Compiling your wedding guest list

One of the first tasks you need to tackle when beginning wedding planning is figuring out whom to invite to your wedding. Why does it need to be sorted so quickly? Your guest list dictates the size of the wedding venue and the size of the budget you need.

Unfortunately, compiling your wedding guest list is a job that’s often procrastinated on, as it can be quite challenging (and nowhere near as fun as cake tasting or trying on pretty dresses.)

So how do you decide who is invited to your wedding? Here are a few steps to make it as pain-free as possible:

Who to invite to your wedding? Here’s how to compile your wedding guest list:

  1. Draft a guest list up with your partner

    The first step is to write down everyone you’d love to make it to your wedding. Consider family, friends, workmates and your family’s friends.  If either (or both) set of parents are contributing to the wedding, then you probably need to ask them for their input at this stage too!

    Types of wedding guests

    In general there are 6 types of guests on your wedding guest list. Use the headings below to try flesh out your list and make sure you’ve covered off everyone.

    Close family

    Depending on your family dynamic, these are your parents, siblings and possibly Aunties and Uncles.  These are the absolute have-to-have people and you should consult them prior to setting your wedding date so you can be sure they’ll make it.

    shop this guestbook
    Extended Family

    Your Aunties and Uncles (if you’re not a tight-knit family – some Aunties/Uncles might be considered close family, others you barely see – as I mentioned above, it depends on your family dynamic). Cousins, second cousins. If you have a big family you might decide to invite Aunties/Uncles only, or only invite cousins above a certain age.


    These have a few categories –

    • Your absolute besties (who will probably be in your bridal party).
    • Your friends (as a couple) and their partners
    • Your friends and their partners
    • Your fiance’s friends (and their respective partners too).

    People who you are friendly with at work, but if you left you may not necessarily stay in touch. Not under the friend category because it can be a little bit of an obligation/office politics type reason for having them invited.

    Friends of the family

    Friends of each set of parents, families you grew up with, possibly bridal party’s family if you’ve had a bit to do with them

    Obligated Guests

    These are the people that don’t fit into any of the above, but feel a bit guilty about leaving out. People who invited you to their wedding. The minister.

  2. Review your guest list in conjunction with your wedding budget

    Count up how many guests you’ve got, and think about whether you can afford that many. In other words, do the guests you have, fit with the budget you’ve got (you have a budget, right?!).  Remember that it’s not just a meal you’re paying for – but extra space (a venue that can hold enough people), additional invitations, favours, drinks, and potentially transportation (if you’re arranging buses to and/or from the venue).

    Also count up how many guests are in each category for you and for your partner. If there’s a large imbalance, it may throw the dynamics of the wedding off or feel awkward (for example, we’ve been to weddings that were dominated by the bride’s family and friends, and it felt a little strange). Consider whether you can trim or add to the guest list to keep things even.

    If you have more guests than your wedding budget or wedding venue allows, then it’s time to figure out who makes the cut.  There’s a handy list of questions that can help you decide in the Guest List Planner Template.

  3. Get your guest list organised

    Take everyone’s lists, scraps of paper and notes, and compile it all into a wedding guest list.

    Pictured below is the Wedding Guest List Planner – a Google Sheets Template that compiles everything neatly into one place and allows you to easily see how many guests in total you’ve invited, how many wedding invitations are required, keeps track of their RSVP (or lack thereof!) and gives you a spot to add dietary requirements.

It’s important to know how many guests you’ve got attending your wedding. It makes booking the venue, plus planning food, rentals, invitations and even ordering cake just that much harder without a guest list early on.

Good luck!

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