July 26, 2021

Our Top Tips for Building Your Wedding Guest List

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Building a guest list is typically one of the first challenges couples face in the planning process. Juggling family, friends, your parents’ friends, colleagues, and plus-ones is overwhelming. Follow these tips to help build a list that allows all your loved ones to attend and your budget to remain intact.

Divya Pande Photography



Priority List A are the guests that need to be in attendance at your wedding. This should make up the bulk of your list.


Wedding Party Members 

Immediate Family

Readers, Ushers, House Party 

Secondary Family (Grandparents,

Aunts/Uncles, Cousins, Nieces/Nephews)



Priority List B are those you would like to have there and those who expect to be invited.


Close Friends 

Extended Family 

Family Friends



Priority List C are the first guests you can cut should your guest list be too long for your budget.



Other Friends, New Friends 

Parent’s Friends


* 80% of in-town guests will most likely attend

60% of out-of-town guests will attend *

Wedding Guest tables displayed on 3 signs set on a wooden table
Josh Plus Dana Photography



Matching your guest count to your budget (not just your venue’s capacity) is going to be key for setting yourself up for a successful – and less stressful – wedding planning experience. Keep in mind that each extra guest doesn’t just add to your food & beverage cost. Each additional guest requires more invitations, more escort cards, more slices of cake, more favors, additional linens, tables, chairs, and centerpieces, and a larger transportation vehicle.


 If you’re having issues with parents who aren’t contributing to the budget insisting on you inviting guests who didn’t make your A-List, I’d recommend putting together a true per-person cost including the additional costs I mentioned above and request that, if they insist on including these people, that they contribute the amount to cover their attendance. Usually once people understand the “price tag” for adding more attendees, they’ll back off. 

Skylar Caitlin, Chancey Charm Houston


It’s most important to look at your budget first and plan to stick to it! Have a conversation with your planner and/or caterer to discuss the cost per person for food and beverage because this is where it’ll be impacted the greatest. From here – set your number of total guests that you can accommodate to build your lists (A, B, and C). Plus ones are tricky to figure sometimes out but a general rule I like to use is this: 1. Bridal party – if they are in a relationship then they are to be invited and written on the invitation) 2. Engaged couples – to be included in the invitation by name as well and lastly 3. Dating – if they are currently in a relationship, and if guest count allows, they can be included on the invitation as “and guest”. 


Alexandra Stephens, Chancey Charm Charlotte




How to build you wedding guest list

Looking for even more planning insight? Check out my Wedding Planning Bundle + Community Pass. It’s the ultimate step-by-step guide for creating the wedding of your dreams.


  • This article is a big help!! Definitely led me in the right direction.

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Chancey Charm

Behind this blog is a team of experienced destination wedding planners. With over 350 published weddings and editorials under our brand and over 400 five star reviews collected, we’ve served 800+ happy couples since 2011. We’ve been named a top planner by Southern Living Magazine and featured on Martha Stewart. We’re an affiliate of Jet Set World Travel and love seeing our client’s destination dreams come true. This is our place to trusted planning advice with YOU, so you can plan without the stress.  We also have a heart for educating new planners through the academy, so you’ll be sure to see some of that content here as well.  Cheers!

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