Creating your guest list
This blog is the first in a two-part topic on selecting your people with purpose. Part two, focused on choosing your bridal party with purpose, will be published next week!
Starting with your guest list can be the most helpful in guiding your wedding planning, from selecting the venue to choosing your wedding menu. Understanding your target guest list size can help guide your wedding budget and venue. Budget and location are two of the most important factors to wedding planning, and the size of your guest list will heavily impact both.
In creating your guest list, here are five simple steps to help you choose your guests with purpose and confidence.
Draft your wish list of wedding guests Just get it all on paper (physical or digital). You’re not committing to anyone right now, so there’s no pressure. You are creating the pool of guests you think you’d like to celebrate with at your wedding. Whether you end with 40 or 400 people, kids or no kids included on your list, just write it down.
Remind yourself “why” After you’ve completed a first draft of your wedding guest list, review your list of people and remind yourself of why you’d want each person to be present at your wedding to celebrate. If it helps your thought process, write your brief note of “why” beside each name. As you think through “why” for each guest, you will realize that you may not feel as strongly about some relationships to invite them to share in your special day. And remember-- that’s okay! As you review your list, grouping names together in categories like “college friends” or “extended family” can help you stay organized.
Refine and finalize your guest list Deciding who’s in and who’s out on the guest list can be the most stressful part of your wedding planning process, especially for a bride or groom who identify as “a people person.” It’s difficult to feel like you’re leaving someone out of your special day, but crossing someone off of your guest list does not mean you don’t care about them. Wedding planning is all about prioritization. If you end up with a short list of folks who you really wish you could invite but can’t expand the budget to include them, keep that short list on hand and invite them right away as declined RSVPs come back to you. You prioritize your wedding day vision by selecting one florist over another, for example. Do you feel badly for not selecting all the florists you considered who had beautiful work? Hopefully not! That wouldn’t be financially responsible or fair to your wedding day vision. Likewise, your guest list will have a prioritization to it. Give yourself permission to refine, prioritize, and finalize your guest list how you and your fiancee believe is best.
Craft your reasoning Don’t be surprised when friends or family members may ask you why they haven’t been invited to your wedding. Believe it or not, it happens! To avoid lingering in that uncomfortable conversation topic, prepare a one-liner about how you and your fiancee decided on your guest list and be as generic or specific as you deem beneficial. Having a consistent one-liner crafted to tell curious friends and family members will give you confidence to respond in a kind and truthful manner.
Guest safety* In these COVID conditions we find ourselves experiencing, considering how many guests traveling from out of town and health safety are necessary factors to consider. Are you personally comfortable with family and friends from out of town attending your wedding? Some guests may self-select to celebrate you from their homes, while others will choose to travel in for the day. To help your guests feel safe while celebrating your wedding day, you can also consider offering a virtual attendance or live stream option or writing in additional health guidelines attending guests are requested to follow.
This process of crafting your guest list, refining it and maintaining your “why” doesn’t have to be an arduous one. Avoid the “paralysis by analysis” and set time limits for yourself for each step, so you can keep yourself moving forward in your planning process.
When you do have your guest list finalized, celebrate! Pop a bottle of wine or order in your favorite meal. Wedding planning can be an emotionally and mentally tough process, so be sure to celebrate all your accomplishments along the way-- big or small!
*This article was written in the midst of a global pandemic, so while this item may be untimely later, it was included to help couples consider all aspects of the guest list planning and guest safety.