“I didn’t think this would be so hard,” is something newly engaged couples often say when compiling the guest list for their wedding. And without a good plan (and a good venue host like The Canton Barn), it will be!
Using our step-by-step process, you can avoid all of the unnecessary problems during planning, and ultimately make your big day stress free!
Pick your Venue Options and Venue Capacity
Before you can start on your guest list, ideally you will have your wedding venue picked out. To pick a venue, you will have to consider where you want your wedding to be, and how many people you want to come.
Looking through local venue listings online is a great way to find out what is nearby, and you can tailor results to best suit your needs. For example, if you want to see wedding venues that hold 300 guests, like ours, make sure to include that in your search.
Don’t be afraid to look at venues outside of your location, either, because there are often great venues out in the country or near the city you wanted to be in.
Make a List of Your Desired Wedding Guests
Once you have taken the time to pick your dream wedding venue, it’s time to start building a list of who you (and your future spouse) would like to have at your wedding.
Using a spreadsheet, wedding website, or paper planner, begin by listing out names that are obvious, such as your immediate family, wedding party, and close friends. You will want to indicate for every guest whether they need a “plus one,” as many engaged couples will accidentally overlook their friends and family’s significant others and friends.
Next, add your extended family you are close with, such as grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
You will want to check with your parents and grandparents at this time to make sure any important guests they would like to have present are included, as forgetting these can lead to difficult decisions down the road.
Then, move on to any professional relationships you have you want to include, such as your coworkers and bosses of the past and present.
Finally, fill out your list with extra friends and family, just as long as your venue (and budget) allow for it. Remember, there is nothing more delightful than having a large group of the people closest to you celebrating your big day!
Narrow it Down if Necessary
If you have too many names, organize your list based on priority and start crossing out the ones that are not absolutely necessary.
A good way to tell if a name can be crossed off is by asking yourself a couple of questions, such as:
- Have I interacted with this person recently?
- Would this person invite me to their wedding?
- Do I plan on keeping in touch with this person in the future?
No one likes cutting out people from their wedding list, but it is needed when you are exceeding the capacity of your venue, or your overall budget.
Be Mindful of Accommodations
At this point, your list is almost done! Before you officially send out save-the-dates, make sure your guests will have the accommodations they need.
Checking the venue’s parking, child seating, and handicap accessibility may affect your guest list size, or at least will determine any special notes you need to make on your invitations.
Furthermore, you will want to double check with your venue host that your guest list size can be accommodated, including the wedding party table.
Plan Ideal Seating Arrangements
After your RSVPs have been sent and filled out by your guests, you should have a strong idea of who is coming to your wedding, so now you can start planning seating arrangements!
Some venues will have pre-arranged seating scenarios, so it’s important to ask what their usual layout is and if they have pictures or diagrams for an example. Regardless, you should make sure a venue seating chart is on hand when you start planning where guests should sit.
We recommend that you at least provide reserved seating for those who are in your wedding party and within your immediate family and close friend circle. Beyond that, you can let people sit where they want, or continue with planning out seating.
One advantage to planning every table’s seating arrangement is the ability to match other friends and family together, ensuring everyone has a seat ready to go with people they know, and some they’ll get to know.
You’ll also want to consider the tables around them, as people often interact with those near them throughout the day.
Put the Fun in Wedding Planning
Remember, at the end of the day, it’s your wedding–invite who you and your future spouse want! If you are ready to start planning your big day, contact us to learn more about The Canton Barn and book your dream wedding.