I’m back with the latest post in my How to Plan You Wedding series and today it’s all about creating your guest list.

Fun as it is to begin thinking  about who you’ll share your big day with it can also be tough when challenges arise or tough decisions need to be made. Fear not as I’ve put together this post to guide you through the process step by super-easy step so grab a notebook & pen (or add a new tab to that wedding spreadsheet!) and let’s get stuck in.

1 // Begin by listing out everybody that you could possibly want to invite to your wedding be it family, friends or colleagues. Don’t forget to include yourselves too! For any children add their ages as they will be at the date of the wedding (unless of course you have decided you won’t have children in attendance)

2 // At this stage it’s wise to consult your parents if they are contributing financially towards the day.  They may wish or expect to have an input into who is invited; the amount of involvement will probably correlate to the value of their contribution.

3 // Next allocate one of the following 3 categories to each guest; the wedding just wouldn’t happen without them (let’s call them the ‘Must Haves’), you really want them to be there (herein known as the ‘Want to Haves’) and you would like to have them in attendance if space and/or budget allows (a.k.a the ‘Nice to Haves’)

4 // Now review the total number of guests on the list against the capacity of your venue/s (if you already know where you will say I do) and/or the catering element of your budget. If the numbers tally then congrats – you have your guest list! If not then you’ll want to keep reading….

5 // Should you need to reduce your guest list go back to those who you categorised as ‘Nice to Have’ in step 3 and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I seen them in the last year or for colleagues, have you ever spent time together outside of work in the last year?
  • Has your partner ever met this person? (or vice versa if the guest is an invitee of your fiance?)
  • Are they likely to be in your lives going forward?
  • Did they invite you to their wedding (reciprocal invites are not mandatory by any means but it can feel easier to exclude someone whose wedding you didn’t attend)

The more ‘no’ answers that apply to a guest the easier it will be to justify removing them from the list. If you are way over your target guest number then you may need to discount the ‘Nice to Have’ list entirely and apply the questions above to your ‘Want to Have’ list as well.

6 // Instead of the ‘list’ method you could consider the following approaches instead to see if they achieve your target guest number:

  • Review the plus ones and set a rule that only those in long-term or serious relationships will bring their partner
  • Limit invites to only your immediate families children or only to children over a certain age
  • For large extended family consider applying a limit of first cousins only

7 // Keep a note of anyone who didn’t make it onto your list as you may need to refer to it at a later date. The chances are that not everyone who is invited in the first round will be able to attend in which case you could add further guests in.  Just don’t leave it too long as it will be apparent that they weren’t top choice.

8 // I would advise against inviting more people than you can accommodate or afford on the hope that some won’t be able to make it. Though it’s highly unlikely that everyone will accept it could just happen and you’ll be forced to overspend or worse, have to rescind some invitations.

9 // If you are forced to eliminate a large portion of your dream guest list then you consider inviting them to the ceremony only (assuming the venue size restrictions only apply to your reception). You could even host drinks and canapes at the ceremony venue to help these guests feel included in the celebration.

10 // Lastly accept that some people may be offended by your decisions. This is unavoidable but can usually be limited through open and clear communication. You’ll probably know who will take the news badly and who will be more agreeable to it so consider a phone call or handwritten note to the former to help ease any discomfort.

If you’re grappling with your guest list then do get in touch and I can help get you back on track.

Don’t forget to pop back for the next post in the series too when it will be time to talk wedding venues!



Wedding Ceremony: Jarusha Brown Photography
Wedding Guests: Brosnan Photographic


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About the Author

Rachael is a UKAWP accredited wedding planner and the owner of Lovestruck. Based in Berkshire, she’s been helping couples across London and the South East to plan their perfect wedding since 2012.

She loves epic checklists, heartfelt wedding details and country walks (as long as they end at the pub.)

Her dislikes include all flying insects, bad timekeeping and most wedding chair covers.

Get in touch today and tell me all about
your wedding plans.

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