Wedding 101: The Guest List

If there is one thing about weddings that can tear a family apart… it’s the guest list. Okay. Maybe thats a bit dramatic. But more than anything else about weddings, it seems like everyone in your family will have an opinion about who should attend your big day.

THIS IS NOT OKAY. I repeat. THIS IS NOT OKAY. Whatever you do, don’t go to your families first about your guest lists. If you do, chances are, Great Great 90 year old Aunt Winfred and her 38 year old boyfriend will be sitting front row, and your friends from college just might not make the cut. Or something like that 🙂 HAHA

For Trevor and I, we knew we wanted a small wedding. (For some people, 125 people isn’t a small wedding. However, with the size of my family… this was super small for us.) We talked about it, and decided on our number. 125 seemed perfect. We knew not everyone we invited would come, so we decided our number of guests we’d invite was 140. Then, we split the guests in half. 70 for my family, and 70 for his. Easy Peasy, right? For most people the hardest part, is deciding who those 70 guests should be. For my side, it wasn’t an issue. With my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, I had 60 people. That left 10 extras for close family friends. For Trevor, they have a much smaller family. With his immediate family only taking up about 10 spots, they had a lot of room to decide who they wanted at the wedding. Trev let his mom help him with the list, because they have a ton of friends, who are more like family, to invite.

Overall, our guest list wasn’t hard. But for many people, it isn’t this cut and dry. So how do you do decide?

First, pick your number. You know if you want a big wedding or a small one. Choose the number that feels right for you. Then, begin making a list with your soon to be hubby, of all the people you think should be at your special day. Next, think about the littlest people in your lives. Is your wedding going to be kid friendly?  If it is, be sure to add children’s names to your guest list. They’ll need a seat, and a meal. So you have to count them. Now what about the people you’re kind of on the fence about? Not sure if you should invite your friend from work? What about that girl you lived with freshman year, and you still “like” each others Instagrams? Add them all to the list at first. Once your list is written, check the number. Is it close  to what you were hoping for? Is it way over? This will determine your next move.

If you are close to your number, and have everyone you think you need, leave it be. BUT if you are way over, I suggest asking yourself one of these two questions. Twenty years from now, do I want to still talk to these people? Are these people that I would want my children to know? Surprisingly, these two questions will help you immensely. So think back to that girl from freshman year. Do you really see liking each others Instas sustaining a 20 year friendship? Probably not. Is she someone you want your future baby to call “Aunt” and see a few times a year, no matter how far away from each other you live? Most likely, no. It truly is easy to decide if someone should be at your beginning, if you can’t see them in your happily ever after.

Once you and your fiance have your tentative list, it’s time to take it to your families. Be sure you stay firm in your choices. Obviously, if you forgot someone very important to your family, you need to adjust your list. But for the most part, STAY STRONG. Your mom may be upset that her best friend from High School didn’t make the cut, but remember, this is about THE TWO OF YOU, not about your families. This is truly the biggest thing I can stress.

Suck it up cupcake… and put your foot down. 

Easy to say, hard to do, I know. I’m like the least confrontational person ever. But if you don’t stay strong in your decisions, your guest list will keep changing, and it will honestly be a nightmare. There is nothing worse than thinking your guest list is ready to go and having last minute add ons. It makes it confusing, and hard to plan.  I remember our guest list changing a week before we sent out our Save the Dates, and I honestly almost had a melt down. But, I wanted to make everyone else happy. So I ordered more Save the Dates because we didn’t have enough. It cost a ton of money, because I had to buy at least ten, even though I only needed 3 more. And I had to have it rush shipped to me. And guess what? Those last minute guests that were added, didn’t end up even coming to our wedding. If I’d have stayed strong, I’d have saved Trev and I a bit of money, and a ton of stress.

I would also highly suggest seriously thinking about the notion of “courtesy invites”. You know, the people you feel need to be invited, but know they won’t/ can’t come? In the long run, you spend money on Save the Dates, invitations, and SO MUCH POSTAGE for no reason. We sent them anyways, and I was so worried people would think we were just fishing for a gift, because we were inviting them knowing they couldn’t come. It honestly, is a double edge sword. They could easily be offended you invited them, or offended you didn’t. Think about who the people are, before making the final decision, but if it’s friends or distant relatives, I personally wouldn’t worry about it.

Once your list is finalized, make sure you have an answer prepared for those people you didn’t invite. You will find yourself in a conversation with your great Aunt, and she will say she can’t wait for your wedding, and you’ll be standing there and feeling SO AWKWARD. Talk to your future hubby, and decide what you want to say to those people. Be kind. And be sure to explain to them that you love them very much, but there is a specific reason why they didn’t make the guest list. For me, when I said we were having a small wedding, with immediately family only, they completely understood. And there were no hard feelings. I think you’ll find, as long as you’re kind in your responses, that most people will be very understanding.

The whole “guest list thing” is honestly, one of the most stressful parts of your wedding day. The hardest thing to realize is that you aren’t going to make everyone happy, unless you are having a massive wedding where the guest count doesn’t really matter. It’s when you have to start makings cuts, that things get weird. Breathe deep. You’ll make it through, I promise! Just remember, these are the people you will be spending one of the best days of your life with. Be sure they are people that love you, support you, and most of, that you enjoy being around. Because someday, when you look back at your pictures, all of these amazing people in your life will be in them; smiling, dancing and having the time of their lives right along with you. And you’ll know, that you made the right choice.


*All photos from the wonderful Alyson Fink Photography


This is quite literally my absolute favorite picture from my wedding. My Aunt and Uncle were having the BEST TIME breaking it down! 




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