101 Event Planning Series: Guest List

Your guest list so often dictates so much of your big day, from the location you can host it at, through to the total budget which affects literally everything else.

It can more often than not, become quite a point of tension between friends couples and their families. Who do you invite and who misses out? Does your mate from Highschool whom you haven’t spoken to since get the cut, and do your Brother-in-Laws children get a seat on the day? When you hear people saying they’re having 100 plus people at their Wedding, it seems crazy to think that, but you would be surprised how quickly the guest list can grow.

All of a sudden everyone seems incredibly important in your life, and the idea of not having them at your big day is unimaginable. It’s essential you strip this back to really consider who are the key people you want to include to join you for this special celebration.

Think about the key moments in the day. As you walk down the aisle, does it really matter if they are there watching? Your dad’s speech about how much he loves you both, are they going to tear up. If the answers are probably not, then it might be an idea to leave them off the list.

I like to tell my couples to write up their dream list. If money was no object, and your dream venue could fit everyone and anyone who would be there? You will notice guest list grows very quickly. Once you have your list sorted, choose a Friday night, pour a big glass of wine and sit on the couch together. No TV nor phones to distract you. It’s time to be realistic!

Have a few key rules to start this chat with. It always makes it a little easier, as the decision is now objective, rather than emotions based. But you must both agree to stick to these rules, with no objections, because before you know it, everyone is exempt from the rule, and your list is no smaller. Our top rules are:

1. A ‘no children policy’ is a very easy and quick way to cut the guest list numbers. This is also beneficial, as you now no longer need to cater for their own meals, separate tables and often child minding services.

2. If you haven’t met them, not on the list. Just because mum and dad want you to invite their Maid of Honour from their big day who you have never met or really even heard about. Doesn’t mean they make the cut.

3. Leave the guilt behind. There’s no room for ‘well they invited me so we need to’. Yes people will have expectations to

This can take some time though, don’t feel like you need to have your entire guest list finalised after one night. It will take a few revisions, and some back and forth over the next few weeks. Your venue won’t need the final guest list until much closer to your date. But it is really important to set yourself a finish line, otherwise you will end up at revision 95 of your guest list, and probably no hair left from the stress.

Once you have your list mostly finalised, it’s important to send out some Save The Date invitations. These let people know your upcoming date and can block it out in their calendar. Or let you know if they already have something on that day and can’t make it.

It’s also important to consider your venue when you are deciding on your guest list as well. This can sometimes determine your headcount numbers. The venue and headcount can really be the chicken and the egg scenario, which one comes first? You may have your eye on a venue since you were a flower girl there at your aunties wedding way back when. If this is the case, you’re limited to how many people can fit in this venue so keep that in mind. On the flip side, some couples choose to figure out their headcount and then select a venue that suits this accordingly.

One thing is for sure, there is nothing worse than having your heart set on a venue that can only fit half your guest list. Or having an empty room because you don’t have enough guests. Having too many guests can only be solved by chopping the head count down. But too much room can be solved with some clever styling.

Children are another big one to keep in mind! If every couple were to bring 1-2 kids, your guest list has just increased by about 30% over night. Don’t be afraid to make it a child free event. Truthfully, their parents are probably desperate for an adults night away from them.

No matter what, at every stage of your wedding planning process, make sure you focus on who the day is really for! YOU GUYS! You’re the ones that will think about your special day forever, so make sure it’s a special memory with people you really want. Not people you feel you must have there.

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