Guest List Planning – Mistakes to Avoid

Deciding who you share your special day with is an important part of your wedding planning. Sidestep stress and make your decisions quicker and easier when assembling your guest list by dodging these mistakes.

Your Parents Take Control of Your Guest List

wedding, guest list, brideUnless you want to have a room full of guests that you really do not know, and who are more important to parents than they are to you, don’t give up control of your guest list.  This can be difficult if parents are paying for most or all the wedding expenses.

It is best to sit down early and discuss the size of wedding you want.  Be prepared to compromise to make the guest distribution equitable.  Deciding how many guests to have and how the numbers will be allocated is much easier if you do it before you attach names to the list.

Don’t forget to include your groom and his parents as part of the discussion, after all it is his wedding too.

A good rule of thumb is to allocate one quarter of your list to both parents and retain half for you and the groom.  But this is just a guideline, not a rule, and only you can decide how you split your list.


Totally Dominating the Guest List

Be sure to consider the groom and his family when creating your guest list.  You and your parents may be paying wedding expenses, but it is you and your groom’s wedding – as a couple.  Allocate an appropriate number of guest seats for their use.  You don’t want your groom to feel like the wedding day was solely about you. Or to start off your marriage offending your in-laws when they feel excluded on the most important day in their son’s life.


Booking the Venue First – Before Making Your Guest List

Before you can book your venue, you really do need to prepare your guest list.  It will save you stress and aggravation and possibly re-booking another place, if you find out it is too small for the number of guests you plan to invite.  Don’t forget  to allow adequate space for guests to be comfortable at their tables and when they move about.  Then there is room for dancing, the cake, and your head table. Commit to a venue only when you know how much space you will need for an enjoyable event.


Not Considering Food and Drink Costs – The Impact of Your Guest List 

reception food, wedding, DIY, home cooked. restaurantwedding reception, open bar, bride, groom, bar,Because food and drinks are usually the largest costs associated with a wedding, and they are determined on a per-person basis, each guest added to your list increases your budget.  Keeping your guest list small is a major money saver. For today’s wedding each guest can add from $20 to $200 to the cost of your wedding.

Make lists of your top priorities for both your wedding budget and guest list.  Don’t be surprised if they conflict.  Only you can decide if you would rather serve less expensive food and drinks to a larger group or pare down your guest list and serve more expensive food and drinks.  That is a decision that you and your groom should make together before you start inviting guests.

 Forgetting the 20 Percent Rule of Your Guest List 

When making your guest list, keep in mind the general rule is that between 10%-20%  of invited guests will not attend. In some areas it can be as much as 30%, especially if guests must travel.  Don’t take this personally.  Some will have prior plans, last minute emergencies, or just don’t get around to returning their RSVP.

Don’t assume that someone who does not respond either will or will not attend.  You are just guessing, unless you know them well.

Remember to include yourselves, the wedding party, and parents when you are counting the number of guests.

Because you will need a close estimate of the number of seats to plan , it is important for you to consider all these in your guest count.  If your venue has a minimum number of guests required at a certain price point you may also want to keep this in mind as it affects cost per person if you do not meet the minimum.


Allowing Everyone to Bring A Plus-One

Plus One, Wedding, Guest, ListMany brides fall into the trap of trying to keep their single friends happy by including a plus one invitation, so they can bring a guest.  Please resist the urge to automatically include plus-ones until you sit down and calculate how much each one of these people represents in money and the total hit your budget will take.  They really so add up quickly and can make a big difference on what you can afford in other areas, like flowers, decorations, and even food choices.

Decide what your “rule” for plus-ones will be and stick to it so there are no hurt feelings.  You can invite all, none, of somewhere in between. Some brides include only those in a committed relationship, but that can get tricky defining what committed means.  You may settle for living together or engaged as the guiding rule.

Make sure you and the groom agree when you decide how you will handle this issue.  You must be consistent.  Prepare to support each other and your joint decision when people come begging for “just one more”.

Children on Your Guest List – Be Consistent

children in wedding, bridal party, flower girl, ring bearer, bride, groomIf you want a child free wedding, be sure to make it very clear on your invitations that children are not invited.  Don’t use wording including “Family” on your invitation envelopes unless you are including children.

Instead of saying “No children” on your invitation, consider a gentler approach.  “We’re making our wedding an adult affair and hope that the parents among you can take the opportunity to have an evening without the children”.  People will accept this positive tone, especially when you tell them early giving them time to plan for the children.

Share your plan with your family gossip and prep him/her on what to say when people ask.  When you send a positive message, it goes a long way to spread the word and support your decision not to include children.  Ask your wedding party and parents to prepare to address questions from guests who have children they want to attend.

If your wedding is at a commercial venue that offers babysitting, share the information with your guests so they can plan accordingly.  You may even get a group discount.  If you plan to offer this service, have someone other than yourself coordinate it.  A relative with children who will use the service is the ideal person for the job.

And most importantly, be consistent in your treatment of children attending.  Avoid hurt feelings by not allowing some guests to bring children while others can.

The only exception should be for children who are in the bridal party, and siblings of the bride and groom.   You may want to make alternate arrangements for them when the time grows long and the get cranky or bored.


Including  Coworkers on Your Guest List 

If you have close friends among your coworkers, you can certainly invite them.  But this does not mean who must include everyone you work with – this could take up half your guest list.

If you do invite a few select coworkers, ask them not to discuss their invitations with other coworkers to avoid hurt feelings.

Don’t feel obligated to invite the boss, just because she is the boss.  If she is not a close friend, she will understand that you are limited in the number of guests.

If you are not inviting any coworkers, consider hosting a separate party for them.  Explain that the wedding is a close friends and family affair.


Adding Everyone You Know To Your Guest List

This is one of the biggest days of your life and you will want to share it. It’s best to limit your list to people you care about and want to be a part of your wedding memories.

If you are really on the fence of whether to include someone on the list, the answer is probably “no”. You will know who it is important to have at your wedding, of if you are just adding people.  Inviting near-strangers adds nothing to your wedding except costs and stress on your wedding day.


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