Creating Your Wedding Guest List

If your wedding fever is anywhere near as extreme as ours, you’ll still want to be shouting out your love from the rooftops and trying to invite everyone and their mother to the big day. But, as your friends who remain unafflicted with WF (wedding fever) are probably telling you, this just isn’t feasible. And get off that rooftop! You’re scaring us. 

Deciding on the size of your wedding is an absolutely fundamental stepping stone to organising the rest of the event. To help out, we’ve put together a list of handy hints to narrow down a guest list, taking into consideration financial and logistic variables along the way.  


Put a Lid On It

As metioned before, a natural inclination is to tell everybody about the upcoming nuptials. Avoid doing this until you’ve finalised the guests list, so as to avoid awkwardness or resentment from those who were told about the wedding, assumed they’d be invited, and were ultimately put out when they saw the pictures on Facebook. Tell all of your closest friends and family who already know about the plans to keep mum until a little later on. 

Crunch the Numbers

A great way to begin is by first working out how many guests you can afford. Once you’ve worked out this number, assign 50% to the bride and groom, and 25% to each set of parents (or 25% per family side in the case of multiple or less parents). You may want to adjust the numbers depending on who’s paying for the wedding. If one party has more assigned spots than they need, they (or you) can redistribute them as you see fit. 

Use Your ABCs to Divide and Conquer

Divide all potential guests into :

   -‘Absolutely have to have’ (ususally consists of close family and friends)

  – ‘(would) Be very nice to have’ (friends, friends of the family and coworkers)

  – ‘Can conceivably do without’ (distant relatives, old friends, Mrs Figg next door)

This is one of the simplest, most pain free methods of narrowing down your list. If you find these categories a little broad, you can apply further subcategories (such as the accounting department at work) and decide on whom you’d like to invite/ not invite  either individually, or which groups as a whole. On the other hand, if you find your budget allows for it, the more the merrier! 

Get Organised Online

Create a spreadsheet of invitees, and add in ‘RSVP’, ‘meal preference’, ‘allergies/ special requirements’, ‘gift’ and ‘thank-you note sent?’ columns. Putting it online (see our bevvy of specially built tools for this very purpose) will mean that you can access and adjust it from just about wherever you are. 

Take Your Venue Into Account

Your dream guest list may be 350 people long, but will that amount fit into the boutique reception venue you’ve had your heart on? You bet your organised bum it won’t. Choose whether a specific venue will take precedence over your dream guest list. 

Apply the One-Year Rule

This one applies to mainly to friends that live in the same city as you. Haven’t seen or spoken to them in the past year? Chances are that you haven’t seen them for a reason, and that nope, it’s not necessary to invite them. 

Are You Including Children?

You’ll have to decide whether your wedding will be kiddie- friendly or not. Here’s a great resource for helping you narrow down that decision, FYI.  If you do want to invite the littlees, and anticipate a large number of under 10s, you’ll need to keep them on watch and occupied throughout the entirety of your wedding. Consider:

– hiring a babysitter to sit with them throughout the ceremony (even if this is done in a separate room or area)
– set up a children’s table or room at the reception, complete with colouring mats or books, crayons, favours, small toys and games
– consider hiring an entertainer specifically for the kids, such as a magician, clown or caricaturist
– preparing special (and cheaper) kid’s meals they’ll be more likely to enjoy. 

If you weren’t planning on inviting kids, try to indicate this with your invitations themselves. Address your invitation to Mr and Mrs Prewett, and not ‘The Prewett Family’, for example. If you notice that someone hasn’t gotten the message and RSVP’d with their kids, give them a phone call and explain your preferences as politely as possible. 

Include Names on the RSVP Cards

The myth of guests cramming multiple names on to a single person’s RSVP is, sadly, a very real phenomenon. People have some serious chutzpah! Avoid this awkward situation and inevitable, incovenient follow- up phone call by having your guests’ names written or printed on the RSVP cards already. If they’re silly enough to think that they can still try to pull this old trick, at least you’ll feel far more justified in calling them out on it. 

Working it Out

Inviting people from work is one of the most stressful aspects of narrowing down the invitation- but surprisingly, has one of the easiest solutions. Subscribe to the ‘all or nothing’ rule, unless you have a clear friends you see out of the office. The only exception in this equation is your boss- always invite them. Whilst it is perfectly acceptable to not invite anyone from work, it is absolutely not acceptable to blather on your plans or how great the event was at lunchtime. It reads, frankly, as rubbing your workmates’ faces in their lack of invitation.

No ‘Invitation by Association’

Just because you happened to have invited the majority of one firnedship group does not mean that you’re compelled to invite the rest. On your day, you should be surrounding yourself with people that know you and are there to celebrate your relationship. This isn’t a Year 9 party thrown while your parents are away, and more is certainly not merrier. Don’t be guilted by what others think you ‘should’ perhaps be doing. 

Plus One-ing It

Offer the much lusted- after ‘+1’ sparingly, and with caution. This should apply if you’ve either socialised with both persons making up the couple, or if your guest has been with that person for over a year/ is living with them. If someone asks if they can bring someone along when you haven’t included a +1 for them, let them know as diplomatically as you can that this decision was a particularly difficult one to make, but that for budgetary reasons, you’ve unfortunately not been able to include many friends and colleagues. Let them know that there are several other people in this position, so they’re not alone. 


An excellent general rule of thumb is that anyone who’s been invited to your engagement party, wedding shower or hen’s night should be invited to the wedding.

FYI: Regrets are generally 20-30%, depending on the number of people you’re inviting and the distances they’ll have to travel.

Remember that at the end of the day your wedding is just that- yours. Take care toinvite people who you would love to have at your wedding ceremony, and enjoy the day with the people you love the most!