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Wedding Education

The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Wedding Guest List

June 16, 2023

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Let me start off by saying when it comes to your wedding guest list – all guest list sizes are acceptable! It’s your wedding, and you get to choose who you would like to be there with you. 

Guest lists can bring about an array of emotions, some folks experience all of them, while others might just experience 1 or 2 feelings. What emotions you may ask? Well for some it can evoke anxiety, excitement, fear, worry, giddiness, a sense of connection, protectiveness, and confusion – to name a few, by no means is this list exhaustive! The main point here is that I get it, this can be a source of stress and excitement – sometimes at the same time. 

Now that you have decided why you are having a wedding, and what type of wedding you want, let’s get into who you want to be there!

Image of wedding guests watching wedding ceremony.

Step 1: Who do you want to be at your wedding?

This first step is my favorite – make a list of who you WANT to be there. No one is entitled to be there. Let me say that again, no one is entitled to be invited to your wedding. You are in control; you have the ability to decide who should come to your wedding.

Now, I know that families are complex, and it might feel like it’s out of your control at times but let me take a moment to remind you – it is in your control. Family members who stress you out or are inappropriate shouldn’t make your list. If you are not wanting kids at your wedding, it’s ok to not include them on your list. Don’t feel obligated to include in your list your parents’ friends, co-workers, and old college friends that you do not want there. 

There are some more traditional thoughts about guest list etiquette of inviting folks who invited you to their wedding… you also don’t need to do this. Maybe at the time you were close, or you’ve had a falling out, or you just simply don’t want them there on your wedding day. You don’t need to include them; this guest list is meant to be who you want to celebrate with!

Image of wedding guests celebrating with bride showing wedding guest list etiquette of choosing folks you want at your wedding.

Step 2: Adjust your list!

Okay, you’ve got the list that you and your partner have created! Now, it comes down to any adjustments that need to be made. This could be because your guest list is too big for your venue or wedding budget. This could be a time to reduce your list, such as removing some plus ones or inviting folks to one part of your wedding, like the ceremony or reception only.

Additionally, talk with your partner about whether you would like to have a waiting list – yes this is okay! You can have a waiting list, so if folks decline you are able to include additional guests for your wedding.

Image showing wedding guest list etiquette of an family photo at a wedding.

Step 3: How to talk to others about your guest list?

Congratulations – you’ve made your list. Now it’s time to start getting out your save the dates/invites. Likely you’ll have folks asking you questions about who you are inviting. You may also have people interjecting their opinions about your lists and being pushy with who should be added or included.

First off, connect with your wedding helpers! This could be wedding party members, close friends, or close family. People who you feel would be your ally. Speak to these folks about your wedding guest list and about how they can help with navigating some of these challenging conversations. For example, if you have parents who are being a bit pushy, do you have a sibling that can help be your ally and speak to them (with you or on their own) about how it’s not their guest list (it’s YOURS!)? Find your people who can help you and enlist their help as you can! Remember it’s your guest list, you are in charge of who gets invited.

Image of a bridesmaid holding onto an Ipad for guests who are joining virtually.

Alternative Ideas for those who can’t make it!

Do you have some folks on your guest list who can’t make it such as scheduling conflict or distance? Or you had to reduce your wedding guest list from step 2 of adjusting your list? Not a worry – there are lots of creative ways to help involve those who cannot make it to your wedding! Here are a couple of ways I’ve seen folks have fun with those who cannot attend.

1.     Stream your wedding on Facebook Live

2.     Give a shout-out during the reception

3.     Save them a piece of your wedding cake

4.     Ask them to submit songs before the wedding and play them during the reception

5.     A note in a wedding program (if you have one!)

6.     Send them a thank you note and wedding photo

7.     Share pre-recorded video messages

8.     Give them your wedding favor

9.     Participate in wedding activities such as sharing their favorite recipe

I hope this blog post helped you with getting some ideas on how to tackle who to invite to your wedding! If you’re looking for a Minnesota Wedding Photographer – I’m your girl!

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It's Jess!

Passionate about celebrating relationships between partners and between us and our home, Earth.

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