5 Common Problems When Making Your Wedding Guest List

A wood seating chart at a wedding reception.

There are many decisions that go into planning a wedding, but none is more important than who you’re inviting. Your guest list determines the tone of your wedding, the venue size you’ll need, and (of course) your overall budget. Once you finalize the guest list, every subsequent decision can be a little easier—but getting that finalized list is no easy task!

You and your sweetheart are bound to face several obstacles while putting your wedding guest list together. In fact, making the guest list can easily lead to tense, emotional arguments…but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some of the most common problems couples face with their guest list and how you can avoid them.

Climbing Costs

As I mentioned earlier, your guest list will ultimately determine your wedding budget. A larger guest list means a larger venue, more food, more favors, and essentially more cash. For some couples, the sheer cost of tying the knot may force them to trim the guest list—which can make things very uncomfortable.

Don’t want to argue over which friends and relatives make the cut? The best way to avoid this problem is to research how far your budget can go. If you know that your budget can only accommodate a certain number of people, you can make your guest list fit that number from the start.

Input from the In-Laws

An older couple shaking hands with wedding guests.

Your wedding day is one of the most special and important days of your life. However, it is also an important day for the people who love you the most, including you and your partner’s parents. Mom and Dad want to celebrate you and the love of your life—and sometimes, that means showing you off to everyone they’ve ever met.

Making space on the guest list for the in-law’s friends (either your in-laws or your partner’s) can cause major problems for many couples. However, you can avoid unnecessary drama by setting boundaries early on. Establish right away how many friends each set of parents can invite. Obviously, the number will vary based on things like the size of the party (and who’s paying for the big day), but once you settle on a number, STICK TO IT.

Unequal Sides

When my husband and I got married, we realized early on that the traditional “bride’s side” and “groom’s side” wasn’t going to work for our guest list. I have a large extended family that easily surpassed 100 people, but my husband? Even when he invited every relative and friend he had, he didn’t even reach half my guest list count!

Unfortunately, this is an issue that doesn’t have an easy fix (it’s not my fault that my family is bigger!). But if you discover that your guest list is a bit one-sided, you might need to look into alternative seating arrangements for your ceremony. This will prevent the party from looking (and feeling) unbalanced.

Plus-Ones Aplenty

Weddings are a great place to bring a date. The food is great (and free), there’s music and dancing, and love is in the air! However, when you’re planning a wedding, your guests’ plus-ones can be a real hassle. After all, do you REALLY want your buddy’s latest fling to be in your wedding photos forever?

If you want to keep your guest list small (or even just eliminate strangers from attending), consider limiting plus-ones to engaged or co-habitating couples. This rule, often known as “no ring, no bring,” will ensure that your friends and relatives don’t bring just anyone to your big day. And as for those guests who don’t have plus-ones? Make sure you seat them around people with whom they’ll get along!

Guests with Kids

Two kids sitting on the floor of a wedding reception.

Sometimes, the people on your guest list have a guaranteed plus-one (or two, or three)—their kids. You and your partner have a choice here: will you invite the little ones to your big day or will you have an adults-only wedding? Both answers are totally fine. It simply depends on the type of wedding you want to have.

Whether you add kids to your guest list or only their parents, it’s important that you make your decision clear in your wedding info (website, invitation, etc.) And it’s important to remember that just as you can decide whether or not to have kids at the wedding, your guests with kids can decide whether or not they want to attend. Sometimes, finding a babysitter is tough, and if your friends have to sit the ceremony out, it’s best to be understanding.

Find Amazing Vendors