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03rd May 2019

5 things to keep in mind when creating your wedding guest list

The wedding guest list has a huge impact on the rest of the day - and it can spiral out of control pretty easily.

Keeley Ryan

It’s one of the trickiest parts of planning a wedding.

The guest list for your wedding day can end up having a kind of domino effect on every other aspect.

For example, the more guests you plan to invite, the bigger the venue you will need – and the higher the cost of your caterer (and bar, if you’re having an open bar).

Basically, making sure that you have gotten everyone near and dear to you included in your head count without going over budget can seem like a balancing act.

And while the dilemma of suddenly finding too many names on your guest list is all too common, it’s actually not impossible to cut it back down (without hurting anyone’s feelings or feeling guilty).

Here’s how.


Go big – and make edits later

It will probably take a few drafts to come up with your final list of who you want there on your big day,

Make a second list – a ‘B-list’, if you will – for anyone who didn’t make the cut the first time around, that way you can send out an invite later on if you end up having room (like if you get a few more ‘no’ RSVPs than you thought).

Is it going to be adults only?

If you don’t feel like having little ones at your wedding, that’s totally fine – just make sure it’s made clear on the invitations (as gently as possible).

For example, address the invitations to Mr. and Mrs. Smith instead of The Smith Family.

And even if there are a few children that you want there – like your nieces and nephews – you can always hire a babysitter to watch them during the reception, which makes sure that they can attend the ceremony.

Be firm (but fair) when it comes to plus ones

Things can get a bit tricky when it comes to plus ones.

Anyone who is married, engaged, living together or in a long-term and committed relationship should, if possible, be offered a plus one.

And since the members of your wedding party have likely been by your side from the start of the planning process, it would be nice to extend the offer to them, too.

Keep in mind: some people may end up declining the plus one, for whatever reason, so this won’t necessarily lead to a massive increase in your guest list.

Think of the venue

Whether you’ve already put down the deposit or are still on the search for your dream venue, make sure you know how many people are going to be able to fit in it.

If you have your heart set on, say, something like a little B&B or a cosy church wedding but are planning inviting 200+ guests, that may not end up working so well.

Make sure that your venue (or venues, if you’re having the reception somewhere separate) is able to comfortably hold the number of people on your guest list.

Whatever you do, do NOT feel guilty 

Wedding guest lists can get very long, very quick – and you could end up with a mile-long guest list if you include every long lost friend from primary school.

Sometimes, that may work with your guest list and why you’re planning for the big day. Other times, not so much.

And if you’re really not sure if someone should make the cut for the final guest list, try the “one year” test.

Basically, as the name kind of hints, it reflects on how close you are with the person: do you think that you will see them in the next 12 months?

Gina Wade, and entertaining and lifestyle expert, told Vogue

“Ask yourself if you would be offended if you weren’t invited to their wedding. If the answer is no, you have your answer.

“While some of your friends may hold a particularly special place in your past, they just might not currently be a part of your present. Your wedding should be about celebrating with those who are closest to you now and are a part of your present and your future.”

Keeley and Sam are saying ‘I do,’ in May 2019. In the run-up to her Big Day, Keeley will be writing a weekly blog about all things wedding-related… from the start of planning, to walking down the aisle.