From wedding guest list dramas to family politics, we’ve got your back

When you get engaged no one tells you organising a wedding can become more political than an episode of House of Cards.

Thankfully we have the experts from Snapdragon Luxury Wedding Planners at hand to ensure the only fireworks you’ll witness will be the official display on your Big Day.

Snapdragon’s Managing Director Julia Dowling and Creative Director, Rebecca Menzies have guided hundreds of brides and grooms through the political minefield of wedding planning. Here, they answer all your wediquette dilemmas…

1. How do we ask our parents if they can contribute to our wedding?

‘Many parents like to chip in for your big day but talking about cold, hard cash is often a difficult and awkward thing to do. Couples often find it easier to ask parents to contribute to specific elements of that day – catering, entertainment or champagne – that way you are not simply asking them for a lump sum without them knowing what they are paying for.’

2. If our parents are paying for the wedding, how much say should they have in our decisions?

‘Have an upfront conversation with budget contributors asking them how involved they expect to be in the planning process, saying something along these lines: “Are you happy for us to make the choices and use your money as a very generous gift? Or, would you like to play a part in the planning decision?”

That way, before you even accept any help you can have a conversation as a couple about the expectations attached to any contribution.’

3. We want an intimate wedding, but our parents want to invite all their friends…

‘If you want a small celebration with 50 to 60 guests, ensure your parents don’t think that by the paying for it, they are entitled to invite an extra 50 of their friends. If your parents are keen for you to have a large wedding, make sure they are being realistic and that they have the budget to help you support in achieving that.’

4. Can I invite an ex to our wedding?

‘This is a tricky one. Has he or she moved on or do they still obviously hold a flame for you? How would you feel if your groom-to-be invited their ex too? Honesty is always the best policy. Draw up your guestlist together and very quickly you will both see if there are any question marks or issues. The important thing is to air any problems now before the Big Day itself.’

5. Should we invite more people in case there are drop outs?

‘When it comes to general party guestlists, the rule of thumb is that you can expect 10 per cent of people to drop out. However, if people have been given enough notice, they will usually pull out all the stops for a wedding. The last thing you want to do is over-invite and suddenly have to try and accommodate all the extra numbers.’

‘Instead, have an A and B list. Invite the guests who are really important to you on your A list. Then wait a little bit until you have got their RSVPs before you send out further invites to those on your B list. Make sure that you do work within a very short time span because there is nothing worse than a guest on the B list getting their invite six months later than others.’

6. We haven’t heard back from some of our guests – is it rude to chase them up?

‘Always put on your invite when you want your guests to RSVP by. If you haven’t heard back from them in this time, then it is perfectly acceptable to chase them.  Also, tell guests how you would like them to RSVP. Always provide an e-mail address.’

7. What do I do if my fiancé’s guest list is bigger than mine?

‘Even the most placid of couples can find themselves exploding over names and numbers! The fairest way is to give each other an equal amount of guests. Always draw up your lists first – and agree on numbers – before going to your sets of parents. If it starts to seem like your numbers are getting out of hand, then be realistic: put a price to each guest by costing up your cost per head. It then becomes clear if you do want them there or not.’

8. How do I involve my parents without it becoming their wedding?

‘The first thing to remember is that the moment you announce you are getting married, it’s not just the realization of your dreams, but most likely your parents’ too. For mothers, this is the moment many will have imagined. So tread gently – especially if they are contributing financially.

‘Make them feel involved, but only ask their opinions on decisions if you are really going to listen to them. There is nothing worse than asking advice and then ignoring it completely! Give them jobs to oversee. Perhaps one set of parents is passionate about wine; give them the task of selecting the bottles for the table.’

9. Should I invite people who asked us to their wedding?

‘For most couples, weddings will be budget-busting affairs. Therefore, do not feel obliged to “return the favour” and invite couples you ordinarily wouldn’t have invited, just because you went to their wedding. Ask yourself: are these people going to be in your life in the next five to 10 years?’

10. Should I invite my work colleagues and boss to our wedding?

‘Ultimately, this is your day and you don’t want anyone there who is going to make you moderate your behaviour. You don’t want to spend your celebrations worrying about your embarrassing Uncle regaling your colleagues with what you used to do as a three year old. Likewise, you should feel completely at ease blubbing your way through the ceremony or going crazy with your girls on the dancefloor in front of all of your guests.’

11. Should I invite children to the wedding?

‘Consider whether or not you have children already in your extended family or bridal party and how many of your friends already have children. The best advice is to speak to a friend who is a parent.

‘Talk to them about the type of day you are planning and whether or not it is child friendly from a parent’s point of view. You can then start putting into place either nannies or entertainers if you would like children to play a part. Or, you can just say to your friends as parents, “Unfortunately we are not inviting children.” Just be sure to give them enough time so that they can make childcare arrangements.

‘If you do decide to have children at your Big Day, you want to make sure that you give parents as much notice as possible on the timings. Give them a rough running order and let them know the spaces available for their children to use and what they might be eating. It will allow parents to bring the toys and snacks that they need to entertain their children and manage their behaviour.’

For more wedding day dilemmas solved, don’t miss:

Bride confessions: 9 things I wish I’d known about wedding planning

11 things every bride needs to know about wedding venues

Visit Snapdragon’s luxury weddings website for more information on their premier planning service.