Chances are when you think wedding, you think of a celebration surrounded by your loved ones. Right? So surely making a guest list should be simple. Well, it can be. Yet surprisingly it can also be a huge area of stress for many newly engaged couples.
Here are 8 tips you can use to create the perfect guest list and reduce worry.
1. CREATE GUEST LIST CONSIDERATIONS
Think in terms of generalities. Sit down as a couple and discuss boundaries and wants for your guest list.
- What size wedding do you envision? Small? Huge? Something in between?
- How large are your immediate families? Extended families?
- Are plus 1s included?
- Are children allowed?
- How many people are local versus traveling?
2. DESIGN YOUR IDEAL LIST
When you begin building your list, write down everyone you would like to have in attendance. Don’t hold back yet. Don’t think about your budget or venue for the moment. Go all out in your initial list. You can trim it down later. Have your partner do the same.
Note: You may want to also get a list of essential people from your parents and future in laws, but I’ll leave that solely to your discretion…
3. COMPILE AND COMPROMISE
Combine the lists into one massive grid and note any duplicate people. Chances are these people will make your “must invite” list.
This is also your opportunity to discuss who is not welcome. If you’re uncomfortable with inviting exes or estranged family members, make it known to your fiancé. It’s important to openly chat about concerns like these in the early planning stages. Doing so can help you avoid any unwarranted drama. Because let’s be honest, ignoring the problem won’t make it disappear.
4. HOLD YOUR GROUND
This is your wedding. That doesn’t mean avoid compromise when it’s called for, but it does mean…this is your wedding.
Even people with the best of intentions may inadvertently or unknowingly thrust guest list “suggestions” on you. Chances are family or close friends will try to add people on to the list. People that you have no interest in having at your wedding.
We’ll look at how to deal with obligation invites further on, but honesty is your best response. If this potentially awkward situation does present itself - be ready. If additional people will exceed your budget, say that. If you don’t know how many people you will be able to ultimately invite, say that. Be polite but firm.
This is your special day, and most reasonable people will understand and be mindful of what you want and your guest list limitations.
5. BE REALISTIC ABOUT THE NUMBERS
Now think about budget and venue. Each and every guest adds on a series of expenses. Additional costs range from the number of meals, to the cake, chair rentals, etc. Though you may not have actual cost estimates for these factors just yet, keep them in mind. A few dollars here and there adds up.
Also, don’t overextend the invitation list to exceed your venue’s maximum capacity. Even though it’s highly unlikely everyone invited will attend, approaching the numbers this way is just asking for added stress (if not trouble). Keep in mind you can always add on later if your budget or space will allow.
6. CREATE INVITE TIERS
You may not love the idea of ranking friends and family. However, this will save you from so much stress and anxiety. Create an A-List, B-List, and C-List.
A-List: These people are your nearest and dearest. Whether they are close family members or friends, you can’t even imagine not having them present for your “I Dos.”
B-List: You really want these individuals in attendance, but you realize they may need to be cut out. If need be, you’re OK with this. People in this category are typically extended family, professional friends, or additional buddies.
C-List: You’d like to have these folks there, but it’s perhaps more out of obligation or guilt. Maybe they invited you to their wedding, or you’ve invited everyone else in the co-worker social circle, etc. An invite in this category depends on your wedding budget and venue. Basically these people will only receive an invite if guest list space opens up.
Two Methods for Sending Invitations:
1) After you’ve decided on the A-List, decide then and there how many B-List list make round one of invite sending. Then send the combined A-List and approved B-List simultaneously.
2) Send A-List and rank list B-List. Wait for returned responses and send B-List once “regrets” start to trickle in.
7. ADD NAMES TO THE RESPONSE CARDS
I’m sure people don’t deliberately oppose wedding guest etiquette, but it happens. It happens frequently. And trust that if you give people the opportunity to add multiple names onto the one guest name line, some will. (No joke, I know one individual that brought 3 guests…) It’s likely just lack of wedding knowledge or protocol and nothing personal, but don’t let this happen to you.
Foolproof the invitation situation. Have guests’ names printed directly onto the RSVP card. And if you don’t know the name of their significant other (and are allowing people to bring plus 1s) – notate that on the RSVP card as well. The clearer you are at this point, the more you can avoid an awkward situation down the line.
8. CREATE A SPREADSHEET
Create a grid with the following categories:
- Phone Number
- Dietary Restrictions
- List Rank
- Date Invite Mailed
- Likelihood of Attendance
- Attendance Confirmation (Yes/No)
Be diligent when it comes to updating this spreadsheet. Also be ready to track people down for responses (annoying yes, but a very real part of wedding planning). You’ll be thankful for having an organized and well prepared guest grid to reference.
Creating your guest list may not be the most glamorous aspect of planning your wedding, but implementing these tips will save you from a potentially stressful and chaotic experience!
What’s your biggest guest list concern? Tell us below!