The guest list is without doubt one of the trickiest parts of planning a wedding. If you’re doing it for the second time around, you’ll already know how important it is to have the right people there – and how unpredictable your guests can be. From deciding who to invite to chasing up RSVPs, here are some essential tips on how to handle your guest list.
1. Establish a number
First and foremost, your wedding guest list is a question of numbers; it will be largely defined by your budget and how many people your venue can hold. Before you even start thinking about who, it is essential to work out how many – and if you’re holding the ceremony and the reception in different venues, you may need to consider two separate lists. In addition to space and seating, things like food, drink and table decorations also need to be factored in; how many people can you comfortably cater for? Once you have an approximate figure, you can get down to names.
2. Invite the people who make you happy
This is where it starts to get complicated. Crunching numbers is one thing, but sorting your friends and loved ones into a yes, no, or maybe is a more emotional task. In fact, the question of who to invite is often a source of pre-wedding conflict, especially if your partner or future in-laws have different ideas. Unfortunately there is no universal rule on this one, but ultimately your guest list should be made up of your nearest and dearest – that is, the people who will enhance your joy on the day. Before you finalize your list, it’s a good idea to agree on some general points: will it be a child-free affair? What are the rules regarding plus-ones? This will help you to stay within your means whilst keeping it fair for everyone.
3. Make it easy for your guests to RSVP
Waiting for RSVPs can be stressful, and there is no way of making sure that every single invitee replies. However, you can help by making the process as simple as possible. Provide a few options that are suited to your guests; Facebook might not be feasible for elderly relatives, for example, whereas tech-savvy guests may be less inclined to send a postal reply. Because of companies making them easy to set up, wedding websites are becoming increasingly popular with brides-to-be, as you may even wish to create your own RSVP system online. You can also add polls and photo albums after the wedding! With this, you can easily build an online form through which your guests can reply. Be it online, via text, or by snail mail, you can be as creative as you like with the RSVP – as long as it’s accessible to everyone.
Once the RSVPs start flooding in, it’s a good idea to have a tracking system in place. Again, this needn’t be overly complicated – opt for a simple list and crossing-off method, be it a spreadsheet on your smartphone or a print-out and highlighter. This allows you to keep an eye on numbers, and also gives you an idea of who might need a gentle reminder as the big day draws closer. Don’t be shy about prompting your guests to respond; the chances are they just haven’t got round to it yet, and a friendly email or quick phone call is perfectly reasonable.
5. Expect the unexpected
Even with flawless planning on your part, it’s inevitable that some guests will change their RSVP at the last minute – or even show up without responding. This means you could have more attendees than expected, so being prepared for all eventualities is a must. With regards to food and wedding favors, too much is always better than not enough, so cater for your definite “yesses” plus a few more on top. If you expect the unexpected and plan ahead accordingly, everything will run smoothly on the big day.