6 Practical Steps for Creating the Perfect Wedding Guest List

Compiling your wedding guest list is an important step in the early stages of your wedding planning. It has a significant impact on your budget and choice of venue. Only after determining the number of guests you want to invite can you tailor your wedding arrangements accordingly. This six-step guide will assist you in composing your guest list effectively and efficiently, so grab a cup of tea, relax and check it out.


Initiate a candid discussion with your partner to ensure you mutually understand each other. Do both of you want an intimate affair or a grand celebration? Establishing this shared vision will help you decide how many wedding guests you want at your celebration.

Create a Master List

Picture your wedding in an ideal scenario. Jot down the names of everyone you would invite if there were no budget or venue capacity limitations. This master list provides an estimate of the number of desired guests and helps ground your expectations later on. Furthermore, it'll aid in identifying specific requirements for your chosen venue, such as disabled access or accommodating guests' dietary needs.

In addition to this, you can share this list with a trusted confidant like your maid of honour or best man. They may remember some important people that you've forgotten to add. Your parents could also help you decide who should be on this list.


From the master list, begin the process of prioritizing your potential attendees. Though it can be overwhelming, categorize the names into three groups to establish priority levels:

Firstly, include yourselves in the list. Many couples forget that they are part of the number when calculating costs for their wedding. Write your names down as numbers one and two.

List 1: These individuals are indispensable to your special day. Typically, this includes parents, the wedding party, your children, and your closest friends and family.

List 2: People you would love to have in attendance and expect to invite, but their absence wouldn't dampen the day significantly. Generally, this encompasses extended family and close friends.

List 3: Their presence is not exactly crucial. Distant relatives, old friends with whom you've lost touch, work colleagues, and plus ones usually fall into this category.


Once you have categorized your guests, it's time to calculate the number of people you can afford to invite. This could also be based on your wedding venue capacity and catering prices. If inviting more guests is a priority for both of you, you may need to consider a larger venue or explore more cost-effective catering options to stay within budget.

This part of your guest list creation can be challenging, but tackling it early is crucial. It will influence most of your wedding-related decisions. Dedicate an afternoon to deliberate on various aspects, such as addressing sensitive relatives and friends, including children, and determining the number of work colleagues to invite. Remember that each guest incurs a cost, whether they attend the entire day or only the reception. 

If your parents have made significant contributions to the wedding budget, they might want some input or the ability to invite close friends of their own. While traditional etiquette dictates dividing the guest list equally between the groom's parents, the bride's parents, and the couple themselves, this practice has evolved in modern weddings.

Send Out Invites

Once you have divided your guests into daytime and evening categories, it's time to send out your invites. You can start by sending save-the-date cards exclusively to your daytime guests. This is because if sent to evening guests, it might create confusion, and they might keep their entire day free, especially if it falls on a weekday. 

A clever tactic is to send out your daytime invitations slightly earlier than the evening ones. That way, if a daytime guest RSVPs no, you can discreetly upgrade an evening guest without raising suspicion!

Stay Grounded

Are you contemplating inviting someone on a whim moments before finalizing your guest list? If you are in such a situation, refer to your master list. Was that person ever part of your original considerations? 

If not, it is best not to extend the invitation. If you have last-minute vacancies and wish to fill them, revisit your lists 2 and 3. These individuals have lingered in your mind and would have been invited in an ideal situation.


Your wedding guest list is an essential part of your wedding planning. It also determines who you'll eventually share your special day with. Please feel free to use the above advice to craft a list that includes those most special to you. It guarantees you'll have a fabulous time on your wedding day!

Are you looking for an experienced wedding photographer to capture your wedding?

I specialise in fun, relaxed documentary style wedding photography. I help capture the day as it happens and preserve those memories for decades to come. I'd love to help you document your special memories in and around the South West. Want to know more? Contact me today!

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Professional, Fun and Relaxed Wedding Photography

My name is Steven! I'm a full-time documentary wedding photographer from Cornwall. I specialise in relaxed and unposed photography, capturing the moments of your day as they happen.

I love what I do, and I always have fun doing it. If you are looking for someone to capture every moment, create beautiful lasting memories, someone who will laugh with your guests, talk to the kids, pet all the dogs and get stuck into almost any task on the day, then I am the person for you!

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