How To Avoid A Wedding Guest-List Nightmare

Stressed _bride 600px

We recently surveyed some married couples and asked them: “What was the most stressful thing about planning your wedding?”.

By far the most common response was “who to invite and where to seat them”

One bride told us: “I still break out into a cold sweat just thinking about it almost 18 months later”

If you’re currently planning your wedding then you’ll probably be used to lots of people offerring  their opinion on some element of your wedding. Friends, family, even people you don’t know that well have something to say on the matter!  

No element of the wedding creates more conflict than the guest list.

Pressure can quickly mount from family members who believe that certain individuals must be invited. Factor in strict venue capacities, blended families and a tight budget and suddenly your guest list and seating plan can turn into a major headache. 

Here's five tips to help you include everyone you want whilst keeping the peace with friends and family.

Plan Ahead

Decide at the outset who has a say in creating the guest list.  If your parents are contributing financially, they have a right to invite some of their friends. Agree on a maximum number whilst subtly reminding them that it’s your day.

An initial planning meeting with both sets of parents will help manage expectations. You’ll then know what size the wedding will be and eliminate venues that don’t meet your capacity requirements.  This strategy should avoid arguments later on when your future mother-in-law mentions that she’d like to invite six of her old school friends she hasn’t seen in twenty years!

Be Upfront

It’s vital that everyone is honest with each other. For example, you might want your wedding to be a child-free affair or venue constraints mean you can’t invite everyone with a plus one.  Be confident in your choices and don’t be overly apologetic. However, you should make sure that you inform guests in plenty of time so that they can make the necessary arrangements for childcare and travel.  You should also be prepared to accept with good grace that certain guests may be precluded from attending your wedding.

Have A Separate List For Evening Guests

If your budget won’t stretch to having all of your guests join you for dinner, you can always invite them to join you for the party after. Make sure your evening guests feel welcome and an important part of your big day. Simple touches such as waiting for them before you cut the cake and serving a nice buffet will make your evening guests feel special and help contribute to a great atmosphere.

Don’t Be Afraid To Break With Tradition

Perhaps your parents are divorced and the idea of a traditional top table with warring factions seated together fills you with dread.  There’s no hard and fast rules to be followed when planning your seating chart.  Consider having a sweetheart table for the bride and groom surrounded by separate family tables. Everyone’s close by but not close enough that your mum will have to make small talk with your dad’s new girlfriend!

Mix It Up – But Not Too Much!

It’s great to give your guests a chance to mingle and make new friends by mixing your friendship groups when creating your seating chart.  Bear in mind that your guests are likely to feel far more relaxed when they know at least one other couple at the table.  We’ve heard of couples who have taken it to a whole new level by mixing up their entire guest list so that partners are even seated at different tables. Put yourself in their shoes before you make any decisions and remember that people feeling uncomfortable is not conducive to a relaxed and fun atmosphere.

Now that we’ve helped to solve your guest list woes here are a selection of some of our favourite table plans to give you inspiration for your own big day…

122_LF35331 (Copy)

Theme your table plan around something special for you. This client met in Hong Kong and so ingeniously incorporated chopsticks into their table plan. Get more detail at Annabel & Monty’s wedding

heme your table plan around something special for you. This client met in Hong Kong and so ingeniously incorporated chopsticks into their table plan – more detail at Annabel & Monty’s wedding. - See more at: /88-blog/posts/2016/wedding-ideas/#sthash.ccWUzMDZ.dpuf

Bill Holmes 094

This client was mad for golf so we suggested creating a table plan with the guests' names written on golf balls. Click here for the feature on this great party.

Crutherland House Hotel -013

This romantic groom proposed to his fiancée whilst playing monopoly so they created a replica monopoly board as their table plan. See the full featured wedding at Fairytale Wedding at Crutherland House

Gleneagles -4

The 'find your face to find your place' table plan concept is a classic that helps engage your guests and keep things fun and relaxed. Here's two examples of weddings that used the same idea: Glorious Gleneagles Wedding and Highland Winter Wedding.


If the above ideas are too gimmicky for you, then here's two high-end table plans that exude luxury. The image above is from Amy & Ricardo's Summer Wedding.

The image below is from a Romantic Luxe Wedding we created.

Lochgreen Santina Seve 169

Luxury Wedding Planning

88 Events are specialists in creating luxury, bespoke weddings. Over the years, we've planned countless weddings for clients based all over the world. You can use us to take all the stress and difficulty away from you so you enjoy the planning experience to the fullest.

Click here to discover how we can help you create your dream wedding. Call now on 0141 445 2288 or click below. 

Make an Enquiry