P's and Q's: Perfecting Your Guest List

The next installment of our P's and Q's wedding etiquette series is perfecting your guest list. As one of the first priorities when planning your wedding, the guest list (and keeping track of RSVPs!) is one category that requires meticulous attention. Yes you may have an enormous extended family and want everyone to be included somehow, but there are ways to minimize the crowd and still enjoy everyone's company. Here are a few helpful pointers:

1. Counting out kids

It's completely acceptable to request that parents make other arrangements for kids at your wedding. Most parents would probably appreciate the night out, too. We asked our expert Design Consultant Lia for some tips:

What are some good ways to say "No kids allowed" without offending guests?

The details card is the perfect place to include a polite explanation for excluding children, such as "Your presence at our wedding is very important to us, however we are not able to accommodate children at the ceremony or reception." 

If the wedding happens to be at a venue that serves alcohol (such as a winery) something like "due to the nature of our venue..." can be as easy explanation.

Addressing the invitation envelopes to the adult guests only is another subtle way to pass the message.  "Mr. and Mrs. Hemmingway" is more specific than "The Hemmingways" or "The Hemmingway Family." 

If budget allows, having childcare available in a separate location is a nice courtesy to extend to guests who may have a hard time traveling without the whole family.  As with any delicate situation, picking up the telephone for a personal conversation is a respectful way to curtail any potential issues before they arise.

2. A and B guest lists

When coming up with A and B guest lists, be sure to keep a few things in mind:

  • Send A-list invitations a few weeks early and with an earlier RSVP date to allow sufficient time for the B-listers to get their travel plans in line.
  • Stay on top of your list. The day you get a regret, send out your next invitation.
  • It's best to send any invitations at least four weeks before the wedding date. Send invitations outside of your hometown or state first, and save local invites for last.

Is it OK to invite guests to only the reception?

As more couples have private ceremonies these days, it's totally acceptable to invite guests to the reception only and they'll likely be all the more excited to celebrate with you at the fantastic party!  Invitations should clearly state "the pleasure of your company is requested at the wedding reception" and guests invited to the ceremony should receive a separate ceremony card as well. 

For more helpful advice on perfecting your guest list, head over to our handy Wedding Advice page!