Invariably, soon-to-be-married folk choose their wedding venue and allocated budget before coming up with their guest list, and not vice versa. So, when headaches and arguments arise over a wedding guest list, it's one sure-fire way to turn something pretty amazing into quite a nightmare. And whether you're planning an intimate wedding or a massive one at a lavish location, every venue has its limits.
Which is why some couples in love find themselves crossing off and adding guests on an ad-hoc basis in order to meet their quota. Not very fun, is it?
Don't stress, we've compiled a comprehensive list for you so that you can organise your wedding guest list like a pro. No more worries, only smooth sailing when it comes to having your nearest and dearest join you on your big day!
Who Should You Be Inviting to Your wedding?
As mentioned, this depends solely on your venue's capacity as well as your budget. But here are the seven categories to consider when deciding who you should invite to your wedding, listed in order of importance:
This would include both of your parents, grandparents, siblings and their partners (and their children). It goes without saying that these are the main invitees you'll definitely add to your wedding guest list.
After this, you can start thinking about aunts, uncles, and cousins that are an integral part of the family and that you have close contact with.
This constitutes those who are part of the family, but share next to no DNA with you, such as third cousins, cousin's cousins, your great aunt, or your uncle's brother-in-law.
And for some, these members of the family are folk that they've never even met, making them far less important when it comes to a wedding guest list as opposed to close friends and family friends.
For others however, they could play an integral part of who you are, and you would consider them to be as important as a mother, father or friend.
It's up to you to decide what role these distant relatives play in your life, and whether they should get a spot on your wedding guest list.
It's fairly obvious that your best friends will gain top priority, then close friends that you see on a regular basis and who you consider to be an important part of your life.
Those who were once close friends with whom you rarely catch up with these days, but who still hold a special place in your heart, such as school or university friends, are strong candidates for your wedding guest list - should you have enough space to cater for them.
At first, these friends can go on your "maybe" list and added in when you're more certain of your numbers.
It's true that some co-workers can be considered great friends, which is when they'll fall under the "close friends" category and should be treated as such.
But for your average co-worker, the one you smile at politely at the water cooler, or the one who brings you coffee once a week as a treat, it's not mandatory to invite them.
If you work in a close-knit and small work environment, and your space and budget allow for your team to attend, then that's of course ideal. But for those who work in a big office, passing by co-workers you regularly see but don't know the name of - it's 100 percent OK not to add them to your wedding guest list.
Friends of the Family
People such as your mother's good friend who you see more as an aunt, or your brother's life-long friend who is somewhat of a big brother to you, of course gain more priority than your father's golfing buddy who pops in for a drink once in a blue moon.
If your wedding guest list allows for the odd family friend who is super lovely but not too close, jot them down on the "maybe" list and see if you have any room to add them in later.
Guest's Plus One
A bit of a tricky one, as most people who're in a relationship would like (and perhaps expect) to bring their significant other to your big day. The rule of thumb in this case however, is to be completely ruthless.
If your space and budget is limited, you could implement a rule that only those who are engaged or married can bring their partners.
Children are of course not the last option to consider when thinking about your guest list, but have been placed as such as a means to think about whether you want children at your wedding or not.
Some couples opt for a no-kids wedding ceremony and reception, and that would obviously lower the cost and save space. But for those special instances, such as your nieces and nephews, or your best friend's child who is too adorable for words (and who you simply must have as your flower girl or ring bearer), then you should definitely consider adding them to your guest list.
10 Top Tips to Organizing a Wedding Guest List That Suits Your Space and Budget
1. Create a Preliminary Guest List
Place your guests, (absolutely everyone - even those who you probably won't end up inviting) according to two columns - yes and maybe. Do this way before you're ready to think about sending those invitations out.
Then, take some time to mull it over, and re-address the list with fresh eyes a few days later. Edit accordingly, and start removing the guests that you feel shouldn't be on your wedding guest list.
A third revision should then be made when it's time to start sending out the invites. At this stage, you should have a clearer idea of who you want at your wedding, and who you can confidently remove from your wedding guest list.
2. Use an Online Wedding Guest List Planner to Help You Plan
The well-esteemed website, The Knot, has come up with an ingenious way in which to organise your wedding guest list. It's a comprehensive system that places your guests in respective groups according to your needs.
This nifty tool lists all of your guest's contact information, gives you notifications on RSVP's, allows you to note their meal preferences, and is optimised to be synced with your wedding website, should you choose to have one.
3. Implement Some Wedding Guest List Rules
Creating your wedding guest list is, of course, a collaborative effort - which is why both the bride and groom-to-be should have a say in the final tally.
To make this easier, you can come up with some rules to help keep you both on track, such as:
- If one partner hasn't met them, they're not invited
- If one or both partners haven't seen them in three plus years, they're not invited (relatives excluded, perhaps)
- If you are feeling inclined to invite someone solely to avoid drama or to return the invite that you got for their wedding, don't invite them
4. Make Each Guest Feel Like Number One
Oftentimes, engaged couples send out their invites and wait for their invitees to RSVP before sending out a load of second invites to those who you can now accommodate. And for those who receive the invite a mere week or few weeks before the date, it's obvious that they were an after-thought.
Because of this, be crafty in your attempt to hide the fact that some guests are more important than others. For this to work, you'll have to be super organised - and that means getting your first load of invites out with lots of time to spare (around 10 weeks in advance).
Then, once you've got a clearer picture of who can and cannot join you on your big day, you can safely send out your second load of invites (around six to eight weeks in advance).
5. Be Firm but Fair
Curating a wedding guest list is like throwing the biggest party of your life. It's one of your most important days, and because of this - you should not let anyone bully you into inviting someone that you simply do not have the space or budget to accommodate.
So, when a family member tries to guilt trip you into inviting an elderly distant relative - one that you have not seen in ten years - politely explain to them that you can only work according to your budget and the space available at your chosen venue. This is also applicable when it comes to those who may be offended or upset that you have not invited them.
Whatever the circumstance, a face-to-face conversation is always the best way to go as you can convey your message more efficiently than via a text message (that often gets misconstrued).
6. Don't Do Anything Last-Minute
This doesn't just apply to your wedding guest list, of course, but pertaining to your invitees, it's advisable not to invite any new guests last-minute. This not only leaves you to re-arrange your table setting and seating chart, but also conveys to the person that they were an after-thought.
And in a worst-case scenario, you may end up with having to disinvite one or more people when someone near to you has managed to move things around and can actually make it to your big day. The biggest thing to take away here, is that being well-organised is key to acing your wedding guest list.
7. Party Friends
Having a group of girls or guys who are the life of the party is fun…for a Saturday night at the pub. But when it comes to your wedding day, you have to make an important decision as to whether they'll be able to keep it classy for you, or if you should simply not invite them.
If you choose the former but with some hesitation, a chat with them beforehand is always a good idea…done sensitively of course.
While your wedding guest list depends on your budget and venue, you'll also need to keep your date in mind when it comes to those attending. For example, if you choose to have a weekday wedding - sure, the venue hire rate will be considerably lower but the chances that everyone will be able to attend are slim.
For that reason, it's advisable to save your large wedding ceremonies for the weekend.
9. Think About You and Your Vision
Don't forget that your big day is actually all about you and your partner - not everyone else. Which means that whatever vision you hold should be your number one priority. Try to work your wedding guest list around that vision, as opposed to working tirelessly and getting stressed over who to invite.
At the end of the day, it's all about the experience that you've created, so plan your big day in such a way that it will create memories that you value with the people you love.
10. Be Firm on Your RSVP Deadline
If it hasn't been clear already, your RSVP list is one of the most important things to consider when it comes to the success (or downfall) of your big day. You don't want to go ahead and pay per head in advance when you haven't tallied up the final count yet.
Which is why you need to be strict when it comes to getting those RSVP's in. This will not only help your budget and planning but will also allow you to send out that second lot of invites in advance, if you choose to.
A Handy Guide on How to Create the Perfect Wedding Guest List Spreadsheet!
Your wedding guest list spreadsheet should be your go-to piece of paper/document when it comes to your invitees and anything else guest-related. So, here are a few bits of information that you should consider adding to your guest list to ensure smooth sailing.
The most obvious:
- Name, address, e-mail address, and phone number
Less obvious, but just as important:
- Whether you think they'll attend or not (sure, you'll invite your cousin who lives abroad, but the chances of them attending are slim)
- What other events they're invited to (kitchen tea, bachelorette/bachelor party, rehearsal dinner)
- Food allergies and restrictions
- Accommodation options (those who are staying overnight)
- Date of arrival (for those coming from afar)
And to further help you plan your big day, we've compiled a list of the top 10 wedding apps to ensure your planning goes down without a hitch.
Top 10 Wedding Apps for Effortless Planning
This app works by taking your chosen wedding date and planning everything around it. From checklists to payment tracking and a spending summary, you'll be able to organise your wedding day like a pro.
2. Tie The Knot
Almost like an advent calendar for the soon-to-be-married, this app counts down the days until your "I do's".
3. Wedding Countdown
Similar to Tie The Knot, this app has an additional touch that makes it really lovely. It has the ability to track units, such as heartbeats and kisses, and has the function to add photos.
4. Table Plan
Another way to plan your wedding guest list smoothly is the Table Plan app. It allows you to add all of your chosen guests first, then prompts you to move them around on the screen. You can also let this app get to work by setting different parameters such as age, dietary restrictions, etc, and allowing it to plan your seating arrangement automatically.
5. Wedding LookBook
The ultimate app for brides on the hunt for their perfect wedding dress. It also gives you information, tips and hints for your bridesmaids and flower girl's attire.
6. LadyMarry Wedding Planner
This app works as a checklist too, but it also offers useful resources such as blogs and articles to help you along the way.
Joy is a super handy app that, in a way, doubles up as a form of social media. It allows you and your guests to share photos taken on your big day!
If you're struggling to find that boho-chic add-on for your big day, or you're looking for something else that's been carefully crafted, Etsy is the perfect little online store to find amazing bits and pieces.
Giving brides inspiration since 2010, Pinterest is a go-to when it comes to finding wedding ideas. They have everything under the sun, such as wedding dress and decor ideas, venue information, informative blogs and articles, and other amazing tips and tricks.
10. Palette Cam
If you're struggling to find the perfect colour scheme for your wedding, Palette Cam helps you to create different schemes using your or their photos. A nifty app to ensure a beautiful display on your big day.
Are you ready to rock your wedding guest list? We hope that you've found all sorts of inspiration from our comprehensive guide and wish you and the love of your life an eternity of happiness together. Happy planning!