When you get engaged, there’s a lot of excitement around the “first steps” in wedding planning! You quickly fill your days with things like: touring venues, selecting your bridal party and shopping for your bridal gown! And while we love those things, too, there’s an important piece of the wedding planning process that needs to happen FIRST (before any of those things!) – Creating Your Guest List.
Guest list building is one of the most important steps in the wedding planning process and we recommend that it be one of the first tasks you get started with.
Creating your guest list is the foundation to so many other wedding planning decisions:
- Knowing your maximum guest count allows you to quickly and efficiently determine if certain event spaces and caterers meet your needs and budget.
- Knowing your maximum guest count allows you to get better estimates on downstream planning points like flowers
- Knowing your maximum guest count allows you to efficiently create a hotel block for our your out of town guests
- Knowing your maximum guest count also informs much of the work you will do for paper products and invites down the road.
But building a guest list can be one of the most difficult aspects of the event – even though it should feel relatively easy to identify the family and closest friends you’d love to have witness the start of your marriage and celebrate with. Mostly because there are often a great deal of emotions tied to who will – and won’t – be invited.
When sitting down with your significant other to plan the Guest List, here are a few things to consider together:
- Consider the type of event you envision as a couple. Think about this together first. Use words to describe the experience you want to create and most importantly how you want to remember your event when you think about it in the years to come. Do you envision an intimate gathering of your most nearest and dearest family and friends? Where you’ll be able to look back & recall speaking with each and every guest? Or have you dreamed of dancing the night away with a few hundred loved ones? Or maybe you can wait to throw the party of the century with your family, friends, and maybe even friends of friends? None of those visionaries are wrong, but each is unique & will dictate what your Guest List looks like! Knowing how you would define the experience will help you determine the size of the event. And it’s important to keep this true to the two of you.
- Split everything into thirds. The guest list is traditionally split into thirds – ⅓ for the one set of parents, ⅓ for the another set of parents, and ⅓ for the couple. Discussing this with all parties ahead of time to ensure that everyone is on the same page from the very beginning.
- Don’t plan for 10-20% of your guests to decline. In our experience, this mindset is a slippery slope. On average, do 10-20% decline? Yes. However, that’s an average meaning that there are expectations! Unless your venue, and your budget are flexible, you truly never know if the guests you are guessing will decline – will actually say no. If you end up banking on this you could end up running out of room, going over budget or worse having to uninvite guests.
The number one rule to follow when building out your guest list is that all the people you want to be there have been invited. You should never feel forced to invite anyone. When you’re planning your guest list, remember that. This is your guest list for one of the most impactful days of your life. Who do you and your fiancé want to be there?
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Photography Credit: Brianna Wilbur Photography