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Navigating Your Wedding Guest List: Tips for Newly Engaged Couples

Tandem Staff

Congratulations on your engagement! One of the first and most crucial steps in planning your special day is... creating daunting guest list. This task is where relationships are tested, especially when trying to balance personal desires with etiquette.

Here’s a guide to help couples navigate the complexities of assembling their wedding guest list with grace and tact.

Start with Your Vision and Budget

Before you jot down any names, discuss as a couple what kind of wedding you both envision. Whether it’s a small, intimate affair or a large, lavish celebration, your vision will directly influence the size of your guest list. Equally important is your budget, as this will dictate how many people you can realistically afford to host.

Create a a few lists

It’s a little ruthless, but alls fair in love… right? Build an A-list of must invites, like close family and friends. These are the people you can’t imagine your day without. The B-list is for guests you would like to invite if your budget allows or if you receive declines from your A-list. This method keeps your initial list manageable and prioritized.

And if you’re unsure about your venue’s capacity or your budget, send out invitations in phases. Start with your A-list, and as you receive RSVPs, you can begin to invite more from your B-list.

Everyone in the Bridal Party Gets a Plus-One

Think of it as a “thank you” for every occasion your bridal party has had to organize and participate in over the past year supporting you.

Stick to the "One Year" Rule

When considering friends or distant relatives, a good rule of thumb is to think about your interaction over the past year. If you haven’t been in touch, it might be acceptable to leave them off the list, unless they are particularly significant to you or your family.

Be Equitable in Allocation

Try to split the guest list evenly between both partners' families, unless agreed otherwise. This promotes fairness and helps manage potential conflicts about uneven guest numbers.

Be consistent with Plus-Ones

Plus-ones can quickly expand your guest list. Typically, couples offer plus-ones to guests who are married, engaged, or living together. For single guests, consider their situation—such as how well they know other guests—before automatically including a plus-one.

Have a clear and easily explainable criteria about who gets to invite who will help you as the couple establish boundaries for your guest list. 

Guests will be notified about whether or not they have a plus-one via addressing their envelope or when they go to RSVP if they’re prompted to input their plus-one’s contact information. 

Be prepared for guests who do not receive a plus-one to reach out about bringing a guest… maybe your friend’s relationship has turned more serious in the past few months, for example. When it’s news to you that guest is now in that relationship, do what you can to include his or her partner, but if you don’t have the room let them know, we’d love for you to bring a guest, but this is a very intimate affair.

And some of the hidden guests you should invite includes the spouse or significant other of your ceremony officiant, as well as both parents of ring bearers and flower girls.

Handle Co-Worker Invitations Tactfully

Deciding whether to invite co-workers can be tricky. If you have close relationships with colleagues, it makes sense to invite them. However, if you can’t invite everyone from the office, it’s perfectly acceptable to limit invites to just those you interact with outside of work.

Manage Family Expectations

Family can often have strong opinions about who should be invited. Listen respectfully to suggestions, but remember, the final decision rests with you and your partner. It’s okay to politely decline requests to invite people who do not fit your vision or budget.

Be Consistent with Children

Decide early on if children are invited to your wedding. Whatever your decision, apply it consistently across your guest list to avoid misunderstandings or hurt feelings.

Communicate Clearly and Kindly

When questions or issues arise, clear and kind communication is key. Be honest with guests if you can’t accommodate everyone they think should be invited. Most people will understand the constraints of wedding planning.

Crafting your wedding guest list is both an art and a science. Remember, this is your special day, and those who matter most will be thrilled to celebrate this joyful occasion with you.


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