Managing the Wedding Guest List


Your wedding is both a celebration of your love for each other as well as a celebration of the future you will spend together. This celebration of your future life together can be a defining concept in creating and managing your wedding guest list.

When trying to decide which friends, cousins, co-workers or old school buddies to invite, not only evaluate how long it has been since you last socialized, but also how involved these people will be in your future life together. This concept, as well as some other pertinent guidelines, can help you in this important planning step toward your perfect wedding. Here are some things to consider:

Venue – Unless you are dead set on a certain venue, it is best to give serious consideration to the guest list before choosing a venue, rather than booking a venue and then realizing your guest list can’t be accommodated.

Budget – How much do you have to spend, and who is paying? Both these questions are critical in creating a reasonable guest list. If you and your future spouse are footing the bill, you can determine the number of guests; however, if others are paying, they will have more say on how many guests can be included. Typically, the guest list is divided into thirds between the wedding couple and two sets of parents.

Along with budget and venue considerations, here are some additional guidelines to help determine who to include and who to pass. Write a full wish list, and then apply your own set of firm rules to pare down to a reasonable number. Start with close family, close friends who will be a part of your new life as a couple and everyone else. Then scrutinize the list carefully and consider the following:

  • Don’t invite due to guilt based on past social invites or interactions.
  • Limit “plus ones” to those either married, engaged or living together at least a year.
  • Be comfortable with “no children policy,” and you choose the age cut off.
  • Be careful inviting co-workers, unless they are really close friends outside of work. If you invite some, but not all, feelings will be hurt.
  • Reciprocity guide – Invite if you attended their wedding of a similar size within one year of your wedding date.
  • A and B lists – Some planners recommend having two lists, A list for the “must-haves” and B list for the “if we have room.” Then, as you cross off those from the A list who respond that they cannot attend, you send invites to those on the B list, with new RSVP cards requesting a later date to respond. While this sounds like a practical idea, be careful. Many on the B list will realize they were not “must-haves” and experience hurt feelings.

All said and done, it is your special day, and even if you would love to celebrate it with everyone in your life, reasonable limits will need to be set. But, there are alternatives to celebrating your new life together with friends and family after the wedding. Make special plans to socialize with those important to you whom you cannot invite to the wedding. Small dinner parties, picnics and restaurant celebrations to recognize these folks as important to you both can be thoughtful ways to include them in your new life celebration.