Coming up with a guest list is one of the first steps you should take when planning a wedding, as it will help you to establish your budget, choose a venue, and guide you on an infinite number of other decisions.
You and your fiance should come up with a list each of the people you would like to invite to your wedding, and then compare, to get a rough figure. (That makes it sound easy. Believe me, even this can create stress and arguments … which while perfectly normal, could be a great opportunity to seek out some couples counselling so you can work on your communication and conflict skills even before the Big Day!)
Once your lists have been combined into one, it’s a good idea to share it with both sets of parents, to see if they have any suggestions of people you may not have thought of, or other advice. They will likely be more familiar with the dynamics among extended family members, and if there are difficulties between certain relatives which may change your list. For example, if your uncle and aunt have recently divorced after many years of marriage, although you may want to invite both, unless their parting has been extremely amicable you are probably best off only inviting your blood relative.
Here are some other questions to consider as you consider your guest list:
- do we want to invite children?
- will singles be able to invite a “plus one”?
- and of course, your budget!
It is a rare bride and groom that does not have to plan their wedding around budget consideration.
If your heart is set on a cast of thousands to share your joy, you will likely need to look into a more casual (and cheaper) event like a finger food reception, picnic in the park, or even a “bring a plate to share” affair.
By limiting guest numbers, your wedding will be a more intimate occasion, and you may be able to splurge on a destination or luxury wedding venue with all the trimmings.
Some couples manage the cost of an enormous guest list by inviting everybody to the ceremony, with champagne and nibbles to follow in the church hall or grounds. A formal sit down reception is held later in the day for immediate family and friends only.
Or you could do it the other way around, like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Being royalty there were many heads of state, officials and other VIPs they “had” to invite, so they had 600 at the ceremony and afternoon reception, with a select group of 200 closest friends attending a party that evening.
Once you’ve established your guest list and booked a venue, you can send a “save the date” to your intended guests – either on social media, or with a simple card or fridge magnet.
Traditionally, the wedding invitations are sent out 6 to 8 weeks beforehand and where possible, delivered personally to the guests but thankfully our lives and weddings are a lot simpler these days so an invitation in the mail – or even email – is perfectly acceptable!