Compiling your wedding guest list can be one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning. While it would be nice if it were as simple as just making a list of all your friends and loved ones, it’s unfortunately a bit more complicated. 

It can be difficult to narrow down who to invite and who to leave out. There’s those distant cousins you’ve never met but are still family, the co-workers you can’t not invite if you invite others, your friend’s significant other who you don’t always get along with, and many more.

Your guest list is one of the most expensive decisions you have to make, as it affects catering and your venue. Therefore, it’s important to budget accordingly. At the end of the day, it is impossible to please everyone. Your wedding is your special day, so you shouldn’t feel obligated to invite anyone who wouldn’t make the event a positive experience.

wedding guests at ceremony



First and foremost, it’s important to decide the location, the general size of the wedding, and how much you are looking to spend. Decide if you want a bigger wedding or an intimate gathering, whether it will be during peak season or off-season, if you will have a fancy dinner or a buffet, etc. Once you have all of the details nailed down, it will be easier to establish a budget and decide how many guests you plan to invite. 

TIP: A 150 guest wedding costs about $31,000.



A good starting point is with your family guest list. Based on the size of your wedding, invite family members based on closeness. Intimate gatherings may have only a few family members present, while large events may be open to extended family. Remember, you do not have to treat both sides of the family the same. It is your wedding day, and ultimately your choice. 

TIP: Review the guest list with a family member to ensure you don’t forget anyone. 



When creating your wedding guest list, we all have a list of our closest friends and family we know will be in attendance at our big day, so it’s best to start there. Write all of those names down and get a number. This is your “A-list.”

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to create your “B-list.” Your B-list should include coworkers, distant relatives, friends or acquaintances that you aren’t the closest with but still adore. Creating a guest list is an important time to be honest with yourself, and be realistic about how many guests you truly want at your wedding. Also edit your B-list accordingly with your budget in mind. 

TIP: When selecting coworkers or your boss, it’s all or none. 



Keep in mind that people draw the line for plus ones at completely different places – engaged, married, long term ~significant~ others, or anyone. This is completely your call and should depend on the size and budget of the wedding. 

As far as kids, it is totally common to leave kids off the guest list! Remember, this may be more difficult for daytime or destination weddings. An alternative is providing child care at the wedding. You could also choose an age threshold, or limit it to immediate family members. Make a rule and stick to it so you do not offend guests!

Whatever rules you decide, be sure to clearly communicate them with guests, either in the invitation or on a website, so that there is no misunderstanding when your guests show up at the venue. 



Your guest list is also a master key for addresses, tracking RSVP’s, gifts, who’s invited, etc. Be sure to number your guest list, that way it will be easier to keep track and keep things running smoothly leading up to the big day.

If you’re having trouble narrowing down your wedding guest list, you can always consult your partner, a close friend, or a wedding planner for additional help!