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September 2, 2012

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As a bride or groom, your Wedding Guest List may be easy to compile, or may be your worst nightmare.  This is the first time you will be combining both of your families for multiple events, and everyone has their own opinion on what is appropriate or inappropriate.  Trimming the guest list may turn into a heated debate, yet this blog (since you cannot be with me 24/7) will fast track you to realistic solutions which work best for you!  Your guest list WILL dictate how much you spend and your ceremony and reception location.  If you invite 150 couples, this may easily translate into 300 guests.

The Ultimate Guest List.  A magical number of family and friends which fits the size and style of your ceremony and reception sites, while staying within your wedding budget.

Invite Your Inner Circle of Family and Friends to Reduce Expenses.  Your wedding guest list should be your closest, most intimate friends and family members.   Focus on people who matter to you most.  Who was your priority to announce personally you just got engaged?  Although you may have an enormous family and circle of friends, it is important to trim the size of your wedding guest list to reduce expenses.  Trimming your wedding guest list is the number one way to save money!  If you haven’t seen or talked to them in a few years, they may be the easiest to cut first.

Make an Extensive List.  Ask your parents, your fiancé, and his parents to compile a wedding guest list including everyone they would imagine inviting.  Have them include and list their people in categories so it is easier when you are making table arrangements (i.e., wedding party, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, family, friends, neighbors, bosses, co-workers, business acquaintances, college friends, high school friends, and distant relatives).  Make sure everyone knows this is the “Fantasy Wish List”, and cuts will need to be made to stay within your budget.

Be Respectful.  Count on one thing when deciding on your wedding guest list, disagreement.  Everyone will have an opinion about your wedding, and especially about who should be invited.  When you get your red pen to trim your list, make sure you are respectful to your fiancé, your parents, and his parents.

Who is Paying, Divide Equally, and Apply Rules Fairly.  If you are running into conflicts when trimming your list, consider who will be paying the bill.  Budgeting for the wedding is something you must discuss at the beginning of your wedding planning.  If your parents are paying for most of the wedding, they will obviously have more control of your guest list.  Try to divide the guest list evenly.  Make across-the-board, and clear-cut decisions on who to cut, (i.e., invite all aunts and uncles, yet eliminate third generation cousins).

Make Your MUST Have  List.  This is your “A List” of who you MUST have at your wedding.  This may be your parents, siblings, grandparents, and wedding party.  The ones left on your list which did not make it to your “A List”, will be your “B List”.

Who Should be Easier to Cut?  When you start making cuts, your colleagues, out-of-touch friends, and distant relatives you haven’t seen or talked to in over one year should understand if you want to keep your wedding guest list to your closest family and friends.  Don’t feel obligated to invite neighbors or other brides which have recently invited you to their wedding.

Limit Your Plus Ones.  It is up to you if you will allow a friend to bring a date.  Common courtesy dictates if your friend lives with, or is in a serious relationship with someone, this “plus one” should be invited to the wedding.  If your friend has a different person each month, this doesn’t mean they should be invited.  Talk with your friend first before assuming, and this is an easy way to get the name of their guest.  If they can’t give you a name, probably a good candidate for “no plus one”!

Realistic Guest Counts, Holidays, and Special Events.  On an average, 15% to 20% of your invited guests will not be able to attend.  They may have prior commitments, may not be able to take time off from work, or have other obstacles.  Your wedding date selection is important.  Holiday weekends are when airlines are extremely busy, and airfares will be more expensive.  If you plan your wedding during a major sporting event like Super Bowl weekend, your guests may have a difficult time finding hotel rooms, especially if the Super Bowl is in the same city as your wedding.

Master Guest List.  Combine your personal guest list, your parents’ list, your fiance’s list, and your fiance’s parents’ list into one alphabetical master list.  Check out this free template google docs – Wedding Guest List Template.  Enter your data or download from your computer in a format which is easily sorted in a multitude of ways.  You will refer to this list repetitively to address invitations, check off RSVPs, keep track of RSVPs NOT received, for accurate guest counts, record gifts, mail thank-you notes, and much more.  Here are some categories to include when making your Master Guest List:

a).  Contact information.  Include each guest’s full name, address, city, state, zip, phone, and e-mail address.

b).  Communication Tracker.  Keep track of who you have sent the save-the-date, invitation, and thank-you cards to.

c).  RSVPs.  Use a check mark or a “X” when the guest has RSVPed, with how many family members will be attending.

d).  Record Gifts.  Write down gifts received.

e).  Out-of-Town Guests.  These guests will need information on guest rooms, and you may want to arrange for transportation to pick them from the airport, take them to the ceremony, and return them to their hotel at the conclusion of the reception.

f).  Multiple Events.  If they are invited to one event, by etiquette they must be invited to the wedding.  You may want to have various spreadsheets for multiple events such as your Engagement Party, Bridal Shower, Bachelor Party, Bachelorette Party, Rehearsal Dinner, Golf Outing, Spa Day, Ceremony /Reception, and Brunch the Day After.

g).  Dietary Restrictions.  Indicate if they are a vegetarian, gluten free, diabetic, and list dietary restrictions to share with your caterer.

h).  Children vs. Adult Count vs. Vendor Food Count.  Note the age range of children so when you give the final guest count to your caterer you know numbers for adults, children, and vendor meals.

i).  Guest Code by Relationship.   Make a code for each guest so you know who is issuing the invitation, is it the Bride (B), Parents of the Bride (POB), Groom (G), Parents of the Groom (POG), Sibling (SOB – sister of bride), Wedding Party (WP), Aunt (A), Uncle (U), etc.  This will help you with seating arrangements, and if RSVPs are missing, it will be easier at selecting who would be best to delegate to confirm their RSVP status.

j).  Table Numbers.  If you are having reserved seating to a table, it will be easier to group your guests before you alphabetize your list.

k).  Handicap Guests.  If you have anyone in a wheelchair, you may want to seat them closest to the exit door so they have easy entrance and exit options.

Copyright 2012, Kim Horn, MBC™

To hire Kim as your wedding planner, call 480.921.7891 or text your name, wedding date, and wedding planner request to 602.418.9089.

Kim M. Horn, MBC™

Master Bridal Consultant | 1 of 61 in the World

Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Chandler, Phoenix and Destination Weddings

Publisher | Pres. |

AZ State Coordinator | Assoc. of Bridal Consultants May 2003 – May 2012

ABC 2010 Conference Chair worked with David Tutera

O 480.921.7891

M 602.418.9089

F 480.829.6292


December 30, 2011


Organize your guest list (if you haven’t already) all in one place.  Make an alphabetized guest list which includes your guests’ full names with their complete addresses.  Depending on which program you use, would highly recommend separating each field (so you may sort as the need arises) by:

  • assign a “special” number to each guest as a “couple”* (see #1 below for details on why you will thank me a billion times for this tip)
  • first name
  • last name (easy to make an alphabetical list by last name of each guest) and title (if any)
  • address
  • city
  • state/country
  • zip/postal code
  • phone number (in case they don’t RSVP and you need to call them)
  • # RSVPed for reception
  • # RSVPed for brunch (the day after your wedding)
    dietary restrictions (if any, especially if you are having a choice of beef, fish, vegetarian, etc.)
  • table number (if you are having assigned seating at your reception)
  • thank-you sent
  • make brief notes of relationships (“Andrew’s mom’s best friend,” “Elena’s fiancé”) NOTE:  as you assemble your list these details will be helpful when you greet guests, arrange table seating, and when you write your thank-you notes.

Read through these tips to make it easier for you:

1).  Make an assembly line so you do each step one by one (one task at a time will make sure you don’t forget to do it for one invitation)!

2).   To keep your sanity once you receive your RSVPs, use your “special” assigned number to each guest on the back of their RSVP card.  Many of your guests will forget to write or fill in their name on their RSVP card when they see the M________________.  When this happens, you receive their RSVP with the number attending, yet you do NOT know who they are!  Easily solve this by being proactive and printing the guest’s “special” number lightly in pencil or an invisible ink pen on the back of your RSVP card.  If your guest forgets to write their name on the line, you will know who is responding.

3).  Consider hiring a calligrapher, or ask your wedding planner for a recommendation of someone who has nice hand writing to address your invitations.   Depending on your envelopes, they may fit into your printer if you are a DIY, check one before continuing this so you don’t damage multiple envelopes.

4).  Do not abbreviate streets, cities, or states.

5).  Write the guests’ full names on the outer envelope (without abbreviations).  Traditionally invitations are inserted into two envelopes, an inner envelope and an outer envelope.  The outer envelope is the one that is addressed and stamped, while the inner envelope has only the names of the people the invitation is addressed to.  For example a married couple’s inner envelope is addressed to “Mr. and Mrs.  Anderson” with neither first names nor address.   You may want to write the names of intimate relatives and lifelong friends in informal terms such as “Uncle Tom and Aunt Sadie”. 

6).  Avoid writing “and guest” or “and family” so everyone invited feels the invitation is especially for him or her.

7).  Before mailing, take an assembled invitation (don’t forget all of your enclosures such as  your maps, RSVP cards, etc.) to your local post office to have them measure and weigh your assembled invitation and confirm you have the correct postage on your invitations.  (The last thing you need is to have your invitations  returned for improper postage or even worse having them delivered to your guests with “postage due”).

8).  In addition to your invitation you may have other enclosures  such as response cards, maps, and tissues.  Make sure everything is assembled one by one so you don’t omit an important item from your invitation mailing.

9).  Stuffing the envelopes:

  • When 2 envelopes are used (inner and outer envelope) put all the enclosures in the inner envelope facing the back.
  • The inner envelope is placed unsealed in the outer envelope with the flap away from the person.
  • When there are insertions, they are placed in front of the invitation, so they face the flap (and the person inserting them).
  • In the case of a folded invitation, insertions are placed in the same direction but within the fold.

10).  Mail invitations eight weeks before the wedding (especially if you are inviting many out-of-town guests). 

11).  Make sure your return address appears on the invitation on the upper left-hand corner, or on the envelope’s flap.  This lets your guests know where to send replies and gifts to in case your return address does not appear on the invitation.

12).  Expect that not everyone will attend.  25 percent of those you invite will not be able to attend.   You will receive your “yes” RSVPs before the “can’t make it”.  

13).  A and B list etiquette.  If you have a “wish” list or “B” list, try to mail all your invitations on the same day regardless of their “list” category.  Remember your “B” list may know some of your “A” list, and vice versa.  You don’t want to hurt the feelings of others by thinking they are not invited to your wedding.

Copyright 2012, Kim Horn, MBC™

To hire Kim as your wedding planner, call 480.921.7891 or text your name, wedding date, and wedding planner request to 602.418.9089.

Kim M. Horn, MBC™

Master Bridal Consultant | 1 of 59 in the World

Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Chandler, Phoenix and Destination Weddings

Publisher | Pres. |

AZ State Coordinator | Assoc. of Bridal Consultants May 2003 – May 2012

ABC 2010 Conference Chair worked with David Tutera

O 480.921.7891

C 602.418.9089

F 480.829.6292


June 29, 2011


Having assigned seating at your wedding?

Why not try something different, and allow the design to be “an experience” for your guests!

How many times have you gotten your placecard and were NOT impressed!

This wedding design was white and modern. From what you see above, don’t you think this is a better experience than placecards scattered on a table?

For a Major League Baseball player’s placecards we positioned them in wheat grass and inserted baseballs with sharpies to double as their “guest book”. Very important to select a ribbon to wrap around the bottom of the wheat grass tray. For this MLB 3rd baseman’s wedding, we used an infield design, which had bases, pitchers mound, and home plate. NOTE: would have posted a photo, yet didn’t have time to stop to take one with my own camera, and even with multiple requests of the photos from the photographer from the Bay Area, still don’t have any photos from this wedding – wedding planner pet peeve)!

For more ideas, contact:
Kim Horn, Master Bridal Consultant (1 of 59 in the world)
Arizona Wedding Planner specializing in Scottsdale Weddings, Chandler Weddings, Phoenix Weddings, and Destination Brides
Arizona Bridal Source
ABC AZ State Coordinator
2010 ABC Conference Chair – worked with David Tutera
P 480.921.7891
C 602.418.9089

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