Finalizing Your Guest List

The guests should be people you want to spend time with on your wedding day because they will be there to share the celebration of your love with you and your fiancé. Life is too short to argue over a simple list, make it fun by staying organized with these wedding guest list tips.

The Comprehensive List

Separately, Bride and Groom should brainstorm all the important people they would want to have at their wedding. Both should do this without reservation, leaving no one out that they might want to include.

This gets everything out on the table, fully in view, and helps orient you both so you kind of get an idea of what size of list you with which you’ll be working.

Doing the Math

If you still feel like your wedding will be a bit crowded, try taking the list you have thus far and as evenly as possible, considering financial contribution, divvy up the guest list between you, your partner, and each of your parents.

Regardless of who ends up paying for what during the celebration, it is a good idea to make sure everyone invested in the event has portion of the guest to speak for. You and your parents will want certain people there, and your partner and their parents will want others. It’s only fair to see to it that each person gets a more or less equal say in who gets to attend. Each person then narrows their list down as much as they can before recombining them for a final count.

Venue Restrictions

Obviously the venue size will restrict how many people you can invite. Depending on where you decide to hold the big day, your comprehensive list might shrink substantially based on this factor alone.

You aren’t going to want the Fire Marshall to show up to your wedding without an invitation, so be sure to get a solid number from the venue owner on the max occupancy if it’s going to happen indoors.

One you have that number, it’s time to consider removing some of those casual acquaintances, or your partner’s best friend back in kindergarten from the guest list.


If the venue restrictions haven’t whittled down the guest list, budgeting probably will. In the end, no budget is large enough to invite EVERYONE.

The catering is going to be where you both will want to focus most. It is important to carefully calculate price per person. If keeping the guest list as large as possible while staying on a budget is priority, you might to check with your chosen catering company and go through all your options and see what might help save catering costs. Is there a less expensive meal or alcohol option? Do some sizes of servings make more sense than others?

Perhaps it’s more important to you that you and your partner are surrounded by intimate friends and relations with a top tier meal. In that case, the dinner portion of the night is a perfectly legitimate reason to keep your guest list small, and there is no shame in telling people so.

Children & Plus Ones

There are pros and cons to both excluding and including children on your guest list. There are surely children in your life or the life of your loved ones you will want to invite, but they are included in the cost of throwing a great celebration for your big day.

For intentionally small weddings on a tight budget, it may be best to make the hard choice of barring children from your wedding. Whether or not to allow children at your wedding is a tough decision that really can only be made after honest discussion with your partners and anyone offering financial assistance.

The same can be said for allowing guests a plus one. It is recommended that you keep plus one allowances to guests whom are married, engaged, or living with a committed partner.

Final Decisions

It’s best to make classify and prioritize the list you have left at this point. From the top down it should look something like

  • Wedding Party
  • Parents and Immediate Family
  • Extended Family
  • Friends, etc.

. Here are some things to consider if you are going to be removing anyone from the list at this point:

  • Being on the same Page – If an invitee is not family, it’s best that both you and your partner—not just one of you—know and have met this person. Also outside of certain circumstances, Exes should probably not have made it this far on the list. If they are still on the list, and you need to make some room, Exes are pretty low hanging fruit.
  • Friends of Friends – These are folks you may know and like, but they live nearby and you don’t normally come across each other unless someone else organizes an event you both attend.
  • Coworkers – If you wouldn’t put in the effort to stay in touch with a co-worker if you were to quit your job tomorrow, then they probably don’t mean enough to you to have at your wedding.
  • A Year and a Day – When was the last time you have seen or spoken to this person. Has it been more than a year and a day? It might be worth considering crossing their name off the list.

Standing Your Ground

Everyone will tell you how your wedding should be more like what THEY think it should be. Don’t listen to them. Don’t let the guilt trips, the passive-aggressiveness, and the attempts at manipulation get to you. This is your day, not theirs. You and your partner are what this whole thing day is all about. You two know best who you do and do not want there for your perfect day. Stand your ground.