Nailing down your wedding guest list can be one of the most challenging parts of wedding planning — everyone has an opinion about who should (and shouldn’t!) be invited, and there are only so many people your venue can accomodate. Your parents and soon-to-be in-laws will have their own lists, which might not always line up with yours, and there may be people you want to invite who just don’t make the cut. However, if you surround yourself with the people you love most on the big day, all the stress of crafting the guest list will be worth it. Here’s how to make it happen.

 Guest List

1. Make a list of everyone you want at the wedding.

This is your dream list. Just start jotting down names of all the people you definitely want at your wedding, and then move onto the people you think you might want at the wedding. Once you and your spouse-to-be have a complete list of possible invitees, start moving the guests onto A and B lists. The A-list guests are people you have to have at your wedding — best friends, close relatives, etc. On the B list, include people you’d really like to invite, but who would understand if they didn’t receive an invite (think coworkers, friends of the family and distant relatives). It’s easier to cut a whole group of people — everyone on your ultimate Frisbee team, for example — than to pick and choose from the group. If necessary, have your parents create lists for you in the same way, letting them know it’s not a final list, but just a list to help you choose a venue and set your budget.

Guest List

2. Decide whether or not you’re going to allow +1s and children.

Inviting your friends’ spouses is a no-brainer, but deciding whether or not to allow single guests to bring a date is another matter. You might want to extend an invitation to friends who live with a significant other, or who have been with someone for a year or more. Or maybe you’d rather extend a +1 to all of your single guests to ensure no one feels uncomfortable at the wedding. You could also consider offering +1s on a case-by-case basis: Maybe you’re inviting all of your co-workers, so none of the singles in that group will be lonely, but you have a single friend from college who won’t know anyone else at the wedding and who will definitely feel more at ease with a friend or date by her side. (Hint: The easiest way to ensure you don’t end up with unintended +1s is to print the names of invitees directly on each RSVP card. That way guests can tick off whether or not they’re attending, and there’s no room to squeeze in an extra name.)

As for children, you’ll first have to consider whether or not your desired venue is child-safe, or can be made child-safe. If you want to invite a lot of children, you might want to designate a kids-only area at your venue and staff it with a babysitter or older niece or nephew. If you decide to go child-free, be prepared for a slew of reactions from parents — everything from elation (a night without kids!) to disdain (how dare you ask me to leave my kids with a stranger!?) could come up. Just be sure to make your decision clear on invitations and reply cards.

3. Finalize your budget and venue.

Before you start spreading the word about your wedding, you need to nail down your budget and venue. Consider the cost per person for food and beverages, and the maximum capacity of your venue. You’ll also have to factor in the cost of wedding invitations, favors, programs and other stationery, centerpieces to decorate each table at the wedding, welcome bags — pretty much every financial decision you make will be based on the number of guests attending your wedding, so make sure you know how much cash you have to spend. That might mean it’s time to go back to your original lists and move some people to the B list. But do be sure to invite everyone who’s important to you. 

4. Divvy up the total number of invitations and give some to each set of parents.

Give your parents their invite total as soon as possible and respect both sides of the family, regardless of who is paying for more of the wedding. You might want to divvy up the invitations equally — so if you’re inviting 200 guests total, reserve 100 invitations for you and your spouse-to-be and give 50 each to your parents and in-laws. Or, perhaps your family is tiny and your future spouse is close with all of his great-aunts, second cousins and their friends — in that case, his side of the family might require more invites. Whatever the case, give each side of the family a set number of seats to fill and be firm about your boundaries. Ultimately it’s your wedding, so keep conversations with your parents open, respectful and honest — but don’t be afraid to say that, unfortunately, you can’t accommodate the whole book club. Remind your parents that they can make A and B lists too, and let them know you’ll be sure to inform them if any extra seats open up.

5. Anticipate 20-30 percent regrets.

It’s safe to assume that about 20-30 percent of your A-list guests won’t be able to attend. Knowing that, you can send out more invitations than you have seats available. To remain on the safe side, wait to receive regrets from guests before you start sending out invitations to the rest of the B list.

6. Use an online tool like a Google spreadsheet to keep track of guests.

Inputting guests’ names and addresses can take some time, but once they’re stored online and accessible from anywhere, you’ll be able to keep track of RSVPs, names of +1s, and even gifts received and thank-you notes sent after the wedding.

Love 2 Love can assist in making your dream wedding come true.  Please do not hesitate to contact us for support and ideas.

And, don’t forget to ‘Like’ our Facebook page where you can join brides and grooms from across the globe to discuss everything wedding related – as well as share your own stories and ask questions.

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