Making Your Wedding Guest List

Making your wedding guest list is one of the first steps you should take in planning your wedding.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the details and decor, it’s your guests that will bring your wedding to life. Building your guest list is one of our favorite parts of wedding planning. Not only is the wedding a chance for your loved ones to congratulate you, it’s a chance for you to celebrate them and the impact each has made on your lives.


No one likes to limit their guest list based on the budget. But weddings do cost a pretty penny, so it’s helpful to estimate how many guests you can afford to invite. For a rough estimate, take your wedding budget and divide by $50 for smaller towns, $100 for mid-size cities, and $200 for large urban areas. This isn’t a per head cost, just a helpful rule of thumb to determine how many guests you can afford to have attend. Typically 80% of your invited guests will attend and 20% will not be able to do so, so keep those figures in mind as you’re capping your guest list.


Once you know how many people you can invite, it’s time to start building the list. Naturally you’ll want to start by listing your close family and friends. If your parents are contributing to your wedding or covering most of the cost, then you’ll want to find out who they would like to invite as well. Give your parents a “guest list allowance” so that everyone knows upfront how many people they’re able to invite. Typically if your parents are paying for a big portion of your wedding expenses, you would allocate a larger portion of the guest list to them as well.


As you build your list, you’ll allocate your guests to an A-list, Backup list, or Courtesy list. Your A-list will include close family members, friends, and people who you can’t imagine celebrating without. Your Back-up (B-list) list will include people you’d like to invite but aren’t yet sure you’ll be able to. Finally, keep a Courtesy list (C-list). These are people who you’d like to invite as a courtesy even though you know they won’t be able to attend.


Before you send out your save the dates, you’ll need to collect your guests’ mailing addresses. Even if you’re sending out a digital save the date (and we’ll get into save the dates a little later) having everyone’s addresses collected and organized in one place will help when it’s time for the invitations and final roll call.

If you’re doing it all by yourself, collecting your guests’ addresses can be a monumental task. If you’re using a guest list management tool, you can collect all of your guests’ addresses with just a few clicks of the mouse, ensuring that neither you nor your fiancé will spend hours, days, or weeks calling every relative and old college buddy to track down their zip codes.

Not sure if you need a guest list management tool? Find out more about it here. (We’re especially partial to our guest list management tool. Check it out here and you could be making your wedding guest list in minutes!)