Ahhh, probably one of the most daunting aspects of the big day. How do you invite every. single. person. who has ever meant something to you? And lets not forget about all those people who told you your hair looked nice, complimented you in the hallway, the people who like all your instagram posts, your work bestie that you spend 8-12 hours with Monday through Friday, and what about that girl who claims to be your “best friend” but you haven’t seen each other in 3 years? What about your favorite teacher or favorite coach? And do they get a plus one? I mean, they won’t really know anyone else there so it’d be rude not to give them one, right?
Creating our guest list was in fact one of the hardest parts of planning our wedding, AT FIRST. In the beginning you create this gigantic list (ours was 300 people long) of every family member, family friend, long time friend, more recent friend, friends of your parents that they would like invited, all the coaches, teachers, mentors, and then hell, give them all a plus one (even if they’re not currently dating anyone).
Now, that’s where we started and guess what, waddled our way down to 102. 100 guests and then Joey and I. That’s it, 102 total. Now, let me show you how we got there with these simple tips!
How to create your ultimate wedding guest- list
- Check with your wedding venue (if you already chose one) or check with the venues you’re considering on their guest count limit. Things got a lot easier for us when we found out that our venue only allows a maximum of 140 guests. Check with your venue and make sure you know what the max count is and if that’s something that will be an issue.
- Know what kind of wedding you want. Is having the biggest wedding of the year a dream of yours? Do you want 500 people to watch you get married? If it is, I hope you can make it happen! If it’s not, if you want a more intimate wedding, play with some numbers in your head and come up with a number you’re comfortable with, that way you have an idea and place to start.
- After knowing your limitations, PRIORITIZE & create three different categories. We started an excel spreadsheet and made three separate areas : Family, VIP Friends (those that we absolutely could not get married without, ie: the wedding party and others who we feel especially close too), and then Friends/Coworkers/Coaches. We highlighted the people who we 10000% wanted to attend our wedding in green, then colored those friends who we’d love to have attend in yellow, and then those who were more of a “last priority” in red. Prioritizing might feel mean and cruel when you’re first going through it, but it’s absolutely necessary and something that must be done. You’re paying $100+ for this person to attend your wedding, so don’t pay for someone’s dinner that you don’t absolute love.
- Which brings me to my next point- and this might seem harsh, but in my opinion you should NEVER feel obligated to invite anyone, NO MATTER WHAT, if they’ve ever started drama with you or say, your sister (in my case), ever said something bad about you behind your back, would make anyone feel left out at the wedding, wouldn’t get along with certain guests, does not know/get along with your partner (THAT IS HUGE!), even if they invited you to their wedding! Right away this helped us limit our guest count. This was where we started with our 300 person guest list. We went through everyone and if there was anything negative within our relationship with that person, something we felt couldn’t be let go, we crossed them off. No negativity allowed on your big day!
- Limit the plus ones. Now, again, this might be harsh, but we’re only giving plus ones to our friends who’ve been in committed relationships for over a year, or are married, or engaged. In my opinion, your wedding day isn’t a “date night” for your buddy. Weddings are intimate, meaningful occasions and for me, that means I want to know everyone at my wedding and know that everyone is there to celebrate the day with me and my fiancé- not worry about impressing their latest fling or me having to be introduced to the newbie on the biggest night of my life. This kinda ties in with Tip#3, if I haven’t already met my friend’s boyfriend/girlfriend by the time of my wedding (we’ll have been engaged a year and 9 months at the time of our wedding) then that friend may not mean as much to me as I’m letting on and maybe I should consider them staying on my list as well.
- Go through your list and keep in mind that feelings might get hurt and that isn’t your responsibility. Joey and I both played college soccer and had 5 wonderful years with 30 different girls/guys who played along side us. We went through hell together (hello, double/triple days) and graduated college along side one another. But am I inviting 60 people that we played soccer with 5 years ago to our wedding? The answer is no. You can have amazing memories with some awesome people and not inviting them to your wedding doesn’t take those memories away at all. You have to realize and be okay with the fact that those were amazing times but life moves on and people grow apart. I have some amazing friends from playing soccer over the years, and we do check in with each other here and there, but again- prioritizing is everything. A question I asked myself was, “If I don’t invite this person and they end up never talking to me again, am I okay with that?” Shockingly, the answer was yes for a lot of those people. Most of which, I don’t talk too anymore anyways, aside from the occasional Instagram like/comment.
- Realize that you cannot invite everyone. If this was a free luncheon in the park- sure, put it on Facebook, tell your friends to invite friends, do it all! But this is your special day and a day that you’re paying lots and lots of money for. Limiting your guest count also limits the amount of money you’re spending.
- Know where you can save money. Contact your venue and find out if there’s any type of discount/ special rate if your guest list stays within a certain limit. We got our list to 130 and our venue told us that if we got our guest list down to 110, we’d automatically save $2000 off the venue cost. And within a heartbeat, we did it. It’s amazing how motivated and serious you take things when you can see the amount of dollar signs change. And that’s only off 20 people!
- Check in with your out-of-state guests. When we prioritized our list, we sent out save the dates to our out of state family members and guests and reached out to them to see if flying to California for our wedding was something they could do financially, scheduling wise, etc. People from out of town, especially out of state, require more planning, money spent on flights, money spent on a hotel, and more time away from work. We wanted to be straight forward with our “out of staters” and if they thought they couldn’t do it, we’d cross them off the list and then pull someone from our “yellow” list up to the “green”. This system allowed us to invite everyone we wanted to invite and stay within our limitations.
Well, I hope this helps anyone out there planning a wedding! It certainly helped us BIG TIME! With my wedding a mere 2 1/2 months away, I seriously feel like a wedding planning pro and am so excited to give away all my secrets as we get closer!