Tips for Finalizing Your Guest List

There are many exciting things about wedding planning but finalizing your guest list is not one of them. Between the people you, your SO and your family want to invite, things can get messy and expensive – fast. How many people can your venue hold? Who’s paying for the wedding? What’s your budget?

Here are some tips to help you out:

1.    Put together your ideal guest list. Imagine a situation where budget and capacity aren’t an issue and put together a list of anyone you would want celebrating with you. Use the tips below to narrow it down.

2.    Split the invites. Decide on a number of guests you, your SO and your parents can each invite. Consider who’s paying for the wedding because that person should have the most flexibility. Make sure to set these rules early on and agree on a number that is fair for everyone – especially you and your SO.

3.    Set boundaries. Narrowing down your invites can be tough between the people you’re currently close with and those who used to be your besties. Friendship is a two-way street so if neither of you has made any effort to stay in touch in the last year or so, and don’t plan to, you don’t have to send them an invitation.  

4.    A-list and B-list. Like celebrities, some people in our lives take higher precedence than others. Take your master list and start to break it down: your must-have attendees are your A-list and those you would really like to celebrate with but aren’t as close to round out your B-list. We know this sounds awful but it’s a helpful way to trim your list objectively – just make sure you don’t tell anyone they were your second string.

5.    Co-workers. This one’s tricky and depends on your workplace. If you spend time with specific co-workers in a social environment (you’re real friends in real life), then it’s completely understandable to invite them and not those that you don’t. If you plan on inviting your boss, or you work for a small company, make sure you’re mindful of the rest of the higher-ups. Don’t pick and choose from a group of people you’re equally friendly with – either invite them all, none or just your boss.

6.    Plus ones. Everyone in your wedding party should have the option to bring a guest because it’s proper etiquette. Consider implementing rules for the rest of your guests. If you’re living together, engaged or married, you get a +1. Exception to this rule is if you know your friends SO well and they don’t fall into any of the above categories. If you go this route, make sure you stick to it so you’re being fair to everyone.  

7.    Children. This is an all-or-nothing deal. Don’t invite your first cousins but leave out your BFF’s kids. With the exception of your immediate family, either allow anyone with kids to bring them or be clear that it is an adult-only wedding.

8.    They invited you. The short answer is yes, you should invite them. But there’s an exception – if their wedding was years ago and you haven’t kept in touch, or your wedding is smaller, it’s okay to leave them off your guest list. If you go with the latter, be mindful of mutual friends and situations that could potentially make this awkward.

9.    Can’t decide. Have you sat down for dinner or drinks with these people in the last year? Do you plan to? If the answer is no then the answer is no. If you think there’s a slight chance you’d regret it, add them to the B-list. 

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