• Images
  • Text
  • Find a Couple + Registry
GO
Wedding 911

Guest list/reception advice

edited February 2015 in Wedding 911
I'm sure I'm not the only one in this boat. I recently saw a very humorous College Humor video where the couple laments that after one's parent invited all their friends from a cruise, they had room for exactly 6 friends or something to that extent but here's my situation.

The FI and I went looking for reception venues. I didn't want a hall that reminded me of a graduation party (ha...too much My Fair Wedding, I guess) so the local community center and my church, large and inexpensive venues, I immediately said no to. Then I found this winery out in the country after my mom mentioned our church friends owned it. I immediately fell in love with the place. Here are my problems:

1. It only holds 150 people.

I have a mom/stepdad and dad/stepmom. 
The FI has a mom and dad/stepmom.  

The FI's dad's side alone we calculated to be 52 (his dad has 8 brothers and sisters). After everything was said and done we had 172 people on the guest list. It was 158 until the FMIL mom threw a fit about inviting work people and family friends who have known the FI since birth. That dwindled my parents' side down dramatically. Since my folks are paying for most of the wedding, they're kind of irked. I don't know what to do about his dad's side (there is nothing we can really do) but my mom seems to think that if we invite 172 people the sky will fall and they will all show up. She wants it more around the 130 mark. She would rather we only invite 130, actually. That's not gonna happen. And you can bet that the FI and I's extent of inviting friends is our wedding party. Advice?  It literally has been the cry-worthy part of my planning apart from when I apparently lost my mind for a day and thought I HAD to have chair covers. 

2. It's out in the country about 10-15 miles away from the ceremony. We're going to have beer and wine (no hard liquor per winery rule) available until the quantity we buy runs out, but I'm concerned about transportation. Is it my responsibility to find and provide people with transportation back home/to hotel if they drink too much? The FMIL seems to think it is. My parents, trying to stay on budget, do not. Where do I stand etiquette wise here? 

And now I'm gonna have a drink. 

PS- The FMIL thinks that the work people won't come but will send money and so we should send a courtesy invite. That just sounds rude. 
PSS - I actually really really like my FMIL. She's not a monster in law. She can just be...super dramatic. 
Wedding Countdown Ticker


image

Re: Guest list/reception advice

  • I will be honest and say I got a little lost in your back ground story so let me try and answer this as short and sweet as I can.

    1.       Your venue only holds 150. Period. Think about this like you would seat belts in a car. You have 4 seat belts therefore 4 people can ride in your car. You in turn have 150 seats, so, you can invite 150 people (INCLUDING YOUR WEDDING PARTY AND YOU AND YOUR GROOM) to the wedding. Period. End of story. Always plan for 100% attendance. What happens if you invite 170-something and everyone says yes (or even just 160)….then what? Additionally I would ask the venue what it looks like set up for 150. My venue “says” it can go a max of 300, I am having 225. Looking at the set up for 225 I cannot see there being enough room for more than 250 without losing  a lot of dance floor or making people hit the backs of their chairs together all night. Remember venues will pack as many people they can in before the fire marshal shuts them down so do not count on them to tell you how many COMFORTABLY fit.

     

    Also, do not invite people just for the gifts it’s just tacky.

     

    2.       Many people will tell you that in this situation it would be very nice and I would agree. However, I do not believe this is your be-all end-all responsibility. On these boards we say all the time that adults are adults and we cannot dictate their behavior, such as how they dress. I think this applies here. Adults should know where their line is in terms of drinking and not cross it. If they do they need to be responsible enough to find another way home(aka cab, ride with friend..). NOTE: I am not sure the laws in your state or for your venue, if drinking is going on you will probably have to have a licensed bartender serving the booze and a police officer on duty as well. But once again, this is a state by state item.

    I hope this helps. Remember this…(s)he who pays gets a say. If your FMIL is not contributing money you really do not have to give her a say. So plan the wedding you and your FI can afford on your OWN. Then invite as few people you want.

  • edited February 2015
    Yeah, there was a lot of back story (edited now). It probably was confusing. A lot of that was probably venting, to be honest. Thanks for reading and for the advice! 

    I will definitely ask about the set up. Looks like we're gonna have to cut a lot.

    As far as the venue and alcohol, the venue provides the bartender and security thankfully. 


    Wedding Countdown Ticker


    image
  • Yeah, there was a lot of back story (edited now). It probably was confusing. A lot of that was probably venting, to be honest. Thanks for reading and for the advice! 

    I will definitely ask about the set up. Looks like we're gonna have to cut a lot.

    As far as the venue and alcohol, the venue provides the bartender and security thankfully. 


    Anytime! That is what we are here for. Honestly I think most of us know what the "right" thing is, we just need others to give us a kick in the booty now and then. I know I do. Good luck on the planning!
    haleyk620
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    levioosa said:
    I'm sure I'm not the only one in this boat. I recently saw a very humorous College Humor video where the couple laments that after one's parent invited all their friends from a cruise, they had room for exactly 6 friends or something to that extent but here's my situation.

    The FI and I went looking for reception venues. I didn't want a hall that reminded me of a graduation party (ha...too much My Fair Wedding, I guess) so the local community center and my church, large and inexpensive venues, I immediately said no to. Then I found this winery out in the country after my mom mentioned our church friends owned it. I immediately fell in love with the place. Here are my problems:

    1. It only holds 150 people.

    I have a mom/stepdad and dad/stepmom. 
    The FI has a mom and dad/stepmom.  

    The FI's dad's side alone we calculated to be 52 (his dad has 8 brothers and sisters). After everything was said and done we had 172 people on the guest list. It was 158 until the FMIL mom threw a fit about inviting work people and family friends who have known the FI since birth. That dwindled my parents' side down dramatically. Since my folks are paying for most of the wedding, they're kind of irked. I don't know what to do about his dad's side (there is nothing we can really do) but my mom seems to think that if we invite 172 people the sky will fall and they will all show up. She wants it more around the 130 mark. She would rather we only invite 130, actually. That's not gonna happen. And you can bet that the FI and I's extent of inviting friends is our wedding party. Advice?  It literally has been the cry-worthy part of my planning apart from when I apparently lost my mind for a day and thought I HAD to have chair covers. 

    2. It's out in the country about 10-15 miles away from the ceremony. We're going to have beer and wine (no hard liquor per winery rule) available until the quantity we buy runs out, but I'm concerned about transportation. Is it my responsibility to find and provide people with transportation back home/to hotel if they drink too much? The FMIL seems to think it is. My parents, trying to stay on budget, do not. Where do I stand etiquette wise here? 

    And now I'm gonna have a drink. 

    PS- The FMIL thinks that the work people won't come but will send money and so we should send a courtesy invite. That just sounds rude. 
    PSS - I actually really really like my FMIL. She's not a monster in law. She can just be...super dramatic. 
    Oh man, so much here.  Let me try and get it all.

    1.  You never over invite on your venue's capacity.  There are many horror stories here of brides who over invited and then had everyone show up (even to DWs).  I personally had this happen at the last wedding I was in, and it sucked.  We're lucky the fire marshall didn't show up and kick us out.  The venue was extremely underprepared, we waited forever for food, and the dance floor became a postage stamp.  If your venue does not hold the people you want then you either need to find a new venue, or pare down your guest list.  (BTW, make sure you are including yourselves, AND your vendors in this number).  Your FI's mom does not have to invite everyone he has ever known after already giving you a list.  You can tell her "I'm sorry, but we already finalized the guest list, and the topic is closed."

    2.  Your parents are paying, this means they have a say in who gets invited.  Now, it is a little unreasonable that parents are taking up 90% of the guest list, but they still get a say.  If you don't like this, decline their money and pay for the wedding by yourselves.

    3.  Do not send pity invites looking for gifts.  That is incredibly tacky and rude.  Besides, it's really easy to spot a "GIMME A GIFT" invite.  My Mom got one the other day.  "Why would she invite me? She doesn't even know me.  Do you think she wants a gift?"  The massive gap to take pretty sunset pictures at the wedding says yes, it was a greedy gift invite, but we saw it coming even before the gap happened.  Don't do this.  

    4.  If you host something, it needs to be for the entire duration of the wedding, not just until it "runs out."  Having a dry wedding is not rude.  Having a guest opening their wallet to pay for something, or having it yanked out from under them when it previously was hosted, is rude.  Offer what you can afford.  If you cannot afford this, you need to find a way to pay for it (cut back flowers, guest list, etc) or have a dry wedding.

    5.  It is not required to provide transportation, but it is always a nice gesture.  If it is in your budget to provide the transportation, go for it.  If you cannot afford it, that's okay.  Your bartender should be well trained in cutting people off before they are too drunk to drive.

    EF: words  
    ALL of this ^^  with double emphasis on points #1 and #4.  Find a new venue.  Keep your complete beverage service open all night.
  • arrrghmateyarrrghmatey member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments First Anniversary First Answer
    edited February 2015
    What @levioosa said is pretty spot on.

    1 - You either have to make cuts to your guest list or find a new venue with a larger capacity. If you're set on the venue you have, and your parents are paying, they get the most say when it comes to the guest list. Consider allowing each set of parents a certain number of invites. "Mom and Stepdad, you get to invite 40 people. Dad and Stepmom, you get to invite 40 people. FMIL gets 15 people…" etc.

    2 - Please consider not providing alcohol "until it runs out." Either supply it for the entire reception or none at all. I've been to a couple of weddings where the hosts did this and I only got one drink whereas the lush aunt had 6 and the fratboy college friends had at least 7 or 8. The booze ran out within an hour and a half.

    3 - You are not obligated to supply transportation. People are adults and responsible for themselves, and bartenders should know how to avoid over serving guests. HOWEVER, it certainly is a nice gesture to the guests if you are able to fit it into your budget. If not, have numbers for cab companies available at your reception. But since your bar service is only until you run out of booze, I doubt you will need to worry about this much.

    4 - You are right in that your FMIL's suggestion of sending invites to work people even though they probably won't come is rude. Definitely give-grabby. Don't do it unless these are people you would really want to have at your wedding.

    Edited: for words
                                     Wedding Countdown Ticker

                                                   image
    levioosa
  • Since your parents are paying, they have a say in the guest list. If you don't like that, you can decline their money and host things yourself. If you're the ones paying, you're the ONLY ones who get a say in the guest list. You can say yes/no as you please.

    Since his parents aren't paying, they get ZERO say in the guest list. And their special requests (like work friends) should absolutely not override your parents requests - your parents are the ones footing the bill!! I'd be irked by this if I were your parents, too. 

    We dealt with the same issue with my ILs. They didn't contribute but wanted to add 50 people. Nope. We told them we couldn't add these people due to budget and space. They were pissed, threw fits, etc. We just kept repeating the message. Sorrynotsorry.

    Anyway, a couple other things:

    1) Do not ever invite past capacity. Like never ever. Venue coordinator will throw out BS like "oh the usual decline rate is 15-20%", encouraging you to over-invite. Do not buy it. Brides come here freaking out all the time because they bought into this and they're making emergency arrangements less than a week before the wedding. Don't be that bride.

    2) Don't let anything run out. This is just Hosting 101. I've been to a couple weddings than ran out of stuff - food, beer, whatever. People STILL talk about it 5 years later. 

    3) Adults can figure out their own transportation as they do every other day of their lives. Only provide it if it's in the budget for you. It's not required.
    *********************************************************************************

    image
    levioosa
  • I should have noted that the winery places a limit on how much alcohol we can buy for the reception, and all alcohol must be bought through them. The limit is (2) 16 gallon kegs and I believe 5 cases of wine. I'm not for sure on that last one. 
    Wedding Countdown Ticker


    image
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I should have noted that the winery places a limit on how much alcohol we can buy for the reception, and all alcohol must be bought through them. The limit is (2) 16 gallon kegs and I believe 5 cases of wine. I'm not for sure on that last one. 
    You can't get alcohol through them too?


    image
  • Due to Iowa liquor laws, a winery can only offer beer and liquor. Our winery is being "nice" and allowing us to have champagne (sparkling wine, really) for the wedding party only, but we have to choose from a list they provide from their distributors. 

    We can choose the beer we want through them. They contact their distributor for the two kegs. Meaning we can't go and get our own kegs for cheaper. They will sell us wine by the case but there is a limit to how many cases we can buy. It's a smaller winery so they don't want receptions to run them dry of stock I guess. Other than the two kegs, allotted wine and champagne product for the wedding party we're not allowed to bring anything else in. Everything goes through them and there are limits. 
    Wedding Countdown Ticker


    image
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Due to Iowa liquor laws, a winery can only offer beer and liquor. Our winery is being "nice" and allowing us to have champagne (sparkling wine, really) for the wedding party only, but we have to choose from a list they provide from their distributors. 

    We can choose the beer we want through them. They contact their distributor for the two kegs. Meaning we can't go and get our own kegs for cheaper. They will sell us wine by the case but there is a limit to how many cases we can buy. It's a smaller winery so they don't want receptions to run them dry of stock I guess. Other than the two kegs, allotted wine and champagne product for the wedding party we're not allowed to bring anything else in. Everything goes through them and there are limits. 
    Ah, then I think that you need to either cut your guest list down or have a dry wedding.  It is incredibly rude to only offer drinks for part of the reception. How many people are you inviting vs how much alcohol do you have?  There are drink calculators that can help you figure out how much alcohol you should need.  How is your crowd?  Heavy drinkers?  Light drinkers?


    image
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Oops, missed that.  @MobKaz is completely right. 


    image
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited February 2015

    Why are you dismissing your mother's opinion on the guest list? Your parents are paying for the reception. They have a right to cap the guest list at 130. Furthermore, they have a right to determine how many guests your fi's family is allowed. You and your FILs should thank them, profusely, for hosting your friends and family members.

    Your mom is correct. You should never go over the venue capacity. It's rare to have a 100 per cent acceptance, but it happens. And then what would you do?

    You're guests are responsible for their own transportation. You don't have to provide a shuttle. If your FMIL would like one, she should offer to pay for it.

    It's rude to offer champagne to the wedding party and not the other guests. Skip it. Or have it while you're getting ready for the wedding, but not in front of the other guests. Running out of beverages or food is poor hosting.

    Unless you're able to cut down your guest list and shorten your reception time so you won't run out of wine/beer, the winery doesn't seem like the right venue for your wedding.


                       
    southernbelle0915[Deleted User]
  • MobKaz said:
    levioosa said:
    Due to Iowa liquor laws, a winery can only offer beer and liquor. Our winery is being "nice" and allowing us to have champagne (sparkling wine, really) for the wedding party only, but we have to choose from a list they provide from their distributors. 

    We can choose the beer we want through them. They contact their distributor for the two kegs. Meaning we can't go and get our own kegs for cheaper. They will sell us wine by the case but there is a limit to how many cases we can buy. It's a smaller winery so they don't want receptions to run them dry of stock I guess. Other than the two kegs, allotted wine and champagne product for the wedding party we're not allowed to bring anything else in. Everything goes through them and there are limits. 
    Ah, then I think that you need to either cut your guest list down or have a dry wedding.  It is incredibly rude to only offer drinks for part of the reception. How many people are you inviting vs how much alcohol do you have?  There are drink calculators that can help you figure out how much alcohol you should need.  How is your crowd?  Heavy drinkers?  Light drinkers?
    It is also incredibly rude to offer something to some of your guests but not all of your guests. Find a way to serve champagne to all your guests, or don't serve it at all. To only have your bridal party enjoy champagne is very rude.
    Yeah I'd feel like shit if I was at a wedding, ordered a glass of champagne at the bar and was told "sorry, wedding party only."  What a slap in the face. Offer it to everyone, or offer it to nobody. 
    --

    [Deleted User]
  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Due to Iowa liquor laws, a winery can only offer beer and liquor. Our winery is being "nice" and allowing us to have champagne (sparkling wine, really) for the wedding party only, but we have to choose from a list they provide from their distributors. 

    We can choose the beer we want through them. They contact their distributor for the two kegs. Meaning we can't go and get our own kegs for cheaper. They will sell us wine by the case but there is a limit to how many cases we can buy. It's a smaller winery so they don't want receptions to run them dry of stock I guess. Other than the two kegs, allotted wine and champagne product for the wedding party we're not allowed to bring anything else in. Everything goes through them and there are limits. 
    That's not being nice, that's enabling you to be extremely rude to the rest of your guests.  Under no circumstances should items served at your wedding be only available for some guests.  You need to either have champagne/sparkling wine for everyone, or no one.  Having it just for your wedding party is unacceptable.



    [Deleted User]
  • This winery doesn't sound like a good fit for your wedding.

    Let's break this out:

    WINE
    5 cases of wine is 60 bottles. If each bottle is 4 glasses of wine, you have 240 glasses of wine. 

    BEER
    2 - 16 gallon kegs yields 256 - 16oz glasses of beer. 

    GUESTS
    - If you have 60 beer drinkers, they'd be able to drink 4.2 beers/ea for you to run out.
    - If you have 90 wine drinkers (I inflated this because I feel like more people are likely to drink wine at a winery), they'd be able to drink 2.7 glasses/ea for you to run out. 

    I guess I wouldn't worry so much about the beer as I would the wine. Not enough, IMO. IT'S A WINERY. Why won't they sell you more wine? 
    *********************************************************************************

    image
    levioosarcher912
  • edited February 2015
    Just talked to the owner. They're willing to step it up to a however many cases of wine we'd want we just have to let them know well in advance and one glass of sparkling wine for everyone who wants it (served at table) for a toast. It seems like there was some wrong information provided when I called. The beer limit is outlined in the contract but the wine/champagne thing is not (other than it can only be bought through them), so I feel like I should have been able to push that. 

    I really like this venue but the alcohol thing has been ugh. Now I just have to cut the guest list down.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker


    image
    flantasticsouthernbelle0915MairePoppymanillabar
  • Update on the guest list. The venue said they can seat another 40 or so on the deck and provide a tent over it in the event of weather (July wedding so rain). The FI talked to his parents and told them about this and they said they could have their "extra friends" sit on the deck. I don't really know how much I like this idea. My folks said they don't care as long as it's the FIL's friends and not theirs. Ugh. I don't want people to feel like they're being shoved onto the deck and I also don't want a battle royale over who gets to be inside and who doesn't, so I think we're back to cutting the guest list down to family only. What do you guys think? 
    Wedding Countdown Ticker


    image
  • Ha, it's funny that you should mention the heat. One of the main reasons I didn't want to have the ceremony at the winery was for that very reason. I'm heat adverse and I couldn't imagine standing out in the extremely humid and hot Iowa July day. Thank you for reminding me! I didn't like the outside idea to begin with (probably looking for validation on that one honestly) but that definitely seals the deal. Plus...bugs. Yeah, no. I think my main problem is I kind of let people walk on me and I try to avoid drama so I kind of just let things play out and that's not going to work with the guest list. I'm going to have to let the FIL's know we're capping the list at 130. My parents have already been accommodating enough with the large family on the FFIL's side. 
    Wedding Countdown Ticker


    image
    southernbelle0915levioosaMairePoppyrcher912
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers

    Ha, it's funny that you should mention the heat. One of the main reasons I didn't want to have the ceremony at the winery was for that very reason. I'm heat adverse and I couldn't imagine standing out in the extremely humid and hot Iowa July day. Thank you for reminding me! I didn't like the outside idea to begin with (probably looking for validation on that one honestly) but that definitely seals the deal. Plus...bugs. Yeah, no. I think my main problem is I kind of let people walk on me and I try to avoid drama so I kind of just let things play out and that's not going to work with the guest list. I'm going to have to let the FIL's know we're capping the list at 130. My parents have already been accommodating enough with the large family on the FFIL's side. 
    OP, I just want to thank you for taking our advice so well.  I'm really glad the venue is allowing you more wine.  That is awesome.  Agreed about the seating outside with PPs.  It will feel like they are second rate guests plus the heat will be miserable and expensive to overcome.

    As someone who wants to avoid conflict, I know it might feel awkward to tell your FILs the topic is closed, but stand your ground.  They had the opportunity before to indicate that they wanted these people on the guest list.  Obviously they didn't want them there badly enough, or they would have been included on the primary list.  Growing a backbone and standing up for yourself is never a bad thing.  Plus, as you said, your parents can't be expected to accommodate everyone (nor should they be expected to).  If your FILs ask you about the guest list, let them know that the guest list has been finalized and the topic is closed, then change the subject. 


    image
    MairePoppy
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited February 2015
    They have wineries in IOWA, now?!  OMG!  Where?

    I was born near Rockwell City, and DH is from Des Moines.  When we lived in Iowa, you could only buy alcohol in a state owned liquor store, with a very small selection at that!  Now you can buy it in the grocery stores, which is more than we can do here in Colorado.

    I'm a Hawkeye, DH is a Cyclone.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    rcher912yankeefaniniowa
  • There are wineries everywhere in Iowa now, but for some reason my stomping grounds south of the Des Moines area seem to be winery central. There are at least two in Warren County alone, one of which is our venue. The other one was way out of budget. 

    FI is a Hawkeye, I'm a Panther. Well, we're both Panthers technically but he's stubborn. 
    Wedding Countdown Ticker


    image
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    What a great guy! Give him a great big hug from us.
                       
This discussion has been closed.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards