Creating a working guest list is vital to any wedding plan, large or small. It will help you make educated decisions and keep your budget in check.

After considering your budget and determining your venue capacity, you can approximate the number of guests you can invite. Assume that, in most cases, around 20% of the list declines. Bride, groom and parents of both should decide how many each group can invite; typically, one can divide the allotment into thirds with the bride and groom as one set, the bride’s parents as another, and the grooms parents as the final set. It should be up to the bride and groom respectively to manage their own parents’ lists. If, for instance, the groom’s father wants to invite 50 more people than the budget or venue will allow, there is a problem. The groom should handle the situation with his family.

Deciding who to invite should be a genuine gesture not an obligation so be sincere when selecting the special people who will share in your day. You will want to really dig deep when it comes to friends and acquaintances to make sure you’re inviting the right people.

Here are few practical pointers to help decide who is going to be on your list.
•    Budget and venue capacity is first and foremost - can we afford them and do they fit?
•    Is this person a close or casual friend?
•    Will you ever spend quality time or see the person after the wedding?
•    Are we just inviting them to be nice or do we really want them at our wedding?
•    Did they invite us to their wedding?
•    Will they add life to my celebration?

After careful consideration of these issues, you should be able to form the “A” list. If forming a “B” list is necessary, tread lightly to be sure their invites do not arrive too late; invites should go out approximately two months for in-state weddings and three months for destination weddings.  As rejections arrive you can begin sending invitations to names from the “B” list, if necessary. This is a practical method to managing your list, but should be done so discreetly. Therefore, be considerate and make sure the “B” list invites don’t go out too obviously late.

With proper list building your wedding can be a joyous celebration. Careful selection of loved ones who want to share in your special day can create a harmonious and blissful experience for everyone involved.

Have a burning question about your big day? Send it to us at: or tweet it or Facebook us!

Photo by Anna Hardy Photography. To see the rest of Tom and Lisa's shoot, click here.