Five Must-Know Tips When Making Your Wedding Guest List

You’ve popped the question (or the answer), you’re happy, you’re excited, and you just can’t wait for that special day. Problem is, you’ve got to figure out how to narrow down the hundreds of friends and family you both would like to see in a way that ensures the minimum number of broken hearts and bad blood. The good news is, there are some easy ways to do this and still make sure everyone you want to see at your special event gets an invitation. Here are 5 things to consider as you and your fiancee begin the dreaded guest list creation experience:

1. First off, think about your budget – Before you bite off more than you can chew by throwing a soiree for 300+ people, think about what that means for your pocketbook (or for the family and friends that will be taking care of that part of the process). Things like catering, party favors, and flower arrangements will be directly affected by the final number you settle on. It’s a smart move to think about how much you can afford to spend on each wedding guest, and determine a set number to cap your invitations.

2. Think about the space you’ll need – Once you’ve decided on a cap to your guest list, start thinking about how big of a venue your event will require. Sure, we know you’ve had something in mind for a long time….but same as point #1, we want to make sure you have funds to spend on your DJ, good food and beverage options, extra wedding fun like photo booths and guest favors, and of course, your honeymoon! Think about whether a more costly venue would be worth the extra 50 people on your guest list, or if you’d rather throw an extra-special but more intimate event.

3. Figure in no-shows and general nos – For any given event, you can assume that something like 1 in 5 of your invited guests will decline or fail to respond. With this in mind, you can build in some extra length to your guest list and add some extra invites to account for this. Remember also that your choice of venue is going to affect this as well – a destination wedding will probably significantly shrink the number of attendees, so you can feel free to be a bit more liberal with your guest list in that case.

4. Create some ground rules – General guidelines for your guest list are always a good idea, especially as you consider what you want your event to look like. If you’re planning on a booze-filled celebration with dozens of your closest friends and college buddies, consider keeping children off the list as a whole. Same goes for plus ones – you can opt to offer them to many (and up the potential guest list as a whole), or to some, or opt out altogether. But make sure to be consistent and stick with your guidelines once you’ve agreed on them – otherwise you’ll face some awkward situations you won’t want to deal with while managing the dozens of other event planning hassles you’ll be navigating.

5. Create an A, B, and C list to make figuring it all out easier – While we know you want everyone to see you on your special day, sometimes you just have to make some tough decisions, especially when budgets are an issue. To make sorting things out a bit easier, make an A, B, and C list of guests to help figure out who absolutely needs to be there, and then craft the rest of your list with additions from the others. While you certainly shouldn’t share this info with anyone but your fiancee, it can be a good way to sort out who really should share your special day, while minimizing hurt feelings. Expert Tip: Stagger your invites. Invite the entirety of your “A list” and the close seconds from your “B list” — and, as you receive declines from these guests, send out invitations such that possible accepts is always your target number of total wedding guests.

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