The MoBster Diaries

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Organizing Your Guest List

Thank goodness we live in the age of computers that lets us organize and format lists in a variety of ways. We don't have to rely on a trusty hand-written address book or a page full of white-outs on a typed page.

But as you pull together your guest list (the hardest part of planning a wedding, remember), you'll need to figure out which format and organization style works best for you. Many wedding sites like WeddingWire and The Knot offer a place to build your list into a database. Or you may opt to format your list in a spreadsheet program like Excel, or type it out in document form.

It doesn't matter how you organize it - alphabetically, by family, number of guests, geographical location, or eye color - but it must make sense to you and to whoever will be addressing your invitations. As a hand-addressing service that wrestles with wedding guest lists all the time, we Elegant Scribblers have a few guidelines to offer that will make your list's organization obvious to any and all.

1.  Many spreadsheet and databases let you add all sorts of information columns to your list - table numbers, gifts received, etc. - but please stick to these categories for the list you plan to use for addressing your invitations to avoid confusion:
  • Salutation (Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, the Reverend, the Honorable, etc.)
  • First name(s)/Last name(s): Make sure that the list is clear regarding married couples with one last name (Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith), couples/partners with two last names (Mr. Robert Smith and Ms. Lois Jones, Mr. Robert Smith and Mr. Louis Jones, etc.), and families (Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith and Miss Caroline Smith, or The Smith Family). If children are to be listed on the envelope, include their first and last names (Miss Caroline Smith and Mr Samuel Smith). Whatever the family make-up, make sure your list is very clear about how the guests are to be addressed on both outer and inner envelopes.
  • Street Address, including apartment number, directional (NW, E), and building name if applicable.
  • City, state (or country, if outside the U.S.), and zip or postal code. If you have guests from states in the northeast with zip codes that begin with 0 (like New Jersey), please double-check your list to make sure that the 0 is showing up at the front of the zip, since some spreadsheets ignore a 0 at the beginning of a number.
  • Response card number, if you're numbering the response cards to correspond to the guests on your list. 
2.  Use 11pt or 12pt font size. We sometimes receive spreadsheets with 8pt, 9pt, or 10pt font size, making the list hard to read, so we take the time to reformat to larger fonts. Whether you're using your mom, your best friend, a calligrapher, or Elegant Scribbles to address your invitations, be kind to your invitation addresser's eyes, and use a larger font.

3.  Add grid lines to spreadsheets to separate the individual guests and addresses. This ensures that whatever format you're using, the names line up with the correct addresses.

4.  Print the list to double-check that categories aren't misaligned or have merged incorrectly during printing. Most of the lists Elegant Scribbles receives come via email attachment, but we always work from a printed list. Sometimes the list looks fine on the computer, but once it's printed the names and addresses don't line up, or odd character fonts show up. Printing is a good way to make sure your names and addresses are in order.

By all means utilize all the category options available to you as you organize your wedding guest list. But when it comes time to address the invitations, whittle those options down to the essentials to ensure that everything is perfectly clear to whoever's addressing your envelopes. After all, the goal is to get your invitations to your guests with correct names and addresses.

Questions or ideas? Elegant Scribbles is here to help!

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posted by MaryB at


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