Creating your wedding guest list should be an easy task, we know. But sometimes there are just so many people to invite and so little space to invite them all. Let’s not make the task harder than it should be. Use this wedding guest list planning guide to finalize your wedding guest list and stay within the realms of your financial comfort zone. This should help you take the edge off.
Envision Your Wedding and Set Your Budget
The first question to answer before you pick up a pen to write the wedding guest list: “How big do we want our wedding to be?” Are you dreaming up an intimate wedding in the park or an extravagant celebration at the Ritz Carlton? Once you determine the vision for your wedding, realistically consider your budget and how much you can afford. The cost of your venue and the budget will help you decide how many guests you can accommodate and if you should consider trimming costs in other areas (e.g., venue, food, alcohol, etc.).
Create a First Draft Wedding Guest List
In your first draft wedding guest list, include names of your close family members, friends on both your side and the groom’s side, your mutual friends, as well as potential guests your parents wish to invite. Traditionally, if the bride’s parents are paying for the wedding, they may freely invite more people. And if the groom’s parents are picking up the tab, likewise, they may wish to add on to the wedding guest list. If the bride and groom are paying for their own wedding and the parents have gone wild with their wish list of guests to invite, there is no harm in asking parents to (1) pitch in and cover the cost for their guests or (2) eliminate guests whom the bride and/or groom do not actually know.
Make the Final Wedding Guest List
Once you have the first draft list complete, begin your process of elimination and start making cuts until you have safely landed within the limits of your budget. Here’s a quick and easy assessment from The Overwhelmed Bride to help you make those tough choices.
Decide Which Family Members are Essential
Of course, your closest family members will certainly make the top of the list. If you have room in the budget, feel free to enlarge the list and include extended family.
Decide Which Friends to Invite
The first people that come to mind when you think about your wedding guest list should definitely be on the list! This is your Must-Invite list. From there, consider your secondary list of friends: old roommates that you haven’t seen in years, childhood besties that you only talk to on birthdays via a Facebook comment. For every person on the Must-Invite list who can’t make it or does not reply, invite someone from your secondary friend list.
Should You Invite Work Colleagues?
Sure, but be very honest about your wedding planning to avoid anyone feeling shaded. To avoid anyone feeling left out, let folks know the reason for the no-invite. You can say something along these lines: “I’d really like to have you at our wedding, but we’ve maxed out our budget on family members.”
Decide If Guests Should Get a “Plus-One” Invitation
According to tradition, spouses or cohabitating partners of your wedding guests are automatically invited and should be formally addressed on the invitations. You are not required to invite boyfriends and girlfriends of your guests, but it’s a much appreciated gesture if you have space to do so (just remember to send separate invitations to couples who do not live together). When it comes to your single guests (especially those who won’t know anyone at your wedding), it’s a good idea to offer a “plus one.” Need a little help deciding who should get a “plus one” invitation? Make a fun game of the elimination process using instructions below from Destination Wedding Mag.
Are Children Invited?
We all love to have children around for weddings, especially the kids who warm up the dance floor and get the party started. However, sometimes it’s just not feasible to have kids at the event. Possible reasons include space limitations and venue formality. If you decide not to include kids on your wedding guest list, only invite kids older than 16. Though it’s in poor taste to print “no children” on your wedding invitations, guests should know not to bring kids unless the kids’ names are also mentioned on the invitation.
What about Out-of-Town Guests?
Definitely invite out-of-town guests who meet the criteria of your “must-invite” wedding guest list and do not assume they won’t be able to make it. When you send out invitations far and wide, assume that the majority of your invitees will replay with a “yes,” until they don’t.
How to Handle Unexpected Circumstances
Though we don’t like to think about unplanned circumstances, you should also assume that at least one of your guests will be a no-show for whatever reason. As a rule, the no-show guest’s table setting should be removed if he/she doesn’t arrive by the first course. And god forbid someone bring an uninvited guest. But if that happens, seating accommodations should be made for that person as quickly as possible. Appoint your coordinator to monitor and handle such situations.
You may need to revisit the wedding guest list a few times before you get it right, and that’s okay. Have patience with your groom and all parents involved, and leave the lines of communication wide open. Still need a little guidance? Use this elimination tool from Invitations by Dawn to finalize your wedding guest list.
Wedding Invitation Ideas
Okay, now that we have the hard stuff out of the way, we’re sending wedding invitation inspiration your way! Once you finalize that list, start thinking about the design and colors of your wedding invitations. Here are a few stunners to get you in the mood.
Featured Invitation: Pigment & Parchment | Featured Photography: Clayton Austin via Green Wedding ShoesFeatured Calligraphy: Cass Deller Design | Featured Photography: Milton Photography via Hey Wedding LadyFeatured Invitation: Jess Creates | Featured Photography: Amanda Hedgepeth via Glamour and GraceFeatured Invitation: Shhh My Darling | Featured Photograph: Cinzia Bruschini via RuffledFeatured Invitation: Kat CatmurFeatured Invitation: PS Paper | Featured Photography: Elizabeth Messina via Snippet and InkFeatured Invitation: Designed with AmoreFeatured Invitation: Smitten on Paper via Oh So Beautiful Paper