Key Points for Creating a Guest List

Expert planner Mistyka Garcia offers helpful list tips.

Key Points for Creating a Guest List

Photo: Maloman Studios

Steve Finley wedding at The Grand del Mar

Creating a list of wedding invitees is one of the first and most important steps in the planning process. A wedding is one of the rare occasions when you can get all of your favorite people in the same place at the same time. Although this is very exciting, your guest list can also turn into your first wedding challenge. Before you start the process, you and your fiancé should discuss and agree upon a few key points:

Your limit. The number of attendees you decide upon can sometimes be influenced by religion, culture or family background. However, remember that your guest list directly affects your wedding budget as well as your potential options for wedding locations. There is typically a 10% “cannot attend” response for in-town guests and 20% for out-of-town guests, so keep that in mind.

Your standards. Once you’ve deciding on a limit, you’ll want to create some guidelines before moving forward. Are you going to include kids? Should single guests be allowed to bring a date? These are important decisions to make in advance, and the choice is ultimately yours. One of the quickest ways to raise the ire of guests is to invite some children to attend while excluding others, so make a choice as to whether or not children are welcome, and then stick to it across the board. The best way of tackling the issue of singles is to limit plus-ones to guests who are in a serious long-term relationship and/or living with someone. Tell your other unmarried friends that there will be plenty of other singles to mingle with, and it could be their lucky night!

Your division. When it comes to distributing the number of guests, you and your fiancé should make your list first, then split the remaining invitations between the parents of the bride and the groom. If either set of parents is divorced, they should split their number between them. In some instances it is a wise idea to provide parents with a lower number of invites, because no matter how many invites you give them, they will undoubtedly come and ask for more.

Your organization. Many brides ask about creating a “B” list, and although this can get tricky, it can be done successfully if you handle it carefully and in a way that won’t be obvious. I recommend creating your guest list in an excel spreadsheet, and dividing it into an “A” section and “B” section. Send your save-the-date cards to your “A” list only. Once you begin receiving feedback on attendance from the buzz of your save-the-date, you can begin to add guests from your “B” list onto the invitation mailing list. You can also update RSVPs, find duplicates, and add pertinent information about each guest (such as preferred meal) in your spreadsheet as well.

Overall, be prepared for some negotiations! If you keep the process as fair as possible and remain clam throughout, you will get through all of these steps successfully!

Opening photograph by True Photography Weddings