WEEK 4: Limiting Your Guest List & Seating Plan Etiquette


Once the venue and budget have been sorted, it’s time for the guest list. While you may have a provisional list and numbers, now you have your budget and venue confirmed it’s time to finalise who’s invited!

Picking your guest list is often described as one of the most stressful parts in the wedding planning process. However, here at Ireland’s Wedding Journal we’re all about taking the stress out of your planning, so we’ve got your back with this step-by-step guide!

Step 1: Space & Budget

The first thing to consider is the space and budget available. Your venue will obviously have a maximum capacity, so work from here. Obviously, the wedding budget will determine from here how many you can afford to have. You will always have room for more in the evening if you can’t afford to seat and feed everyone for the wedding breakfast.

Step 2: Final Numbers

Once you know the space and budget available it’s time to think about numbers. How many do you and your partner want? Different sizes have different advantages; for example, a guest list of 150 plus means you can include all your nearest and dearest! Picking a guest list of a hundred means a wider choice for venues if you haven’t got that far yet. Whereas a wedding of approximately fifty guests means you can add more personal touches!

Step 3: Consult Your Parents

Before compiling a list, it might be generous to offer your parents a request or two, especially if they are paying for some of the wedding! Chances are they are as excited as you are. Be honest and firm about how many are allowed though.

Step 4: Compile & Edit Your List

Now it’s time for both of you to separately write lists of who you would like to invite, including plus ones, children and parents’ requests. Once complete, compare the two lists with the number you can host. If they match, then congratulations your guest list is complete! Otherwise you might need to cut it down.

Top Tips

  • Don’t verbally invite guests that aren’t on the list – you will lose track!
  • Try to keep the number fair on both sides.
  • Inform clearly if there’s children or not.
  • You are part of the guest numbers!
  • If you want a small guest list without offending anyone; consider a small wedding venue or church, a wedding abroad or inviting to the evening reception!

Who You Don’t Have To Invite

Some choices are harder than others so here’s a list of people you don’t need to include!

Distant Relatives Or Family Friends: It might get awkward having to introduce your partner to an old family friend on your wedding day! Though your parents may want it, be firm about not wanting strangers at the wedding.

People Who Don’t Know You As A Couple: This is different for whirlwind romances but ask yourself ‘have you and your partner seen them since being in a relationship?’ If not, the chances of seeing them once you are married become even more slim.

Work Colleagues: Office politics can be a minefield; do you invite them all, ones you speak to more, would you offend anyone? A good way around this is that your work colleagues may not even know your partner despite seeing you every day!

Plus Ones You Haven’t Met: When it comes to plus ones the general rule is ‘no ring, no bring’ but this shouldn’t exclude those who have been in long term relationships! Relationships under the age of six months are acceptable for not inviting.

People Who Didn’t Invite You To Theirs: This might sound ‘high-schoolish’, but it works. Although, it’s not always so black and white, as their wedding may have taken place at the start of your relationship.

Finally Ask Yourself: Would You Go Out For Dinner With This Person?

Making The Seating Plan

Once everyone has (hopefully) sent their RSVP, you’ll be able to make the seating plan.

When it comes to the seating plan, it’s good to know that guests only spend an average of ninety minutes at their table. Meaning that though they might not be overly happy about their seat, they still get up and walk about to socialise!

The traditional top table usually sits in this order; groom’s parents, groomsmen, best man, groom, bride, maid of honour, bridesmaids, bride’s parents. This can obviously change depending on circumstances and some even choose a sweetheart top table, i.e. just bride and groom!

The Fennell’s (top left), Leigh Parke Photography (top right), Han & Dan (bottom left), Love and Light Photography (bottom right)

For the guests it’s smart to categorise by groups, i.e. family, school friends, work colleagues should you choose to invite them, or children. However, do try and mix it up a bit so those you hold dear can get to know each other better! For example, things you know they have in common. Do keep couples at the same table however they don’t have to be beside each other.

Through all this, keep the floor plan and table shapes in mind and know who you want to have near the top table! To save absolute mayhem on the day, create a table plan for guests to view as well as set place cards on each table to prevent confusion as to where exactly they are sitting.

This is part of our Ultimate 12 Week. Click here for…

Week 1: Budgeting

Week 2: Setting Your Style

Week 3: Choosing Your Venue  




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