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  • Writer's pictureAnnette McGuffey

The Art of the Guest List

How to Creating the guest list for your special day can be a delicate affair, and it requires tact and strategy. At the end of the day, this is an event that you will remember forever, and you want to be surrounded by people that will enhance that memory.


1. Address family expectations: First things first, let the parents of the bride and groom know how many people they are allowed to invite before they start calling everyone in their address book. Discuss the expectations of the parents before you settle on a number (so as to avoid hard feelings), but most people suggest that each set of parents be able to invite 25% of your guest list. In this scenario, the bride and groom are responsible for inviting 50% of the guests and their parents are responsible for inviting the other 50%.

2. Start Big: When creating your initial list, dream big. Unless you have a very large budget, you will likely not be able to invite everyone that immediately comes to mind, but on the first draft, include anyone and everyone that you would enjoy having at the wedding, or you feel deserves an invite. Spend a good amount of time on this list so that later, when you think of another potential guest, you can reason that if they weren’t on this first all-inclusive list, they really don’t need to be there.

3. Create Rules to trim by: Start to trim down your all-inclusive list by setting up some rules for yourself and your family.

For example:

Have you seen this person within the last year?

Do you spend time together outside of work?

Has your partner ever met this person?

Would this person invite you to their wedding?

Are you only inviting this person out of a feeling of obligation?

If you could answer yes to any of these questions, then that person is a good candidate for being cut off the guest list. You can also trim down your list by dividing the guests into categories. For example:

Immediate family


Close friends




After doing this you may find that you can eliminate whole categories of people without much question. You may consider cutting your coworkers, or asking the guests to leave their children at home in order to reach your goal number.

4. Do Not Over Invite: Do not invite more guests than your venue can hold under the assumption that some may not be able to attend. Receiving regrets from some of your friends and family is an inevitability, but you never know how many. If your guest list is still too large after you feel you have trimmed it sufficiently, break down your guest list into a primary and a secondary list. Send out the first round of invites to the members of the primary guest list (Family and close friends). Then once you start to receive some regrets, send out more invites to members of the secondary list. Be sure that if you employ this tactic, you do not wait too long to send out the second round of imitations. You don’t want your guests to feel like an afterthought.

5. Make Your Invitations Work For You: Another trick is to type the name of the guests you are inviting on the RSVP cards instead of having a blank line for them to fill in. This will ensure that there are no unexpected plus ones or family members written in that weren’t specifically addressed on the invitation.

6. Stick to Your Guns: Lastly, always have a response prepared for the unexpected encounters with old friends or acquaintances that may assume they are invited to your wedding. Budget and venue are two limiting factors that most people can understand, so it’s always better to be straightforward and avoid hard feelings later.


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