I know how it is (or at least how it feels), like you have to invite everyone you, your groom + your family know to your wedding. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.
Remember that the number of guests you invite to the wedding has an effect on the variable costs (food, drinks, etc.) for your wedding. If you want to keep your wedding costs down to a manageable level then it is important to keep your guest list as succinct as possible.
Putting together a guest list may seem like an easy thing to do but it tends to be complex because you typically depend on multiple people to complete the list. Start at the beginning, which is with your own list as the bride or the groom. Make your own list of names, mailing addresses, emails + phone numbers.
Then, move on to getting the list from your future spouse. After that, it’s time to get all the guest information from both of your families. Compile all of these lists into one giant master list.
You can use a guest list worksheet to help you organize your guest list. Since there may be some overlap between all of the lists that are put together, using a spreadsheet can help you sort + check for duplicates. You can also manipulate this list so that you can do a mail merge for printing envelopes or to provide a guest list to your calligrapher or person addressing your envelopes.
Download a wedding guest list worksheet now:
You can also use an online wedding planning program to manage your wedding guest list. These programs offer a suite of tools to help you plan your wedding that goes beyond creating a wedding guest list.
Ways to Cut Your Guest List
Now you have this big pile of lists from everyone. When you total up the number of people on each list, it might just make your jaw drop.
HINT: It is NOT necessary to invite everyone that you, your spouse-to-be + your families have ever known. While your wedding is a joyous occasion that you feel like you want to share with the world, it’s not monetarily realistic.
Here are 7 steps to start cutting down the guest list.
#1 Cut Duplicates
There is bound to be overlap in the lists you have gathered. If you have the list in a spreadsheet, you can quickly sort your list, easily identify which ones are duplicates + clean up your wedding guest list.
Online programs, such as Aisle Planner, also allow you to sort + create groups for your guest list to easily identify + get rid of duplicates.
#2 Highlight Must-Have Guests
Highlight those guests that definitely have to be invited. You may want to use a color code for the list the name originated from (use yellow for your guests, green for your spouse-to-be’s list, orange for his parents’ list + pink for your parents’ list, for example) so you can consult with the right list maker later if you need to figure out if they are a must-have wedding guest or someone who can be cut.
#3 Cut the Excess + Unknown
Go ahead + cut:
- Co-workers that are not close friends
- Distant relatives that you do not know or never speak to
- People who are being invited only because you or someone else was invited to their wedding
- Acquaintances as opposed to close friends
- Extended family (Your second cousin twice removed that you have never even met)
#4 Finalize + Refine
Continue to cut + refine your wedding guest list until you have your magic number of guests. When you are considering the number of wedding guests, make sure that you are accounting for everyone in that particular household that you are inviting. For example, if it is a husband, wife + two kids, then account for four guests.
#5 Explain (If You Want)
If you feel the need to explain to co-workers or acquaintances why they are not being invited then be honest. Explain to them that you are on a tight budget + are only inviting close family + friends to the wedding. Most people understand that weddings can be expensive + are not offended by this, especially if you are not close with them.
The key to creating your guest list is that you include the people that you + truly want to share your day. You and your spouse-to-be want to spend your special day surrounded by the people you love + by the people you know. The last thing you want is to be surrounded by a bunch of strangers that you simply felt obligated to invite.
I’m Kristie McCauley, a former certified wedding planner + lover of wedding planning. I share tips, advice + how-tos with brides + grooms that are planning their own weddings. Check out The Wedding Workshop, a self-paced course that walks couples step-by-step through the process of planning their own wedding.