You enjoyed browsing the web for the cutest wedding favors out there (personalized lollipops or mini champagne bottles?), you loved trying on dreamy wedding dresses and you certainly devoured all those gourmet sample menus provided by your caterer. While planning a wedding brings lots of enjoyable, fun tasks, there are also those that require quite a bit of effort. Case in point: making your wedding guest list! While this particular task might seem overwhelming at first, we promise that’s it totally doable; and in order to optimize your efficiency, we’ve narrowed down the best tips out there:
Tip 1: Decide on the Type of Wedding You Desire
Are you leaning towards a small, intimate wedding with just family and friends? Or are you visualizing a mega white hall full of everyone you’ve ever met in your life, where you could make a spectacular entrance in your princess-style dress? There are certain factors that you might want to consider when making this decision: your budget, your own personal comfort, your venue (if you’ve already picked one) and the actual size of your families (intimate weddings with close family might be a stretch if you each have 23 first cousins). Roughly, a small wedding falls somewhere between 50 and 75 people, an average wedding is around 150 people and anything above 200 guests would be considered a large wedding.
Tip 2: Plan According to Your Budget
We hate to bring the tiresome subject of finances this early in the game, but the reality is that in order to get any sort of direction when making your wedding guest list, you need to answer this question: How much money can we spend? And, even more importantly: Who is paying? If you are not getting substantial help from your parents, then a large wedding might not be possible, so it is essential that you have a conversation on this topic prior to actually writing the names down on your wedding list. In general, the catering should take no more than 30% of your entire wedding budget, so plan accordingly.
Tip 3: Collaborate and Divide the List
Depending on how involved your parents are in the planning process (and on how much they are contributing financially), you will have to divide the guest list in a way that would be reasonable to all parts. One of the easiest tips to follow when making your wedding list is the ‘three even parts’ rule: you and your partner get a third of the guest list, your parents get a third and your fiancé’s parents a third as well. Another option is for you and your partner to invite half of the guests, while each set of parents gets a quarter: so if you’re planning on having a 300 people wedding, you will invite 150 and the parents on each side will be responsible for 75.
Tip 4: Design a Set of Questions
In order to make sure that this demanding process goes as smoothly as possible, we’ve designed a simple question-guide to help you cut or add people on your list:
- Have you spoken or seen this person in the past 2 years? No? Then don’t invite them (unless they’re family).
- When you think of this person, do you feel like you are connected for life, even though you haven’t spoken since you went to summer camp back in 2005? Then do add them on the list.
- Have you ever met this person or at least know a few facts about this person through your parents? No? Then leave them off the list.
Tip 5: Decide if You Want Kids at Your Wedding
Scenario 1: You would like to opt for an adult-only wedding, yet you are feeling guilty for not inviting your friends’ children at your big event. Well, guilt is certainly not a valid reason to add more names on your list, so follow your vision and go for a child-free celebration – just be sure to make your wish understood in a polite manner on the invitations (don’t forget to set an age limit: 12, 16 or even 18). Scenario 2: You don’t want your reception to be overcrowded with kids, but you simply can’t imagine not having your niece as a flower girl or your nephew as your ring bearer – problem solved: go for a child-free wedding, but make an exception for your close family members or members of the wedding party.
Tip 6: Consider the Plus One
Problem alert: If every single person on your wedding guest list is allowed to bring a plus one, then your budget simply won’t cut it. Yet, your close friend has been dating her boyfriend for years and you simply can’t imagine her showing up alone – so what to do? Decide who gets to bring a plus one in order to avoid unexpected surprises: in general, guests that are married or in long term relationships should come with their partner and close friends and family members should be allowed to decide for themselves if they would like a plus one or not.
Tip 7: Consider the Venue’s Capacity
What came first: the venue or the wedding guest list? In case you fell in love with a venue two years before your ceremony, then one thing is clear: you need to adjust your list in order to make sure that all your guests will be seated comfortably in your magical reception hall (just because the venue you selected has a maximum capacity of 200 people does not mean that it should host 200 people). In case you’re not decided on the venue yet, then write down two separate guest lists: one with the guests you definitely want near on your wedding day and one with ‘the maybes’, while remembering that probably somewhere around 15-20% of the people you invite won’t show up. Having two lists won’t restrict your venue search as much, so you should be able to find something that clicks all the boxes on your list.
Need help getting your guests list in order? Contact us to get started.