Get Organized Early and Online
Add-on guests can be annoying, but with the number of people contributing to the average wedding guest list, there are sure to be a few. As soon as you figure out your first partial list, add the names and addresses into an Excel spreadsheet or, even better, a guest list manager (like the one we've built for you at TheKnot.com/guestmanager
). Having your entire list online means you always have access to it whether you happen to be at home, work, your parent's house, or the invitation store. The sooner you get your list organized and finalized, the better. You'll use those names and addresses a gazillion times, from meal selection and seat assignments to the many thank-you notes you'll write along the way.
Create A- and B-lists
While you're pretty safe assuming that 10–20 percent of your final list will not attend, it pays to be ready with a second string in case you dip far below your target number or if there's a group of guests you want to invite -- like second cousins -- but as of now don't have the room. If you're shooting for 200 guests, for example, identify 240 guests as your A-list. These are the folks who will get the first round of invites. The rest, in order of importance, become the B-list. Once you get more than 40 A-list regrets, you can start working down your B-list, sending out a few invites at a time until you get 200 acceptances. Don't wait too long getting your B-list out -- no one wants an invitation the week before an event. If you have a big B-list, print a second set of reply cards with a later RSVP date.
Include Names on the Response Card
It's happened to the most organized of brides: The invite is made out to one person and one person only, but the RSVP comes back with two names crammed onto one line. Avoid the dreaded "and guest" quandary and annoyance (your ex-roommate's boyfriend of three weeks should not be at your wedding) and ask your calligrapher to write the full names of the invited guests on the RSVP card. After their names, have her include a blank line where they can indicate whether they are attending or sending regrets. That way, there's almost no way for guests to force an unwanted invite on you.
Many couples complain that they can't read who has signed the RSVP or people forget to put their names. To avoid these snafus, number the backs of your reply cards in pencil and key them into your guest list.