A Guide to Creating Your Wedding Guest List

Once engaged, the excitement starts to build and most couples eagerly anticipate the day they get to say “I do” in front of their friends and family. But curating the guest list can be challenging — deciding who should and shouldn’t be invited can be an emotionally draining experience.

If this resonates with you, don’t worry! With careful planning and the right approach, you’ll be able to create a wedding guest list that includes all of your favorite people in the world. 

Here are some valuable tips that will make the process a whole lot easier for you!

1. Estimate your headcount.

Some couples make the mistake of looking at possible wedding venues without having a rough idea of how many guests they plan to invite. Often, they end up having to cut some names from the list in order to fit the number of guests into their chosen venue. Doing so may lead to some of your would-be guests harboring resentment.

Save yourself from unnecessary stress by deciding whether you want an intimate celebration or a grand affair before shopping for venues. This way, you don’t have to risk limiting the number of guests who’ll be attending your wedding.

2. Be mindful of your budget.

While you might want to invite and accommodate as many people as possible, the reality is this: the more people you invite, the more expensive your wedding will be. 

At the end of the day, wedding expenses can be broken down into costs per person. You are paying for every guest who will be at your wedding, so make sure they are worth it! Be sure to invite only those whose presence will make your wedding magical and memorable. If you can’t picture the day without them, they belong on the list!

3. Curate the list with your partner.

Remember: Weddings involve two people! That means both you and your partner need to be invested in your guest list and curate it together. There might be other people, such as close family members, who will try to influence who goes on that list, but ultimately, it’s up to the two of you to decide who makes the cut.

Don’t be afraid to respectfully put your foot down, if necessary. After all, it’s your wedding and you don’t need to invite your mother-in-law’s childhood best friend’s sister if you don’t want to.

4. Establish rules regarding plus-ones and children.

Allowing guests to bring plus-ones and children to your wedding will increase your expenses, but may also increase the fun. Weigh the pros and cons of hosting kids, and determine whether you want an adults-only event or if you’re okay with having little ones there. You can indicate this in your wedding invitations. It’s also a good idea to inform your guests of the number of seats you have reserved for their party or group. 

Granting plus-ones to your guests is also up to you. When deciding whether or not to allow a guest to have a plus-one, consider the following: Have you met your guest’s date? How long has your guest known their plus-one? What is the nature of their relationship? Yes, this last one might seem a bit nosy, but it’s your wedding and you have the right to know who will attend. After all, you don’t want any unnecessary drama to unfold on your big day.

5. Remain organized.

A spreadsheet is an invaluable tool for keeping track of your guests. You’ll want to keep everyone’s names, phone numbers, addresses, and other crucial information in one accessible place.

In your spreadsheet, consider color-coding your guests or adding columns to determine whether they have already RSVPed. You can also have a section to indicate the guests’ preferred meal, which you can easily relay to the caterer. It also helps to add a column to note any gifts that you receive, making it simple to send thank-you notes after the wedding.

Don’t forget to share this document with your planner and caterer to ensure that the wedding planning process is streamlined for everyone involved.

While your wedding guest list will evolve over time, it’s best to get a headstart on it in the early stages of the planning process. Set aside an evening with your partner, order some takeout, crack open a bottle of wine, and get to planning!