How to Create a Guest List (Plus Template)

Create the Perfect Guest List for Your Wedding

For some couples, creating a wedding guest list is lot’s of fun and doesn’t require too much thought, just add all your friends and family and get ready for a party.

For other couples creating the guest list is a back and forth on exactly how many people each side of the family can invite and how many distant friends you really want to invite.  If you’ve only met Aunt Jenny once does she get an invitation?

Once you finally get all those names down on an actual list, you will have all of the most important people in your life right there in a list.

Kind of scary and awesome right?

We’re here to share some tips with you on how to create a guest list, how to determine who should get an invite and how to cut people from your list.  And we’ve also got the directions to build a spreadsheet for yourself, or download ours and start filling it in.

Let’s Get Started!

Creating Your Wedding Guest List

You probably already have an idea of all the people that you want to invite.  It includes all your friends, your sorority sisters and every team that you’ve ever participated on right?

Once you combine your list with your partner’s list and then with your family’s lists, it can turn into a lot more people than you might have expected.

There are a couple of key factors that you have to take into account when you’re working on your guest list.  One of these is going to be the budget and the other is going to be the venue.  If your venue holds 250 people you don’t want to go over that number in invites.

How to Start Your List

To start creating your list, just get everyone you can think of onto a list and then go back and sort later.  There will always be people who are more “important” on your list and you’ll need to get information from your partner and your family’s to complete your first draft.

We suggest that once you have all the names listed, or you think you have them all, you start sorting.

Sort them into  an A list and B list.  The A list is the people that you will invite, no question.  The B list is for the people that you are obligated to invite or your family has requested you to invite.  They might also fit into the category of someone you feel that you “should” invite.

Later in the process you can move anyone on the B list to the A list if there is room in the venue and the budget.

Who to Include on Your A List

Your A and B list will be different according to your lifestyle and the kind of wedding that you’re planning.  Extended family and work colleagues can go on the list that feels right for your situation, because your giant family might be very closely connected.  Children are another group that you may or may not want at your wedding, but if you do, they must be included in the head count.

Be sure to Include:

  • Your Immediate Family
  • Close Friends – the one’s you see and speak to regularly
  • Plus Ones – if you know them personally
  • Friends of Family
  • Children
  • Your Extended Family

Who to Include on your B List

  • Extended Family – if you have a large family you may need to decide how deep the invites go into the family tree
  • Work Colleagues – if you have one person that you lunch with everyday then they might belong on the A list, but if you’re part of a team they may all belong on the B list
  • Plus One’s – that you aren’t familiar with.  You’re not required to invite someone you’ve never met to your wedding so you may decide to limit the plus one’s.  If they’re engaged or have been dating for years invite them.  Otherwise leave them off the invitation.

Who Not to Include on Your List

It’s easier to start at the beginning with some rules for how you will trim your list.  Some ideas are:

  • The bride or groom doesn’t know them personally
  • You haven’t spoken to them in years (you decide how many)
  • You’re only inviting them because they invited you (don’t feel obligated)
  • Children – no reason to feel guilty if you don’t want children at your wedding

Be Sure to Collaborate

Sit down with your family and find out who they feel is important to invite.

If your mom wants to invite her Bunco group but you’ve never met them, now’s the time to have that discussion.  It can be a tricky situation if someone is contributing financially to the wedding and feels like they control the guest list.

Creating a guest list is another one of those activities that’s going to take some time and possibly some negotiating.  You also want everyone to review the list to be sure that you haven’t accidentally forgotten someone important.

A Few More Tips

Here are just a few more tips to keep in mind when you create your guest list:

Don’t verbally invite someone to the wedding if you’re not certain that they’re already on the A list.  You don’t want to create confusion or hard feelings further down the line.

Don’t forget to count the Bride and Groom!  That’s a plus two!

Never count on someone not attending until you have a firm “no” from them.  People will surprise you!

Don’t forget to include children in your head count if they’re included.  If you’re not including children then be sure to clarify that information on  your invitations.

If you’re close to your maximum number remember that approximately 10% of your guests will say no.  But you will also have a few stray plus ones that you weren’t counting on so be careful to keep track.

Moving Names from the B list to the A list

When you start adding names from the B list, be sure that you invite the entire group of people, if they fit into a group.  If your coworkers are on the B list, you don’t want to invite just one of them, you want to include all the ones on your list.  Keep that in mind so that it’s not an awkward situation later.

If you have cousins on the B list, be sure that you get that section of the family moved to the A list.  You don’t want an awkward family reunion in the future.

How to Create a Guest List Spreadsheet

All the tips on creating a guest list won’t help you at all if you don’t have a way to keep track of all the information.  So the first thing you need to do is create a spreadsheet (or you can download ours to use).

Don’t underestimate the importance of having all this information in one place.  A spreadsheet makes it easy to update information and add it to other lists, such as the rehearsal dinner.

It also makes it easy to share and collaborate with your family or with your calligrapher that’s going to address your invitations for you.

To Make a Spreadsheet in Google Docs:

  1. First, head to sheets.google.com and click ‘Start a New Spreadsheet’
  2. Label A1 the name of your spreadsheet ‘Guest List’
  3. Drop down to the second row, and list out your columns. Here’s the order we used: Last Name, Title, First Name(s), Inner Envelope Names, Mailing Address, City, State, Zip, Phone, E-mail, # in party, Save the Date Sent, Invitation Sent, RSVP received, Gift Received, Thank You
  4. You’ll want to add some more tabs, so hit the plus sign in the bottom left.
  5. Add tabs for anything that you want to keep track of separately – like bridal showers or the rehearsal dinner.  It’s easy to move the no’s to their own tab for tracking purposes.
  6. Just copy and paste the information to your new tab.
  7. Use colors!  You can change the text color or the box color but use what makes it easiest for you.

Once you’ve filled in all the info you need pass on your sheet to your family so that they can add and double check your list.

Don’t delete guests from your spreadsheet.  Keep the information that you have in case you need it later.  If a guest declines, either color code them or move them to another list, but don’t delete them.

Use your guest list for more than just a head count.

Use it to keep addresses, track your RSVPs, gifts you receive, who’s invited to the shower or rehearsal dinner, etc.  You’ll have all the addresses handy for the hostess of the bridal shower or bachelorette party.  And all you have to do is update it with checkmarks as you’re writing out those thank you notes.

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