The Wedding Guest List: Let’s talk about it…

I get it, the wedding guest list is potentially one of the most controversial topics in the wedding planning process — who is going to get the ax or the rose!?

Wedding guests cost an average of $245.00 in the US, which is certainly something to think about and something we talk a bit about in another blog post.

Whether you want an elopement with me, myself, and I or you want that 500+ person BANG OUT wedding that the WHOLE city hears about we’ve got some suggestions for how to figure out that guest list.

Guest List Tips: Figure out your wedding feel.

Is this going to be an intimate wedding or a bang-out wedding with 500 of your closest friends and every single one of those cousins you’ve never met? Figure out what you want the feel to be like. There are a lot of options from an elopement with two people to the GINORMOUS destination wedding.

Newport Wedding Reception Photographer, reception guests
Newport Beach House Wedding Reception

Use your budget to guide you.

Using your budget to guide you, you’ll have a few roadways to drive down, so to speak. If you’re looking at a larger budget, you can accommodate more guests, with a smaller budget you’ll have a smaller wedding guest list.

Will your guests and you love a plated dinner? Are you more into a full bar? What about having a local buffet with dessert food trucks and a wine and beer only bar? These are all decisions that will impact your guest list — you can have more guests with that buffet for the same price as fewer guests with a plated dinner.

Know that each guest will count as a “head,” as will each member of your vendor teams that you are contractually obligated to provide meals for (typically, DJ, onsite planners/coordinators, photography/videography teams).

If you have a bigger budget, go wild, but if you’re looking at reigning in the wedding costs, you will want to take into account whether you want to go wild with the experience or have more people at your party.

Marco Island Wedding Ceremony Photographer with wedding guests
JW Marriott Marco Island Wedding Reception

Filter that wedding guest list into categories.

Here’s the plan. Go make a spreadsheet on Google Sheets (easily shareable with your vendor team, or others helping you). On that list, you’re going to create empty slots with the exact number of guests you want on your wedding day.

First, fill in your wedding party, and immediate family on both sides. Fill in any other non-negotiable, your-wedding-day-cannot-happen-without-these-people people. This is the A-List. These folks are YOUR PEOPLE. If they don’t bring you joy, throw ’em out. (or put them on the B-List).

Now for the “B-List.” These are folks that you’d really like to have, but maybe they can’t make it and you’ll live. This could be distant relatives, family friends, and co-workers, etc.

new york city wedding portraits during intimate wedding with a small wedding guest list
Greenwich CT Wedding Portraits

Narrowing down the wedding guest list.

Well, now you have those two lists — is that guest list full yet? If it isn’t, just narrow down the guest count and go a little bougie with the experience of your wedding.

If it’s a little long and it’s time to cut people, let’s talk about that. Think about looking at your wedding photos 20 years from now — who will you be devastated wasn’t in your images? This may be harsh, but if it doesn’t bring you joy, throw it out. Like some things in life, the principles of fuck yes apply here. If it’s not a fuck yes and you’re still over the count, start cutting folks.

Hoping this is helpful for y’all and you got the most out of it! Now get to work on the most bomb guest list. When you figure out your wedding party, we’ve got you covered with articles for what to get for both your bridesmaids and groomsmen.


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