8 Wedding Guest List Creation Tips You Need to Keep Things Under Control
All the tasks on your wedding planning to-do list can without a doubt be overwhelming. But, when it comes to the creation of your guest list? Well, you can just expect to turn the dial up a few notches. And, all of a sudden, you’re in the business of people-pleasing, which is the absolute last thing you need to be worried about when it comes to dreaming up your special day.
So, while creating your guest list isn’t going to be as fun as picking out your bridal gown or decór items, or even tasting your reception food options, we have eight favorite tips to share today to make it a little easier. You'll be well on your way to ensuring your big event is everything you hoped it would be and more!
1. Keep your ultimate vision in mind.
Ever hear those stories of brides straying away from their dream venue to accommodate their massive guest list? That’s the last thing you should be doing is sacrificing your ultimate vision to squeeze in some people you haven’t seen in a long time or distant relatives.
Therefore, keep in mind the vibes you want your day to give off. Is it cozy and intimate? Or, grandiose and large-scale? Where will you be hosting your ceremony and reception? And, also, what is your ideal day to tie the knot?
Answering these questions before getting to work on your guest list will help you determine if you’ve got room to accommodate everyone you’ve ever met (and, if you want to do that). Or, if you’ll need to dial it back a bit.
2. Consider your budget.
While your vision is important, so is your budget. After all, you’ll find it will influence most of the decisions you make throughout the planning process. If you’re hosting a reception at a venue that has a food and beverage minimum or charges per person, get ready to do some math.
When you do, you’ll be able to truly identify how much money you’ll end up spending on each guest that shows up to celebrate with you.
And, it’ll all come down to how much you feel comfortable spending on your friends and family. If you can’t imagine tossing a crazy amount of hard-earned money out the window on food and drinks, you need to come to terms with the fact that not everyone can be invited.
3. Determine who’s involved in the creation of it.
Will it just be you and your soon-to-be spouse? Or, will your immediate family members want to have a say? No matter who you choose to involve in the creation of your guest list, ensure everyone is on the same page. And, that they’ll be flexible and understanding in helping you achieve your ultimate vision while staying within your budget and guest count limit.
The last thing you want is to hope and pray for a small wedding, but then get your soon-to-be mother-in-law involved only for her to start giving word-of-mouth invites out to her coworkers, hair stylist, neighbors, and high school friends.
4. Eliminate the need for a “B List.”
Some experts in the industry advise brides to create a “B List.” B stands for backup and the people on it aren’t absolute must-haves. But, you’ll have the opportunity to invite them given the fact that you won’t get a “yes” from each and every single person on your “A List.”
But, we’re not big fans of this method. In fact, we’re team Brides.com, as it explains:
“It's tempting to create a second list of guests to invite if you find out a bunch of people can't come to your wedding, but keep this in mind: With most RSVP deadlines only a month before the wedding (and invitations mailed around 8 weeks before the big day), you’d be mailing those B List invites with just weeks to spare, meaning those second-string guests will probably catch on to the fact that they didn't make the cut the first time around.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. When you’re ready to start writing out the names, just be sure they’re only people you can't imagine your day without. They’re far from back-ups.
5. Create rules & stick to them.
This is one step that’s easy to overlook in the process. You get so excited that you’ve found the perfect Save the Dates and invitation suite, and to send it all out to the people on your guest list, but you fail to take one thing into account—rules.
Are you going to allow each guest a plus-one? Kids? These are choices you’ll be forced to make, which can have serious consequences.
For example, your friend Jill invites a random, last-minute plus-one to your wedding and you’ve never met the guy. He’s just excited he gets to enjoy free food and potentially an open bar. Thus, he exceeds his cocktail limit and proceeds to make a fool out of himself, leaving your grandparents wondering who in the world he is and why he’s at your wedding.
Okay, that example might be a bit much. But, it happens. So, you really need to think about this step long and hard. Consider offering only your wedding party the opportunity to bring plus-ones, and obviously, married, engaged, or cohabitating guests as well.
Also, if you’d prefer to avoid an adults-only wedding, be sure you keep an open mind and a sense of humor when inviting kids. They sure can bring an element of surprise and magical vibes to your big day!
6. Use a guest list tool to make your life easier.
Keeping track of your guest list on paper can be overwhelming—especially when it comes to managing RSVPs down the road. Thus, we advise you to look to none other than WeddingWire’s free Guest List Manager tool to stay organized!
You can sort by guest info, export the list for easy sending of your invites, document RSVPs as they arrive in your mailbox, and even dinner choices (if applicable).
From there, you can use your final guest list to put together the seating chart via WeddingWire’s free Seating Chart Tool! We wrote an entire blog post on it, which we highly recommend you check out after you’re done reading here.
7. Include names on your response cards.
This is where sticking to those rules of yours will come in handy. When people receive RSVP cards with a long blank line to write in names, they can sometimes feel compelled to fill the space with everyone in their family—despite the fact that the invitation envelope wasn’t addressed to all of them.
You can avoid this dilemma by having the guests’ names printed onto the RSVP card. And, if you happen to still get an extra addition in return, pick up the phone and give them a call to politely mention the fact that while you’d love to include everyone, your budget and venue doesn’t allow room to do so.
8. Prepare yourself for last-minute no-shows.
No matter how much time and energy you put into thoughtfully crafting your guest list and collecting RSVPs, you’re bound to have a few last-minute no-shows on your big day. Don’t take offense, however, and certainly avoid following in one couple’s footsteps as they billed their no-show guests $80 for dinner.
While it can be a bit frustrating and come off as rude, there is almost always a reason why they couldn’t attend because, well, life happens and things do come up.
So, instead of sweating it, focus on the friends and family members who can attend, and celebrate you and your spouse.
Narrowing down a list of all the people you love can be difficult. But, we hope these tips make the guest list creation process as stress-free and drama-free as possible!
Need help determining your budget or managing RSVPs once you mail your invitations to your guest list? Send us a note—we’d be happy to help you find the perfect package for your needs to ensure you remain stress-free and ready to enjoy the best day of your life!