EFFECTIVE WAYS TO PLAN YOUR WEDDING GUEST LIST
In response to one of the most recent requests on how to plan your guest list, I decided to come up with my own outlook on how you can best tackle this daunting for many task.
In the following paragraphs I am sharing with you my top tips on planning a guest list.
As always, feel free to share your own opinions in the comments below as we all might have different and just as useful approaches.
For those of you that already know me and follow me for a while – you might be right – it’s to START it EARLY!
I don’t believe any of you would want to start wedding planning without knowing who your wedding guests are.
Additionally, having this list started before you’ve even approached any suppliers or venues can become very useful for many reasons including budgeting, venue and supplier’s suitability, catering etc., etc.
The reality is with most things in wedding planning that the more work you do early, the easier things will get closer to your wedding day and ultimately, knowing your guest list inside out, will help you design your wedding day better.
Have you started your wedding planning with a guest list first?
The next thing I would focus on in planning your guest list is to divvy up the split between yourselves and your family, especially if your parents or family are supporting your wedding efforts financially.
It might also be important to discuss this element early, so that you understand the scale of your wedding, set the expectations of numbers each person can invite and only consider those venues, suppliers and caterers that can accommodate for your numbers.
I’ve been there! Many families want to invite all those important to them guests, however, the reality of budgets, venue capacities and catering can be a lot different, this is why, it is important to ensure you’ve all agreed on your split early on, in order to avoid disappointment further down the line.
Do you find conversations with the family about your wedding a little overwhelming? I’ve been there too! Everyone has their opinion, right? But, is everyone right? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
LIST A & LIST B
My next tip for managing your guest list is to have two wedding guests lists… and you might think – why do I need two guest lists? Allow me to explain the logic behind this for you…
LIST A will include all those guests that are a must at your wedding, and therefore you might want to send those invitations early.
LIST B on the other hand, is for those guests that you might really want to invite to the wedding, but due to budget constraints or venue capacity limitation you physically cannot. This is also why, you might want to send your LIST A invitations early, so that should you receive any declined RSVPs from this list, you might want to start inviting your guests in the order of importance from your LIST B without upsetting anyone.
What do you think of this idea? Let me know in the comments below.
This next tip might come in very handy as you are meeting people who you haven’t invited to your wedding and they have “expected” an invitation.
This might come up in conversations as you attend other family, work or friend’s events in the lead up to your special day – after all, everyone will know you’re getting married.
It is important to have a polite response why you’ve been unable to invite them, and you don’t want to upset them.
Should they challenge you with this question, make them feel like you really wanted to invite them, but you simply couldn’t. Making them feel like you were cutting them out, might not go down as well…
How about: “We really wanted to celebrate with absolutely everyone – wouldn’t that be fun? It is because of our venue limitations; we’ve had to keep things smaller than we initially wanted and we’ve just fallen in love with the place!”
Would you have any other suggestions? Share them in the comments below.
Including or not including children to your wedding is always a hot topic and I can understand why you might be having this dilemma.
The reality is that you don’t have to have children at your wedding, but you must make this decision very early on and make it crystal clear if you’ve decided not to have children at your wedding.
Some couples advise of this in Save the Date cards, meaning that families can make early arrangements for childcare and this does not come to them as a surprise if your invitations are only sent out a few months before your wedding date.
If you decide to invite children to attend your wedding, your next task will be to figure out how you’re going to keep them amazed, entertained and occupied – simply catering for them will not do the trick I’m afraid!
Guest list planning might also involve considering evening reception guests for some couples.
Once again, this will very much depend on your budgets and venue capacities, so you might want to make this decision quite early on.
Most of the time those invitations are reserved for your work collages or plus ones if you’re limited in capacity for your daytime celebrations.
Would you consider inviting evening guests to your wedding? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
The next step you would like to make in planning your guest list is to arrange it into tables.
To help you with that, you might want to ask for a sample room layout from your venue, so that you know where the tables go and in what order you want to seat your guests from your top table – if you are having one.
There are many table planning services out there, including My Scotland Wedding who can help you with that, easily and effectively.
The reasons behind doing it earlier rather than at the point of RSVPs deadline is that within the last month prior to your wedding, you’ll have many confirmations to make and your pre-organised table plan which will only need small adjustments at that point, will be one less thing you’ll need to worry about.
Statistically, your numbers will only change by up to 10% at the point of your RSVPs, so it makes sense to get yourself organised early.
More importantly, I’ve heard many couples saying that table planning is a time-consuming task and you don’t want to leave it to the last minute. It’s not about physically adding guests to tables (because that’d be easy) and more about making sure that your tables work in terms of capacity, table dynamics, family politics, etc.
Would you rather plan your tables early, or would you choose to wait until you get your RSVPs? Let me know in the comments below.
When planning your guest list you will also need to consider your guests dietary and special requirements.
The reason why I haven’t only used dietary requirements is that your guests might have other requirements that it is important to 1) acknowledge and 2) accommodate for within your venue or setup.
All caterers nowadays can cater for all dietary requirements, so don’t worry about communicating those to them and they will ensure you guests are well looked after.
My next tip on planning for your guest list relates mostly to online RSVP software, although can also relate to paper RSVPs too.
There are many RSVP management software providers out there these days, however, what is often forgotten about (and I’ve seen this many times), they are not always set to one response per submission, meaning that you might end up with a one submission for the entire family and then you’re left which checking who that “vegetarian guest” is in this and many other submissions… make sure you check the setting in advance of sending out the link to your guests.
This can also apply to paper RSVPs and the best way to avoid this happening, is to send out individually named RSVPs. This also reinstates exactly who has been invited to the wedding – remember the tip about not inviting children or not, this could work as a reminder.
Have you heard of multiple RSVP submissions per form before? Let me know in the comments below.
Another thing you might want to consider adding to your guest list plan is to send out your menu or the link to it in your invitation.
This will avoid guests changing their mind on the day of the wedding if you have opted for a set menu and will allow them to select the alternative option suitable for dietary requirements – this makes things a lot more organised in advance of your special day.
Additionally, this is particularly important if you’re planning for a choice menu – again one submission per form is critical here too!
Would you add anything else to your invitations to ensure everyone is catered and accommodated for? Let me know in the comments below.
Setting a deadline for your invitations for 2-1 months before your wedding, will give you more time to organise them clearly.
This deadline will also give you the time for chasing late responses and organising your table plan before you need to focus on the final confirmations for your wedding in the last few weeks before the big date.
Would you agree with this deadline?
Your next step after receiving your RSVPs would be to update your tables plan.
If you have been organised as previously advised in my latest posts, you should have your guests provisionally added to tables already.
This should mean small alterations rather than starting from scratch and from a long large list of guests and taking into consideration all other aspects of good table planning.
Finally, if you have followed my guest list planning tips lately, you will already know that I like a no-hassle approach for my couples and therefore my last tip for you is not to discuss or share your final table plan with anyone in the lead up to your big day!
This will prevent from last minute headaches caused by guests “politely requesting” to be seated elsewhere because of XYZ reasons.
These last-minute changes are the last thing you need when you’re finalising everything else for your special day and you’ve already worked so hard in making sure you’ve considered everyone by this point.
Now, it’s time for you to enjoy your special day and see your guests having a great time! You’ve done a cracking job! Well done! Now, go and enjoy it all!