Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

June 2023

10 Steps to Creating a Wedding Guest List

We’re kicking off our miniseries on wedding guest lists with the lowdown on how to create a wedding guest list in 10 steps!

Creating a wedding guest list that keeps everyone (and your wallet) happy is one of the hardest tasks in wedding planning. It may even be impossible to avoid hurt feelings altogether! From trying to give in to parents’ requests for seats, to wondering if you’ll offend the co-worker who invited you to their wedding last year, planning your wedding guest list isn’t simple at all.

Fear not, we’re here to help with a complete, step-by-step guide to creating a wedding guest list to help you invite only the people who matter the most to you on your special day, and keep seating costs down!

1. Discuss the Type of Wedding You Want

First things first, sit down and have a conversation about the style and type of wedding you want. Planning on tying the knot in the Maldives? Your guest list will probably only include immediate family and very close friends. Or perhaps you’ve always dreamed of making a grand entrance in an opulent ballroom, and want to party with every single person you know. The kind of day you want will help you decide on the scope of your nuptials, and influence the size of your guest list.

Vanessa and Bryan’s Classic Wedding with White Florals and Green Foliage at Capella Singapore by Iluminen Singapore

2. Determine the Wedding Budget

Establishing a budget will help you decide how many guests you can realistically accommodate. Keep in mind that each guest adds to the overall cost of the wedding. For example, more guests equals a larger venue, which also means more styling and florals. The number of guests you have also directly influences the amount you spend on things like invitations and catering.

3. Consider the Venue Capacity

While you don’t need the full guest list of names before you start venue hunting, you do need a rough head count 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. When you’ve secured your dream venue, keep its maximum capacity in mind when building your wedding guest list.

4. Identify Key Attendees

Compile a list of essential people who must be present at your wedding. Who are the ones you can’t imagine your big day without? This A-list typically includes immediate family members, close relatives, and close friends such as your bridal party. Make sure to consider both sides of the family too.

Katrina and Naresh’s Sunshine Yellow Wildflower Wedding at The Alkaff Mansion by Lydia K Photography

5. Allocate the Wedding Guest List Seats

When you’ve set a maximum total guest count, divide it up among yourselves and both sets of parents. How you divide it is up to the two of you, and usually largely depends on who is paying for the wedding. If your parents are contributing to your wedding fund, they should get a portion of the seats for their guests. While every family is different in size and closeness, dividing your seats evenly amongst each side will help avoid any altercations.

6. Prioritise and Categorise

After you’ve listed out your must-haves, write down all the other people you would like to have at your wedding if space and budget allow. Split these up into different categories or tiers, to help you prioritise who gets an invitation. Divide your guest list into different categories, such as immediate family, extended family, close friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. This will allow you to prioritize who gets an invitation based on the size of your venue and budget constraints.

7. Be Consistent

Try your best to be consistent when building your wedding guest list–it helps you to avoid awkward questions later! If you’re inviting one side of the family’s uncles and aunts, be sure to invite the other’s too. Don’t give one great-grandmother a front-row seat at the ceremony and neglect to invite another.

Including plus-ones? Try to be consistent to avoid hurt feelings; for example, you only invite married and long-term-relationship plus ones instead of allowing single friends to bring a date. The same goes for your kids policy. If you make an exception for your nieces and nephews, explain to your guests that you’re asking all other parents to leave their children at home.

Nicole and Meng’s Lively Squid Game Themed Gatecrash and Joyous Wedding by Multifolds Productions

8. Edit Together

Once you’ve created an initial guest list, review it with your partner and make any necessary edits. Are there any overlaps in your social circle? Do you disagree on an invitee? Consider factors such as your relationship with the individual, whether you’ve seen or spoken to them recently, and your budget and capacity constraints. Try limiting each category of guests by a certain quota if you’re having trouble whittling your list down.

9. Be Tactful

As early as possible, start mentioning that you’re having a very small wedding, so that expectations don’t get out of hand. If you know someone was expecting an invitation but they didn’t make it to the guest list, try to give them a heads up or tactful hint before sending out Save-the-Dates or wedding invitations.

10. Rework Your Guest List after Receiving Your RSVPs

Send out your wedding invitations six to eight weeks before your wedding, so guests have ample time to plan their calendars, and you have enough time to rework your guest list based on your replies. After receiving your “sorry, can’t make it”s, you can either choose to scale down your wedding, or send out another round of invitations–but do so quickly! No one wants to feel like a B-lister, especially if they’re in the same social circles as your first round of invitees.

Creating a guest list can be a challenging task that puts a lot of stress on a couple, so it’s important to communicate openly with your partner and be prepared to make some compromises along the way. Instead of trying to accommodate the wishes of your parents, your grandparents, your friends, your uncles and aunties, your co-workers, your neighbours, your dog, and your hamster (!), 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.

Feature image from Sheena and Jing Wen’s Elegant Forest Wedding at Clifford Pier by Pixioo

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10 Steps to Creating a Wedding Guest List