Compiling your guest list is probably the most difficult wedding-related task. Your budget and venue capacities are the chief factors that will decide your count. However, who finds a place on it and who doesn't, will be arrived at after a fair deal of negotiation. Be prepared to want to tear your hair down when your to be mother-in-law requests you to include your fiance's three second cousins as well. If you know the rules of an invitee list, it will help the process. As you go about this contentious task, set a few ground rules to help you prepare it, and employ tact and patience to avoid hurting the sentiments of those involved. A standard practice is to split the number of guests down to the middle, with the bride and groom's side getting an equal number. This half is then split between the person getting married and his/her parents in a 60 - 40 or 50 - 50 share. Another factor is to expect some people to RSVP a 'no', so prepare a wedding invitation list of about 10% more than your decided number.
Tips to Prepare a Wedding Guest List
When to Invite
The best way to get organized is with an excel spreadsheet. Have two lists within it, yours and your fiance's, and add in all those you are sure to invite. As you go along, keep updating it with new names and addresses. This will not only help you with the invitations but also with the meal selection, seat assignments, and thank you notes. One aspect of your list of invitees is when to inform people. Those who are close to you and your fiance should be told as soon as the date has been finalized, so they can adjust their schedule to be there. While everyone will be aware of the wedding, ideally cards should reach everyone about a month in advance. This will give them time to RSVP. Once you have all the confirmations and cancellations, you can start working on other details such as table seating.
Whom to Invite
You can start by putting down the names of your partner and immediate family and close relatives, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Thereafter, progress to close friends and colleagues whom you have known for a while. You have a choice to invite only your boss, or your boss and a few co-workers. You should now have a list ready without parent's invitees of both your fiance and you. Don't count on your parents for not inviting as many people as they've been allotted, as this happens very rarely. If you have any spots left, you can decide between the not so close relatives/friends/colleagues too. Further, there may be a few important people in your life that you know will not be able to attend, but you should send them an invite nonetheless.
Other Guest List Rules
Should you add, "and Guest" or not? While some people won't add it unless the invitee is engaged or living with their partner, some will add it if they know that the invitee is in a committed long-term relationship. If a guest asks if they can bring a date, do not feel bad to politely explain that budget and venue restrictions won't allow for it.
If you don't want children at the wedding, print "Adults Only Reception" on the invitation cards. Alternately, you can write only the names of the parents, such as 'Mr. and Mrs. Coleridge', or 'Sam and Katie Coleridge'. If your numbers don't allow for it, don't feel guilty about not inviting the kids.
These are some of the basic etiquette rules to follow. A few other words of advise include not inviting old friends you have lost touch with and only those coworkers you have socialized with outside work.