The Simple Secret To Creating Your Wedding Guest List

Woodsy romance wedding invitations Gorgeous Bridal Headpieces by The Yellow Peony Photograph by Pond Photography

You might think its a bit of a trivial thing, or most likely a common sense thing, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to get yourself all twisted around when it comes to working on your guest list.  With all the different variables that go into planning a wedding, the importance of a well structured and organized guest list can easily be over looked and under valued!  Believe it or not, mistakes while putting together your guest list can result in money wasted and feelings unintentionally hurt.  How so?

The natural inclination, when assembling a list of your guests, is to laundry list every person you’d like to invite, sadly this is mistake number one and the easiest way to lose money right out of the gate.  Conversely, when grouping house holds together, if you don’t properly create a mail to address {whom the letter is addressed to}, you’ll be unintentionally singling out a sole family member verses inviting the entire family.  If your heart is now racing just a bit, please don’t!  Using a well structured sheet {which I’ve created just for my amazing SBW readers} takes all the guess work out & limits the room for error.  I am not promising this is a cure all, the sheet is only as powerful as its user, but it will certainly guide you down the path of least wedding resistance!

Hazel Wonderland Collection

{Photograph & Design from Hazel Wonderland}

Through some follies of my own as well as some growing pains while working with others, I’ve crafted this sheet: Storyboard Wedding Guest List Template, a simple excel file, no bells & whistles with fancy graphics or branding, to help you get the most out of your guest list in the simplest form.  You’ll note that I do not have a column regarding meal choices, each wedding is unique & I’ll leave adding that up to you as best applies for your wedding.  There are really 2 main areas that can make or break a guest list, how you mange groups of people and getting the formal addressing right.


One Household One Line

You’d think this element of creating a list would go into list creation 101 but the issue is, its actually a counter intuitive process then what we’re used to.  Our natural inclination is to make a very straight forward list of each and every person that we want to attended our wedding.  The problem is however  that laundry listing your guests results in unintentionally ordering well more Save The Dates & Invitations then you should, in most cases practically double the number then what you should be ordering, that’s a lot of dollars you could be applying else where in your budget!  How so?  Lets take an aunt & uncle with their two kids for example, the natural thing to do would be to create a line on the guest list for each person, like so:

1. Aunt Joanne
2. Uncle David
3. Sarah
4. Joe

Without even realizing it, you’ve now put yourself down for ordering 4 invitations instead of the 1 that’s needed to cover the entire family! Its very important when putting together your list that you keep households {yes this includes dating couples} as one line like so:

1. The Johnsons   2{Adults}    2{Children} 

You’re able to keep track of your guest count in the columns for # of Adults & # of Children, this is the area where you’ll keep tallies to sort out your total guest count.  When working with households, the next guest list steps is THE most critical, the name game!


Separate Formal Names

Much like its not our typical behavior to consider guests by household, its not typical to formally address them either.  When putting together any sort of mailing, working out the proper format {and keeping a formal list} for addressing your mailings is paramount.  Maven Martha Stewart has a great little piece on the proper etiquette for addressing wedding invitations and rather then reinvent the wheel, I defer to Martha and suggest you head her way for guidance if need be.  The issue I am addressing here is properly storing these given formal names so they are ready at will for mailings!  Going back to your aunt & uncle, while you might refer to everyone by their first name, you’re certainly not going to send their invitation to: Johnsons.  In the Formal {Name} for Addressing column, your going to add the proper formal name for each line, ie how you want it to appear on the envelope.  The example here would be: Mr. & Mrs. David Johnson & Family, with the line looking something like this:

1. The Johnsons   2{Adults}    2{Children}      Mr. & Mrs. David Johnson & Family

The column, Formal {Name} for Addressing, is what will be used as the mail to field.  I cant express enough how paramount it is to give the  mail to field its own unique line.  This is the field that will alleviate unintentionally hurt feelings with improper mail to addressed invitations!

When putting together your list in this manner, you’ve now already created the area for the information that will be put directly onto the envelope.  The beauty of a list structured like this is that it is perfectly ready for mail merge or ready to hand off to a calligrapher, printer or anyone else that isn’t you, that might need to work with the list.  Its clear, conscious  & straight forward in all the right ways.  This same list should absolutely be used to keep tally of your responses as well as working with your Maybe’s or as we sometimes hear, the ‘B’ list.  As I noted to start things off with, this list is only as powerful as its user.  Allow it to help keep you organized, try not to place things where they don’t belong, & be sure to utilize the formal addressing column.  Be sure to download load the template, Storyboard Wedding Guest List  Template, and let it simplfy part of the process!