Groom 101

Building the Wedding Guest List

Chris Easter

Some of the toughest wedding planning decisions you’ll have to make will pertain to the guest list. We know that the last thing you want to do is leave Great Uncle Fred or your freshman-year roomie off the list. But, depending on your venue’s capacity, it’s likely that cuts will have to be made. Here are some tips that will help make this process a little easier.

Because the wedding reception is typically the responsibility of the bride’s family, they’ll know the exact number that the guest list can’t exceed. However, when you’re preparing your initial list, disregard this number. The first step is to compile a list of everyone that you and your family would want to invite, if size restraints weren’t an issue. Next, you’ll need to merge your list with the bride’s family’s list to see how the numbers stack up. If the combined list is below capacity, you’re sitting pretty. However, chances are that you’ll be over the limit. In that case, here are a few tips to get the number down.

Limit the “and guest” invite

If you’re in a capacity crunch, we recommend limiting the “and guest” invites to guests who are currently in a relationship. You’ll be surprised how much this can help. You have to remember that weddings are a great place for singles to meet. It’s a pretty safe bet that your friends who are riding solo are hoping to meet some single ladies from the bride’s side. It’s also worth noting that a lot of your friends will see your wedding as a reunion of old friends. They won’t want to be bogged down by bringing along a date that nobody knows.

Prepare “A” and “B” lists

Unfortunately, not everyone you invite will be able to make it there for the big day. Use this to your advantage! Prepare an “A” list and a “B” list. The “A” list includes the people that you absolutely want to be there. The “B” list consists of everyone else. When it comes time to send out invitations, send invites to the “A” list first. Then when the response cards start coming in, take note of the people who won’t be coming. For every person that responds “no,” send out an invitation to someone on the “B” list. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get an invitation out to everyone.

Get an idea beforehand

You have a second cousin who lives seven states away and just had twins. You may be close, but it would take an act of God for her to make the wedding. In situations like this, it’s safe to not count these people and their families toward your final head count. If possible, speak with them beforehand. They’ll probably let you know they’ll be sending a gift, but won’t be able to attend the wedding. Even though they won’t be making the trip, you should still send an invitation. Everyone enjoys seeing it and saving it as a keepsake.

TMR Recommendation: Utilize the “A” and “B” lists. It’ll help maximize your head count without leaving anyone out.


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