If you thought to choose your dress and reception venue was stressful then you are in for quite a shock when you have to make your guest list!

Out of all the things to consider and plan then the job of choosing your guests is probably the most contentious and can cause disagreement and arguments.

The work doesn’t stop after you have finalized your list. You then have to do the perfect seating plan to make sure they are all happy and enjoy themselves at the reception.

Top tips for making a guest list

  • If you are paying for the wedding then you ultimately have control of who is invited but be very diplomatic with both your parents. They will find it hard not to suggest that every relation gets an invite, you have to explain in a sensitive way that things are not like that in the modern world.
  • If your family is paying then the guest list may not be under your total control. You could suggest that they stick to a specific number they can invite then you have more control over the remaining number.
  • Have a meeting with both sets of parents on neutral ground to talk about the wedding guest list. Before you arrange this make sure you and the groom know what you want so it makes it harder for them to get carried away.
  • Decide how many guests you want, let’s say 100. Allocate 25 guests to each set of parents and then you have 50 people you can invite. Liaise with each other as you don’t want to be inviting the same people. Leave it up to the parents to invite family members and then you can invite your friends.
  • A total number of guests will be ultimately decided by your budget and space at your reception venue. Decide how many you can afford and accommodate then stick to that number rigidly.
  • You can be fairly sure that around 10% of invites will be declined. Either send out 10% more invites than you can accommodate or give yourself plenty of time to send out a second round of invites.
  • If you are on a tight budget but want to share your day with lots of people then invite only the closest family and friends to the wedding but have an evening reception for everyone else.
  • Give yourself at least two weeks to do your reception seating plan. Work with your venue organiser to get the best table layout for the room. Either use name cards or number the tables and have the seating plan at the entrance to the venue.
  • The top table should consist of the bride and groom, both sets of parents either side of them with bridesmaids, best man and ushers at both ends.
  • Don’t sit all the single people together, they may feel awkward. Put small groups of them with couples.
  • Sit all teenagers together so they can keep each other occupied.
  • Smaller children can be seated on a supervised table of their own away from the main tables. Consider supplying coloring books and crayons to stop them getting bored.
  • Seat elderly guests close to the amenities and away from the children, dance floor, and the band.
  • Buy some disposable cameras and put one on each table so the guests can record what they see as you will probably miss a lot of what goes on around you.

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