You’re Engaged – Now What? You have told all of your VIPs of your upcoming nuptials and now it’s time to start the planning process! The first thing on the wedding planning checklist is compiling the wedding guest list! Deciding who’s invited to your wedding can be difficult. Although it would be great if you could invite everyone you want, it’s probably not possible. So how do you create your perfect wedding guest list? The best way to create and effectively edit your guest list is to be mindful of not only your own wishes, but also those of your partner’s and your family’s.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR WEDDING GUEST LIST
DISCUSS YOUR VENUE, BUDGET & VISION
The first step should be talking with your fiancé about what’s important to the two of you for your big day. When tackling your wedding guest list, be sure to keep wedding venue capacity, budget, and wedding style (a.k.a. the overall ambiance and party vibe you’re hoping to create) in mind as all three will be major factors as you put together your guest list. Here are some questions to help you get started!
The size of your venue can dictate how many guests you can invite to your wedding. We recommend drafting a rough guest list before you visit potential wedding venues. This will help you narrow down venue options so that you’re only looking at spaces that can accommodate your party size. It’s certainly fine to do work the other way around and book your dream venue first and then work your guest list size around the venue’s capacity. If you choose to pick the venue first, make sure all parties (fiancé & parents) involved understand there may need to be some significant cuts in the guest list.
What to ask potential venues:
- What is the maximum and minimum capacity of your ceremony and reception spaces?
- If you’re dreaming of an outdoor ceremony, do you have a rain plan?
- Can I hire my own vendors or do you have a preferred list?
The size of your guest list usually has the largest impact on your wedding budget more than anything else. The more guests you invite, the more money you will spend. So, if you’re on a tight budget, keeping your guest list as small as possible will help save on all aspects of the wedding, from the venue, the food and alcohol to the flowers and stationery.
Things to discuss with your fiancé:
- Approximately how many guests will our wedding budget allow us to invite?
- How do we want to divide the guest list between us and our parents?
- Will we be setting limits on how many guests our parents can invite? (Related: If either of your parents are financially contributing to your wedding, that could impact the number of guests they might like to invite.)
Chances are you have already created a Pinterest Board of your vision for your wedding day. Do you envision a grand party with everyone in attendance? Or do you prefer an intimate affair with just your nearest and dearest? Be sure the two of you are on the same page before starting to discuss how many will be invited.
Things to discuss with your fiancé:
- How do we want the wedding to feel? Small and intimate? Large and festive?
- What does that mean for our guest list?
After you’ve discussed the items above with your fiancé and you have a game plan, it time to get to work on creating your wedding guest list.
GOOGLE SPREADSHEETS ARE YOUR FRIEND!
Use a Shared Google Spreadsheet! We have saved you some time and created this Guest List Spreadsheet you can download and use as is or customize.
Google Drive is Awesome and we highly recommend you add your guest list spreadsheet to it and share it with your fiancé and anyone else who is helping with the guest list! Google Drive Spreadsheets are great because they are shareable and they can be edited simultaneously and updates can be viewed in real time, and accessed from any device.
SET A GOAL FOR THE SIZE OF YOUR GUEST LIST.
This can be based on the capacity and space limitations of the venue(s) you want to book, on your wedding budget, and/or the overall wedding vibe you’re hoping to create.
Now comes the fun part. Have everyone (you, your partner, your parents) involved in the inviting compile a list of the people they’d like to attend.
Not sure who to include, here’s a guide to help you and your families decide who should make the list.
WHO SHOULD BE INVITED?
Start with your parents, grandparents, siblings, their partners, and their children. Then list any other immediate family (aunts, uncles, and cousins) that you see regularly. It’s important to list everyone as the final number of attendees will be needed for invitations, catering, rentals, etc.
If you’re close to any of your extended family members and would like them at your wedding, be sure to add them to the list.
Add your closest friends first and then any you see or speak to on a regular basis or are significant in your life.
A good rule of thumb is to only invite co-workers that you spend time with outside of the office or feel especially close with. Do not feel obligated to invite everyone from the office.
Adding a plus-one to your single friends’ invitations can increase your overall wedding guest list numbers which also affects your budget. Here’s our best advice to navigating plus-ones:
Married, engaged, and cohabitating guests should get a plus-one.
Give your wedding-party members a plus-one.
Also, guests who’ve been with their significant other for so long that it’d be awkward not to invite them.
For everyone else, make a blanket rule, such as “only immediate or close family can bring a date” and stick to it.
Inviting children will add to your guest numbers and affect your budget. Choosing whether or not to invite kids to your wedding can be a stressful decision but remember it’s your day and your choice. Discuss with your partner and your families whether or not you’ll be inviting children to the wedding so that you are all on the same page.
The same rule for Friends can be applied to Family Friends. Add them on the list if you see or speak to on a regular basis or are significant in your life. Your parents may have friends that they feel need to be at your celebration also especially if thye’re contributing to some if not all of the cost of the wedding. A good solution to this is to give both families the same number of extra guests. This allows your parents to use these seats however they’d like.
COMPARE THE LISTS AND CROSS OFF ANY DUPLICATIONS.
COMPARE YOUR NUMBERS
Add up the names that are left and compare that number with your goal. If your count is over the limit, determine how many names you need to eliminate. Then have each person cut an assigned number of names from his or her personal list.
TIPS ON HOW TO TRIM YOUR GUEST LIST
Trimming your guest list is a common wedding-planning headache. To minimize the stress, we’ve listed some guides to help you condense your headcount.
DETERMINE YOUR A-LIST
Now that your master guest list is complete, sit down together and categorize your guests into your A-List and your B-List.
The A-List is for your must-have invitees who you cannot imagine not having at your wedding, like your family and close friends. These people are your non-negotiables and will receive invitations.
The B-List is made up of guests you still really want to be there, so be thoughtful in deciding who you choose to be on it. If you get enough “regrets” once your RSVPs start coming in, you may choose to send out a batch of invites at a slightly later date to your B-List.
MAKE IT ADULTS ONLY
A quick way to shrink your guest list is to make your wedding adults only. You may have to break the news gently to the parents in your crew, but chances are they’ll be excited to have a kid-free night. If you have out of town guests who need to travel with their children, you may want to arrange for childcare.
CUT WHOLE GROUPS
Eliminating “whole groups” is another way to cut down on guests. Sort your list by how you know them and then eliminate a whole group instead of individual people. This might be easier or at least seem “fairer” (one person from your baseball team won’t feel snubbed that another teammate got invited, because they didn’t).
TRY THE “ONE YEAR” TEST
The one-year test is exactly what it sounds like. If you haven’t see them in the past year or if it weren’t for the wedding, you wouldn’t expect to see them in the next year, then take them off the list.
YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO RECIPROCATE
Don’t feel obligated to invite someone to your wedding just because they invited you to theirs. Instead consider your relationship. If you attended their wedding and your relationship is still going strong, then include them. If you’ve fallen out of touch with them, don’t feel obligated to invite them. Instead save the spot for someone you’re really close with.
AVOID LAST-MINUTE ADDITIONS
During your engagement, you will more than likely hear something along the lines of, “I can’t wait to come to your wedding!” from someone not on your invite list. Rather than blurting out, “Me too!” and hastily mailing an invitation, stick to your guns. Instead, blame it on venue space limitations (“I’m so sorry, I wish we could invite everyone but unfortunately our venue is really tight on space.”). It’s better to let them know now rather than having to disinvite them later.
Remember there are various parties and celebrations that take place between the engagement and “I do” which are all important parts of the wedding experience. When sending invites, remember this one vital rule. Anyone invited to any wedding party (office showers excepted) must also be invited to the wedding. Asking someone to any of the lead-up celebrations but not the wedding itself is simply rude, not to mention misleading.
CREATE MASTER LIST
Now that you have your guest list created, copy the names and paste into the tab named Master List. This is where you will manage your guest list by recording important info like names and addresses, invitations sent, track of RSVPs and gifts received, etc.
Hopefully our tips will help you create your guest list with as little stress as possible. Happy Planning!
Featured Photo Seating Chart by paperKuts studio