So far you’ve decided on getting married in Ireland, and settled on a tentative budget.

To help firm up that budget, you need to draft your guest list. Once again, you’ll face a catch-22 with your guest list and your budget:  How the heck are you supposed to know how many people you can invite if you don’t yet know where you’re all staying in Ireland?

I totally hear you. Best you can do at this time is come up with your list of absolute must-haves.

Fringe friends and relatives you only hear from once every 3 years can sit on the sidelines for now. Same with your buddies at work (you know, the ones you like to hang with Monday thru Friday but wouldn’t otherwise be friends if you didn’t have to work with them).

Parents, grandparents, siblings, and your closest friends should be on the short list. Maybe also an aunt or uncle, or a set of cousins from each side. It depends on how large your family is and how close you are to them.

Look at everyone on your shortlist and set aside a couple days to make personal phone calls to each of them. (By the way, this is saving you the cost of formal invitations!)

If at any point you feel uncomfortable about calling someone on your shortlist, that’s probably a good indicator that they shouldn’t be on your shortlist.

Here’s a sample script for the phone call invites:

“Hey Laura, how are you? <small talk….> The reason why I’m calling is because Mike and I are thinking about having a destination wedding in Ireland. <Small talk….> We’re still trying to figure out the details, but — would you and <insert Spouse’s name> be interested in spending a week with us in Ireland, for our wedding?”

If they ask you about costs, be prepared to tell them how much flights are to Ireland around that time of year, and also mention that they may need to consider the costs of a rental car and other incidentals like food and drinks. If they sound concerned about the costs, you can also remind them that they may be able to split the cost of a rental car with So-and-So, or plan to buy some groceries and cook meals at the rental house.

If you have a guest who may not be able to afford the trip, save their phone call for later, once you figure out if the costs of the wedding week leave any room in your budget to help pay for others.

Our shortlist started at around 40 people, then we had a huge blow from my sister. She found out she would be 9 months pregnant and unable to travel by the time of the wedding. We ended at 31 people in the end, which was a perfect number considering Irish house rentals can rarely sleep more than 24 people.

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