Top tips for creating your wedding guest list
Top tips for creating your wedding guest list
Top tips for creating your wedding guest list

Top tips for creating your wedding guest list

Photo: Fern and Stone Photography


If you have already begun planning your special day, we have an inkling that an early hurdle you may have encountered is pulling together a guest list.

Many of our married couples share with us that defining their who’s-who for the wedding day can be one of the most time-consuming and confusing tasks. From family expectation to venue capacity, many things can impact the decision-making process.

We have some tips for defining your own set of guest guidelines and making the process an easier one, read on…


First things first, write your ultimate guest list before choosing your venue.

Trust us, there’s logic in this one. Before you go on the venue search, it’s best to know what numbers you’re looking at having on your guest list. The reason being, there’s no point visiting a venue, falling in love with it, only to find you can’t accommodate all your guests, or the opposite – the venue is oversized. Write out your dream guest list to begin with. A simple way to do this and categorise is to break it down as follows:

FAMILY – these are all your relatives from immediate family, aunties and uncles and cousins too.

CLOSE FRIENDS – these are friends you see regularly.

SIGNIFICANT RELATIONSHIPS – this group of people might not be family or close friends but have played a significant role in your lives. Think childhood, high school and university friends, sporting groups, travel etc.

WORK FRIENDS – these are people who have played a role in your professional life. Think colleagues, bosses, mentors or clients etc.


Photo: Ed Sloane


Separate your guest list out. 

You might like to create an A and B-list when it comes to your invite list.

The A-list are those you can’t imagine not having at your wedding day and and your B-list might be those who would be nice to have, but not essential.

Separate your guest list, and once your budget and venue are determined, you can make a further call about those extra guests you’d like to invite.


Budget business.

Now you’ve determined an overall guest list, it’s important to ensure you can afford it. Start your venue search and look at pricing for the kind of venue you would like to be wed at. After all, the number of guests you have, will be determined by your budget. Are you hoping to have a marquee wedding with hundreds of people in attendance? Or would you prefer a cosy celebration at a private restaurant or even a destination wedding? Whatever you’re looking for, start seeking quotes and start to understand the dollars.

If you’ve determined you’re looking for a more intimate and small celebration, perhaps only those on your A-list will make the cut. In that case, you will probably encounter some excited friends and family who want to know your plans, you can now begin planting the seed that your celebration will be small, and lower any expectations.

Need a hand setting your wedding budget? We’ve popped together some helpful hints here.


Family matters.

This one is more common than you realise – parents, grandparents or other significant family figures in your lives weighing in on who should be at your wedding day. Ways to combat this situation include consideration of the financial contribution of the day – if your parents are helping to fund the event, would you consider an allocated number of guests they can attribute to the overall list? Perhaps you can sit down and explain that whilst you would love to include their neighbours, your third-cousins removed, and their children, it simply isn’t feasible. Offering to open up the ceremony to guests for viewing – whether that be in person or via a live stream, can ensure their inclusion and cast that guest list net a little wider, without the cost or capacity implications.

At the end of it all, this is your day, and it’s important that it’s done you way. Be mindful of opinions and family requests, pay them the time for discussion and consider all possibilities, but always land on what feels right for you as a couple.


Photo: Katie Harmsworth


The plus-one puzzle.

Plus ones can be tricky when it comes to creating a guest list. While extra guests mean extra money towards having them at your celebration, ultimately there are some plus-ones that you will want there, and others you may not feel you have to invite. Decide as a couple where you draw the line with plus-ones. Perhaps you only extend the invite to the significant others of those who are married or engaged? Or perhaps you don’t invite plus-ones you don’t know. Either way, determine your rules around this early and stick to your guns.



It’s good to discuss early on where you sit when it comes to inviting children to your wedding day. This can be a controversial one but ultimately the decision lays with what you want. It’s okay to have a child-free wedding and express this to guests, however, give that some families may not be able to attend for varied reasons if there children are not invited, it’s important you respect their decision too.

Other considerations when it comes to opting out of the child front include whether your wedding is a weekend-long affair, or a significant distance from home. These decisions may impact you guests ability to have childcare arrangements put in place.

Keep in mind too, that toddlers and older children may come under the blanket ‘no children rule’, but couples with small babies may require some lenience and understanding.



Wedding planning sure can come with some interesting roadblocks, but it’s also supposed to be a uniting, fun-filled and (hopefully) drama-less experience. We wrote a wedding planning book to help ensure it is just that. Wedding Plans was written by the Ivory Tribe team, and you can purchase your copy here.




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