How To Make Your Wedding Guest List a Success

Planning your big day is challenging and exciting at the same time. There are so many things to think about, plan and organize that it can be overwhelming. One of the most important things to consider when finalizing budgets is your wedding guest list. It’s one of the first things you should settle on so that you can move on and finalize a suitable venue.

You should start this process with just yourself and your partner. It’s likely to be stressful enough if numbers are limited without outside influence, but do leave wiggle room as it will likely be needed later. Spoiler alert, even if they are not financially contributing, it’s likely parents will have strong feelings toward family members and their close friends you might not be your priority. Just remember it’s your big day, and that you should have the final say. If in doubt, remember that most weddings in 2020 and 2021 with a very limited guest count which arguably made them more special.

And the last point of note, you may find some people are disappointed or offended to be omitted to be there when you walk down the aisle which you should prepare for. Just remember that friendship groups change as we get older, and whatever happens your wedding day will be very special and a party wherever you turn there will be people you know waiting to speak to you. The other option is destination weddings, which really narrow down the guest list to those that count.

Hurt feelings aside, here are our top tips on planning your wedding guest list for newly engaged couples:

Why are wedding guest lists important?

The wedding guest list is important because it helps you get an idea of how many people you’re going to invite and how much money you’ll be spending on your wedding. It also determines the wedding venue and possibly what time of year you’ll be hosting your ceremony and reception. Yes, you can always change your guest list later, but you’ll want a first draft for an idea of how many people you can accommodate and an approximate idea of how much it will cost.

Things to consider

  • Do children for non-essential wedding guests get a wedding invitation?
  • You cannot uninvite guests, but you can send a save the date and potentially move to the evening reception only when doing the wedding invites
  • Your parents may have strong feelings on some guests attending so talk it out sooner rather than later
  • Be prepared for drop-outs and have backups
  • You will have some sort of wedding guest list dilemma so do this early

Know the number of people you’ll be inviting

You’ll likely wonder how many people you should invite to your wedding immediately after you get engaged and it’s the first job when wedding planning. Whether you’re thinking about a big bash at an estate or a simple ceremony at a registry office, you must decide how many relatives and friends you’ll want at your nuptials.

Your budget is the most significant factor when determining how many guests get a wedding invite. First, determine your figure (and any financial contributions from family members) to get a sense of whether those venues’ prices match up with your budget. It can range between £50-£150 a head, and there will likely be extra additions later, particularly when family pressure arrives.

making wedding guest list

Making wedding guest list takes teamwork and compromise

Who should be on your wedding guest list?

There are distinct groups you should invite and it’s good to list your guests into priority buckets which will make it easier to finalise later if you need to reduce the numbers. You should also consider if these are day guests (who are effectively fed twice) and evening reception invitees.

Your wedding party will also likely need to attend the rehearsal dinner prior to the wedding day. Priority will always vary between couples, but in general you will likely find the following:

  • Essential: Immediate family members including parents, siblings, grandparents, and Godparents
  • Essential: Wedding party members including Bride, Groom, Best Man, Bridesmaids, Groomsmen (where applicable)
  • Nice to have: Extended family including uncles, aunties and cousins
  • Nice to have: Close friends including those who were at the stag do, hen party, bridal shower
  • Nice to have: Family friends
  • Low importance: Childhood, school or University friends
  • Low importance: Co workers and Colleagues (not in the close friend group)
  • Low importance: Parents’ friends
  • Low importance: Distant relatives

In some cases, people who do not see their extended family very often may not deem them important, but I do personally feel weddings are the perfect occasion for that overdue catch-up.

The other thing to bear in mind is the distance of travel. It’s unlikely that anyone will come from far away just as evening guests.

Timing is key when deciding your guest list

You need to decide who you want to invite as soon as possible so you can communicate with them before your wedding date. It’s important to communicate with your wedding guests so they know what to expect and can prepare for the big day accordingly.

While you want to make sure you invite everyone you want to invite, you also want to make sure you invite them on time so they have enough time to make arrangements and plan accordingly. You need to keep in mind that guests will need time to make travel arrangements, take time off work, maybe book flights, and find accommodations if they’re coming from out of town.

Be honest with yourself about your relationship with others

When you’re thinking about who to invite to your wedding, make sure you’re being honest with yourself about your relationship with these people. If you don’t want to invite someone, don’t do it out of a sense of obligation.

You also don’t have to feel pressured to invite someone just because they expect an invitation to your wedding. Like someone who invited you to their wedding a few years ago. You have every right to invite people who you want around and who you feel will make your wedding special.

Get Organized

Couples found it helpful to get a planner with spreadsheets so they could jot down notes and cross things off as they went. Staying focused and tracking everything is key. In case of cancellation, you should consider the next person on the list. Keep track of RSVPs as well, as well as food choices.

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