Organizing Your Wedding Guest List

The Knot shot

A wedding without guests is like a cake without frosting, totally pointless. It is difficult to decide who should be invited and who gets to do the inviting. It’s hard to set strict guidelines for attendance and add-on guests.

However, if you plan early and set rules for yourself, all guests can be accounted for and taken care of so you can share your big day with everyone you wanted to, and no one you that you didn’t.

All is Fair in Love and Guest Invites

If you are planning the wedding of the century and everyone and their third- cousin’s uncle is getting an invitation, this really doesn’t apply to you; so party on! However, if like most people you have a set number of guests you can invite, these guidelines are right up your alley. Sticking to some of these rules will assist in managing the event logistics for your big day.

  • Don’t put your wedding info on social media sites unless anyone really can come.
  • Don’t let soon-to-be In-laws bully you into inviting everyone they think should be invited.
  • Divide seats equally, what that means is, if you are inviting 100 people, you get 50 and so does he, your families each get 25…and so on. Keep in mind that if the bride or groom has an extra large family, it may be appropriate to award that side more seats.
  • Get organized EARLY on. Don’t wait until you are ordering a cake to decide who is coming. Also, consider using an online guest list, like this one from The Knot:, that way you can access it at all times (so can others, like your wedding planner) and keep an updated head count. You are going to need this list a million times, so having it online can be super-handy.

wedding guest list

Avoiding The Dreaded +1

It happens at even the most planned weddings, someone shows up without having sent an RSVP or they show up with someone you don’t know, and really don’t want to. There are a few steps you can take to avoid both situations.

  • In pencil, write a small number on the back of the RSVP card included in each invitation, key that number into your guest list. That way if someone does send an RSVP but you can’t read their writing or they leave it blank you know whom that card was intended for.
  • On the RSVP card have your calligrapher, or printer, write the name on the guest name line, and then include a blank line for the guest to indicate whether or not they are attending or sending their regrets. This eliminates a lot of opportunity for a guest to cram in someone else’s name.
wedding guest list

How to Trim The List 101

  • Rule 1 If you have never spoken to, or met a specific guest, he or she needs to be cut, even if mom promises you knew him or her as a baby and they just adored you.
  • Rule 2 Single friends who want to bring a significant other only get a “plus one” if they’ve been in their relationship for a year or more (an exception can be made for couples living together).
  • Rule 3 Anyone whose bedtime comes before 9 p.m. will miss the cake cutting and subsequently so will their parents, so don’t feel bad about crossing off all the under-13-year-olds.
  • Rule 4 It’s your day — if you don’t want someone there, don’t feel obligated to send an invite, even if you attended their wedding or they are mutual friends with a majority of people already invited – it’s your day, share it with those you want to.
wedding guest list

If you follow simple rules you set for yourself, trim your guest list wisely and do things fairly when dealing with each others parents and families, everything should turn out perfectly on your big day!

Happy Planning!

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