Weddings are a time to bring family and friends together, but it might be difficult to decide who can and cannot come to your wedding. To begin planning, you should decide on how many people you can invite. Create rules and limitations for your guest list to avoid offending family members. Finally, writing multiple lists can help you maximize the number of people who can come. With some patience and careful consideration, soon you will have your guest list ready for Save-The-Dates & Invitations!
1. DECIDING ON HOW MANY PEOPLE TO INVITE
Determine a ballpark figure. Even if you’re not sure on the specific figure, you can determine roughly what size of wedding you want. This will help you get quotes from caterers and venues while allowing you to figure out the specific number later.
- Some people decide just to invite immediate family members and a few close friends.
- A small wedding is generally around 50-75 people.
- The average wedding is around 150 people.
- A large wedding is 200 people or more.
2. CONSIDER YOUR BUDGET
The easiest way to decide how many people to invite is to look at how many people you can afford to invite. The more people you invite, the more expensive the reception and ceremony will be.
- If your parents are chipping in, find out how much each couple is contributing. Factor that into how much you and your partner can afford to spend.
- Get a few quotes from local caterers to see how much the reception may cost per person. Remember to factor in drinks and cake as well. Catering should take up about 25% of your budget.
3. FIND OUT THE SIZE OF YOUR VENUE
The number of people you can invite may be decided by where you have your wedding. If you have your heart set on a particular venue, ask them how many people they can hold. Do not invite more than this number, or else you may find yourself scrambling to fit everyone.
4. DIVIDE THE GUEST LIST
Both you and your partner will want to invite important family and friends. Furthermore, both sets of parents may have ideas about who should come. A good way to fairly decide is to divide up the guest list amongst you, your partner, and both sets of parents. Some ways you can decide:
- Divide the list in thirds. One third for your guests, one third for your partner’s guests, and one third for mutual friends.
- Divide the list in fourths: one fourth for your guests, one fourth for your partner’s guests, one fourth for your parents’ guests, and one fourth for your partner’s parents guests.
- One half of the guest list is for you and your partner’s friends. Each set of parents receives one-fourth of the guest list.
- While traditionally it is advised that both sides of the family invite the same number of guests, you should divide the guest list based on your circumstances
5. DECIDE IF YOU WANT CHILDREN THERE OR NOT
Some people prefer not to invite children because they worry kids will be loud or disrupt the ceremony. Others feel that a wedding is a family event and that children are part of the family. Another option is to have children only attend the reception. Understand that some guests may choose not to come if their children are not invited.
- You may also want to set an age limit to decide whether you are inviting teenagers or not. This could be as young as 12 or as old as 18.
6. REMEMBER THE PLUS ONE
You will have to decide who is allowed to bring a guest. If you do not have room for all of your friends to bring an extra person, you may want to skip the option to bring a date on the invitation. That said, if you have a friend who is in a long term relationship or married, then you should invite their partner as well. Factor these into the guest list count.
7. DIVIDE YOUR GUESTS INTO GROUPS
Different groups of people in your life may have varying significance to you. When planning, create four different groups of people you are considering. Number these groups by their priority. For example, it may be more important to you to invite close friends than extended family members. Typically, these four groups are:
- Immediate family members
- Extended family members
- Close friends
- Work mates or colleagues
8. ESTABLISH RULES WITH YOUR FAMILY
Your parents and your partner’s parents may have their own ideas about who to invite. Let them know upfront what kind of wedding you want. Tell them how many people they can invite. Be firm about your boundaries. Make sure that each party understands that they need to follow these rules. Some rules you may consider:
- Only invite people you’ve talked to in the last year.
- Friends of the couple have priority over friends of the parents.
- Certain estranged family members may not be invited.
9. WRITE TWO LISTS
The first list is the people you absolutely want to invite. This could be family members, close friends, or other special people. The second is your back-up list. This is the list of people you would like to invite but don’t have space or the budget for. If a person from the first list declines, invite a person from the back-up list.
- Assume that approximately 20 percent of your invited guests will not be able to attend. Make sure that you have at least this number on your back-up list. This will help you maximize the number of guests who can come to your wedding.
10. EDIT IT DOWN
Before you send the invitations out, make sure that you are not inviting any more people than your absolute maximum. When you cut guests, go from the lowest priority guests (colleagues, distant family members, family friends you might not know) up to the highest.
11. ESTABLISH A DATE WHEN THE BACKUP GUESTS WILL BE INVITED
You don’t want to send out last minute invites. Make sure that you send out your first round of invitations early enough so that you can send out a second round later. A good guideline is to send your first invitations three months before the wedding and the second set six to eight weeks before the wedding. This second round of invites should have its own RSVP date.
12. CONSIDER INVITING PEOPLE TO THE RECEPTION ONLY
If you are getting married in a small venue, you may find yourself struggling to fit all of your dear friends onto the list. You may consider having a separate guest list for the reception. Explain to your friends that you would love to have them at the wedding but that you are limited with space.
- A good way to explain it is: “Our venue is so small that we cannot invite everyone we want to the wedding, but we would still love it if you could celebrate with us. You are welcome to join us at the reception.”
- If you have a destination wedding, you may choose to have a reception in your hometown. You can invite all of the friends that could not attend the wedding to this celebration.