Creating a Guest List

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As a venue, one of the first questions we ask our brides and grooms is, “How many guests are you expecting?” We often get blank stares because they don’t have any idea, or worried looks because the number is WAY too high. Not to worry! We have some pointers for you to get you started on your final guest list.

Our various ceremony sites can accommodate different size groups so that’s why it’s important to us because we want you to know what’s available to accommodate your wedding. It impacts your budget for catering and drinks among other things, so it’s important for you too! And you have a wedding budget right? If you need some wedding budget pointers you can check our blog post here.

If you have a certain number you need to stick with for venue size or catering budget make sure you know what it is. Also know that as a general rule of thumb about 80% of your total guest list will be able to make it to your wedding festivities, but every event is unique, that’s just a guide! If one of you have a lot of family that live several states away and it would be significant travel for them to come they may all decide to make the trip, or none of them. A phone call to see what their general feel is before you send out invitations is a good way to gauge how much other flexibility you have with the rest of your list. (Parents are often good at making that call for you.) If they decide they can’t make the trip, you might end up with some “courtesy invites” on your list, and that’s fine too!

Then it’s time to get serious about your guest list. It’s easiest to start with immediate family and those friends that are like immediate family-you know who they are! Then keep going farther out with family relationships, friends, work contacts, and parent’s requests.

But what if your list is too big? That’s a good problem to have, it means you are loved and celebrated! But still, too big?

Get your red pen out-here are some ideas of places to whittle it down:

  • Have you seen the guest in the last year? Yes-keep, No-cut
  • What about an adult only event? No-keep, Yes-cut the kids (under 12 or under 18)
  • Work colleagues-are you friends outside of work? Yes-keep, No-cut
  • Parent requests-this one is harder! If parents are helping with the costs of your wedding, you often feel a certain obligation to let them have their say on the guest list, but use the ideas above as a guide for parent requests too (have they seen them in the last year?, a work colleague that would understand not getting invited?). If you are having to cut guests from your initial list, be prepared to have discussions over the parent requests too!

If your ceremony space is limited, consider an intimate ceremony and then a larger reception with your whole guest list. As a matter of etiquette, it is acceptable invite to the reception only, but it is not acceptable to invite guests to come to the reception after dinner, to just dance and drink.

Work friends are generally very understanding if you keep your guest list friends and family so don’t feel obligated to invite them.

Follow these guidelines and you’ll end up with a list of people that love you and are excited to spend a day celebrating with you! Good luck!