Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

April 2022

10 Common Wedding Guest List Questions

Building a wedding guest list is tricky business. We answer the most common wedding guest list questions to help.

Agreeing on a wedding guest list, when you need to factor in parents and in-laws, as well as reduced pax limits caused by COVID-19, can be a very difficult and anxiety-inducing task. Whittling down your guest list from heaping stacks of names, negotiating on whom to leave off the list, managing last-minute pull-outs or add-ons, to figuring out whether you need to invite all of your co-workers or second cousins, amidst the stress of knowing regulations could change at any moment—this can put a lot of pressure on a couple.

Instead of trying to accommodate everyone, it’s important to remember that your wedding is a celebration of you and your partner, and should only include the people you want by your side on your big day. We look at some of the most common guest list questions often faced by couples, so you can be assured that on your wedding day, you’ll be surrounded by the people who love you most!

1. Should we have a guest list before booking our wedding venue?

You don’t need to have your final guest list, but you should definitely have a rough head count in mind before looking for a venue that fits your capacity criteria. It would be heartbreaking to fall in love with a wedding venue, only to realise it can’t fit your non-negotiable invites. Before you start your search for your wedding venue, ask both sides of the family for their expected guest count, and add in your own friends and invitees to come up with a rough number. Use this figure when shortlisting your wedding venues.

Nicole Chang Min and James’s Sky-High, Tropical Floral Wedding at 1-Atico by Androids in Boots

2. How do we start building a guest list?

Begin with the people you can’t imagine getting married without—your parents, your siblings, your bridal party, your closest friends. Then extend the list out to include your extended family, friends you see less often, and co-workers. Compare your lists with each other to see if there are overlaps. From there, either look for a venue that accommodates your guest list and budget, or whittle your guest list down to fit your magic number. Try to be fair! Don’t insist on your partner cutting down his guest list by 20 when you only remove five names from your own.

3. I have a huge family and my partner has a small one. Can I invite more guests than them?

While your family may be bigger than your partner’s, they may have more family friends or close friends to fill their seats. You don’t need to divide your guest list exactly in half. Discuss the number of guests you’re planning to invite and work out a strategy you’re both comfortable with.

4. How much of the guest list should we give to our parents?

There is no fixed number of seats you can allocate to your parents, so you should sit down with your partner early in the wedding planning process to discuss how many invitees you’d like to offer your parents. Will you give them 25% of the guest list, or 50%? Can they invite as many people as they want? How many guests can you allocate to your parents while still sticking to your venue capacity and budget? After deciding, include your parents and in-laws in your discussion so you can settle on a guest count allocation that works for everyone involved.

Damini and Guru’s Intimate Garden Wedding at Wheeler’s Estate by Chris Chang Photography

5. Should I give plus-ones to my guests?

Plus ones can be tricky, and if you’re not consistent with your invites, the number of plus-ones can quickly add up. The rule of thumb is, guests who are married, engaged, or in a long-term relationship should be invited as a couple. If you have the space, consider allowing your wedding party to each bring a date so they can have more fun at your wedding, as a token of appreciation for their effort and support.

You may also get requests to bring a plus one after you inviting a single friend. Whether you’re okay with adding another head to your guest count is ultimately up to you. If your friend doesn’t know many people at your wedding, he or she may be much more comfortable bringing a date. On the other hand, if all of your colleagues will be sitting together, they may not need plus-ones. Discuss your plus-one strategy with your partner and stick to it consistently.

6. How do we respond to guests who ask to bring an uninvited plus one?

You might get a shock when someone RSVPs for three instead of one, but it’s actually quite common for couples to receive requests for additional plus-ones. Instead of jumping to conclusions, call and ask whom the plus-one is. Is it a caregiver for an elderly guest? Did your guest recently get engaged and wants to bring his fiancee? Find out who the plus one is and why it’s important for them to attend.

But if someone is trying to bring a plus-one you don’t need at your wedding, it’s okay to reply with something like, “We would love for you to bring a guest, but this is a very intimate event and we have limited space.” It might feel rude to say, but remember that by sticking to your plan, you’re creating a wedding that celebrates you, not one dictated by anyone else. Most people will understand.

7. What do we do when guests don’t respond by the RSVP deadline?

There will often be guests who forget to respond by the deadline, so simply follow up with them and ask whether they received your invite and if they’re able to attend. You could also delegate the task of following up with guests to a member of your family or bridal party.

Anna and Angad’s Intimate Solemnisation at The Bandstand at the Singapore Botanic Gardens by GrizzyPix Photography

8. What if the regulations change at the last minute?

With COVID-19 becoming endemic, many couples have had to deal with regulations changing at the eleventh hour, guests pulling out, or even the bride or groom coming down with COVID-19 themselves. The situation may force you to postpone your wedding, or scale it down to meet new headcount restrictions.

Given the circumstances, it’s wise to have a pandemic plan just in case. Craft an intimate guest list of your nearest and dearest, in case wedding sizes get limited before your wedding. Put together a plan for gracefully uninviting other guests and sending them a link to attend virtually instead, if you are suddenly put in a position of restricting headcount. In this case, it’s best to call your guests and explain the circumstances, which might not easily conveyed through emails or texts.

9. What if a lot of my guests RSVP “No”?

Creating a List A and a List B can be a smart part of your wedding guest list game plan. When you start receiving RSVPs from your first round of invitees, and you know how many spots you have left, you can start sending out the next round of invitations from List B. Of course, you want to do this tactfully! Don’t send invitations to the same group of friends at different times, else one friend may feel offended that they didn’t make the initial cut.

10. Do we need to invite someone if we were invited to their wedding?

You might feel rude if you were invited to a friend’s wedding but can’t return the favour. But a lot of factors go into deciding on your guest list, such as the size of your venue, your budget, and these days, the restrictions in place at the time. Your friends will understand! If you’re worried, be honest with them and tell them that you would love to have them there but that you’re just not able to.

Credits: Feature image from Ming Tong and Daryl’s Sustainable Wedding with Gold Accents at Botanico at The Garage by Bottled Groove Photography

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10 Common Wedding Guest List Questions