wedding and some tips to help.
VENUE LOCATION AND CAPACITY
Destination wedding invitations should be sent out much earlier than traditional wedding invitations, and that’s partly because it’s important to determine a tentative head count before making a down payment on a wedding site or venue. Due to the distance, you can’t afford to underestimate the number of guests. For example, if your Bali wedding venue can only seat 80 people, then 80 is your rock-solid maximum number of guests. If your pre-list tops that number, you’re either going to have to do some chopping or find another venue. You can’t expect 20 people to go through the expense of making the trip and have to stand in the back, nor do you want to pay extra hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars for too many plates at the reception dinner.
PARENTS MAY WANT TO BRING THEIR CHILDREN
You may generally think kids are great, but you may not want them at your wedding. Considering the time off work, the travel time and the opportunity to see more of the world, some guests with children will want to bring them along on the trip. If that’s a sticking point to you, you need to make it as clear as possible that children are not welcome in advance. This may exclude some very important guests from your celebration, however. A good alternative is to limit children to the immediate family, and/or have a room set aside at the reception for a children’s party. Simple food, simple entertainment like movies and a chaperone or two will keep children from running amok at your reception.
HOW IS THE COST SPLIT?
Traditionally, each family invites half of the guests. However, depending on who is taking on the bulk of the expenses, you may have to find a different way to divide the guest list. Remember, because it’s a destination wedding, your guests may expect you to cover the cost of any extra events that are part of the celebration, for example, brunch, dinner or excursions. This can stretch your wedding budget to the limit pretty quickly, so make sure that it’s clear what’s covered and what isn’t. If you, the couple, are paying for the wedding, a good formula is one third of the list for the bride’s family, one third for the groom’s family and one third for the couple. Complicated family dynamics like divorce and remarriages might change things a little, but it’s a good rule of thumb. If it’s a truly intimate wedding with under 30 guests, formulas go out the window and the couple can decide who makes the list.
WHO CARES? DO YOU? DO THEY?
Finally, as at any wedding, the guest list should be mostly about your nearest and dearest, but this is especially true when limiting the guest list for a destination wedding. Would you buy this person dinner just because you wanted to? While you and your fiancé are at the altar pouring your hearts out to each other, will this person care, or, will they be counting the minutes until the bar opens? Would you put their picture into your wedding scrapbook? Having a destination wedding gives you the perfect opportunity to invite only those you would answer ‘yes’ for, and forget any guilt or family pressure.