Devising a wedding guest list is a complex affair that requires forethought and skill. This article takes a closer look at the all important factors to consider when drawing up your very own wedding guest list.
Your Wedding Guest List
When it comes to devising your wedding guest list it sadly isn’t just a matter of saying ‘Ooh, I quite like my Uncle John, I think I’ll ask him’ – oh no, there are far more dark and sinister forces at work than that! Before sending out any invites you must systematically and tactfully plot your way through a weird and complex process taking into consideration many factors before arriving at the ultimate decision. Let's take a look at each of these factors in turn...
Your number one consideration above everything else when it comes to your wedding guest list is likely to be your budget. Whilst the convenient option may be to invite everyone whose names are thrown into the ring, money sadly doesn’t grow on trees. So, in order to help make some decisions, you will need to determine the exact cost per head and, based on this figure, work out how many names can make your final wedding guest list.
In order to arrive at an accurate figure it is important to include everything in the equation - from the welcome drinks and place cards, through to the food and favours. If you don't have figures for any elements of the day yet, you can always use the figures detailed in our average wedding costs article until you get firmed-up prices.
We advise that you try to determine six individual figures in order to help you plan accurately:
Adult Cost - Full Day
Adult Cost - Part Day
Child Cost - Full Day
Child Cost - Part Day
Infant Cost - Full Day
Infant Cost - Part Day
Once you have figures for all six of the groups, a quick cross-check with your budget will help to indicate how many guests you can afford to invite to both the full day and part day and, whilst the figures may not be 100% accurate, at least they will allow you to determine whether you are able to invite the whole of your department at work along with their partners, or just your mate who sits opposite you!
The Views of Your Partner
Above everything else, you must remember that this day is for you and your partner, and it really is only your two opinions that matter. However, unless you and your partner share identical views about every single friend and family member (and the chances of that are slimmer than a supermodel!) then herein lies a problem.
We all have family and friends who are adored by everyone they meet, but sadly a lot of us also have family and friends who are, how should we put it, an acquired taste. You may love them, but there is a strong chance that your partner might not.
There is no hard and fast rule about how to get around this issue, other than to discuss your views like adults. Unless you have a really good reason, then you really shouldn’t prevent someone your partner wants to attend from coming, but conversely do you really want someone there who you can’t stand the sight of? Compromise is always the best solution so, if possible, restrict anyone who falls into this category to a partial attendance only at the wedding.
If the individual(s) in question simply has to attend the full day, then it’s time to put your thinking cap on. For starters, make sure your wedding ushers know where to seat them – towards the rear of the congregation and preferably in the corner is a good bet, and likewise at the wedding reception place them on a table as far away from the top table as possible, preferably with their back to you.
Finally, make sure that your partner fully knows your feelings on this matter and ask them to show understanding and sympathy so that the ‘unwanted guest(s)’ blend into the background and you hardly know they’re there. It may seem a big deal right now, but if you do things well, you’ll be able to look back on the day and wonder where all the worries came from.
The Views of Others
Many couples will be going down the path of funding the wedding in the traditional manner, with both sets of parents contributing financially in one way or another. If you fall into this category then, if they haven't been said already, it won't be long until you hear the magic words, ‘just you remember who’s paying for this thing!’
For all their good intentions, every parent has a view as to who should attend their child's wedding, and only the most tactful and careful individual can avoid passing those views on. Some names will be subtly dropped, whilst others will be done so in a far less tactful manner – either way the names have been mentioned in an attempt to get them onto the final wedding guest list.
Depending upon how receptive you are to the views of others, (or depending upon how forceful these views have been made) then you may or may not choose to listen to them. The key with regards the names that have been thrown into the ring is to understand why they have been mentioned before deciding one way or another. Some names may be suggested simply to ‘return a favour’, whilst others have been given for ‘showing off’ purposes, others may have been mentioned because they are close friends.
The general rule of thumb when it comes to any name that has been suggested that was not originally on your wedding guest list is to take them on a case by case basis. If your budget will allow for a couple of extra invites, then perhaps the names are worth considering, especially if you don’t have any strong views against them attending and their doing so would help to keep the peace! But just remember, the wedding guest list is for you and your partner to determine, so make sure that you stick to your guns and don’t invite someone if you don’t really want them there.
You will very quickly find that ‘groups’ will develop when it comes to a wedding guest list, so rather than just being able to invite your favourite Uncle and Aunt, you'll probably find that you need to invite all of your Uncles and Aunties or there could be trouble.
Grouping guests is an ideal way to aid budgeting and split guests between full day and part day, so make sure you consider this aspect early on in the wedding guest list process.
Do we include children on our wedding guest list or don’t we? This is a question that many couples will ask themselves, especially if they don’t have kids of their own. Whilst children can add vibrancy and colour to any affair, they can also cause havoc and wreak chaos wherever they go. Granted, if the kids are more like the latter than the former then the decision may already be made for you, but if not you will have to decide for yourselves.
Whilst there isn't a hard and fast rule when it comes to deciding whether to add children onto your wedding guest list, the only real piece of advice we will give is to be consistent. If it is to be an adult only affair then so be it, as long as guests with children are informed early enough. But likewise, if you do invite the children of one guest, then you should try to do so for all.
Related: There are hundreds of wedding articles on the site, each filled with superb ideas, advice and inspiration. Check out the links in the left hand column to read more. Alternatively, to search for a local wedding venue, product or service provider, try our Wedding Directory. With over 13,000 companies already listed, you're sure to find what you're looking for.