(Closed) Tips on Where to Start the Guest List?

posted 3 years ago in Guests
Post # 2
3440 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2017 - Poppy Ridge Golf Course

Listen I’ll be totally honest I only read about half of that bc you started to ramble a bit and its kind of all over the place. What I will say is please do not determine your guest list before your budget. All wrong. Figure out how much you and your Fiance can comfortably afford, not including parent contributions until you have that money in hand, then go from there. You’re both in school. Am I correct in thinking this means you’ll both have loans to repay in the immediate future? If so please also do not start a marriage by taking out loans and piling more debt on top of what you already have for a one day event. No.

Post # 3
1191 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

When we started planning I wanted family and OUR close friends ONLY.  Was thinking 75 max as we both have large families and super close with them.  Now we are 83 days out with our final guest list and it’s over 140. 🤦🏻‍♀️  I really tried to fight the list and my fiancé over his mothers NEED TO HAVE people but at the end of the day it just wasn’t worth it to fight it.  It is what it is, and we know all 140 won’t be coming.  If we have 100-110 I’ll call it a win win.  Start with your must have list, and a B list if you need to.  And plan to go over at least a little. 

Post # 4
922 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

Alright, it was hard to follow, but I’ll chime in with what we did.

Going on the whole “it’s not a family reunion” bit, our guest list was immediate family and close friends only. No aunts, uncles, cousins. We did invite godparents to keep peace, but we knew that none would make it. Were some mad (ie….DH’s parents)? yep. Is that my problem? nope.

All told, 25 adults, 3 children. $7500 all in in a major city.

Post # 7
922 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

View original reply
chitoshi :  Budget is the most important thing to consider. Pick a budget, find a venue that supports that budget, and then make the guest list.

My $7500 included everything: everyone’s outfits including my parents, DH, me and my sisters, venues, hotels, travel, photographer, cake, flowers, EVERYTHING. It can be done.

Yes, people will get upset, but it’s your day, not theirs. They had the wedding (or will have) they wanted. You get yours too.

Post # 8
1929 posts
Buzzing bee

We started with must haves and then added from there. My dad’s whole family is invited and only like 10 from my moms side because I don’t like them and didn’t care. I won’t have people at my wedding I don’t really want there. 

We started our list at 85 and now are at 220. I am hoping for 180. But we will see. 


Post # 9
1078 posts
Bumble bee

You are completely over thinking this!  


If you and Fiance are paying for 100% of your wedding, you and Fiance get 100% control over the guest list.  If you are mature enough to get married, you are mature enough to politely tell your parents “no” and remind them that if they want a family reunion, they should plan one.  Your wedding is not the occasion.


We paid for our whole wedding and I think we roughly split out the invitations this way:

60% DH’s and my choice, including the family members we wanted there (i.e., immediate family and close cousins, aunts, uncles, etc), wedding party, friends, and close coworkers/ business associates 

20% DH’s parents choice – they invited a mix of their close friends, neighbors, and further out relatives (i.e., MIL’s cousins whom she is social with but whom DH couldn’t pick out of a lineup)

20% my parents choice – they invited a mix of close friends,  neighbors, and coworkers/ business associates. Both have small families and I had captured everyone they wanted to invite on my list. I don’t think they used their whole 20% share either which was fine.  


My advice:  

1. Determine your budget.  Do not go into debt for your wedding and be realistic about how much you can save each month and pull from existing savings.

2. Build a wedding budget and visit venues/ caterers to determine how many guests your budget yields.

3. Invite only the amount of guests you can afford.

4. Divide the guest list up between you/FI, your family, his family. Once each family has “maxed out” their portion of the guest list, that’s all they can invite.  Put the decision in their hands and don’t let them push you around to raise your budget or not invite your close friends or other “must have” guests at the expense of third cousin Timmy who you’ve never met.  

Post # 10
1963 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2018

Just becasue they are family doesn’t mean you have to invite them? do you talk to them, ever?

make your budget and stick to it. We went to first cousins only otherwise we would have had to invite over 300 people. This is how we really stuck to the list. 



Post # 11
3356 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

View original reply
chitoshi :  invite family in circles – all aunts/uncles, all cousins, nieces/nephews, etc. It’s ok to invite aunts and uncles and not cousins. It’s ok to have an adult-only wedding. If you stick with aunts/uncles, unless both your parents are one of like 12 children, it can’t be THAT manu

Post # 12
427 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2017 - State Park

Each of you sit down and make a list of the 10-15 or so people you absolutely cannot imagine getting married without. Add plus ones for any significant others not accounted for or anyone traveling. 

Honestly, for how complicated your situation seems, start and stop there. You’ll pretty easily hit 50 people doing it that way. You can have a relatively intimate wedding that you can actually afford and not stress about. 

Alternatively: immediate family, grandparents (biological, step only if legitimately close to you), God parents, FI’s extra family you mentioned (maybe lose the sisters), 5-10 friends (& +ones) each. Done. 

Weddings get bigger exponentially. More guests doesn’t make you more married. Will you have aunts that are pissed? Yes. Will they get over it? Yes. 

Post # 13
560 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2017

I was in your shoes very similarly planning for my wedding. My guest list pretty much determined everything as I would rather have important people in my life than a fancy venue. 

What my husband and I did was take a notebook and wrote down EVERY SINGLE PERSON who we would WANT at our wedding. The list was over 200 people. 

Then we made a second draft and told each other to cut off 25 people each. This brought us down to 150, we knew that would still be too much for our budget. 

So we made a third draft, and cut out 10 more each. Brining us to 130. This number was stretching it, but we used this to determine prices for food and a venue. This is what we sent invites to because we knew some people wouldn’t be able to come. We ended up with about 95 people coming and a lovely venue. 

Post # 14
707 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

This is so unrealistic. “We don’t want our finances to limit out guestlist.”

I’m sorry bee but stick to what you can afford unless parents are helping you out. Weddings aren’t worth going into debt for. At the end of the one day, it’s one day. You’re in school, you’re going to end up with debt from that as it is.

You also literally need to go price out venues before you go deciding who you’re going to invite. Go price out venues based on the maximum amount of people you are willing to invite, and go from there. You don’t even have to go, just e-mail them. Find out their PP cost and then add about 30% to that cost multiplied by your maximum amount of people, and then add another 15 to 20% based on continengy and emergency stuff.

10k at 86 people is about $115 pp in catering alone your realism is lacking. Go back to the drawing board or go destination and save yourself the headache.

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