How to Manage a Wedding Guest List

So how do you balance your vision with the expectations and desires of your families who might be picking up the tab?

Putting together a guest list that all sides of the family can agree upon can be a planning stress point.

The bride and groom may envision a small, intimate event where they can talk to each and every guest; meanwhile, the parents view this as their opportunity to throw a huge bash inviting family, the crew from the neighborhood, colleagues from the office, old college roommates– you get the picture.

The size of the guest list dictates many of the decisions you will make in the course of planning your wedding.

For starters, it determines your budget, and more guests = more money. The size of the budget and guest list will dictate the venues and churches available to you. If you had your heart set on a historic chapel that only seats 100 and your guest list is 200 you will need to abandon that thought. Therefore, determine the size of your guest list at the very beginning of your planning journey to avoid getting boxed into a vendor or venue that will not fit your guest size or your budget.

Have a family member who is determined to put everyone and anyone on the guest list? Here’s a strategy that might help solve the issue without creating undo stress:

Begin by assigning each guest on the list an A plus (A+), A minus (A-) or B status (B).

  • A+ is family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, first cousins) and wedding party.
  • A- is extended family and close friends.
  • B is people you want to be there but would be okay if they could not be included.

Run your entire guest list through the one-year, two-year test — if you have not seen or talked to the person in one or two years, you can remove them from the list.

Send invitations to guests on the A+ and A- minus list two and half or three months before the wedding date. As notification of regrets arrive, send invitations to B list guests. You might consider a different RSVP date for the A+ and A- guests and a later RSVP date for the B list guests.

I hope this strategy is a compromise that keeps everyone happy and free of stress!


L. Havard Events is dedicated to providing the organized expertise necessary to ensure the perfect Wedding day. Learn more!


Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Lisa Havard’s story.