Deciding on a Guest List

The amount of people you invite to your wedding will affect almost every other aspect of the day: location, venue, budget, catering, formality… Many vendors charge on a per-head basis so you’ll need to decide on the guest list before delving further into the planning process. You don’t have to have an exact figure at this early stage but an accurate approximation is advised.

Your initial guest list may be larger than you expect once you factor in your own friends and family plus the people both sets of parents want to invite – so you’ll need to cut this group down to a reasonable number. It’s OK to have an “A” and “B” list… and even a “C” list! It may seem harsh, but keep in mind that you are reducing your wedding expenses every time you take someone off the list. Go through the preliminary group of people and remove everyone except your “must invites”. You can always add people back to the list if you find that you have space available. Usually, at least 20% of your invited guests will not be able to attend.

Things to Consider

  • If the bride’s family is paying for the wedding, it’s expected that they will be allowed more guests than the groom’s family.
  • Even if you know certain people won’t be able to make it (if they live far away, for example), still invite them if they are important to you. It’s a nice gesture and avoids offending them… plus they may even send a present!
  • It’s customary to include plus-ones for guests if they are in a relationship. However, it’s not necessary to offer single people plus-ones as budget and space often doesn’t allow for this.
  • Inviting colleagues can be a tricky business. As you probably won’t be able to invite all of them, sometimes it’s safer not to invite any. However, if you’re particularly close to certain people at work, you may not be able to imagine your wedding without them. If this is the case, just be prepared for potential water-cooler whisperings.
  • Decide if you’re going to allow children at the wedding.
  • Odds are, you’re going to offend someone when it comes to the guest list. You can’t please everyone so the most important thing is to please yourself. It’s your wedding and you’ll want to look around the room and see faces of people you know and love. People who are offended not to be invited will eventually come to understand, perhaps when they start planning their own wedding and experience the intricacies of putting together a guest list.

For more on selecting the guests on your big day, visit:

For tips on how to handle an unexpected guest, visit: