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How to Make a Guest List

Creating a guest list can be one of the biggest challenges for a couple planning a wedding.  Navigating the dangerous waters of who is invited can be very tricky.  Some couples feel obligated to invite co-workers, and old friends.  Many parents will hand over their own list of invitees that they insist couples invite.  And some couples just can’t say no to their friends, ex-girlfriend’s, twice removed aunt who insists on attending the nuptials.  The number of your guests can also have a huge impact on the look of your wedding and the total cost.  More guests equal, more food, more tables which means more centerpieces and rentals, more drinks, more chairs…you get the picture.  So how do you decide on who gets the oh-so coveted invite?  Luckily for you we’ve compiled a list of suggestions on how to slash the guest list to ensure that the people in attendance are people that you actually know, love, and care about.

Photoflood Studio

Include yourself and your S.O. in the headcount

So many couples forget to include themselves in the headcount!  Make sure to include yourselves, so your chef makes enough meals, enough chairs get ordered, etc.

Family Invites

Are you dreaming of an intimate wedding but your parents keep adding their friends to your list? So many couples deal with this, and it can be very tricky – especially if they are helping financially.  Our rule of thumb is – if they aren’t helping pay for something, they don’t get a say.  If your parents are helping, or if you want to be a little more diplomatic, try to compromise with your parents.  Suggest not inviting anyone who you haven’t seen in over 6 months to a year. Maybe have your parents friends as “back-ups” in case other guests decline.

The important thing is to make things clear to both sides of the family early on, plan a fair set of rules, and stick to them.

Hazy Lane Studios

The “And Guest” Dilemma

Many couples have quite a few single friends coming to their weddings, which invites the questions – do they get a “plus one?”  The general suggestion is that your bridal party should get a plus one as a courtesy.  Since they typically spend a lot of time & money preparing for the big day, it is a nice gesture.   Guests who are in long-term and committed relationships should also receive a plus one.  These are usually defined as couples who have been dating for more than 1 year, living together, or engaged.

What if someone sends back a response card for them and a guest that they didn’t invite? Kindly explain that for some reason of your choosing (budget restraints, venue capacity, etc.) that you can’t extend the invite to their guests.

Pro-Tip: See our Wedding Invite blog post for tips on how to make it very clear on who is invited to your big day.

Lyle Macdangdang Photography

Kids, Kids, Kids

In some cases kids can double a couple’s guest list, and having children at a wedding can be a very touchy subject for some parents.  Some parents on the other hand prefer to have a fun night out while the kids are safe at home. You may love kids, but would prefer to not have them at your wedding.  In that case, address the invitations to the parents only.  Ask your family to spread the word about your decision.

Some couples don’t want babies or little ones at the wedding, but have teenage family members who they want to attend.  In that case set a rule for your wedding, that only kids over “X” age can come.  Have your family and friends spread the word, and stick to your guns about this decision if guests inquire.

Susannah Gill Photography

The Office

If you work with a close knit group of co-workers, deciding on weather to invite them is hard.  Don’t feel obligated to invite the entire office, but if you only invite a select few, try to limit the wedding talk at work.  You may also want to give your invited coworkers a heads up that you haven’t invited everyone, so there aren’t awkward conversations around the water cooler.

Martha Hoang Photography

The Tough Calls

Finally, there are some guests who just don’t fall into any of the above categories.  If you are still looking to cut down your guest list, these are the people we’d cut. If you have some room in your guest count, add them to your list!

Some of these “I’m not sure” guests may include: people you haven’t spoken to in over a year, old friends, distant relatives, or people who your significant other doesn’t know.  And when in doubt, charts always help.

"Thank you! Elliston was great all around, and we wouldn't change anything about our wedding day. Our coordinator Madeline was amazing, and we were very impressed. Our day was pure magic. We got so many compliments on the food from our guests, and everyone really enjoyed dinner. We loved everything, and have already given out referrals to many friends. Thank you!" - Kira & Randy - April 28, 2018