We hope you read this blog before you start making your guest list! It is very simple to sort a guest list in an Excel document in the following format if it is set up correctly from the start. We will highlight the key items to have on this document and the reasons these key items are so important. Keep in mind, every one of these items should be in separate columns!
PREFIXES (1 column)
Adding a prefix is important for your invitations. If you are not planning on inviting entire families, meaning it will be an adult only event, you will have to specifically say the names of the guests invited, and using a prefix is a formal addition. If you happen to get your invitations written by a calligrapher, nine times out of ten they will want to have prefixes in front.
NAMES (2 columns)
We recommend putting first and last names in separate columns. If they’re separated, when you want to alphabetize your guest list you have the option to sort by last name. This is important so you can easily alphabetize your place cards a few days before the wedding. If you hire a wedding planner, their team should also have this list in case anyone loses their place cards and they need to quickly tell the guest where they are sitting.
TABLE NUMBERS (1 column)
Table numbers are usually a column that is left blank until a few weeks before the wedding. You will not know who exactly is coming to the wedding until all RSVPs are returned. Once you do your seating, you will most definitely need to have the table number on this document so you know who is sitting where.
ENTRÉE CHOICES (1 column)
Entrée choices are very similar to the table numbers. To make it easier on yourself, immediately when the RSVP cards are returned, add in that entrée choice to the document. It will save you the headache of sitting down for a few hours to type in what everyone ordered. If you’re crunching all the entrée choices last minute as well, there is more room for error.
ALLERGIES/SPECIAL MEALS (1 column)
Allergies/special meals have an increasingly important role in the meal choices. Gluten free is one of the most popular requests, so if you don’t have a specific gluten free meal as an entree option you will need to say which entrée your guest has selected in one column and gluten free in the next column. This is so the chefs know what special meals are required and at which tables those meals were requested, we recommend putting this in another column as well. The other reason we feel it’s important to have allergies/special meals in a separate column, is because it makes it simpler to quickly add up the exact number of entrees (how many beef, how many chicken, how many vegetarian, etc.).
UNDER 21 (1 column)
Under 21 with adult entrée can be a quite confusing category. Many hotels and venues do not ask how many guests are under 21, but are receiving an adult entrée. It is a commonly-known fact that serving alcoholic beverages to minors is illegal. Included into the cost of an adult entrée is the bar service, so it is important to make the distinction between adults who are under 21 but still receiving a adult entrée. The caterer will charge you just for the entree and a juice and soda bar package which is considerably less than the bar package pricing. Every little bit of savings helps when planning a wedding!
SPECIAL CONDITIONS (1 column)
“Special conditions” is a column in which you can make note of any important information that your caterer many need to be aware of, this includes: high chairs or booster seats for children, the relationship of the guest to the couple and much more. The caterer will need to know where the booster seats and high chairs are at so they can properly place those before dinner begins. On many occasions the caterer will want to know where the parents of the couple are sitting so they can give them special attention. The DJ likes to know where the person saying the blessing is sitting, and where the speeches are going to be said, so he knows where to place the microphone. The wedding planner needs to know all of this to make sure everything is executed perfectly.
ADDRESSES (2 columns)
We find many of our clients will put guest names and addresses on a separate document than everything else. We highly recommend when putting your addresses on the excel document, separate the “address” from the “city/state/zip” in two columns. So, if you hand this over to your stationary contact, or directly input these addresses into an online website such as Minted or Wedding Paper Divas, you do not have to reformat.
RSVP NUMBERS (1 column)
Wedding RSVP Number. This is only useful if you read these suggestions prior to sending out your formal invitations. We recommend on the back of your RSVP cards writing a tiny number for each card, starting at one and going up. Then on the master excel document, write that same number. When your RSVP cards come in and the guest forgot to write their name, you will be able to match that card with the correct couple. Time and time again, we hear about people who receive many RSVP cards back but don’t know who they came from. At that point, the couple has to individually call every guest they didn’t “hear” from, and ask their entrée choices.
BRIDAL SHOWER GIFTS AND THANK YOU CARDS (2 columns)
Bridal shower gift and thank-you card column is where you add in the actual gift you received from the guest, and another column to mark if you have written and sent a thank-you card. This keeps you organized and will help you see what you have received prior to the wedding. If you receive a lot of monetary gifts, you can see how much it totals so you can allocate more (or less) towards the wedding budget depending on where the number sits. Separate columns are important because usually you don’t write the thank-you cards until a few days or weeks later so you will fill the columns out at separate times.
WEDDING GIFTS AND THANK YOU CARDS (2 columns)
Wedding gift and thank-you card column is very similar to the bridal shower gifts. This should be separated from the bridal shower gifts though, because you don’t get a bridal shower gift from everyone. Once again, create a separate thank-you card column to mark if you have sent something those you received gift from. It starts to become a blur if you receive hundreds of gifts!
This may seem like a lot of information for one document. But, the advantage of using excel is that you can hide columns for specific people, so not everyone receives all information. For example, when you want to give your stationary contact the final guest count with names and addresses, you can hide which gifts you have received, the table they’re sitting at, entrée choices and so on.
An example of a perfect master guest list (in whole) is shown below!
-Effortless Events Team