Creating your wedding guest list is exciting! When you sit down with your partner ready to put pen to paper it all starts to feel very real. But excitement can soon turn to anxiety – and maybe even arguments if you don’t establish rules and boundaries up front.
Here’s our quick guide to creating a stress free wedding guest list:
Create your initial wedding guest list
You can’t invite everybody, but listing out every potential guest is a great way to get the process started. Between you and your partner the initial wedding guest list is likely to get very long and you’ll probably find that you know far more people than you realised.
Excel is a great tool for creating, ordering, re-ordering and managing guest lists. You can start by inserting everyone into your list and then cut, paste, move, colour code and even add notes.
Remember that this is just a starting point, so don’t over think it, just get those names on the list.
Do your parents get a say?
Parents often contribute heavily to, or even pay for the wedding. Are they expecting to have some input into the final wedding guest list? Talk this through with them up front. Politely remind them that this is your big day, but perhaps set aside a small guest allocation for them to fill.
You may find that they choose invitees that are already on your list – Great! You may also find that they invite Great aunt Sal (who isn’t your real aunt and who you haven’t seen for twenty five years), but if it puts a smile on your folks face then it’s a small price to pay.
Work out how many guests you can realistically invite
Budget, venue size and capacity, catering style and a variety of other factors are likely to influence how many guests you can invite to your wedding.
You’ll know your overall budget and hopefully how much budget you’ve allocated to each area of the wedding.
Are you having a large or small and intimate wedding? Is there a particular venue that you’ve already fallen in love with? The capacity of your venue is going to set the upper end limit for your guest list. Now you’ll need to decide on other factors such as the level and type of catering that you want – Formal, sit down three course? Buffet? Street food? Bowl food?
Catering costs vary widely depending upon the type of food and the format that you choose, but it’s one of the biggest cost factors directly associated with your guests.
If you’ve already spoken to caterers, even if just to get ballpark figures, then you should be able to calculate roughly how much the catering will cost per head. Check whether these figures work with your budget and use these figures to help you to decide on your final wedding guest list size.
Now cut down your wedding guest list
Now that you know how many people you can invite, it’s time to start cutting that wedding guest list down.
This can be hard work, but don’t let your heart rule your head, just get stuck in. Remember, you can always add people back in later if a space on the list opens up.
Start by separating out the non-negotiable must invites such as close family and best friends. Then work down from there, filling the list with the next most important people in your lives.
Unless they happen to also be extremely close friends of yours then neighbours, work colleagues and other casual acquaintances should be the first to go. Friends that you haven’t seen for a while should probably be next. University mates that you see once every few years…? And anyone you feel obliged to invite, but don’t really want to, should go to the bottom of the list.
It’s not easy, but once you get into the swing of things it will become more and more obvious as to who should stay and who should go.
Create a simple set of rules to help with deal plus one’s and stick with them no matter what. Have you met your friends plus ones? If not, don’t invite. Have they been together for a long time – 6 months, a year or more? Then invite them (even if you haven’t met them)… something like that.
The choice is yours, but remember, these people are taking up valuable space on your guest list and setting rules helps keep the number of plus ones sensible.
How about having a hand full of non-negotiable vetoes each? This could be tricky and contentious, so think carefully before taking this path. The plus is that if you’re struggling to make the final cuts, the vetoes will do some of the work for you.
If you’re using vetoes, then you might need to include a handful of non-negotiable invitees each too. This way you can each set a few invitees in stone, safe in the knowledge that they can’t be vetoed by your partner.
Send your invites out in stages
Sending your invitations out in stages allows you to manage your RSVPs more easily. You’ll receive a number of regretful declines – don’t take these personally, they’d probably love to come, but sometimes other life priorities just get in the way.
The good news is that you can now elevate someone you would love to invite, but who didn’t quite make the final list the first time around.
When you send out your second and third wave of invitations then you’ll be able to add elevated invitees in with these. Managing your invitations this way means that no one feels as if they were a last-minute addition or afterthought.
Don’t overthink. Enjoy the process
Creating a wedding guest list can be hard work, but set some simple rules up front and you’ll find the process a lot simpler. Don’t invite out of obligation. Accept that you can’t invite everyone and that some people that you’d love to invite won’t make the cut.
Understand that immediate family and closest friends have to come first, and that leaving people off the list doesn’t mean that you don’t care about them. If their true friends they’ll understand.
You can always organise a separate night out to celebrate with some of those that you couldn’t quite fit onto your final list.
Have you found your perfect venue?
Have you considered a marquee wedding venue? Marquees are extremely flexible wedding reception spaces and can be set up in the grounds of beautiful venues or home gardens. Why not have an obligation free chat with one of our people to find out more and get a ball park estimate?
Call 01483 322070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org