How To Write Your Wedding Guest List!

Your wedding guest list is one of the most important wedding admin tasks to tackle early on in your planning. Having at least an approximate understanding of who you will invite to your big day is key to knowing what you need from a wedding venue, caterer or supplier. So, your guest list is essentially vital to planning your entire wedding!

We asked industry experts at Guides for Brides how to start writing your wedding guest list…

Step 1 – Decide on Your Wedding Vision

You need to sit down with your partner and make sure you are on the same page. Are you both planning on having a small, intimate wedding or does one of you have the vision of a huge celebration? Once you have established what you would both like your wedding to look like, it will be easier to start selecting your wedding guests.

Step 2 – The Big List

Imagine your wedding in an ideal world. Write down the name of every single person you would have at your wedding if there was not a limitation in terms of budget and venue capacity.

This big list not only helps give you an idea of how many people you would want and need to invite, but also will act as a way to bring yourselves back down to reality later.

Look at your big list and identify if there are any requirements that you need in a venue. For example, if one of your guests requires disabled access or has a specific dietary requirement, you’ll want to ensure this is available at your venue of choice.


Top Tip

You may wish to show this big list to someone you trust, like your maid of honour or your parents. They may remember some key people that you should consider inviting.

Philippa James Photography

Step 3 – Prioritising the Guests

From this big list, you now need to start prioritising those who are attending. It can be slightly overwhelming deciding who to invite but split the list into three categories to determine who should take priority. Your categories can be:

  • A-list – these are people who you can’t imagine your wedding without. This generally consists of your parents, the wedding party, your children, the people you and your partner are closest to.
  • B-list – people who you would love to attend and fully anticipate you will invite, but it wouldn’t ruin the day if they had to cancel at the last minute. In general, this is extended family and friends.
  • C-list – these are people who it would be awkward not to invite, or who it would be nice to have there but you wouldn’t mind if they couldn’t come. Distant relatives, friends you’ve lost contact with, work friends and plus ones that you don’t know very well.

An Error to Avoid…

Don’t forget to put your own names on the guest list. To avoid this, we recommend adding your names to the top of the list. This way you will never forget yourselves in your wedding numbers!

Step 4 – Finalising the Wedding Guest List

Once you have listed these categories, you can work out exactly how many people you can afford to invite based on your venue restrictions and catering quotes. If being surrounded by friends and family is a priority for you both, you may have to look for a larger venue or a more affordable caterer to ensure that you don’t go over budget.

Finalising your guest list can be a tough process, but it’s crucial to get it sorted early, as it will inform most of your wedding decisions. Set aside an afternoon to hash it out. You’ll need to talk to your partner about a number of different elements, including: how are you going to invite difficult relatives and friends? Will you have all guests attending the entire wedding or will you have evening guests? Do you want children at the wedding? How many work friends are you going to include?

Remember, each attendee will have a cost to their head, whether they will be invited to the whole event or just to the evening reception, so it’s worth asking yourselves the following questions if you aren’t sure about inviting someone:

  • Would we take this person out for a meal and spend this much on them?
  • Would this person be missed if they did not attend (or only attended the reception)?
  • Would anyone on the A-list be offended if they weren’t invited?
  • Is there any reason not to invite this person?

Oth The Perfect Setting

Something to consider…

If your parents have contributed significantly to the wedding budget, then they may want some say in the guest list, or to invite some close friends of theirs. If you do choose to do this, the amount of room you leave will be completely down to your personal preferences. However, if you need a starting point, you may find the rule of thirds works well in this case: One third being your friends and family, one third being your partner’s and the final third going to your parents.

Oth Your Wedding


Step 5 – The Invitation Strategy

Once you’ve split your wedding guests into day and evening categories (and any other associated wedding events, such as a Mendhi), it’s time to plan your invitation strategy. We recommend sending save the dates only to the guests that will be attending the entire wedding. If you send them to evening guests, they may get the wrong idea and keep the entire day free (particularly if it’s a weekday).

Top Tip

One clever trick is to send your invitations slightly earlier to guests attending the full event – that way, if anyone RSVPs “Sorry, we can’t make it”, you can upgrade an evening guest with them being none the wiser!

Step 6 – Back to Reality

Ever planned a party and considered inviting someone on a whim at the last moment? If you ever find yourselves about to do this, consult your big list first. Was that person ever on the big list? If not, you should think twice about extending an invite.

If you have spaces at the last moment and want to fill them, investigate your B and C list again and instead why not extend the invitation to these people? They were always on your mind and would have been invited in an ideal world.

Step 7 – Start Planning Your Wedding!

Once you have your wedding guest list, you can start planning the rest of your wedding, such as finding your venue! For many venues, your wedding guest list numbers may limit your options, either due to limited capacity or too few guests to fill their space. However, you don’t have to worry about this with Oxford Town Hall!

The stunning historic building has gorgeous rooms that are suitable for more intimate ceremonies from 30 to 140 guests, as well as a magnificent Main Hall seating up to 500 for ceremonies. So, however many wedding guests you end up with on your list, Oxford Town Hall can accommodate your wedding vision and give you the special day that you’ve been dreaming of.

Nikita Guides For Brides


Nikita Thorne | Guides for Brides

Guides for Brides have been helping couples plan their weddings for over 25 years. They are a trusted wedding planning resource for couples who are looking for their wedding venue, suppliers and bridal outfits as well as for wedding ideas, trusted guidance and inspiration.