Jun 8

How to Create Your Wedding Guest List

One of the first steps in wedding planning is creating the wedding guest list. This helps you figure out which venues will work for you and how many people you will need to feed. But creating a guest list can get complicated quickly because everyone has an opinion, and we often want to invite everyone. The good news is that there are a few basic tips that you can follow to help you create a wedding guest list.


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Step One: Determine Your Budget

The first thing to do is determine the number of guests that will fit into your budget before you begin making your wedding guest list. Keep in mind that every single guest means spending additional money! Many reception venues have a per-person cost. For example, if the reception venue has catering on-site, each person might cost $120 per plate. This might include rentals, food, and bar. So, knowing what you can spend is essential.

If you’ve picked your venue first, then you can work backwards. If the maximum capacity of your ceremony and reception venues is a hundred people, then you know you have to keep the guest list under a hundred guests!


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Step Two: Create Multiple Guest Lists

You and your fiancé need to create a wedding guest list, and each set of parents can create their own guest list. Then, you can compare and determine the final guest list. When it comes to creating your own list, start with the people closest to you. If neither you or your fiancé have spoken to someone in three years and they are not a relative, do not feel obligated to invite them.

Create an A list and B list. This may sound strange, but it’s important. You can safely expect 15-25% of people from your “A-list” to decline attending. When a person declines, you can send an invitation to someone from your B-list. The B-list typically includes acquaintances, colleagues, or extended family members. You can send out your B-list invitations either after an A-list person declines or approximately eight weeks before your wedding. When you order your RSVP cards, it’s smart to have a second set printed with the later date for your B-list group.

Step Three: Organize Your Wedding Guest List

Once you have your master guest list, it’s important to properly organize it into a master document. This master document will be the most important document of your wedding planning. A well-organized list includes:

• Contact information (full name, address, phone number, and email)

• RSVP status (accept, decline, # of adults ands children)

• Meal Choice (chicken, beef, fish, child)

• Gifts (description, date received, store it came from, thank you cards sent)

• Out of town status (so you can send out-of-town guests directions or invites to parties)

• Extra information (notes on special needs — food allergies, disabilities, etc.)


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Step Four: Create a Set of Guidelines

When it comes to creating a wedding guest list, there are a variety of different policies to consider.


Typically, this is a delicate subject. Each of your friends will be in different stages of relationships. Guests often don’t like to attend weddings along, but it does cost you more money, and their plus-one might be someone you don’t know. The best rule of thumb for plus one’s is you should invite the partner if your wedding guest is married, engaged, or has been in a serious relationship for at least six months.


Determine if you will have kids at your wedding or not. If you do not like the idea of having kids at your wedding, that’s perfectly acceptable. You just may want to give parents advance notice, so they have time to secure childcare.

Last-Minute Invite

Plan a response for anyone who may ask to come at the last minute. People will start asking about your big day. You’ll be tempted to invite everyone. Prepare for this by having a response in advance. For example, you can say, “We would love to have you come but we’ve already committed to the maximum number of guests that our venue allows. I wish we could have everyone there. Maybe we could get together once we’re back from our honeymoon.”

When it comes to the wedding guest list, it’s important to set boundaries and stick to them. If that means having hard conversations, have them sooner rather than later. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to invite everyone, and you’ll have to make choices. The most important thing to consider is who you want to be with you on your big day.

When it comes to navigating invitation etiquette, Turnage and Watts is here to help! We can create a beautiful experience for your guests and set the tone for your wedding by creating custom stationary for you. Reach out to us so we can start planning!


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