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How to create your wedding guest list!

It’s YOUR special day…but no one wants to rock the boat with leaving out dear old Aunt Mildred or Cousin Bill from the guest list, right? How to cull your guest list without stirring the pot is one of the great enigmas in wedding planning.

Not sure how to create your wedding guest list? We are here to help walk you through a few things to think about when creating the master list of people that you and your partner know and want to invite! Here are a few techniques you can use to cut the guest list down to something more reasonable and dare I say, affordable, easily and swiftly without the added drama. 

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Step 1: Create a master list of everyone that you could potentially want to invite.

  • Family - The easiest way to get started is to consider who you have the strongest relationship with : typically this starts with immediate family, however all families are different so this also may be a place where you consider personal bonds versus your standard family tree. One rule of thumb is that if you’re going to say invite one grandparent or aunt, you most likely need to invite all of them

  • Friends - We all have friends from all walks of life - childhood, college years, those ride-or-die besties, or even friends you’ve established as you’ve moved through your time as a couple. This category is best assessed on your current relationships and time spent together, as well as your overall history.

  • Children - Like every other decision in your wedding, this is one that should be decided based on what’s best for you. If you have kids of your own, it might be nice for them to have friends their own age to hang out with at the wedding. It’s also very common to have an adults only wedding or not include children under a certain age. Maybe you consider having kids attend for just part of the event like the actual nuptials, but not the reception depending on your particular situation. Make sure whatever you decide, you are clear about it, and give your guests enough advance notice so they can get a sitter especially in the case of a destination wedding.

  • Work Colleagues - Chances are you spend more time on a weekly basis with your work colleagues than your future spouse and your family. It’s common practice to invite a colleague you spend day in and day out with to your event, however, this may be another area where you have an “all or nothing" stance in order to avoid work politics. Also consider the environment you work in as to whether this would be appropriate personally and professionally.

  • Plus Ones - This can be a tricky one. Do you allow for everyone coming to bring a plus one? Just family and close friends? Only plus ones you’ve met and you actually want to spend time around? Do you put down a hard and fast rule of no plus ones at all? A good rule of thumb here is to consider wedding guests who would appreciate the gesture, while also taking into account your headcount and budget. 

  • Neighbors/Club Members/Community Members - Do you have neighbors you wave to every morning while walking the dog? Folks you see at the gym during your Barre class? A book club buddy you sit next to while sipping a glass of pinot and discussing the latest thriller?

  • The simplest way to know if you should invite someone would be whether or not you know their last name. That may seem real basic but if it’s just someone who pats Fido on the head once in a while or you borrow a cup of sugar once every 6 months, this doesn’t necessarily mean they make the cut! 

  • Friends of Your Parents and In-Laws - Allowing your parents and in-laws to contribute to your guest list is a common courtesy most couples are expected to uphold especially if they’re footing all or part of the bill. Depending on the budget and the vibe you’re looking for on your day, make sure to lay down some ground rules on who to invite to eliminate unnecessary tension and work together to finalize the list.

Step 2: Create 3 Categories of people... The "Must Haves", the "Really Want To Be There" and the "Could potentially make the 'not invited' list"

  • Have the tough conversations with your partner and make sacrifices together. If you haven't seen or talked to someone in at least 2 years... do they really need to be invited?

  • Keep the categories above in mind as you make this list. Don't feel obligated to invite ALL your family or ALL your colleagues if you don't want to!

Step 3: Consider These Things:

  • Your budget : Your guest list will MAJORLY impact your budget.... more guests = higher cost for food, bar, and rentals. less guests on the same budget = more experiences and design potential! A $60K wedding with 50 guests is VERY DIFFERENT than a $60K budget with 150 guests..... guest count matters!

  • Your ceremony and venue space : The number of people you invite will also impact the size and type of venue that you'll be able to book. When looking at venues, consider the capacities without it being crowded. Is there a package deal that requires a minimum number of guests? If you have your heart set on a certain venue, make sure that your guest count is condusive to that venue before you sign any contracts! Making informed decisions will save you a lot of heartache down the road so knowing roughly how many guests you plan to invite is super important early on in the planning process!

  • Your sanity and nervous system well being : Yep, I went there and it’s really not talked about enough. Your wedding is supposed to be one of the most joyful and love filled days of your life. As much as we tend to get in the habit of pleasing people and wanting to include everyone so their feelings aren’t hurt, what’s most important here is how YOU and YOUR BELOVED feel during your most precious day. Are there certain people in your life or community that you’d be worried about attending your wedding or reception? Creating a scene? Taking away from you being the center of attention? 

Step 4: Make The Tough Decisions!

  • Once you have all of the information collected.... go with what works best for you and your partner, your budget, AND what feels right for you. If you are set on a small wedding, make sure the number of invitations you're sending matches that.

Creating a guest list that works for you and your partner can be a daunting task, but starting on this early can help you make huge decisions like deciding on a venue, getting back to your caterer with a headcount, and overall, just putting your mind at ease. We’re happy to help you with any questions you might have on how to narrow down the list to create a day that represents exactly what you want together, and helps you surround yourself with the people that mean the most to you as you pledge your love and life to each other!

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Happy Planning Lovers!

Jacqueline and the SunRae Planning Team

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