destination wedding guest list

The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Destination Wedding Guest List

In Planning, Planning & Tips by Ande Tongco

Organising a destination wedding can be a daunting task, particularly when it’s held overseas. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. However, here is an essential tip: deciding on the number of guests to invite is one of the most significant decisions when planning a destination wedding.

It’s a task that seems to strike fear into any couple planning a destination wedding (especially for overseas celebrations), but putting together a wedding guest list doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Ready to jump into it? We’ve collected some handy tips to help bring clarity and ensure that you plan the ultimate hassle-free destination wedding!

whimsical wedding stationary
Invites already out? Make sure you know destination etiquette and understand who pays for what at a destination wedding! 

Factors to Consider When Creating Your Destination Wedding Guest List

Creating a guest list for your destination wedding is crucial in the early stages of planning your big day. It sets the tone for the entire event and ensures that you are surrounded by the people who are most important to you. Here are some key points to keep in mind as you navigate the process of discerning how big your guest list will be, and who will be on it:

Wedding Brittany and David the Hunter-Valley-by The Beginning-Studio

1. Budget:

Your budget will play a significant role in determining the size of your guest list. Consider the cost of expenses associated with hosting your guests at a destination wedding. Be realistic about what you can afford and plan accordingly.

2. Venue capacity:

Knowing the rough number of guests attending your special day is essential because it could even impact the location and venue you choose for your wedding. Once you have a rough number of guests you’d like to invite, you can consider the capacity of your chosen venue – or your hot list of venues. You’ll want to avoid overcrowding to maintain a pleasant atmosphere and allow everyone to enjoy the celebration.

Related: We have the ultimate guide to destination wedding venues in Fiji, Bali, Thailand, Australia and beyond!

3. Relationships:

Consider your relationship with each potential guest. Focus on inviting those closest to you who have played a significant role in your life. This includes immediate family, close friends, and those who have supported your relationship. Avoid feeling obligated to invite distant relatives or acquaintances if they are not integral to your life. That’s one of the many perks of having a wedding guests must travel to attend – it naturally weeds out the obligatory invites!

4. Plus-ones:

Determine your policy on plus-ones early in the planning process. While allowing guests to bring a date is customary, consider your budget and venue capacity when deciding whether to extend this invitation. If you decide to limit plus-ones, communicate this clearly to avoid any confusion or hurt feelings.

5. Children:

Sure, kids are great. But think carefully about whether you want a gathering of little munchkins at your celebration, though, and consider the logistics – sounds ruthless, but it is your wedding. If you’re inviting guests with children, they might want to bring them along for the trip as a way to make the most of their time off work (we don’t blame them). 

destination wedding guest list

If that’s going to create some hassles for you, though, be upfront and tell them in advance that you’re planning an adults-only celebration.

Looking for a happy medium? Limit children to just immediate family and have a separate space set aside at the reception for a children’s’ party – think kid-friendly food, simply entertainment (like colouring-in and activity books) and maybe a friendly chaperone.

6. Logistical considerations:

Take into account the logistics of a destination wedding when creating your guest list. Consider the travel distance, accessibility of the location, and any potential travel restrictions. 

Make sure that your guests will be able to make the necessary arrangements to attend your wedding. Questions to ask yourself include: How far are the guests willing to travel? Can they reasonably afford to attend your wedding? Are you okay with not having a big wedding near your home?

By carefully considering these factors, you can create a guest list that reflects your vision and ensures a memorable experience for both you and your guests. 

Now, let’s move on to some tips for creating the perfect destination wedding guest list.

Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Destination Wedding

Determining The Guest List Size & Who To Invite

Thailand Wedding grooms party

Ensuring your destination wedding guest list is the perfect size is a juggle, but with these tips, you’ll be able to curate the perfect sized list:

1. Start with immediate family:

Begin by listing immediate family members who are a must-have at your wedding. These are the people who have supported you throughout your life and should be present on your special day.

2. Consider close friends:

Think about your closest friends and those who have been there for you during significant moments. Include those who have played a significant role in your life and who you cannot imagine celebrating without.

3. Prioritise quality over quantity:

Remember that a destination wedding is an intimate affair. Focus on inviting those who truly matter to you rather than feeling obligated to invite distant relatives or acquaintances. Keep your guest list small to maintain an intimate and memorable experience.

4. Create tiers:

If you need help to narrow down your guest list, consider creating tiers. Divide your list into groups based on priority, with the most important people in the first tier. Start by inviting those in the first tier and work your way down the list, depending on the number of guests you can accommodate.

5. Consider relationships:

When deciding between friends and family, consider the strength of the relationship and the impact they have had on your life. While family is essential, close friends who have been there for you may hold a special place in your heart and deserve a spot on your guest list.

Remember, your destination wedding guest list should reflect your vision and include those who have played a significant role in your life. Don’t be afraid to be selective and prioritise those who truly matter to you.

Now that you have some tips to guide you, let’s move on to managing guest expectations and RSVPs for a destination wedding.

Top Tips for Creating Your Destination Wedding Guest List With Less Stress

Save The Date Cards for a wedding

Planning a destination wedding introduces additional considerations when it comes to managing guest expectations and RSVPs. Here’s how to navigate this process smoothly:

1. Send save-the-date cards:

As soon as you have finalised your guest list and chosen a date, send save-the-date cards to your intended guests. This allows them to mark their calendars and make the necessary travel arrangements well in advance.

2. Provide essential information:

Along with the save-the-date cards, include key details such as the wedding location, accommodations, and any travel information. This will help guests plan their trip and understand the logistics involved.

3. Share a wedding website:

Create a wedding website where guests can find all the information they need, such as accommodation options, recommended travel arrangements, and local attractions. This ensures that everyone has access to the necessary details and can plan their trip accordingly.

4. Maintain open communication:

Throughout the planning process, maintain open communication with your guests. Answer any questions they may have and provide assistance in planning their trip. Being available and supportive will help ease any concerns and ensure a smooth experience for everyone involved.

5. Communicate your expectations:

Be clear about your expectations from the beginning. If you have decided on an adults-only wedding or have limitations on plus-ones, communicate this to your guests early on to avoid any misunderstandings.

By managing guest expectations and providing clear information, you can ensure your guests feel informed and prepared for your destination wedding.

Sending Out Invites & Managing RSVPs

RSVP for destination wedding

Finalising your destination wedding guest list is an exciting step in the wedding planning process. As you work through the following steps, take the time to carefully review and double-check all the details to ensure a seamless and stress-free experience for both you and your guests.

To complete this significant job efficiently and smoothly, consider the following tips:

1. Review and double-check:

Take the time to review your guest list carefully. Ensure that you have included everyone who should be included and that all the information is accurate. Double-check names, addresses, and any other details to avoid any issues later on.

2. Create a master list:

Consolidate all the guest information into a master list. This will serve as your go-to reference when sending out invitations, tracking RSVPs, and organising seating arrangements. Keep this list updated throughout the planning process.

3. Choose your invitation style:

Select the perfect invitation style that matches the theme and atmosphere of your destination wedding. Whether it’s traditional, modern, or something unique, make sure it sets the right tone for your celebration.

4. Send out invitations:

Hopefully you would have sent out a save the date card, but once you have finalised your guest list and chosen your wedding invitations, send out the official invites in a timely manner. Aim to send them at as early as possible – at least four to six months before the wedding to allow guests enough time to make their travel arrangements.

5. Follow up with non-responders:

Set a deadline for RSVPs: Specify a deadline for guests to RSVP. This will give you a clear idea of how many guests to expect and allow you to plan accordingly. Follow up with those who have yet to respond as the deadline approaches to ensure an accurate headcount.

Related: Tips for your destination wedding invitations – wording, timing, style and more.

At this stage you deserve a big congratulations – finalising and sending out your destination wedding guest list marks a significant milestone in your wedding planning journey!

Handling Guest List Challenges

destination wedding guest list

When planning a destination wedding (or any wedding, for that matter), difficult guest list situations may arise. Here are some common scenarios and how to handle them with grace:

1. Plus-one dilemmas:

If you have decided to limit plus-ones due to budget or venue constraints, be prepared for potential pushback. Politely explain your decision and emphasise that you want to keep the celebration intimate. If someone insists on bringing a plus-one, consider offering them the option to attend without their date or kindly decline their attendance.

2. No children at the wedding:

If you have decided on an adults-only celebration, be clear about this from the beginning. Communicate your decision to potential guests and explain that you want to create a more adult-oriented atmosphere.

3. Navigating friend groups:

If you have a large circle of friends and want to keep your guest list small, it can be difficult to choose who to invite. Consider inviting those friends who have been there for you during significant moments or who have played a significant role in your life. If questioned, explain that you wanted to keep the celebration intimate and personal.

4. Managing travel expenses:

Destination weddings can be costly for guests, especially if they travel long distances. Be mindful of this and understand that not everyone can attend due to financial constraints. Be understanding and supportive if guests decline your invitation due to financial reasons.

Handling difficult guest list situations requires tact, empathy, and open communication. But do remember that it’s your special day, and you have the right to curate a guest list that reflects your vision and ensures a memorable experience for everyone involved. 

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Crafting a perfect guest list for your destination wedding is not an easy task. However, with careful consideration and thoughtful planning, you can create a list reflecting your vision and ensuring an unforgettable experience for everyone involved. Enjoy the process as you embark on this journey to create your perfect wedding guest list.

Your destination wedding is all about celebrating your love and commitment with the people who matter most. By creating a guest list that aligns with your vision, you can ensure that your special day is everything you have both ever dreamed of.

So, take a deep breath, trust your instincts, and start curating the guest list of your dreams. Your destination wedding awaits, and with the right guests by your side, it’s bound to be an extraordinary celebration.

splitting the costs destination weddingIn the end…

The guest-list should mostly include your nearest and dearest, but this is especially true when limiting the guest list for a destination wedding. Ask yourselves these questions – would you buy this person dinner just because you wanted to? Would you put their picture into your wedding scrapbook? Having a destination wedding gives you the perfect opportunity to invite only those you would answer ‘yes’ for, and forget any guilt or family pressure.

Related: Destination Wedding Etiquette – Tips for The Bride