One of the first things a couple does when they’re starting to plan a wedding is to compile a (very) tentative guest list. You should do this before you scout potential venues, before you look at bakeries and caterers… everything. How many people you invite to your wedding will limit or expand what your options are for every other detail of your big day. You may think that you’ve only got a 30 person guest list, but your social circle grows when you actually sit down and draw out the people you want at your wedding. Here’s a quick guide to some basic dos and don’ts for your guest list, and a few tips to keep everything from spiraling out of control:
Draw up some guest tiers
You shouldn’t send tiered invitations (B-listing) or hold a tiered reception (where certain guests are only invited to certain parts of the reception), but you should tier your first draft of your guest list. Who must be invited, and who can’t be invited without inviting three other people? Immediate family (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles) may be one tier while cousins and great aunts and uncles are another. Instead of cutting individuals (which can cause some family tension), try to cut your guest list off at a tier. Maybe you invite family but not friends – it all depends on what your guest max is.
Invite all significant others
If one of your adult guests is in a relationship, you should invite the significant other. While some people may say that it’s okay to not invite someone who is only a “casual” boyfriend (or you should only invite couples together if they’re married), you begin to tread in dangerous waters when you start making those decisions and distinctions yourself. Your definition of a “serious” relationship may be different from someone else’s, and you don’t want to split up a couple who identifies as a unit in social situations. They may be offended, and you could end up with a “regretfully declines” from someone you really wanted there.
Decide about +1s now
If you allow your single friends to bring guests, prepare for your guest list to grow significantly. You may alter who gets a +1 depending on various factors, such as how far your guest is traveling or if they’re attending with their families, but whatever you do, decide now what your plan is before you deliver any numbers to vendors or venues. You don’t want to quote 100 people to your venue when adding +1s would bump your guest list to 150.
Be clear on your invites
The best way to guarantee a final guest list even close to the original number you intended is to be clear in your invitations. If you aren’t inviting children to your wedding, only write the names of the adults invited on the invite, and be sure to add “(2) seats reserved in your honor” to the RSVP. If someone RSVPs with more names than you intended, make a quick phone call to your guests to clarify who the invitation was for. Most people will understand, though you should be prepared for a few “regretfully declines” when you aren’t willing to invite everyone.