How-To Thursdays: How to Make a Guestlist

Thursday, March 10, 2011

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 Soooo you've gotten the easy stuff covered, you've picked a venue, got a dress, found an amazing planner, your dream photographer...EVERYthing is peachy right?? NOTTTTT, after all that you are faced with the MOST dreaded task in wedding planning...yup u guessed it...the GUESTLIST! 

For some people this is very easy, just invite best friends, blood relatives and a few of your closest coworkers right? In our culture it is NOWHERE near this simple. Reason being that we are from a culture where weddings are literally one the BIGGEST occasions a family will ever celebrate. It is a thing of joy, for what seems like anybody you have ever crossed paths with since birth, loll. When people hear you are getting married EVERYbody wants to be there to celebrate with you, whether you know them or not. Weddings are known to be community events. I have aunts that will come from Arizona or California to go to a DMV wedding, they will call my Mom and tell her to get her "gele" ready. I'm always like "but Mommy you weren't invited by the couple" and she's like "and so what, I was invited by a guest!" All I ever can do is laugh and shake my head! But that is just how it's done where we are from! Many brides don't even have solid guest lists, they'll send out maybe 250-300 invitations to close family and friends but prepare a hall and cater food for 400-500 people, making provisions for the guaranteed uninvited attendants. One of my friends recently even asked me if I knew of a hall that could hold up to 1,000 people...all I could do was stare at her blankly because my next question was going to be do you know that is 100, 6ft round tables, are you even concerned with decor?

Lately though, I've seen a shift from huge, 800 guests Nigerian weddings to weddings that are smaller and more intimate. More and more young couples are getting very selective about venue, decor, and overall ambiance. It's hard to control these variables when you have to decorate 80 tables or feed 800 people. In situations like that it is hard to have it all, unless you have an astronomical budget. Due to these factors becoming more important to young brides, the days of dancing into your reception hall and 40% of the crowd being strangers, are beginning to fade away. Which is why I feel it's important to let you guys know its OKAY to be selective of your guest list! Do NOT let people guilt you into not having the wedding of your dreams. If you want an intimate affair you can have that! If you want a huge wedding that is okay too, remember your wedding day is all about what you and your fiancee want!

Fumbling through the Internet I found this flowchart on someones blog page and I thought it was a really cute way to decide who to invite to your event and who to leave OFF the guest list!

pic above from


I found some other helpful pointers on on how to come up with a guest list! 

1. Sit down with your fiancee' and list everyone you can think of to invite.

2. Use the one-year rule for friends: If you haven't had a meaningful conversation with this person within the last year, don't invite him or her.

3. Ask your parents on both sides to help you cut people from the list.

4. Avoid the "If I invite this cousin, I must invite all cousins" trap. And don't feel obligated to invite people who invited you to their wedding. Relationships change.

5. Exclude children if possible. Suddenly a family of six is a manageable party of two.

6. Address the invitations only to those you intend to invite. If your single friend gets an invitation and isn't seeing anyone seriously, you don't have to include "and guest." It is a very BAD idea to not invite married couples as a pair though. Never invite the Mr. and leave out the Mrs. or vice versa!

7. Keep the list limited to personal friends. Do you hang out with co-workers away from the office? If not, don't invite them.

8. Make sure that the same number of people are invited from each side. This will prevent the in-laws from feeling cheated.

9. Keep in mind that on average, about 25 percent of your guests won't be able to make it.

10. Make a first and second list. Put the absolutely-must-invites on the first list, and as the RSVPs come in, send an invitation from the second list for each regret.

If you are already married did you have a guest list? If so how hard was it to choose who to invite and who not to invite? If you plan on getting married in the future how do you feel about guest lists??? Do you want to have an intimate gathering or a huge party?? What are your thoughts on the tips I listed above?? Talk to me I want to hear from you all!

Stay Beautiful My Loves,

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Fola said...

LOL!!! Memi. I can just hear my mom "Guest list ko, guest list ni". I really would like an initmate wedding, no more than 200 people, fabulous location, amazing decor and room for everyone to breathe. I might just elope to get that, who knows. But I feel you, especially if you are the 1st to get married in your family, its almost like a no brainer that your wedding is going to be a free for all carnival and really how many "FABU" locations can accomodate the guest count at the price point you are looking for? I think though our parents are coming around and realizing its all about the Almighty dollars and cents o.

Memi said...

@Fola I LOVE ur comments! They always have me cracking up! You are so right about the first thing I am the first child and only daughter and my hun is the only son, so we have already accepted our parents are going to want to use our day to go ALL OUT as in no holds barred with the guest list. But like you said money talks and everything else walks b/c when you say you are expecting 700 people we will all have to sit and discuss where these 700 people will sit and what they will eat, loll! WITHOUT sacrificing BEAUTY, b/c I am NOT playing around with that! So when I educate them on how much it will cost everyone should then agree on something more intimate, loll! At least that is my plan I'll keep you posted on how that goes when the time comes, loll! Thanks for your comment again!

TeeEhm said...

Lets not blame our parents o, especially if they live outside nigeria. lets be honest, they do find it boring as well, they go from work to home everytime, so party is the only way they have fun. I'm sure if they were in nigeria, they will go party that 'they are personally invited to' and even refuse some cos of date-clash (we naija do parties alot in nigeria)....I dont know if I'm making

Netta said...

I'm getting married next year and my guest list is giving me the blues something terrible! I thought it would be easy because me and my fiance know a lot of the same people, booooy was I wrong! Out of nowhere we ended up with a list of over 300 people. Since then the number has gone down, but it's still not where it needs to be. After reading the article above and looking at the flow chart, I think I cut like 5 people without looking at the list! This is about to be my lifesaver!

Memi said...

YESSSSSSS Netta!!!! I'm soooo glad that this helped!!! I wish I could say the same for myself, loll!

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