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Wedding Guest List Planning

Assembling the guest list is one of the most challenging tasks of the wedding, but it’s also one of the most important. The number of guests you invite will determine the wedding budget, scope, cost, and size of your nuptials. It can also fuel a lot of unnecessary arguments. Here are a few surefire ways to narrow down the guest list and avoid family drama:

Set a Number: First things first, you’ve got to decide how large or small you want your wedding to be. If cost is a major factor, you’re going to need to narrow down the guest list to save money on catering, facilities, and wedding favors. If the budget is of no concern, you have free rein to decide what matters most to you: a small, intimate ceremony or a lavish, giant party. Determine a ballpark figure of how many guests to invite so you have a reasonable starting point.

Divvy Up the Seats: When it comes to your wedding day, you and the groom aren’t the only ones with a say. The wedding is an important day for your parents and in-laws, as well, which means they deserve the opportunity to invite guests that are important to them. The easiest way to satisfy everyone and avoid conflict is to set an equal number of guests that each family is allowed to invite. How they choose to select those guests is up to them but don’t let anyone bully you into giving up more invites than you feel is reasonable. You may want to use an online seating chart tool.

Give Yourself Leeway: Not every single person that receives an invitation is going to attend the wedding. On average, 10-20% of your guest list won’t be able to make it. This percentage increases if one or both sides of the family live in another city/state than the wedding. With that said, don’t freak out if your final guest list is a tad higher than expected. Not every single person will RSVP ‘yes.’

Get Organized: Compile an Excel spreadsheet with names and addresses for everyone on the guest list, whether they’re being invited by you, the groom, your parents, or in-laws. Keeping all of the information in one place will help you stay on top of the exact number of invitees and will make your job of addressing the invitations that much easier. This online guest list tool can also make things easier.

Revise and Rework: Once you’ve come up with an initial guest list, give yourself a few days and then go through it with a red pen. If the guest list is too large, you have to trim it down. Consider excluding young children or limiting which single guests are permitted a ‘plus one.’ If you don’t know or like a person, or haven’t spoken to them in years, nix them.

Create a B-List: If you’ve edited as much as possible and your list is still too large, divide guests into two groups: essentials and non-essentials. Send out invitations to the first group (the people that you’re the closest to) and wait for the RSVPs to come rolling in. As you receive regrets from the first round of guests, begin sending out invitations to the second list.

Reception Seating Guide

Unless you’re having a very small, intimate wedding or don’t plan on having a sit-down dinner, you’ll want to organize a seating chart for your reception. While it can be a time-consuming and tedious job, mapping out the seating arrangements for your guests can help maximize the fun, minimize the tension, and make the night easier for everyone. Since creating a seating chart is no small task, we recommend these helpful tips:

1.      Plan Ahead: Seating all of your wedding guests in an organized and sensible manner takes time. Don’t wait until the day before your wedding to try to map out the seating chart. Instead, begin plotting tables as early as possible. Begin assigning seats for guests that you absolutely know will be in attendance and then add others as they RSVP. It’s much less stressful to make a few small changes in the days before your wedding than to create an entire seating chart from scratch. Plus if you plan to make or order place cards, you need to get started early.

2.      Create Categories: On your wedding invite list, organize your guests by their relation (i.e. bride’s family, groom’s coworkers, bride’s college friends, groom’s childhood pals). That way, when you begin plotting seating assignments, you can easily group people together that already know one another.

3.      Draw It Out: Sometimes it’s helpful to draw a diagram of the reception site so that you can physically see where people will be in relation to the head table and one another. Draw circles or squares to represent each table and chair and start penciling people in. That way you can be sure to seat all of your college friends at neighboring tables instead of accidentally seating them across the room from one another, making it impossible for them to visit and catch up. Click here for seating chart software

4.      Avoid Drama: It’s not only important to think about which groups of people should be together, you need to think about who should stay apart. Inviting a divorced couple? The participants in that disastrous blind date you arranged? Two crazy relatives who never see eye to eye? Keep a healthy distance between guests that are likely to cause drama or tension by seating them at far-off tables.

5.      Be a Matchmaker: Inevitably, there are going to be some tables at your reception where you have to place guests who are strangers to one another. Use these opportunities to connect like-minded individuals who might really hit it off (romantically or otherwise). A great way to ensure that all of your wedding guests enjoy themselves is by seating them with others who they’ll find interesting and fun.