Sorting your wedding guest list should be one of your first wedding planning tasks, as it will have a huge effect on your budget and venue choice. Once you’ve worked out how many wedding guests you want to invite, you can tweak your wedding plans accordingly!
Before you start making your guest list you need to sit down with your groom and make sure you are singing from the same song sheet. Are you both planning on having the small intimate wedding or does one of you have the vision of a huge bash? Once you have established this, it will be easier to select your wedding guests.
It can be slightly overwhelming deciding who to invite but we recommend listing every person you might want to invite, and then splitting them into three categories to determine who should take priority. Your categories should be:
A-list – these are people who you can’t imagine your day without. Parents, children and best friends.
B-list – people who you would love to attend, but it wouldn’t ruin the day if they had to cancel at the last minute. Family and friends.
C-list – these are people who it would be awkward not to invite, or who it would be nice to have there but you wouldn’t mind if they couldn’t come. Distant relatives, friends you’ve lost contact with, work friends and plus ones.
Once you have listed these categories, you can work out exactly how many people you can afford to invite based on venue restrictions and catering quotes – if you want to invite more people, you may have to look for a larger venue or a cheaper caterer to ensure that you don’t go over budget.
This can be a tough process, but it’s crucial to get it sorted early, as it will inform most of your wedding decisions. Set aside an afternoon to hash it out. You’ll need to talk to your groom about how you are going to invite difficult relatives and friends, whether you want children at the wedding, and how many work friends you’re going to include. If your parents have contributed significantly to the wedding budget, then they may want some say in the list, or to invite some close friends of theirs. Traditionally, the guest list would be made up of a third the groom’s parents’ guests, a third the bride parents’ guests, and a third the couple’s guests, but this has mostly changed for modern weddings.
When it comes to inviting children, either invite them all, or not at all. It is absolutely fine to hold a child-free wedding, but bear in mind that parents may choose not to attend if this is the case, especially if the children are fairly young. We find that lots of brides make exceptions for babes-in-arms or breastfeeding mothers, as babies can’t be left alone. If you want to reduce the number of younger guests without causing offence, then picking a midweek date during term time is an easy way to do this – but be aware that parents may have to leave early or arrange childcare as a result of this.
Lastly, do not feel as if you have to invite plus ones for single people, as it quickly starts to add to your budget and you may end up with strangers in your wedding photos. However, it is good wedding etiquette to extend plus-ones to married, engaged or long-term couples. Some couples operate on a ‘no ring, no bring’ policy when it comes to plus ones, but be aware that you may upset long-term cohabiting couples this way!
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