The 5 Essential Rules for Creating Your Wedding Guest List

Trust us, you will be spending a LOT of time thinking about this..

Updated 01/12/17

Photo by Caroline Petters of Katie Osgood Photography

One of the first big wedding planning tasks is deciding who you'll be inviting — and finalizing your wedding guest list can be a doozy! From family politics to deciding whether or not to invite your coworkers, you will be spending a LOT of time thinking about just how much you like people, and how fun they’ll be to have there on your big day. Thankfully, our experts are here with some key tips to make the process a little easier for you!

1. Give Everyone a Say
Begin by creating an initial list with input from three sources: the two of you and both sets of parents. You should all create lists of must-have guests, as well as nice-to-have guests who you’d like to include if your venue capacity and budget allow.

2. Avoid the B List
It's tempting to create a second list of guests to invite if you find out a bunch of people can't come to your wedding, but keep this in mind: With most RSVP deadlines only a month before the wedding (and invitations mailed around 8 weeks before the big day), you’d be mailing those B List invites with just weeks to spare, meaning those second-string guests will probably catch on to the fact that they didn't make the cut the first time around.

3. Know Your Limits
Make sure you know your venue’s maximum capacity, and stick to it! While different sources will tell you to expect anywhere from 10% to 30% of your invited guests to RSVP “no,” don't count on it! You can invite a few more guests than your space can handle, but inviting 150 guests when the capacity is only 120 could put you in a serious pickle if everyone decides to come to your wedding.

4. Be Consistent
Deciding who to cut from your wedding guest list is hard, so do your best to stick to the rules you set across the board. If you're on the fence about inviting children, for example, you may want to invite your wedding party’s kids but not any distant cousins. Try not to make exceptions: it's much easier to explain why the guest list is the way it is with fewer hurt feelings if you don't have to talk around the one person the rules didn't apply to. The same goes for choosing who is invited with a plus-one.

5. Remember Your Budget
The number of guests you invite will have a big impact on how much your wedding costs. Find out if your caterer or venue charges per plate or for a range of guests, and remember that you will also probably be renting chairs, dishes, and glassware -- and more guests means more rental items. Have your heart set on a big group? You may need to cut back in other areas to accommodate the larger guest count.

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