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Do’s and Don’ts When Finalizing Your Wedding Guest List

Making a wedding guest list is not one of the to-do things in the wedding planning checklist that one feels all prepped to tick off! I mean, sure, one wants it is off the to-do list as soon as possible but to be actually doing the work that goes into finalizing the wedding guest list! Nah- not as fun as tasting cakes, shopping for hair accessories or even picking wedding favors! So, how does that item get ticked off? Sure enough, zombies and bots aren’t going to team up to do the hard work for you! You and your partner will have to sit down and make that final wedding guest list happen. And sadly, there is no magic wand for this!

wedding planning

Image source: Shutterstock

There is, however, one handy guide – a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts of accomplishing the rather strenuous and demanding task of finishing that dreaded wedding guest list, that will make your planning supremely easy, breezy, and in all likelihood, wonderful too! Know what – the NLT guide to finalizing your wedding guest list, sitting right here. Take a look:

Suggested read: Wedding etiquette dos and dont’s

The dos:

1. Divvy up the list before splurging the cash
guest list

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Now this may seem like an obvious one, but so many couples err here that we just had to put this one first! And like always, we will hand you the raw truth – it is always advisable to divide up the percentage of guests between the couple and each set of parents before it gets messy. Especially so, when both set of parents are contributing financially. So, before you pile up on your deposits and start to spend, it is a good idea to lay down the percentage on the table – up for grabs. That way, you are in no bind or obligation to give in to unrealistic demands or guest list impositions, can still negotiate, and even choose to decline. Even when you are shouldering the wedding expenses all by yourself, it might be a good idea to let the parents in on the number they must stick to. There is no one-way of doing this. Only you can decide what a fair percentage can be. Most couples go an even-three way or decide to have a 50% share while meting out 25% each to each set of parents.

2. Make a dream list

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Yep, you read that right. Now, this may not seem like rational advice but trust me, there’s some logic to this. So what if we are asking you to throw caution to the winds and forget about the budget, space, and everything else that is related, out the window! It is your wedding and you can dream big. So put that old school camp friend on the list and even that third cousin you really hit it off with at a family reunion. We can do the trimming later. The simple LOGIC here is that if, at a later stage, you are tempted to put more people on the list, you can simply come check this one. Anyone who isn’t even remotely peeking from the corners of this list sure does not need an invite.

3. Go for the number-crunching

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Now begins the tough part. Crunching numbers isn’t really exciting and yet your budget and your venue space are constraints that will limit the digits that go into making your wedding guest list count. Each head is an extra plate to the caterer, an extra chair to the rental place, and another wedding favor you need to add. All of this will impact your wedding budget. If you choose a guest list count larger than your venue capacity, you will be terrified of opening those RSVPs. Plus, you might have to cut down costs on a number of other things that you’d have otherwise liked to have. Instead, why not choose a smaller number and if there’s more room later on and you have some cash from the budget to spare, you can work your way backward. Conservatism may really help here.

4. Decide on slashing rules and adhere to them


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Now that you have got a count, get down to the more unpleasant task of crossing off names from the dream list to fit the number. You will have to design some rules for this part or you may end up waging World War III. Deciding upon rules like crossing a name you haven’t spoken to in a long time or one you have met once in your lifetime or simply someone you feel guilty of leaving out because they’re friends with many who ARE on the guest list are all good ideas. Making these rules and more importantly, abiding by them might seem cruel but shall not only help you slash names off the list but also, some potential drama in the planning process. Be fair and it will be okay.

Suggested read: How to find the perfect wedding venue

5. Have an A-list and a B-list

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Yes, keep this a secret but having two lists is a great way of inviting as many people you want without blowing your budget or cluttering your wedding venue space. Put the people you just cannot imagine your wedding without on the A-list and send them an invite about three months ahead of the big day. When the RSVPs start to flow in and you find enough ‘regrets,’ you can start to send out the B-list invites (with people who you’d still like to be there but could not accommodate if all A-listers made it) in order of importance. Be careful though, to print two sets of invites with different dates for the RSVPs or otherwise, you’d be risking a dead giveaway.

6. Include names on the RSVP cards

invitation rsvp

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Oh-the wedding guest etiquette and the horror stories! Now, now – people do cram in four names on the RSVP even when the invite is addressed to one person alone. Avoid the problem by printing or hand-writing the names on the RSVP cards. Even so, if someone attempts to breach protocol, call them and politely let them know that as much as you’d like to have everyone, the space constraints do not permit flexibility.

7. Use a wedding guest list spreadsheet or guest list manager to get organized

guest list spreadsheet for wedding planning

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Making a wedding guest list with the help of Google docs or a planning software that shall not only help you edit and make changes in real time but also put things in proper perspective, allow you to do all the planning in one place and even collaborate the seating arrangement and table layouts with names, as per relations is a great idea to work with. Plus, you can keep the sheet for future anniversary, holiday or baby shower invites!

Suggested read: Wedding planning apps that will make it all EASY

The don’ts:

1. Blur boundaries owing to external pressure

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

This is YOUR wedding. Set your boundaries and stick to them. If you forfeit some guests to accommodate your mother-in-law’s spin class friends or your father’s colleagues, you will end up with a lot many requests down the line. Instead, opt for the straightforward denial but make sure you have the conversation face-to-face, do not hurt their emotions, and send out the correct message. Even with other factors like guilt trips for leaving X’s friend out when X is invited, steer clear. It is YOUR wedding and you spent hours reasoning who gets to make the final lap. So just breathe easy and stick to your decision.

2. Go for last-minute add-ons


Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

This is the worst, and often, unavoidable. But there’s a way you can steer clear of this mistake too. Just avoid talking about wedding specifics when you are in the early planning stages to avoid verbal invitations that you may regret later on. Plus, you’d have to go back, alter that list, make seating changes, and what-not. Instead, brace yourself with a polite but firm response that cannot be misinterpreted when you talk to anybody about the wedding and do not beat yourself up for doling it out each single time. It is really okay.

3. Try and merge a wish-list with the seating plan

Avoid seating the uncles who cannot stand each other together in an attempt at reconciliation or exes without their explicit consent! Avoid these rookie mistakes and do not have an unassigned seating corner either! Please don’t create those drunken brawls or some good drama of your own doing and then, give me a chance to say, ‘I told you so.’

See, just like that, you have got the work done. Now sit back, bite into that cookie, sip on champagne, and well, relax! At least, until the wedding décor needs some attention!

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Article Name
Do’s and Don’ts of Finalizing Your Wedding Guest List
Finalizing your wedding guest list isn't exactly a fun part of the wedding planning process. But with out help, it can be EASY, & in some ways wonderful too.
Sarah Ruiz

Sarah Ruiz

Pursuing a Master's degree in making Mistakes- I sincerely string the lessons into actionable advice- for myself and YOU! You can blame me for LONG sentences, though! ;) :)