Finalizing the guest is a wedding planning task that simply can’t be ignored. With many guest lists still being trimmed and eyes always on the budget, the ideal guest list is important. Wondering how to choose your guest list? We have all the essentials here.
1. Get Organized
We can’t over-emphasize the importance of keeping your guest list organized.
Not only will you need to create your original list, you’ll need to track who has RSVP’d yes or no, and maintain a phone list for those guests you haven’t heard from.
There is wedding planning software couples can use to help. From phone apps to websites, the capabilities range from the simple to the complex. Some technologies are free, others will have an upfront cost or added feature fees. The Texas Weddings app is a great example of a free wedding app, loaded with features like a guest list manager.
Before you drop additional funds. do your homework to really know what you need. Depending on your package, your wedding planner will be organizing much of your wedding details
2. Cut Mindfully
No couple plans to go over their wedding budget, but it’s easy to do. When you’re running up against your budget or are already over, the simplest solution is to cut your guest list down.
Many on your wedding guest list are often guilt-additions. Coworkers that invited you to their wedding last year. An old college buddy you made late-night promises to always invite one day (but haven’t spoken to in years). These invites may feel required or help you avoid short-term awkwardness, but it’s your wedding. Don’t feel pressured.
Imagine looking at your wedding photos five, even ten years from now. Who will still be important in your life? Who will you still be in touch with? Those are the real must-haves of your wedding invitation list.
3. Divide and Conquer
The wedding guest list typically requires input from more than just the wedding couple. The parents on both sides will expect a portion of the guest list to their own invitees. You may not care if your Dad’s lifelong friend you’ve only met a handful of times attends, but it’ll be important to him.
Negotiate in advance how many attendees each parent gets to include. Be candid, and open with your expectations. You can work off a final count, or a percentage of the total if a final head count is not yet determined. Having them create an initial “guest wish list” can be a good starting point.
Much of these conversations revolved around the budget. If you are going the traditional route with the bride’s family paying for the wedding, they’ll expect a greater say in the guest list.
If a parent wants to increase how many people they can invite, you may ask for them to pay the difference per person. Remember, this goes beyond the catering price but factors in place-settings, favors, or even added table costs such as linens and centerpieces. And ultimately, the venue itself will limit your options on whether additional seats can be accommodated.
4. Kid Consistency
It’s perfectly acceptable to have an adults-only wedding. You just have to ensure you apply the policy consistently. Meaning, you can’t allow your best friends’ well-behaved children to attend, and not your cousins’ wild child.
Beyond the generalized “adults only” policy is a compromised approach. Perhaps you go with 14 and older. Depending on your guest list size, this may take some time to clarify ages, but the legwork is worth it.
And remember, how you list the names on the invitation matters. “John Smith and Family” means everyone’s invited. “John and Jane Smith” indicates only the parents are invited. If you have a wedding website, this is the appropriate place to make your kid policy clear.
5. Keep Your Invites Clear
Speaking of invitation wording, this applies to the invitation and the wording on the RSVP card.
Ever seen someone mush together multiple names of uninvited guests on one line? Adding pre-printed names will help save you from this, in addition to clarifying who is invited. If you’re offering an unnamed plus one to a solo guest, you can add a blank on those RSVP’s. This way, you’ll have an actual name for your seating chart.
For the real expertise on wedding invitation wording, we head to the expert Gretchen Olivares, the owner of Aly Am Paperie Invitation & Gifts. Her website has numerous etiquette tips and information on proper wording for your wedding invitations.
Gretchen is one of the few truly custom wedding invitation specialists in the area. Once couples begin creating their invite list and working on invitations, the process can seem overwhelming. Gretchen works directly with each couple to ensure the process is smooth and the wording is correct. Remember, you’ll want to set up your wedding invitation consultation about 8 months in advance.
6. Avoid a Second List
Don’t be tempted to make a secondary invitation list.
Keep in mind, your wedding guests will not all attend. Depending on how many out of town guests you have, and the overall size of your wedding, anticipate 75% – 85% of your invitees to attend. So you’ll naturally need to over-invite as is.
It’s hard to conceal to guests when they’re a round two invitee. The invitation will come later than anticipated, and the chance of them speaking with a guest who received their invitation earlier is highly likely. Don’t be that couple.
If you end up under your original guest count, don’t sweat it. You can always use this as an opportunity to give someone the plus one they’ve asked for. Or a chance to upgrade your food and beverage if you have a minimum to meet. Who doesn’t love a late night snack add on?
Remember, the success of your wedding reception does not depend on how many guests you have.