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Wedding Guestlists and Invitations

Wedding Guestlists and Invitations

7.18.23

Wedding Guestlists and Invitations

 

Wedding guestlists can be tricky. Whom do you invite? Who gets a plus-one? (An invitation that allows them to bring another guest.) How do you avoid hurt feelings? A little math and a little etiquette will go a long way in your planning process. Here is a useful guide with common sense ideas for wedding guestlists and invitations.


 

Consider Your Budget and Venue Size

Weddings are expensive, and offering a plus-one to every guest can add up quickly. Unless you just happen to have an unlimited budget and access to a palace ballroom, it’s essential to take a look at each guest’s relationship with the wedding couple. First, make a “First Round” list of must-have invitees, then make a “Second Round” list of “would-like-to-haves”. Then use the guideline list we’ve laid out below for plus-one invitations.

Also, remember that whether your wedding is quite formal or very relaxed, the etiquette principles are just the same. You must be clear and precise with your invitations so as to avoid misunderstandings (and possibly hurt feelings).

Make Your Invitations Clear

When addressing invitations, make sure to include the exact guest’s name on the invitation. You may also plainly write “single seat to be reserved” if you feel that there may be any confusion. A plus-one invitation should read the guest’s name, followed by “and guest” or “plus one”. There should be a line on the RSVP invitation for each invited person to write their name. The line is preceded by a capital “M”. This means that the person should add “rs.” for mrs, “iss” for miss, or simply “r” for mr – then continue writing the rest of their name. Clearly indicate whether or not their children are invited.

Try your best to get the exact spelling of every guest’s name so that you can include them on your seating chart and placecards. If an invitee writes more than one name on the plus-one RSVP, give them a phone call or text and explain to them that your guestlist is constrained by your budget. Don’t elaborate beyond a simple, kind explanation, then change the subject. Have a brief chat about the weather or how wonderful everyone has been and then make an excuse to get off the phone.

If someone still “crashes” the wedding with a tag-along guest, then you will have to decide how to handle it. But remember, it is almost always better to simply be gracious (and not let your big day be ruined).

First-Round and Second-Round Invitations

Your first-round invite list is everyone that you simply can’t imagine not inviting – people like your family members and closest friends. These invitations should go out about three months in advance, and the RSVP should be responded to as soon as possible. After you’ve gotten most of them back, you can see how many openings you’ll have for your second-round invitations.

Your second round invitations are people that you wish could be there if you can afford to host that number of guests. You can set a longer RSVP date on this round so that people will have enough time to get a date (if it is a plus-one invitation) or a babysitter. Just remember to plan carefully and allow enough time. A three-month window will usually fit both rounds.

And, unless you are going to invite everyone you work with, keep the wedding talk to a minimum around the office. This will help to avoid hurt feelings. There is an excellent blog post that goes further on these subjects from our friends at The Knot wedding website here.

Who Gets a Plus-One Invitation?

  • Anyone who is married – It would probably be considered rude to invite someone and not their spouse as well.
  • Your entire wedding party – They are especially honored guests. Tradition dictates that they be allowed a guest apiece.
  • A VIP guest who won’t know anyone there (Your single boss, for instance)

Who Gets a Single-Only Invitation?

  • Guests who are family or friends of the family who don’t have a significant other (elderly Aunt Jenny, who has been widowed for 25 years)
  • Single coworkers
  • People that you’re not super close with and who are unknown to your other guests (Your old high school buddy)

With a little math, a bit of strategy, and some common sense etiquette, you will optimize your wedding guest list.

Do you have questions about weddings and how to plan and run them? Do you need a hand? Well, you’ve come to the right place! We are the wedding experts.

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