wedding guests

How to Determine Your Wedding Guest List?

One of the great modern wedding conundrums is how to decide your wedding guest list without causing any drama.

You want to avoid having to spend too much money on food and seating, but you also don't want to get into an argument with your mother-in-law over excluding her former coworker's boyfriend.

Speaking of numbers, you and your potential partner likely know more people than you give yourselves credit for.

So, how do you reduce the amount of invitees to something manageable? Fortunately, there are a few methods available to you that will allow you to accomplish your objective rapidly and without unnecessary fuss.

If you follow these guidelines (and then maintain track of everyone on your list, including RSVPs and menu preferences), drafting and trimming your guest list will go much more smoothly than you may expect.

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Table of Contents

The Categories

The people you invite to your wedding will reflect many aspects and eras of ones life. Here's an easy way to keep track of all the people you've ever known.

Family

Include even the cousins you've never met before but will see for the first time only at family reunion.

Close Friends

Those on this list are people who play a substantial role in your life, either because you interact with them frequently or because of their significance to you.

Professional Friends

Colleagues, clients-turned-friends, mentors, or anyone else who has made a significant impact on your professional development should be recognised.

Significant Relationships

Consider your closest friends from all stages of your life, whether you met them in elementary school, college, on a sports team, or somewhere else.

List Creation

You and your future life partner should each create individual lists that will later be combined into one master list. The number of friends, family, and associates who share a name with you, including spouses, partners, and children, is something to keep track of (if you are considering a child-friendly affair).

If it seems appropriate, you should also have your families make a list to avoid all the last invitation requests.

Guidelines for Compiling Your Guest List

Creating an impressive guest list can be a daunting endeavour, so here are some suggestions to help you narrow down your options.

Divide and Conquer

It is customary to start by determining the total number of invited guests and then apportioning that number among the bride and groom's families.

You can offer one third to each of your parents, his parents, and your new spouse.

One alternative is to maintain 50% as a couple and divide the remaining 25% equally between both sets of parents (with multiple locations, each side gets 25 per cent total). With your own money on the line, you can afford to be more aggressive with your wager.

Decide how you'll divide up the list—before accepting financial help.

We won't sugarcoat it: making an invitation list may be awkward, especially if one or both parents are helping out.

That's why it's important to lay out exactly what you want from them before you accept their assistance.

Get the families together and discuss about the guest list, even if you're paying for the wedding yourselves, so there are no unpleasant shocks.

As soon as you put down deposits using someone else's money, you're stuck with it, whereas before you do so, you have more flexibility to bargain or decline.

Tip: Traditionally, the couple invites half of the guests and the parents invite one quarter.

If you want to invite 200 individuals, that breaks down to 100 for you, 50 for your parents, and 50 for your fiancé's parents.

To avoid any unnecessary drama, the list should be divided into thirds.

Use a System That's Collaborative.

There are a number of ways to construct your guest list, but the most efficient way is to use a shared platform where all participants can access and update the document in real-time.

A word of advice: once you've started, don't stop. You can use different coloured tabs or create a new page for names you are dubious about when the time comes to begin sorting the yeses from the maybes (and the nos).

Even if you find that you have some spare room after all, erasing the names will leave you wondering who you could possibly invite.

Create a Kid Policy

Kids are the same way. Be consistent if you want parents to feel comfortable leaving their children at home. We suggest setting a minimum age requirement, say 14 years old.

Please clarify any exceptions to the included parties well in advance of the big day.

Remember Reciprocity

Ask a friend whose wedding you attended within the past year (especially if you have mutual friends) whether she thinks your guest list will be about the same size. Do you want to take it to the next level? Just tell her what's going on and she'll get it.

Forget the B-List

Although you may have witnessed this practise, please do not emulate it. There will be bruised sentiments and your pals will know they are second best.

Additionally, there is no use in increasing your staff just to increase your expense.

Set a Deadline

Call the number provided on the invitation if you haven't received a response by the due date. You, more than anybody else, must inform your caterer of this.

Be realistic about guests to avoid stress.

While it may not be the most exciting part of wedding planning, you will need to crunch one number in particular: the number of guests.

The size of your event and your available budget are two of the most important considerations. The cost of the cake, the number of chairs you'll need to rent, the quantity of favours, and the number of dishes your caterer will have to make all go up as the guest list grows.

If you pick a guest list that's too vast for the space available, you'll have to keep your breath while you anxiously check for responses.

It is wise to err on the side of caution when estimating. In case there is extra money, or if you find that you need more room than you initially anticipated, then you may always do so.

Establish Some Guidelines for Making Cuts (and Follow Them).

It's time to get back to earth and start crossing items off your wish list, one by one, until you've arrived at the actual number.

Establishing and adhering to rules facilitates list reduction. We guarantee that it will be less difficult in the long run, and that you will avoid any unnecessary complications. Can we define "rules" please?

Here are a few common ones:

  • Rule 1: Don't invite someone if you and your date have never met them or even heard of them.
  • Rule 2: Dislike the idea of inviting kids to your party? Please don't feel guilty about having an adult-only wedding.
  • Rule 3: Avoid inviting anyone you haven't talked to in more than three years who aren't related to you.
  • Rule 4: Don't feel obligated to invite someone who is just there because you feel bad about excluding them. This includes those who are only on the list because you were invited to their wedding or because they are friends with many of the invitees.

One piece of advice we can provide you is to be as fair as possible when making cuts to the guest list. Trust us, we've heard it all and we promise you, it won't make things easier.

It may seem unfair at first, but if you cross someone off your in-laws' or parents' to-do list, you should do the same for your own.

A and B lists should be created.

Let's just keep this between the two of us. If you want to invite as many people as possible without increasing costs or searching for a larger venue, keeping two separate lists is the way to go.

The procedure is as follows: You should invite just those people who are extremely important to you, such as immediate family members and close friends, to your wedding. Your initial invitations will be sent to them. Don't add just anyone to the B-list; just invite those people you truly want to see you.

You won't invite anyone from your B-list until you start receiving RSVPs and discover you have enough "regrets" (in order of importance).

A helpful hint is to not send out invitations to the second tier of guests until a week or two before the wedding.

Just don't let it show. Invite the people who matter the most to you ten weeks in advance (a bit sooner than normal), leaving you with enough time to invite the people who matter the least to you six to eight weeks before the wedding.

Make sure to run off an additional batch of RSVP cards with a later due date (sending RSVPs with a date that has passed is a dead giveaway that the recipients were on your B-list).

On the response cards, include names.

It wouldn't be the first time a visitor at a wedding crammed two (or three, or four) names onto a line meant for one.

That issue can be avoided by having the guests' names printed on the RSVP card. If you follow this advice, it will be very difficult for anyone to impose an invitation on you.

If you still get a write-in after following this advice, it may be because the guest is unaware of the protocol.

Do not take it personally when they make a social faux pas. Instead, give them a call and explain that you'd love to have everyone there, but that unfortunately, due to constraints such as cost and space, this won't be possible.

Don't let your parents or in-laws tyre you out.

Discipline yourself to abide by the limits you establish. To put it simply, you are getting married today. If money is a concern, asking those who would want a larger guest list to contribute more towards covering the overage could be the answer. There is usually a limit on the number of attendees due to space constraints at the venue.

Either your family or your fiancé's family will have to make sacrifices if your mother insists on inviting her entire spin class.

Attempt a middle ground first. You could just pick one person to invite and ignore the rest. Don't give up if that doesn't work. It won't be easy, but if you don't give in now, you'll only have more demands later.

If you need to have a difficult talk, try to do it face to face. It's important to watch your tone and provide clear signals if you want your feelings and perspective to be respected and taken into account.

Never add anything at the last minute.

Even if you don't actively publicise your nuptials, at least one person you're on the fence about inviting will say something embarrassing like, "I can't wait to come to your wedding!"

A simple "Me too!" can seem like a convenient way out in the heat of the moment. Doing so, however, will need either adding them to the list or having an even more awkward conversation with them, one that is comparable to a disinvitation.

The early stages of wedding preparation are not the time to discuss specifics.

As a precaution, it's a good idea to think of a diplomatically firm response that won't be misunderstood in advance of any potentially tense encounters.

You may say something like, "We wish we could invite everyone, but the cost and size of the venue make it impossible." Then shift gears in the discussion and talk about something else.

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Crossing Off Guests from Your Guest List

Have to narrow down the invitees? Listed below are some immediate terminations. What stops you from giving it some more thought?

Mia Family Members

Don't feel pressured to invite distant relatives you haven't spoken to in years.

Keep in mind that your wedding is not a chance for extended relatives to catch up; it is a celebration for you and the person you are marrying as well as your immediate family. You shouldn't feel obligated to invite everyone in your extended family.

Friends you haven't spoken to in a long time.

Invite those that you've grown apart from or don't see or talk to very often to your wedding if you'd like to mend those bridges and strengthen your connections.

Your wedding is far too hectic a time to try to renew your romance, what with meeting all the other guests and finding quiet moments alone with your new spouse.

Work Friends

Not everyone who works with you or who you occasionally have lunch with needs to be invited to your wedding, especially if you're trying to keep things intimate. Rather, organise a happy hour for everyone at the office.

Invitations to weddings from a long time ago

Eliminate from your guest list anyone you're inviting solely because they invited you to their wedding years ago.

There is no need to invite them to your party unless you still consider them a close friend.

Neighbours

They may be your next-door neighbours, but that doesn't make them entitled to a free meal at your wedding.

Don't feel compelled unless your relationship with them is extremely close.

You can explain that you wanted to keep the celebration small, or if you feel the need to address the obvious, you can say that you didn't want to invite them.

Friends With a Track Record

You might want to prune your friend group if one member has a reputation for being a troublemaker at parties and social gatherings.

Talk to them about the wedding's ground rules before the big day if they're a must-have guest (or hire extra security who can swoop in if assistance is needed).

Kids of Family and Friends

To quickly cut down on the number of guests, you can make the wedding adults-only.

You'll need to break the news delicately to the parents in your group, but they may actually welcome the opportunity to let their hair down and celebrate your wedding child-free.

Plus-Ones You've Never Met.

Guests who are already coupled together need not bring a plus one.

And if they are, and you haven't met them before, you shouldn't feel forced to do so unless they are your best friend's boyfriend from across the country and distance is the only reason you haven't met.

Unmet parents or in-laws.

Both sets of parents will likely want to make requests for the guest list (especially if they are contributing financially), but you should draw the line at inviting someone you have never met from their social circle.

Please be aware that the nature of your relationship with certain people, such as your father-in-business law's partner, may necessitate an exception.

Conclusion

How do you select the guests for your wedding? What follows are some recommendations meant to assist you in settling on a final decision. Surprisingly little effort is required to keep track of your guest list, including RSVPs and food preferences. Before accepting donations, figure out how you'll split the list. The newlyweds traditionally extend invitations to half of the guests, while the parents send out invitations to the remaining guests.

A total of 200 guests would be appropriate, with 100 invited by you and 50 by your fiance's family. Important factors to think about include the expected attendance and the available budget. Lists can be whittled down more efficiently when guidelines are established and followed. If you feel bad about not inviting someone, don't invite them anyway. Get back to reality and begin checking things off your list.

Keeping two lists will allow you to invite more people without spending more money or having to find a larger venue. Invite the most important people ten weeks in advance, and the rest six to eight weeks before the wedding. Due to logistical considerations, the number of attendees is typically capped. Feel no obligation to contact long-lost cousins you haven't seen in a decade. You and your future spouse should be the focus of the wedding, not the guests.

Except in the most intimate of circumstances, you shouldn't feel obligated to. It's not necessary to invite everyone from your office or your lunch group to the nuptials. Set up a happy hour for the whole office if you want to keep things casual and friendly. If someone in your circle of friends constantly causes problems, it may be time to cut ties. You can reduce costs by having an adults-only wedding. One or both sets of parents may have specific requests for the guest list.

Content Summary

  • One of the great modern wedding conundrums is how to decide your wedding guest list without causing any drama.
  • Decide how you'll divide up the list—before accepting financial help.
  • If you want to invite 200 individuals, that breaks down to 100 for you, 50 for your parents, and 50 for your fiancé's parents.
  • Call the number provided on the invitation if you haven't received a response by the due date.
  • Establishing and adhering to rules facilitates list reduction.
  • Don't add just anyone to the B-list; just invite those people you truly want to see you.
  • You won't invite anyone from your B-list until you start receiving RSVPs and discover you have enough "regrets" (in order of importance).A helpful hint is to not send out invitations to the second tier of guests until a week or two before the wedding.
  • Invite the people who matter the most to you ten weeks in advance (a bit sooner than normal), leaving you with enough time to invite the people who matter the least to you six to eight weeks before the wedding.
  • That issue can be avoided by having the guests' names printed on the RSVP card.
  • There is usually a limit on the number of attendees due to space constraints at the venue.
  • Friends you haven't spoken to in a long time.
  • Invite those that you've grown apart from or don't see or talk to very often to your wedding if you'd like to mend those bridges and strengthen your connections.
  • There is no need to invite them to your party unless you still consider them a close friend.
  • You might want to prune your friend group if one member has a reputation for being a troublemaker at parties and social gatherings.
  • Talk to them about the wedding's ground rules before the big day if they're a must-have guest (or hire extra security who can swoop in if assistance is needed).Kids of Family and FriendsTo quickly cut down on the number of guests, you can make the wedding adults-only.
  • Guests who are already coupled together need not bring a plus one.
  • Both sets of parents will likely want to make requests for the guest list (especially if they are contributing financially), but you should draw the line at inviting someone you have never met from their social circle.

FAQs About Wedding Guest List

Traditional etiquette dictates that the persons hosting the wedding determine the guest list. Modern etiquette, I dare to say, dictates a transparent conversation between the couple and their families to determine that each set of parents gets one-third of the wedding guest list, and the couple receives the remainder.

Perhaps you live far from the wedding location (or it's a destination wedding). If so, you might not get invited because the bride and groom don't want you to feel pressured to travel. They might believe that if you're invited, you'll make a sacrifice and come, and that would make them feel guilty.

Regarding wedding guest list etiquette and parents, there's one essential rule: If your parents and in-laws contribute money to your big day, they get a say on who's invited. That means if you and your partner are paying for the whole shebang, you have full veto power.

It's entirely up to the couple whether or not children are invited to the wedding. Decide whether you want little ones there or would prefer an adults-only celebration, and then put your foot down. That means no exceptions.

Generally, 75-85 per cent of wedding guests usually attend. The breakdown: 85 per cent of local guests, 55 per cent of out-of-town guests, and 35 per cent of destination wedding guests will show up. But then it gets murky.

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