- We invited 205 people, a number which includes Mr. Octo and myself.
- Of that 205, only 16 are local to the Pittsburgh area.
- 14 of the 205 are kids under the age of eighteen.
- We invited all guests' significant others, regardless of how long they had been together, and regardless of their engagement/living together status.
- We did not offer plus-ones to single guests, largely because we were looking at a packed guest list already, and because every single person we invited knew a good handful of the other guests.
- 135 of the invitees are my family or family friends, and 78 of them are attending. 42 of the invitees are Mr. Octo's family, family friends, or friends of his that I don't know, and 30 of them are attending. 26 of the invitees are people we consider "our" shared friends, and 19 of them are attending.
- The grand total: including ourselves, we will have 129 people at the wedding (14 kids, 115 adults), for an overall "Yes" rate of 63%.
However, as you can see, my family is quite substantial. My mom is one of seven children, all of whom are married with children of their own, and her mom's sister (my great-aunt) has eleven children, nearly all of whom are married with children of THEIR own. My mom is close with a number of her cousins and has been invited to many of their children's weddings. Although my dad's family can't quite match that "Irish Catholic in the 1950s" level of procreation, there are quite a few of them, too. At a certain point, based on the feedback we heard, we were expecting that we'd need to adjust the total to about 160 people. As we have ALL learned by now, 30 more people than originally planned doesn't sound like a whole lot, but financially, it was kind of terrifying.
Like many others, though, we found that a huge rush of "Yes" responses came in at the beginning, but was later followed by a big batch of "No"s. About two weeks into the response period, our acceptance rate was holding steady at about 87%, causing a giant collective GULP amongst the Octopi, but it slowed down a lot as the deadline got closer.
We had quite a few surprise acceptances--people we really didn't think would have the time or desire or money to make the trip--and we were thrilled by them all. I also feel pretty fortunate that on the other hand, we didn't have any truly surprising declines. In scanning over our guest list, I can look at every decline and know exactly where it came from (baby due any minute, lives in Germany, 92 years old and lives in a retirement home in Florida, has three kids and lives a ten-hour drive away, and so on, and so on). I know that not everyone feels that all of their "no"s were completely understandable, so I think we're kind of lucky in not feeling stung by any of ours.
Lessons learned from our guest-list adventures?
- Ain't no such thing as a courtesy invite. I'd say you should start with the mindset that everyone you invite will make their very best attempt to be there with you, and a great many of them actually WILL be able to be there with you.
- While it's your wedding, it's not totally about you (or at least it wasn't for my family, anyway). A lot of my extended family members don't know me very well, but they do know a lot of the other family members that were invited. Same idea with some of my parents' friends. I am totally okay with this. Weddings are fun, and offer up a chance to eat tasty food, drink tasty drinks, and dance and socialize with lots of people you don't see very often all at once. I know some people choose to keep their weddings intimate, inviting only those that they personally feel close to, which is awesome. This was not really an option for us, but ultimately, I'm happy about it. I think my parents were well within reason with who they chose to invite, and I'm really happy in knowing how much they'll enjoy themselves celebrating with our big family and big social circle.
- Do not invite more people than you can pay for. Seriously, don't. Our invitee list started at 165, then went up to 185, then eventually went up to 205. Every addition came with the understanding that it was driving our potential wedding budget up. In other words, we committed to the added guests, but we (by which I mean the whole Family Octo) also committed to the possible extra costs. We certainly weren't thrilled about possibly forking up the cash for 205 guests, but we were prepared to do it. I would seriously advise against putting yourself in the terrifying position of inviting more people than you can feasibly pay for.