Hands-down one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning is the guest list. It’s something nobody talks about because it’s not as glamorous as dress shopping, venue visiting or cake tasting. But it’s an essential part of planning your big day, without guests to share the joy of you and your partner, what’s the point? While there may not be an exact method to the madness, there are some tips to help you tackle the guest list.
- Before anything, find a way to organize your guests. Whether it’s writing them down in a notebook, using a wedding planner or an online guest manager, having your guest list organized can make the process a lot easier. Along with this, decide how many guests you’re allowing based on your budget and the venue size. Once the logistics are figured out, the guest list can start being made.
- Be collaborative with your in-laws and parents. If parents or in-laws are helping pay for the wedding, they may want some cut of the guest list. Traditionally, each set of parents get ¼ of the list to invite whoever they want, while the couple gets half. Or, to keep things fair you can give each couple 1/3 of the list. But if you’re not comfortable inviting somebody you, or your future spouse, has never met or heard of before, then make sure to communicate this with your parents or in-laws. While being collaborative is important, there’s nothing wrong with setting boundaries, just be patient and calm when explaining your concerns.
- Create an A-list, and B-list. This is a common method among guest list planning. Create a list of people who must be at your wedding, such as: immediate family and close friends. This will serve as the A-list. These are non-negotiables that both you and your partner cannot imagine not being at your celebration. Next create a B-list; a list of people you would like to have at your wedding but aren’t necessary like: extended family you may not be close with, co-workers that are also friends, childhood friends, or family friends. Make sure to rank your B-list from most to least important. A-list and high B-list people should receive invitations 9 weeks in advance of the wedding. Once you know who can or cannot make it, start inviting people from your B-list around 6/7 weeks in advance, unless you’re having a destination wedding then invitations should be sent out months in advance.
- Set rules. Be sure to set rules when cutting off or inviting family, friends, and extended relationships. Talk with your parents, partner, or in-laws when figuring out what seems fair to the guests.
- If you’re not allowing children, make it clear on the invitation. Don’t make exceptions for certain people either.
- Make sure you’re inviting people because you want them there, not because you feel obligated. There’s no reason you must return the wedding invitation favor to somebody who’s wedding you attended three years ago and haven’t spoken to since.
- If you don’t want a ton of plus-ones running around, then make sure you the follow general rule that plus-ones are for people married or engaged.
- Don’t invite specific family members without inviting their immediate family too. You can’t invite your favorite cousin and not their siblings.
Setting rules can also help keep the guest amount down if you’re planning on having a small wedding. Whatever rules you and your partner want to set, be sure to follow them!
- Don’t invite people last-minute. This can be tough, because once RSVPs begin coming back and there are a handful of “regrets,” it’s easy to feel obligated to invite other people. Rule of thumb is don’t invite guests who were never on you A-list or B-list to begin with. It can lead to complications, hurt feelings or confusion on your partner or parent’s behalf. Last-minute invites know they’re last-minute invites, the potential for harm is greater than the chance for good.
The guest list can feel like an impossible, never-ending task. Keep in mind this is you and your partner’s day for celebration, ultimately the guests should be people both of you want to have surrounding you on your special day.
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