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The Art of Creating a Guest List

Congratulations! You’re engaged to the love of your life! The time has come to plan your big day! For many couples this begins with sitting down and creating your guest list. While this is definitely not the most fun part of the planning process, I’d rather go taste cakes any day, it absolutely necessary. This is the first step in figuring out your budget, venue and even when your wedding will be.

Don’t worry, I am here to help you escape those excel nightmares! With just a few tips, you can sail through this part as smoothly as possible and stay stress free!

1) Bridgerton or Vegas Chapel

Sit down with your fiancé and decide the type of feel you want for your wedding. Do you want something intimate? A big bash? Or do you want to escape it all and run off to the other side of the world and say, “I Do!” on a beach or mountain somewhere? Once you decide the vibe you’re going for you can move to the next questions. Will this be kid-friendly? Will you have a fancy sit down dinner? Would you rather spend a larger amount of money on other details like entertainment, centerpieces or the most amazing sea bass ever?

2) 123’s

After deciding the type of wedding you and your fiancé want, decide on a target headcount.

3) Talk it out!

With your final target number of guests ready, it’s time to sit with your loved ones or anyone whose opinion is important to you and ask them if there is anyone they would like to invite. Sometimes, this can be a little tricky, especially if they will be helping financially. Make sure you make expectations clear up front so that there are not any surprises later. Plan on dividing the guest list to where you get half, and each set of loved ones gets a quarter. This can help make this part of the guest list making process as stress-free as possible.

4) ABC’s

Make that dream guest list! Invite everyone you love, your BFFs, Sheila in accounting and anyone else that is absolutely important to you. Look at the total count. Is it anywhere near what you had originally planned? If not, then it’s time to make cuts! You will want to divide your guest list into 2 categories. A-list (close family, close friends, wedding party), B-list (co-workers, distant relatives, friends you have not seen in a while but still want to attend). A-list will receive first round of invites and once you get the “not attending” responses, send out to the B-list. Remember B-list isn’t for your hairdresser’s cat sitter, it’s for those you still want to share the special day with!

5) The Plus One’s

Remember when I said to make expectations clear? This is a big one! If your guests are not engaged, together for years or in the wedding party, I would say no. Food costs can be upward of $100/ per person, so if your budget doesn’t allow for your Aunt Mary to bring her 3 boyfriend this week to the wedding, just say NO! Besides, with other singles guest ready to mingle she may end up meeting the love of her life! (As long as they don’t get engaged during the reception, we are good!)

6) Kids Table?

If having a kid-friendly event wasn’t a part of your dream wedding, then make sure you make this clear. It’s okay to be firm and say that it is an adult-only event. This is your wedding day! Create an age cutoff, like kids 14 and up okay. This of course excludes any adorable littles in your wedding party.

If you are having a kid-friendly event, make sure you add them to the total headcount and communicate this to your caterer.

7) Boundaries

Stick to them. Real story: My mom insisted that not only her boss and his wife were invited to the wedding AND to stay for the “family only” events planned, but their neighbors too because she didn’t want them to feel left out. To a situation like this, I impart my advice. Say no and stick to it. I told her that if she wanted to invite them, she could but would have to foot the bill for everything they did. Crazy thing happened… she said “never mind Mija! This is for family only!” [INSERT BIGGEST EYE ROLL EVER]

Try to compromise, and if it doesn’t work, stick to your guns! Be ready for any awkward conversations that may happen by having a polite but firm response that can't be misinterpreted ready to go. Something like "We’d love to invite everyone, but unfortunately, with the venue space, and our budget, we aren't able to." Then, change the subject and move on!

Now with your final guest list in hand, you can kick back, relax and cheers to tackling this wedding planning task!

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