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Developing Your Wedding Guest list


The first thing we recommend to couples when they are kicking off their wedding planning is to figure out their guest list. We know it may feel like a weird first step, knowing who you are inviting when you don’t even know where the wedding is taking place or when, but it sets the foundation for your planning process. [Photo by Endless Wave Studios]

The First Step

Your guest count should be determined first because it will impact both your budget and your venue. The budget for a 50 person wedding vs that of a 150 person wedding will of course look very different.

  • · When you are looking at a venue, you’ll want to make sure that the venue can fit all of your guests comfortably.

  • · You want to be sure that you can afford the venue you plan to see. In order to do that, you’ll need to calculate a rough total cost, which involves knowing your estimated guest count.

  • · Most venues have a minimum for weekends so you will need to have an understanding of whether or not you can meet that minimum

Beginning Your List

Before you start your list, there are a few things you might want to decide so that you can provide direction and be on the same page as your partner when having guest list conversations with outside parties, like parents.

  • ·Do you want to invite kids? If so, is there a minimum age? Only children of relatives or friends too?

  • Who do you want to give plus ones? Only married couples? People who are dating? Single Family members and single friends?

  • What is your ideal guest count? Are you hoping for a small wedding or open to a large one?

Have Conversations

Next, you can take these principles and come up with a list of friends that you and your fiancé would like to invite. Simultaneously, you can request that you parents do this for family and family friends. Alternatively, you can develop the relatives list as well as a first draft. Once the lists are formed, you should plan to have a sit down with your parents to review the lists to make sure that you aren't missing any key members.

Some Things to Keep in Mind


Decline Rate

  • We’ve found that 20-25% of invited guests will not attend

  • This rate might be higher if :

* it is a weekday or Sunday wedding

* a lot of people are coming from out of town

* it is a holiday weekend

It’s a process

  • Sometimes making a guest list is like a series of negotiations. There may be people that your family feels are important to invite but you disagree. Try to be patient and do your best to accommodate requests when possible.

Save the dates

  • If you send someone a save the date, you must invite them...in "normal times" that is. In Covid times, all rules are thrown out the window. If you need to reduce your list because of Covid restrictions, people will understand. It doesn't hurt to create an A and B list for guests and send Save the Dates only to those on the A list.

  • If you aren’t sure if you want to give them a plus one yet, or invite their kids, just address it to the individual for now. You can always add on later when sending the formal invitation, but removing isn’t an option.




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