How To Create The Perfect Wedding Guest List

5 Stress-Free Steps For Creating The Perfect Guest List

If you’ve just begun to plan your wedding, or are very soon to start, you likely already know that over the next several months you’ll compile a list for pretty much every aspect of your I Dos. Bridal party, to-do’s, decor ideas, registries, honeymoon details–there is literally a list of everything. But before you’re tempted to create any other list, you must first begin with your guest list. Yes, friends, you literally cannot start planning your wedding before doing this. It’s the parameter for so many things: your venue, your table counts, invitation quantity, etc…There’s no need to be worried, though…here are 5 stress-free ways to fearlessly compile the perfect guest list.

One size does not fit all. Know this: every couple and their family is different. Translation: just because your best friend hosted a 300 person wedding, doesn’t mean you will. The size of your families will determine the size of your guest list–that, and your budget, and your venue. A small wedding is generally around 50-75 people. The average wedding is around 150 people. A large wedding is 200 people or more. Discuss and determine the type of affair you’d like to host, and then divide and conquer.

Divvy it up! Now that you’ve started that list, decide how the list will be divided. Typically the couple gets half and each parent side gets a quarter. So, if you’re planning to invite 200 people, you’d get 100 guests, your parents would get 50 and your fiancé’s parents would also get 50. For a super drama-free approach — split the list evenly three ways. Then, go for it. Create your dream list. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all of these people will ultimately be invited. And, that’s ok!

Visit venues.: Once you have a general idea of numbers, then you can confidently visit potential locations. Knowing this number (although it will likely decrease once you get to the next step), is invaluable when determining the best place to hold your super-celebration. And, once you fall in love with your venue, you’ll be able to apply your budget and the location’s capacity to as you move to the next step.

Put ‘em in categories. Now that you think you’ve found ‘the one (location)’, and you’ve completed your ‘in a perfect world’ pass, create rules for ranking and pairing down that list. As you’re making distinctions, put those guests on another page. Don’t delete them forever. As a rule, we’re not huge fans of the A&B list, because of the etiquette, logistical and financial challenges it creates, but, should you receive a decline or two, depending upon the situation, you might want to revisit sending another invitation.

First, eliminate:

  • Anyone neither you or your partner has spoken to or met. And, anyone you’ve not spoken to in three years that aren’t related.
  • Guilt trips: people you feel badly about not inviting, just because they’re a friend of a friend.

Then, categorize:

  • Phone: I heard a bride say this recently and thought it was great–If they’re not in your contact list, they shouldn’t be on your wedding guest list.
  • Cousins: First and second–make a distinction about who makes the cut, and keep it consistent to avoid uncomfortable situations
  • Children? You are most certainly entitled to an adult only wedding if that’s what you choose to do. Immediate family and bridal party members are usually excluded from this.
  • Plus ones: You can make a rule that engaged and living together couples are yes, but singles with no significant others are no.
  • Work: I’d recommend asking around as to what others in your workplace have done and stick with what’s customary–especially when it comes to inviting the big boss/CEO. Generally, though, if you start including some and not others it could be problematic. Keep it consistent across the board to avoid issues.

Stay Tough! As the big day draws near you or your parents might be tempted to add to the list. If this happens, go back to your ‘dream’ list and if they weren’t on that version, consider: do they really need to be included now?  This will help you to avoid those last-minute additions. Also, do your best to avoid parent pressure. You’ve done the hard work of creating categories–share them with your parents, and stick to them!

Written by Leigh Karsch, Fleurish Ink