How to Take Control of Your Wedding Guest List
Written by Julianne Cuomo, our Director of Celebrations.
Before Beginning Your List…
Before you begin your wedding guest list, it is helpful to know both your budget and the maximum capacity of your venue. Most reception venues and caterers charge a per-person fee, making food sometimes the most expensive part of your wedding budget. Knowing your budget and what each person will cost will help you determine the size of your guest list. In addition, find out the capacity of your venue and plan accordingly.
Like That Perfect Wedding Cake, Your Guest List Has Tiers
Remember that gorgeous cake you saw in the window of your local bakery that became the inspiration for your own wedding cake? Think of this cake as you create your guest list. Like the perfect wedding cake, your invitation list should have tiers. Instead of tasty cake and frosting, the tiers of your guest list will consist of the groups of people who are important to you and your partner.
The first tier of your wedding guest list is for people you really care about and who matter most to you. These are people you have a meaningful relationship with who have touched your life in a positive way. Your first tier list will include the close families of both the bride and groom such as mothers, fathers, siblings, and grandparents. This tier should also include anyone who is contributing financially to the wedding.
Some brides-to-be do the one-year test (have you spoken to them in the past year?) for those whom they are on the fence about inviting. However, I think the better way of doing this is to invite those who you care about and who also care about you.
Depending on your budget, your vision, and your venue, your wedding guest list can be as large or as small as you personally want. The second tier guests include close friends, as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins if they are close to you.
Your third tier guests should be your friends, colleagues, coworkers, friends of your parents, and children of your second tier guests. There are both pros and cons to allowing children to attend your wedding, just decide what works best for your vision. Although it may seem tough to exclude them, it’s perfectly fine to only invite children who are part of you or your fiance’s families, or those of close family friends. Just because you want your nephew at your wedding doesn’t mean you must have everyone else’s nephew.
Trimming Your List
When you know how many guests you can afford, as well as how many will fit comfortably in your venue, you can start cutting your guest list from the third tier up. You’ll save potential hurt feelings by eliminating entire groups of people (say coworkers), rather than inviting just a few. That being said, if someone is truly important to you, of course you should invite them.
An alternative to giving someone an invite to your wedding is to send them an announcement of your wedding. This is a good way to avoid hurt feelings and can make them feel special by sharing in your joy.
How Do I Account For “Plus Ones”?
Something that can make things complicated is whether or not to allow your wedding guests to bring a “plus one”. One way to decide this is to allow for a guest only if you have socialized with them as a couple. Another thing to think about is if anyone in your first tier list is single now, but you anticipate them getting married or being in a serious relationship with someone at the time of your wedding, you may want to include a “plus one” on their invitation. The rules are also different for your wedding party – they should always be given the option to bring a date.
How Many Invitations Should I Order?
You only need to order one wedding invitation per household, not one per guest. So, for example, if you are inviting your brother and his wife to your wedding, you only need one invite for them together. Also, it is a good standard to order six extra invitations for last minute guests, and in case you forget to invite someone.
Remember, your wedding guest list should focus on the people who matter most to you now. It is not an excuse to invite everyone you have ever known. Follow these tips to help you minimize the chaos of creating a guest list for your special day!