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9 Of The Best Tips For Organising Your Wedding Guest List

Beat your guest list anxiety with our helpful advice.

9 Of The Best Tips For Organising Your Wedding Guest List

Let’s clear something up – there’s no easy or simple way to organise a wedding guest list.

Putting together your wedding guest list is probably one of the tasks you’re fearing the most. And it’s true. There’s lots of things to consider. Feelings that might get hurt, and not to mention the complications that could develop.

You can’t please everyone. That’s something you have to realise when you first start to plan your wedding. But we have a process you can follow to organise your wedding guest list in the best way possible. Then once you do this, you can move onto the fun stuff! So let’s get going.

1. Look at the numbers

There is one crucial thing you need to do before you even start looking at who to invite. You need to work out how many people you CAN invite.

If you already have an idea of a venue, check with them about how many people you can have. If you’re having a destination wedding, you’ll want to think about accommodation. Think about what kind of wedding you want and the budget you have available. For instance, a big blowout is going to look a lot different than an initmate gathering.

Many elements of a wedding depend on a cost-per-head basis, so your budget is going to be the biggest factor. When you’ve thought about these aspects, work out a maximum number of people you can invite and don’t go over it. You want to look out from the top table and know everyone in the room.

2. Ask for advice

A big frustration when it comes to planning your wedding guest list is the politics. Especially if either set of parents are contributing to the wedding. So have a honest discussion about what their thoughts are.

Try not to focus on specific guests here, just general thoughts. Your parents might be happy as long as immediate family members are included. But if someone insists on bringing their own guests, you’ll have to do some compromising. For instance, let’s say your partner’s mum wants to invite their cousin who lives across the world, and your partner has never met them. That’s a red flag right there.

3. Set some rules

Remember how we said in a previous post that setting rules will help you with your budget? It’s the same for your wedding guest list too.

Here are a couple of things to think about:

  • Will you have children at the wedding? Are all children invited or just immediate family?

  • Are you allowing plus ones? For immediate family it’ll be a yes, but if you invite people from work and you’ve never met their partners, that might be a no. Remember – they’re all extra mouths to feed!

What’s important is that you stick to your rules and your vision. If your future inlaws are offended because you’re not inviting some relatives that neither of you have met, that’s okay. As long as you have a valid reason for it, you can explain it. Make sure the rules are the same across both sides.

4. Write everyone down

You’re not thinking about the politics here or even numbers. Write down everyone you can  think of that you’d like to have at your wedding. This is a really valuable piece of advice my parents gave me.

Don’t just think of the present – think of friends you’ve had in the past, colleagues and other relatives. This is also a great way to make sure you don’t forget anyone. And if someone is brought up who isn’t on this list, they definitely shouldn’t make the final list.

5. Split the people up

I know this might seem like a lot of work, but it’s really going to help you. Doing the process in this way will definitely help keep you sane.

You want to take your big list and break it down into categories. We suggest:

  • Immediate family of the bride
  • Extended family of the bride
  • Friends of the bride
  • Immediate family of the groom
  • Extended family of the groom
  • Friends of the groom
  • Family you’ve never met
  • Friends you don’t really see anymore

Then you want to rank those categories in order of importance. So it might be immediately family for both sides first, then extended family and friends, or whichever way you want to structure them.

6. Divide them into lists

Remember – keep personal feelings out of the way. You want to then rank people by putting them in three lists, A, B and C:

  • List A: the must-have people. You know you HAVE to have these people at your wedding.
  • List B: the people you’d really like to have there.
  • List C: the people it would be okay to have but you’re not that bothered about.

7. Do some adding up

Next you want to calculate the totals of each list. Fill the available slots of your wedding guest with people from list A. Then, if you have some places left, move onto list B. Be prepared. You might not even get to list C.

8. Time to eliminate

This is tough, but you’ve got to keep your budget and the vision for your day in mind. You might be able to eliminate whole groups of people (e.g. no colleagues). If not, remember the category list you made earlier? Immediate family comes before extended family and so on, if that’s the order you choose.

Some other things to think about are:

  • When was the last time you spoke? (If it’s been more than a year or two, take them off)
  • Have you spent time with this colleague outside of work?
  • Has your partner met this person?
  • Would your wedding be the same without them?

9. Stick to your rules

Be prepared – you might get a bit of backlash once your invitations are sent out. There might be some hurt feelings and tricky situations.

What a lot of people do is assume they’re invited or assume their partners are invited. Family you’ve never met might be offended. You can’t please everyone but just communicate things clearly.

Word everything clearly (for instance, if you’re not inviting any children). If you’ve decided not to invite colleagues use your budget to explain why. Whatever sticky situations you come across, be sure to say that you’ve clearly thought it through and made your decisions together.


And there you have your 9 steps. Now get to work!

By Holly Sutton


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9 of the best tips for organising your wedding guest list