The Dreaded Guest List
Who else agrees that creating a guest list is one of the most tedious and sensitive parts of planning a wedding? I know it was a huge task for us. First you don’t know where to start, then you want to invite every person you’ve ever met, then you realize you can’t afford that, you finally get your list narrowed down, and then your grandma insists you invite her entire Sunday School class. It’s a dangerous cycle really.
If you are going through this same cycle, avoiding the process all together, or maybe you have a list but don’t know how to organize it, I’m here for you. I’ll walk you through 3 steps to narrow down and organize your guest list! And at the end, you’ll have the opportunity to download a FREE Guest List Template!
TIP: I have found that when creating guest lists, Microsoft Excel works best! For each list mentioned below, create a new tab at the bottom of your workbook. You can make copies and toggle between them as you work.
#1: The Draft
The first thing you’ll want to do is sit down with your fiance’ and make a draft list. This list will include everyone you think you’ll want at your wedding. For the draft, use individual names instead of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” or “The Williams Family.” This way, you’ll be able to see the exact number of guests you’re thinking of inviting. The list can quickly become larger than life if you aren’t counting each guest.
While creating the draft, use a color-coding system. Highlight those who will 100% be on the final guest list in green (aka: your mom & dad, siblings, grandparents- you get the picture). Those who are a “maybe” in yellow, and as you narrow down your list, highlight your “No’s” in red. Be sure to include any plus-ones on the draft list as well.
Remember, The Draft is the place for you to jot down guests as you think of them, mark them off as you narrow down, and add plus ones as needed. The Draft is not official yet!
TIP: You do NOT have to invite every single person you or your family knows. When creating your list, think about the people you want to share this special day with, the people who have had an impact on your life, or who have a special relationship with your family. Your wedding is about celebrating with your favorite people, not about impressing your dad’s golf club members.
#2: The Name Guest List
Once you’ve narrowed down and made your final edits to The Draft, it’s time to create the “Name Guest List” in a new tab. This list will include your final list of “Yes’s”, listed by their individual, full names (just like on The Draft). The Name List will include for-sure plus one’s. *We’ll dive into plus-one etiquette in a minute, don’t worry.*
Document your plus one’s by creating a column labeled “Number Invited” with a “sum” formula. In that column, indicate individual guests with a “1” and guests with a plus one with a “2.” Listing your guests in this fashion under the “sum” formula, will give you an accurate head count at the bottom of the column!
Here’s an example:
For organization’s sake, I found it helpful to color-code the Name Guest List by guest association. This just helps visualize who is coming. It will also be super useful when creating your Seating Chart down the road.
Here is how I categorized our guest list, but make it your own:
#2a: Plus-One Etiquette
Plus-ones are a serious sticking point. I know we did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings when it came to plus-ones, but they add up SO quickly. If we had given every single person a plus-one it would have doubled our catering cost! That just wasn’t an option for us!
To avoid the “plus-one guilt” we simple leaned on the standard plus-one etiquette.
Guests receive a Plus-One If They:
• Are married
• Are engaged
• Live with a significant other
• *Optional* Have a serious, long-term boyfriend/girlfriend the bride and groom are both friends with
If any of our guests were outside of these parameters, they did not receive a plus one.
#3: The Official Guest List
Once your Name List is finalized, you will now need to create The Official Guest List. This list will be what you use to address your invitations, to keep track of RSVP’s, gifts, and thank you notes. You will list your guests as it will appear on the invitations.
When keeping track of listed items, highlight the outstanding with a bright color so you know what still needs tending to.
Here is an example:
Add a “sum” formula in the Number RSVP’d column to keep track of plus-ones and the final guest count. And keep your color-coded categories consistent with your “Name Guest List.”
Keeping track of all of the above listed items will help SO much with head count, invitations, seating charts, gifts, and ultimately thank you notes. To see it all in one place is seriously a precious thing.
Get All of this for FREE!
I seriously hope the above tips are helpful when creating your wedding guest list – I know how stressful it can be and I want to take that stress away! If you like my guest list strategy but don’t have time to create one from scratch, download my official template for FREE!
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You Can Do It!
With these resources, you are ready to tackle the dreaded wedding guest list! Please let me know if you have any questions!
Happy Wedding Planning!