How to Tackle Your Guest List

Narrowing down your 1,000+ Facebook friends to just 100-200 guests for your wedding can seem like a daunting task. Until you realize that a majority of your so-called "friends" you actually haven't spoken to in over five years or you never even knew to begin with. Now you're down to about 500 and that's where it starts getting tricky...

All jokes aside, actually narrowing down your real friends, family, college buddies and co-workers along with those of your fiance's can be not only physically difficult, but also emotionally draining. 

Hopefully some of these suggestions and tips can help make your guest list process as smooth as possible.
  • Pick a Number, Any Number: Once you pick your venue and have a budget in mind, it's time to really sit down and figure out how many guests you can accommodate within the venue and within your budget. Picking the number is easy, sticking to it is another thing, but it's at least a great place to start.

  • Family First: You obviously have some obligations to your family first, so start there to get the bulk of the list accounted for. Remember though that family doesn't necessarily need to be blood related, it's whomever you truly consider family. 
  • Keep It On The DL: Once people hear about any family member, friend or even acquaintance for that matter getting married, their initial thought is that they hope to be invited themselves. Don't spread the word too fast about your wedding before you decide on size, location and other aspects that might hinder your guest size. Early on, you might think that someone will be invited and even mention it to them and later realize that that won't be the case. You don't want to get stuck in any tricky situations.
  • Choose An A & B String: Just like any team, it is completely acceptable to choose an A and B string for your guest list. Since all of the guests you invite in the first round will not all be able to attend, you can then call upon the second round of guests to extend the invitation to. Just as long as you do it in a quick time span so that it is not obvious to those B string guests.

  • Don't Give Into Peer Pressure: You may get pressure from family and friends as to who you SHOULD invite to your wedding, but the real question is more about who you WANT to invite. Don't give into peer pressure. 
  • Become BFF's with Excel: Microsoft Excel will soon become your best friend- so if you don't know your way around it already, you better learn quickly. Excel or other similar programs are great for keeping track of names, addresses, food choices and all other details for your wedding guests, so it's best to start a document with all of this information while you are making your guest list. You can then also easily keep track of RSVP's on there too. 
  • Divide and Conquer: Once you have decided the amount of guests you will be inviting, start first by playing fair and divide up the amount of guests that you and your fiance have the first say in inviting. This will help ensure that there is a pretty equal division of your friends and family and his friends and family. If that works out, you're job was really easy and you will have nice equal sides of the aisle during your ceremony.

  • Be Honest Or Stick To One Excuse: Of course you may disappoint some people who hoped to be invited to your wedding and quickly realized they never got a fancy envelope in the mail. But when it comes to any interaction with them, either be honest and straightforward or stick to one excuse like "it's mostly family" or "I had to invite a lot of my parents friends". You can't please everyone, so don't sweat it, but you don't want people to feel completely left in the dust. 
  • Don't Always Follow The Golden Rule: Although many people try to follow the golden rule of, "if you were invited to their wedding, you may want to invite them to yours", that rule doesn't always hold true in all situations. It is often a good place to start, but friendships change and couples separate and there are other aspects that could effect this rule as well, like if you are having a smaller guest list.
Rules To Follow For:
  • Family: You can stick to just those that are in the surrounding traveling region as a rule of thumb, but once you expand to relatives on the opposite coast and beyond, it's best to open the invite up to the rest. When it comes to family it is somewhat all or nothing. 
  • Childhood Friends: If you know their birthday on the top of your head, that's a good start. If you know their first boyfriend/girlfriend or their current on, that's another good sign. Stick to those friends that have not only been around you in your past, but have remained throughout your life and will in the future.
  • College Friends: I think it's best to follow the roommate rule- if you lived with them for most of your college years and considered them your close friend during that time, then they probably deserve a seat. Again, being able to use the "roommate excuse" may make your life easier later.
  • Work Friends: Just like family, work friends are often and all or nothing situation. It can sometimes be acceptable to just invite your direct supervisors or really close friend from work, but any other special pickings can make for a not so pleasant work environment. 
  • Children: Whether it's cousins or your friends children, also including to invite just a couple or "& family" can often be another decision. You can choose an age cutoff, stick to just family, or pick and choose as you please, just try to have a rhyme or reason to your decisions.
  • Plus One: You never want your lone single friend to feel like the odd man out, so it's often common courtesy to extend the "plus one" invitation to those guests as well. This will again be probably something that will be done on a case by case basis, but try to also stick to a rhyme or reason on this one.

Whoever you choose in the end, just remember that you will hear more from the people who attended your wedding and had a great time than you will hear from those who didn't attend and only wish they did. 


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