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Getting Started with Your Wedding Guest List

by Jesse Long
wedding guest list

Coming up with a wedding guest list can be one of the trickiest parts of planning the event. Do you have to invite everyone from the office? Should you invite that cousin you haven’t seen in ten years? And even once you’ve finalized your list, there’s the matter of keeping track of who is actually attending and their needs.

If you’re starting your wedding planning adventure with your guest list (as we recommend), then taking the time to consider the essentials can lead to fewer headaches in the later steps of planning your wedding.

To get started, think back to what you decided you wanted for the wedding:

With these essential points in mind, you can start the process of crafting a guest list that is right for your wedding.

Make the Important Decisions

Your guest list will likely consist of family and friends coming from near and far. It can be great to have a good mix of people from both sides and from different stages of your lives.

There are some more important decisions that need to be made before coming up with the actual list:

  • Ideally, how many people each would you invite? Will either of your parents wish to invite guests as well?
  • Will you have a wedding party and who would you like to be in it? Choosing your bridesmaids and groomsmen should also be done early on.
  • Will you be allowing single guests to bring plus-ones? This questions is totally up to you, but if you have logistical concerns, a wedding guest list manager like the one Joy provides can simplify the process a lot.
  • Do you want to have kids or teens at your wedding? You may want to consider at what age you would send a teenager his or her own invitation.
  • Don’t completely lose sight of your budget. Being realistic about the general number of people you can host is of course important. Even if you opt to go with a less expensive catering option, there is probably still a practical limit to the size of wedding you can afford.

Once you’ve decided on the guidelines, everyone involved in crafting the list can get together and discuss the details. Compare lists of whom you would invite to see if there is overlap. When the lists are combined does the amount of guests still fit with the kind of wedding you decided on? If you really think you need to cut down your list, check out these tips. Just don’t lose sight of the big picture! It can be good to go back and do some rethinking in these early stages of planning.

Estimating Your RSVP Response Rate

Unless you’re planning a very small, intimate wedding, the response rate isn’t likely to be 100% attending. It’s impossible to know with absolute certainty before you get all of the RSVP responses, but it is possible to guess with some accuracy. 

Things to consider when rating the likelihood guests will attend:

  • Are they friends or family? Family tend to have a higher attendance rate.
  • How far they will have to travel. Local guests are more likely to respond “yes”.
  • Your intuition. Of course everyone would love to make it, but based on other factors such as work, health, or family issues how likely do you really think it is that the guest will attend?

You may need to have an idea of the size of your wedding before there’s been time to send out RSVPs and receive responses. In that case, you can use the factors above to assign ratings from 0 for “definite no” to 5 for “definite yes.”

What does the breakdown look like? If a large part of your guests are rated 2 or below, you may want to go back and rethink your guest list to reduce the uncertainty. And while you can’t totally rely on averages, it is worth noting that the average RSVP response rate is 83% attending. Do all the guests rated from 2-5 make up 80-90% of the total? If so, it’s probably a safe number to work with until you get some RSVP responses back. With electronic RSVPs and an online wedding guest list system, you may also be able to eliminate much of the guesswork.

Wedding Guest List Management

Even for smaller weddings, keeping track of everything is probably going to require some organizational tools. 

A wedding guest list management system can help you to keep track of all of the essential guest info. Joy’s guest list manager, for example, can collect the contact information, RSVP response, and other important information from each guest, just like you would with a spreadsheet.

And if you happen to have already started out with a spreadsheet for your guest list, you can easily upload your spreadsheet to Joy.

When it is time to send out invitations, Joy allows you to select the questions you want your guests to answer when they RSVP. When they respond, it automatically enters their responses into your Joy wedding guest list. Think carefully about what information you need from your guests. When it comes time to send out RSVPs, you can use Joy to customize the questions you ask your invitees. You can have your guests fill you in on all of the important details upfront, saving yourself a lot of work later on.

Communicate the Essentials

Being able to easily communicate with your guests can certainly come in handy. Aside from getting the information you need, good communication is also important to make sure your guests know what to expect.

A wedding website can be an excellent tool for keeping your guests informed about your wedding. Joy wedding sites can be customized to provide guests with all the information they need. Your website can set the tone of your wedding well before the big day!

To create a wedding guest list with Joy, you can click here to get started.

And don’t forget that all of the planning will pay off when you have your friends and loved ones around you!

Get Started – Guest List Management with Joy

Create a guest list with Joy:

  • First navigate to your wedding site dashboard. To get there click “Edit My Wedding” from your user page.

user page

  • From you dashboard click “Guest List.”

guest list dashboard

  • Your guest list page won’t have any guest. But don’t worry! You can easily add them by clicking “Add Guest” in the top right corner.

guest list page

  • Once you click “Add guest” you will see a place to enter a name and email. The email is optional but you’ll want to include it for sending invites!

add guest

  • To keep adding guests, just keep entering their information and then click “Add.” When you’re done, you can click “Cancel.”
  • If you have a guest list spreadsheet already, you can add it by clicking on the menu icon on the top left and selecting “Import Guest List.” You can upload a spreadsheet as a csv file. (You can click “Learn More” for more info on that.)

upload spreadsheet

  • Each guest you add will have a profile. You can see the profile and edit it by clicking on the silhouette image to the left of the name. You can edit the guest’s name and email address in the guest details tab. You can also add an image for the guest by clicking on the silhouette image in the top center of the profile.

guest details

  • If the guess has responded to your invite, you will see their responses in the RSVP tab.

rsvp tab

  • The tracking tab shows you the history of your communications with the guest, including whether emails have been opened.


  • You can order your guests by any of the columns by clicking the header at the top of the column. You can order them by first name, last name, last signed-in, or any other category.

order guests by

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