Guest List Timeline: When to Make Yours & When to Follow Up With Guests

When's the right time to make your wedding guest list and start reaching out to your guests? Learn everything about your guest list timeline with Zola.

By Ruksana Hussain

Guest List Timeline: When to Make Yours & When to Follow Up With Guests
Photo by Zola

Your guests are going to be a big part of your wedding day, irrespective of whether you choose a cozy intimate arrangement, a large banquet, or a virtual-only option. But when is the right time to let them know and have them be involved in the run-up to the big day? Here, your guest list timeline to answer your guest-related questions.

One Year Ahead (Or as soon as you decide on a wedding date)

  • Build a rough draft list of possible guests you want at your wedding. Don’t stop at just the family names—consider the number of members and include adults and children.
  • Share it with your partner or close family and friends to ensure you haven’t missed anyone.
  • If you’ll have a sit-down-style party and need to keep headcounts in check for the venue, catering, and budget, start assigning seating tables.

Nine Months Ahead

  • Revisit the guest list and finetune for an “almost final” list. Start adding in the postal and email addresses, depending on the type of invite you’re sending out.
  • Get in touch with guests who will have to travel for your wedding by sending save the dates or making phone calls.
  • Ensure any other cultural provisions you have to make for your guests are noted.
  • Communicate any special requests you have of guests, such as cultural or religious considerations they might not be accustomed to or aware of.

Six Months Ahead

  • Finalize your guest list for friends and family traveling from afar and send out invitations for anyone that has to travel to the wedding.
  • Send out save the dates for local guests.
  • Plan any accommodation arrangements for guests traveling to the wedding.

Three Months Ahead

  • Your guest list should be finalized, and no further additions or deletions should be made unless it is from the guests themselves.
  • Confirm the guestlist for your rehearsal dinner (if that’s part of your wedding festivities).
  • Ensure all guests have received invitations and have started mailing in RSVPs. This is a good time to reconsider anyone you haven’t invited but would have liked to if you had cancellations.
  • Finalize your wedding favors and any care packages to be delivered to hotel rooms for those out-of-town guests, as well as transportation considerations.

During Your Wedding Month (Or at least two weeks ahead)

  • Do a final check on your guest list RSVPs and confirm with any you haven’t heard from.
  • Provide the final guest list numbers to your event planner and caterer or anyone else who needs that headcount to make arrangements for the day.

Three Months After

Don’t forget to send thank you cards to all guests—for attending your wedding and for their good-willed gifts. It brings the whole wedding experience full circle for them.

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