laurenocouple banquet table

The Guest List Shape Up

Wedding Planning

Ah, the guest list. The decisions of planning a wedding are contingent on the number of people being invited. Each factor, from the venue to the linens, is determined based on this figure. How much space do you need? How much food will be served? How many chairs will you request? Creating a guest list, however, can be no easy task.

laurenocouple banquet table

First, know your limit. What comes first, the venue or the guest list? You can choose the venue before tallying up friends and family, but keep in mind that will narrow your options. On the flip side, it will also give you a set number to work with, which could help narrowing down a large guest list easier. You’ll also have a better idea of a budget per person. Start by deciding either of these first. Ask yourself:

Do I want my venue to determine how many people I can invite?

Do I already have an idea of how many people I want to invite?

Do I already have a dream venue in mind and want to lock it in no matter what capacity it holds?

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Think big. Keep in mind not everyone will be able to attend. Start with immediate family and work out. Don’t be afraid to include friends and relatives who may not be able to attend. You can always trim the guest list later on, but forgetting someone important will leave you feeling stressed.

Then, trim. When it comes down to finalizing the guest list, you should already know your max number, budget, and all the other details that could factor into the final head count. Don’t invite your college acquaintances, exes, or the girls from yoga. You will be talking to your guests, taking photos, and mingling all evening. Our best advice is to be ready to have a 5 year in the future guest list.

Will this person still be in my life 5 years from now?

Will I want this person in my wedding album?

Then, consider what is fair. The guest list should be about equal as far as your and your fiancé‘s total number of invitees to have a balanced attendance. Also keep in mind plus ones when factoring who you’re inviting and who they will want to bring.

lauren o couple wedding portraits

The guest list can seem tough, but by asking yourself a couple of questions can simplify the process. Choosing a venue will give you a guest cap. You can then create a list of everyone you could possibly want to invite, then go back and reduce that number based on the 5 year rule and your budget. Make sure you are not overextending your budget to include acquaintances! You will be looking back on your photos for years to come and want to recognize every face!


Until next time, happy planning!







Photos: Melani Lust Photography

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Follow along with a recently engaged #laurenobride as she navigates planning her wedding.

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