• Jennifer Lane Events

Creating an Event or Wedding Guest List

The First Steps

It's never too early in the wedding planning process to start talking about your guest list. Before you announce that you're having 250 people and start verbally inviting people, it's a good idea to sit down with your fiancé and answer the following questions.

  • What are your dreams for your event or wedding? First, make sure you and your fiancé or committee for the event are on the same page. Have you always dreamed for your event or wedding of a small intimate group of friends and family, or a huge bash? Do you envision a guest list of 30 or 300?

  • Who is so important that you can't imagine getting married or having the event without them there? Until you have your reception and ceremony venues finalized, you won't know how big your guest list can be. Remember that your professional planner can assist you for the best deals. However, it's a good idea at this stage of the game to start counting family and your closest friends, and get a sense of how many essential invites you have. After all, if you have 60 essential invites, you should probably forget about the charming chapel that only seats 50.

  • Who is absolutely not welcome? Now is also a good time to discuss ground rules. If you're uncomfortable with ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends coming, even if your fiancé is on friendly terms with them, speak up now. Other persona non grata may include:

  1. children

  2. + guest for the single people (something that can really up your costs)

  3. people who tend to drink too much, especially if you're not close to them anyway

  4. business acquaintances

  5. those who one of you is estranged from

  • Who is paying for the wedding?If your parents are paying the bill, you should talk to them about how many people they want to invite – some sensitive negotiation may be necessary here if they have 100 people, but you wanted to have a small wedding or vice versa. If you and your fiancé are paying, or everyone's chipping in, sensitivity is still in order but it will probably be easier for you to call the shots.

What can you afford? Once you've set your budget... be realistic. How many people can you afford to invite? Ask yourself if it's more important to have lots of people, or to pamper a smaller amount of people with an elegant meal with all the trimmings? Remember that no matter what your style, each extra person will add to your bottom line – if you're on a tight budget, a smaller wedding is probably the way to go.


Once you've got these preliminary questions out of the way, and decided where you're having both the ceremony and reception, you'll know about how many guests you want to invite. The next step is deciding how many invitations to give to each of your parents. Traditionally, the invitations are split evenly between the two families. However, if the bride and groom share the same group of friends, you may choose to give each of your parents a third of the invitations, reserving a third for yourselves.

You and your fiancé should sit down and start naming the names (and gathering the addresses!) that will make up your portion of the guest list. I suggest being organized from the start and using a program like Excel

What Would You Do About Uninvited Guests? Your weird cousin Bob says that he's bringing an uninvited date to your wedding. Your coworker announces that her kids are coming. And your well-meaning neighbors tell you how thrilled they are about your wedding, even though they were never on the guest list to begin with!

So what do you do? While etiquette suggests that the bride and groom call any quests who have RSVP'd for more people than intended to explain the misunderstanding, this is not an easy thing to do. Some couples don't say anything at all, but feel resentful afterward. Others take the time to write every guest's name on the response card, trying to ensure that no extra guests will be tacked on. Recently, I've seen couples trying to circumvent this problem by adding the line

"We have reserved ___ seats for you" to the RSVP card. What do you think of this solution? A good one, or tacky?

So How Should You Avoid Uninvited Guests at Your Wedding?

The traditional way - by being very clear in the way the invitation is addressed, and calling people who don't understand it.

  • By writing the guests names on the RSVP card

  • By adding a line "We've reserved ___ seats in your honor"

  • If people bring friends, dates, or children, we won't let it bother us.

Wedding RSVPs The Etiquette of Response Cards, and Response Card Wording

A Guide to RSVPs, Response Cards, and Reply Cards

Once upon a time, people didn’t need response cards. When they received a written invitation, they would RSVP on their own stationery, offering congratulations and whether or not they would be able to attend.

With the invention of the telephone, it became customary to include a response card for formal invitations, and to ask people to RSVP by telephone for casual invitations.

But what should a response card say, what is the etiquette of response cards, and are there other ways for guests to RSVP? Response Card Wording The good news is, there isn’t a “correct” way of response card wording. Instead, there are styles that are more appropriate for a formal wedding, and those best suited to a casual affair. There are also some styles best for a bride and groom with a very tight guest list, or for the person who needs to have a firm control on who is and isn’t coming to the wedding.

The most common styles of RSVP wording are:

The favor of a reply is requested

by June 16, 2006.


____Accepts with pleasure

____Declines with regrets



Will ______ Attend

The line is meant for your guest to fill in Ms, Mr. or Mrs., and write their name(s). In the first option, they simply check off whether or not they can come.

In the second option, your guest will RSVP in the affirmative by only writing their name and leaving the space in between “will” and “attend” blank. If they must decline, they will write “not.”

Formal Response Card Wordings Some still prefer to not include response cards; Miss Manners even calls them horrid. A compromise for a formal wedding is to use a simple small card that says:

“The favor of a reply is requested by June 16, 2006.” or “We look forward to hearing from you.”

Most people will either write a note on their personal stationery, or use the card itself to send back a note. A few will call or email you, and that will be okay in the end.

More Casual and Fun Response Card Wordings We look forward to

celebrating with you.

Please reply by June 16, 2006


____ accepts _____ regrets

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

We have reserved two seats in your honor.


{ } Accept with pleasure

{ } Decline with regret

Please respond by June 16, 2006

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


____is/are looking forward to dining, dancing, and celebrating

____has/have to miss the fun

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Please take a moment to fill in the blanks:



_____________ is/are ____________ to attend

(Your name{s}) (able/unable)

There are

___________ people in our posse.

(total number)

Kindly mail by June 16, 2006

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Kindly reply before June 16, 2005



___Can’t wait!

___Can’t come!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Other things you may wish to include in the response card

  • You may have guests who will neglect to write in their names, or who write illegibly. Solve this problem by numbering your guest list, then inconspicuously writing the corresponding number on the back of each response card. Trust me, you’ll thank me for it later.

  • Even if you are doing a “fill-in-the-blank” style response card, you still may wish to leave some blank area for guests to write personal notes. The notes you’ll receive will likely be a mix of simple, humorous, and poignant, but above all, unforgettable.

  • In order to get an exact number of attendees, you may wish to include this line “____ number attending”.

  • Some guests will assume that their guests/dates/friends are of course invited, regardless of to whom you address the card. You can avoid these assumptions by writing “___ of ___ guest(s) will attend”, and then pre-filling in the second blank with the number of people that you are inviting. Some may find this slightly distasteful, but it certainly does get the point across!

  • Include an easy way for guests to reply by pre-addressing and stamping a return envelope. You may also wish to include a phone number, or email address. Just make sure that email isn’t the only way to reply.

  • Particularly if you are inviting a large number of families with children, you may wish to include separate lines reading: Number Attending Ceremony _______ Number Attending Reception ______

  • When I am invited to a wedding without a guest, I hate having to reply on a card grammatically written for a couple. (e.g. M__________ accept with pleasure). If this bothers you as well, be sure to include the single and plural forms, or write the response card so that it is universally appropriate. For example: Name(s) _____________________ ___ will attend with pleasure ___ must decline with regret

#Howtocreateaguestlist #JenniferLaneEvents #Invitaions #RSVPcardwording


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