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Wedding Planning - Tips and Tricks to the Perfect Guest List

June 10, 2020 by In House Marketing

friends at wedding from the wedding guest list

When it comes to your wedding, you want to share the love with everyone you know. That probably doesn’t extend to inviting all of them to your wedding. So how do you work out who’s in…and who’s out? Here are a few tips and tricks to planning your wedding guest list.

First things first - scope out your wedding

The first tips and tricks of planning your wedding guest list is understanding that deciding your list is rather like juggling – the length of your list depends on your venue, budget and type of wedding, but at the same time, you probably already have an idea of who should join you for your special day, so your invite list also dictates the size of your wedding.
Sorting out your guests will clarify your requirements, and also flush out any expectations from other people with a stake in your wedding, like your parents. Let’s start.

1. Brainstorm!

Set aside a weekend morning. Grab a coffee – this isn’t a task for the faint-hearted, and it can become fraught as emotions come into play.

Write down everyone you want to invite to your wedding. Scribble down your own guest lists individually – then compare notes with your partner. Flush out common names and see what you’re left with. Don’t argue at this stage – there’s plenty of time for that.

Remember family – that’s usually non-negotiable – close friends, old friends, new friends, work friends.

2. Refine!

List all the names into a spreadsheet. For those amongst us who are particularly organised, include tabs labelled ‘Must, ‘Maybe’, ‘You’re joking!’ and ‘Over someone’s dead body (maybe yours)’.

A great way to filter your list is to think – how disappointed would I be if this person didn’t come? Your disappointment meter will tell you where that person fits in your list.

Also consider whether they’re likely to be part of your future life. You don’t want people if they’re only fleetingly acquaintances. You’ll want to recognise as many people in your photos as possible in 20 years!

Sort through your remaining lists together until you have a solid ‘Must’ and ‘Maybe’ list.

If your parents are … let’s say over-involved, to be polite … they’ll probably want to invite extended family, and usually ones who are extended for a good reason. Like a second cousin twice removed who you once saw at a family function when you were two. Or worse, Great-Great-Aunt Suzy who has never married but knows everything about everything, especially when she’s had a G&T or three.

Depending on who is paying for your wedding and your own family’s dynamics, you’ll have to both think carefully about who falls in, and who falls out.

3. Kids or not!

Kids at a wedding can be challenging. The day is usually long and kids need to be fed, watered, napped, and entertained.

If you invite them, chances are at least one of them will cry/scream/run up and down/stick their fingers in the cake/vomit/burn down the marquee, or for an added bonus swear REALLY loudly during the most meaningful part of your ceremony so that everyone gives them the stink eye and Not-So-Great Aunt Suzy passes out. All of which means the magic of your carefully prepared day could be lost to the antics of a mere child.

So how do you decide on kids?

One way is to look at your guest list. Do people on your ‘Must’ list have children? If so, would they attend without their kids? Some parents would leap at the chance of having a child-free evening. But if the answer is no, and you really want them to attend, then that’s your answer. You could consider offering a babysitter (which would add to your costs). Another option is to allow children of family only. Ultimately, it comes down to how much you want the specific guest to attend. Importantly, make a rule that you both agree with, and stick to it.

Bonus points if your decision means someone you don’t like is unlikely to attend.

4. Guest plus ones!

This is always a fun one, and comes down to your budget and your relationships with the specific guest.

Not all guests are created equal – if your sister is seeing someone then it could be politic to invite them. (Especially if they end up marrying – imagine having that drama thrown in your face 20 years down the track.) If they’re no longer together by the date of your wedding, then chances are you’ll know about it and can manoeuvre the guest list accordingly. If it’s a friend from work, then the ‘No ring/No bring’ rule is likely to work because you’re less likely to care about consequences.

Once your list is ready, you’ll be ready to move on and design your wedding. Contact us for an array of products and services for your wedding, from beautiful marquees to protect you from the day’s weather, furniture like lounges and ottomans so Great-Great-Aunt Suzy can chill out, tables and tableware for sit-down events, and catering equipment, to make your wedding as beautiful as it can be.

For more wedding planning tips and tricks

Check out our wedding planning gallery or Contact our party planning team today, this is the season and your big day is the reason. So do it right, you'll remember it forever.

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