It’s no secret that one of the main points of contention during wedding planning is creating your guest list. At some point you will most likely find yourself torn between you and your fiancé’s personal guest list, your family’s guest list, and your budget.
If this sounds like you, or you fear it may sound like you soon, I’ve put together some tips on inviting the guests you want, while saying no to those you don’t!
First Things First…
1. Check with Your Venue
You most likely had a general guest number in mind when you picked your venue, but if not, then you will want to double check your venue’s capacity.
If your venue can only hold 100 guests, then you know that 100 is your hard stop.
Tip: Don’t forget that your ceremony and reception venues may have different guest capacities, even if they’re at the same location! If needed, you can always invite only your closest family and friends to your ceremony, while opening the reception up for more guests.
2. Use a Google Doc or Shareable Note
One of the easiest ways for you and your fiancé to both be involved in the guest list process is to use a collaborative system. If you both have iPhones then the Notes app may be helpful, but a Google doc or other similar systems can work just as well!
Inviting the Guests YOU Want
1. Talk to the Parents
While this conversation may be awkward and frustrating, the sooner you do this, the better. Depending on how insistent you and your fiancé’s parents are on their guest list, you may want to reconsider how much financial help you accept from them, if any.
Traditionally when accepting financial help from parents, the couple gets half the guest list, with parents getting a fourth of the guest list each. For example, if you’re inviting 100 guests, 50 of them will be your picks, with 25 being partner 1 parent’s picks, and 25 being partner 2 parent’s picks.
However, if you’re footing most of the bill, don’t be afraid to be more strict with the parents guest allowance.
2. Plus Ones
When it comes to plus ones, the general rule is that those who are married or who live with their S/O get a plus one. Your cousin who has a new boyfriend every 3 weeks does not need a plus one!
Tip: If you’re hosting a travel wedding, you may want to be a little more generous with plus ones, keeping in mind that most people will not want to travel to your wedding alone.
3. A-List and B-List
This is a controversial topic, and ultimately one you and your spouse will have to decide is right for your or not.
Simply put, creating an A-List and B-List means prioritizing guests based on how much you want them at your wedding, and sending the A-List invites first, and the B-List invites second.
If done well, you may be able to get away with your B-List guests not knowing, but keep in mind that people will talk (or maybe even post on social media!) about your invites, and those who haven’t received them yet will be bound to know.
Another common mistake is to send the B-List invites after the RSVP date on the invitation. If you’re going to make a B-List, be sure to change the RSVP date!
4. Agree on Kids or No Kids
Decide early on if you want to invite kids or not, and be consistent.
Of course if your niece is your flower girl, she is the exception, but it would be awkward to tell your friend they cannot bring their kids, only to arrive and find out everyone else didn’t get the memo
5. Be Name Specific
When it comes to invites, you want to put the name of every person in the household invited, leaving out those who aren’t.
For example, if you’re inviting your high school best friend but not her parents who she lives with, you will want to put just her name on the invite.
Similarly, if you’re inviting your friends and not their kids, simply but the parents names. You may also add to your invite a specific note not to bring kids if you suspect it will be an issue.
6. Don’t Give in to the Awkward
I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again – creating a guest list can be seriously awkward.
You may find certain family or friends mentioning how excited they are to be at your wedding, while you know full well that they aren’t invited.
It’s okay to be firm, and I promise it will actually save you an awkward encounter in the future when they ask where their invite is.
A simple “We would love for you to be there, but unfortunately our guest list is tight and we have to stay on budget!” will get the message across clearly and kindly.
7. Create Boundaries
A great way to keep your guest list in check is to create boundaries for yourself, your fiancé, and your parents. Here are a few common and helpful boundaries for when to say NO to a guest:
- No kids invited
- If you haven’t spoken in over 5 years and they’re not related, they are not invited.
- If you aren’t a huge fan of someone but you were invited to their wedding more than 12 months ago, don’t invite them.
Unfortunately there is no way around the fact that some people WILL get offended for not being invited. But the reality is, it’s your wedding, your budget, and your rules. Don’t be afraid to make boundaries and stick to them!
1. Keep Those Addresses
Once you have collected all your names and addresses for invitations, keep that list safe! You will need these in the future when it comes to sending thank you cards.
Looking even further in the future, this list can be really helpful if you ever want to send out a holiday card!
2. Keep COVID in Mind
I’m sure covid is at the forefront of your mind as you plan, and we all hope it will be old news come mid 2021. Reality is that we don’t know how long it will last.
For this reason, if you DO create an A-List and B-List, it may be helpful to keep the lists even after invites are sent, just in case you have to revise your list should lockdowns begin again.
I hope these tips were helpful in creating your dream guest list! As I mentioned before, this truly can be one of the most stressful parts of planning your wedding, but only if you let it be!
This is your permission to be confident when it comes to saying “yes” or “no” to your guests!