Well you’re here. The dreaded wedding guest list discussion that’s been looming over your nightmares for months now. But we’re here to tell you it’s not all that bad! We tend to get worked up about things where feelings could be at stake. And that’s totally understandable! But the golden rule for every step of your wedding planning process is this: do what makes you happy! And if the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate? Then be like Tay Swift and shake it off.

wedding reception dancing
Photo by JC Guzman Wedding Photography from this moody black tie wedding

So what’s the best way for you and your SO to approach this wedding task? With confidence, duh! Once you let go of the stress, guilt and burden and become completely unapologetic, it’s pretty simple really. But it’s important to be on the same page with your partner about how you will build the list and ultimately cut it.

12 Questions to Help You Curate Your Wedding Guest List #weddingguestlists #weddingplanningtips #weddingetiquette #weddingadvice
Photo by Facibeni Fotografia from this Neo-Rennaisance villa wedding

modern fall clear tent wedding
Photo by Angela Zion Photography from this Carolina woods wedding

When you begin the task, we suggest popping open some bubbly or hoarding up on the Chipotle. You’ll need some sustenance. Start by jotting down everyone you can think of that you would want to be there. Think about all the different areas and seasons of your life and make note of all the people you’ve ever pictured at your wedding. From your oldest friends to your parents’ best mates to your work colleagues and college buds.

Combine each of your lists… and then double it. It’s likely that many of these peeps will have a partner as well, and as a rule of thumb, engaged, married or guests that are in long-term relationships get to bring a plus one. Completely up to you, but it’s not a bad idea to give your single friends the option too.

12 Questions to Help You Curate Your Wedding Guest List #weddingguestlists #weddingplanningtips #weddingetiquette #weddingadvice
Photo by Magnus Bogucki and Lauren Michelle from this Tuscan destination wedding

It’s never a bad idea to give your parents limitations from the get-go as well. Give them an allotted number of requests which includes family + friends for you to consider (key word: consider!), in order of importance.

romantic wedding lights tent reception
Photo by Angela Zion Photography from this Carolina woods wedding

You probably have a good idea, but speak out loud with your partner about the overall ambiance you envision. Think about your venue capacities, price limitations and social obligations. This will help you come up with a target number and make set rules for cutting and curating this monster list. Remember, 10-20% of the invitations you send out will get declined, so aim to invite about 10% more than your actual target number.

boho warehouse wedding first dance
Photo by Raquel Benito from this free-spirited warehouse wedding

12 Questions to Help You Curate Your Wedding Guest List #weddingguestlists #weddingplanningtips #weddingetiquette #weddingadvice
Photo by Justine Milton Photography from this multi-day Indian wedding

It’s tough to make cuts, but here are 12 questions you can ask yourself when going through your list that may make the decision making a little easier!

1. What kind of ambiance am I looking for? Intimate party where everyone knows and feels comfortable with one another? Huge celebration where my spouse and I are greeting tables throughout the night?
2. Have I spoken to them in the last couple years?
3. Would I invite them over to a dinner party tomorrow night at my house?
4. (If the timeline is tight) Is it worth the time I’ll spend speaking to them instead of relaxing with my new spouse? Or tearing it up on the dance floor?
5. Would I spend up to $250 on them for their birthday? (Sometimes this is how much it costs per guest!)
6. Am I inviting them because I enjoy their company or because I feel obligated?

12 Questions to Help You Curate Your Wedding Guest List #weddingguestlists #weddingplanningtips #weddingetiquette #weddingadvice
Photo by Cassidy Brooke from this delicate garden wedding

7. Does it make more sense to cut a group so they don’t get offended by who was chosen and who was not (lookin’ at you work colleagues!)
8. What kind of dynamic will they have with my other guests? Will they bring any drama?
9. Should I invite children or keep it adults-only?
10. Have I set expectations with my parents about their requested guests?
11. (If I’m having a destination wedding) how many guests can I realistically expect to RSVP?
12. Am I inviting them because I was invited to their wedding in the past, but we’ve lost touch since?

sweet flower girl dress with flower crown

boho wedding ceremony recessional
Photo by Ashtyn Brooke Photo from this bohemian sage green wedding

Your answers to these questions will make it pretty clear, so stay true to your gut and don’t make exceptions. Easier said than done, right? Once you’ve pared it down it’s time to divide this into your A-list and B-list. Send your A-list invites out early, about 10 weeks before your wedding date to give you enough buffer room. As you begin receiving regrets, you can start at the top of your B-list with new invitations. There are so many great sites like Squarespace and Minted that will manage your guest list as well!

12 Questions to Help You Curate Your Wedding Guest List #weddingguestlists #weddingplanningtips #weddingetiquette #weddingadvice
Photo by Serena Genovese Photography from this intimate industrial shoot

palm frond chandelier tropical wedding reception
Photo by Jonny Scott Photography from this tropical Bali wedding

While there’s no secret sauce, there are definitely ways to make this process quick, easy and painless. We hope this gives you the confidence boost you need to tackle this task, and remember, a little rosé never hurt nobody.

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