How to Make Sure You Have Everyone You Love With You on Your Special Day.

One of the things I looked forward to the most when planning my own wedding was creating our guest list. It was so fun to imagine all of our closest friends and family together in one room, celebrating our love. As several friends pointed out to me, your wedding day is probably one of the only times that both you and your fiancé’s family and friends from all stages of life will meet each other and spend time together. Having those loved ones close to you and present on your wedding day is certainly something to cherish.

Creating the guest list was one of the first tasks I tackled in my planning process. Everything was going along smoothly until I realized that if I combined my list, my fiancé’s list, my parents’ list, and my in-laws list, there would be way too many guests! Like it or not, I had to acknowledge that we had no choice but to cut people in order to stay within the number of guests that our venue could hold.

Deciding which guests to cut turned out to be one of the hardest decisions I had to make leading up to the wedding. After all, I’d put peoples’ names on my guest list for a reason. These people meant something to me and had added value to my life or my fiancé’s life in some way. As I was about to learn, making cuts to a guest list is hard but necessary.  The reality of the situation is that unless you’re planning to throw a party with hundreds of guests, capping your guest list at a certain number is not only inevitable, but necessary.

There’s no way to avoid making tough decisions about who gets an invite and who doesn’t, but getting started on your guest list at the very beginning of your wedding planning can make crafting your list considerably less stressful. Another reason to get a head start? Your guest list is what determines how many tables and chairs to order, how much food to serve, how you’ll lay out the room, and how many favors you’ll need to give away at the end of the night. Our advice: Set a firm deadline for when your guest list will be complete and follow our tips to avoid any drama.

Getting Started on Your Guest List.

Before you even write down the names of potential guests, talk with your fiancé and anyone else involved in paying for the wedding about the size of the party they’re willing to throw. Having an idea of whether your wedding will be on the smaller or larger side will alter how you approach creating your guest list. You don’t have to settle on a specific number; a ballpark figure will do. It’s equally important to decide how building the guest list will be divvied up. Will your side of the family and his side be able to invite the same number of guests? Does one side have more people to invite than the other? Figure out the answers to these questions before you start working on your list.

The next step is for the bride, groom, and both sets of parents to make separate guest lists. Have everyone write down the people they’d like to see invited to the big day. Think broad and big here. Now is the time to reflect on every family member, friend, colleague, or mentor that you might want to invite. Put all their names on your list. Non-negotiable invites– people that you feel must be invited no matter what – should be placed at the top of the list. Once everyone’s list is complete, come together to compare. Look for overlap amongst your lists – how often do guests’ names appear? For example, names that show up on everyone’s list can be immediately added to the “master” guest list. Do this until the only names left on every individual’s list are people that don’t overlap.

Review the “master” list to make sure everyone is okay with who is on it and to count how many guests you have. If you’ve already reached your capacity, you may not be able to invite more people or you might have to cut people from the master list in order to add others.

“Our couples find it helpful to group folks by category as a starting point, which can then help when you’re getting into the logistics of your group size. For example, grouping and prioritizing by immediate family, extended family, current close friends, college friends, high school friends, current work colleagues, past work colleagues, etc. gives you the ability to see how large each group is and decide if there are some natural cut off points between the groups.” – Leanne Valdes, You Name It Events

If there’s still room, everyone can review his or her individual lists again. Of the remaining people on the lists, is there anyone you feel must come? If so, add them to the master list. If you feel their name can be permanently removed from the guest list, do so.

Once that process is complete, meet again to create and review the final list. When you have a list that everyone feels comfortable with, you’re ready to start working on your save-the-dates and invitations.

Cutting Your Guest List.

Removing someone’s name from your guest list is never easy. It’s always an awkward conversation when someone you’re not inviting to your wedding asks about the big day or assumes they’re going to be invited. However, there is a limit to how many guests can attend a wedding and it’s ultimately up to the bride and groom to determine who their guests will be.

When you’re deciding which names to remove, keep a few things in mind. First, ask yourself how important this person is to you and how active they currently are in your life. For example, the friend you just met who you see almost every weekend and is intimately involved in planning your wedding might receive an invitation over a childhood friend who you’ve know a long time, but don’t keep in touch with. Think about who you would like to keep in your life for years to come, the strong friendships you’ve created, and who you might need to invite to keep peace within the family. Evaluating your guest list in this way can help you decide who you ultimately want celebrating your big day with you.

Inviting Coworkers.

Inviting coworkers can be tricky. You spend quite a bit of time with these people and chances are most of them know you’re getting married. Office politics can come into play when you’re working on your guest list, especially if you’d like to invite only one or two of your coworkers, instead of the whole group. You and your significant other should discuss how you both want to handle inviting the people you work with. You might opt to not invite any coworkers, or only your bosses, or only the people that work in your department.

If you’re comfortable doing so, explain your decision to your coworkers ahead of time. If you’ve chosen to invite only your department, reach out to people in the other departments and let them know that due to the limited number of guests you can have, you’re only inviting those whom you work with directly. This way, you can set boundaries while being polite and open, and hopefully avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.

Remember that creating your guest list should be fun! It’s a time for you to reflect on the relationships you’ve developed, feel grateful for the people in your life, and look forward to celebrating with them soon. Start making your list early. Determine who is most important to invite and work your way through your list from there. Don’t overcomplicate the process, and don’t forget to enjoy your loved ones’ company on your special day!


Written by Colette House