Things are moving along nicely. You’ve sent out your wedding invitations, along with information sheets, RSVP cards and stamped, self-addressed envelopes. So what’s next?
Keep a careful record of who has replied and what their reply was. I’m a bit of a spreadsheet lover, so I’d have my guest list on a spreadsheet, with a column to say when I sent out the invitation, a column to say when they replied and a column for yes/no, coming or not. I realise that not everybody is like me, so you might just prefer to make notes on a printed copy of the guest list.
If anyone has not yet replied, give them about ten days (depending on your deadlines) and then ring them, or send a text or email. Explain briefly and politely that you haven’t received their response to your invitation and you need to let caterers and the venue know how many people to expect. Allow another five days for replies to your follow-up calls and then assume that those people are not coming. You can build in a little slack when you speak to caterers and the venue.
Maybe when you drew up your guest list, there were people you really wanted to invite, but you didn’t because you had to keep the numbers down. If there is time, and if enough people have replied to your invitation to say they can’t come, you could now invite those ‘B-listers’. Don’t do this if you really don’t have time, though. You have already made careful decisions about who should or should not be invited and it’s really not worth revisiting those decisions all over again. Bear in mind, also, that you may end up compromising your deadlines if you have to follow up this second flush of invitations.
As soon as you know how many are coming, let your caterers and venues know, but ask if they could accommodate, say, another five guests, if necessary. The chances are, you will have fewer people than you originally budgeted for, so it shouldn’t really be a problem.
There may be last-minute changes: nobody can plan for every single eventuality, but if so, just be gracious and accept the changes. The other thing that might, rarely happen, is if someone thinks they have been invited, when actually, they weren’t. Or, someone might assume that if they are coming, their child, dog, new boyfriend, mate from work is also invited. If you have been well-organised and clear when you sent out your invitations, you should not feel guilty about firmly but politely explaining that you had to keep the numbers down and these people were, regretfully, not invited.
The final thing to do is to work out your seating plan. Try to mix everyone up, so that you have different age groups, people you know from different places, your family and your partner’s family all sitting together. If you know there are people coming who would be uncomfortable sitting next to a certain other guest, then keep them well away from each other. This applies not just to who they sit next to, but also who they are facing across the table, and who they are back-to-back with if you are having a number of small tables. When that’s done, give your seating plan to caterers and venue and congratulate yourself on having ticked off one more thing on your to-do list.