The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Wedding Guest List

When it comes to creating your wedding guest list, it’s important to remember that finalizing a guest list should be one of the first things on your wedding to-do list. After all, the number of guests who will attend your wedding affects everything you do while planning. 

Still, even the thought of creating your wedding guest list can seem like an incredibly difficult task to start. You may be thinking, “Really? But I know my family and I know my friends and I know my coworkers…” and so on and so forth. But sometimes, in all honesty, successfully negotiating who (and who not) to invite to your celebration isn’t totally a cakewalk. 

Which friends or family make the cut? Should coworkers be at your ceremony, or the reception, or both? Take a deep breath all of you brides- and grooms-to-be. The experts at Lacework Films are here to help you break down the ultimate, stress-free guide to creating your wedding guest list. Let’s jump in!

Creating the Perfect Wedding Guest List

inspirational quote on notebook page

Traditionally, a wedding was an opportunity for two families, along with only the closest of family friends, to come together to celebrate the marriage of the honorary couple. Venue hunting began with the ceremony location and the reception venue was generally the closest ‘acceptable’ hotel to that. Seriously – that’s all there was to it at one point in time!

The wedding guest list was the responsibility of the bride’s parents (since they were paying for everything), but they would allow a quota for the in-laws.

Clearly, though, times have changed! 

When it comes to planning the wedding guest list, the two basic constraints tend to boil down to capacity (at your venue) and budget. 

Fairness ‘for all’ when it comes to planning a wedding guest list can be a challenge. The ‘side’ with the large family may well be inviting only the siblings and their children, whereas the smaller family may well get down to second and third cousins if the split is 50/50. Of course, it the allocation is based on ‘closeness’ the ‘fairness,’ then the split will be questioned from an entirely different perspective. 

Also, bear in mind that parents may still be clinging to the tradition that the guest list is more about their friends than yours. So, how do you take the reins?

Label Your Wedding Guest List 

Before you start adding everyone you’ve ever known to your wedding guest list, take in to consideration the minimum and maximum number of guests that you’re allowed at your venue. 

Below is a general list of people that you could invite to celebrate with you on your special day. Whether you choose to invite them to your wedding ceremony, the reception, or both is up to you.

Immediate family

mother of the bride hugging bride while getting ready for wedding day

Start with you and your partner’s parents, grandparents, siblings, their significant others and their children. Then move down a step to add the aunts, uncles, and cousins that you see regularly. 

Distant family

If you’ve got distant family that you keep in touch with and would like at your wedding, add them to your wedding guest list next. 

But how far through the extended family line do you go before friends start becoming more important? To be honest, that choice is ultimately up to you and will be particular to your specific circumstances. For starters, I always like to add that honesty is the best policy – early communication and resolution of any disagreements goes a long way when you’re in pursuit of a stress-free wedding planning journey. 

Friends 

bride and groom taking a selfie

Start with your closest friends and then branch off to the ones you speak to regularly, friends from college, close neighbors, etc. 

When it comes to adding friends to your wedding guest list, keep your budget and your venue’s quota in mind. It’s quite OKAY if you’re not able to invite everyone you’ve ever known to your wedding day — you’ll have the rest of your life to celebrate with friends of all shapes and sizes.  

Coworkers

Depending on how long you’ve worked for the company, you may want to invite your colleagues and/or your boss to your wedding. You may have some colleagues that are closer than others who you may want to invite to the ceremony as well. 

This can be a tricky decision, but if you work in a relatively small office environment and feel as if you can’t invite some colleagues without inviting others, why not invite them all to the evening reception? 

Where Do Plus Ones Fit In? 

champagne being poured into glasses on a table

Adding a plus one to your single friends’ invitations will obviously increase your overall wedding guest list numbers. 

It’s OKAY to not extend the plus one invite if you honestly can’t fit the extra bodies. You could adopt the phrase “no ring no bring,” meaning that your friends who aren’t engaged or married shouldn’t expect to receive an invitation with a plus one. 

Family Friends/Friends of Parents 

Every family has them, so it’s worth discussing with both sets of parents who, if appropriate, it would be worth jotting down on your wedding guest list. 

Children

little girl holding flowers

Choosing whether or not to invite children to your wedding can be a stressful decision. They will obviously add to your guest numbers and in some family circumstances you may have no option. Discuss whether or not you’ll be inviting children to your wedding between you and your significant other early on in the process of creating the wedding guest list. 

Categorize and Prioritize

cute notebooks with enjoy the little things

You and your future spouse should each create your own lists that will be combined into one at the end. Take notes on the number of people associated with each name, including spouses, significant others, and children (depending on, like I mentioned above, if you’re having a family-friendly affair).

Give each guest on the list a priority of A, B, or C.

A – Close family and friends that are a total “must.” 

B – Those additional friends, extended family, and coworkers that you are planning to invite.

C – Guests that would be nice to have at your wedding if your budget allows.

Without even realizing it, you now have your wedding list ready to go! 

Don’t Get Worn Down

 When it comes to keeping your wedding guest list creation stress-free, remember BOUNDARIES! Set them and stick to them. 

Keep in mind that this is your wedding. That means if your mom insists on inviting her entire spin class, don’t feel entirely obligated.  

First, try to compromise. Why not invite just one and put the rest on the C-list? If that doesn't work, don't waver. It won't be easy, but bend now and you're going to end up with even more requests down the line.

Avoid Last Minute Add-Ons

notebook page with my plan

Whether or not you spread the word yourself, you're probably going to get one or two awkward comments along the lines of, "I can't wait to come to your wedding!" from someone you're not so sure about inviting. 

In the moment, it can seem like an easy out to respond, "Me too!" But do this and you'll either end up having to add them to the list or having an even more uncomfortable conversation that's basically akin to disinviting them. The best thing you can do is steer clear of wedding specifics while you're still in the early planning stages. 

Keep Your Head Up

bride with bridesmaids praying

Repeat after me:  This is my wedding, and the decisions that I make regarding my wedding guest list are completely acceptable. Keep that mantra in mind and creating your perfect wedding guest list will be easier than you expected. 

Happy planning!

Kelly LaFleurComment