Wedding guest list dilemmas

wedding guest book

How do I start to plan my wedding guest list?

As a couple, decide on your shared vision for your wedding. Do you want a small affair involving just very close family and friends, or are you keen to gather as many of your nearest and dearest together as possible? Do you want to invite people for the whole day or will you have a separate guest list for the ceremony and evening reception? Create a draft guest list with all those people who you definitely want to invite. This will give you the basis for your venue search as well as a starting point for calculating your wedding budget. You may decide to increase your wedding guest list if your venue capacity and your budget allow.

How many wedding guests will accept the invitation?

Normally, as long as you provide sufficient warning and your wedding is easy to get to (for example, not a ‘destination wedding’) most people make the effort to attend a wedding. You can generally assume that between five and 10 per cent will decline a daytime invitation and often around 20 to 30 per cent for an evening invitation (some at the last minute, so watch out!). However, always ensure that you don’t invite more than your venue can accommodate, particularly for a sit down meal. Also remember that civil ceremonies are only licensed for a certain number of attendees, including the photographer and other staff, so don’t exceed the maximum. The last thing you want on your wedding day is people being turned away at the door.

Who should I invite to my wedding?

It can be tempting to simply invite everyone you want to be at your wedding, but in practice it is rarely that simple and there are often a lot of politics to take into account when creating your wedding guest list. When tackling questions of etiquette, always try to be sensitive and considerate towards your guests as well as your own wishes. Often, couples are under pressure to invite family or friends that they otherwise wouldn’t have considered. Or they might feel pressured to invite that estranged family member, to avoid the awkward ‘where is cousin Richard?’ questions on the wedding day. It is predicaments like this that can put the bride and groom in a difficult position.

Should I allow guests a ‘plus one’?

Depending on your venue size and overall budget, you may choose to allow guests a ‘plus one.’ Some brides and grooms may be ‘lucky’ that the majority of their guests are already married or have partners, which eliminates the need for any plus ones (and also eliminates the small talk when meeting someone totally new!). But on the whole, the happy couple wants their guests to be happy too. This usually means allowing them to bring along their most recent conquest, friend or colleague to enjoy the big day as well. Despite the high chance that you will never meet your guest’s ‘plus one’ ever again, it’s worth it just to know your friend or relative had someone to share the day with.

Should I keep my wedding a child-free zone?

A common guest list dilemma is whether or not to invite children to your wedding day. Having children at your wedding always runs the risk of disturbing the romantic and refined ambience of the ceremony, or turning the reception into a child’s party, full of sober parents and ‘knee slides’ on the dance floor. The dilemma here is that you don’t want your friends or family members missing out on your wedding day due to their children. This dilemma is probably best dealt with on a case by case basis – speaking to your friends with little ones and gaining their opinion is always useful. Read more on
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Wedding guest list dilemmas
Creating and cutting your wedding guest list