The Perfect Guest List

Article by Linley
Linley Shepard

Wedding dress shopping and cake tasting might be more enjoyable than say, drafting and editing the perfect guest list - however, this critical wedding detail is one you can’t procrastinate about. Why? Because most other decisions (aside from budget), like - cost per person, headcount vs. capacity of your venue and even how many invitations you will need to order/send will ultimately revolve around choosing who gets to attend your big day.

To help you figure out exactly where to start we have put together a few of our best guest list tips….

Tip #1: split the list evenly three ways

Traditionally the guest list is decided by the couple as well as their parents - the couple gets half the guest list, and each set of parents gets a quarter of the guest list. For example, if you're planning to invite 200 people, you get to choose 100 guests, each set of parents would get 50.

Tip #2: start with your dream list

When you start creating your list, go big. Don't think about your budget and venue capacity, just start by jotting down every person you could ever dream of attending your wedding, such as childhood friends or old colleagues to distant cousins you only see on social media or even the parents of your college roommate. Remember you'll have to do some editing to do later on, so for now, don't hold back. This also makes for a great reality check down the line - if you are tempted to impulse invite refer back to your dream list, if they were never on it are they really invite worthy now?

Tip #3: make editing rules (and stick to them)

The easiest way to edit your dream list is to create rules and then to actually follow them. According to our friends at The Knot a few common editing rules are.....

Rule 1:

If neither of you has spoken to or met them or heard their name before, don't invite them.

Rule 2:

Not crazy about having children at your party? Don't feel bad about having an adults-only wedding.

Rule 3:

If neither of you has spoken to them in three years and they're not related to you, don't invite them.

Rule 4:

If there's anyone who's on the list because you feel guilty about leaving them off (maybe because you were invited to their wedding or they're friends with lots of people who are invited), don't invite them.

Additional 'rule' Tip:

We've heard just about every guest list horror story, and through experience, we know the only way to make this process go smoothly is to be as fair as possible when you're making edits. It'll be difficult at first, but for each person you take off your in-laws' or parents' list, take one off your own as well.

Tip #4: have a B-list:

Typically regrets are around 20-30% depending on how many people you invite and the distances people have to travel, so plan on having a 'B-list' aka 'backup list' of people to choose from. These should be people you really want to be there, but didn't make the original cuts due to budget or venue capacity. We suggest sending your A-list invites three months in advance to allow enough time to send B-list invites roughly six to eight weeks before your wedding. Be sure to print a second set of rsvp cards with a new reply date, because accidently sending rsvp cards with a date that has already passed is an obvious sign that the recipients were on your B-list.