How to Create Your Wedding Guest List

Wedding reception and dinner setup at Villa Terrace based on your wedding guest list

One of the hardest parts of planning your wedding day can be how to create your wedding guest list. Who to invite? Who to skip?

It can be difficult to figure it out and make everyone happy. A lot of people can have an opinion on who you should invite to your weddings (especially parents – whether or not they’re helping pay for your big day). Here’s a few tips to help you get started, and also narrow it down.

First things first, you’ll want to decide a few things ahead of time, or use these to narrow down your wedding guest list again at the end.

Wedding guests giving a speech to bride and groom at Villa Terrace

What to consider when deciding how to create your wedding guest list:

Will you have children in attendance? Are you including all children, or only immediate children in your family/those you see often (nieces, nephews, bffs)?

What is your rule on “plus 1s?” Can anyone bring a “+1?” Or only certain people (for example those with long-term spouses and those who are married)?

What is the COMFORATBLE guest capacity at your venue? **I suggest making a guest list before you choose your venue – or at least a rough draft – so you’re able to accommodate everyone you must have in attendance on your most important day**

Estimate with a few catering companies what the average cost for beverages, hors d’oeuvres, and dinner packages are per person. Are you going to have an open bar? An open bar for cocktail hour? Only beer and wine? Maybe soda/coffee, and a cash bar only? This will help you decide your average cost per person so you know when you’re at your guest list limit for your budget.

Wedding guests clapping during speeches at Villa Terrace

Next, you’ll want to make a few categories of guests.

Start with an “immediate family” list, “extended family” list, and “friends list.” Then, go ahead and make a star or mark those who you *know* you absolutely cannot spend your day special day without. Different people have different families, small vs. large, close vs. not so close. Don’t stress about the guest list being equal, but be fair.

Lastly, if you’re on the fence for some guests or distant family, here are a few questions to ask yourself when you create your wedding guest list:

  • Do BOTH you and your partner know the guest? (exception: a best, best friend who may live too far away for you to see often, therefore, you may not have met them yet)
  • If your parents want to invite people (this can be tricky to navigate, more on that soon), do you and your partner actually know them?
  • Have you talked to or seen this person/people in the last year (or even two?)? (see above exception for out-of-state guests)
  • Would you invite this person out to a nice dinner and pay for them?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, especially if you’re running out of room on your list or close to budget, it might be smart to cross them off your list.

Remember – although I’m sure you love everyone in your family, your wedding is not a family reunion.

Some wedding websites will say, “If you invite one aunt, you have to invite the rest of your aunts and uncles!” I definitely don’t see this to be true and find many exceptions to this.

Now, if you have an unlimited budget and are someone who wants to keep the “peace” at every chance you get, go ahead and invite them all. However, I don’t think you should feel bad for inviting only your closest aunts, uncles, or cousins – especially if you are planning on a small or intimate wedding and only want to be surrounded by your most favorite people.

Hopefully this will help you to thoughtfully and easily create your wedding guest list!

Bride and groom dancing surrounded by wedding guests from their guest list
See more of Carly + Jonny’a Villa Terrace wedding here

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