What Is the Best Way to Plan Your Wedding Guest List?

Your no-nonesense guide of how to plan your guest list.

One of the first tasks you’ll do when you start wedding planning is to put together your wedding guest list. It will affect everything from your choice of venue, to how you allocate your budget. Sometimes it can be a straightforward process. Other times, not so much...

When it comes to planning your wedding guest list and asking who do you have to invite to your wedding, there are no rules. But we’ve put together a guide to help make the decision a lot easier for you.

It may seem cruel to split your friends and family into lists. But this is the most practical way to do it and let’s face it, we’ll all be a C-list wedding guest at some point in our lives, right?

Now, who you invite to your wedding is completely personal, so your A-D lists might vary slightly from ours. For instance, your cousins might feel more like siblings or maybe having lots of children at your wedding is important. The only rule is that all the people who you want to be there are there and you don’t feel forced to invite anyone you’d rather not have there. There's always one or two!

A-List: The guests you need to invite to your wedding

The first stage of your wedding guest list is to list the people you simply cannot imagine getting married without. The non-negotiables. For some couples, this might be 10 people, and for others, it might be 50. So sit down with your partner and ask yourselves: “If we had to get married in the morning, who would we want to have there?”

- Parents

- Siblings

- Closest friends

- Your own children

- Grandparents

B-List: The guests you really want to invite to your wedding

Lots of couples would consider this group of people as an extension of the A-List. But we’ve separated it to help you work out why you want to invite certain guests, rather than randomly typing names into a spreadsheet. These are the special people you’d love to spend your wedding day with. They’re important for you to have there, but it wouldn’t ruin your day if they couldn’t make it last minute.

- Nieces and nephews

- Closest aunties and uncles

- Your wider circle of friends

C-List: The guests you’ll invite to your wedding if your venue/budget allows

This is where it starts to get tricky. This list is made up of guests you’d really like to have at your wedding or guests that it would be difficult not to invite. For instance, some families have an all-or-nothing approach on aunties and uncles. But when it comes to your budget or venue size, you may have to draw a line somewhere along the following:

- All your aunties and uncles

- All your cousins

- Plus ones of new relationships/plus ones you don’t know that well

- Travel friends

- Old friends you haven’t seen in ages

- Your closest work friends

D-List: The guests you might feel obliged to invite to your wedding

And here comes the D-List. Depending on the kind of wedding you’re having (and who’s paying for it), this list would be made up of would-be guests who would make the cut or not. If your parents are paying for your wedding, they’ll get to ask some guests. If you’re having a church ceremony, it’s polite to invite the priest to the wedding meal. But when it comes to feeling obliged to invite your boss, the friends of friends who invited you to their wedding or the girls at your gym class – that’s probably when you need to pull back.

- PriestNeighbours

- Friends of your parents

- Children of guests

- Everyone from your local club

- People who invited you to their wedding

- All your work colleagues (and boss)

Tips for putting together your wedding guest list

You have to draw a line

Whether you’re planning a wedding guest list of 15 or 150, please remember that a line has to be drawn somewhere. Some people make the cut and some people don’t – you can’t please everyone. And if you do decide to invite more people, the problems will still be there.

People will be understanding

Have you ever not been invited to a wedding you thought you’d be asked to? Do you really mind? Probably not, or not for long. People are obviously going to be excited about the prospect of sharing your day with you. But remember that they might be more understanding than you think and know the constraints of a guest list.

Don’t over-invite

A lot of people say to over-invite when planning your wedding guest list as 10-20% of your guests may turn you down. But this is a risky game to play unless your venue or budget is flexible. You never know, all those people you invited from New Zealand might use it as an excuse for a holiday (even though you thought they wouldn’t come).

Set a rule for plus ones

When it comes to who gets a plus one, usually it’s anyone who’s married, engaged or in a long-term relationship. A great loophole for this though is if you invite a group of your friends together without their partners (e.g. a group you only spend time with away from their other halves).

Decide whether to invite children

Whether or not to invite children is another tricky area. Remember that having lots of children present may significantly alter the feel of the day, so be sure to think about it carefully either way (and give lots of notice to parents if kids aren’t invited).

We hope that has helped you to plan your wedding list and also confirmed what you already knew, it ain't gonna be easy!

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