Yay, you're getting married! Who are you going to invite on your big day, and who will you put on your guest list? Think carefully together about who you would like to be present during your wedding ceremony, reception, evening party or dance party. We will guide you through the rules of etiquette for your ultimate guest list! Who would you like to be there...
Photo (top): Wedding planner: MeetMarcel - Photographer: We Have Heart Photography
Your wedding ceremony
Typically, our Belgian wedding party consists of several mini "events", which will determine your guest list. Often, you will first say your official "yes" in front of the civil registry. Later that day, week or month, the ceremonial wedding celebration usually follows, in a church or at a symbolic location assisted by a ceremonial speaker. Would you like your family and friends to be present during your ceremony? Then it is best to mention this explicitly on the invitation. It is customary for your witnesses, close family and friends to be present at the town hall and to form a bridal procession before and after the ceremony. Anyway, follow your heart and decide for yourself who you want to invite. For your church or symbolic celebration, it may be nice to share this beautiful moment with a large group of people.
Photo: Wedding planner: Alle Gebeure - Photographer: Kasia Bacq - Decoration: In Style Styling & Decorations
After your official I Do's it is time to toast to your marriage! At a wedding reception, Belgian wedding couples often invite their extended family and friends, for example your distant aunts and uncles, your neighbours, your extended team at work... If you are expecting a large number of people, consider planning your reception on another day. That way, you'll still have enough energy for your actual party. Often, such a first reception is held on the Thursday evening prior to your big day. If you do decide to have your first reception on Friday evening, make sure you finish in time so you are fresh and fit for your real wedding day!
Photo: Maitha Lunde Photography
Your evening party
After the reception, your wedding planner or caterer will get everything ready for your evening party. The caterer usually stops serving drinks half an hour before the end of the reception. Guests who are only invited to the reception say goodbye here.
For the guest list, think of your closest relatives: parents, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts, cousins, and of course your closest friends. Take into account the people present beforehand: will there be children or grandparents? Make sure there is clear communication about who is welcome in the family, and if necessary, provide special care or seating.
Your dance or dessert party
Dinner is usually followed by the opening dance, the dessert buffet and the dance party. Go over the entire evening with your caterer and wedding planner beforehand and agree on the order in which you want things organised. This will avoid the evening party running over and guests having to wait for the start of the dance party. Again, you choose who you invite: colleagues, friends from a hobby club, acquaintances of your parents... The most important thing is that you enjoy this great party together with your loved ones.
Photographer: Cinderella Photographie
Our 10 guest list tips:
- For the different 'mini events' of your wedding day, make a corresponding guest list. Start from your most intimate circle.
- Follow your heart in every consideration. Surround yourself with people you love to have with you on your most beautiful day!
- Can guests bring a 'plus one'? Write your invitations by name, or state "+1" or "with partner".
- Are children welcome at your wedding? Address your invitation to the whole family, or just mention the name of the parents.
- Keep track of who will be attending which part of the wedding and send your final list to your wedding planner or caterer.
- For the evening party, you can add an RSVP (Répondez s'il vous plaît) card to the invitation. Ask your guests to write down whether they have any allergies, are pregnant or vegetarian.
- Give your guests at least three weeks after receiving your invitation to send back their RSVP or reply.
- Keep in mind that cancellations are possible (even last minute).
- Did you not receive an RSVP from certain guests? If so, call or email again to check.
- In some cultures, such as Spain, they always ask all the guests for the wedding day... That's easy to keep track of RSVPs!
Author: Master of Ceremonies Davy Steelandt.