One of the first things you should do when you get engaged is create a guest list. Oh the guest list, the root of all evil, JUST KIDDING! However, I understand that it can be a major stressor. Actually, this was probably the area that created the most stress when my husband and I were planning our wedding.
Your guest list directly impacts a lot of other details such as invitations, meal count, table and centerpieces, etc. It’s important to at least create a draft guest list early on in your engagement so you can have a better idea of what you need to budget for food, alcohol, and invitations. The more people you invite, the more money you are going to spend and possibly may need to upgrade your venue if it doesn’t hold all of your guests. So before I give you a heart attack from all the stress, here is 8 easy tips and things to consider when creating a guest list.
Your family is most likely going to be the bulk of your guest list. Stat by listing your immediate family: parents, grandparents, siblings and their children (unless you are planning a no kids wedding) Consider inviting your aunts, uncles and cousins that you’re close to. Make sure to gather a list of your fiancés immediate family members as well.
Think of your childhood friends that you are still close to, friends from college and any other friends you speak to on a regular basis. If you are having a hard time deciding who to invite, the best advice I have been told is to make a list of who you think you will still be in touch with in 5 years. If you know you will still be in each others life 5 years from now, then definitely invite them!
If you have worked for the company for a while, you should consider inviting co-workers and even your boss. If it is a small company and your guest list allows, consider inviting the whole office. In the case you work for a large company, consider inviting the people in your department that you interact with every day. Another good rule is to think “do I hang out with this person outside or work?” Also, think about how often you talk to them outside of work hours and about non-related work topics. If you remain in touch after work hours whether by spending time together or texting, this is probably a friend you would want to consider inviting.
4. Plus -Ones
You should allow plus-ones for any guest who is married, even if you’re not close to their spouse. If your friend is engaged or in a long-term relationship, you should definitely allow a plus-one. For single guests, consider who else will be at the wedding. Think if this guest will know other people there and would have someone to mingle with. If your single friend won’t know anyone at the wedding, you should allow them to bring a plus-one so that they’re not alone during the festivities. With plus-ones, just think would I want to go without my boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife? Probably not, so allow your guests a plus-one.
5. B List
If you create a guest list and see that your count is more than expected, you can create a “B List.” Basically, all of your must have, non-negotiable guests will be on the A-List. This list would include your immediate family and your closest friends. As you start to have people on your list that you realize you may not be as close to anymore or your mom made you invite your 4th cousin that you haven’t seen since you were 8 years old, you can move them to the “B List.”
All of the guests on your A-List will receive a “Save The Date” 6-8 months before your wedding date. When it comes time for invitations, you will send your A-List invitations 10 weeks before the wedding. As you start to receive “no” for RSVPs, you will now have more room on your guest list and can invite those on your B-List. Prepare for your B-List invited to be sent 6-8 weeks before the wedding.
6. Underage guests
If your guest list has less than 10 children, consider inviting them. However, if you notice children add to your guest count by 30 or more people, you may want to consider a kids-free wedding.
If you decide to have a kids-free wedding, make sure to let your guests know early on. It is best to note this on the Save The Dates and your wedding website, so parents can make arrangements in advance for a babysitter. You can also make sure to mention this to them in person when you’re talking about the wedding. If necessary, let them know your guest count is strict due to budget or venue limitations so they can understand why you ask for no children.
7. Create Boundaries
A great thing to do while starting your guest list, is sit with your fiancé and create boundaries. Make sure you follow these rules when writing all your guests names down. Here are some ideas for boundaries that can help when creating your guest list and also to make sure that cutting guests is fair for all parties.
- If neither of you have ever met this person or heard them name before
- If you haven’t talked to this friend in more than 2 years
- If you don’t hang out with them outside of work or class
- If you invited anyone because you feel guilty (they invited you to their wedding, they keep asking you how wedding planning is going, etc.)
8. Include Names
When you are sending an invite, make sure to write out the names of everyone who is invited. This will help avoid awkward situations such as a friend assuming she can bring her roommate when in reality she wasn’t invited. This will also help the accuracy of your RSVP numbers. For example, if 5 people assume they’re allowed plus ones but you only accounted for 5 people, this will unexpectedly double your head count. Make it as simple as possible for everyone involved. 🙂
Are there any other advice or tricks that helped you with your guest list? Tell me in the comments below!
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Bianca Nichole Events is an Austin wedding planner, and will travel to San Antonio, Fredericksburg, New Braunfels, and the surrounding Texas Hill Country area.