wedding guest list

9 Things You Need to Consider When Creating Your Wedding Guest List

November 28, 2019

The wedding season is in full swing at the moment in South Africa. So, if you’re one of the lucky couples about to tie the knot this summer, read on.

We’re about to tackle one of the touchiest subjects there is when it comes to wedding planning. The wedding guest list!

Here’s how to decide who makes the cut and who doesn’t.

1. How Many People Can I Afford to Invite?

Nowadays, the average wedding in South Africa costs between R70 000 and R80 000.

So, unless you’ve won the Lotto in recent times, chances are you’re going to want to keep costs to a minimum.

You can do this by sourcing cheaper wedding venues, arranging most of the catering yourself and cutting down your guest list.

There’s no denying that the more people you invite, the more you’re going to have to fork out for your big day.  

The number of guests present affects almost every aspect of your wedding day, like:

  • Catering costs
  • Set up costs for more tables and chairs
  • Size of the venue you hire
  • Printing costs

Your guest list can even affect the cost of entertainment since some performers charge per person. 

It follows that you must set up a maximum number of guests and stick to it.

Fortunately, most people understand this and won’t feel offended if they’re left out due to budget constraints. 

2. How Will You Divide the List?

Once you’ve got the numbers, it’s time to sit down with your hubby-to-be and decide how to divide the guest list.

Fifty-fifty might seem like the obvious choice but it’s not that simple.

Perhaps he has a larger family than you do, or maybe you have more close friends. It’s very important to reach a consensus on this before you take the next step. 

3. Are You Going to Include Partners?

Back in the day, it was customary to invite every guest with a partner, but times have changed. Don’t feel bad if you can’t afford to invite a partner for every guest. 

Many of your single guests will relish the prospect of not having to hunt down a plus-one for the occasion.

Besides, a wedding is a great time to catch up with long-lost family and friends. It can be awkward for outsiders. You should include spouses, cohabitants and long-term partners as a matter of course.

4. What About Children?

Some venues might charge the full rate for children, others might offer a reduced rate, or allow children free of charge.

If you’re having your reception at home or anywhere else that isn’t charging a per person rate, it’s entirely up to you. Children come with their own set of challenges though. 

Firstly, someone needs to keep an eye on them throughout the proceedings. Will you hire a childminder on the day, or leave it to your guests to watch their own children? 

Secondly, younger children become bored with formal events very quickly. 

If you’re going to invite the children of close family members anyway, more is usually merrier. They should keep each other entertained. 

In some cases, parents will enjoy the chance to dress up and have the day off from their junior charges. They’ll be grateful for the excuse that a ‘no-children’ invitation affords. 

5. How Far Will You Take Family Invitations?

This aspect can be a family feud in the making, so treat carefully.

A useful yardstick is to invite only those relatives that you see often or those who have invited you to their weddings. Just be sure to apply the same rule across the board. 

Another awkward aspect can be friends of your parents. If your mom wants to invite her book club and your dad’s golfing buddy simply has to come, let them.

It’s a small way to show your appreciation for your parents, especially if they’re helping pay for the wedding. If your budget is really tight you could ask that your parents foot the bill for their extra guests. 

6. How Will You Fine-Tune Your List?

The best way to handle a wedding guest list is to write down every possible person you could wish to invite and then narrow it down.

Start with the people that you don’t see often and work your way down. Stick to the same criteria for everyone — no exceptions — or you’ll never cut the list down. 

It’s important to get your partner involved with this to avoid any hard feelings down the line. It’s very important to apply the same rule to his friends as you do to yours. 

7. Will You Fill Up any Empty Seats?

A good way to avoid some hurt feelings is to compile an A-list and a B-list. As the RSVP’s start to filter in, you can replace no-shows with people from the B-list. 

This might seem a little underhanded, but it’s a good way to include people that you want to invite but have left off the list due to budget constraints.

8. What Will You Do About People Who Invite Themselves?

There will always be those few individuals who proclaim that they can’t wait to see you at the wedding. It will usually be those that haven’t made the final cut.

The only way to get out of this awkward situation is to explain as tactfully as possible that you couldn’t afford to invite them.

Otherwise, you’ll have to face an even more embarrassing scenario later. 

9. Other Considerations For Your Wedding Guest List

Chances are that when you sit down to make your initial list, you won’t believe how many people you actually know. Be picky – you can’t invite everyone that you’ve spent five minutes around the braai with. 

Deciding which colleagues, neighbours and acquaintances to invite can be a real challenge. A good rule is that if you don’t spend a significant amount of time with these people, don’t invite them. 

Another alternative is to stick to only family and friends and invite no one from the office. 

Need a Little Help With Your Wedding?

Your wedding guest list is one of the few things you have to handle on your own. Once you’ve got that out of the way, help is at hand.

No matter where you are in the country, you’ll find the professional guidance you need to plan the perfect wedding day.

Head over to our wedding directory, and let’s get started. 

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