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Wedding Invitation Flat Lay with Bright Flowers
Photo Courtesy of Krysta Joy Photography

The guest list can sometimes be one of the biggest stressors during your planning process. Whether you are just creating your guest list or giving it that third or fourth pass trying to figure out how to narrow it down. To help you navigate through these tough moments, we are sharing our best tips. At the end of the day, this celebration is about you and your partner, and who you all want by your side on your big day.

Make your guest list before choosing a venue

Making a quick rough draft of your guest list can come in handy while you are searching for a venue.Typically one of the first questions a venue manager will ask is what your expected guest count is, and it’s always good to have an idea. This list will give you a starting point on how many guests you want to attend. Nothing could be worse than falling in love with a venue, and realizing it can only accommodate 100 max, and you have 175 non-negotiable guests on your list. This list is not set in stone, and adjustments can be made as you go through the planning process.

Determine your budget

Not only does your guest count matter when selecting your venue, but it is also the biggest factor when trying to stretch your budget. The number of guests you host will have a direct impact on your budget. More guests means more tables, more centerpieces, more food, more everything. It’s so important to keep that in mind when you are creating your list.

Decide to divide

If your parents are making a contribution to your big day, they may assume this investment includes a say in the invite list. Determine the amount of guests to give each family. Maybe the couple selects 50% of the guest list and each set of parents get 25%. It’s up to you to divide up the list as you choose. Make sure to make it clear from the very beginning, and include everyone in the conversation.

Break it down

We suggest dividing your list into two or even three sections. Start with those you can’t imagine celebrating the day without. This is your first list, and the people who will for sure be included on your guest list. Then take those social, business, and distant connections that would be fun if they were there, but you don’t share the strongest significant bond, and fill in as your budget/venue allows.

Decide where to cut off family invites

As much as you want to invite every single member of your family, there may just not be enough room. As a general rule, if you spend holidays with these family members, you will want to invite them to your wedding. Talk with your parents to see exactly how many extended family members will be invited and decide to stick with a rule. Be consistent with the guests you’re inviting. If you invite one aunt, you should invite the others too. Maybe hold off on those great-aunts and more distant cousins, unless you’re close with them. When in doubt, sometimes it’s better to invite someone than cause a rift in the family.

Coworkers: To invite or not to invite

Inviting coworkers is completely up to you. You don’t have to invite the entire office. Close work friends are always an exception to this rule. If you work on a small team, it is often nice to invite your boss, but not required. A few questions you can ask yourself is:

  1. Do I work with this person on a daily basis?

  2. Do I see this person outside of work?

  3. Would it be awkward if I didn’t invite this person?

Guests you know won’t make it

We are often asked if you should invite someone you know will probably not attend. If it would mean a lot to you if they were there or if it would mean a lot for them to receive an invitation (for example, a long distance grandparent). Send it. If you plan on live streaming your wedding, you could include an insert with the QR code or link to your stream and instructions on how to view.

Pick a plus one strategy

Picking a plus one strategy can be tricky. You want to be consistent with each guest. Let’s start with who should get a plus one. If your guest is married or in a long term relationship, you should allow a plus one. While for a single guest it is always nice to extend a plus one, but never mandatory. If the guest is a member of your bridal party and is not as familiar with others in your party or at your wedding it can make them feel more comfortable. Once you decide on your strategy, stick to it. Don’t break the rules for one but not for others. This can cause hurt feelings.

Decide on children

Some people have families with a lot of kids, while others don’t. It is definitely okay, and becoming more popular in recent years to want an adult only wedding. However, you must be careful with your wording so you don't hurt feelings. Once you have decided, be consistent with each guest. For example, maybe you’d like to invite nieces, nephews, and godchildren only, but not your second cousin’s kids. Make sure you are reflecting that across all cousins and have notified them well ahead of time so they can arrange child care.

A few ways to politely word this would be on your RSVP card and your wedding website. In the RSVP card, consider adding the line “we have saved ___ seats for you” rather than leaving it to them. On your website you could use “We love your children, and thought you could use the night off! Adults only please & thank you” or “With respect, we have decided to have our wedding be an adult only occasion. We hope this advance notice means you are still able to share our big day“.

Stick with the numbers

Every bride can tell you guest lists have a way of fluctuating on their own. Once you’ve reached your final number of guests you can invite, don’t change the list unless it’s to remove people. Make sure everyone knows the guest list has been finalized and no one else can be added. If you are receiving a lot of regrets it can be safe to add a few here and there, but you don't want to go too far above your expected guest count. We recommend leaving a few extra seats for any unexpected guests who are bound to show up.

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Have you ever wondered what you should include in your day-of emergency kit? We have you covered! Find out what we recommend to go in your emergency kit. We even provided you with a packing list you can save on Pinterest or print out.

Photo courtesy of Morgan Newsom Photography

With wedding season right around the corner, we wanted to talk about something super important that is sometimes overlooked: a day-of emergency kit. Now, we know you don’t want to expect emergencies, but you never know when something could happen. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and trust us we have seen it all.

Picture this, it’s 5 minutes before your wedding ceremony. Everyone is lined up and you all are just about to walk down the aisle. You hear a commotion in front of you in line. The strap on a bridesmaid’s dress has just snapped, 3 minutes before the ceremony doors open. While this situation may not be an ideal, you can quickly handle it with an emergency kit.

What is a day-of emergency kit?

It’s exactly what you think: a collection of toiletries and household items to fix any emergency that could happen on your big day. Not only will this emergency kit help you fix small issues, but it will also give you peace of mind to know you’re prepared for anything. Whether it’s a stomachache, a hairdo catastrophe, or the above mentioned broken dress strap — all can be fixed with the contents of your kit, and it can even prevent your bridal party from having to go out to pick up forgotten items. We recommend having both a bridal emergency kit and one for the groom as well.

What should I pack?

Choosing what to put in your wedding day-of emergency kit can seem overwhelming. There’s no way to predict any emergency on your big day, and no two emergency kits will look exactly the same. Figuring out what to put in your kit is a personal choice, and really dependent upon your day. We came up with a list of essentials for your kit to get you started.

Bride Emergency Kit:

  • Nail polish that matches your mani/pedi

  • Lipstick/lipgloss/chapstick

  • Make up for touch-ups

  • Oil blotting sheets

  • Tweezers

  • Bobby Pins/Hair Ties

  • Brush/Comb

  • Nail File

  • Sole inserts for your shoes (thank us later)

  • Extra earring backs and jewelry

  • Lint Roller

  • Sewing Kit

  • Scissors

  • Tide pen/Shout Wipes

  • Fashion Tape

  • Hairspray

  • Lotion

  • Deodorant

  • Breath mints

  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste

  • Tissues

  • Razor

  • Advil/Tums/necessary medication

  • Bandaids

  • Spare contacts/Solution

  • Perfume

  • Phone charger

Groom Emergency Kit

  • Chapstick

  • Deodorant

  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste

  • Advil/Tums/necessary medication

  • Bandaids

  • Spare contacts/solution

  • Cologne

  • Hand cream

  • Shaving kit

  • Sewing kit

  • Tide pen/Shout wipes

  • Extra Cuff Links

  • Extra pair of socks

  • Shoe shine towelettes

  • Lint roller

  • Phone charger

When should you start prepping?

We recommend you start working on this in the month leading up to your wedding. It can sometimes take a while to get everything together, but you certainly don't want to throw it together the night before. Sometimes couples will delegate this task to the maid of honor and/or best man.

Looking for a packing list? Pin this one to print later.

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We are at the tail end of engagement season, and just about to enter an exciting wedding season. If you just got engaged and have no idea what to do next, this one is for you.

Congratulations on your new engagement! Now you may be wondering, what happens next? Before you start to get overwhelmed, don’t worry we’ve got you. There is no cookie cutter timeline for when things should be happening because each couple is different. First and foremost, take a deep breath. There’s not a rule book that says you have to start planning your wedding immediately after engagement. Take some time to yourselves because the engagement period passes much quicker than you think.

So how should you get started? We came up with a list of 5 big todos for those couples who are itching to get started. Planning your wedding can be scary and stressful, but planning a wedding with the love of your life is just the icing on the cake.

1. Tell your Family & Friends. Then Tell Everyone Else

The last place your close family and friends should learn about your engagement is social media. Call up your parents, grandparents, siblings, and best friends to let them know the great news. Your parents probably already have an idea, and are eagerly awaiting the news. From here, you can also start thinking (we say thinking, not asking because you may end up having to make some changes during the planning process) about your bridal party. Not only will you want bridesmaids and groomsmen, but you should also consider ushers and guest book attendants. The latter two tend to be personal preferences, but we highly encourage both in order to keep your guests informed during the actual event. Sometimes people aren’t sure which side to sit on, that is where an usher can come in. Guest book attendants are able to point people in the right direction to the ceremony location, and also assist guests with the guest book if you are doing something more unique.

2. Take Time to Enjoy Your Engagement

Like we said above, your engagement period will pass much quicker than you think. On average, an engagement lasts a year to a year and a half. That is such a short time when you begin to think about your lives together. Talk about the things that matter the most to you and your partner during your big day. Ask questions. When should you have the wedding? Where will it be? How do you envision it? What general type of food do you see yourselves having? Do you even want a big celebration, or should you keep it small? Think about the weddings you have already attended. What did you like about those and what did you not like? Getting on the same page at the very start of planning, even before you begin telling anyone about your plans, is key. It is so much easier to begin planning when you have an idea versus starting from scratch. Don’t forget to just take the time with each other to just soak it all in. This is such a fun season of your life. Your family and friends are so excited for you, and we know you are so excited to celebrate with them.

3. Get Organized

Now it’s time to get to work. Create a checklist of everything you need to get accomplished. Think about your dream vendors, venue, and guest list. Then do some research, and establish your budget. Use a wedding notebook to keep all your thoughts in one place. Another way to get organized, gain inspiration, and keep all your ideas in one convenient location is Pinterest. Pinterest is overflowing with wedding ideas for nearly every wedding style you can imagine. Using the section option on your pinterest board will allow you to organize your pinned posts into different sections of your choosing. For example, bouquets, ceremony decor, reception decor, etc. Pinterest can help you nail down your wedding day aesthetic, and give you interesting ideas to make your day more comfortable for you and your guests.

4. Set Aside Time to Plan

Now that you have an idea of what you want, it’s time to turn those ideas into a reality. Find a venue and secure your vendors for your date as soon as possible. From there take everything piece by piece. Set a goal each month to get something done. However, if the idea of wedding planning makes you want to hyperventilate into a brown paper bag, or if you don’t have much time to plan the event yourself, a wedding planner can be an asset to you. Finding a knowledgeable planner early in the planning process can take a lot off your plate. A planner will assist you with things like finding great vendors, negotiating pricing, reading contracts, and keeping you on track during the process. As your big day gets closer, a good planner will also help you with your wedding weekend timeline, ceremony details, and will stay in communication with your vendors, so you don’t have to worry if everyone is on the same page.

If you are more of a DIY bride, we love to see that too. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Assign tasks to your partner, your bridesmaids, your mom, anyone who will take something off your plate. There are a lot of tasks to accomplish, but not all of them have to be checked off immediately.

5. Have Fun

Wedding planning should be fun for you and your partner. Focus on the fun aspects of planning your wedding. Bridal expos and open houses are always fun for all including couples, wedding parties, and family. Some of our favorite annual events in our area are Bristol’s Bridal Expo in January, and the Commonwealth Event Center’s Bridal Tea. Bristol’s Bridal Expo brings together all kinds of wedding vendors in the area. The Commonwealth Event Center’s Bridal Tea is happening this year on April 3, 2022. Last year’s Bridal Tea was such a great experience. Emily gave a presentation on Guest Experience, which was an absolute hit. We saw many of our brides utilize the advice she gave (stay tuned, maybe you’ll see her presentation replicated on the blog). There are so many aspects of planning a wedding that can be fun. After all, finding the perfect combination of the two of you in the wedding details is what will make it uniquely you.

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