Who Are These People?!? Navigating Your Wedding Day Guest List

So, the "Big Day" is coming up fast, and it's time to send out your wedding invitations. Who makes the cut and who gets left off the list? We know, it sounds intimidating, but we here at Manly Bands are here to make it a snap, leaving you with the perfect list of those who really matter.

STEP 1: THE 5 CIRCLES

It may sound weird, but trust us: This visual representation will help put things in perspective, making it easy to determine if someone gets a physical invitation, or just a notification down the road. Follow along with our little "arts & crafts" project for a couple minutes.

Start with a big dot in the center of a piece of paper. Not too big, but enough to serve as the focal point of the page. Then, draw five increasingly larger circles around that dot, forming five rings (wedding donuts?) around the dot. That dot in the center is you and your spouse-to-be. Look at you two, looking all cute and dot-like.

STEP 2: FILLING THE DONUTS

Let's start in the center, with the first ring. Put your best friends (Your Best Man and Maid Of Honor), and both sets of parents (or whatever your lives have for that role.) If you want to split it down the middle ("Your Side" and "Their Side"), go ahead, but it isn't that important. What is important is that you stop filling that circle here. Keep this one to only your closest people, the ones who would get an invite if you were running off to elope this weekend.

The second ring will get a few more names. Names for your siblings, your close friends (also known as the rest of the wedding party), grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins (if you are rather close with them). Also, slide your DJ, bartender, flower girl, ring bearer and officiant in here. These are roles important to the wedding, and need to be accounted for.

The third ring is where the guest list becomes less personal and more "I guess they can come." This is where "not-so-close" friends and family fall. The folks that you want at the ceremony, but are confident you DON'T want IN the ceremony. Sure, some guys may get an invite to the bachelor party, but they won't be renting a tux any time soon.

The fourth ring is even less personal. Work acquaintances, distant family, friends of your parents (if your folks, or better yet, your folk's friends, are offering to pay). These are the folks you aren't too attached to sharing your ceremony with, but sharing a drink after (and hopefully getting a gift from... What? This stuff is expensive, and free stuff helps!) would be nice. This is also where your "social media only" friends can go. It is the ring for anyone who, should they miss the event, won't bother you too much.

The fifth ring is for anybody else. The folks you aren't actually concerned with seeing on the "Big Day," but you feel might deserve to know you're getting married. The folks you're certain won't come, but might send a gift. Yes, it sounds selfish, but it's part of the wedding process, and it still looks better to send an invite than to ignore them all together.

STEP 3: The "+1's"

Now that the rings are populated, it's time for some math.

Stop trying to run away, bro! It's easy math, and it is totally necessary.Yes, you can use a calculator.

See those names? Start reading them, asking yourself "does this person have a husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/child they will want to bring along?" If the answer is yes, put a "+1" next to their name (or a +whatever if you have opened the event up for children, and they have any.) Work out to at least the third ring, if not the fourth. Once you are done, start adding how many people are in each ring. Yes, we'll wait.

Why does all this matter? Because, dear bro, you have to feed (and provide beverages for) everyone who shows up. Plus, the venue has a limit to how many attendees will fit, or at least, a limit to how many chairs they offer. Caterers charge anywhere per person, and booze (should there be any... and why wouldn't there be?) isn't cheap either. Gotta watch your budget!

STEP 4: MAKING SOME CUTS

Alright, time to finish this list. You're tired, we're tired, and the game starts in a few minutes. Let's knuckle up!

Take all the names (and their +1/2/7's) from the first two rings (including you and your spouse, genius), and list them on a separate page with a mailing address. These are the definite invites, the folks you just can't have a wedding without.

Then, take names from the third ring, then fourth, and start adding them, keeping a running tally of your grand total guest list. Depending on your venue/food budget limitations, you may hit your maximum before you get everyone listed. You will either need to figure out a way to increase your maximum, or start moving folks further out. It sucks, but everyone should be understanding of your budgetary constraints. If they aren't, why are you inviting them to your wedding?

Once you hit your max, stop. These are the folks who get an invitation, complete with RSVP card, ASAP. Three months ahead minimum, six is better.

Everybody else can receive just an invitation, sometime before the wedding. If you run out of invites, just send them an invite on social media.

That's it! You're done! Go crack a beer and celebrate!

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