May 7, 2024

How to Make a Wedding Guest List

Planning a wedding involves a great deal of decisions, from the color of the flowers to the flavor of the cake. Some, like creating a guest list, prove more challenging. To help you, here’s your guide on how to make a wedding guest list.

Budget Considerations

Before diving into the who of the guest list, it’s crucial to have a wedding budget. The difference between a guest list of 100 and 125 could mean thousands of dollars. Each additional table comes with its own set of costs, from rentals to floral arrangements. Therefore, it’s vital to strike a balance between your desired guest count and your budgetary constraints.

Who’s Important to You?

Remember the significance behind each name on your wedding guest list. Whether it’s family, friends, or colleagues, each person should be considered. Is this a person you want to spend your special day with? Have you spent time with them in the last few years? Would you miss them if they weren’t there?

Ask yourselves those questions to determine who goes on that list. Also consider that a larger guest list means less time to spend with each individual. Reflect on who truly matters to you and prioritize those relationships in your list first.

Cocktail hour for a wedding at The Lodge at Torrey Pines on the lawn. How to create a wedding guest list. Cavin Elizabeth Photography.

Logistical Considerations

Logistics such as venue capacity also play a significant role in shaping your guest list. Many venues impose a maximum limit, which may necessitate trimming your list accordingly. Understanding these limitations early in the planning process can help streamline your decision-making.

Bride wearing colorful Costarellos wedding dress with custom cape adorned with colorful 3D flowers. Bridesmaids wearing mixmatch patterned blue dresses holding small bouquets with pink and white roses with a pop of burgundy ranunculus.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Choosing Your Platform: Decide where you’ll create your guest list. Digital platforms like Google Sheets offer practicality and ease of collaboration. Alternatively, I recommend using a platform on which you can collect RSVPs and create a wedding website. Zola, The Knot, and others will help you accomplish both, as well as making a wedding registry.
  2. Start with Family: Begin by listing immediate family members along with their spouses and children, if children are included in your celebration.
  3. Close Friends: Add your closest friends and their partners to the list. Consider offering plus-ones for non-long-term partners, which ensures that all of your friends will have a dance partner and someone they feel comfortable with.
  4. Parental Input: Solicit input from your parents, but establish clear boundaries if necessary. Communicate any caps or limitations to avoid potential conflicts.
  5. Children: It’s perfectly acceptable to opt for a child-free wedding if that aligns with your preferences. Communicate your decision respectfully to avoid misunderstandings.
  6. Final Review: Assess the length of your guest list. If it includes too many people, consider moving some acquaintances to a secondary “B list.” Conversely, if the list feels sparse, explore options to include extended family, newer friends, or additional plus-ones. Be sure to consider that about 20-30% won’t be able to attend, especially if you have a destination wedding. It’s very rare that you’d have 100% yes.
  7. Sending Invitations: Timing is crucial when sending Save the Dates and invitations. Aim to send save the date cards four to six months before the wedding, followed by formal invitations six to eight weeks prior. For guests on the B list, ensure they receive invitations at least three weeks in advance.