Decide how you will “divide” your guest list
Creating a guest list can get quite messy, especially when the parents of the bride and groom are financially contributing to the wedding. A good idea before starting your guest list is coming to an agreement with both families as to how you will “divide” your guest list: traditionally if both sets of parents are contributing to the wedding, each set of parents would get a quarter of the guest list, and the couple would get half. Whether you choose to follow tradition or to divide the list differently, it is a good idea to set that up from the very beginning.
Think big (and trim later)
You can start by including everyone in your circle on the list, think big at this point, you can do the “purging” later. The size of the trim will greatly depend on your budget, but can also depend on other factors.
Choose a coherent system
Ideally you could create a “collaborative” document in google docs, where everyone that has access to the file, can see the most up to date version and make alterations. Alternatively you can choose to be set on a format (i.e. Excel, word etc.) and then assign the “merging” to someone in your party. We recommend using excel files as they are the most neat and organized way to keep your guest list.
What to include on your excel file
The obvious information to include for each “potential guest” are:
Label: You can choose to have a few different columns for this, such as “Title(s)”, “Last name” and “First name(s) or have all of them on the same column.
Note: By having the last name in one column, you will be able to use the “organize alphabetically” tool later, when it comes time for escort card or seating arrangement
Street address: you can divide this in 2 column, the first for the first line of the street address, the second for the second line
City, state, Zip code and Country (if different from the US)
RSVP (and choices of meal): this column does not need to be filled in right away, you will fill it in with a Y or N once you get your responses back
How to choose who you should trim from your list
Crunching the numbers is often not the simplest part. The most effective way to trim your list is creating rules and sticking to them. Here are a few common rules ideas:
- if neither the bride or groom have spoken to them in more than 3 years they should not be invited
- if you are inviting them only because they invited you to their wedding, they should not be invited
- if inviting children is not on your plans, do not feel guilty about having an adults only wedding
This will not be an easy process, and can create drama, especially if the parents get lists as well. A rule of thumb could be for every 2 guests you cut off their list, 1 guest is cut off yours.
A and B lists
A great idea when it comes to large wedding, is create an A-list and a B-list. The A list consist of your must-have guests, so close family, close friends, those people who you cannot imagine not being at your wedding. Your B list however is not just anyone, it still consists of people who you really want to be there. If you get a lot of regrets from the first round of invitations, then you can send out your B-list invites.
A good rule of thumb when sending out 2 round of invites however, is make sure that your first round is mailed at least 10 weeks before the wedding, and to set your rsvp due date at least 6 to 7 weeks before the wedding, so that right after you will have enough time to send out any eventual B-list invites.