Wedding planning was going smoothly for our friend and her mother until the night they met about the wedding guest list. Suddenly, stress-free wedding planning turned into a mess of strained pleas and tears. The mother wanted to add second, third, and fourth cousins to the list; her daughter wanted a small wedding guest list. If you want to avoid the same stressful meeting, use these tips to put together the perfect (and perfect-sized) wedding guest list.
Use the 70-15-15 rule.
If you feel like you need a hard-and-fast number to guide you and your parent’s guest list planning (or to reign them in), use this rule. You and your fiance get to fill 70% of the total number of guests, and each side of the family (i.e. the groom’s parents and bride’s parents) gets to add 15% of the total guest list. Put simply, if you have an event at 1451 Renaissance Place, we provide seating for up to 300 (couples can invite more). You and your fiance would get to fill 210 of those chairs while each set of parents would get to add 45 (each) to the list.
Create lists within your guest list.
To make your guest list planning easier, create lists for your circles of family and friends. The first list, list “A”, would include your closest circle of family and friends. The next circle (think aunts, uncles, cousins) would be on list “B.” Use that same philosophy for list “C” and “D” (with list D being acquaintances and people you know but aren’t close to). When it comes down to trimming down the guest list, list “D” would be the first list of names to cross off, list “C” would be second, etc.
Decide whether you want to invite kids.
Today, it’s just as common to hold an adults-only wedding as it is to hold a wedding that includes parents and kids. If you decide an adult-only affair is right for you, make sure you add a tasteful line to your wedding invitation that says, “Adults only” or “While our nieces and nephews will be joining us on our special day, we asks that only adults join us.” To make sure each couple only RSVPs for two, create a drop down on your RSVP site that only allows space for two or fill in their names on the paper RSVP card. Don’t make any exceptions so you won’t have to deal with the fall-out later. If anyone expresses displeasure at your adult-only invite, just say something like, “I’m sorry you’re unhappy, but we have to be fair to all our guests.”
Use a fine tooth comb for your “taboo” guest list.
There are always going to be “maybes” on your guest list: exes, significant others, friends of friends, co-workers, etc. The truth is that there is no set rule for these groups of people. One couple might veto all exes, while another may want to include an ex they are on good terms with (especially if you have a child together and talk on a regular basis). If you have room for all significant others, include a “plus guest” on all your single friends invites. But if the guest list is getting tight, it’s okay to invite only your friend (unless they have been together with a girlfriend or boyfriend for a significant amount of time). If you’re really not sure of whether it’ll create an awkward situation later (such as your co-workers who have heard you gush about your wedding plans for months), invite them.
Remember the venue maximum guest count is your final number.
For the safety of your guests, be careful to NEVER exceed the maximum guest count number your venue gives you (make sure you add that question to your list of venue questions). That doesn’t mean you can’t invite slightly more than that number (be careful to not go dramatically over that number-what if they all come?); expect that about 80-90% will attend. Plan accordingly and make sure that you won’t go over the venue maximum. Don’t hesitate to ask event planners at your venue if you have any questions about the maximum number. Remember, it’s your job to give your guests a fun and safe evening; the perfect guest list number guarantees that.