Thursday, December 7, 2023

Building Your Wedding Guest List in a Pandemic

This article is part of our Planning a Wedding in a Pandemic: Covid-19 series.

Guest management is easily one of the most taxing part of a wedding planning process, and something a couple can’t simply delegate to a bridal party or vendor.

In a Pandemic, this arduous task is made even more challenging with the ever-changing regulations. If you find yourself stuck and unsure about how to start the guest listing process, here are some steps to guide you towards building your wedding guest list!


Check With Your Wedding Venue for Accurate Measures

In addition to following the measures set out by the government, most wedding venues also have their set of self-imposed rules and restrictions. This is largely due to their space infrastructure and design. As a start, always check with your venue manager on the measures the venues are implementing, as well as the number of guests you can invite.

To find out how local venues have been adapting to The New Normal, check out our series where we go in-depth with different venues such as restaurants, independent venues and hotels on how they’re managing it.

Photo courtesy of Maison Miaja

Have a List of Guests That You Must Invite

After understanding how many guests you can invite and how the floor plan is configured to accommodate your guests, you can put together a guest list.

Start building your wedding guest list with guests you can’t imagine celebrating without. This might be your immediate family, with elders and your bridal party. They will form the core group of guests who will be present at the wedding no matter how the regulation changes so long as the number in the group falls within the prevailing measures.


Separate Your Guest List Into Different Groups and Lists

After forming the core group, move on to the other groups of guests you would like to have. They can be your close friends and relatives, colleagues, extended relatives and so on. Prioritize them in your preferred order from the must-have to the good-to-have.

With measures constantly changing, we will recommend having these few groups within your guest list for easy management. If the limit on guest numbers were to increase or decrease close to your wedding date, this will come in handy!

Here’s a rough guide to illustrate:

  • A List – 1st to 20th pax – will be the core group and the guests that you can’t imagine celebrating without. If the limits decrease further from what is currently allowed (at 100 pax), you might want to consider continuing your wedding plans with these 20 pax.
  • B List – 30th to 50th pax – could be the group of close relatives and friends you must have.
  • C List – 50th to 100th pax – could be the extended relatives and co-workers that will be good to have.
  • D List – 100th to 250th pax – could be your ex-colleagues, schoolmates and acquaintances, or even your parents’ friends.
  • If there are more than 6 months to your wedding, have a list of 100th to 250th pax ready in the scenario the limits on guests loosen up and you can have a bigger party!
COVID-19 Guest List
Photo courtesy of Maison Miaja

Group Your Guests Into Party Sizes

After you’ve determined the list of people to invite, divide them into party sizes based on the current rules. As of 6 November 2020, apart from the core group of 20 pax, the remaining guests has to be split into groups of 5 each.

This is where it gets most challenging because it might be near impossible to group guests into perfect parties of fives. There are a few things you can consider when grouping them for example, families of five will naturally be grouped together, two pairs of couples can also be grouped together. Other aspects you can consider when assigning guests to their party is whether they have any common interests, backgrounds or histories that might improve the group’s dynamics.

Otherwise, if it proves itself to be too difficult, this is not a factor that will make or break the celebration because guests’ interactions are not encouraged during such times after all!  


Understand Safety and Be Socially Responsible

It may be a given that safety measures have to be implemented at a wedding and that everyone should exercise social responsibility when they attend the celebration. However, this is ultimately a pandemic. Although you’re celebrating your big day, it is important to understand what is deemed as “safe” is different for everyone.  Some of your guests may choose not to attend a social event for their own safety or for their family’s and that’s perfectly okay!

On the other hand, if you have a surplus of friends and families whom you’d like to invite but is unable to do so because of the capacity limitation, there are still ways you can celebrate with them and here are some ideas you may adopt:

  1. Separate guests list for solemnization and reception
    Although strongly not encouraged, you’re allowed to have a different guest list for your solemnization and reception if they are held separately (Refer to link, point 31). It might help to separate your guests list between family and friends, for instance, by keeping the solemnization a family affair and have friends for your reception.  
  2. Go virtual as much as possible
    For those who can’t or choose not to attend physically – consider going virtual as much as possible. Online calls are now a big part of everyone’s life. Weddings through the screen are still very much weddings. There are also tons of ways to interact with your guests through the screen. If you’d like to take it a step further, consider delivering food to them so you could all “dine” together.
  3. Small-gatherings after the wedding
    Instead of gathering everyone on one big day, consider having small gatherings after the wedding with your friends. These might be different groups of friends you’ve had throughout your life. However, do take note of the safety measures implemented by the government and avoid meeting different groups of people over a short period of time!

We hope these guest listing tips have been useful to help you take on the daunting task of building your wedding guest list. A wedding is just a one-off event but the love and friendship you’ve built with your guests over the years will last a lifetime. Even if there are slip-ups along the way, it is pretty much understandable during this unusual time!

Feature image – Photo courtesy of Iki Company

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