Creating your wedding guest list can be one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning! No one wants to deal with the politics or cut anyone from the list. Negotiating with everyone else who wants to contribute to the list can be a nightmare. Here are some helpful tips on how to create your list and be smart about it.
Start With a Spreadsheet
If you are working with your fiance or others to help with this, you might even consider setting it up as a Google Doc for them all to edit as needed. This way they can see what is needed and help you update it.
In the spreadsheet, you’ll need these columns: Name, Address Line 1, Address Line 2, City/State/Zip, Phone or Email address, Who Invited Them, Attending. The first four are obvious why you need them. The phone or email address is so you can contact the wedding guests if they do not send in their RSVP, or if you need to communicate any changes in wedding plans. The Who Invited Them will help you know who to follow up with if there is missing info.
The “Attending” column is for you or whoever is inviting the guest, to fill in if you think they’ll attend to help you estimate your guest list count for planning purposes. You can ues Yes, No and Maybe for now. Eventually you’ll want to change this to a count for those marked Yes or Maybe so youcan total them up.
Let’s Get FRANK About It
Now that you have the logistics, who do you invite?
- Friends – Think about your friends, in real life and on social media, past and present. Think about groups or clubs you belong to, like sororities or fraternities.
- Relatives – Don’t forget in laws on this one! Check your holiday card list as this might be helpful.
- Acquaintances – These are those people in your life that you see regularly, such as your co-workers or supervisors, your hair stylist, yoga instructor, or your dentist!
- Neighbors – Past and present, neighbors often make the list because of your close relationship growing up.
- Kids – If you have kids, think about anyone they would want to invite, or anyone you are connected to because of them like favorite teachers or babysitters.
Just the Names
When you first start, get down the names of those you want as wedding guests. Details such as addresses can be filled in later. Make sure to use real names instead of nicknames so everyone on the list knows who you have listed. This helps prevent accidental duplicates. Think of this first draft as a wish list. Add everyone you can think of for now, just so you don’t forget anyone! Don’t forget to include yourselves on the list so you are included in the total count.
Time to Guesstimate
Once you have your first draft, now is the time to fill in that “Attending” column and total up all those with a Yes or a Maybe. Want a quick way to do it? Either change the Yes or Maybe to a number (like 1 or 2) and then sum up the column at the bottom. Or, add a second column for the numbers so you still have record of your Yes and Maybe thoughts. Now that you have a number, does that number fit in your venue? How does it affect your budget?
How to Cut
If you need to cut it down, thinking about potential guests in these categories can also help you prioritize your list. Maybe relatives and friends are definitely included, but maybe you limit the acquaintances? Maybe you prioritize those who are present in your daily life over those that are from the past? Or is it the reverse? Come up with some guidelines to help make it easier to choose who to remove from the wedding guest list or add to a “B” list for a later invite if you have room. Make sure to discuss these guidelines with everyone who contributes to the guest list, so you are all aware of how many and who to cut and why.
A Word About Percentages
While some articles may advise you to use a percentage like 80% to estimate who will attend from your invited wedding guest list, we’ve seen that percentage horribly fail before. Our method with estimating each guest on their own makes for a very reliable method. You’ll take into account thing
s like those out of state, pregnancies, financial hardships, military obligations, etc, that a percentage can’t use or know about.
Now For the Details
Once you have your list finalized, you can fill in the details. You’ll want to add in proper titles (if you are using them when addressing or on place/escort cards), spouse and children names, addresses (without abbreviations) and contact information. Here are some deadlines to keep in mind for when you’ll need this info completed:
- Save the dates are usually sent 4-6 months out, so you’ll need your guest list at 7 months to get envelopes addressed in time (whether pre-printed or hand written)
- Invitations are sent 2-3 months out, so you’ll need any address corrections updated by 4 months out to get these envelopes addressed in time.
- Use an rsvp date of one month out from your event, so you have time to use the contact information you gathered to follow up with those who did not rsvp. So make sure this info is current by that one month deadline!
Congratulations, you made it! Want a shortcut to create your spreadsheet? Download our template for free here.