Let’s talk about your wedding guest list…
Getting married is a momentous occasion that should be shared. But choosing the wedding guest list is commonly quoted as being one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding. When figuring out who to invite, you have to balance your budget with what’s right for you. But there are ways that you and your fiancé (and possibly parents) can make this process go smoothly.
In this guide, we’ll walk step-by-step through the process you can use to craft your wedding guest list that aligns to your personal values and budget.
Step One: Determine your top 3 wedding values
First and foremost, your wedding should align with your personal values as a couple. What are your personal values? Do you value being inclusive of everyone? Do you value quality time with your nearest and dearest?
The first step in knowing who is going to make it on your guest list is knowing what values you want to uphold in your planning stage. Values, by nature, are subjective and need to be agreed upon by the two people planning the wedding.
Some examples of wedding values could include:
Step Two: Where will your wedding be held?
Don’t freak out – you don’t need to have a venue locked in at this stage. But knowing the general area where the wedding will be held is a crucial decision in figuring out the budget and the guest list. It is important to know what city or region you’re hoping to book in, as the average cost-per-guest (CPG) will fluctuate depending on the location.
Step Three: Go BIG
To get things started, I’d suggest making a Google Sheet and write the longest list you possibly can of all of your friends and family. This should be shareable with your fiancé (and perhaps your parents if you want).
My advice is to go as big and broad as possible in this step – don’t hold back and don’t worry about the venue, the size or the budget.
Step Four: Lock in the budget and the venue
Although these next two steps might seem like a chicken and egg situation, I’d prioritise knowing your budget and your venue before knowing your final guest count.
Crunching the numbers requires you to be realistic and well-informed. Do your research, and make sure you have a good understanding of how everything is going to be paid for.
It’s worthwhile considering that each guest is more than just the number of butts in seats and how many mouths you have to feed – it might also include transport (if you’re providing), wedding favours (if that’s your jam), how much alcohol you’ll need and any other hire items required for the big day.
Common sense: When you have fewer guests, the less expensive your wedding will be.
Keep in mind any vendors you may want to include in this list, like your photographer, band or MC – they’ll need somewhere to sit and eat too.
Step Five: The cull!
Celebrate that you’ve made it this far! This means you’ve booked your venue, and you know exactly what the venue capacity is. Now it’s time for the final (and hardest) step in completing your guest list.
The first thing to note is that is either of your parents have offered so kindly to chip in financially, this might come with some expectations that their closest mates might be added to the list. As with everything wedding planning related, we recommend an open conversation with your folks.
Ask these five questions to cull down your wedding guest list:
- Have we spoken to this person in the last 1-2 years? How much does it mean to you in the future if they weren’t at the wedding?
- Have we actually met this person? If neither of you has met or heard of a potential guest (assuming your parents have invited them), then consider this all the permission you need to remove them from the list.
- Are we having kids at our wedding? All of it, or just the ceremony?
- Do we have to invite them? Feeling pressured to invite someone out of social niceties is not a good enough reason to spend $150+ on their food and beverage tab.
- Is it possible that we’re only inviting this person to avoid feeling guilty? If the answer is yes, then I suggest that you don’t invite them. Simple! It’s seriously a day that’s about you and your significant other, and only the top people should be there to witness it all go down.
The wedding guest list is an important decision because it can affect the budget and venue selection. By considering your wedding values in making decisions about who to invite or not to invite, you will be able to create a wedding that aligns with what matters most for you both as individuals and partners.
Hank Paul is a Sydney Wedding Photographer specialising in sustainable and inclusive weddings.