Create your wedding guest list without overextending your invites

For many engaged couples, one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning is determining who should be invited. Finding the balance between inviting all of the important people in your lives to share your special day with, while at the same time keeping the guest list at a manageable number to avoid exceeding the wedding budget can be overwhelming for many couples. However, by following these guidelines on managing your guest list, couples can learn to avoid many of the pitfalls that lead to guest list headaches.


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  • divide guests into must, should, and could lists
  • tell your parents how many guests they are able to invite in advance
  • follow the one year rule
  • start creating your guest list early
  • address invitations accordingly

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  • feel pressured to allow all single guests to bring a plus one
  • put off the decision regarding whether to invite children
  • invite guests out of guilt
  • invite coworkers you don’t see outside of the office
  • disregard the guest list rules you have in place

Regina Brooks‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do divide guests into must, should, and could lists

Divide your guests into three categories: must invite, should invite, and could invite. The guests on the must list are people that you would wouldn’t get married without their attendance. Most couples place their parents, siblings and close relatives on this list. The Should list includes those that you would notice and be saddened by their absence. This list may include extended family and important friends. Finally, the could list are those extended friends and acquaintances that you wouldn’t mind attending but wouldn’t be upset if they weren’t in attendance.

Do tell your parents how many guests they are able to invite in advance

Your wedding is also an exciting event for your family. Your parents will likely want to invite some of their close friends to share their joy with. To make sure their guest list doesn’t over-power yours, let them know very early in the wedding planning process how many guests they can invite. This will help you avoid having to tell your parents that some of their friends (who they may have been invited by word-of-mouth) are no longer able to attend.

Do follow the one year rule

Sometimes it’s hard to narrow down the list since there are numerous people that have had an impact on some aspect of our lives. To help figure it out, you should follow the one year rule: if you haven’t seen or spoken to the person in the last year or likely won’t see them in the next year, then don’t invite them to the wedding. This helps determine whose attendance is most relevant in the present time.

Do start creating your guest list early

Creating your guest list early in the planning process helps you to create a realistic budget and avoid surprises later. It will also help vendors provide you with an accurate proposal. Keep in mind that costs such as entrees, chair and linen rentals, and the number of centerpieces is directly related to the number of guests and tables at your event. It’s easy to invite 10 extra guests, but when you realize that change adds 10 meals, 10 chairs, 10 napkins, 1 table cloth and an additional centerpiece, the costs of your extra guests can easily exceed $1,200.

Do address invitations accordingly

If you are not inviting a plus-one for each guest or decide to not invite children, your invitations should be specifically addressed to reflect this. Invitations should be addressed with only the name of the person you’d like to have as a guest. For example, if you want to invite your close friend but not the man she started dating 2 weeks ago, only her name should be on the invitation. Most guests will understand that only those listed are invited to the wedding and be less likely to show up with extra guest that you did not account for.

Regina Brooks‘s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not feel pressured to allow all single guests to bring a plus one

Engaged couples often feel that they are required to invite their single friends along with a guest. This just isn’t true. If you have friends that are casually dating, you aren’t obligated to invite a plus one. However, it is proper etiquette to allow a plus one for engaged couples or those in long term relationships.

Do not put off the decision regarding whether to invite children

hen determining how many guests to invite it’s important to decide if children will be included on your list. This will determine how many adult guests you have room to invite. You shouldn’t invite some guests’ children over others as it can cause hurt feelings. It’s proper to invite the children in your bridal party to your adult-only reception.

Do not invite guests out of guilt

Once you announce your engagement to your family, friends and social network community, people will begin to ask about your wedding date and location. Unfortunately, many will be people you haven’t spoken to in years. Don’t invite your best friend from middle school that you haven’t spoken to since 8th grade because you two have been reminiscing over the fun times you used to have. Do not succumb to the pressure of the nostalgia. Remember that your wedding is an event in the present that should be shared with those that have been with you during this part of your journey.

Do not invite coworkers you don’t see outside of the office

Many couples feel pressured to invite their co-workers to their wedding since they spend a significant time with them at work. However, only invite co-workers that you spend time with outside the office as they are more likely intimate friends and have been with you during this time. Don’t feel pressured to invite someone because you run into them at the water cooler at 2pm everyday and only exchange niceties!

Do not disregard the guest list rules you have in place

Once you and your fiance have decided on how rules for inviting guests, it’s important that you stick to them in order to keep the guest list (and your budget) at a reasonable size and decrease wedding planning stress. Deviating from your rules can cause unexpected budget increases, confusion and hurt feelings.


Guest list can quickly become a headache for any newly engaged couple, but they don’t have to be. By properly managing the guest list, couples can not only experience a less stressful wedding planning process, but also enjoy a wonderful wedding day with the people most important to you.

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