Weddings are a time of joy – a celebration of love between two people. And celebrating such an important day isn’t something you usually want to do alone.

Just like many other aspects of such a special day, organizing your guest list is something that takes a bit of planning. It may be tempting to invite everyone in your life, but once you see that full guest list on paper, you’ll be thinking more about your expenses and less about disappointing your favorite bank teller.

Trimming and deciding on a guest list isn’t the most fun part of planning your wedding, but it’s something you’ll need to decide fairly early on. Coming up with this list can cause a bit of anxiety – for you, for your fiance, and for your parents. We’ve come up with a few tips to help you get organized.


Set an Atmosphere

Is your wedding going to be the social event of the season or a small gathering of those closest to you? Is it a destination wedding or somewhere local? Will there be children attending? Your guest list can make a big difference on the tone and atmosphere of the day. Once you decide, you can start to envision an appropriate guest list.


Think About Your Budget

You should have your budget set before you start to invite guests – especially if one or both sets of parents are contributing to the expenses. As The Knot reports, “Traditionally the couple gets half the guest list, and each set of parents gets a quarter of the guest list.” dividing your list evenly helps prevent potential disagreements on guests and makes it fair for everyone involved.

Pro tip: The Knot also has a handy little tool called the Wedding Guest List Manager which can help you organize your invites, RSVP’s, and give you step-by-step instructions throughout the guest list process.

Wedding Ceremony

Start Big and Work Your Way Down

Perhaps the simplest way to create a guest list is to start by listing everyone – from your closest family and friends to your college roommates and your mailman. From there, decide which part of your wedding day you’d like to include them in.

You might find it helpful to create a few different lists – starting with a “must invite” and work your way down. These can then be divided into who is invited to the ceremony and who is invited only to the reception or dance.

Pro Tip: Number your guest list and corresponding invites. That way, you’ll know who hasn’t RSVP’d yet and who accidentally sent back a blank card.


Set Clear Rules – And Follow Them!

It can be hard to decide who to invite and who not to invite to a wedding, especially if you are feeling pressure from parents and other family members. To help prevent any animosity or disagreements, set clear guidelines for your guest list. Consider some of the following:

  • Plus ones will only be invited if the guest is married or engaged
  • Children will only be invited if they are a close relative. If you decide on a children-free wedding, make sure others helping you plan are aware and take that into account.
  • It isn’t fair to expect your favorite third cousin and not your fiance’s. Set one limit to extended family invites for everyone
  • Time limits: if you haven’t spoken to a friend in, say, two or three years, don’t feel obligated to invite them – even if they invited you to their wedding
  • Leave a little wiggle room – maybe you’re especially close to your third cousin or your mailman and your special day wouldn’t be the same without them. Leave some space on your list for special circumstances – but also grant this space to your fiance’s side of the family

Some of these rules may not apply to you and your family, so be sure to alter where needed or come up with new rules that work best for your big day.


A wedding is a special occasion that many couples want to share with everyone they know – though sometimes, that’s just not possible. Even if you plan on making a guest list that will rival the average football game’s attendance, Earle Brown Heritage Center has the perfect spaces to accommodate the smallest and most intimate of ceremonies to up to 800 guests. Contact us to learn more.