Week 36: Guest List

Do these things this week
Draft initial guest list
Allocate guests to A, B and Courtesy lists
Collect wedding dress inspiration
Schedule initial dress fittings for next week

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.


Getting started with your guest list is easy and even pretty fun, but managing your guest list will be one of your biggest responsibilities over the next 36 weeks.

You’ll need to send save the dates and invitations as well as chase down mailing addresses, email addresses, and RSVPs. You’ll also be sharing regular updates on the status of your guest list with your venue, vendors, and wedding planner.

Save yourself a whole lotta work down the line and sign up for a guest list management tool before you even begin. We think ours is pretty great since it takes the hard work of collecting email addresses, mailing addresses, and RSVPs off your plate, and it also gives you up to the minute estimates as to how many of your guests will likely attend.

Unless you enjoy the constant data entry and number crunching, skip the spreadsheet and let us help!

Dress Inspiration

Next week we’ll start talking about your wedding dress, so use this week to start collecting inspiration.