Once you’re engaged, creating a guest list is one of the first jobs that will need to be on your To Do list. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most time consuming and stressful! There are decisions to make, parents to consult, and family issues to navigate. Whether you’re dreaming of an intimate destination wedding with just your nearest and dearest in attendance, or a great big multi-guest shindig, you’ll have to draw the line somewhere. But where do you even start?
As an Essex and London wedding planner (who was fairly recently a bride myself!) I’ve learned some ways to make the process of writing a wedding guest list a lot less painful. Here are my top tips!
Start with your budget
Before you get carried away and start inviting everyone you know, you need to have The Talk and set a budget. Extra people not only equates to a larger venue and added seats, but also a larger wedding stationery order, a higher drinks and catering budget, extra favours, and so on.
The first draft
Before you go venue searching, you should have an idea of the general number of people you want to invite. Sit down together and plan out a rough list, dividing it into a must-have list (i.e. family, close friends, etc.) and a like-to-have list. This should give you an idea of the size of wedding you’re looking at, and combined with your budget, will help you set some parameters for your venue hunt. Then press pause on the guest list until you have booked a venue, as your final number will depend on capacity, cost per head, etc.
Who to invite
A good way to think of your guests is as a set of concentric circles. At the centre are your families, then their plus ones, then close friends, then their plus ones, and so on. Also don’t forget about groups like distant family, work colleagues, and family friends. Most importantly, think about who you actually want to see on your day.
Children or no?
One of the big guest list questions you’ll need to decide is whether or not you’ll be inviting children to your wedding. There are arguments for both sides on this one, so think about what’s the most suitable for you and your families to help you make your choice.
Plus ones are another group to consider carefully. I would recommend making a rule for yourselves and sticking to it. For example, include partners where the couple is married, engaged, or living together only; or only include partners you have met personally.
Don’t be afraid to say no to inviting your parents’ friends, especially if you don’t know them well or at all! You need to have an upfront conversation with them early on to agree the level of their involvement and how many invites they’re allowed to influence. This is especially true if they’re helping financially with the wedding planning, but remember it’s your day and you should celebrate with those you hold dear.
Not everyone will say yes
Remember that some of the people you invite won’t be able to make it. You might be excited to see your childhood best friend from Australia at your wedding in England, but don’t be too disappointed if she can’t make it. To deal with this it can be a good idea to send out invitations early enough to be able to add in additional guests from your like-to-have list, as and when you learn of open spaces.