• 6 Tips to Master Your Wedding Guest List

    6 Tips to Master Your Wedding Guest List

    Beat wedding-planning anxiety with the perfect guest list.


In your dream wedding scenario, everything goes according to plan. You come in under budget, the weather is perfect, every detail has been thought of and there are no squabbles over who was added to the wedding guest list. But the reality is that the months and weeks leading up to your perfect day will be a little stressful for one reason or another.

Having a plan of attack for creating your guest list is one way to mitigate wedding-planning madness. These six tips will help lessen your stress as you pull together your best guest list for the big day.

  1. Say “I do” to setting expectations at go. If you want to exchange vows in an intimate setting surrounded by only your closest family and friends, make that clear to all need-to-know parties from the very beginning. You may butt heads along the way—especially if your parents want to invite every living relative to your 50-person wedding.However, if you take time to outline your wishes and set boundaries early on, you’ll always be able to remind everyone of the “rules of the game,” as defined at the outset of the wedding planning process.
  1. Consider dollars and cents. In a perfect world, your wedding budget would be as endless as your love for your spouse-to-be. But that’s seldom the reality. So when you’re making your guest list (and checking it twice), calculate how much each head will cost to make sure you aren’t going over budget. Your friends and family will want to have their cake and eat it too, after all, so you’ll need to know the price per person when booking your caterer. Take that number, finalize your budget and keep your list short enough to accommodate plus ones and surprise guests.
  1. Prioritize your guests and focus on the people who matter—now. No one wants to admit that some friends and relatives matter more than others, but you will need to prioritize whom you want there and whom you could do without. Think of it this way: The first names that come to mind without too much thought should be higher on the priority list because you couldn’t imagine enjoying your big day without them. If you want to keep your guest list short and sweet, take the time to focus on those who matter to you—right now. At the end of the day, it’s your wedding and you should share it with the important people in your life.
  1. Guesstimate your guest list before booking a venue. You can only invite as many people as will fit in your wedding venue, so to ensure you don’t pick a space that’s too small (or too large!), create a rough draft of your guest list before booking the venue. That way you will have an idea of how many people you’d like to invite and can keep that in mind as you narrow down your top choices.If you’ve gone the other way and booked a space before making a list, know your capacity limitations so you don’t invite too many guests and risk crowding out your ceremony.
  1. Children or no children? This one is completely your call. If you are limiting festivities to grown-ups, simply address invitations to the adults, and maybe slip in a note explaining your policy in a very polite yet firm fashion.You can get straight to the point by printing phrases like “adult reception to follow” on the RSVP cards, or you can sugarcoat it with something sweet such as: “To give everyone the opportunity to let their hair down, we request that this be an adults-only wedding/ceremony/reception” (whichever works best for you).

    If you are comfortable with the whole gang tagging along, address invitations to the entire family. If you do want little ones in attendance but are worried about chaos or noise levels, consider creating a kids-only play space or arranging for babysitters at a nearby location. No matter what you decide, let wedding invitation etiquette be your guide.

  1. Let others help. If you can hire a wedding planner, consult with them on the guest list. That’s what they’re there for. However, if you don’t have the lettuce to hire a team of planners and coordinators, it doesn’t mean you have to tackle the guest list alone. Instead, turn to your home team—the one composed of friends and family. Get your sweetheart’s opinion, enlist help from your close friends and sit down with your parents and soon-to-be parents-in-law when thinking about which extended relatives you’d like to come.

    Accepting a bit of help from outside sources will lessen the stress—leaving you free to focus on the bigger picture and the important people who’ll help you make the most of your big day.

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