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Guest List Do’s and Don’ts

May Durkovic on August 15, 2020 - 8:50 am in Planning Advice

With up to 200 guests on the invite list, your wedding may be the largest party you’ll ever host. And for good reason; it’s not every day you say “I do.” It’s exciting to share your special day with family and friends, but deciding who’s in and who’s out isn’t always easy.

According to Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, factors to consider when planning your guest list include the size of your ceremony and reception sites, desired level of intimacy and your wedding budget. If you fall in love with a venue that only holds 30 guests, you won’t have the option of a big wedding. A short guest list fosters a more intimate wedding and the opportunity to spend quality time with each guest. Longer guest lists include more friends and family, but limits time with each guest. And the longer the guest list, the higher the head count… and the bill.

When planning your guest list, first establish the number of guests you don’t wish to exceed. Then, decide on the number of guests parents can invite. If parents want to invite more guests, consider suggesting a party shortly after the wedding where parents’ friends can celebrate your new marriage.

If the guest list runs too long, create a hierarchy system to prioritize guests. For instance, immediate family and bridal attendants rank highest. Close friends and extended family members are prioritized next, followed by acquaintances and co-workers. As a general rule, it’s proper to invite spouses, fiancés and serious significant others. Single friends and family members can receive an invite for one.

On average, 10-20% of guests won’t be able to attend the wedding, which frees space for additional invites. Keep this in mind when trimming down the guest list, and create a backup list with the names of friends and family you decided to cut. Request an early RSVP date so there’s time to invite backup guests.


Another decision when creating your guest list is the inclusion of children. Each child is counted as a guest, increasing overall cost. If you choose not to invite children, do not include their names on the invitations’ outer and inner envelopes. Simply address the invitation to “Mr.” and “Mrs.” It’s not appropriate to note “children are not allowed” on the invitation. Instead, include this information on your wedding website and pass it on by word of mouth.

Follow the “all or nothing” rule when deciding to invite co-workers. If you invite one co-worker you should invite all, or opt not to invite any. A co-worker is not likely to be offended if she doesn’t receive your fancy wedding invitation, unless others are invited and she didn’t make the cut. The one exception applies to inviting your boss.

Remember, you do not have to invite everyone you and your parents know to your wedding. You’re also not obligated to invite someone just because you were invited to his or her wedding. However, if you’d like to post pictures of your engagement ring on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, call friends who didn’t make the guest list before hitting the post button. Let them know it was a hard decision, but they won’t receive an invite. Suggest celebrating with them after the wedding.

Creating your guest list will take time, consideration and patience. Set boundaries early and remember you probably won’t make everyone happy no matter how hard you try. Let go of guilt and take advantage of the opportunity to invite those you really want to spend time with on your special day.

As a boutique event planning firm, Voilà! Event Studio tailors your unique wedding to perfection. Learn more at http://www.voilaeventstudio.com; Photo Credit: Saskia Paulussen Photography

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