Ideas & Advice

CJ’s 1-2-3 Guest List Edit

September 23, 2022
September 23, 2022

1-2-3 Guest List Edit:

Step 1:  Create a google sheet or Excel file that you can share with your fiancé and key family members who may be contributing to the guest list.

Step 2: Have everyone do a brain dump into the file …ideally with each individual guest on their own line.

  • If you want to put an entire family on one line, just be sure to add a column for the total number of people included so you know that a family of 4 counts as 4 guests, not 1.
  • Don’t forget to add yourselves to the list as you are also part of the head count.
  • I suggest sharing your Google Sheet with the right people and setting a deadline to add names to it (7 – 10 days should be enough).
  • You don’t need address at this point, just names.

Step 3: You are now going to rank your guests using a 1, 2 or 3. Add a column to the spreadsheet to the left of the names and go through with your fiancé and mark each guest:

  • Put a 1 next to the name if they HAVE to be there. 100% essential. Your very closest friends and family. There should be a very limited number of 1’s. you and your fiancé should probably be able to name each other’s 1’s if that makes sense …they are that close to you.
  • Put a 2 next to the name if you value their connection to you or your family and you really hope they can make it. But it isn’t the end of the world if they can’t come.
  • Put a 3 next to the name if they are in an outer ring of acquaintance. Or maybe it is work friends, old college friends that you haven’t seen in a few years or really extended family.  If you question if they will still be in your life 5 years from now, they can probably be a 3.

Step 4: Run a data sort on your list to put the names in number order. How many 1’s and 2’s do you have? This is your core list. This is what needs to work within your preferred size, our maximum capacity and your budget. If you need to negotiate some of your 1’s and 2’s with your fiancé’s, this is the time to do it.

  • Consider who is marked with a 1 and a 2. Consider the price per guest to add to that list and see if that changes your consideration to make a 2 a 3. I now this sounds harsh …to put a price a your guest’s head. But it is the reality of wedding planning and the more honest you can be about that from the start, the sooner your guest list stress will be over.
  • If you have more priority guests than your partner, then maybe they get first dibs on inviting some of the 3’s (see below).
  • If one of you has a bigger family or just more guests in general, and this puts you over budget (but still within the capacity limits of the venue), is there a way for that side of the family to contribute to the budget to help off-set the added cost of more guests?
  • If the numbers still don’t work, can you find a clear line of distinction on who is invited and who is not (i.e. invite just parents, grandparents, and aunts & uncles and cousins, but no other extended family. Or no kids. Or only your top 5 college friends). The factors may look different for you, but try to make a clear, easy to understand criteria and apply it equally.

We recommend only inviting your 1’s and 2’s. Even if you still have a little wiggle room in your target number. Then, as RSVPs come in and you know who can and can’t come, you can invite some 3’s.

Send out your invitations to 1’s and 2’s no less than 8 weeks in advance. So that as you get early replies, you will know if you have some room to invite some of the 3’s with plenty of notice. Ideally, you aren’t sending out any invitations less than 6 weeks before the wedding).

As for how many people will actually come, it can vary.

Consider how many of your guests will be traveling to attend, the time of year and if it is a busy time where they may be conflicts (like a holiday weekend). We’ve ready sources online that say to expect 75% of your guest list to actually come.

But to be honest, we see much higher rates for our clients because in general, we are working with smaller guest lists sizes for our venue AND because we provide a lot of planning tools and support to help our client’s stay on top of details and RSVPs so that they aren’t wasting time and money planning (and paying!) for people who don’t show.

If you use the 1-2-3 Edit this will go a long way to helping you, your fiancé and families all get on the same page with the realities of your guest list right from the start. You can clearly see where you may need to compromise and address that at the beginning of the planning process so it isn’t looming over your head or stressing you out all along the way. Good luck!