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  • Writer's pictureEmily Gustafson

#wednesdaywisdom - The guest list

Updated: Apr 11, 2019

Our topic today has to be one of the hardest tasks that goes into planning any event - but especially planning a wedding. Today we are talking about creating a guest list and I'll be sharing some tips on how to make that big job a little easier. It's a touchy subject, but I hope this gives you some guidance to creating a memorable and loving wedding party.

First and foremost, you have to choose a total number of guests that works for your budget, your venue, and the style of event you are going for, and then you need to remain loyal to that number. If your venue holds 200, well then, 200 it is! But how do you choose who makes the list and who doesn't? Here are some tips:

Always on the list:

- immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that you keep in touch with),

- extended family (if you keep in contact with your distant cousins and relatives, then invite them too),

- your friends (of course! best friends, hometown friends, work friends - people you're close to)

- family friends (your parents' besties - talk to your parents about people that they would like to be invited and then discuss)

Now, there are some points to discuss within this group of people who are always on the list. First, these should be people who are or have been a big part of your life. I'm not saying you have to invite distant relatives you've never met.

Also, you have to think about the plus ones. Does every single guest get a plus one or are you instituting the "no ring, no bring" policy? That's for you to decide based on the factors mentioned above (budget, venue size, event style).

Kids are another subject that must be discussed. Will you be asking guests to find a babysitter for children 12 and under? Or will the kids table be bumping? Either option is totally acceptable, but it needs to be decided early so that the information can be included with the invitations. Giving your guests lots of notice about your policy on children is the right thing to do.

The "cushion:"

There is a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to the number of regrets that you'll receive once the invites go out. It's really rare that everyone who received an invitation will be able to make it to your weddings, and generally you can expect about 10% of the responses to the invitation to be "regrets." *

So, if your family demands that you invite Great Aunt Charlene, even though you've never met her, and she's throwing off your numbers completely, just remember - there's a decent chance she'll send her regrets.

As you receive regrets, those names are taken off of your list and you get can a more realistic view of your wedding attendance. Sending out a "save the date" card can help keep the number of people who cannot attend the event down as well.

Here is where a new and interesting phenomenon has come into place in the last few years - the A list and the B list. Some couples have decided to send out a second round of invitations to those might not have been on the "must invite" list as regrets come in from the first batch of invites. That way, people who you weren't sure if you'd be able to invite due to space/budget limitations receive an invitation to the wedding afterall.

The risk in this is that the word gets out to the "B List" people and there can be some hurt feelings about being delegated to the second tier. However, it does make it possible to send out invitations to those who might not have been included otherwise. Food for thought!

Keeping the peace while making "the list:"

1. Do not invite people that you run into at the grocery store. Even if you and Shorty were best buddies back in school, don't verbally invite him if he didn't get a real invitation.

2. Try to keep the number of attendees chosen by both families as balanced as possible.

3. RSVP's will come in by every method possible. In a perfect world, everyone would use the little card or click the little link, but baby this world ain't perfect. Responses will come via card, email, text, phone, carrier pigeon, you get the point. Keep a little running list somewhere and write them down as soon as they come in if they aren't in the anticipated form (little card or online).

4. Make sure your counts are correct. When it comes to the venue - include all kids, plus ones, the wedding party, and the bride and groom. For food don't forget your vendors as well! They get hungry too and they'll love you for thinking of them.

Whew! Making a guest list is a big job, but you've got this! I encourage you to work with a wedding planning professional (like me) to help you manage your list and create a system of tracking RSVP's that works for you and keeps you on track.

Happy planning!


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