The Art of the Invite | Your Guide to the Guest List

Updated: Feb 18

There are so many things on your Wedding Checklist, but none may be as important or as difficult as the Guest List.

Photo by Barbara O Photography

It's Important

Photo by Barbara O Photography

You will want to start with one big list and then work your way down to a more balanced number for your budget. The reason the Guest List is so important is that it directly affects the budget. Everything is influenced by your guest count, including the two highest costs, the venue, and catering. Begin by breaking your list down into three groups. The first, your "A-List," is the guest you couldn't imagine getting married without. Then, your "B-List," which includes the guest that you would feel bad not inviting, but it's not the end of the world if they don't attend. And finally, your "C-List" includes your guest that you love and enjoy, but if they had a wedding and didn't invite you, it wouldn't hurt you.

It's Difficult

Photo by Barbara O Photography

One of the main problems to creating your Guest List is the unexpected extra guest. You may have one number in mind while your significant other has something completely different. Or your mother-in-law begs you for an additional 10 invites for people you hardly know. There are plenty of emotional stakeholders in your Wedding Day Plan. The biggest mistake you can make with your Guest List is finalizing your guest list before you know the end cost. You have to create your budget and then determine a guest count that is in balance with it.

It's a Choice

Photo by Barbara O Photography

If only you had a magic wand to be able to invite everyone you could to your wedding. You have to be straightforward with who you really want there on the big day in the real world. If you could not see yourself treating this person to a $200 dinner, that is a good start. If they have no stake in your relationship, that is also a determining factor. And if you have not spoken to this person in the last 6 months, chances are they will understand. There is absolutely no rule or law that says that if someone invites you to their wedding, they have to be at yours. If you haven't maintained a friendship with someone, you shouldn't feel guilty about not including them.

Weddings are sensitive, emotional, and reverent affairs. Your friends and family will understand if you tell them you are planning an intimate event. Once you have your Guest List, you can work on the art of the invite.

The Invitation

Photo by Barbara O Photography

The invitation itself is actually several parts that make up the formal invitation suite. It includes the outer envelope, an unsealed inner envelope, the invitation, a reception card (if the party is held at a different venue), and a response card with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Printed maps and information on hotels are often also enclosed. This could also include information about your wedding website.

Invitations should be mailed within six to eight weeks before your wedding date. When addressing to invite a married couple, use "Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Davis." If every family member is invited, use "Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Davis and Family." When addressing older children, use their names are written out below their parents, i.e., Miss Erica Davis. And if you are addressing two unmarried individuals, use each of their full names.

The Art

The invite's true art is in crafting a lean Guest List and staging the proper Invitation Suite. There is nothing easy about this art, but you can create a masterpiece with a bit of care. Setting the budget for your big day will act as a guideline for every other wedding decision, from your vendors and venue to the guest list. It will keep you in check and ensure that you know exactly where you are financially.

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