You are engaged (YAY!) and now the planning begins. The first question everyone is going to ask you is, “do you have a date?!” But to lock in a date you have to have a venue… and to lock in a venue you need an idea of your guest count. So how do you know who to invite and to not invite to the biggest celebration you’ve probably ever thrown? Here are our go-to pro tips on creating that list:


  1. Start by listing everyone you think you might want to invite – the sky’s the limit. Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, the guy who cuts your dog’s hair. Make sure you ask your other half, parents and anyone else contributing to the wedding for their list as well.


  1. Now comes the hard part… keep in mind that your guest count is the BIGGEST contributor to your budget. So that list you just created of your nearest and dearest… it’s most likely going to need to be trimmed down.


  1. To trim the list, start asking yourself these questions:
    • How often do we hang out with this person (outside of mandatory functions, like work)?
    • Do you see this person being a part of your life in one year? What about five?
    • Do we want kids at the wedding? If not, what is considered the age limit for kids?  
    • How far do we want to extend the invitations for family? Do we cut it off at aunts and uncles or do we keep going with second and third cousins?
    • Does this person get a plus one?

Pro tip: If they are married, live with a significant other or have been in a serious relationship for more than a year, they get a guest. If they don’t know anyone else at the wedding, it is nice to extend them the opportunity to bring a guest. If they know a bunch of people (i.e. co-workers) then a “plus one” is not mandatory.


  1. Stick to your guns. Once you’ve set the rules, explain why to those contributing to the guest list and make sure you to stick to them. Making special exceptions is sure to create hurt feelings.


Keep in mind, your initial guest list is not written in stone. You can continue to adjust the number until your save the dates go out (once a guest receives a save the date, they are on the invite list!). That number may need to be adjusted if you find a venue that you simply can’t live without. In that case, it’s a great idea to divide up the number of guests you can invite – one third for you two and one third for each set of parents.


Still unsure how many guests to invite or how to cut the list? Consider hiring a wedding planner who can help you to sort through this dilemma (and many more to come!).

Photo courtesy of Jessi Paige Photography