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When you begin planning your wedding guest list, sit down with your fiancé and discuss what general wedding size you envision. Do you prefer a cozy affair or a huge party with every co-worker and distant relative present?

Then, write down a list of the people you definitely want to invite, and those you might include if you opt for a larger celebration. Don’t forget to give each set of parents a certain number of guests to invite. Keep in mind, you don’t need to feel obligated to invite all your parents’ friends or your friends’ children. Your wedding guest list should be about your greatest hits, not your latest hits.

As you build your guest list, keep in mind the following:

1. Traditionally, the guest list is divided equally between the bride and groom, but this also depends on the actual number of people each side of the family wishes to invite.

2. The general rule of thumb says to figure that only 80 percent of those invited will attend. However, don’t count on it.

3. If the bride’s family is paying for the wedding and the groom’s family wants to invite more guests than the original estimate, the groom’s family may offer to pay a proportional share of reception expenses.

4. It’s okay to invite an unmarried, unattached person without adding “and guest” to the invitation. It is not appropriate, however, to invite one-half of a married couple, one-half of a couple living together, or one-half of an engaged couple. If a single person is on the guest list and you know he or she is seeing someone seriously, it’s thoughtful to invite both.

5. If you don’t want children at the wedding or reception, don’t invite them. A wedding invitation only requests the presence of the people whose names actually appear on the envelope. If guests ask if they can bring their kids, give a diplomatic answer, such as, “Unfortunately, we can only invite a specific number of guests and are at the limit.” Then, be sure you don’t allow any exceptions. Your friends who were turned down will be upset to see other people’s children at the wedding.

6. Think carefully about sending wedding invitations to people you know cannot attend. This can look like a solicitation for wedding gifts. If there are people you would like to inform about the wedding but you know cannot attend, you can send them a wedding announcement the day after the wedding. Of course, if there are people you know will not or cannot attend, but who might feel slighted if they did not receive an invitation, then by all means send one.

7. Cutting back on your list is never easy and it always comes down to a judgment call, balancing who wanted the person invited and the relationship. You should never be in a position of having to cut close friends from your guest list. If you find yourself having to do that, you might want to consider scaling back on the design concept for the wedding reception.