Go Ahead! Be My Guest! Oh Wait…Can I Take That Back?

My blog the other day linking to the information on how to get an official White House greeting for your wedding also brought up the rest of that day’s post about managing one’s guest list.  We all have to do our best to be diplomatic, but let’s just all take a moment today and say a prayer of thanks that we have more control over our guest lists than the White House has over theirs. Wishing all the best to the event planners in charge of the Governor’s Association dinner this week, and to those working on the Governor’s Ball at tonight’s Academy Awards!

Brides: Ready, Set, List!

How does one take control of the roster? Besides hiring the experts at My Little Flower Shop to keep you calm, cool and collected, here are 5 favorite tips to keep in mind.

List early, and often

Don’t wait to start making a guest list.  Most likely, we don’t have to tell you this – a lot of brides start a list even before they get engaged.  Nevertheless, for the less future-focused, it’s good to have a starting point. So just start by writing down anyone you can think of that you might want to invite.

Never say never

Once it’s time to start narrowing the pool, don’t invite people assuming “they won’t come.” Even those relatives in Malta your family hasn’t seen for 2 generations might be so touched by the invitation that they decide to get on a plane.

Life on the B list

Despite all the refrigerator magnets, the emails and the skywriting, there are still some people who will have other plans on your wedding day.  You’ve got a limited period of time to fill in, so you haven’t a moment to lose.  Have a back-up list of guests at the ready, addresses and all, so you can fire off invitations as the regrets come in.

Embrace your inner beancounter

Spreadsheets can be beautiful things. You’ll be so happy you started keeping everything in an orderly fashion. One gal we know says the address spreadsheet is her favorite thing that came out of the wedding. They’ve used it for everything  from kids birthday parties to holiday letter personalization. (It was a perfect opportunity to ask to be removed from her holiday letter list, but I just couldn’t. Bless her heart).

Just because you went to hers…

This is not Kindergarten. It’s $125-a-plate-gourmet-brunch-in-the-garden. Every girl you’ve ever seen walk down the aisle doesn’t by default belong on your list. Grown ups know this. If this culls immature friends from your life, lucky you.

Always invite the president

This is one case where you really can assume that they won’t come. But, if you send an invitation to the White House, you’ll get a special greeting back in honor of your wedding. Pretty darned cool. 

The Honorable Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama
The White House
Greetings Office Room 39
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

A wedding greeting from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

On the subject of the White House and weddings, can we just go on record that Prince William is unbelieveably rude? And that you can put a big old tiara on that Kate chick but she’ll never be as regal as Michelle Obama? But I digress.

It all boils down to this: Focus on who you two really want to smile at on your way back up the aisle. An informal poll of the MLFS staff revealed that is highly likely to be one of the happiest moments of your life. Who do you want to share that with? Go forth and list!

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My Little Etiquette Shop: Shuffling Placecards is a Gamble – and the House always Wins

Oh the poor bride and groom.  They slave away in the last busy weeks before their big day, trying to achieve that elusive goal: the perfect seating arrangement.  PlacecardThe one where feuding cousins are on opposite sides of the dance floor, and Uncle Carl the anesthesiologist plays wing man for the med student who’s chatting up a bridesmaid at the next table over. But when the Mr. & Mrs. enter to cheers and glide onto the dance floor, they look around and realize that their careful plotting has been horribly botched.

We know what’s happened.  For years guests have taken it upon themselves to “improve”  seating plans. If they aren’t sitting with a particular friend or family member they do what they believe is an innocuous thing; switch placecards, or “lose” escort cards.  They don’t think about the fact that their seating has been carefully considered. Event staff may intervene – but more often than not, they (wisely) decline to engage this type of personality so as not to ruin a lovely evening.

How can you help?  Simply put, sit where you’re asked.  Period.  No one stays in their assigned seats much after the entree anyway, it’s not going to kill you to wait until cake to catch up with your sorority sister across the room.

The “House Always Wins” part works like this:  karma wise, you’re sealing your fate of future event tables full of Mommies & Me, Aunts Who Can’t Hear, and Uncles Who Don’t Shut Up.  Plus you can count on word of your behavior getting back to the bride/groom or mothers thereof, enshrining your difficult reputation for the rest of your days.  Every Christmas Party, Baby Shower, Barbeque…you’re forever “the one who messed up the wedding.”  Are you good with that? No? Then reign in your inner maitre d’.  Really feel the need to seat people? Open a restaurant.

My Little Etiquette Shop: Graceful handling of Gift Gaffes

This is the gift table that my sister made.
If the invitation says "no gifts, please," bringing a gift anyway is not good form.

Today we’ll address a guest issue from the Bride’s perspective – but all you guests-to-be out there listen up!  Spare the bride and groom some trouble (see below) and play along.  On to the question.

Q:   Hi My Little Etiquette Shop,

We are going with “no gifts” at our wedding. In my experience some guests bring   gifts anyway, and those who don’t feel very uncomfortable. Can this be avoided?

-testing out of the gifted program

A:  Testy,

The short answer is no.  People bring gifts because they love you.  You cannot (nor would you want to) change that.  You can, however, plan to handle these items so as not to inspire guilt in those who have correctly followed the presence not presents protocol.  1) Do not have any tables near the front of the space that could be used for gifts.  2) Assign someone you trust, and that people know (college aged is ideal) to be outside the entrance to intercept possible packages. Make sure he/she has a boutonniere or corsage so that Aunt Eunice doesn’t think there’s a tuxedoed bandit in the parking lot of First Unitarian Church.  Have your helper bring things to an established (safe) place. Ta da!  No sign of gifts = no guilt.

Note to guests: “no gifts” = no gifts. It does not mean “Oh they don’t really mean that.”

Happy Fourth everyone!  Flowers are safer than fireworks, FYI.