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Wedding Guest List Ideas And Tips

Updated on August 16, 2015

How To Make A Wedding Guest List

Planning your wedding can be very stressful, but the guest list planning at any wedding is probably right at the top for creating stress between the bride and groom as well as the parents. Who to invite, how many to invite and when they should be invited all create difficulties in the planning of every wedding. This is the part of your wedding planning where compromise is really important. If you are planning and paying for your own wedding, then you have all the say in your guest list. However, if parents are involved in paying for the wedding, then it becomes more of a challenge. Remember, having the people you care about most should be your primary consideration

You won't be able to please everyone, so stick with your plan. Let your guest list be decided on your venue and your budget

Why Your Wedding Guest List Needs To Be Done ASAP

Before anything at all, the discussion about the budget for your wedding should be held. You need to decide who will be paying or helping to pay for the wedding expenses. You also need to know how much money there is to work with as well as an overall understanding of what your priorities and must have's are.

The next t thing that you need to do after your engagement is announced is to set aside time to devise your guest list. This can get tricky depending on whom is paying for the ceremony. But between the people in your families who are directly involved, you need to start listing the people that you intend to invite.

Why? Because before you start looking at venues for your ceremony and reception, you have to know how many people you will be seating. You may have to omit certain venues if there is not enough room to seat your guests.

The first chain of thought is to create a primary and a secondary list. No matter how many people you invite, at least 10% are more than likely be unable to attend. However, this is not set in stone, so don't count on it, because more than one couple has been surprised at the responses from their invites. Creating a list of must invite guests in key and a secondary list, just in case. However, there are two keys to this concept. One your invites must go out at least two months before the wedding. And two, any secondary invites should go out no later than 4 weeks before the wedding.

The second thought on a primary (A list) and a secondary list (B List) is that it will make some guests feel unwanted if they know that some of your invites have already gone out. How you handle this is dependent on your timing.



More Wedding Guest List Basics - Getting Started In Your Wedding Planning

There are a few things you will need to think about in your early wedding planning when it comes to your guest list. You don't need to have a guest list ready to go when you start looking at venues for your wedding, but you should have an approximate number of people in your mind. And going into all this, you need to have an idea of what your per guest budget is before you head out to look at locations. Here are a few things to consider before you really get started on your guest list.

  • The number of guest that you would like to invite will determine your choice of venue. Or if you really like a venue, you may have to consider limiting the number of guests that you may have. For example, if you want to have 350 people, you will have to find a venue to hold that amount of people. If you want an intimate wedding of 100, having it in a grand ballroom may not be an option. Your guests may be lost in the size of that location. Look at the location to see if you like it, first and then determine how many people it will hold, Are you willing to limit your guest list for the location ? Is the location too large for the amount of people that you are considering inviting? You may want to consider a smaller venue so that your guests feel comfortable.
  • Who's paying the bills This has a lot to do with your guest list. If the parents are paying for the wedding, then they will have a lot more to say then if the bride and groom are footing part or all of the bill. In all cases, the bridal couple should be consulted on the final list. However, this is where most of your stress level will come into play. Working together becomes very important in this part of your planning, so that no bad feeling happen.

    Even if you are planning and paying for your own wedding, it's a nice courtesy to include the parents in this part of the planning. Keep a sense of humor and you will get through it all, I promise.

  • Your budget per guest You need to have an idea of how much of your wedding budget will be allotted per guest. Most venues and caterers will give you a per guest cost. Many of them will have a package cost for you for a meal, a toast and wedding cake service. This is your basic cost. Then you add things like beverages-alcoholic and otherwise. The amount of people you invite is very dependent of the amount you have to spend. Each location will have several choices of menu for you to chose from. So if you want to have more people, you may have to chose a less expensive meal option. Or you may want to cut or lower the expenses of other wedding budget items to afford a better meal. It's up to you.


Remember, your wedding party is actually part of your guest list, so you need to account for each of them within your budget and your head count. You will also need to add any spouses or significant others of your wedding party , if you are inviting them

How To Divide The Guest List

His Side -Your Side-Tips For Dividing The Guest List

No matter who's paying the tab, the guest list should be divided equally. So if there were 200 guests to be at your reception, then you and your to be husband should have 100 people to invite. Then each parent would have 50 people each to invite. If either side has more people that they want to invite , then explain to them that this is your budget for the reception. Don't let them bully you into taking people off your list, to accommodate their friends. Remember, this is your day and their friends are not your friends. Suggest that if they want additional people there, they might want to consider adding money to the reception budget fund to accommodate those people. Remember also that couples are two guests .Wedding party members are also counted in the guest lists. The bottom line, if this gets really dicey, you might want to consider omitting children. You could also omit dates for your single friends. It's all a balancing of all parties involved, but you can get through it

How To Build Your Wedding Guest List

Your wedding guest list is not difficult to get started, the more difficult part comes when you have to decide who to add or delete from your list. Before you can get started building your list, you should have the number of guests that you have decided on based on your venue and your budget. Don't proceed until you have figured out the number of guests you are planning on. Remember that your wedding party must be figured in as part of your guest list !

  • First start with the immediate family. These are your closest family members and closest friends. These are the people that you really want most to be celebrating your day with you. Think about these people as the people you might actually considering changing your date if they were unable to come.
  • Next, consider your close family and friends These are people that you would really like to see there, but you would not change your date for them.
  • Now consider your coworkers, other friends and distant relatives. These are people that you would like to have at the reception if there were room at the venue and the budget allowed it.
  • Your final list would be the people that your parents would like invited, but you would not be disappointed if they did not come. These might be considered social obligation guests

Invitation Kits - A Cost Saving Alternative

Using wedding kits and printing them on your computer is a great way to save some money on your wedding invites. It's not difficult to so and you get everything you need. You can save hundreds of dollars on this one item

How To Deal With Your Single Wedding Guests

How To Decide On Escorts For Single Wedding Guests

Back to basics, again. Your decision about allowing single guests to bring dates will largely depend on several things. First and foremost is your budget and the venue where you plan to hold your wedding. Then consider how well you know the people that they would invite. You might not want to have a casual date or a group of strangers at your wedding, rather than people you know or want there. But if your guest is in a serious relationship or it is someone you know, you might want to offer the invite. It's really up to you. It's nice to add the option of a guest when your money and budget allows it, but it's not a must. If you are allowing a single to bring a guest, then add and guest to your invite. If not, then just direct the invite to the individual. Make sure to check the responses to make sure that they have not added a person. Have a discussion in advance with them. Let them know that you are limited in your seating.

To make your single guests feel comfortable, have a conversation with them to find out if they want to invite a significant other or a date. Find out the name of the person they would like to invite so you can invite that individual when sending the invitation.

If you decide not to have children at your wedding, make it a firm choice. If you change your mind to accommodate one and not another, you will create bad feelings for sure.

Inviting Children Or Not

It's Your Choice

Unless children are part of your close family, you have to make a decision to invite them or not. Remember, that if you decide to invite them, they do add into your budget, even if the venue charges less for a child, Most parents would want to have their children sitting with them, so that has to be taken into consideration.

You may decide to ask children, but set an age limit. You may decide to ask teens, but nothing under 12. It's up to you.

Om a personal note, we were married two years ago, and I could not think of not having my grandkids there. We had kids from age 3 up to 15. Some of them were actually part of our wedding party ! A total of about 12 kids. They had a great time. We had glow sticks for them and a candy bar. Hard to say who enjoyed that more-the adults or the kids. The kids still talk about that party. It can be done with a little planning.

If you are inviting children, the invitation should be addressed as Mr. And Mrs. John Smith and Family.

Co Workers At Your Wedding

The All Or None Rule

Another area to think about is the people you directly work with. Here's where to apply the all or nothing rule. Either you invite everyone in your team or no one. Bad feelings can happen if you avoid that rule. The only exception to that rule is that you always can invite your boss and his wife. You can always invite someone that you work with but socialize with outside the work space. We all have seen the results of not following this idea, so stick to the plan

How To Trim Your Guest List

Getting It All Together

So, everyone comes back with their guest list and it's time to start cutting a few names. No matter what the number you give to the parents, I promise you they will come back with extras and swear that their is no one they can cut.

Here are some rules to apply when making those decisions:

1 .Cut anyone you or your fiancée have never met or spoken to. This are the people that should be cut first. This is your day and you are entitled to have those people most important to you there.

2.Cut anyone under 12 years of age Family or not, children under 12 should be cut

3.Single friends guests Exception is if they are dating for a year or more or live with the individual

Again, stick to your guns ! If someone wants their friends to attend and the venue can accommodate them, they can pay for the extra guests themselves

A good rule of thumb is that if you have neither spoken to or seen someone for more than a year, they probably should not be invited to your wedding

Free Guest List Resources - What You Need To Create Your Guest Lists

You can keep your guest lists on paper, but there are so many resources to keep track of your guest lists that keep you on track and most of them are free to use. You don't have to worry about the information going anywhere, because you have to access the information after you register. You can always print them and keep them in your planner for reference.

Who's Wedding Is It Anyway?

So, a wedding is a celebration of a man and a woman joining their lives together. It should make sense that the people who are closest to them should be on the top of your guest list

I know that you are stressed in your planning process, so consider this a place to vent. How has it been going for you? Difficult or easy? We'd love to hear from you, even if it's just to say hello. Wish you all the best with your wedding planning !

Creating Your Actual Guest List

I personally used a resource on a wedding website for my wedding 4 years ago. It was great to use because it had all the elements. If you are making your own spread sheet, then the elements that you should include are:

  1. Last names
  2. First names
  3. Addresses
  4. Response-coming or not

How is your planning going? - We'd like to hear from you

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