I remember it vividly, my fiancé and I sitting at the kitchen counter of his parents home, my laptop open and ready to begin. We hadn’t even picked our venue, the flowers, colors… anything really. I think it was one of the first things we did. And I just went for it, creating a wedding guest list absolutely free of anxiety.
Whether you have a big family, a small family, lots of friends, not many friends, what have you, it can be a sensitive subject to navigate as our first thought is usually we don’t want to offend anybody. But let’s just set that aside for now, and instead talk about how to start creating this guest list for your wedding! (And be sure to download my Wedding Guest List Template!)
Begin by dividing the guest list into 3 sections, like a Spotify playlist: the Top 10, the Definites, and the Everyone Else.
The Top 10 VIP List
So the Top 10 is a weird category, because it’s easy to think of the Definites and the Top 10 as an interchangeable list. But they are NOT. Think of it this way: the Top 10 are for really special people. These are the best friends, the notable mentions, the friends that are like family and vice versa. The ones you want by your side, or an encouraging face to look at in a crowd.
Note: I would argue that there is a sub-category that floats between the Top 10 and the Definites, called the Obviouses — parents, siblings, grandparents and other close relatives often fall into this space. I say however you feel to categorize them is not a bad thing. I argue placing the Obviouses in the Definites, that way you don’t fill up your Top 10 with relatives!
The Definites List
The Definites list is that pliable section where the two of you really hash it out and figure out who definitely needs to be invited (*more on this later). This usually begins with family members on BOTH your sides, a lot of whom you might not know yet. You can easily fill out 20-30 name slots between the two of you. Then it trickles into groups like people from work, roommates from college, sorority/fraternity pals, those important people’s significant others, etc. There is no cap on this list, as your venue might accommodate for several more than 100 for example, but I’d say a good number is around 25-50 people.
*I want to emphasize that there’s a reason this list is pliable. This goes without saying but you invite who you want to invite to your wedding! Maybe in your case the only people that are invited to one of the sweetest moments in your life are solely in the Top 10s. And for others, it might be their entire family, some of whom on their own side they haven’t even met. It’s completely different for everybody. Some don’t mind any give and take and are completely fine with it, others want to elope and not even invite their parents. It is entirely up to you!
The Everybody Elses List
The everybody elses list is really quite self-explanatory. This isn’t an afterthought list, but rather it’s just the even bigger list of friends. It might be your neighbors, your ride-or-dies, the other classmates you might not be as close to but have always had a good relationship with, or the out of town-ers who might not make it but you’d still like to invite. It can be thought of as the awesome people you’d like to fill the room with. (This group is sometimes quicker to fill out than the Top 10 list.)
As you figure things out and hash out lists and compare them and mesh them together, you’ll move people around. Because of the capacity of our own venue (which we maxed out as much as we could) we found we had a bit of a mini-list who we currently couldn’t invite. But once people started saying they couldn’t come, we were able to invite them immediately. The point is, it’s an ever-changing list.
I hope this is helpful as a starting point, and feel free to bookmark this as a guide for when the time comes to sort out this part of the planning. Don’t forget to download your *free* wedding guest list template below!
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