Guest List Tips

Guest List Tips

Your big day won’t be quite the same without your family and friends to help share in the celebration, however selecting which family and friends to include on the guest list can be quite a bit tricky

For your convenience we have put together a flow chart.

Where to start

Start by roughly determining what size of wedding you and your partner want - are you looking at a small intimate wedding with just close family members and friends, or a larger affair where you include everyone. Factor two aspects into this decision, firstly your budget and secondly the venue capacity. Working out what your budget is for the catering will give an idea of the amount of guests you can afford, but also make sure not to invite more guests than your venue can comfortably handle - if you do and they all RSVP yes you will have the problem of having to ‘un-invite’ some of the guests or end up with an uncomfortably crowded wedding. You can always add more guests at a later stage.

When you have a good idea of the number of guests you are looking at you can start to compile a list, we recommend that when you do this that you take the limitations out of the equation and include everyone you could ever imagine attending your wedding - from your best friend to your old college roommate. This list will most likely be much bigger than the number of guests you are planning to invite but it will give you a good basis to work from and to also make sure you do not forget anyone

Who to Invite

Unless you are planning on having a large wedding and want to invite everyone on the list you will need to trim it down. Here are some guidelines on people you can consider removing from the list.

1. Family Members

Do not feel obligated to invite people to your wedding just because they are family, this is your wedding and not a family reunion. If you have not spoken to them in years there is not much point in inviting them, and besides, it probably won’t make much difference to them whether they are invited or not.

However, if you do decide to invite distant family members it is just common decency to invite all of them.

2. Friends

Naturally you will want to invite your close friend, but with those friendships that have grown apart over the years you may want to think carefully before inviting. If you are considering inviting them as a way to ‘fix’ the friendship your wedding may not be the best setting to do so - you will have a lot of duties and expectations on the day and will not have a lot of time to spend with them.

3. Work

It is completely possible that you happen to work with your best friend, whom you obviously will invite. But other than that, just because you share an office with someone at work or occasionally have lunch together does not mean they have to make your guest list.

4. Neighbours

Unless you consider them friends, don't feel obligated. Just because they live next door to you does not mean they automatically get an invite

5. Friends and Family with a Track Record

Everyone knows someone that tends to be a bit unreliable or unruly, and the last thing you want is for someone to cause a seen or make your other guests uncomfortable. You may want to consider cutting anyone like this, however if it is your partners brother and you can’t not invite them, make sure to talk to them beforehand and set some ground rules.

6. Children

This is a personal decision between you and your partner. Any children will add to your number of guests which means that you may not be able to invite certain adult guests, they can also be unruly (especially if still very young) and even keep their parents from fully enjoying the wedding. But on the other hand, you may feel that the wedding is a family celebration and the children are part of the family. If you do decide to go for an adult-only wedding be sure to inform the guests with children ahead of time so they can make the needed arrangements.

If, however, you would like to have the children at your wedding but also want their parents to enjoy the wedding and not worry about their children you can consider hiring a nanny who specializes in taking care of children at weddings.

7. Plus Ones

Every person you invite will count as a guest, so do not feel obligated to add a plus one on the invites to your single friends or family. Even if they are in a relationship, and you've never met the person, you can consider not inviting them - especially if you need to choose between inviting someone you want or inviting a plus one that you do not know.

A good way to do this is to put the names of the people you are inviting on the invitations, this way you can avoid any confusion as well as eliminate the chance of unexpected guests showing up.

8. Other Wedding Invites

Just because you were invited to someone else’s wedding does not mean you have to return the favour. Ask yourself are you inviting them because you want them there or do you feel obligated to invite them because you were invited to their wedding - if it is the latter - don’t bother.


  • This is your wedding, your day to celebrate with people close to you. If you are considering inviting someone for any reason other than you want them there, think twice before sending out the invite.
  • Your guest list is something that you need to put together over time - not something you do in an hour. Over time you may think of people that were not on your original list or you may decide to remove someone from the list - you may also have to adjust according to your RSVP replies. So be patient, think carefully about everyone you consider and once you have your final list make peace with it.
  • Don't delete any names from your original list, if you decide to remove someone from the list rather put them on a separate list. You may discover that you have some extra space, and if you erase the names completely you may not think of them again.
  • Don’t forget to include yourselves (bride and groom) as well as certain suppliers like the officiant or DJ to the guest list
  • As jou start to narrow down your list, start a spreadsheet - this sheet will to contain all the information required for your guests. It will just make the planning a lot easier for you. The sheet should contain:
    • Names
    • Address
    • Emails and phone numbers
    • RSVP relies
    • Dietary restrictions and food choices
    • Anything additional info like arrival dates for out of town guests or accommodation details, etc.