Tips for Building Your Guest Lists

Building a Guest List.

Adam Lowe
3-minute read
Episode #3

Today’s Topic: Building a Guest List.

When you are building a guest list, many of the same principles apply whether it is for a wedding or a dinner party.  Of course, there are some special considerations for major lifetime events, so here are a few pointers to help when sending out invitations.

If you are hosting an event, it is generally your prerogative to decide whom to invite.  This is not to say that you should ever use an invitation as a way to make someone feel left out or to be hurtful, but rather that it is your choice to invite the people whom you would like to attend.

Building a Guest List for a Wedding

For weddings, you will generally have to invite immediate family and should want to invite your closest friends.  Beyond that, you should feel comfortable exercising discretion in whom you invite.  Of course, there are always situations where a parent or close friend wishes you to invite someone you would rather not have on your list, and here you must weigh the hurt feelings of your close family member against your desires for having only a select crowd around you on your special day.  It used to be possible to invite guests to the ceremony and not to the reception, but these days it is often perceived as an insult.  It is important to discuss and negotiate the guest list with an open mind, and to remind everyone that it is only possible to invite a limited number of guests.

Dinner Party Guest Lists

For other occasions, it can be easier to build your guest list.  For dinner parties, invite people whom you like, but also consider how your guests will interact.  You might want to invite your cattle rancher friend on a separate night from your cousin the vegan animal rights activist, unless you know that they will be able to talk and debate with an open spirit (in which case they might enjoy the discussion).  There is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing together people who have different viewpoints; in fact, this can make the gathering interesting and lively.  What you want to avoid is making your guests uncomfortable.

How to Handle Guests That May Not Get Along

When dealing with a rift between friends or family, there are a couple of approaches you may take. If you want to invite the quarreling parties, then let them know about the guest list in advance, and give them the chance to decide if they would prefer not to come. You may also simply alternate between the squabbling pair and maintain harmony that way.