For those who aren't aware, wedding invitations are sometimes divided up into two categories.
- An 'A-List' - Immediate and close family members and your closest and dearest friends
- A 'B-List' - A secondary list of guests that you would ideally like to invite but due to restrictions, you must see what numbers come in from the 'A-List'.
There are of course, reasons why brides use a B-list and some are justified. Here are just a few:
- Budget, budget, budget - Let's face it, every bride would love to invite everyone she knows to share her joy as she walks down the aisle in style and professes her love at a drop dead gorgeous ceremony and then parties the night away at an 'ab fab' reception with champagne or signature drinks flowing all night long. But when reality hits, a lot are guided by what is in the budget. Even a modest wedding for 125 can easily run $25,000. The first thing we tell brides to do is be realistic about their budgets. No sense in believing you can invite 300 guests when your food and beverage budget alone will only allow for 100. So, making an A-List of the most important people in your lives and sticking to it would be wise. The B-List should only come to life when you know those on the A-List will not be able to make it, and a lot of couples will know this before the invitations go out through 'talking' to people about the wedding.
- The Venue - You have chosen the ideal venue but it will only accommodate up to 150 guests. You're up to 175 on 'his side' and 190 on 'yours'. Time to cut back if you MUST have that particular venue. Again, you will know ahead of time how many can realistically attend.
- Guest List Additions - You and your fiancé have your guest list completed and all of a sudden, family members start throwing extra names in there that simply must be invited. Now you are faced with a 'must-have' B-List, but how to decide on who's name goes on which list is a dilemma. The only way around this is to have a 'joint meeting' with everyone involved and especially the parties that are 'paying' for the wedding. Communication and honesty wins out every time and I promise you, once you're all on the same page, it will work out.
I know I'll ruffle some feathers here but at the end of the day, just pick up the phone and talk to people you care about. Explain to them that your budget or venue only allows for a certain amount of guests and while you wish you could invite everyone, you simply cannot. Don't blame your fiancé or your family members or your wedding planner. Just be honest with people. Those that assume they will get an invitation (co-workers and old friends who you haven't been in touch with since grade school) should not put you in a position of explaining. Should they be rude enough to insist they be invite, then they'll be able to take the truth. Those who are true friends, will understand and will appreciate the honesty much more than an invitation letting them know they're an 'after-thought'.
The correct way of sending secondary invitations out is with time enough between the first tiered invites and the RSVP date. If you are hosting a Destination Wedding, it is customary to send the invitations out as far as 3-4 months in advance (to allow guests to look into travel, accommodations, etc.). It's not unheard of to even send them 6 months for overseas weddings. Traditional invitations are sent 8-12 weeks ahead of time to allow time for RSVPs to arrive back in time. (This is providing you don't have to call a good 1/3rd of the guests on your list to beg them to send the RSVP back).
Within the first 2-3 weeks of your invitations being sent out, you will soon receive RSVPs and phone calls. You can then address your B-List one at a time. Remember, a dead giveaway is sending the B-List invitation too close to the RSVP date.