Guest List Tips & Tricks | For Brides

Hello KGP Fam, and welcome back to another daily blog post!

I am a firm believer that wedding planning does not need to be stressful. Although, surprise-surprise, a lot of times it is. Therefore everyone seems to accept that they too are doomed to 6 months of hair pulling and endless questions. It seems that a lot of women equate wedding planning to walking over hot coals—a painful process with a triumphant and exhilarating end (I’m imagining Pam Beesley walking over hot coals at this moment). Then as soon as you’re married and done planning you sprint for the cold water to cool your burned feet, finally get some rest, and not worry about any big decisions. The craziness is over now, right?? Nope, SURPRISE! You just got married! This is the time where you should be focusing your energy, making sure you and your new spouse are listening to one another, learning to work together as a team, and choosing not to get annoyed when you realize he prefers the toilet paper be face into the wall when you prefer it facing out. I don’t want you to be burned out from wedding planning when you’re headed into such a crucial time of your life, and I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t have to be.

I asked my KG Brides in our private Facebook group what they are struggling with the most/what they did struggle with the most and there were a few answers that got repeated over and over. These are the areas that I want to address and help out! Wedding planning does not need to be stressful—you just need the right information and mindset to get through without feeling like your head is about to burst. For today’s post we will be tackling the dreaded guest list.


I wanted immediate family and the best of best friends (who might as well be family) only. Max 30 people. “Small”, “intimate”. Those were the words I had ingrained in my head and had decided I wanted to exemplify with our guest list. I had zero intention of going over the number 30. (Kidding, but only kinda.) HOWEVER. (There’s always a however with wedding planning, just get used to it.) Jackson wanted a BIG wedding. He wanted to invite everyone he’d met since he was born plus all of their extended families. His childhood pediatrician’s second cousin? Shoot them an invite! His kindergarten teacher’s nephew? Sure, why not?! Might as well invite their dog too! (Again, I’m kidding.) Obviously I’m exaggerating, my husband is a very practical and reasonable person, but you get my point. You don’t always agree with how the guest list should be, and that’s okay. I wanted a small intimate wedding while Jackson wanted a big party, and we managed to meet somewhere in the middle. If you find that you and your soon-to-be spouse are in a similar situation, here’s what helped Jackson and I:

1 | Find out why the other person wants the guest list this way. This goes for just about anything in life.

If you don’t understand someone’s decision, try your best to figure out why they want that and their reasoning behind it.

Do they want a small wedding to save money? Do they have anxiety while in or in front of large groups? Have they noticed the recent trend of small, intimate weddings and are obsessed with having one of their own? Do they want a large wedding because of fear of insulting people? Are they massively extroverted and have a friend group larger than your entire WVU graduating class? Do they just simply want everyone there because this is such an important day and they don’t want anyone to miss out on it? Get to the bottom of why they want what they want so you can better understand their point of view.

2 | Decide on what matters to you most as a team. What mattered most to me was having our best friends and family there. I wanted to make sure we’d be able to spend time with them throughout the day, and was worried we’d get pulled away if our guest list was too large. Jackson cared very deeply about not offending anyone, and therefore wanted to make sure the invitation was extended to anyone who had held any significant importance in his life up to that time. I recognized how much this meant to him, and therefore was willing to extend the guest list beyond my ideal number of 30. Jackson recognized how cautious I was of having too big of a wedding, and so we were very picky with who we invited. we also made sure to schedule our wedding where we had plenty of time to visit with friends and family so I didn’t feel I was missing time with them.

3 | We adopted the layer method. The layer method is when you think of the relationships in your life as circular layers with you and your fiance at the center. First you have immediate family—this is the innermost layer. your extended family could be the next layer. Then perhaps friends-who-might-as-well-be-family for your next layer. For some people this layer may come before extended family. You start building out your layers based on how close they are to you, closest being the innermost later and least close being towards the outside.

when i use the word “close” i mean relationally, not geographically.

So with this analytical mindset, sort all of your relationships into categories: work friends, church friends, college friends, high-school friends, knitting club, soccer team, etc. 

Once you have all your relationships categorized, organize these categories into layers with the closest relationally towards to center.  Once you have your layers complete you are ready to begin your guest list.  From here there is only 1 rule: if you invite one person from a layer, you have to invite everyone from that layer.  Of course there may be one exception to the rule if you are MUCH closer to one person than you are the other 20 in that layer, but if there isn’t one person in that layer who sticks out from the others, then you either invite them all or none at all.  Again, I recognize this is a very analytical way of looking at it, but when 1 person easily costs an additional $75.00 you need to approach this analytically.  when deciding on your guest list it helps to have a more analytical mindset than emotional—otherwise you really could probably justify inviting someone’s second cousin you only see once every 17 years.

4 | consider logistical and budget factors.  Are you planning on have a full, sit-down meal provided for everyone?  if so then you need to actually sit down, calculate the cost of each meal, and figure out how many meals you can realistically pay for with your budget.  This will help give you a hard limit for you many you can invite.  if you’re planning on having more of a buffet style meal then you may be able to afford feeding more people.  consider how many people your venue can legally fit.  Most venues have a limit, make sure you know what it is!  Do you have to bring in your own tables and chairs?  If you, how many can you realistically afford to rent?  Think about party favors.  These don’t have to be expensive per person, but it’s amazing how quickly these little costs can add up.  consider what you can afford to do there.  these are all of the logistical factors that you need to consider before you go ahead and invite 300+ people to your wedding!  sit down with your fiance, get out your calculator and pull up excel on your computer, and do some number crunching.  I know this isn’t glamorous or fun, but it is essential to making sure you have an idea of how many people you can realistically invite with your budget!  Do the hard work now and save yourself the stress later.  :)

My biggest advice is to approach your guest list as a team.  Have patience, take your time, and really try to understand why your future spouse may or may not want to have a big wedding.  Once you’ve met a compromise (sweet, sweet compromise) use this layer method to form your guest list.

Good luck!  Remember, planning a wedding does not have to be stressful!  Keep a level head, breathe, and make decisions as a team.  You’ve got this!!

Katie xx