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How to Make Your Wedding Guest List

how do i make make my wedding guest list

Wedding planning is all fun and games until you get to that guest list - am I right? It is hands down, one of the most challenging tasks and comes with a lot of etiquette issues too - who gets a plus one? Do you invite kids - all kids, some kids or can it be just adults only?? Can we have an A list and a B list? 

Where do you even start with your wedding guest list?

First things first - download a guest list organizer like the one below. Sure excel is fine, but I really recommend using Google Sheets. Why? It live updates as anyone in your party changes things. That means that you and your mom are updating the SAME copy and she won't send you one that you had already updated once and now needs to get merged with the 2nd copy - nightmare right?


Send this list to your fiance, your parents and your fiance's parents and just start gathering the information. Start with a list of names, then work on the addresses, then make sure they are formatted correctly.


Which wedding guests should get a plus one?

I recommend extending a plus one to anyone who is engaged, lives with their partner, or is in a serious relationship. I would also make sure that your bridal party is allowed to bring a guest as a thank you for being in the wedding. 


Should I invite kids to our wedding? Or only some kids? Or no kids at all?

This one can get touchy and I'm here to tell you - everyone will have an opinion in every direction, you have to do what's right for you. There are a few things I would consider.

Event space - are you getting married at a venue that doesn't allow children? Is there enough space for all of your guests if you include kids? 

Family dynamics - always a tough one, but talk this through with both of your families, they may have strong opinions that need to be navigated.

Inviting some kids - It can be helpful to set a rule and make it know within your family - only children over 12 are invited... only children in the bridal party are invited .... only children of our immediate family are invited, not our cousin's kids. If everyone knows where you cut the line, they are more likely to not be angry about it

Consider where people are coming from - if it's not a local wedding and kids aren't invited, it's going to be really hard for that guest to attend. If they don't have other family available to watch them for the weekend, a weekend long baby-sitter is both hard to find and expensive. If you have the ability to invite some kids, I would consider it for out of town guests or .......

Consider on site baby-sitting - it can be hard to attend a wedding that's out of town if you either can't find a weekend sitter or you just aren't comfortable leaving very small kids with a sitter for a weekend. It can be a really kind gesture to find a room at your venue and bring in some sitters to help. Parents can have fun, but can also check in with their kids from time to time.

For more information on how to tactfully tell guests it's an adults only wedding, check out this blog post - Dicey Wedding Invitation Wording - No Children Please


Is having a B list OK?

B lists are tricky. They seem great in theory, but it can be hard to execute well. If you have some friends or family that you would love to attend, but your space just isn't big enough, but might be big enough if enough people say they can't come, you can send a 2nd round of invites. Just be prepared for awkward encounters if any of your B-listers realize they received their invitation a month or two after some of their friends.

I recommend keeping the invitations the same - same dates, same info, same reply cards - you don't want there to be any indication that theirs were 2nd. If you plan on having a B list - send the A list invites 12 weeks ahead of time and your B list 8 weeks ahead of time.  That gives both lists enough time to get back to you.

What it I want to invite different people to the reception and ceremony? I want a small wedding ceremony, but a really big reception.

There are a lot of reasons you would want to have a small ceremony - you want a private or intimate ceremony or you want to get married in a very small chapel that's meaningful to you (I would totally get married at St. Joan of Arc Chapel at Marquette University).

If you're going this route, it's all about how you word your invitations. You can say something like:

Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Johnson

request the pleasure of your company 

at the wedding reception following the marriage of their daughter....




Laura Johnson and Andrew Mays

will be married in a private ceremony

Together with their parents, we invite you to join us after

to celebrate with drinks, dinner and dancing ....



You just want to make sure you're clear that there will not be a ceremony. You can have one set of invitations for everyone that gets invited to both, and a second set for those only invited to the reception.


Are you ready to get organized? I hope this will give you a jump start to your invitation list. If you want even more tips and tricks on wedding stationery and planning your wedding, you might want to sign up for the Guest List Organizer below. It comes with all the important info you need to get your invitations designed and mailed out with ease.

Tagged: Planning Tips


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