The guest list affects many of the wedding decisions
the engaged couple will make, including the selections for wedding
stationery. So, before any of the invitations, stationery, and so
on can be purchased, you both have to set the guest list and determine
the total number of guests. We'll walk you through the process.
And remember, you can click on the links for worksheets to help
you with each step.
The Guest List
Your guest list generally drives other decisions,
so it's often smart to write the list sooner rather than later.
Two of the earliest concerns dependent on final guest count are
the total budget and the invitation requirements.
The guest count has a trickle-down effect on just
about all matters related to the wedding. If your list is extremely
long, you both may want to ask only a handful of close friends and
family to the ceremony and invite everyone to the reception. The
size of the guest list can also affect the mood and tone of the
day, as well as the size of your wedding party.
There are three steps to making a guest
- Do first things first: Some couplels like to set
a guest count first and then set the budget accordingly. This
is appropriate if they know upfront that they'll have a generous
budget. Other couples like to set the budget and then determine
how many guests can be invited. This is appropriate if they think
funds will be tight.
- Divide the list by five: Divvy up the guest list
between five categories: the bride's list; the groom's list; the
couple's list of common friends; the groom's parents' list; and
the bride's parents' list. (Sometimes it's easiest to allocate
all family guests to the respective parents.)
- Whittle: Now begin removing names until you both
hit your mark.
When it comes to the guest list, you both are likely
to have some sticky situations. Remember, this is your party; within
reason, the guest list is the bride's and groom's decision. But
if you both find yourself growing weary or confused, here are a
- If you both haven't seen or spoken to someone in
over a year, he or she can probably come off the list.
- If you both need to make cuts, select an entire
group, like all business associates or all book club members.
If anyone complains, simply explain that you're planning a small
- If you both decide against having children at the
ceremony, and the Smiths respond that they are
coming with all four kids, handle it tactfully and directly. Call
them up and say, "I'm sorry, but we simply can't accommodate
children at the wedding."
- If there is an "ex" in the bride or groom's
background (this could mean girlfriends, boyfriends, in-laws,
or stepparents), ask yourselves if everyone in the extended bridal
party would feel comfortable about this person being invited.
If you or anyone else might feel uneasy with this guest present,
then he or she should be dropped from the list.