Planning a wedding is an exciting time for both partners involved – there’s all the parties, dinners, cake testing, flowers, dress/suit picking, and venues to plan and decide on. But, when it comes to making a guest list, things can get tricky. Who do you choose to invite to your special day? And who do you choose to leave out? To avoid any hurt feelings, we have gathered some top wedding guest list tips to keep those who matter most at the forefront of your wedding day.
First thing’s first: get an estimate of what your budget will be. Before you start making a list, it’s important to figure out how much you can spend per head cost. The bigger the budget, the more guests you’ll be able to invite. Keep in mind that a smaller guest list means less costs on catering, table/chair rentals, and party favours. This would also be a good time to find out if your parents/families are willing to contribute to the overall cost.
If you have venue already in mind for your dream wedding, be sure to inquire about their seating capacity. This can be a huge deal breaker if you have a large guest list, but not enough space for accommodation. Choose a venue that reflects both your anticipated guest list and budget. Too big of a venue and a small guest list will having you paying more for wasted space.
Rule of Thirds
Couples usually follow the rule of thirds when setting up a guest list. This means that 1/3 of the list is given to the bride’s family, a third to the groom’s family, and the other third to the couple’s friends. This is a good way to break down costs if both families are financially involved, but shouldn’t be heavily relied on. Things can get complicated if one family is covering most of the bill, but in the end, both families should have an equal and fair say in who they wish they’d like to attend.
Regardless on who is paying what, if you and your partner wish to have a more intimate wedding without long-lost cousins and family friends whom you’ve both never met, be sure to inform your families well in advance. This prevents any pre-anticipated and awkward wedding talk that can occur between you and those other guests.
Elizabeth Howell of the Emily Post institute mentions: “It’s best to treat each family according to the closeness (and the reality) of that family’s ties. Your family won’t be as aware of the family-tree breakdown on his side; but should they discover that his first cousins were included while yours were not, there’s a simple reply: “His family is much closer than ours is.”
“And Guest”/ Plus one
Giving your guest the option of a “plus one” can be costly if it is not in the budget. While it is often common courtesy to invite the wife or husband of a guest, don’t feel completely guilty if you choose not to. If you decide not to give your guests the “plus one” option, be prepared for a declined RSVP, especially if it isn’t a close friend or family member. Guests often feel more comfortable when their significant other is in attendance, especially in larger weddings, but that’s just worst-case scenario. They say it is best to invite a significant other if they are married, or more commonly now, if they’re living together. If you’ve never met the date, we wouldn’t worry about putting them on the list.
Having a bunch of kids running around on your wedding day may seem like the least of your worries, but it is something to strongly consider. Children need to be accounted for in the food/drink budget since it can add up if there are many little ones in your group of family and friends. Although having an adults-only wedding can seem a bit harsh to those with families, it is in your best interest to keep costs low after-all. Even consider offering someone that can help babysit and watch the kids the day of the wedding.
We all dread having to invite someone just because they invited you to theirs. But, it is common etiquette to send an invitation to a guest in return if you have attended one of their special days. If there’s been a significant gap in-between both celebrations or if you’ve simply lost touch then there is no real pressure in extending the invite.
We hope these tips helped solve your wedding guest list dilemma. It can be hard to narrow down a list, but when placed with a specific budget, guests should be limited. After all, it is your special day and those in attendance will be the ones to remember!
For more tips advice check out these helpful guides:
Bridal Guide: Get a Handle on Your Guest List
Martha Stewart Weddings: Your Wedding Guest List Etiquette Questions Answered
The Knot: Tips for Making Your Guest List