ADVICE: Be realistic with the guest list

I recently read a fantastic article about destination weddings and how couples should be more realistic with guest list, having seen so many couples go from 40 to 50 guests when they first book a wedding to 25 to 30 guests come the wedding day, I felt some of the advice in the article was really worth sharing with you so here goes......

Be realistic with the guest list

If you ‘ve always wanted a 120-person wedding (with your family, extended relatives, friends & co-workers, etc.), then a destination wedding may not be for you. The majority of your dream guests won't be able to come.

Don't take declines personally, but know you probably will. And try not to get too bent-out-of-shape. There are all kinds of reasons traveling even 50 miles from home will exclude some guests. Some people can't get the time off work, have kids, have medical issues and of course the main one the added cost to what may already be a financial struggle. You never know people's situations, and even though they may look like they're rolling in it, the reality could be very different.

Sit down with your partner and make a master guest list and then rank everyone into 3 columns:

A: Essential to be there

B: Would really love them to be there

C: I should invite them

Then cut your C guests, and cut the bottom ½ of your B guests. Your A column and your reduced B column are the people most likely to come to your wedding, and this is probably a realistic guest list. Now cut those numbers by half, and those are the people that are likely to come. If you are not okay with that, a destination wedding may not be your cup of tea.

Prepare yourself for essential family members not being able to make it. Consider consulting with your families before making plans, if you have an elderly relative who is or many be too weak or unwell to fly, imagine how you would feel if they were not there on your special day, if you decide you can’t do it without them then again a destination wedding may not be for you, but on the other hand if you can consider having the wedding filmed for their enjoyment on your return.

Consider eloping

Everyone who is planning a destination wedding has probably thought about eloping. This was our original plan actually, but I was betrayed by my need for attention and sentimental heart. Eloping sometimes is the fairest way to get married abroad, because you are not making everyone spend a ton to get there, and you're not leaving any one person out. Eloping can be very romantic and can be as simple or elaborate as you would like. And if you'd like to still have a party, you can consider having a reception when you get home.

Eloping can solve a lot of destination wedding headaches, but be prepared for family to be offended. They may have dreamt of your wedding since you were a child and they may feel hurt by being left out.

It's not an RSVP until they buy their tickets

Every couple has to go through the RSVP shuffle with their guests, and destination weddings are even worse.

Let your guests know about your plans ASAP. The longer they have to prepare, the more time they have to start saving up.

Give yourself a deadline for RSVPs at a reasonable distance from the date. Then tell your guest the deadline is two weeks earlier than it actually is.

When people RSVP, ask for their flight info. If they haven't bought a ticket, it's not an RSVP. If you are two weeks from the ceremony and a guest hasn't bought their ticket (unless they are a devil-may-care kind of flyer that likes to book at the last min), it's unlikely that they will come.

Make it a group vacation

For a lot of your guests, your wedding will be their vacation for the year — so try to make it fun. Provide your guests with info on non-wedding attractions in the area, and have their interests in mind. Our friends are a mix of sporty outdoors people, cultural snobs, and families with small children. We provided links on our wedding website to everything from nature trails, to water parks, to the local symphony. Find out when your guests are flying in and try to plan a few activities on those dates. These don't have to break the bank. Some of the activities planned for our wedding week are a beach picnic, a free winery tour, a trip to the local open-air market, and a post-wedding brunch.

Don't feel that you need to do something every day. Your guests would like some down-time to do their thing.

Go gift-less

Gifts are a touchy subject for destination weddings, as your guests are probably spending considerably more to attend than if you had your reception locally. Talk with your partner and have a clear stance on gifts from the beginning.

If your destination wedding is considerably far from home, consider straight-up telling your guests that their presence at your wedding will be their gift.

Keep your suitcase in mind

When buying or making anything for your wedding, ask yourself: "How am I going to get it there?" Our groomsman wanted to make origami octopus place cards for the tables before we leave. It's a great idea and I love it, but they would be killed in a suitcase, and take up a lot of room in a shipping box.

If you have friends or family living in your chosen destination, their house will soon become your wedding shipping address. For the rest of us, anything for the wedding needs to be packed in a bag or bought on-site.

Almost every guest has been assigned some item to pack in their bags and bring with them. I have practice-packed (yes, I practice packing) our bags. Two checked bags each, no more than no more than 50 kilos (110 pounds), and two on-board bags (my dress counts as one). Everything that didn't fit got assigned to guests' bags.

Be flexible

Every wedding has unforeseen hurdles and so will your destination wedding. Things may not work out as you planned, but try to be flexible, and roll with the punches.

You are going on an adventure with the love of your life and the best people in the world. Challenges may come but you guys can overcome anything.

You can read the full article here

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