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How to start a wedding guest list

One of the most stressful parts of organising a wedding is the guest list. But where do you start?

You don’t want to annoy anyone, you don’t want to leave anyone out, and you definitely DO want your closest friends and family members there. But sometimes, family members begin to take over. You’ve got your Mum asking if so-and-so is coming and the best man has randomly invited his own plus one.

You need to sit down and decide exactly who you will and won’t be inviting. So, where do you start?

First, you need to consider how many people your venue can actually hold. The average UK wedding has around 120 guests but if your venue only allows 50 during the ceremony, you’ll need to keep this in mind before you invite over 100 guests.

Then, you need to think about the expense. Can you afford to feed all your guests twice? If the answer is no, consider getting married later, like 4pm, so your guests only have to be fed once OR cut down the number of people you want to invite.

Once you’ve decided how many people you can afford to invite, you can get stuck in with your list.

 

Create your columns

Before you start writing down names, you should use a piece of paper (or a Word document) to create three columns: A, B and C.

Your A list is the people you couldn’t imagine your wedding day without. Think about close friends and family that absolutely have to be at the ceremony.

Your B list is the people you’d like to invite but it isn’t the end of the world if they don’t come. This could be work colleagues, extended family members or friends that you haven’t spoken to or seen in a couple of years.

Your C list is like your reserve list. It’s the list of people that you’d like to be there but don’t currently have the space or budget for. If people from the A and B list can’t make it, then the people on your C list can get bumped up.

 

Think about who you know and where to put them

Now you have your A, B and C columns, you can start writing names into each one. Don’t forget to include yourselves! It’s likely this guest list will go to the caterers and you don’t want to leave the two most important people without food.

Don’t feel bad about putting people on the reserve list – you can’t invite everyone.

You should also remember to split the guest list 50/50 – you should choose 50% of the guests and your partner the other 50%. If you or your partner has a particularly big family, you could split it 60/40 but try to keep things as fair as possible.

 

Who to invite

If you’re struggling with who to invite, I’ve given you some helpful suggestions below!

Parents

Grandparents

Siblings

Nieces

Nephews

Step-parents

Step/half-siblings

Aunties

Uncles

Cousins

Great-Grandparents

University/college/school friends

Work colleagues

Friends you’ve met through hobbies, i.e. the gym/football

 

Who not to invite

There are some people that you shouldn’t invite, so have a think about the following when creating your guest list.

Don’t invite a friend or friends if you haven’t spoken to them or seen them in more than two years. The wedding is not a good time to catch up (you’ll be trying to talk to everyone so a long-depth conversation isn’t going to happen).

If you don’t want children at your wedding, that’s fine. Just be sure to let the parents know in plenty of time so they can arrange for a babysitter. If you don’t want children there, just address the invitation to the parents.

Don’t invite someone if you or your partner have never met or spoken to them.

Don’t invite people because you feel guilty. Maybe they invited you to their wedding, or they’re friends with lots of other people who are attending, but if you don’t really know or like them, don’t invite them.

dark blue wedding invitations on a white and gold background

 

How do you sent invitations to your reserve list?

You need to remember that people on your C list shouldn’t know they’re on your C list. If you’ve had a few people RSVP to say they can’t make it, you need to start inviting people from the reserve list. But, you can’t invite them two weeks before the wedding. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to make it and they’ll know they were second best. You’ll also need to change the RSVP deadline on your invitations. If the deadline has passed, this is a dead giveaway that they were reserves.

You should send out your invitations around six months before the wedding. Then, send your reserve invitations around three months before the wedding.